December 19, 2007

Focus!

I sit alone in the library blaring Counting Crows, considering what to do with my last day of work before the holidays. That's right! I wrote a blog once upon a time. I think my lack of motivation stems from the fact that this blog has lacked focus and therefore I have set a posting schedule for the new year:

1. Monthly book reviews (upcoming December review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert)

2. Monthly movie reviews (I would say weekly, but I really do have to cut back on my movie addiction to make time for writing).

I also plan to periodically post updates on the progress of my writing life with related news, events and (dare I say?) publications. I am currently participating in the Wired Writing Studio facilitated by The Banff Centre and for the first time in years I am actually excited about writing. Hell, I'm writing at work! I heard that J.K. Rowling was once fired from a secretarial job for writing stories on the company's dime (or shilling) ... perhaps this is the start of a glittering career writing best-selling young adult fantasy fiction?

Alas, I keep returning to poetry. My mentor assures me that considering the state of the world, we poets have a very important job. I have to agree. To listen to a master speak about the craft, check out this interview with Don Domanski (winner of the 2007 Governor General's Award for Poetry): http://www.cbc.ca/wordsatlarge/blog/2007/12/poet_of_the_month_don_domanski.html.

July 10, 2007

Random Encounters

Random Encounter #1: I was taking my usual walk at lunch today and came upon a woman in the park who was surrounded by 7 children under 5 years of age rolling around on the grass (I'm hoping she ran a daycare, as opposed to having 2 sets of twins + 3 kids). Anyhow, three of the little tykes were crawling through this cylindrical tunnel that looked like an massive slinky covered in fabric. Resisiting the urge to join the young ones in their fun, I settled for smiling and saying hello to one of the little boys who looked to be about 2. Here's how it went:

Me: Hi!
2 year-old: Well, hello (smiling sweetly)
Me: How are you? (laughing)
2 year-old: I'm fine thank you, how are you?
Me: I'm well! (astonished, still laughing)

First off, who talks this way anymore? Secondly, what kind of 2 year-old has such polite manners and proper sentence structure? Okay, maybe he was 3. Nevertheless, it made my afternoon.

Random Encounter #2: A virtual encounter on Facebook. A big, buff man who looks like a champion kickboxer sends me a message wondering if I have any relatives in Fraser Lake. I reply that no, I do not know anyone from Fraser Lake, nor do I know him come to that. We have not had any further communication. Right.

Random Encounter #3: I was having post-work drinks and appies at Earl's and one of my colleagues' friends from salsa class stopped by our table and sat down next to me. He was a very artistic and passionate Spaniard and when I mentioned my failed attempts at learning to speak Spanish, he informed me that perhaps I was "too smart" and that learning a new language has nothing to do with logic, but "is an art, to be learned from the heart." I was rather alarmed and intrigued by this information and am now considering going back to my Spanish textbooks with a closed mind and an open heart. (I wonder what my grammatically correct little 2 year-old would have to say about this).

June 23, 2007

Recent/Upcoming Events

Soul2Soul - Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Eagerly anticipated, this concert did not fail to please. When the two country superstar lovebirds emerged from under the stage singing Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars, I knew I was in for a good night. 3 hours of Tim and Faith! Admittedly, there were a few moments of utter cheese and a flock of insane fans knocking people over for a mere touch their idols' outstretched hands. I was also a little perturbed by good ol' Tim tracing his hand across his crotch area as he sang "suntan line," but I can forgive overt sexuality from such a sexy bugger. The question must be asked, however, is he balding beneath that ever-present cowboy hat? Faith was gorgeous and singing those pipes for all they were worth, which one had to sit back and admire, even if a few of her songs are rather generic and uninteresting. A couple of beautiful, talented people that give one something to strive for (well, if you have a buried dream of being a lounge singer like myself, that is).

La La La Human Steps
My friend Lindsay and I are both ex-childhood dancers who still have latent dreams of becoming professionals. To appease this desire, we buy season tickets to Ballet BC's Dance Alive program and the occasional one-off dance performance that rolls into town. One such show was the latest brainchild of Edourd Lock (founder of La La La Human Steps) entitled, Amjad. What a visual and sensual feast, let me tell you! If you ever have a chance to see a show by La La La Human Steps (based out of Montreal) do check it out. (Note: programs are long and quite modern). The level of skill and originality of choreography will blow your mind. Highlights included and man dancing en pointe, film projections on circular screens and live music on stage that almost rivalled the dance. You'll feel very cultured and artsy amongst the creatively attired audience members. Wear a feather in your hat or something.

Coming up ... Year-end Party at Work
I will have to report the goings-on of the upcoming year-end party with my co-workers because a) staff parties are always interesting and/or ridiculous, and b) the Christmas party culminated in a group of teachers and admin staff playing "I Never ..." in the downstairs bar of the Hotel Vancouver. Does one really need to know the sexual proclivities of one's co-workers? Perhaps not, but it's oh so fun to gossip about. Stay tuned!

March 20, 2007

Spring Break Surgery

Well, the title is a touch misleading, but I'm a Leo and have a flair for the dramatic. I just had a minor surgery done to remove a strange and unbecoming lump that has been growing between my ribs for a good seven years now. Here is an account of my ordeal ...

I arrive at the clinic at 9 a.m. sharp on the first day of my week off from work and before I know it, I'm lying on the bed, shirtless and freezing. Good ol' Dr. Irvine tries to relax me by asking what I do for a living as he presses the knife down into my abdomen. I reply with a little yelp of pain and demand more local anesthetic. Not an auspiscious beginning.

When I am sufficiently numb, I lie there with my eyes averted for 15 minutes of yanking and cutting that has me growing increasingly nervous and nauseous. It literally feels like Irvine is trying to pull out my lung. I feel little trickles of moisture (blood) rolling down my side and begin to imagine my ribs laid bare in the open air and a monstrous lump being extracted. He begins throwing out comments such as, "well this is certainly different" and "take a deep breath so we can release it from your ribs." Not very encouraging. Nonetheless, I start to feel oddly fascinated by the idea of being given a little glimpse into the tireless, organic machine beneath my skin. How it is mine, yet possesses a will of its own that is separate from me.

Once the lump is finally out and I am all stitched up, Irvine holds up the little culprit for me to see and I stare without emotion at the gelatinous, deflated little cyst I have been harbouring in my chest for the better part of a decade. It was full of old blood, he said. Well, whatever was coursing around in there, I release you.

I leave the clinic a little dizzy and shaky and Wade is waiting there to deliver me back to my cozy couch for several hours of cuddling, napping and Lord of the Rings. Just what the doctor ordered. Well that and some polysporin.

February 13, 2007

The Big Move

After a week and a half of general fatigue and recurrent nausea, I have moved into my new place. It is another basement suite, as predicted. However, it’s in a cute little house with a pitched roof just blocks from my favourite cafes and consignment stores on Main Street. How could I refuse?

Big life changes are not something that I do all that well. I’m a little like my cat that way—I scout out my territory and lash out at those who disrupt or infringe upon it unless they are invited. I’m also a little perturbed about how much stuff I have managed to accumulate and am both amused and annoyed by my lack of filtering skills. Why, for instance, do I still have all of my lecture notes from university Art History and English classes? Am I planning on re-enacting a night of cramming for the final exam? How about the old scrawled high school notes passed between various girlfriends? Certainly they are nostalgic and amusing, but NECESSARY? Then there are the tougher ones … sentimental yet obsolete gifts and items from old lovers that will never again be displayed and rarely looked at. For some reason, I am not able to toss these into the trash or “Donation” box. I’m going to be one of those old ladies with an attic full of such items that my grandchildren will one day rifle through as they muse about their crazy granny’s youth. Yes, that thought makes my crowded storage room seem a little more tolerable.

Here is a list of Melissa’s Moving Tips (compiled mainly from what I did wrong) for anyone who is planning to move anytime soon:

~ Pack well ahead of time and label your boxes. Believe me, the several boxes of “Miscellaneous” items that were thrown together at the last minute are the bane of my redecorating experience.

~ Remember to eat. Seriously, it’s been a big problem. Many packaged dinners at 11:00 p.m. lately.

~ If you have a cat, make sure there is a safe spot in the new place for him/her to run and hide before you transport the poor soul to your new home. In Cleo’s case, her memories of panting, crying and attacking the cage door were quickly alleviated by a few hours of refuge under my bed.

~ And finally, accept help from family and friends when it’s offered. My mantra while growing up was, “I’ll do it myself!” This one cannot be done by oneself. Phew!

Thank you to everyone who helped to “replant” me in Vancouver.

January 9, 2007

Basement dweller

I have lived in one basement suite or another for over a decade now. Here are some standard issue circumstances of the basement dweller ...

~ The people living upstairs are elephants, no matter how light-footed they believe themselves to be.


~ Unless you control your own heat, you will freeze. I've been known to sport sweaters in the height of summer after a descent into the subterranean icebox. Heat rises people.

~ The fridge is most likely several decades old, boasting a freezer (which doesn't actually keep your food frozen) that either grows into an impenetrable mountain of ice, or else drips all over your pickles and mayo.

~ The bathroom is built for Bilbo and Frodo.

~ Stove? What stove?

All this being said, it's not as if I have made much of an effort to change my situation. In fact, I am currently looking for a new place to live and will undoubtedly move into my fourth basement suite. Perhaps I have an affinity for caves. Or maybe it's an aversion to paying an exorbitant amount of money for a bit of walled-in space that floats above the ground. I want to be close to the earth, even if it means I need to walk around with blankets about my shoulders and take an ice pick to the freezer to make room for the frozen fruit.

On the continued search for a place to call home, I'm happy to continue living beneath someone else's.

January 3, 2007

First cars and childhood homes

Time is a funny thing. It speeds, it slows, it stops, it starts.

I just sold the little Honda Civic Hatchback I had owned for the past 10 years. I bought it when I was 19 and had the landscape of my 20s spilling out in front of me: an uncharted territory. This little Honda carried me down the West Coast to California and up through the heart of BC to a midsummer music festival in Smithers. It took me west to the Islands, east to the Interior and was ever a Trooper (as I so lovingly named her).

It is interesting how objects become material witnesses to our lives. Just over a year ago, my parents sold the house I lived in throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was about 5 years old when we moved into the old character house on Georgia Street and it's the closest definition of "home" that I have come up with so far in my life. The last time I was in the house, I walked from room to room and paused for a moment in each one to allow 20+ years worth of memories flood my mind ... the bedroom in which I lost my virginity, the stale smell and slanted ceilings of the attic, the basement full of my father's dusty old books and LPs, the wood-burning fireplace and bay windows of the living room that hosted so many Christmases, the details on the kitchen walls - pencil marks charting the growth of two daughters, the wooden door worn away by the dogs, scratching to get outside. Memories are virtual, but it's difficult not to be nostalgic about the objects that hold them.

I had much the same sense of nostalgia as I prepared to pass my little Honda onto it's next owner. It was my vehicle - literally and figuratively - from childhood to adulthood. Nevertheless, as I approach my 30th birthday, I am beginning to realize that home cannot be simply described as a place, or a decade's worth of living encapsulated in one's first car. For me, life exists somewhere in between memories and dreams ... and is defined by the people that populate both of these.