I have a bit of trouble with this whole "New Years" thing, because really? January has never felt like a fresh start to me.
In January, I'm usually realizing that I have an entire winter ahead of me. I'm accepting that I can't afford to take a proper vacation, because Christmas was expensive, and my BH has classes anyway. For whatever reason, I'm usually sleep-deprived and feeling unattractive - layering up is warm and practical, but not always pretty. Long johns are no summer dress. I'm usually cursing the emergence of slush and bemoaning the damage road salt has inflicted on my boots. I'm generally hibernating, spinning my cocoon, making tea.
All these things combined make January a bad time for me to start over, mentally and emotionally. It's also a bad time for me to try and get in shape, that go-to resolution, because I'm eating heavy winter foods and avoiding the outdoors (besides my walk to work and back, without which I would be a lump on a log).
That being said, I have no problem reflecting on 2009, which will always be a memorable year for me.
This year, my number one standout event was performing on The Vinyl Cafe. It was so memorable, so beyond what I thought I was capable of, that I've got the whole thing permanently etched into my brain. Meeting Hawksley Workman and having an actual chat with him was part of that. Baking him cookies that didn't rise and writing him a love letter on bulldog stationary added to it. I guess that show made me feel like I had a reason to keep up with music. It no longer felt futile. Somehow, my songs reached enough people that I got to take it to the next level. That will always stay with me. It was quite a feeling. By the way, you folks out in blog land really helped me out with that show, whether you know it or not. I always knew you were rooting for me, and it made all the difference when my nerves threatened to eat me alive. Those of you who I have met, and those of you who I have yet to meet - THANK YOU.
Some other memorable stuff from 2009 include:
- Getting involved with the Venus Envy bursary fund, and the subsequent queer dance parties and burlesque shows that followed.
- Learning more about my community and making new friends.
- Meeting a bunch of you at the Blog Out Loud event - that was a lot of fun!
- Drinking too much at my office party and being wildly inappropriate (I'm not saying you should follow my example, I'm just saying it's going to stick out in my mind for a while. Like, a long while).
- Watching my BH's kid brother start high school. He was such a little guy when I met him. I can't believe he's taller than me.
- Visiting my sister in Peterborough. The antique store with the stacks of vintage Penthouse may have helped out the entertainment factor a bit.
- Countless meals with my family, and getting to know my Bubbi a lot more.
- My BH and I visiting Toronto, actually staying in a hotel, and actually managing to visit a few friends.
- Gigging in Toronto with Brian and Shawna. Gigging everywhere, actually. It was a good year for shows.
- Morty and my BH, who are always such adorable highlights to my day.
I can tell 2010 is going to be a wild year. My BH will graduate. I will (hopefully) start recording a new album, grant or not. I have a secret project that I'll tell you about when I am further along with it. My BH and I might actually get ourselves to Japan.
That's a lot to look forward to. L'Chaim!
I have a bit of trouble with this whole "New Years" thing, because really? January has never felt like a fresh start to me.
For all the craziness that has taken over as of late, I haven't had a nervous breakdown. Yet.
We'll see how that goes as the momentum builds and then I faceplant! Ahem.
In the meantime, I'm getting very excited about New Years, and greatly enjoying my Christmas gifts. Especially the bulldog shirt.
I played a house concert this past weekend.... I know I didn't mention it here, but it was really low key and built for a tiny crowd. We got just the right number of people out and I even played some very new (and very old) songs. Stuff like that is welcomed at a house concert. Not always the case at a bar.
Anyway, the show was lovely. We (Shawna, Brian and myself) had mulled wine and chatted with the folks who showed up. High School Boyfriend even came bearing home-baked gifts and alcoholic beverages. Yay for me! Yay for HSB!
In other news, the renovations from hell continue unabated at my apartment. Well, technically in the apartment above us, but it's so damn loud you wouldn't know the difference.
The other day, a guy was in here patching up some drywall after they ACCIDENTALLY BLEW A HOLE IN OUR WALL. We had the following conversation:
Him: So I guess the renovations have been pretty annoying for you, hey?
Me: Yeah, they are pretty shitty.
Him: I suppose the sound gets really bad.
Me: The sound is bad, but I'm also pretty peeved that the roofers and contractors seem to think we can't see them peeing out the back of the building.
Him: Uh, what?
Me: Yeah, I can see them all though the bedroom window, peeing away. My apartment isn't a toilet, you know. I can't believe how many wangs I've seen in the past month. It's getting kind of tiresome.
Him: ..... UM.
Me: (muttering) Fucking wangfest.
But in all seriousness, I have seen a lot of wangs this month. And yes, I'm complaining about it.
Morty discovered that he loves to tear up wrapping paper. Unfortunately we thought it was so cute that we didn't stop him, and he spent the following three days attacking every present he found so he could get to the paper.
I went to see my folks on Christmas Day. They had a lovely tree.
My fam is rad, no? Now you see why I'm so weird. These are my kin.
We made very blue pancakes. They had some very leaky blueberries in them.
My Bubbi was there. She's the cutest! She also bought my BH a real fruitcake, because she knows he's the only person in the world who eats that stuff. Thoughtful gal.
My mom took pictures of my dad. My dad made a lot of faces.
I discovered my mom's fridge poetry. Dirty! So that's where I get it from...
It hit me this morning like a ton of bricks. I want to get back in the studio. Like, now.
There are a few reasons why I'm not recording at the moment. One, because I have only a few good new songs. Also, I really can't afford it.
I suppose the logical thing to do is apply for those grants and wait to see if I get any money. BUT. Then I have to wait until the deadline passes in January, then wait around for a few more months to get a response, and if I don't get the money, that's a winter wasted.
The alternative, I think, is to save up a little bit of money and chat with my engineer about how much time I can buy. Then I'll go in and lay down some very quick tracks. At least then I'll have something to work on while I figure the rest of the money out.
Anyway. That's the tentative plan.
In other news, other than having bought all the gifts, I have zero else prepared. No wrapping, no decorations, no baking, nada. Damn this crazy month! My lofty plans will have to come down a notch, but that's cool. At least we took the time to stock up on booze.
Today was one of those funny days. I didn't do much, but it feels like I did a lot. Does that make sense? Probably not.
My BH and I went to Raw Sugar for a mini date. He snapped this picture of the back of my head, which is handy, because now you can see the pink. I think it might actually fade to a light pink before my next appointment, which is cool with me - then it will match some of my wardrobe.
You know. Because I'm terribly concerned with wardrobe matching.
I snapped this picture, which does not include any pink hair. Those are my favourite pears on a table, next to a plate that once held some tasty banana cake.
Remember when I joined a church choir? Tomorrow is our big show. My BH might come after all, and if he does, I'll try to get him to take a picture of my choir robes. I look like a fat angel in them. Not because I'm fat (or an angel), but because the robes are terribly unflattering and white.
Work is really wearing me down these days. It's insanely busy, and will continue to be busy for most of the winter. So I was extremely grateful when Milan said I could use his apartment to write songs in while he's numbing his ass on a bus to BC. Thanks Milan! I hope you regain the feeling in your ass soon.
I went to a work retreat the other day. I think I've vented about these things before... Specifically how the word "retreat" is used to lure you into a false sense of fun. Really, it's just a day spent absorbing office lingo and trying to bond with your co-workers. Total pain in the ass, if you ask me.
I already know I'm not cut out for long-term office work. Any of you who know me personally probably find it surprising I've lasted as long as I have. Come to think of it, you don't even need to know me personally to have figured that out.
I long for more hands-on, creative and flexible work than what I'm doing. But what I'm doing pays the bills. It lets me do music without being flat broke.
At this retreat, we were asked to write up some suggestions to improve some project and help us achieve some abstract goal. I drew a fire-breathing dragon on my little card, and wrote "Sorry, but I've got nothing interesting to say about this."
Later, one of the managers made a speech about horizontal management. My brain interpreted this as a euphemism for sex, and I giggled to myself for half an hour.
You see why I'm not made for this stuff?
As far as I understand it, work retreats are supposed to make you feel part of a team. They are supposed to make you feel like you are doing something useful... Working towards a common goal.... Being productive.
Without fail, however, they make me feel like stabbing myself in the eye just to get out of there. They remind me why I will one day quit. Go back to school, make music my main focus, become a full-time nudist.... Anything but this.
In other news, I got my awesome stylist to dye a section of my hair hot pink. You should see the looks I'm getting at the office. :)
The construction continues unabated at our apartment. The new landlord said they should be done the majority of the work by the end of the month. I really hope he's right, because I'm going to bust a cap in someone's ass if this goes on through January. This morning, giant chunks of my roof were falling outside the window while I was showering.
So remember back when I joined that church choir? Our big concert is this Sunday. I think my BH might be working, so I don't know if any of my friends will actually witness my transformation into a choir girl. I'll be wearing robes and everything. I'm also going to be standing next to a friend of mine who is about a foot taller than me. Maybe I'll dig out some heels so I don't look like such a shrimp.
Did you hear? The strike is over! Congrats to my bloggy friends who have been freezing their butts off to get better working conditions. You deserve a good stiff drink.
More soon when things aren't so nutty....
I bought a Canada Goose coat this fall so that my wintery walks would be more bearable. It is by far the best coat I have ever owned, and I don't think I'll ever switch brands again (thanks for convincing me, Heather!).
I'm still not nuts about that thin line of actual fur around the hood, but considering that I walked 40 minutes through a blizzard and barely noticed the howling winds, I guess I'll just deal.
On my walk, I saw one guy without a hat and one guy with sneakers on. Are they making a fashion statement, or are they just dumb? I'd love to know. When you can't see a few inches past your nose with all the snow, it's time to dress for the weather. This is Ottawa! We get nutty weather! Converse will not protect you.
As I feared, December is slipping by faster than I would like. I've put off decorating the apartment because my new landlord is always coming in to do renovations, but shit, the month will be over soon. If my decorations get some plaster dust on them, so be it.
While it's nice to see the building getting fixed up, I'm getting pretty sick of all the noise. They tore off the roof the other day, and they tore up the flooring of the upstairs apartment yesterday. Today they are doing something disruptive to our hallway. They may have to rebuild a dividing wall because apparently, "It's not really a wall. Somebody tossed up a piece of wood and some drywall and called it safe." Fucking lame. Morty is a nervous mess because of all the thumping and my BH is trying to study for exams. The timing really blows.
I'm trying to be patient, but there's a big part of my brain that wants to go out and get a mortgage quote or two. I'm starting to talk to myself in soothing tones so I don't do anything irrational. Renting still makes sense, providing the renos don't go on indefinitely.
My gig schedule is pretty clear now with fall being over. I'm going to take the opportunity to book some songwriting time, and maybe a few key gigs. I don't think I'll be as busy as I was over the past few months, and that's cool with me. Gigging in the winter without a car is kinda tricky. But songwriting? That I can do.
Poor Morty. Between the reno noise and the sound of my guitar, he's going to be one miserable bulldog.
It has been a while since I've been able to post. Apologies. So much has been going on.
On the small scale, my BH got this cute little table and chairs from our neighbour. It fits the space a lot better than the giant set we were using before. ADORABLE.
On the chubby scale, here's my awesome dog waking up from a nap. In a bandanna! ADORABLE.
Yesterday was weird.
I had an unexpected day off work, which was great, except that I couldn't really decide what to do with myself. I puttered around for a bit before I decided to walk my lazy ass down to Preston and get all my knives sharpened.
There's something about walking though Centretown with a giant bag full of knives, let me tell you.
Now I have knives so sharp I'm scared to use them. I was washing them in the sink after I brought them home and sliced my heavy duty sponge in two. Eventually I'll graduate from sponges to actual food. The reason I got them sharpened in the first place was to avoid the mess I become when I'm cutting onions.
So. It's December. Consider my mind blown.
Obviously I knew it was coming. I have a calender. I know that December follows November. But I know how quickly December slides by, so I'm already wondering if I'm going to blink and find myself in January.
Here are some of the things I'll be doing to make December as great as possible:
- make mincemeat pies
- make chocolate candy cane bark for my co-workers
- have a million dinners with my friends
- order my final two or three Christmas gifts
- buy more Hannukah gelt
- bring out my Christmas decorations and do up the apartment
- listen to a lot of loud choral music
- hang out with my puppy and my BH as much as I can
- send out some holiday cards with pictures, especially to family in India
- sing in the choir!
- make some lists (funny, I wrote this down before I noticed the irony)
How about you? What are you going to do to make sure your month is fun fun fun?
I had a really great weekend.
The Colombian was in town. Seeing as how we get to visit about once a year, it was pretty nice to see him. The second he walked in the door, Morty showed him his bum and wouldn't move without a good pat. It's like a toll at our apartment.
Luckily, The Colombian is highly skilled at doggy bum rubs.
My gig in Wakefield was really fun... The room was packed with regulars and the bar was charming. It seems like the kind of place I'd want to hang out if I lived a bit closer. People seemed to like my set, and my buddies played super well too. Below, Ashely, Brian, Chris and Neil.
On Saturday, I finally got to try out The Imperial. They had some nice looking things on the menu, and some fine looking posters on the wall. Some of them made me laugh...
The Imperial is located next to Barrymore's, and it's just the kind of spot this neighbourhood needs. They has some really nice herbal teas, too. I had the rosehip one, and it kicked ass. Give it a try if you go!
I got the veggie breakfast, which I think looked better on paper than it did on my plate. Not that it was bad, but my bread was dry, as was my frittata and my beans. I think with some tweaking they could have a really stellar thing going on, but some butter for the toast would be a good first step. I'll be back to try things out when they've gotten the hang of things.
Admittedly, I didn't know what to expect from the gig last night... I had been given very little information about it, and there was virtually no promotion around town. I had low expectations, despite being excited to play at the NAC again.
Maybe it was the fact that I had no idea how the night would go, but holy, that was an awesome gig. The crowd was very receptive to my set, and they bought me out of CDs. I had brought most of a box too - pretty unexpected. I'm usually surprised if I sell a couple in a night.
Now I have enough cash to cushion the Christmas rush, and some extra to put aside for Japan. This is a much appreciated break from the norm. I was starting ot get anxious about the inevitable spending on the horizon.
Tonight I'm taking it easy. I went to bed pretty late because of the show, and I've been hurting all day because of it. I think I'll do some laundry and then go to bed. EXCITING TIMES.
Tomorrow I'm playing at this great venue with my dear cuz. And did you guys know that there's an Ottawa version of the TED conference coming to town? It's called TEDx Ottawa and it looks like I'll be playing at the after-party. Tres excitant.
In the spirit of TED, Here's the link to one of my favourite talks with percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Enjoy!
Some quick things while I'm rushing around:
1. The Colombian arrives today. God knows when I'll see him, because his planning sucks so majorly, but at least we'll be in the same city for a few days. I wonder if I can get him out to my Wakefield gig on Saturday.... Actually, never mind. He'd arrive four hours after the show was finished. (Oh hey, I'm playing in Wakefield Saturday. Y'all are invited, as always.)
2. I'm playing at the NAC Fourth Stage tonight in a benefit for a public school's arts program. I love playing the Fourth Stage, so I'm thrilled. Also? Christmas dinners are piling up, so I could use the extra cash. I sure hope the audience is in the mood for CDs.
3. While I've been obsessed with Dan Black's Un record for some time now, I've entered a whole new level of appreciation for him lately. Partly because I think he's a fantastic songwriter, artist and all around crazy dude, but also because I can't seem to cover his songs. Usually I can manage a pretty decent cover, but every time I play his stuff, I find myself longing for his version. He's just so GOOD. I can't pull off what he pulls off. I love you, Dan Black. Please keep making music. Also, Cocoon and Let Go break my heart into a million pieces every time I listen to them.
4. Christmas baking has begun, and I'm getting fat. I'm not usually one to care about a few extra pounds over the holiday season, buy holy fuck dudes, it's not even December yet. Must slow down. There's delicious curves, and then there's delicious curves, if you catch my drift.
5. I have a couple more gifts to order, and then I'm all done my Christmas shopping. Packages seem to be arriving in the mail every second day. It's excellent fun.
6. Grant applications are making my brain ache. I'm making several backup plans in case I need to finance my own recording again, even though that will make me so much more broke than I am right now. It's going to be quite a process, so be patient with me. I'm thankful that my BH will be working soon - all the more room to funnel money into my music addiction!
My BH's sister very sweetly bought Morty three stuffed rats for him to play with. When the pup fell asleep, it was difficult to resist lining them up. As in, impossible. Gaaah, the cute!
Milan's birthday is coming up, and since he'll be out of town, my BH and I gave him his present early. It may or may not have been obscene.
But we'll go with a 'yes' on that one.
I don't know what's gotten into me. I just scrubbed the kitchen floor and cleaned out my oven because I had nothing else do to.
Usually when I have nothing else to do, I devour my chocolate stash or I watch a movie. As long as it involves sloth or greed, I do it.
Maybe I have swine flu of the brain?
Now I have a sparkly kitchen, with the only downside being that I raked my hand across some broken glass during the mad clean and now I have teeny cuts. Boo.
This weekend seems blissfully clear of obligations. Do you know how happy this makes me? SO HAPPY, let me tell you. Obviously it's my own fault that I tend to over schedule, but still. An empty weekend just looks so good right now.
Maybe I'll clean the bedroom. Or maybe I could do what normal people do and procrastinate all the things I want to finish.
Holiday prep is going well. We have a homemade wreath, we have highly alcoholic mincemeat for pie making, and I listened to my first Christmas CD yesterday. It's choral Christmas, so it doesn't always sound super festive (often Gregorian and depressing, as it turns out), but still. Tres excitant.
One of my BH's gifts came in the mail today, and I ordered his main present yesterday. I'm already having so much fun. Thank goodness for internet shopping.
I should go pass out now, since chiseling layers of grime out of my oven managed to exhaust me. As a parting gift, I leave you.....
That's how you know I love you.
Oh, the Cameron gig was fun. Other than getting to visit with Shawna, which is always a highlight, the night just went swimmingly.
Before the show, Shawna, Brian and I grabbed some dinner at a local restaurant called the Village Idiot Pub. The food was great, and Sook Yin Lee wandered in halfway through the meal. I tried very hard not to picture her as I remember her in Shortbus, but that turned out to be impossible.... As you can imagine. Try not staring when you've seen someone doing hot, graphic things on screen.
The crowd was great... And I got to visit with some lovely people. HSB had recently moved to Toronto, so he came and somehow got me to see how many marshmallows I could fit in my mouth (five, which seems low to me, boo). Every seat in the house was taken and we may have actually made money, even with the car rental and restaurant visits.
My BH asked me what I would like for Christmas, and the answer turned out to be surprising.
I keep a list of potential gifts for him that is as long as my arm - I'm always coming across things he would love, and every time I do, I write it down. It's all about the lists with me. Without them, I would never remember anything.
I thought I had a similar list for myself. I told him as much: "Oh, I'm easy to shop for. I can send you a bunch of ideas if you want... I have lots of fun things bookmarked."
But when I went to send him this supposedly long list, I realized that I was completely wrong. All my bookmarks and wish lists, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, etc, were full of things for other people. Seriously, just STACKED with ideas for friends and family. I had the occasional cookbook marked for myself, or a print that I thought was special, but that only accounted for about 5% of my stash. It was a weird thing to realize.
I threw together a few ideas and sent them his way. There are always practical things I like... Books, a deep lasagna pan, silver earrings (I love me some silver earrings), a trip to the spa. Nowhere near the collection I thought I had, but that's okay. I would be thrilled if he made me dinner, with no need to spend money, but I know he's not going to settle for that.
In the meantime, I am having a blast getting his Christmas gifts together. He's the only person I go nuts for during the holidays, so I'll cut myself some slack... I'm pretty tame the rest of the year. And it's not even that I'm spending much money - I'm just excited because I know he'll really like his presents.
Next in my holiday planning: mincemeat pie. My mom made us a wreath out of the vines in her backyard, so we're getting there bit by bit.
What can I say? I love this time of year. After I cut mall shopping out of my Christmas routine, I started to ADORE the holidays. Now I have a low-stress, handmade-heavy, food-centric season to enjoy.
I'm pretty happy about it.
Not sure if I'll be able to update while I'm gigging in Toronto this weekend, so have a great couple of days! I'll see some of you at the show!
Since buying my Super Blue Jeans, my shower water has been running blue. Other than that, I've got nothing terribly exciting to report.
I had coffee today with a girl I used to live with. It was great - she e-mailed out of the blue (why not, everything I touch is blue these days, har har) and asked to meet up. She said since she left Facebook, she's felt out of the loop with her old buddies. We chatted for ages and then she came over to meet Morty. The second she walked in the door, he put his head on the ground and his bum in the air, and just waited for her to come give him a pat. It was obscenely cute.
I've been having these bizarre dreams about work lately. They seem to coincide with how busy I am at the office. There have been two dreams in the past week alone, so you can imagine how crazy things are. One was depressingly boring, featuring my shy coworker and I in a meeting. Last night's dream was more interesting - my work team was having a dinner party, and I was serving the food. I asked if anyone wanted dessert, and the same shy coworker asked for marshmallows dipped in chocolate. I thought that was a bit demanding, but made them anyway. After all, I was the hostess.
I never know whether or not to tell people when I've had a dream about them. I don't want to sound creepy, but who knows how they will take it. That being said, every time I've mentioned to a friend that they were in my dream, they've been pleased. I guess it's all about the content. Heh.
Tomorrow is choir practice, and then I'm off to Toronto! It's going to be one fun gig, let me tell you. I've also decided to cover Pink Floyd, because.... Well.... Because I can.
I'm a jeans girl, through and through. If I have a choice between jeans and any other pants/skirts, I'll choose my blues.
This created some problems when I first started working a desk job. I bought several pairs of fancy dress pants, knowing that I would look more professional if I got in the habit of wearing them during the week. But then? I stopped caring. Harsh, but true. I'm just so much more at ease when I'm wearing jeans. They are more comfortable, they are warmer, and they don't look dirty when Morty brushes against them in the morning. These are important things. Also? Even when I force myself to wear dress pants, it's still not enough to disguise the fact that I am a bit of a scrub.
Anyway. I bought new jeans this weekend, because all my old pairs are torn and faded. These are nice and dark, comfortable, and nearly appropriate for the office. The catch? They are so dark that the dye is running. My legs are a weird shade of blue. My hands are blue. When I scratch my nose, it smudges blue. I'll have to wash them several more times before the colour sets. But you know.... Blue hands and all... It's still worth it. All hail comfort!
This weekend was great. First there was the bloggers' breakfast, which was especially fun this time around. Raino's girls asked about Morty* within seconds of my arrival, which thrilled me to no end. I got to chat with all my favourite folks, and the food wasn't bad either.
Sunday was wonderful. I went over to Brian's house, where we proceeded to drink, eat and record music. In reverse order, now that I think about it. I've got demo version of two new songs, which is so crazy exciting.... We even put some harmonies on. Just imagine what I'll be able to do when I set myself up with some recording gear this summer! Drooool.
I'm spending this week preparing for my gig in Toronto this Saturday. I'm hoping to practice the shit out of my new songs with the hope that I'll remember them during my set. We'll see. At my last gig, I somehow forgot how to play Running Shoes. When I apologized to Brian afterwards, he kindly said, "It wasn't a mistake... It was just a new arrangement."
Kind. Very kind.
*It doesn't fit cleanly into this post, but I have to mention it anyway. My BH and I were walking Morty down the street when we stopped to chat with Megan and Shelley. They were clearing up old grass and leaves from their yard. They had put all the debris in a nice pile, about to be loaded into bags. As we were talking, Morty went over to the pile, sniffed it, straddled it, and peed all over it. "Is he peeing??" Shelley asked. I was mortified, no pun intended. Luckily for me, Shelley and Megan both had serious work gloves on that hopefully protected them from Morty's, um, contribution. Morty looked SO PLEASED with himself...
It appears that choir practice is becoming my therapy.
I had a long day at work yesterday, and then came home to a crappy landlord situation that required me to FLY OFF THE HANDLE. I was so tired from the day that I considered, quite seriously, missing practice.
Luckily, my BH pointed out how little time I've got to learn Magnificat before the performance in December. I threw on my coat and boots, and headed out into the rain to get to the church. The walk was wet and cold, and I was feeling a little grumbly.
Of course, it was all worth it when we started singing. Something wonderful happens to me when we hit perfect, five part harmony.... The floor hums, the echo sings, and I'm completely at peace with the music. When I left at the end of the night, I felt rejuvenated.
This is the part we practiced the most. It gives me goosebumps.
As well as having a great choir practice, I wrote another new song. It feels wonderful to be writing songs after having writer's block for so long. I don't even know what changed to make it happen, but I'm so thankful. I feel functional again. It's amazing that I can actually cope better with my life when I'm being artistic. Or... Maybe that's not amazing at all. Maybe that's what art does to people. Am I right?
Anyway, the new song is tentatively called Bait, Line, Hook. It might also be called The Magpie. We'll see. This Sunday, I'm heading over to my fabulous cousin's place to record some of my new songs. I can't wait. :)
I know it seems that I fell off the blogging wagon after Halloween. That's because I did. Yes indeed.
I've been wanting to blog, but my day job has been kicking my ass. My manager is away and my supervisor has The Flu. That means I've got a whole lot of work to cover. I'm also preparing, albeit in chunks, for my Toronto gig in a week and a half. There's just so much to take care of! Holy brain explosion!
Once the Toronto visit is done, I've got a gig at the 4th stage, a gig in Wakefield, and a good friend's birthday. And that same weekend? The Colombian is coming to town. I'm so excited to see him that I've already started having dreams about it.
Basically, November is nuts. I love it, but I'm a little frazzled.
Anyways. I'm excited for my supervisor to come back from the depths of the Sick. I'm excited to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm excited for choir practice tonight.
And I'm excited to sleep the fuck in this weekend.
It's been a fun few days. Rehearsals, gigs, concerts and parties. A little too much beer.
Okay, a LOT too much beer. I spent a good chunk of today cradling my head in my hands.
But hangovers aside, it's been great. Here are some photos of the festivities!
The first one was taken at Raw Sugar's anniversary party. When my BH and I arrived, a few people were in costume, so I happily put on my wrestling outfit. Mask included. Then all the costumed people left and I looked like a nut job, but that's cool. (I am a bit of a nut job)
This is East of Gatineau, a fabulous bluegrass band who shared the bill with me Thursday night.
My Halloween costume is almost done. I've got tights, short shorts, a suitable t-shirt, shoes, and a wresting mask. I'm finalizing a cape. Don't worry... There will be pictures when it's all ready.
I had a rehearsal with my cousin last night. I was so tired and so irritable when I arrived, but Brian has a knack for making me chill right out. He also fed me ice cream, which probably helped me cheer up. I'm lactose intolerant, but last night I didn't seem to care (I cared as soon as I left his house though, because eating ice cream when you can't digest lactose is kinda dumb. My bad.)
We played my new song, Stuck in Lowertown, several times over. It seems destined to be eery sounding no matter how I play it. I think we've settled on banjo, guitar and two vocals. I tried to switch up the tempo and key, but it still sounds haunted and depressing. I quite enjoy haunted and depressing songs, so that all good. We'll probably be recording it this week - if I can figure out how to post music on this here blog, maybe y'all can hear it too!
I mentioned last week that I wanted to slow down the gigging as winter arrives, but of course, that's when the gig offers started pouring in. Now I have to decide what I want to do about it.
Tomorrow night is the gig at the Elmdale Tavern, 9pm sharp. Hope to see some of you bloggy folk there!
I stayed up far too late last night, but it was worth it. I was standing right in front of the stage at Babylon, watching Julie Doiron and Herman Dune play their sets. What a great lineup.
It was a quirky evening. My BH and I bought a Herman Dune mug, because I think it will make those cups of tea even more enjoyable. We had friends to hang out with, and we didn't get kicked out by the management, so that's an improvement from our past experiences at that venue......
Anyway, it got me thinking about my life. It's a good one - I know that. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many good people. But how do I measure my life? How do I decide that I am doing well, and by what standards? Milan's post reminded me how differently everyone weighs their successes and failures. When I think about it, many of the people I know use wildly different ways to measure out their lives. Here are some examples off the top of my head:
Carbon footprint: I have a few friends who measure just about everything they do by trying to calculate how harmful it is on the environment. Some of them do extremely well, integrating their lifestyle with the pressures of a materialistic society, and some of them struggle to find a reasonable balance.
Money: Many people I know spend all their time trying to accumulate more money. A lot of these people are miserable, but don't tell them that - they will point to their bank accounts to prove you otherwise. It's kind of depressing.
Sex: Some people tie their life's worth to the number of people they date. This can range from perfectly happy and stable adults, to people with very low self esteem, to people who really don't want to commit to anyone. Some of them are just lost.
Lifestyle: I have some friends who pay very close attention to how their lifestyle matches up with those around them. House, car, babies... All achieved because, y'know, isn't that what you're supposed to do? Sometimes they are genuinely happy, and sometimes you can tell that they're wondering what the hell they are doing.
Social life: We probably all place some weight on our friends, our social activities, our life outside the home. Some people are extremely gifted in this area, and don't seem to be drained by the constant demands of having a huge social network. Some people, like me, push it too hard and then hibernate for months at a time.
Work: I know a few people who have very good jobs... And that's it. Life is about their position in the hierarchy of the workplace. Everything is measured according to the possibility of promotion.
Art: There are a lot of artists in my family. Some do it casually, but some are completely engrossed in their art. Usually they maintain a good balance, but I do know of some examples where the art came before family, friends, and grocery bills.
Health: Understandably, I think people who have had major health scares place this much higher than society at large. It's easy to forget about your health until it fails you. I am starting to see this more in my own life, because I know I won't be young and spunky forever.
So the question is.... How do I measure my life?
I think my values continue to change and shift as I age. Maybe my answer to this question in a year's time will be different. But right now, this is it:
I'm starting to value quality over quantity.
Quality in friends - I know a lot of people, but I'm more interested in the people I keep close, and purging myself of bad influences. I've got less and less patience for assholes, and I've noticed lately that I trust very few people. This seems weird to me, but it's true. Quality in home life - I have an amazing partner, a wonderful dog, a great family. I wouldn't trade any of them for anything. My life would be very empty if I didn't have them around. I also try to find balance in my impact on the outside world, but this is tough to manage: I try to keep a diet that is less harmful than most, I travel by plane every few years, I don't own a car, I walk to work, I buy locally whenever I can... But my well-being and happiness still dictate to what extent I follow these things. There are some things I won't give up, like travel, buying books, imported wine, and some foods. I also don't respond well to preaching - I tend to tell people to go fuck themselves if they get all holier-than-thou on me. As for my art, this is an area where I feel like I'm failing. I simply haven't made space for musical growth the way I would like to. This will be a work in progress, I suppose - and hey, I'm actually recording some new songs in the next couple of weeks! As for money, work and lifestyle, I strive to be debt free and stable. I will likely never be rich. That's okay with me.
How do you judge your own life's success? How do you know if you're doing okay? Are there areas you'd like to work on? Tell me all about it. I'm listening.
This weekend was a busy one. List after list of errands to run, a night of sexy readings and music at Venus Envy, a whole lot of people on the Hill for a climate change rally, and lots of Bones.
A great weekend, actually. My mood was a bit volatile for parts of it, but I am managing it better now. I'm going to try shutting down instead of erupting. I'm really more of an erupter, but this time I'd just rather be quiet. Jury's out on how that will work.
I'm amazed, and a little scared, that October is drawing to a close. It's okay; it's been a good month, but man, did it ever fly.
While I realize that Halloween hasn't even arrived yet, I've got a confession: I'm planning for Christmas / Hannukah. In fact, I've got over half my gifts bought. NO, REALLY.
Here's my thinking: As this year progresses, I will become more and more broke. I'd rather stockpile Christmas gifts now and leave December for family, friends and baking. I'm not over-spending on anyone, but I am trying to pick things that are thoughtful and unique. We'll see if I manage it.
Meanwhile, my BH and I are going to a concert tonight that promises to kick so much ass, I can't even explain it. I'm a little behind on the concert scene lately, so I only found out about the show a few days ago. I read the lineup, got out my credit card, and bought the tickets within three minutes.
Oh yeah, baby.
Today I passed the War Museum and saw the folks on strike doing the dance from Thriller. It made me want to hug them all. Here's hoping for a resolution in their favour, sooner rather than later. It's getting cold out there.
I've been having some pretty bad hip pain lately, so I decided to get some new orthodics in case my crappy feet are aggravating things. I saw a new chiropodist, and dude, was she ever neat. She told me that the orthodics I've been using for the last couple of years are not really right for my feet, which made me see red for a minute or two. I know people make mistakes, but my experience getting my last pair of orthodics was so stupid that I'm even more annoyed with the defective final product (especially considering the sheer cost of the things, and the fact that due to an insurance blip, I wasn't covered).
At any rate. I'll have some new orthodics in December and we'll see if the throbbing pain goes away. Here's hoping.
My gig at the Elmdale is in a week, and I have neglected to do any real promotion. Today's task will be to make a Facebook event and maybe send out a little e-mail about the show. If the plan is to slow down gigging this winter, I'd better make my current gigs especially fun.
It looks like my BH won't have final exams in April. You know what that means? We might be able to make it to Japan during the cherry blossom season after all!!! I'm collecting airline sites like crazy to figure out what the damage will be. Please send along your fave cheapo travel pages if you've got them!
Hoooo boy, do I ever get sentimental watching Before Sunrise. Holy mother.
That and Lost in Translation are the films I used to watch obsessively with The Colombian - they were pretty much the only two films we agreed on. Otherwise, he liked movies about war, and I liked foreign comedies. It's really a wonder we became such close friends when we spent most of our time arguing and angrily waving history textbooks around to make our respective points.
I still get all nostalgic every time I watch either of those films. Then, without fail, I fire him off a quick e-mail that says something to the extent of, "COULD YOU PLEASE MOVE BACK HOME NOW?? You've been away forever."
Just one of the perks you get when people move away, I guess. Nostalgic drivel.
Wow! This post sounds like such a downer. What I really came here to say is that I'm tickled pink. I've finished another song! I kept humming the little ditty I made up for the Morty video, so now it's totally rewritten, transposed, slapped onto a guitar, and singable. I'm so excited. After struggling with writer's block for so long, years really, every song feels like a huge victory.
It's called Stuck in Lowertown. I actually adore Ottawa's Lowertown neighbourhood, so I don't particularly understand why I chose that title, but hey. The words stuck. I liked them. That's reason enough.
So. Any sentimental movies you'd like to share so I don't feel like such a shmuck?
Well folks, here it is. Some of my highlights from the OCFF conference.
My favourite band of the night, The Gertrudes! There are several banjos in there, and I counted four accordions at one point. Amazing. Wonderful. And packed into a tiny hotel room. At one point I heard someone say, "Now I know what a salmon feels like."
The charming Peter Katz, singing with Emma-Lee. Right after this song finished I tried to clap while also holding a styrofoam cup full of wine. Looking smooth FAIL. Lucky for me, nobody noticed the mess, and my dress was purple anyway. Wardrobe WIN.
Trevor singing his lovely songs.
Karyn Ellis! I love her. She's coming to Raw Sugar in November, people! Let's go!
Another huge highlight for me.... The United Steelworkers of Montreal. Totally nuts... Just the way I like 'em.
The crowd at Sultans of String.
A blurry Tara Holloway. She's got a voice like a tiger! Amazing!
The wonderful Craig Cardiff. He did a very clever version of a Dan Bern song where he inserted the line, "There's a new Walmart in town, and it's pretty much the greatest thing." I laughed because, y'know... He's a funny dude.