Archive for January, 2016


Wednesdays’ child is full of WHOA!

January 27, 2016

I found myself potentially living a metaphor for my current existence in real time today. It was not in any way pleasant and made me think I’m not making the most expert of choices. However, there is always hope.

When I first started thinking about school, I made a spreadsheet and tried to work out how much it would cost me to live and school myself for ten months. The government worked out it would cost me about 5,000 less than I did, but I estimated high, they have no sense of reality, so the number is likely somewhere in between.

Through every fault of my own, I mismanaged my student loan and any extraneous earnings, I failed to find work at those times I wasn’t schooling – to be fair, I honestly didn’t think it would be so difficult, I figured there would be employers clamouring for the evening and weekend fill in set – and I find myself in a dangerous place. Less than three months until school finishes and at this moment, it’s uncertain I’ll be able to afford to. There is some stress, to be sure.

It’s really amazing how quickly things can snowball and suddenly I find myself staring down something that seems really overwhelming and dramatic in my near future. I get caught up in the stress of what’s going to happen and spend way too much time worrying about how things will work out.

Except that I forgot about now. And how it’s not later. Future perfect, future imperfect.. neither of those has much bearing on right now beyond what I dwell on.

Way back when I had first been accepted to school, my thoughts swirled around what it would look like when I wandered around telling people “I’m a heavy duty mechanic.” It sounded so badass and cool. I honestly didn’t give much thought to how it would feel.

(To be clear, I’m not an idiot. I completely understood going in that it would be dirty, wet, cold, hard, dangerous, painful, frustrating, greasy, exhausting and argh-worthy at times, regardless of how frequently I make noises that reflect an opposing view. That’s me trying to be funny to keep from crying because I’m so cold, greasy and in pain. But honestly, I love working hard at something and falling into bed, having earned my exhaustion. And a hot bath cures most feelings of meh.)

I do that frequently. I get caught up in the notion of future perfect and forget about the steps in between, which are way more necessary to focus on. I didn’t think about all the work that I would have to do to become a certified mechanic, I was too busy thinking about how I’ll have healthy teeth and be able to surf warm ocean for three months out of every year.
I didn’t think about the potential for injury if I’m not focused on what I’m doing, though I have a gimpy near torn off and thankfully reattached thumb which is the result of exactly that. One would think I would have an every day reminder of how important it is to focus on what’s happening in this moment!

But future perfect is fun to be caught up in. All the plans and schemes and dreams and potential awesomes and adventures that await! If only I can just get through today, a perpetual countdown to the thing I want to be doing, the place I want to be living, the existence I know is waiting.

Future imperfect though, that’s the one I hardly ever plan for and this is something that distresses me a bit.
I could use earthquakes, a major illness or injury, plague of locusts or zombie apocalypse as an example of a future imperfect, but it doesn’t need to be anything so major to compel a feeling of stress and near panic.
It’s a very difficult and humbling lesson to learn at almost forty that I’m not very good at adulting. Yet.

As part of the school curriculum, we are to spend a month as free labour (I paid for this?) for a company within the community so we can learn firsthand about the industry we plan to work in. While I’m not totally pleased with the school I chose to go to, for reasons I won’t go into here (this is about meeeee, damnit!) I am in many ways, feeling good about the shop I’m working at. Unfortunately, twice now, I’ve managed to fling bits of metal into my left eye while using a grinder on some delightfully rusty metal things. Yes, while I was wearing safety glasses. Apparently I need an astronaut helmet.
But it’s a good reminder that injury can happen in the blink of an eye. And while it’s not so dire as any day I lose to injury in this instance isn’t a day of paid work, it’s still an interruption to my status quo.
Which can create stress to add to a scenario that is already a little tight.

It was my intention to stop at the grocery store on my way home. Yes, my finances are bordering on non-existent, but I will never have to justify spending money on food. And so, because I had ridden my bike to the grocery store this morning, walked the rest of the way to work it was sitting there waiting for me, when I made my way there (after a quick stop at the hospital to have my eyeball fixed up). I thought about leaving it, as it was pouring rain and there are buses that run that way, but the “you don’t have any money to waste on frivolity!” voice demanded I act like an adult and ride my bike.

Now here is something silly I do when I’m sad or stressed. I buy terrible food because there is a part of my brain that insists a ‘guilty pleasure’ will cheer me up. Chocolate bar, fast food breakfast sandwich, overpriced brightly coloured grocery store chinese food, whatever. It’s a terrible idea. It makes me feel horrible, it’s money I can’t afford to be spending so I get down on myself for being so irresponsible and because it’s pretty much made exclusively with the trifecta of wheaty/soy/dairy food doom, whatever energy I have to fight the panicky thoughts of “we’re going to have to drop out of school/sell the dog/sell the piano/move in with mom/oh my god mom doesn’t live anywhere, we’re screwed!!” and they blossom in a spiralling escalation of bad thought/feeling validation to a place where they seem reasonable.

They’re not. Just to be clear.

So I found myself, riding home in a torrential downpour on a fenderless “all the rain that isn’t in your face up your back!!” bike with dodgy “i’m not fond of the rain” brakes, in the dark with no light because I wasn’t planning on having to detour to the hospital and getting home later than four, grocery bags balanced precariously on either handle bar, with one good eye.

(Hmmm….Wednesday. Odin’s day. Odin the one eyed all father of Norse mythology. Two wednesdays in a row I’ve managed to get metal in my left eye. Interesting… But that’s a post for another time.)

I found myself at one point during my “everything has to stay perfectly balanced in order for this to turn out well” sojourn home thinking, how the fuck did I get into this (particular and/or general) scenario? Bad planning + circumstance + forgetting to be goddamn present = it feels overwhelming and stressful and insane. And realized how easy it was to superimpose what was happening right then, with what’s happening in my life.

I knew it was going to rain and I took a fenderless bike with brakes that hate water instead of an umbrella. If that’s not some bad planning, I don’t know what is. At least I have the intelligence to recognize what isn’t working and make an effort to change. Right now.

So many moments during the ride I thought, when I get home I’m going to…
And then I stopped myself, brought myself back to, how about you get through this intersection without dying or losing your groceries or…you know what? Don’t even go there, just watch traffic and be mindful of your place in it and feel the weight of the bike balanced between the bags and keep moving forward. It will get better.

It always does.

And honestly. I have a home, heat, food, clothes, love. What reason do I have to complain about anything, ever?

None that I can see.
Out of one eye, at least.


Why it hurts (to lose people I don’t know)

January 15, 2016

Lots of people die. All of them, eventually. There are more people who have died than there are people who are alive right now. On average, there are 15 dead people for every one that is alive. The majority of them died well before I was born, fortunately many of them left behind a legacy that has the potential to benefit my existence, however many centuries removed we are from one another.
Shakespeare is a great example of that. He’s one of my favourite authors of all time! And has managed to stay contemporary, because regardless of the era, the human condition does not change all that much.

Humans are capable of great and terrible things. Grand sweeping gestures and impressively horrendous acts, both to themselves and one another. But I find there is a majesty in those aspects quiet, minuscule, often unwritten. There is a grace to humanity in moments uncatalogued, undocumented. And so, for me, I find those characters who seem to embody that humanity more authentically than others, to be the unsung heroes of the everyday.

We exist in a time (like many other times..the fact that pocket sized recording devices didn’t exist has no bearing on how joyfully and fervently people have historically embraced sensationalistic stories of violence and tragedy) when it’s very difficult to consider the humanity in the people who are touted as celebrities, super models, mega stars.
They are lofty, they are untouchable, they are something more than the hoipolloi.
I tend to not pay attention to the goings on of pop culture very often. Yes, there are celebrities that I like, whose work (I’m talking about famous people who work, not famous people who don’t seem to do much of anything but argue on television) contributes, in my mind (remember the part where this is all about me and what I think and you can like what you like all day long but please don’t be offended when you start talking to me about the cultural merit of a show that glorifies vapidity and I tell you to shut the fuck up because your religion is your business and I wish you joy in that) to the body of work that is humanity throughout history.

When I heard that Alan Rickman had died, it made me very sad. There might be some who say, why the fuss over someone famous? It’s not like you actually knew them. Well, that’s true and it’s not, to my thinking. Had we ever had tea? Does he know the name of my dog? No, but there are billions of people on the planet I’ve never had, nor ever will have tea with. That doesn’t mean that their existence doesn’t have the opportunity to affect me on some level. Ideally for the better.
For me, Alan Rickman was one of the rare celebrities who I could easily imagine as a person. That might not seem like much to some, but to me, it’s a most important thing.
Every role that he played, he played as a human. Yes, I always knew that it was Alan Rickman, his voice, his face, his mannerisms were very distinct. But I never had any trouble recognizing who else he was at the time. Because he understood how to embody the person within the character. He made them real. Whether it was a psychotic gentleman thief, a dismayed sheriff, a hairdresser ex-husband, an underestimated but consistent romantic suitor, I always found it effortless to identify with the humanity of those characters. Will his characters stand the test of time? Be touted as great works of cinematic masterpiece? That’s a subjective perspective. Personal taste is, after all, personal. Not everyone would feel the way I do about Shakespeare, and that’s okay. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that something is good. That’s what individuality is all about.

But in a world where it seems so easy to forget that all aspects of the human condition deserve to be acknowledged, not just the flash bang halftime stadium concert circus extravaganza or horrifically gory needless tragic killing in the name of confusion, it’s reassuring to know that there are humans who embody the sanity of the happy medium between those two points. The place where I consider humanity to exist best.
Truly, madly, deeply.


Who gave you permission?

January 12, 2016

An undertaking of when I encountered, as a child, the moment that opened my mind broadly enough to accept that there are truths not readily shared.

Do you remember the moment you were given permission to do that thing, be that person, embrace that belief system that made you feel as though you were home?

As a caveat, when I use “you”, I’m speaking of myself. I don’t know how it is for anyone else. I can’t. I won’t. I can say I empathize, sympathize, whatever. While there are facets of truth in that, ultimately I’m lying. I have no idea what it is to be you. Nope, not a bit.
All I can do is spout the gibberish that inhabits my brain in an attempt to make sense of the world as I see it.

Welcome to my crazy.

There are many moments in my life when I recall the feeling of eureka as it applied to something new for me. The day I discovered that I didn’t have to like every single person who existed. That I can go to the movies alone. That I didn’t have to wear shoes.

That it was okay to weird.

To be fair, there probably wasn’t one exact moment when that happened. There were outside influences. My dad showed me that hilarious dark, sardonic wit and unapologetically skewed was an acceptable perspective via varied British comedy. Roald Dahl introduced me to the worlds within reach within realities I found familiar, and the delightful dark places that children are much better versed in than many adults suspect. Jim Henson gave me magic made tangible within the medium of muppets. Not just studebaker driving bears in porkpie hats and dogs who play fetch and the piano, but crystals dark and castles beyond the goblin city. Where I, like so many others in 1986, encountered David Bowie for the first time.

The alluring antagonist whose every action was a result of his desire to make the protagonist his queen. I seriously never understood how not marrying 1986 David Bowie was considered the more favourable ending.

“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

He was a juxtaposition of cruel and kind, a dichotomy of stern and generous. The scene in the ballroom, before she so rudely started smashing mirrors and wrecking the place, his eyes always sought her out. His attention never wavered.
“How you turn my world, you precious thing.”
He was a human like entity in a world that was fantastic and strange, extraordinary and incredible, beautiful and weird. It gave 10 year old me hope that I would find myself outside of a mundane world grown weary with it’s lack of magic. (spoiler alert..I did)

And that’s where it began, in my mind. I felt like I had been given permission to take delight in the unusual. And while David Bowie became as much of a mainstay in my existence as the muppets did (and still do) his presence was altogether something more. Muppets, as anyone who has ever encountered them know, are muppets. They can be odd and strange and wonderful and musical but at the end of the day, they are manipulated by unseen forces.
Not so, David Bowie.

And before I ever discovered who he was, he had already reinvented himself a number of different ways. He made me consider that personality, like imagination, is limitless. And none of that personality needs to fit a certain template. Hell, it doesn’t even need to be based on earth!

Expression and exploration are not things to be feared. A musician isn’t restricted by genre, an artist need not limit themselves to one medium, a person doesn’t have to do the same thing all the time.

And loving ever minute of it. For as long as it lasts.

“It’s only forever, not long at all.”

And because I can, here is a link to my attempt at a musical tribute. 


Snapshots and Glue

January 7, 2016

There is a delicious macro micro quality to memories.

The macro being the grand times, the dynamic happenings, the oh my god remember that time when I…
(flew to england for the weekend to go to a party…loaded six friends and four dogs into my van and drove down the coast on a roadtrip…decided to go, prepared for and went to burning man, three days before the gates opened…helped throw an amazing party on a westcoast beach every july for 11 years…spent a month cruising around costa rica with my sister and no plan whatsoever…decided to go live in paris with $1000 and a one way ticket…)

The micro being the myriad memories that I carry as a result of those epic adventures as well as the moments that might not seem as impressive but are just as important to the narrative that is the story of me that come and go, delightful details to enhance existence.
(the way gardenias remind me of that sunday night in Paris…the opening clarinet of Rhapsody in Blue…the taste of warmth on fresh strawberries that have been picked in the sun…the hue of summertime barefoot dirt brown that looks best on my feet…how it feels to hear rain on the roof…to smell pavement after a dry spell…to stumble into a field of butterflies and flowers…to be overwhelmed by stars and frogsong at night)

A moment, defined as a past instant (we had our..), a present(at the..), a future effect (it would be the defining…), can be insignificant or pivotal.

It’s how we process those times that make the difference. There could be life changing instants that are never noted. And moderately trifling happenings that are imbued with import to the point that they gain a foothold within historical context that may or may not be deserved. But that’s merely a matter of perspective.

For me, I’ve discovered that manoeuvering through life is like learning a new language. I tend to put an emphasis on vocabulary, the basics. The building blocks of communication. Verbs and nouns are damn exciting. All those people and places and things to have adventurous action words with, at, on, near..did I mention with and on?  And then there are adverbs and adjectives because the adventures are only as good as my ability to recall and remind myself of how they felt, looked, smelled, tasted, sounded. Sensations made sensate, as it were.

These are snapshots. A life lived in moments made momentous by design. They are the pictures on social media, the status updates that have been edited for content, but not context, necessarily.
Because they contain no glue.

I discovered when I was living elsewhere (okay, France) and trying to learn the language (because, communication) I put so much emphasis on the vocabulary so that I could relate my adventures, describe my existence, share the snapshots of my world with friends, new and old, that I forgot about the inbetweens.

The. At. An. This. That. Some. Many. Maybe. Here. Over there. Down. Up. Then. Now. At least. None.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t learn these words eventually, but they were not the words that were first on my list of things I should know how to say. I went for verbs and nouns! I went for actions and things! I knew how to say I saw something, but without the knowledge of the seemingly insignificant words I took for granted in my own language, my communication was less than coherent. My sentences disjointed and nonsensical.

I think it’s the same with relationships. We meet someone and they’re amazing! We explode into each others’ lives all colourful sensuous action words and impressive personplaceythings. We share those traits attractive and tendencies formidable, the past moments that shine lights on who we’ve been up until this point, the where I’m at now balanced and sane of course you should hang out with me-ness, those fun fantastic future perfect perspectives of the snapshots we can look back on and smile at how fortunate we’ve been.

We think about all the adventures we’re going to have. Visit Reykjavik, go 4x4ing and giggle at shaggy ponies, swim around in the blue lagoon. Maybe go to Cambodia, he hold my hand and distract me with stories while I get a tattoo and then I’ll return the favour. We’ll fight in airport lounges after not enough sleep and too many Singapore slings (why did you drink so many damn slings!! Sugar makes you crazy and gin makes you an emotionally abrasive whore!!!). We’ll make up in hotel rooms, forget why we fought on beaches, remember during the layover (I don’t care if you are taller than me, if you order a Singapore sling I will jump up and slap you in the face!) and smile with relief, so glad to be home.
We imagine a bevy of scenarios and they’re descriptors of some imagined relationship thing which has no context because it doesn’t have any details (beyond his totally unreasonable affectation for drinking singapore slings while on vacation…I’m just kidding, the aforementioned affectation seems totally reasonable to me. C’mon, grenadine, cherry brandy, soda and gin? (poetic license disclaimer; I do not suggest that I have any idea what people prefer to drink while on vacation, I can and will only speak for myself. Mojitos. Because rum and mint? Hells yeah.)).

A broad and varied vocabulary is required. An ability to communicate and maintain dialogue that allows evolution within the experience is fundamentally necessary. And yes, a well rounded relationship will make space to encompass those smaller, seemingly innocuous parts that rarely make it into the snapshots.

The way his hand feels when it rests on the inside of your thigh as he’s driving. The way her head fits perfectly between your shoulder and jawline as you’re curled up in bed. The way the house smelled that time she was making sushi and burned the rice because you caught her around the waist and dragged her onto your lap. The way she smiles when she’s thinking about you and doesn’t think you see. The way he laughs uproariously at your silly.

The glue. The behind the scenes moments that comprise an existence made personal, meaningful.

%d bloggers like this: