Friday, December 26, 2014

Year in Review:2014

I can't believe I've not done this before;  it's been an amazing year and I'm going to go over each month and what happened...
January: I was living in an awesome sublet on Main Street. It was the start of a new year, and some things needed to change.  I received an email from my summer employers saying that they wanted me to lose some weight before my contract began in the spring. Although I was shocked and angry, that email did spark an urge for change in me, and I began to watch what I ate and how I exercised.  It was also a month to take stock of my finances and realize that things couldn't continue as they were.  It's an ongoing struggle, but I've become a little bit better about money since then. I also reconnected with my ex and we strengthened our friendship, and my new friend from Victoria-Holly- came and stayed with me while she took a course in Vancouver.
February: I said goodbye to the lovely sublet and moved in with my brother and sister-in-law just off Fraser Street.  Thanks to my summer employers, I got funding to take several courses, including Victorian martial arts, playwriting and first aid.  The first aid course was intense, and in the end I failed it, but I learned a lot. My resolve was strong and I continued to exercise and lose weight.
March: I got an amazing contract with Studio 58, composing music for a play.  I was able to see how far I'd come in terms of both competence and confidence during this job, and it was delightful. I explored my new neighborhood, crocheted tons of crafty things, and fell in love with my brother's new kitten.
April: once again I got ready to leave Vancouver while the city did its best to seduce me into staying. I continued to play music with Old Yeller, a group of friends and ex-boyfriends(!) who became a second family to me. My ex and I deepened our friendship and connection to each other, which laid some of the ghosts of guilt and sadness I'd been carrying around since we split in 2010. And I visited       my new friend Holly in Victoria, falling in love all over again with that city, and delighting in a new friendship.
May: back to Barkerville, and back into winter after Vancouver's spring. Old friends and new co-
workers. As always, the first month of work up there was isolated and busy, and it was only as the month drew to a close that we started to make tentative friendships outside of work. There were some changes to the town: new people running things and new employees.  We opened our school show and kept rehearsing for the main season. I fell in love with the double bass all over again.
June: I got to house-sit for some friends in their beautiful converted church. The rhythm of my summer job washed over me again and I settled back into the groove. We opened our main season shows and started to socialize with neighbors and fellow interpreters. The four of us who lived together became tighter and tighter as tensions at work drew us together. Spring and then summer arrived in the north. I rekindled my feelings for someone, only to realize once again that they were not returned.
July: the weather turned hot and sunny, and I had friends to enjoy it with! Margaret and I went running. Tanya and I discovered paddle boarding. It was a month of outdoor adventures and hard
work, and work could be a pretty intense place at times. Luckily we were all becoming experts in
letting off steam during our downtime.
August: this month was a highlight for me, beginning with ArtsWells (Dancing! Live music! New friends!), and ending with my 40th birthday, a delightful night which included a bonfire, cake, many friends, and hash brownies.  The four of us who lived together made friends with a wonderful gang of  people who became a delight to hang out with.  We rented a cabin on Bowron Lake and many of those friends dropped by and spent a wonderful day off with us, swimming and sunnbathing. Meanwhile, tensions at work increased until someone was let go. We had a new cast mate who became a fast friend, and work became fun again. Unfortunately this came too late for our employers, and one of them became very ill, necessitating changes to the show.
September: I moved into another house for the month, and my new friend Eve came too. It was a month of saying goodbye as people finished their contracts... But although it was a melancholy time there were moments of great joy: incredible hikes, trips to the big city (Prince George!), gatherings and adventures and the easing-off of work. Only one show a day as opposed to two. Sunny, crisp Autumn days watching the leaves turn almost overnight. Crazy late-season swimming. When my contract ended I stayed a few extra days but that was a mixed blessing as the last of my friends left town.
October: I paid a quick visit to Kelowna to visit my dad. Fit and healthy after an incredibly active summer, I returned to Vancouver and began work at the pumpkin patch. I also entered the world of online dating... Three dates in I met this motorcycle-driving dude at a coffeeshop. The moment he walked in I thought "wow", and the rest is history. Two months later we're still going strong and we're absolutely crazy about each other. I never expected this, and it's been a gift, every day.
November: I kissed my new guy goodbye and flew off to Oahu with my friend Tanya. Eight days of sun, surf and sharing a bed! And we're still speaking to each other!  As November ended I made the difficult decision not to return to Barkerville for my summer job. I still don't know what the new year will bring in terms of work, but I want to restart my career down here and see if I have what it takes to live in the big city year-round again. Several people I knew in Barkerville passed away, a sad shock.
December: I played accordion in an Italian christmas play and started rehearsals for a musical based on the video game Portal. A whole new world for me. My new guy continued to teach me how to love riding a motorbike, and how to be a girlfriend again after not being one for a long time.

When I think back over this year, what strikes me is how happy I was, even though there were financial difficulties and big changes and periods of loneliness throughout.  It was a happiness that began back in the fall of 2013 and just kept going. I had some wonderful gigs. I wrote some good songs. I travelled to some beautiful places and learned all over again the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. I met a lot of new friends and held on to them, even though we were separated by distance. I reconnected with a wonderful person from my high school days. I forged a tender and forgiving friendship with my most important ex. And in the last few months of the year I was surprised by something-by someone- wonderful. Someone who swoons when I sing, who made me a funny and saucy hand-drawn Christmas card, who wraps his arms around me and gives me rides on his motorbike and tells me true stories late into the night (and early into the morning too!).
Old and new, young and old, my friends give me strength, joy and support as I keep stumbling down this crazy road of life. They keep me excited about the future, even as I see the dangers and sadnesses that lie ahead: parents aging, money troubles, health issues, uncertainties and worries. I think that 2015 could be incredible. But even if it's not, I know I'll have the best people to hold my hand and get me through it.






































Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lucky.

The city is cold and rainy. I buy an adorable pair of grey fleecy fingerless gloves with a mitten attachment that pulls over the fingers. Mittens! I haven't had them since my age was in single digits and it feels awesome. 

Old Yeller played a gig this week: seven friends crowded onto and around the tiny corner stage while our friends and family laughed and ate and cheered. The best pre-Christmas present a girl could get. Well, that and my guy taking pictures of us like the paparazzi; meeting my friends, giving me a grin and a wink when he catches my eye. I tease him: You'll get tired of coming to my gigs. And he gets that stubborn look in his eye and says Nope


Friday, December 12, 2014

Shameless.

Must be something about this time of year: I remember it happened last year and here we are again: I find myself frustrated by Facebook and social media in general right now, and I don't know if I want to contribute to it by writing more, more, always more.

We are all clamouring: Listen to me! Look at ME! Whether it's heroics, or what we had for dinner, or the funny thing our kid said, or self-promotion for an upcoming gig-
Why are we doing it? If a tree falls in the forest, if we did a good thing or thought of a funny thing and then DIDN'T put it on Facebook or on a blog... maybe people wouldn't know. And maybe that's okay.

But it's there, a great web of lies and half-truths and publicity, and why not harness it? I'm as guilty as the next person. Look at this blog.

I made a big decision recently. I decided to stay in town this year and not go north for the summer. So I'm riding the internet waves, putting out feelers and putting myself out there and selling myself so I can make a living (hopefully) without my usual main source of income next year. I set up a profile on LinkedIn. My guy says he'll make me a website. More me me me.

I love it and I hate it. It's a powerful tool and I know it and as a writer I love to put my thoughts out there and have instant feedback; the "likes" coming thick and fast to a status update or photo I've posted; the comments or the messages flooding in.
But I walk to the mall to buy some groceries and I realize: I can't go half a block without wrestling my phone out of my pocket to see why it vibrated this time. I literally can't leave the house without my phone in case someone messages me or my guy texts, or an important email comes in.

I do small things to change this: I uninstall Facebook and Candy Crush (ugh, don't get me started) from my smartphone so it can live in my pocket more, and less in my hand.

It's almost Christmas. I LOVE Christmas! For 3 reasons: Lights. Food. MUSIC.
I'm rehearsing a Christmas show and another show and a gig; my days are suddenly filled with prep work, while my nights are full of rehearsals. I make a date with a girlfriend to go and see a street that's famous for its Christmas lights. I buy a little tree and put mini lights on it. I hang ornaments (too large for my tiny potted dwarf tree) from my venetian blinds and while I do this I listen to the cheesiest Christmas music imaginable. (But it has to be either classic crooners or the classical stuff. I'm talkin' Dean Martin or Kings College, Cambridge. None of this contemporary Pentatonix/Michael Buble/Idina Menzel shit.)

My guy texts me. We are both swamped with work, we haven't seen each other in 4 days but it feels longer. We are both chained to our computers and our cel phones and it's too much, but he sends me this one text: We just listened to your song again. On the stereo. Gosh you're good. 
I melt a little.

The wind is howling outside tonight. I just powered through a productive music rehearsal and now I'm nursing a glass of wine and the cats have hissed and fought and galloped through their version of the witching hour and now they're sleeping again.  I turn off the tv, finish typing this, and in another universe I set my phone and my laptop on fire, fanning the flames until they're both nothing more than a foul-smelling plastic-y ooze on the living-room rug.

But in this universe I close the lid on my computer, plug my phone into the wall, and try to remember to raise my eyes from the screen(s) more often and drink in everything that's around me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I started writing the paragraph and it was full of cautiously happy statements: I had a great time in Hawaii but I couldn't really afford it. I looked better in my bathing suit than I did last year but I put on a few pounds there. 
Fuck that. Oahu was amazing.
We hiked to the top of Diamond Head.

We watched the sun setting from the bar at the Moana Surfrider Hotel (which we dubbed "our" hotel because we loved hanging out there so much. Although I'm sure the cost of an actual room there  would be waaaaay out of our price range!)

We rented a jeep and headed up the coast to Haleiwa, where we spent 5 days soaking up the sun, watching surfers take on Pipeline's famous waves, and eating incredible home-cooked breakfasts which our host, Cab, plucked from his back yard (the avocados! the spinach! the bananas! the coconuts!)
I was really hoping to see some mega-waves at Pipe. But these waves were gorgeous, even though they weren't that huge.

We ate a lot of good food. We swam in the salty waves. We got sand in every fold of clothing and skin.  We road-tripped. We put up with each other's quirks and we even shared a bed for over a week. Budget travelling. 

And after a six-hour "rest" at Honolulu International while Westjet flew out another plane because the one we were supposed to take broke down... I arrived home. To the rain, and the cold, and to a pair of arms that was eager to wrap themselves around me. 
A girl couldn't ask for more than that, huh?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Passages

Sad news... 
Two words that mean something bad is coming down the pipe.
Tonight it came to me as I sat on the couch with my sister-in-law, enjoying a quiet night in. Just us two girls, plus the cats, plus the old dog; all of us snuggled in the living room watching movies and gathering together against the dark post-daylight-savings-time rainy evening. I spent the day doing nice stuff: shopping for food, walking the dog because my roommates are so busy right now; walking him right into a local shoe store, where I bought some expensive and stylish rain boots. My sister-in-law and I were doing the usual thing of half-watching the movie, half-checking our phones and various devices so we didn't miss a thing.
A message, short and sad: Rob is dead. Cancer. I know you weren't in touch but I thought you'd want to know...
Rob was my boss, years ago. He breezed into the bookstore where I worked, and he made working retail fabulous. "Life is a banquet," he'd quote from Auntie Mame, "and most poor suckers are starving to death." He was gay, and out, and proud. "Love you!" he'd proclaim loudly down the store phone to his long-time boyfriend, and he didn't care who heard.  He could be a customer's best friend or worst nightmare, depending on who they were, what books they were interested in, and what kind of a day he was having. He reviewed an autobiography of Pamela Harriman by saying "she slept with all the best people." He was catty, bitchy, and incredibly kind and sensitive.
He smoked a gazillion cigarettes a day, always smelled like them. My memories of him are smoke-tinged. I can't imagine him talking without picturing him blowing smoke out of his mouth and nose. He was the manager of Blackberry Books, and I his assistant. Our "staff meetings" were more usually smoke-and-gossip sessions outside the store. Years later, when we became Facebook friends, I couldn't believe his transformation: little Rob, with his ever-present cigarettes and his nerdy physique, had transformed into a mid-life stud: muscular, handsome; posing shirtless in photographs with jeans saucily unbuttoned. I guess I'll never find out now what (or who) was behind this metamorphosis, but it never ceased to amuse me when I saw his pictures. Do you still smoke, Rob? I'd wonder to myself. He performed in a gay comedy troupe called Tops & Bottoms. I always meant to catch a performance but never got around to it. He wrote me an absolutely wonderful reference which I used for years; I wish I still had it. For a while, he was an important person in my life; a co-worker and a true friend.
Am I the only person who looks suspiciously over their shoulder when bad things start to happen? Trust me, I don't have the monstrous ego to think that this spate of deaths has anything to do with me, and yet... My bandmates and I met up last weekend to find that everyone had had a brush with death last week; death or illness had come too close to all of us and we shivered as we felt its icy breath.
I am healthy and happy; I have an exciting vacation booked with a dear friend, and a new man whose saucy, romantic texts can sometimes leave me breathless (not to mention his presence, which causes similar difficulties at times).
I don't want to die. I don't want my loved ones to die.
At the end of the day it's what most of us wish for; as the song says: Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.
I pray for more of what we all want: time. Time to laugh, to make love, to enjoy my friends and my life. No more deaths for a while, no more sadness. But I am getting older, and so I know that this is only the beginning.


Friday, October 31, 2014

No escape.

Just returned from a 2-night 'date' with my new sweetheart. Starry-eyed mutual admiration. Long walks in the neighbourhood and kissing on the beach in the late-October rain. I come out of the public washroom to see his neat, lean form waiting for me and I think is this for real? This is passion and chemistry and lust, yes, but it's also cuddling on the couch, watching movies late into the night and then talking so much we suddenly realize it's 4am. We fit together, he and I. He's talking about how much he'd like to go motorbiking in Europe and he shoots me his mischievous grin and says "wanna come with me?" I know it's all hypothetical right now anyway but I bump his hip with mine and match his grin and say "I'll go anywhere with you, baby." And I mean it.

We can never predict the future. This time last month I was saying goodbye to one of the best summers I've ever had and feeling blue as I watched the seasons changing, saw my friends (and I) leaving the little town I love so much, wondered when I'd find someone who'd love me. Now I have just finished up another job I adore, I see my two best girlfriends from up north right here in Vancouver on the regular, and there is a lovely new man in my life who seems as thrilled to be with me as I am to be with him.

"And I don't know a single woman who has not had to deal with violence. Not one."

I see that on someone's Facebook wall and I feel cold inside. We are all debating the Jian Ghomeshi scandal on our FB pages, our blogs, our newspapers... What started off as disbelief that someone would be persecuted for their sexual kinks has flipped, for so many of us, into another kind of disbelief altogether. Again, I utter a silent prayer of thanks for my life. My lovers have been, without exception: kind, sweet, gentle, loving men who knew that they held the balance of physical power and strength and never, ever used it against me in any way. I have never been attacked, raped, or harmed by a stranger. I have experienced my share of harassment, like all women, but it's been pretty mild, all told. Unless this changes (and I pray that it never does),  I will continue to be a member of an extremely fortunate minority. And the fact that I'm an anomaly is so terribly wrong. 


I know a woman who suffered such horrific sexual abuse as a child (a child!) that she has permanent injuries. I know a woman who is verbally abused by her partner in front of other people, the same partner who loves her and looks after her in his way, and who probably has no idea that the way he talks to his girlfriend is wrong. 


I open up my Facebook app on the way home this morning and see that a lovely woman, a member of the Wells and Barkerville community, has died very suddenly in the night. Another Facebook friend wrote: "I really can't believe that everyone of us is going to have to face death, there is no escape. It's so hard to be conscious of these things, it's hard to live and know this so clearly."

Amen to that. All I can do in the face of so much bad news, so many sad and violent and heartbreaking stories, is gather my loved ones around me, be compassionate to others who are not so lucky, and try to appreciate my happy little life as much as I can. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sick Day.

The baby cat is delighted to have company at 9am. She darts around my room, stopping to weave happily against my legs or rub her furry body against mine. Although I love her, I am not so delighted this morning.
I am home because I am sick. Strep Throat, or something else that has made my tonsils pop up like golf balls. I sleep for over 8 hours, and I wake up feeling like hmmm, I could use a nice long nap right about now. 
I don't have time for this! I was supposed to be at the pumpkin patch today, on the last of the really busy days, working 6 or 7 hours to give my paycheque a final boost. I've been pushing through the last few days, but last night I realized that there was no way I could go in today, and I called in sick. I never call in sick.
I am seeing a sexy-hot motorcycle-driving man who thinks I am- to use the words of my 19 year-old friend- the bomb. I had to cancel our date last night because I realized that I was too tired and sick to even take pleasure in the thought of making out with him, let alone the reality. Not to mention that when you have infected tonsils your mouth tastes as though something died in it. He texts with offers of hot soup or a ride (in a car co-op car, not the bike), and I thank him and refuse. I've known him for less than 2 weeks; I don't want the sick, hairy-legged version of me to make an appearance in our lives just yet.

Last night I went shopping for late-night snacks with my brother and it was as though a split personality had taken over: in my stash were lemons, ginger, Kombucha, superfood-salad-mix... and also jalapeƱo cheese puffs, Skor Bites and Sour Cherry Blasters. I ate a bit of all those things last night and let me tell you, the health foods and the non-health foods were both equally delicious.
I get my computer out to do some accounting while I sip my green tea. Three hours later I've switched to coffee, the receipts are still un-tallied, and I've been Facebooking, blogging, and looking at online boot and clothing sites for far too long. Fail.
The baby cat flops onto a patch of sunlight and rubs against the other cat until she starts grooming her. Love me. I feel too horrible to love: sore, tired, unwashed.
Time to slow down, whether I want to or not. I check the calendar to make sure: yep, it's been only 2 & a 1/2 weeks since I got back and a myriad of things have occurred: friends, dates, passion, concerts, dinners, music, rehearsals, workworkwork... I read one of my sister-in-law's health mags this morning: Average time before readers think you should see someone before sleeping with them: 3.9 months. 
Oops.
I guess my body made an executive decision amidst all this craziness and just shut me down the only way it could: by disabling me for a while. Time to take a me-day or two.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leaning Into the Turns

Where did you come from, sweet stranger? 
I've known you for two hours and all I can think of is kissing you. 
You showed up at the cafe with your retro motorbike and an extra helmet for me, and I put my arms gingerly around you, expecting to be terrified as we roared away. Instead, I fell in love.
With the bike. The bike. I hardly know you

But I want to.
You're easy to talk to.
Or you would be, if I didn't get so flustered every time we made eye contact that I stammer and reach for my water glass. Which would be fine, except it's been empty for the past ten minutes. 

I have no context for this. This is why I've never 'dated'. When you meet people through work you have a mutual background, mutual friends, mutual lifestyles.
You rehearse, say,  a show together. You are thrown into the pressure cooker and you become close. Also, you have a reason to be together, every day.

But we steal time together around our work. Our decidedly non-mutual work.
An impulsive coffee date four days ago and I've seen him every day since.
I learn to love the feeling of the wind against my body as we roar down the highway. I learn to wrap my arms and legs around him, lean into the turns, shout conversation at red lights. On the bike, I feel totally safe with him.

He drops me off at home and we kiss in the alley at the back of my house. And kiss. And kiss.

Until the shadowy neighbourhood tomcats are jealous
Until our noses are cold
Until my brain turns to mush 
Until we disengage, reluctantly, and kiss again, and wave goodbye. It's 1:30 am. I get up at 7. 

I don't know what this means. I don't know what this is. I don't know if that matters.

Today I am tired, running on empty after my late night. Sitting on my hay wagon, singing children's songs to enthusiastic strangers, I remember the cause of my late night, and grin.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thanks. Giving.

I'm "home" again. Wow. From a town of 250 to the big city. I'm budgeting like crazy these days, so Vancouver's coffee bars and restaurants are mostly off-limits to me as I try for the first time in my life to save money, to live within my means. It's actually kind of exciting to do this after years of turning a blind eye to financial planning.

I literally don't have a moment to re-aquaint myself with my city; it's full-time hours at the pumpkin patch for the first time in years and although it's hard to get up early in the morning, I enjoy the job so much that I can't complain. I'd rather have the routine (and the paycheque) of work than be floating aimlessly.

Time, as always, becomes elastic; it's as if I've never been away and yet there are changes, of course there are. The baby cat has become an adult in my absence; businesses have closed, or opened, or burned down; best of all: I have new friends from the north who I now know and love right here in my city. After an amazing summer I have new confidence which I bring to my work, my home life... Even the Vancouver rain can't bring me down. Yet.

I love my pumpkin patch job, did I already say that? It's been at least a dozen years since I began there (good lord) and it changes a little bit every year but basically the combination of outdoors and music and goofiness and routine is just perfect for me. Today I had to fill in for the Pumpkin Princess, and as I pranced around in a borrowed wig and costume, waving a wand made of a leafy twig I'd found, I figured that I was either the luckiest 40 year-old in the world, or the most pathetic. I lean towards the former.

Today was a funny day at the patch. The power kept going out on stage, leaving the band high and dry. I had to fill in for someone, hence the Pumpkin Princess role. It got rainier as the day went on, so it was quieter than usual. I forgot that my friend wasn't working there today, so I took the long way to work. I dropped my brand-new smartphone on the sidewalk, resulting in scratches on my new baby. My accordion straps parted ways from the instrument, only minutes into my shift.  Then, as I finished singing to a wagon-load of people, a 6 year-old girl said to me "Can I have your hand for a minute?" Bemused, I gave her my right hand; she took it in hers and held it to her forehead. "Oh, she's blessing you," her mom told me. Slightly weird, and yet her blessing jolted me out of my frustration and reminded me to be grateful and happy for what I have.

I went on the first of my internet-induced dates the other night. He's too old, of course. I've been with older guys but he looks like an old man and his hands are too small. I don't think I can feel attracted to him. But he has a lovely smile, he's funny and smart, we have a lot in common. We sit over a fifteen dollar sushi meal and talk for hours. He walks me home, we kiss chastely. I don't want to be a tease, but at the same time I don't want to let him go out of my life because we have a connection, whatever it is. I like his emails a lot... I guess we'll figure it out as we go. I have another date with someone else on Tuesday.

Not to mention dinner with family, friends... I finish every bite of the chicken and roast veggies on my plate, cooked by my brother who is also a friend and room mate, and I know that I am a lucky girl. And a happy one. Thanksgiving indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Transitions. Again.

Kelowna.
I get up early this morning, determined to get my sweat on before I spend the rest of the day sampling wine and nibbles at various wineries with my dad and his lady. It's a tough life here in the Okanagan. Since my dad lives halfway up a mountain, there are two choices facing a runner in this neighbourhood: straight up then straight down, or straight down then straight up. As I like to get the shit part over with first, I choose the former option. I get a respectable 5k in before breakfast. Also planking, also squats. My life includes a lot of 30-day challenges these days as I strive to find new ways to keep fit. I love knowing that I can do things (like running uphill without dying; like 70 squats and it's no big deal) that I couldn't do a year ago. Exercise, in its own way, is as addictive as food, as cigarettes. When I don't do it now, I feel weird. We'll see if this survives into one of Vancouver's horrible rainy winters. I hope so. Yesterday I spent over 8 hours in a car with one of my best friends and her husband as we left the Cariboo behind and came to warmer climates. Today I am defiantly wearing a short skirt despite looming clouds. I'm not quite ready to admit it's Fall.

I've joined a dating website, because why not? A friend of mine did, and now she's waxing lyrical about her new-true-love. I hope it works like that for me, but even if it doesn't I'll probably have some interesting coffee dates. I check for new messages, deleting the ones who are clearly just trolling for fish, any fish (do you really want to be my friend, mister man from Illinois? I don't really do long-distance, you know...) and reading with amusement the new notes I get every day or two from guys who seem interesting or quirky. Most of them are a bit older than me, but that seems to be my prime demographic these days. I have no problem with older guys, and no, I don't think that I have Daddy issues. (Maybe I should check with my dad, since I'm visiting him. Nope, maybe not.) I click on various pictures and try to find truth in the faces there. I try and judge more by words than by images because how can you quantify chemistry in a photo? I just can't. I think of the people who've struck sparks in me lately and I know that no website, no algorithm, no surveys would have linked us together. We'll see.
Transitions, again. New times, new jobs, new life...

I am a former couch potato in search of the perfect exercise-fueled endorphin high.
I am a former financial idiot with a new budgeting app and the will to use it.
I am a former historical interpreter looking for a new line of work.
I am a summer-small-town dweller heading back to the big city.
I am trying to leave old loves, hurt and expectations behind and find new adventures.
I cross my fingers, take a deep breath, and leap into the semi-unknown, again.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye

My friend D came to our last show yesterday afternoon with her 5 year-old twin girls. At one point I came onstage and sang my ballad, "Over the Hills". One of the twins began to cry, tears streaking down her face. D asked her what was the matter and she replied "This song is about saying goodbye".  

Goodbye to rehearsals and more rehearsals. Goodbye to my beloved double bass. Goodbye to blissful days off at Bowron Lake, and paddle board trips and floating down the river with pool noodles. Goodbye to blasting Katy Perry in Tanya's car, The Bumblebee, and listening to Graeme change the lyrics to something much ruder. Goodbye to movie nights at the Panabode, and playing new songs at cabarets. To biking, swimming, running. To espressos on the porch before heading through the stage door to work. To 30-day challenges, eating healthy, and sometimes chucking it all in for way too many sour candies or desserts at the Bear's Paw.  Goodbye to another amazing ArtsWells with plenty of friends to dance with (for once!). Goodbye to the best weather I can ever remember having up here, and the best people to enjoy it with. Goodbye to frustration and drama at work, and also to tons of laughter and unexpected delight, both onstage and off. To old friends and new friends and letting go of old, useless loves. To birthday parties for a landmark year. Goodbye to living in the 1860's, to corsets and petticoats, tourists and gold. 

There's gold enough for everyone
For those who're brave enough to come
To leave their homes and sail today 
Over the hills and far away

O'er the mountains and the streams
To all the towns on Williams Creek
My heart commands and I obey
Over the hills and far away

When duty calls me I must go
Back to the ones left long ago
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away

But I would rather go with you
And look for gold in Cariboo
Along the road to come-what-may
Over the hills and far away...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chocolate Beet Cake

The chocolate comes from the theatre where I worked all summer.
Selling popcorn in the back, grabbing sodas and corn, the chocolate didn't sell
so I get three bars for less than the price of two, 72 percent dark
from where it sat for months, listening to me sing
hearing me laugh,
and tease my friends, and meet the audience.
Everyone's hungry before a show.

The beets come from the veggie box
I split with friends down the road.
I worked with one of them but he left us
We're still friends though
and every week he sorts through the vegetables and brings me half
Right now we are besieged by beets
so I looked up this recipe

The espresso came from Bill & Claire's gallery.
Fair trade, dark and delicious.
They gave it to me free but I bought pottery
so it balances out I guess.
We visited the old church where they make their art;
Caught them just in time before a road trip.
They believe in me; no matter how frivolous I am
they believe that my art can make a difference

Flour from the house we live in, Eve & I
belonging to friends who are on the road.
We make a mess, we prep, we pre-heat the oven;
a girlfriend arrives with wine
I read the recipe, Eve stirs and Margaret pours refills
I am foggy with sadness and yet I am full of joy.
And when the cake comes out of the oven I recognize the taste:
sweet, dark, earthy-rich.
My life tastes like this.

I miss you, I miss you, I miss
the idea of you.
But truth is, I have friends to laugh and cry with
and love will come.
This much I am learning:
Old hurts are patched over by new ones
New ones are made bearable by
good friends
red wine
and chocolate beet cake.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I get up in the morning and walk Bosco the dog, whom I'm dog-sitting while his owner is out of town, running a race in Alberta. Our walk takes us through the Meadow, so that the dog can run around off-leash and I can follow behind him, or ahead of him while he side-tracks in the bush. Then I hear the slappity-slap of little dog feet and he is hurtling towards me, mouth open and tongue flopping as he dashes to catch up.

Sunday morning we sketch a big loop around and through town, ending at the farmers' market where I tie Bosco up out of food's way and discover that The Bread Peddler (AKA Kate and Tim from up the road) has baked ginger-chocolate scones. I buy one and munch it, the chocolate chips liquid and melting, fresh from the oven.

Tuesday I hike with Stan and Graeme up up up to Groundhog Lake. We walk though Barkerville so early that the draft horses are still running loose along the road. The cloud cover is low, and as we get up to 5700 feet the treetops are so dusted with frost that it looks as though all colour is being leached out of the world. The lake is in a bowl; on one side is a public-use cabin and on the other side Mount Agnes rises in a ragged rocky curve. Today we can't see the summit but it's still spectacular.

Today we do our show for three friends who are leaving us after working with us all summer. Two of them are my best girl friends and I can't even imagine how it's going to be up here without them.  They clap, they giggle, they cheer, they galvanize the rest of the audience and us and we do one of the best shows we've done in a long while.

Movie nights with pickles-and-cheese. Family dinners before people start leaving. A new home to house-sit. Playing music at the Bear's Paw tonight to a packed house. September I write my love letter to this place while the days tick by and life gets ready to change again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Discombobulation

The end of the main season always gets to me.

The weather and the leaves are changing faster than you can say fall in the mountains.

Friends are leaving; staff is being reduced to a skeleton crew all over town. There are parties, too many drinks, and tearful goodbyes.

On top of this, I have had a whirlwind week, riding some incredible emotional highs as I celebrated my birthday and had a lot of fun (maybe a little too much fun) with my friends and co-workers.

We have also had an extremely intense month at the theatre: someone left the company in early August, was replaced by another performer, we rehearsed like mad; then someone else got sick so we had to re-jig everything again; then again as they recovered and got worked back into the show. We had to plaster cheat sheets all over the stage and wings just so we could remember the show order(s). It made us a very tight little unit, very close, with a ton of laughs, and the kind of intense friendships that are formed in the face of adversity. This weekend we had to say goodbye to 3 of those people, as their contracts don't last to the end of September.

We get 2 days off after Labour Day- I went north to the nearest big city, to spend way too much of my hard-earned paycheque on new clothes and unhealthy food. My stomach feels yucky from over-indulgence. My heart is sad. The big city was ugly and rainy. I tried to have a good time, and I was glad I'd gone- in a way- because I needed a change of scene, but all I wanted was to be home.

And now I am. Home in this tiny town with my new clothes and some new books, getting ready to adjust to the shoulder season. There is a lot of fun to be had in the fall, and I look forward to the weeks ahead, but this weekend always gets to me, every single year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A New Year

I think this picture captures last night's party perfectly. Cake and laughter.
It's dark because we were all around the campfire in our backyard; the rain held off (more or less) and everyone I love best in this place came to spend my birthday party with me. My heart is full.
What made it even more special is that it was such a challenging day and we were all exhausted by the time we got home. My room mates and I stared blankly at the walls or napped before guests started to arrive. We were so drained I thought the party would be a total bust.
It had started the night before with the last cabaret of the season. I performed; I drank well-but not wisely- and stayed out too late. I got up yesterday morning determined to go running with a girlfriend even though I was hungover and had had about 5 hours' sleep.
Soon after the run, a phone call from work. A cast member was too ill to perform. Heading in to hospital with the boss. We had to go in to Barkerville, re-plot the show and do it with one less performer. Nervous and grumpy, we ran through the variety show figuring out who would sing what, who would say what to cover her absence. In the dressing room I cried from pure nerves, angry with myself for being underslept and hungover, knowing my voice was not at its best.
And then... the magic you always hope for as a performer. An electric show that crackled with the energy we were all putting out. A wonderful audience. A voice that held up, even though it was tired. An exhilarated, giggly lunch together afterwards. Then home, rest, rallying, fire-making, friends, and another late night/early morning bedtime that was sooooo worth it, spent with friends old and new.
I can't say enough how grateful and amazed I am that I have so many people in my life to love me, celebrate my quirks, comfort me when I'm down, laugh hysterically with me, and make me feel like a million bucks. All I can say is that everyone should be lucky enough to find their tribe. I have tribes in both the places I call home, and that has made a world of difference.
Here comes a new decade. I can honestly say that I am thinner, healthier, wiser, and way happier than I was last year. If that isn't a good way to start your forties then I don't know what is.
Painted by a new friend of mine, signed on the back by a whole bunch of lovely people. Happy happy. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

laughter

This has been a week of laughter, which is a pretty great epitaph for the week that was.
Laughter that has had me doubled over, or bellowing with it, head thrown back, or breaking into giggles at the best/worst times during rehearsals.
Part of it is stress, because at a time when we're usually doing our parts by rote we've been thrown back  into creation and rehearsal again. So by the end of the day we're tired and exhilarated and so wound up that we're manic. Three of us showed up at the taco stand for dinner last night and I think our friend Mark thought we were on crack.
Part of it is relief because the atmosphere at work is so much lighter, which is something I didn't realize until things changed.
Part of it is because this is the time of summer when friendships have fully ripened, and we have a particularly great group of friends this year. A really good gang of people to play with.
And part of it is the good weather, which continues to shower us with heat and sunlight when we are more used to... well, the other kind of showers.
The four of us who live together up here rented a cabin at the lake and spent 2 nights there this week after 3 long days of rehearsals. Friends came up and visited. We swam all day, when we weren't eating or playing cards or lying on a paddleboard reading on the lake (my favorite). We floated downriver, got out, and did it again. I had my bathing suit on all day. I still can't believe how much fun we had and how much we needed that break.
Three shows today, and a sick cast member to boot, and we still laughed a lot. Our new cast member is talented, funny, and gives as good as he gets when it comes to jokes and teasing. He is also an appreciator of women, which after a long summer of pretty much zero attention from anyone is slightly dizzying and very fun. We are all more generous onstage than we were.
This morning I lay in bed early in the morning and listened to rain pounding on our metal roof (a rare break from the heat and sunshine) and felt cozy and lucky all over.
In a few more weeks I will be forty. I am in a frame of mind these days where that feels like a promise and a beginning rather than a curse.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Snapshot

Today was an unexpected day off (don't ask).

The sun was shining and the air was warm. You learn not to take that for granted around here, especially by August.

I had to play the organ for a Masonic church service (again, don't ask). After that, the day was my own.  I possess the kind of personality that feels guilty when I'm inside and it's a sunny day. My 21-year-old roomie was perfectly content playing video games on the couch, and he'd certainly earned the right to do so. I got on my bike and rode. It was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I hadn't eaten, I forgot sunscreen and water and all that good stuff. A stop off at the taco stand took care of the no-breakfast thing. Then I hit the road.

Past the dump, past the gravel pit, past Manmade Lake. Up, up, up Devil's Canyon, black rocks and scorched-looking trees looming above. Two tiny lakes at the top, one on each side. Put my foot into one: primordial sludge sucks at me and makes me reconsider. Whiz back down the canyon and stop at Manmade Lake: stash my bike and find the perfect spot to swim, then bike home, soaking wet and bone-deep content.

I glance in the mirror: tanned face, huge eyes, lake-messy hair. A better testament to this surprising and perfect day off than any photo I could have taken.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blue Day.


“Fear is the original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”
― L.M. MontgomeryThe Blue Castle

A note from a new acquaintance stuns me out of my usual selfishness: I am blessed to have been able to get to know you guys a bit... She was a shy girl who hung around with us for a few days during ArtsWells and then abruptly left her job because she and her boss didn't get along... I thought she was young for her age and a bit of a pill; she found beautiful things to say about each one of us (me and my 3 roommates) in this note she left us. I am humbled and schooled. I try to be a nicer person. It doesn't always work out. But I try.

This is our Monday and people are at daggers drawn (what a great expression) at work. Tension, drama. I keep my head down and get through the day. I visit a friend where he works; I relax and we chat and laugh but later I recall L.M. Montgomery's wonderful quote about fear. I am so fearful sometimes. I can't say what's in my heart and it becomes this big thing that I can't shrug off. I cycle home feeling sad about my shitty day at work and my fears which stifle some of the things I need to say.

I watch some documentary shorts at a film festival in town. God, why are they all so damn depressing? There's an 81/2 minute doc about a man who's friends with a spoon. His family have rejected him for this and in the end he takes meds so he can stop being friends with the spoon and go to his son's wedding as a "normal" person.  A few tears trickle out. God, it's just a spoon. Why can't they accept him as he is? Then there's a documentary about a residential school survivor... the tears start to flow for reals. By intermission my eyes are red and swollen. Several of the docs were shot in east Vancouver and I'm surprised by how homesick that makes me feel. We walk home and autumn's chill bites at us in our thin sweaters. Is it that time already? Yes it is, up here where summer is short at best.

It's a blue day, for sure. We had an amazing day off yesterday, which makes today's sadnesses bearable, because I know how much fun can be had here too. Yesterday a gang of us went to the lake and paddled and swam and snacked and laughed and it was perfection, which is what the lake always is for me. Sun on my skin and lakewater in my hair and good friends to share it all with. So I know there will be more of that, and more great days of work, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thrills & Spills


Today is the first day of ArtsWells, the "festival of all things Art", as it bills itself. Half of east van, my other home, comes to Wells, either to perform or to watch. I shoot into the day firing on all cylinders. A 4k run at 7am. Walking a friend's dog. Two shows. The weather is hot and the haze from a distant (we hope) forest fire puts a blur on the mountains. 
It's an odd sort of day. Three of us are tired from an epic day off of paddleboarding and going shopping in town. This morning my run feels good at the time but is probably not really such a hot idea. Our stage manager takes a tumble off a railing before the 4pm show, bruising her back and shaking herself up quite a bit. I get through that show in a daze, hot and tired out. On our way home we spot a friend of ours lying on the side of the road. She's skidded in gravel, fallen off her bike and broken her wrist. 
From the worry and sombre waiting at the accident scene to the giddiness of a festival- it's a weird transition. 
It ends up being the best year so far for dancing friends (usually I'm alone, wanting to hit the dance floor but lacking friends who want to join me). This year I have a nice pack of girls to get my groove on with. They are all way, way younger than me, but that's no big deal. I bump into friends I had forgotten were coming up here, I hug fellow-musicians who are performing, I buy a pretty ring, I dance and dance. 

Yesterday I spent the day in the water and sun and today I immerse myself in music, with the promise of more to come. Life's pretty much perfect. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My day off is being rained out, but the sound of the downpour on my metal roof makes it okay. It is the most cozy sound, especially when you're in your pyjamas and a too-large cashmere sweater, with nothing more pressing to do than eat breakfast and write stuff.
These are active days. I bike to work, I run, I work out. My roommates and I are starting a 30-day challenge to give up some bad stuff so I skip desserts again and I have a tan from paddleboarding and mostly I feel wonderful.
Girlfriends abound. My boss' 11-year-old granddaughter joins us for a week and soon she is practically running the theatre, at least in her mind. She takes tickets, does our show makeup, hangs out with Tanya in the booth, brings us pretty stones with personalized letters for each one: I chose this rock because it reminds me of you, good and kind. We have her over for tacos and a movie and she is giddy with the joys of spending a night with the grown-up ladies. We are all giddy with too much sugar and too much "Frozen" and we skip down the street singing LET IT GO, LET IT GOOOO at the tops of our voices.
Annabelle made me up to look like Elsa from "Frozen". It involved a lot of blue eye makeup.


I call two girlfriends who live far away, trying to imagine their lives in Whitehorse and Elkford. We talk music and marriage and I long to see them one day but money is always so tight.  I bond with the two girlfriends that I live with and we stay up late into the night talking about work and life and love, always love. I really like him but he doesn't like me. If someone told you that they had a crush on you would you be flattered or dismayed? Should I do something or just wait and see? Eleven or Twenty-Nine or Almost-Forty: some things are unchanging. 
One day this week I get really tired and therefore grouchy and I worry about the future again. This feels like limbo, I tell a friend. I love you guys and I love what I do here but is this real life? Living in a dilapidated cabin with three other people in a town of less than 300, dressing up for a living? The next day I am less tired and I think It doesn't matter if it's real life. It's MY life. I might not do it for ever, but right now it's okay, It's more than okay.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Days.

Two days. Two days away from work. The only 2-day 'weekend' we have until September.
We could not have been luckier with the weather...
At Bowron Lake
...And I could not be luckier to have friends who are willing to drive me around to various adventures. My goal was to spend as much time as possible on, near or in some water. I got my wish. I asked a certain someone to take me paddleboarding. He complied. I swallowed any thoughts of what if, or I want, or if only, and I had a great time. Paddling. Swimming. Hangin' out.
Then I spent the rest of the day with my 2 best girlfriends up here, doing much of the same at a different lake. There were even more paddleboards to rent! I could get addicted. 
Today's schedule included a 5k run with another girlfriend, a massage, and an afternoon ATV-ing and swimming in the Cottonwood River. This water-baby got her fix at last! I did everything I wanted to do this weekend and more. Lucky girl. 
The weekend is over far too quickly. We're back to work tomorrow, and now that the wind has died down the smoke from not-too-distant forest fires is hazing the skies. It's supposed to get hotter. But my skin is browner, my muscles are pleasantly sore, and my batteries are recharged. Sweet summer. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

21-Year-Old Wisdom.

Last night, after work, we have a friend over to watch movies and eat snacks with us. A typical lazy night, except that this is a particular friend: someone I've had a gigantic crush on for years every time I come up here.
And it is so so lovely: I play him a new tune, we all laugh our heads off at the movies, he and I sit together in the growing dark on the same couch for about 3 hours, we walk some of the way home together (I'm house-sitting), and never do we run out of things to talk about because we never do. Even though we do nothing at the end of our walk together but say "good night" and walk away I am in a daze afterwards, like someone who's drunk too much champagne.
But when I'm back in the Panabode kitchen talking to my best friend about him this morning and I say half-joking, "I wish I didn't have such a crush on him," she replies kindly "I wish you didn't either. Because he's a really nice guy and he's fun to hang out with, but I was watching his body language with you and I don't think he's interested." And the truth that was floating around my head in a big ugly bubble pops with an ugly splat and tears spring into my eyes. "It's okay, we'll wear him down, we'll keep inviting him over..." my friend says, still so kind, and I say sadly "I don't want to wear anyone down" and then although I try to stop them, the tears come for real.
This is the same friend who held me and comforted me and talked me through a horribly stressful breakup last summer and I know she loves me and wishes me nothing but happiness and love, fluffy kittens and unicorns; I know that she is fiercely sad on my behalf: why wouldn't he like you, he's crazy not to! I also know that she is not the Oracle and that she may be wrong, but my instincts tell me that, at least for now, she is rightrightright and it hurts, just like it hurts every time. The only things that make it better are the old standbys Age and Experience, who tell me to suck it up, enjoy my friends who love me in spite of my faults, enjoy my work, which is basically getting paid to sing and be a goofball, enjoy my health and strength; enjoy this moment and the moment after it and keep breathing and sleeping well and distracting myself until the pain of not being noticed, of not being visible to someone, dies down again.  And even shittier is having to distance myself from someone I really genuinely like and love to talk to, an intoxicating (to me) combination of smart and silly, all because I can't just be happy with friends instead of lovers.
My 21-year-old roommate is far wiser than me. "Stop having so many expectations," he counsels the lovelorn ladies of the Panabode, we who variously mourn our limited prospects in this small town. He already knows more than us: that it's best to accept whatever happens; that if you want too much you run the risk of losing it all. He isn't the first person to tell me this; the last one was my latest ex, as he and I watched our fragile relationship drown under the weight of all those expectations I had.
So, I guess I stop trying. It's not possible to turn off the wanting, but it is possible to stop banging my head against this particular brick wall over and over again. My young friend recently stopped a long-distance (and very new and uncertain) relationship because he was finding that the constant pining for something he couldn't have was preventing him from enjoying the experience of being here. If he's smart enough to focus on the here and now, I hope I can be too. I'll sleep long and well tonight, wake up feeling more like myself tomorrow. I'll take the pain of not being special to someone, and put it into our afternoon show, into a character who knows that all too well. And I'll keep finding the joy in everything I do, because to do otherwise would be to give away my power.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Recharging


This morning I started the day off with a massage with Kate, who lives just down the road. She and her husband are building a bakery, and her strong hands are good at kneading people and dough. I told her that my neck and shoulders felt tight and that I'd been getting a headachy feeling lately, which is unusual for me. She laughed when she started running her hands over my back. "Your shoulders are up around your ears!" she said. "Let's see if I can give you a longer neck by the time we're done." 

Weeks of playing the accordion (a heavy, unbalanced instrument), of manhandling the double bass and of huge, full-body singing (in a tight corset, no less), not to mention hours of rehearsals on top of performances, are taking their toll. Surrounded by intensity at work I try to be the one who plays it cool, so I store up tension in my neck and shoulders until my head aches. I run, I bike, I walk, but I don't stretch enough. My body is an elastic band, pulled taut. 

Last night I went to the pub with T, our stage manager. Both of us fighting the urge to simply stay in, to lie like puppies on the couch until we stumbled off to bed. It was worth going- a folk club from Prince George was in town for their annual gathering, and we laughed and sang and danced with locals and folkies alike and then felt we'd earned the right to flop on the couch and watch American Horror Story (a house addiction) until after midnight. 

Today I feel burnt out and weak. I am lying on the couch with a warm Magic Bag around my neck while G plays a video game, building empires, fighting wars. T is doing some lighting work at the theatre and W is home in Cottonwood with her husband for the day off. In a way I feel like a wimp for being so drained. I don't have kids, my work is fun, if intense, I am earning enough money and I love the people I'm with. But my body needs some time off. It's days like this, with the rain pounding down, that I wish I could curl up in bed with someone and… well. Instead the best I can do is keep myself away from the sugary snacks in the house, renew my acquaintance with the couch, outlast this nagging headache and maybe brave the rain for a quick walk. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Rhythm.

Every year I describe my summer job to people. And every year I tell them: "I have to live in a run-down old house with the same people I work with. It's a bit like a reality tv show sometimes. It's kinda nuts."
But the truth is, that's an exaggeration. It's not usually nuts, except in a good way. Like when your roommate speaks in a ridiculously bad English accent and you all break up giggling because it never gets old. Or when you turn up the volume on a cheesy Katy Perry song on the way to work in your stage manager's car and later you sing bits of it while dressed in a 19th-century costume. Or when you all rush outside the house because there is an ADORABLE  Grizzly bear cub across the road and even though you all know it's a terrible idea to get anywhere near a bear cub, you all have to see the baby close-up. * And then your roommate sneaks up behind you and snarls and you let out a huge scream because you thought it was Mama Bear.
There are two 20-somethings and two late-30-somethings; three girls and one boy, and we all snuggle up in the evening and crochet or play video games and watch "American Horror Story" or some super-hero action movie and laugh a lot and cook dinners together and do the Kitchen Dance as we all try to fit ourselves around each other at the same time.
Sometimes you all have a Junk Food Day on your day off, and you eat ridiculous amounts of sugar (even though some of you are trying really hard not to consume that sort of thing). You might even make Orangette's Chocolate Banana Bread recipe, if you want to make your roommates love you. It's loaded with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips as well as three bananas, and it won't last long:

It's the rhythm of my days with these folks that make life up here so sweet. In past years there has been more drama, but even when things were difficult or tense, we found some kind of rhythm together. It could be the hardest part of this contract, living for 5 months with the same people you see all day at work, and every year I'm amazed by how it's actually the best part. 

* This is a terrible idea! We only went outside to see the baby bear because there was no sign of the mother and as time went by it became apparent that for some reason she had become separated from her baby and was nowhere nearby. Don't ever do this. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I Came.




Why I come:

The dark, wood walls of this tumbledown house (now with waxed floors! A properly-vented dryer!  And-wonder of wonders- internet!).
The three other people here in this house with me, my co-workers, my friends, my family for the next five months.
A glimpse of grizzly bears running across the highway in front of our car today, scary and majestic.
The theatre, with all of its dust and paint and mouse droppings and beautiful acoustics and wood.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rollin' On

Every spring I write a wistful post about leaving Vancouver in all its warm and sunny glory. This year is no exception.
I walk down south Fraser Street yesterday afternoon inhaling the smell of blossoms, of food; hearing different languages and accents. My life (and diet) is a lot less Asian up North: no Thai, no Japanese, no Vietnamese, only excellent (but very expensive) Chinese food.
I am packing today. My life: compressed into 2 cardboard boxes, a suitcase, an accordion case.

I go on my annual 7-hour urban hike with a friend and the day couldn't be finer. Seven hours of beach, river, railway, sun, wind... We end the hike footsore and sunburned, but triumphant. 

The little cat climbs into my open suitcase, my chest of drawers, my closet. By the time I get back she will be fully-grown. I'll miss her wide eyes, her huge purrs, her playfulness. My brother and his wife will have their house to themselves again for five months. They have been excellent roommates, but so are the ones I live with in the summer. 

This pattern has been part of my life for four years now. 
There are no goodbyes, only "see-you-laters".


Been kickin' sawdust In these clothes
For a blue moon And a red nose
The boys will put 'em up And tear 'em down
We'll wash away The dirt
Just a glass a day Ain't gonna hurt
Pretty soon we'll move on Out of town

We pass them by Across the plains
We don't even try To catch the names
It's supper-time and their kids Are home from school
They draw the shades On their shops
While we go a'checking Through the props 
And putting on the paint To play the fool

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright

I'll go soft shoe When it rains
I'll go shuffle through The aches and pains
Mr. young at heart That's what I try to be
They all laugh And cry
They get to feeling better And that is why
If it was good for you Truly it was good for me

Then we're rollin' on
Rollin' on
Feeling, better Than we did last night
Rollin' on rollin' on
It's hard some times Pretty much it's alright


-Mark Knopfler, "Rollin' On"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Capital Times






















This town. No, not my town. Victoria! I can walk for miles there and still want to walk more, even when my feet are complaining. I am so excited to get there that I take the 7am ferry on Friday morning. 7am, people. This requires a heroic wake-up call of 5am, although it doesn't seem so hard to get up when it's for fun. One ferry trip and a bus ride later, and I am downtown. My pal Holly is working until the afternoon, so she gives me the keys to her place, I dump my stuff there, and walk. And walk. Window-shopping (and not buying, so hard) and taking pictures until my friend is free to join me. And then we walk some more. Beacon Hill Park, its beach, Ross Bay Cemetery (where a number of Barkerville notables are buried), back downtown... Holly is taller than me, and an even faster walker. My 5am wake-up catches up to me but still we walk, exulting over daffodils, tulips, lilies. This city has embraced spring utterly.
That night we go to the theatre (Holly works in theatre, which is how we met). We see "Winners & Losers" by Theatre Replacement, which is actually a Vancouver company. An east Vancouver company, to be exact. So there we are, shmoozing with Vancouver actors after the show, all of us over in Victoria for various reasons. Then it's off to a late-night spot for some snacks and home to the condo for prosecco, peanuts, Dire Straits and gossip about boys, love, and life.
Next day is the same, except with a later start. Walking, eating, photographs, more walking, theatre. Every so often we just grin and sigh happily. The weather is incredible, the food excellent, the company lovely. I know that Victoria is like Seattle for me in that it's an alternate-universe Vancouver: an escape from my city that's eerily like it in many ways but because I don't live there I don't take it for granted and I only see the good parts. And that's fine. We all need escapes like that. And friends to share them with.