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Archive for the ‘Annals of Age’ Category

So a few days ago Cecil had his 1st birthday. Yes, that’s right, he has managed to survive his first year on this planet, and while I don’t think he had any great epiphanies about what he wants to do with his life just yet, I think I can confidently say he has had his best year so far. Also he got his first cupcake and was all WHAT IS THIS AND WHY HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING IT FROM ME.

We had a little party for him this weekend. It ended up being about 20 adults and 5 children (aged 9 months-8 years), not including ourselves, crammed in this little house. Cecil had a blast. Madeline was in heaven, except for the part where she got so over-excited we had to lock her in the basement for an hour, and Gus tolerated the whole affair.

oapeh

…I wish I had some profound or witty observation on my first year of motherhood to add, but I don’t. It’s been a year. Parts of it have been amazing. Parts of it have been awful. Parts have been unforgettable, and other parts very dull. But overall it’s been great. And I expect this next year to be even better.

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Back when I was pregnant I would have random and baffling hours of depression – literally an hour or two when all of a sudden I would feel worthless and horrible. Though I knew it was a hormonal illusion, I did eventually pinpoint exactly what the feeling was: every now and then I would lose the sense of my own awesomeness.

I did not realize I had a sense of my own awesomeness. Like my sense of balance or my sense of where my body is in space, I had taken it for granted – that inner voice that told me over and over again “You’re awesome!” was just in the background until it was randomly turned off by progesterone or something. Fortunately this passed along with the fatigue and mild nausea by the 2nd trimester and I have been feeling my awesomeness pretty much consistently ever since.

But I seem to have another and contradictory sense: I always feel bad about my career. No matter what I have accomplished/achieved/done, I feel like a wastrel and a failure. Call this my sense of my un-awesomeness, and while it doesn’t dent my self-satisfaction all that often, it is every bit as omnipresent as its opposite.

And the only way to shut it off is to rewrite my resume. Seriously. Every now and then I rewrite my resume for something – I list my recent gigs I think “Oh yeah, there was that…and that…and that…I guess it’s not so bad after all” and that nasty undermining voice gets turned off.

I don’t know where this comes from, and I suspect no one cares (a combination of genetics, upbringing, and culture, like everything else, I assume), and as problems go I wouldn’t call it big compared to a lot of things, but…I don’t like that I constantly and instinctively devalue my own accomplishments. You could not by any stretch of the imagination call me financially successful in my chosen field, but artistically I have done some good stuff, and that is success; I need to honour and own that. And I feel like I need to work this out before I waste my entire life beating myself up for not doing stuff I’ve already done, if that makes sense.

Anyway. Sorry for being a downer! I assure you I am actually pretty happy with life. I just only seem to write here about stuff that’s bringing me down. I will try to post some cute pictures or something.

 

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My computer is preventing me from watching Murder, She Wrote. It starts loading it, pauses, then I get a Netflix error message. It is doing me a favour, I KNOW. It is a terrible show. I found it kind of dumb when it originally aired (when I was a small child). But this is the speed I am at now. I can do the things I need to do. Very occasionally I can do something more. The rest of the time, I can watch bad 80s television.

*

It’s a weird thing to say, but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to live. Like, if there isn’t something I need to be doing or that I’ve planned ahead of time to do, I don’t know what to do with myself. I think, “I have this whole day – I should practice. I should write. I should blog. I should make something.” But most of the time I don’t. And it’s not that I can’t, exactly. When I’m with Cecil he doesn’t need 100% of my attention 100% of the time. I could practice or write or make something while he crawls on his belly on the floor and it would totally be fine, as long as there were no swallowable objects on the floor. But I don’t. If I’m not playing with him or tending to his needs or doing housework I am probably reading a public domain mystery novel or wasting time on Twitter. I don’t mind being interrupted doing either of those things, you see. I do mind being interrupted when I’m actually doing something. When he’s napping I will sometimes plan to do something productive, and occasionally I succeed. But more often I sit down and I stay there, because I am tired and I need some space where no one is making any demands of me, even myself.

In a way I feel much like I did the year after I finished school. 2004 was the first September in 20 years which didn’t mark the beginning of a new school year for me. I felt so lost, the rest of my life yawning open before me. What was I supposed to do? How would I ever accomplish anything without someone structuring my time and giving me milestones to achieve? How could I go on knowing that I could fall off the face of the earth and die and no one beyond my immediate circle would care?

Eventually I figured out how to structure my time for myself. I even made myself little schedules – yoga at 10, practice at 11, write at 1, leave for work at 3:30, etc. I mostly didn’t really follow them, but at least they gave me a broad outline of what a day meant. I still am not really happy about the fact that maybe 50 people in the world give a shit about my existence, but I am getting over that. Sure, work would go up and down, and I’d have periods where I felt blah and unmotivated…but at least I knew HOW to do stuff when I had the will to do it.

Well, I can’t apply that now, because looking after babies does not lend itself well to that kind of scheduling. I do not know if it will take me 10 minutes or an hour to get Cecil down for a nap. Mostly it’s 10 minutes, but randomly – generally when he’s teething badly like he is now – it will take a really long time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. When I go to bed I do not know if I’ll get to sleep 7 or so hours with only one interruption or if I’ll be awakened 3 or 4 times. (Side note: if you feel the need to comment to tell me that your baby slept 14 hours in a row every night of its life because you did cry-it-out/you co-sleep/your midwife was also a witch and gave you a magic wand, just don’t, because I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT.) Also, since my time is generally not under my control, I don’t want it to be under my super-ego’s control either, if that makes any sense. I can say “OK, if Cecil has a good night and you don’t need to nap at the same time as he does to remain functional, then you will practice for half an hour”, but when it comes time to do it, my brain will say “Time to practice!” and I will say “Brain, DIAF” and start Instagramming pictures of plush gnomes.

It’s a long story.

Anyway. I assume I will figure this out eventually, just like I did when no longer having a course calendar tell me what to do was a daunting new reality. And Cecil will get all of his teeth (he’s working on number 8! Yes, he is 8 months old! I KNOW) and start sleeping through the night, and I’ll look back on all those sweet snuggles we had in the middle of the night and totally forget the time he woke up at 12:30 and didn’t go back to sleep until after 4 (that was last Sunday). And then suddenly he’ll be 12 years old and riding a skateboard and being embarrassed of me, then 19 and insufferable and correcting every other thing I say, then an adult finding his own path in life, starting a career and a family, and I’ll think “aw, why did he have to grow up?”

And I’ll accomplish many more awesome things in my life, even if none of them happen this year.

So now that my computer has finished loading this episode, I am going to go watch it. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

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I’ve had kind of a weird week. Not bad or anything, just strange. My schedule is completely upside down; I keep thinking it’s Tuesday or Saturday or anything but what day it actually is.

Anyway, I will have more detailed posts this weekend about the two out-of-my-usual-realm events I went to this week (a beauty pageant and a Catholic school board dinner), but today I’m writing about Nostalgia.

Musical nostalgia.

The very first Evil Diva show I did was a recital back in 2001. Yes, when some of my readers were little more than fetuses (feti?), I was producing recitals.

I was little more than a fetus then myself (OK, I was 20), as was my friend Alex Eddington. He wrote a song cycle for me and our equally embryonic friends, the Downtown String Quartet (50% of which are now in the Silverbirch String Quartet, an excellent quartet in Northern Ontario), based on the children’s poetry of Dennis Lee.

Another thing Alex and I did together was an ill-starred musical called “Adieu, Friedrich Lips” – a parody of the musicological lecture recital that received mixed reviews at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2005. Lips taught me the first lesson of comedy: it doesn’t matter how hilarious you find it, if your audience doesn’t understand the context they won’t get the jokes. Anyway, I still like Lips a lot as a piece, though now some of the jokes are a bit too Canadian-TV-broad for my taste. Maybe we should revamp it as a Victor Borga-type show for universities or something.

Anyway, this Sunday me and Alex are going to be performing some of the Dennis Lee songs and possibly excerpts from Adieu, Friedrich Lips at the “Sunday at the Young” cabaret type thing following whatever show Soulpepper is doing that afternoon. I don’t actually know more details. It’s sort of a talk show? With live performances? Anyway, it’s 4:15 on Sunday at the Young Centre (the big ol’ theatre in the Distillery) and it’s free.

And you’ll get to hear me sing stuff written for me about a lifetime ago.

This gig kind of came up at the last minute, so I’ve been working hard to get up to snuff on the material. Weirdly enough, there are a couple of things that I used to have real trouble with (some coloratura/above high C notes in the Lips, some blues colours in the Lee) that are now officially My Bag. Which is nice.

In other nostalgia news: We are getting the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchesra back together for a gig on June 28! So I’ve been practicing for that as well.

It’s funny, in the moment you don’t perceive your life as a narrative. As I sit here typing this I don’t think I’m part of a story; I don’t know if this is the beginning, middle, or end of anything. I suspect it’s the middle as most things are. But in retrospect you do fit your life into narrative arcs: this was the beginning of the PRO story, of the Me Trying To Figure Out How To Sing story, of the Me And Alex Putting On Shows Together story. And it’s strange to go back to music that’s very much tied to these now-organized episodes in my life…and just sing it like it’s anything else.

And sing it way better now than I did then, but them’s the breaks.

And now I must go. I have to write two short scripts today and buy mosquito netting to keep tree fluff out of my vegetable patch.

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A while back I posted about the awful, awful things that happen to your body when you turn thirty.  Mostly that you stop sleeping properly, your hair and skin dry out, and you grow sparse but noticeable hairs where you don’t expect them.

Something new to add…

…apparently YOUR TEETH THIN OUT.

I knew that your hair can get thinner, but your teeth?

I went to the dentist today for a long-overdue cleaning, and yet another of my teeth has chipped.  The hygenist explained that, if you grind your teeth, they start to thin out and chip more easily.

“Does this happen to everyone?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “but it’s not uncommon.”

So not only could they not finish my cleaning today because it’s been about 6 years since I last had one and apparently there’s a lot to do, but I have to have the backs of my teeth shored up with filling material so they don’t thin out more and chip more.

That’s right.  I have to have my goddamn teeth parged.

And of course, I don’t have dental insurance (which is why I haven’t been in about six years, apart from the emergency chipped-tooth-repair from last spring), so it’s going to cost a couple hundred dollars that I’d rather spend on luxuries like, you know, the mortgage or food or not going a couple hundred dollars more into debt.  But what can you do?  They’re teeth.  They don’t grow back.  And it’s not like the parging we have to do in the basement – I can’t buy tooth cement and fill it in myself.

So I’ll pay up and I won’t complain (anymore).  But if you’d like to help, this would be an excellent time to buy a T-shirt, a CD, or a digital download.

Alright, time for more movies and ice cream.  The Sore Throat of Death is much better today, but I’ll still take the day off and rest it some more.

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About five years ago a bass player and a drummer I know did a very funny one-off show as an aging punk duo “Guvernment Deth”. All of their songs were about how the punk lifestyle starts to really suck as you get older. My favourite song was probably “Too old for the mosh pit”:

Every time I fall down, it hurts
And people look at me like I’m a jerk
Too old for the mosh pit, too old for the mosh pit

Punk rock forever
Forever’s fucking long!
Too old for the mosh pit, too old for the mosh pit

And so on.

Well, it is true. I’m 30 now, and it does hurt more when I fall down. But OK, at least Guvernment Deth warned me about that one.

They didn’t warn me about the hair.

After the fold: More details than you probably wanted.
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