Sunday, January 25, 2009
My parents just came in to wish me a Happy New Year and with their lucky red pockets came well-wishes for the upcoming year. Of course, they wished me good health, happiness, and prosperity, but my favourite had to be when they both (completely independent of each other) wished that I find a good boyfriend this year. And of course, that was the wish that they felt the need to elaborate the most on. Thanks for that, mum and dad. As if they're the only ones who noticed my painful existence in the land of Singlehood. They're definitely not the only ones; my cousin of 16 years old asked me over the holidays if liked being alone (his tone of voice implying that it was weird I didn't have a boyfriend). Little do my parents know, I wished for the same thing when I prayed to the ancestors this afternoon, all five times.
2008 was the year of moving around, which, though it scared off a couple of guys, was really great for me. Now that I've gotten to where I am, I don't know if I would call it being needy or clingy (I wouldn't, actually)... I just know, really KNOW, what it's like to be in love, REALLY in love, and goshdarnit to heck, I miss that. When I'm with someone, like really WITH someone, I believe in them and in the Powers That Be for having brought us together. It's like my faith can finally stop hovering around awkwardly and finally settle somewhere, with a sigh of relief. And at the end of the day, I don't know how to say it other than: It's just a really nice feeling to go to bed believing in something.
A New Lunar Year
As opposed to doing an "In Retrospect" post in honour of the Gregorian calendar New Year, I've decided to honour my heritage and reflect on 2008 as it was determined by the moon. Today is technically the Eve and tomorrow is officially the Year of the Ox! w00t.
I suppose I can't start talking about last year in any way other than: "In retrospect"... 2008 was a kickass year for me. It brings me a lot of joy to be able to say that, because for the longest, longest time, I've been wishing for nothing more than a solid year of goodness. And it looks like I either finally got what I wished for, or I just have a very selective memory. I'm glad that I was optimistic from the start - perhaps that positive energy manifested itself into eleven months of YAY.
Looking back, my last semester of university was my favourite. I was only in school part time, which was a blessing. I took one online course and audited two of the most interesting courses ever - I learned so much. I worked part-time with a not-for-profit in a whole other part of the city, and had community theatre on the side and performed in two shows (The Importance of Being Earnest being my biggest show to date). I saw New York for a weekend. I stayed active with campus tours, taking on a third job for a month, the gym and pool, kayaking and riding my bike. I loved my tiny apartment above a little shop in the perfect location in uptown, and I loved loved loved my roommate. I recycled and composted like mad. I cooked more and tried new foods. And that was just the first four months.
Then there was April: finally finishing school; after five years I graduated and got my degree! And then there was May and June: another fabulous tour season on the road, after which I was honoured with the Tour Leader of the Year Award (I was totally shocked to bits). There was July: moving to learn French in small-city Quebec. I've waited a long time to live like I did in Chicoutimi... I don't know if I've ever had five weeks so positive and utterly perfect in my entire life. In August, there was moving back to my favourite mid-sized-city Ontario where I lived with one of the sweetest people alive and started another job that allowed me to move around and be in different places doing different things every day of every week (for a few months). I've seen my proverbial "own backyard" (i.e.: all over Ontario) like I never would have and I am so grateful for that. Then in November there was going back on tour, and then, of course, there was Cancun! Nothing but booze on the beach, on the bus, on the boat under the sun for a week. And all of the sudden there was December: another job; full-time, permanent, benefits, with the tour company I've been with for years, except now I'm bumped up a few notches. Which brings us to now... a time when I'm living life as a working stiff.
When I think back, there were no breaks. I went seamlessly from one thing and one place to another with a weekend, a day, or sometimes, just hours in between - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. 2008 kept me on my toes. At the time I thought I might very well lose my mind from the amount of things I had going on, but I never did. I didn't lose a single thing in any of my four moves. As busy as I was doing my random assortment of jobs and travel and et cetera, I had a lot of time to myself too. There was two months of long coach rides. There was discovering myself in a different language. There was at least two handfuls of really awesome concerts. There was two months of long drives across the province. There was lots of general and genuine happiness. And growth. 2008 felt like it was totally MY year, the Year of Me. ...and Obama.
In the end, nothing really turned around and ganged up on me to bitch-slap me in the face, like I worried (uhm, except my Head and Heart - I have GOT to stop those two from hanging out). The year was good, dammit, GOOD. And I miss it already.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
A Bit Of Warmth On A Cold Winter Night
I grew up in a rather slummy neighbourhood in Toronto called Regent Park. At the time, all my relatives lived in government subsidized housing, but not us. Oh no, my family of four lived in a luxuriously small one-bedroom apartment. At nights, before I fell asleep, I used to watch the cockroaches crawl up the wall next to my bunkbed.
Down the street and around the corner was a gentlemen's club, and across the street was an old church meets soup kitchen meets homeless shelter. On some mornings, when I walked out of our building I used to see men sleeping on the grates by the front doors. I distinctly remember trying to talk to them one time and my parents pulled me away and told me not to. I also remember not understanding why. I asked who they were and no one answered me.
I wonder sometimes if my living where I did when I was young (and spending so much time in Toronto when I was older) could have desensitized me to homelessness because I saw it so often, as a part of my daily life. Instead, maybe it influenced my heightened sensitivity to the issue. Maybe it was because I studied sociology in school. Maybe it's because I've travelled to some very poor places in the world. Maybe it's because I recently got to know someone who works in housing vulnerable populations. Either way. I can't pinpoint when it started, but every winter, when I step outside into that frigid air, I can't stop thinking about it. About them, out there in the cold.
I don't know if you remember me. I met you last Saturday night, when my friend Dan and I were walking to a cafe after a concert. You approached us asking for change. To be honest, I'm actually really glad that I didn't have any change on me, because that meant that we got to spend some more time together. You hesitated for a second, but I'm glad you decided to come to the cafe with us after all.
In retrospect, I should have gotten you something in addition to the coffee. You said you didn't want tea or hot chocolate or soup, but I feel like maybe you would have wanted a sandwich, or a bagel, or something. I couldn't tell if you were hungry, and I don't like to make assumptions, but I should have just bought something anyway. I couldn't tell if you felt uncomfortable either - I asked as many questions as I did because I wanted to make the atmosphere a little lighter, a little warmer, because it was so bitterly cold that night. I wondered how warm your coat was, how long you had been wandering the streets for...
You spent a while putting cream and sugar into your coffee and during those few minutes I must have stopped myself from asking you to stay and sit with us a dozen times. After you left, I smacked myself upside the head for actually not asking you to stay. I should have, I really should have. I suppose I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable, but then I thought to myself that I'm not really one for social customs anyways, so who cares? Your coffee would have stayed warmer for longer.
I meant it when I said that it was nice to meet you, because it was. I really meant it when I said to take care, because I hope you do.
Until next time. Stay warm Terry.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Nothing Like Hair Removal Humour To Brighten My Day
I'm in a particularly crummy mood and it's not just because of the real life version of the last two posts, but because I had a very distressing yoga class tonight. My mind was all over the place and for the life of me, I couldn't get myself to focus. My balance was totally off, my postures didn't feel right, my concentration was in complete pieces. Last week I was so intensely into the class that I came out feeling like a million breaths of fresh air. This week, all I can say is that I felt far worse coming out of it than I did going in (which was pretty yuck to begin with).
Lucky for me, there was an email sitting in my Inbox from a salon I once went to years ago for some waxing (I still remember my esthetician: a beautiful Polish woman with a degree in chemical engineering who couldn't find work or recognition for her education here). Replete with red, white, and blue, stars and fireworks all over, it read:
Bye Bye Bush, Hello Obama!
It made me LOLL (laugh out loud, literally).
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I've often thought that if a person wants to get to know me, to really get to know me, we have to share a musical bond (and they have to watch The Motorcycle Diaries). And I don't mean, "Check out the new Kanye album, it's awesome!" - though I'd appreciate that as well. I mean taking the time to think about the other person and what they'd like and carefully selecting certain songs to share. I mean going to concerts and having a rockin' good time, but I also mean sitting down in a theatre and experiencing opera or Indo-jazz together. I choose my concert buddies carefully, and extend invitations only to those whom I care for and know will appreciate the experience. Sharing music is ultimately like sharing intimate little pieces of me.
Back when D-bag and I were seeing each other, we had a discussion about money and our spending habits. Knowing that I was a bit of a thrift (in comparison to the $600 he'd spend on ONE outfit), he asked me what it was that I would spend money on. I told him: travel, theatrical experiences, music and concerts... He said: clothes. Not surprisingly, and for a multitude of other reasons, we didn't last long.
I'm the type to pay attention to particularly good soundtracks when I watch movies. I once emailed a DJ from the campus radio station to commend him on a fabulous set that he played one afternoon. If I have a crush, I crush on my crush's music too. When I came back home after six months away in 2007, one of my closest friends sat me down in his room (where he had a stack of CDs waiting) and played me all the wonderful music that I had missed while I was gone overseas. Adam and I re-bonded over the fact that he spent weeks just sending me music that he thought I'd like - we starting dating again not long after that. I swooned when my roommate's (then potential) boyfriend dropped by one day with a mix CD he made of cool music from North America because she had just come here from England.
Back when I was single and bitter, my tagline was "music is my boyfriend". I proclaimed, Don't make Love to me. Make Music to me! Looks like I'm back to such an attitude now...
In dealing with my most recent heart (and head)ache, I've discovered that I actually had such a musically bonding experience - he and I simultaneously melted a little bit when we realized we both knew Blonde Redhead and Battles - and that my sadness has much to do with the fact that I've now lost someone that I loved sharing obscure music with, a fun concert buddy, a person who could sweep me off my feet with the sounds he introduced me to. I took him to his first (mini) opera, we experienced a breathtaking Carmina Burana (where the symphony first met the street, and one of the best things I've ever seen). There are countless songs and artists that will probably remind me of him forever - some that I can't listen to anymore without my heart feeling so heavy and full that it threatens to fall out of my chest. There's actually one song that immediately brings to mind not only the image of us on his rug in the living room, but the whole of what it felt like to be in his apartment that spring. It is SO a part of my nature and also SO unfortunate that I attach such significance to music because those little things I attached will never leave me now. Adding to the level of unfortunality is the fact that he's the type of person who doesn't have sticky emotional strings like I do (who is, really?), so he's able to listen to the music I introduced him to without thinking of me at all.
But I held onto the part of our relationship that seemed to have the most longevity. Back in August, I was sitting near his house in a park at an ultra-cool didgeridoo concert thinking of how he would have loved it if only he wasn't suspiciously camping with his ex-ex-girl/bestfriend for the weekend. Suffice to say, he had a good camping trip, and I didn't talk to him for months. But, in attempting to create an environment where we could have some fun again and work on this whole 'Friends' thing, I asked him to a couple concerts for two artists I introduced him to last week. He couldn't make it to one, and then (accidentally? purposefully?) invited his ex-ex-girl/bestfriend whom he lied to about me to the other one. Not exactly my idea of a fun night. So I guess that's that. The musical side of me was the last part I was still willing to share with him, and it looks like my latest efforts are also my last. Nothing like a(nother) giant backfire to teach me (yet) a(nother) lesson in How To Stop Giving Yourself Away.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The Last Two Times
It's not like I haven't tried. Oh believe me, I've tried. But there was something, coming from somewhere that kept me from straying too far, like a dog on a leash, or a bird who thinks it's free, but doesn't understand it's in an aviary.
The first time was dramatic as all hell. I had just had a few drinks, but thought I was fine, so my emotions were heightened beyond my comprehension. I ended up upset and crying (after giving a gift, for goodness' sake), and cried some more (alone on the bathroom floor - for goodness' sake!). And then, all of the sudden I decided I needed to leave, so I went and stormed down the street in the dark with gritted teeth and balled fists. It felt like a scene from a made-for-TV movie. I half-wondered if he would chase after me. He didn't. The last thing I said to him was, "Please don't come!" in a mouthful of sob.
It took a few days before I called him.
The second time, I was sitting on my front porch with his voice hot and electric in my right ear. We were supposed to 'hang out' that night - tacos and beer, like we used to sometimes. I was trying to explain why I was feeling apprehensive, and all of the sudden, I hit the nail on the head with one question. In a flurry of blurred eyes and heartbeats in my ears I hung up on him. I stared at the phone sitting in my lap for a long time afterwards, surprised and gasping for air. I didn't pick up when he called back. I wondered if he would try again. He didn't. The last thing I said to him was, "Did you sleep with her?"
It took a few months before I called him.
Tonight (hopefully the last time I try to - and need to - get away from him), I kept it light and short. There was no drama, no big deals, no explanations and no feelings. "Oh no, it's fiiine. You guys have fun. Really. Good luck with moving ...and stuff." My whole body was overheating and I hoped that my uncontrollable shaking would spasm images of his apartment out of memory. I kept reminding myself to stay positive (I attempted a smile to get those endorphins flowing), to be unselfish, to remember that it wasn't about me (when, ironically, it totally was). I don't know if I felt worse before, or after the call. At least I'm not wondering whether or not he's going to do anything, because this time, I know. He won't. Prefaced with half a chuckle, the last thing I said to him was, "Bye."
You know what they say: Try, try, try again. Third time's a charm, right?
Monday, January 12, 2009
Who's Got Me?
Let's play a game. Try to guess if I went on An Outing With a Friend tonight, or on A Date: After work (me) and the gym (him), we both found our own way to a Japanese/Korean restaurant that he picked. We had dinner, caught up on the last six years, and then took a walk to find a bar where we sat down for a couple drinks and awkward glances at the televised basketball game. We walked to the subway station and I said yes to having him teach me to play pool. We rode a few stops together before he gave me a hug and got off. So, Friend-Date or Date-Date?
I staunchly stand by my description of, "Oh, I just had dinner and drinks with a friend from high school," because (and this is how I KNOW-know it was just a Friend-Date) we went Dutch on everything and he didn't offer to pay for me. Despite the fact that personally, I am actually inclined to say that it was an unfortunate collision of the two (a Friend-Date Turned Date-Date), I stand by the belief that a Date-Date is only so when a) he pays and b) you want it to be one. In this case, a) he didn't and b) I didn't either.
This is one of the ways in which I'm old-fashioned and an Idiotic Romantic at heart. Sure, I'll always offer to pay even when a guy pushes my wallet away, it's lovely for me to treat my boy too, and once you're settled into a relationship I fully believe in taking turns covering costs. And while I'd never ask someone to pay for me, I sill believe that Friends? go Dutch. Guys who want to get with you? pay for your dinner and drinks.
Then again, there's the type of guy who doesn't fall into either of these (two very black/white, totally unrealistic) categories. B, the guy I dated two summers ago, and Z, my handy Friend-cum-Stand-In-Boyfriend. The first few times B and I went out, I paid for everything (because he didn't have any cash on him. Honestly, gentlemen - if that is indeed what you are - never go out with a lady without some version of money on you. This is bad form and highly unattractive.), which frankly, both appalled and dismayed me. We continued to see each other and I'm pretty sure I continued to treat him to things.
Now, Z, is the exact opposite. In the handful of years that I've known him, every time we go out with our group of friends, he is constantly paying for taxis, hotels, drinks... he's even covered coat check fees. He doesn't (at least, I don't think) want to 'get with me', nor is he very rich; he's just extremely generous with his money and he clearly likes treating his girl friends like ladies when we go out. This past weekend, as we're all getting ready to go out to a club, he says to me, "I got you." (Except, with his slight thug accent it sounds more like "I gotchu.") I smiled. "You got me?" I asked, half knowing-hoping I knew what he meant. "Yea, I got you all night." Now, gentlemen - if you are truly looking to make your woman's knees all melty, tell her you got her, ie: you're paying for all her drinks and then some. Too bad we were only at the club for 45 minutes before my best friend couldn't stand up on her own anymore and we had to get out of there before the bouncers 'assisted' us.
What am I trying to say again?
Oh yeah. Tonight reminded me a lot of two things: 1. What it's like to date again, and 2. How much I'm not looking forward to dating again. I am currently lamenting the fact that I'm sitting here picking apart the evening I just had when it was just "dinner and drinks with a friend from high school," and it (and he) was perfectly nice. All in all, it didn't seem like he was grasping for a spark, a chance, or even my left boob. And, well, I suppose I have something to look forward to: the kind of dating that I choose voluntarily, and less awkwardly.
To the future. *clink*
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I spent the last two evenings of my holiday time off work watching home videos with my family. I remember sleeping in very late that Saturday and when I finally made it downstairs to get food, I settled at the kitchen table for hours, just munching away, going through weekend flyers and chatting with my family about our big trip this summer. We all went our own ways for the afternoon and come dinner time, we were all around the table again and before we knew it we had agreed to watch the video from our road trip out to the east coast last summer.
I never imagined that I'd spend Saturday nights in my mid-twenties like this: sitting in my parents' bedroom in my jammies, watching vacation videos and reminiscing about how it was at the same time a great and horrifying a trip for FIVE AND A HALF HOURS. Yep - we were up until just about 2am enjoying each others' company, only to return to it the next night. Sunday was spent watching videos from our trips to Chicago and Spain. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was and it's times like these that let me think that I can happily live here for longer than I think.
Come this Saturday, I arrived home after 36 hours away and all I wanted was to get away from everyone and do my own thing in my own space. As much as I had just come "home", I really didn't feel like I was at home. I felt restless and unsettled in every room. Though I was vaguely surprised, unlike last weekend, I did not enjoy these feelings nearly as much and they did not give the impression that I would be happy living here for much longer, which is unfortunate.
I started off my weekend by viewing my first apartment in the city Friday evening with the thought that this potentially might/will happen (me semi-permanently moving out of my family's place and in with Tanya somewhere in Toronto). My hopes for a nice place to live are high, and consequently, the probability of finding a place to suit my tastes are quite low. I'm willing to be patient though, as long as the itch to be anywhere but here doesn't keep up.
Until then, I have my fingers crossed that I continue to enjoy my family as much as they enjoy having me back here.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Getting The Wahoo Back
Yesterday I said:
Tomorrow is the day before the day I can wear jeans at work. This excites me.
Today I said:
I think I pulled a muscle from sitting down.
Tomorrow I want to say:
I want to feel like the music is coming from inside my head.
So far, throwing myself back into the daily grind of a job has not made me want to hide under my covers. I left work today feeling bright and awake enough to last about a third of the first leg home. I fell asleep immediately after. Commuting via driving, however, has finally gotten on my last nerve and I went crawling back to the ways of public transit. Now I can enjoy my new in-ear earphones that I got for Christmas from a fellow audiophile who understands the importance of reducing the sound of subway tracks when trying to listen to your tunes. I'd also like to try to take up a hobby like knitting or reading again, given that my commute is at least an hour and a half, but the gentle rumble of the trains and buses just knock me right out and I can be too exhausted to get up for my stop nevermind trying to make a scarf. The hobbies will have to wait.
We recently got new policies at work and Fridays at the office are now officially Casual. I have never loved denim so much. It gives me some of the wahoo back. Speaking of tomorrow, my best bud and I are going to view an apartment in the city, which also happens to be down the hall from this character (who recently declared 2009 to be the Year of the Super Awesome Kickass Ninja). Is my life about to become an episode of Friends? (NO - it's going to be an episode of I-don't-know-what, but we-have-ninjas-and-dinosaurs, so visit soon!) Then we are all going to eat homemade vegan chili and then we're going to glam up and go dancing. Wahoo indeed.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
In Two Thousand Oh Nine
When it comes to resolutions and things I want for myself this year, all I can say is:
Good Looking Revolutionary Wanted