Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{music and places}

I was having coffee with my cousin the other day and we were having that conversation (you know the one) about how certain songs bring you back to certain places and times. I feel like I've had that conversation a million times with a million people, but I love it every time and I'll keep having it because music and memories are just such excellent topic fodder.

On the drive home (which was exactly two hours and twenty minutes with a sweet fiery orange sunset burning in my rearview mirror) I picked a CD or song that reminded me most of each place I've lived since high school (minus the place I'm living now, because it's not a memory yet), in the style of Pip Plum. Because how else are you going to pass two hours and twenty minutes of driving by yourself? It's not an exhaustive list, and it's not even a list of all of my favourite CDs and songs from those times; just music that effectively takes me back to those places.


Pasqua Street House: Imogen Heap//Ellipse

Barclay and I bought the Pasqua Street House a little more than five years ago, just after we got engaged. We spent something like six months gutting it, drywalling it, painting it, putting in new floors, wallpapering it, just generally renovating our faces off, with the help of a few wonderful friends and family members. My old ghetto blaster sat in the corner through it all, blaring 1940s big band and 1990s punk and 1980s hair metal and whatever else came out of our eclectic collective CD collection.

That was the summer Imogen's Ellipse came out and I'm pretty sure we went down and bought it the day it hit the shelves at the HMV. We listened to it over, and over, and over again, for the remainder of the renos and afterward, and now when I hear it I smell drywall dust and picture Saturday mornings making pancakes in our cozy little green galley kitchen.

Grandma Guzz's House: Howie Beck//Flashover

Before Barclay and I were married, a series of strange events led to me being quite suddenly a little bit homeless and moving in with his grandma, who we affectionately know as Guzz. I slept in her basement for three months and we played a million games of Yahtzee (I lost every single one). She was probably the best housemate a girl could ask for.

There was an old alarm clock radio by my bed so I woke up and got ready every morning to the CBC. Whoever the morning DJ was at the time really loved this Howie Beck song from the album How to Fall Down in Public; he played it several mornings a week.

Prince of Wales House: David Gray//Please Forgive Me

When I came to Regina, it was to live with a couple girls I knew from high school back home. We had a townhouse in the east end of the city right by the prison. I was constantly afraid that an escaped convict was going to break in and kill me, but it never happened.


I met Barclay on my third day in the city, and he burnt me a CD with this song on it less than a month later. Smooth. Very smooth.

My Apartment on Fifth & Friesen: Jimmy Eat World//Clarity

The Fifth & Friesen apartment in Swift Current was not Pinterest-worthy. There were pictures sticky-tacked to the walls for decoration and a few pieces of (very) mismatched furniture (not in a twee way) and I slept on an air mattress and used my guitar case as a coffee table. A friend gave me a TV and it sat on the ground in front of the couch. There was a store down the street that sold hot tubs and used CDs. I bought a lot of CDs and no hot tubs. I found Clarity there, which is a funny thing to say about a place that sells hot tubs.

For a very short time, I lived with a couple of girls in a little farm house on a ranch just outside of Swift. Our schedules were exactly opposite: they were super responsible wife types who got up at 5 AM in the morning to bake bread and clean the bathroom. I was usually just getting in at that time from a show or hanging around with Karlie or whoever and didn't know how to bake bread.

It worked out fine and we got along really well, but I look back and feel like I maybe should've learned from them a little more. Oh well. I know how to bake bread now.

The Februarys played at The Lyric Theatre one night when I lived there and I went with a bunch of friends from school. The show was good and we hung out with the band after. It was one of those nights where absolutely nothing all that crazy happened but it was just solid fun.

Cabin in the Mountains: Tegan and Sara//So Jealous

The summer I spent in the mountains, I was alone a lot. I was living with a bunch of camp counsellors, and their job was fairly 24/7 while mine was just...well, like 6/7. I ran in the forest and kayaked around the lake in my backyard and hiked to my favourite waterfall almost daily. I had a little green mp3 player which only held a few CDs at a time. It had some Imogen Heap songs, some Modest Mouse, some Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Decemberists, Blindside, Andrew Bird, Brand New and T&S. But sometimes I'd just play the last song from So Jealous on repeat. I'm still not sick of it.

I went to a teeny tiny little Bible college out in the middle of nowhere for two years. By my second year, I had a pretty sweet little group of close friends and, being so far out in the prairies, we went on about a zillion road trips. I fully admit to (and feel bad about) commandeering the CD player every single time we got in the car and being kind of a jerk about it if anyone wanted to listen to country music.

That was also a time in my life where I didn't have internet access (aside from really slow crappy dial-up) and couldn't just hop on YouTube and find new music. So I'd go to CD Plus and buy a disc based purely on the artwork on the front. It usually worked out pretty well. I got this CD on one such trip, and made my friends listen to it all the way home. It was more poppy than anything else I owned, and I liked that about it. Now when I hear certain songs off of it I get super nostalgic for dorm dance parties. (Crystal, I know you're reading this. GET OVER HERE.)

Saskatoon Apartment: Brand New//Deja Entendu

Our apartment in Saskatoon was little, and there were five of us living in it--two in each bedroom and one on the couch in the living room. Rent was $50/month or something ridiculous like that. I ate Sidekicks probably every day. That summer in Saskatoon was an important time in my life because it taught me a huge lesson: you can get a library card and borrow as many CDs as you want for free. I got Deja Entendu out at the beginning of summer, and kept renewing it until the day I moved away that fall.

On my first day at Millar, I met a girl named Annette. We found each other in the gym and started talking about music because we were both wearing band t-shirts. Then we went back to our dorm rooms and got our five favourite CDs and traded. This was one of the ones she gave me. I listened to a lot, a lot, of other music that year, but this CD is the one that makes me think of that first day and meeting a million people but not remembering anyone's names and going to sleep in a strange bed and just feeling so thankful to have met just one person who I had something in common with.

So that was my mental exercise for the day. I've been listening to the music while writing this post and now I'm feeling pretty dang schmaltzy and sentimental. Gonna go write some "Hey! Remember when..." emails. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

{that movie}

When I was a kid, we had this movie that we'd taped off of TV that I watched over and over like a crazy person. I don't remember the name of the movie or what it was about, just that it was sad all the way through and then happy at the very, very, very end when somebody (a little girl maybe? With her dad?) floated off in a hot air balloon.  One day, because it had to happen sometime, somebody taped over the first half of the movie. I didn't care. I still watched the last half of the movie repeatedly, even though it didn't make a lot of sense without the first half.

The point was that it made me feel infinitely sad and irreparably broken, and then everything was fixed, and I got the feeling that the hot air balloon ride was what had fixed the unfixable thing. I'd describe it better, but all I can remember are the feelings. Which are, of course, the most important part of a movie anyway.

I'm not sure where that VHS ended up, and I haven't seen it in years, but every time I see a hot air balloon I think about it the way you'd think about something that had actually happened to you, not just something that had happened on half of a made-for-TV movie you taped off of CBS when you were eight. 

We saw this one last night on our way into town from the lake. Oh, my heart. If anyone even has a guess at what movie it might have been, with a little girl and a dad and hot air balloons at the very end, you should definitely let me know. I'll be indebted to you for at least a year or two.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

{sully's first show}

I haven't been to a show since November. It was July Talk and Thomas D'arcy at the Club and I was standing behind a row of exceptionally tall guys who didn't really care at all if I got to actually see the show or not. Sometimes one of the musicians would climb up on top of an amp or something and I'd have a quick glimpse, but mostly I just listened. I wasn't mad about it or anything; that's just the way it goes when you see a show at the Club--five people get to see and everyone else gets to listen. It's really too small to be a venue. And yet...there we were. Again. Another band playing to a sweaty little clump of squished and squeezed rabble.

Anyway. The point is not that.

The point is that I've gone a ridiculously long time without seeing a show. Eight months, almost exactly. For someone who usually takes in a show every month for sure, and sometimes a show every week, and sometimes multiple shows in one week, this has been a sad stretch.

It's just that babies don't really like shows. They have little eardrums, babies do, and want to eat at super inconvenient moments and can't sleep with all that bass going on. So, out of respect for Sullivan, I have stayed home from shows for eight months.

You can understand, then, why I was so pumped about The Dead South's free concert in city square yesterday as part of the North American Indigenous Games happening in the city this week. I woke Sullivan up from his nap early and I plopped him in his stroller and I said, "Today! You! Are! Going to your first concert! And you're going to love every minute of it and not cry and not be hungry right in the middle of it and you can fall asleep if you want I guess but you should probably just stay awake and drink it in like mom's going to do. This is going to be great!"


Success! He loved it! At least, he watched the whole thing with wide eyes and shed only one silent tear during a very intense banjo bit (which was either due to the emotion the musician expressed through his instrument or a blocked tear duct which sometimes makes Sullivan cry without actually crying). It was sweet. Definitely going in the baby book.

And I've got the itch for more.

Monday, July 21, 2014

{the speed of time}

The most overused phrase of all time would probably have to be, "This _______ has gone by so fast!"

This summer. This month. This year. This weekend. This whatever.

I mean, I say it all the time too. Just yesterday I realized that summer was about half over and I said it. This summer has gone by so fast. Faster than any other summer. I know I said the same thing about last summer too, but this summer--way faster.

But I guess this is just the speed that time is. Kind of a weird elastic speed which feels fast when you're in a moment but stretches the memories out behind you in kind of a deceptive way which makes you think that the past went by at a much slower pace. Like a chronological Doppler effect. It's comforting to think about, actually. That time isn't just getting faster and faster and faster every day until the minutes crash into one another like some kind of thousand-car pile-up.


This weekend, we tried to get out of time (and town) for a day by going to the lake with Barclay's family. There's something about a big body of water that seems to slow time down. And though that might also be an illusion, I wholeheartedly buy in and let it fool me completely.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

{my seahorse}

Usually, when Sullivan naps I clean the kitchen.

If the kitchen is clean, which almost never happens, I clean the bathroom.

If the bathroom is clean, which would definitely be a surprise, I vacuum the floors. 

If the floors are speck-free, which is almost a laughable thing to think, I might do some laundry.

If there's no laundry to do, which is practically impossible and at best highly improbable, maybe I could dust. 

There is never, ever, ever no dust. 

On Friday, I laid Van down in his crib and pulled the door shut quietly behind me--a crucial moment in the nap-time routine which could make or break the whole operation. I stood there for a second staring at the room in front of me. Dishes on the counter, crumbs on the table, etcetera. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. 

I said out loud to the Kitchen, which was sitting very still and listening very intently, I said, "Not right now, Kitchen." 

The Kitchen didn't really care. 

I went instead into my office, the room with the paints and pens and pencils and papers, and I sat at my desk and started painting. Like, painting really fast.

Sometimes, Sullivan naps for an hour. Usually, though, it's more like 15 minutes to half an hour. The problem with babies is that they never tell you what they're planning on doing before they do it. He's never like, "Mom, you have an hour. I'll wake up at 4 and we'll hang." 

So I've learned that, whatever I do with the time he's asleep, I have to do it fast. 

I've also learned that my favourite "art", if you'll allow me to call it that, is the stuff that you do without thinking too much. You just sit down and start doing stuff, grabbing supplies and using them, until you either have run out of time or supplies or ideas or you just plain feel like you're done. 

The two learned things fit together pretty nicely. Which is good.

So, anyway, I spent his nap time that day (which ended up being a whole entire hour), painting and cutting and doodling and I ended up with this seahorse. Who knows what I'll even do with him, but that's not ever really the point. My kitchen, bathroom, and floors were dirty, the laundry undone and the dust bunching up in bunnies behind all the furniture, but it was a pretty sweet, quiet hour. I felt a bit like myself again--not that I feel like I've lost myself or anything dramatic like that. I just feel new to this mom skin and I'm trying to figure out what life should look like now. Priorities and selfishness and sanity and all that. You know. It's good though. And getting better all the time.