Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back at the Bean

I'm back in my place at the Naked Bean. It's 6:40, and I'm the only one here. 

(In the interest of full disclosure, a police officer and an old lady walked in right after I typed that.) 

I still haven't gotten up the nerve to ask the barista her name. I did say, "Oh, look at that! A blue mug today." And she said, "For real. Enjoy." It's very suspenseful, isn't it?

Next week, on The Naked Bean: Will Suzy get over her crippling fear of introductions? Will her and the barista become life-long friends? Who is the sketchy-looking man sitting in the shadows in the corner of the shop and why is he wearing a police officer's uniform? Does that woman over there take her coffee black? It's non-stop drama and scandal in Canada's favourite coffee shop soap.

Seriously though, I'm running on about four, maybe but probably not five hours of sleep (I gave up counting after the third time Sullivan woke me up last night). It was the kind of night where I couldn't fall asleep to begin with, even though I was seriously tired, kept looking at the clock, finally dozed off around 12:30, woke to the little guy with the big lungs at 1. Slept another two hours, up again. Slept an hour and a bit, up again. I was tempted to sleep in this morning and skip the Bean, but I've done that before and been really sad about it. 

Sometimes you need sleep, sometimes you need to just suck it up and do something. Sometimes sleep just makes tiredness worse. 

Anyway, I should get back at it. I'll talk at you later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Summer I Didn't Care

You know how we all laid awake in our beds every night of our high school lives thinking about all the things we could've said? Or how we said the right thing, but probably could've said it better? Or how we said the right thing as well as we could've said it, but maybe should've said less or more? I stopped doing that after high school. For like a year, maybe. Or just a summer, actually.

There was this naive excitement about being an adult, about moving away from the small town I grew up in, about being surrounded by strangers, about my first apartment, about the city and its diverse populace that caused me to think that I was suddenly immune to anyone's opinion of me. It was like I was bungee jumping without realizing I was bungee jumping. Like I actually thought I was brave enough to just jump off of a bridge with no tether or harness or cord.

I fell free for those few hot months before I noticed something like a hand clenched around my ankle. And then it caught me and slowed me and pulled me back up, and I realized with a start that I still cared. That I hadn't completely left the bridge at all, that the bridge was attached to me and that the bridge was now rushing towards me again and that at the end of this ride, I'd be standing on it. On the bridge. And that the rush was nice, and the butterflies, but that I wasn't brave enough to do what I thought I'd done.

I didn't sit down meaning to write any of that right now.

I was listening to CDs from that summer this morning - from The Summer I Didn't Care - and they made me feel really happy, so I sat down to write about them (it's what I do). I had my headphones on and a cup of coffee and I squinted at the screen for a minute, trying to pinpoint what exactly it was that the music was attached to, and I pulled a little and this all came out. And I thought, "Oh. Yes, that's it. Of course it is."

I miss that summer like it's a place on the planet. I miss the freedom that comes from not second-guessing everything I say and do or worrying that other people are judging all my decisions, or freaking out that every person in the world doesn't like me. I mean, there are enough things to weigh a person down - gravity, reality, etc - without also being ridiculously worried about other people thinking things about you that they're probably not actually thinking about you.

I could go back there again.

So that's something to work on. Another thing, I guess. There are lots of things to work on. Isn't it nice that we have time and grace and help? 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Front Porch

I'm sitting on the front porch of the house I grew up in. With the cat and a little wind and a few thousand birds all making the kind of noise that could be considered "noise" but which also could be considered "silence". It's both somehow. Both in kind of the same way a waterfall is. How does nature do that? Be so loud and so quiet at the exact same time? Some people have voices like that too. I wish I did. 

It's funny, coming home. Some of the things are exactly the same as they were when I lived here ten years ago. Some of the things are even the same as they were when I was just a little kid. The path made of railroad ties that winds around the house, for example: I can't remember when that wasn't there. And the expansive bright green lawn that was always so perfect for baseball and frozen tag and straight up free-running. The little red shed with the peeling paint and loose shingles where my cat always used to have and hide her kittens. 

And then there are new things, like this porch I'm sitting on. Things that were built and added after I left home, things inside and outside. I feel weird about them. I feel like anything that came after me almost needs my permission to be here. Like when I saw that there were two new chairs in the living room, I wasn't sure if that was okay. They're fine chairs and everything, but they're kind of like a couple of strangers sitting there. Who let them in? It wasn't me.

And then there are things that have always been here, but which have grown up and changed considerably. Like the trees - and like the neighbor's kids. I used to babysit their daughter when she was tiny, and now she's almost sixteen. I saw her yesterday and it was one of those really strange moments. I wanted to scoop her up and run out of there screaming, "Stop! Stop it right now! If you grow up, I will too!" 

But it seems like it might be too late. She's not a little kid anymore. She's this beautiful young woman who stands still when she talks to me and smiles calmly and says, "I'm getting my driver's license in August." 

I can feel my skin wrinkling. 

Anyway. The breeze is cooling off and there's a spider, so I might go inside, or walk around a bit. Ah, nostalgia and strangeness and dread. The right combination of emotions for childhood front porches. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Naked Bean

It's Wednesday morning, so I'm in my spot at the Naked Bean drinking coffee in gulps and "working" (I should feel okay about dropping that unnecessary punctuation, but I just can't yet. I use quotation marks like a shield; they protect me from anyone thinking I take myself too seriously. Just like when I call myself an "adult" or say that I "work out" or "play music" or whatever else I am or do that I feel massively insecure about).

(Here's a thing: that last sip of coffee tasted exactly like mashed potatoes. So strange.)

I come here every Wednesday morning, at six thirty-something am (Barclay has his dad over for breakfast and Sullivan hangs out with them for a couple hours. It's the best arrangement). I have $3 in my back pocket, divided up exactly into coffee money and tip change. I still don't know the name of the girl behind the cash register, despite my regularity here, and I'm starting to feel weird about it. Every week on the way over I think to myself, "Today, I'm going to introduce myself and ask what her name is. 'I'm Suzy, by the way. It feels strange to see you every week and not know your name.'" But every week, as I pass her the coffee money and drop the tip change into the mug by the register, all that comes out is, "Hi, can I have a small medium roast?"

Sometimes I throw in a, "Beautiful day out there, eh?" I don't want her to think I'm rude, but I don't want her to think I'm weird. Like, as though we have a beautiful friendship in our future and I could ruin it by introducing myself.

Meeting new people is hard, even when you've met them ten thousand times before.

Anyway. Here I am. There's construction going on across the street. There are enough people in the coffee shop right now that their collective voices are a steady, medium-loud hum, and the music is just perceptible enough that I can follow it without paying much attention to it. MGMT, I think. I have four windows open besides this one - a thesaurus, a dictionary, Gmail, and my online typewriter (my absolute favourite writing tool). When I get stuck in one place, I just click away and continue in another.

As you can probably tell, I've hit a few walls in my, you know, "work" this morning. That's why I'm here, telling you about this coffee shop and the girl and my questionable "work ethic". But that's the nice thing about hitting walls: if you have enough coffee in you, you don't have to crumple against them and fall to the floor; you can just bounce off in another direction.

Now, if you'll excuse me (or even if you won't) I'm going to get back at it.

PS: If you're looking for some good music this morning, you should listen to the entire Walter Mitty soundtrack, all the way through. I found it on YouTube, and it is amazing. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Important Night

I've gotten lots done tonight. Nothing at all important, but Important feels very much besides the point lately. Important is super subjective and inconstant. Like, one might say that keeping the house clean is Important, so I might spend my whole precious evening cleaning the house. First thing the next morning the house gets eaten in and walked around in and lived in and there I am in the middle of the kitchen realizing I could've spent that evening so much differently. The house would be dirty, sure, but - oh look: it's dirty now anyway. Anything accomplished is undone and I didn't even enjoy that evening.

I get that cleaning is, technically, good to do. It just feels like an exercise in futility these days and I'm feeling increasingly okay about going to bed with the dishes in the sink and the cheerios all over the floor. Sullivan will eat some and mash the rest into the rug in the morning and I don't even care.

Anyway. I've had the house all to myself this evening. Barclay took half the day off work to spend in the studio with a bunch of his musical friends and they're still there, working/playing late into the night. I'm happy for him, and also a little jealous. (A lot jealous.) I put Sullivan to bed, came out here, made a hot drink, ate some supper. Karlie showed up on my doorstep out of the blue with a potted plant for my piano and stayed for a short visit (what!? So nice). She left, I wrote a little, felt a momentary twinge of guilt which I mitigated by filling the dishwasher and turning it on, read some. Did other various things.

And now, I'm just sitting here. Listening to Bear's Den. Sometimes when I tell people I just sit and listen to music, they get all perplexed about it. Like, "And what else?"

No what else. If you've got really good music there doesn't need to be anything else, I think. I left a couple of good ones up at the top of the page, and you should listen to them. As usual, I would recommend listening to them as loud as possible with your eyes closed, but I understand if you don't feel like doing that.

I just feel sad for you because you're missing out, is all.