Posts Tagged ‘Guarded personal writing’

So in the six days since I last posted, I have:

– written a grant
– made a website, new Twitter account, and Facebook group
– found MORE chin hairs
– seen Nixon in China (short verdict: awesome staging, love the music, everything after the middle of the 2nd act doesn’t seem to do anything; in fact, the whole thing could be about 55 minutes long and be all the better for it. Also the singer playing Pat Nixon was much too hot to play Pat Nixon)
– hung out with an old friend I haven’t seen in 7 or 8 years
– been told which Battlestar Galactica character I am (Starbuck. Apparently. I’ve never actually seen BSG so I’m going on faith here)
– actually used a video clip from Fallen Voices
– had a four-hour rehearsal followed by six hours of teaching; survived
– possibly been on French-language TV
– had a remarkably successful pitch meeting
– cut down on both caffeine and alcohol to the extent that I’m actually meeting the bullshit Health Canada guidelines
– failed to podcast or blog, but used Twitter more

I don’t know when I’m going to get a podcast out. Normally I podcast on Monday nights, but I’ve got to check over the grant with Suzanne tonight, go to a workshop, then do all the printing and collating and stuffing into oversized enveloppes. And then hand it in tomorrow. Then work a lot Tuesday and Wednesday. So maybe Thursday?


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Ben’s away for the weekend playing with Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People. Yes, I know, he’s out having fun with other bands and I’m stuck at home. In the 36 hours that I’ve been alone I’ve used two main strategies to console myself:

Yesterday – Be a social butterfly. I had no less than three social engagements yesterday. Actually, I had four…one of which I had to miss and felt like a massive jerk about. But. I had coffee with a friend in the afternoon, then worked door for The McFlies at Lula Lounge (not a strictly social engagement because I got paid, but you know) then went to a party mostly full of people I’ve only just gotten to know and all of whom were really drunk. Fun times. In fact, I had so much fun that my left eye is really, really red today.*

Today – Be a hermit. I did invite someone over, but she had other plans, so I spent the day working on my big secret project, cleaning stuff, listening to P.G. Wodehouse audiobooks, and running mundane errands like buying plungers and walnuts. I have also been indulging in all those weird habits people who live alone have – lying in bed drinking beer at 7 in the evening, having ice cream for breakfast, and being really annoyed when you can’t use your hammock due to rain. At least that’s what I think single people do. I haven’t lived alone for about 7 years, and my recollections from that time are a bit hazy, so this might be an idiosyncratic impression.

*That’s mainly due to ragweed, but it’s always possible that I’m just allergic to fun.

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Do you know, some people are, I’m told, super-responsible and on top of their shit.

They save money, they plan for the future. They buy toilet paper when it’s on sale. They plan what they’re going to cook for the entire week, make a list, post it on the fridge, then buy the things they need to make those things.

I’m not one of those people. I’m happy that I have enough cash saved up to make it through the slack time in the summer and enough available credit in case the cash runs out. I buy toilet paper when I run out of toilet paper*. I cook what I’ve got and when I run out of food, I go to the store that’s a block and a half away and get more.

All which works just fine, though there are times when it feels like one is forever balancing on the edge of a cliff. But surprisingly – or unsurprisingly – everything has a tendency to turn out to be OK.

One reason I don’t believe in God or in conspiracy theories (bear with me, this does make sense) is that there is no way – absolutely no way – that anyone is really in charge of the world. There is no pattern. There is no central authority. There is no safety net.**

I mean, if you look at the world:
– Perpetual war somewhere or other
– Injustice central to every society ever
– Pollution, global warming, giant oil spills, etc.
– Most people being really poor
– Really smart medical researchers spending their time creating new and inventive boner pills*** instead of, say, curing cancer or ragweed allergies
– A world economy that’s based on constant economic growth and inflationary speculation
– A general human unwillingness to consider the consequences of our actions

It’s clear that no one is calling the shots, or if they are, they are doing a really shitty job.

And yet here we are. Ticking along, more or less. Doing ordinary and mundane things and, if (globally speaking) not all the bills get paid on time, we are still not (globally speaking) getting hauled into debtor’s prison.

I don’t quite know what to make of that. Will things keep turning out OK, in spite of all the stupid things we collectively do? Or is it too much this time?

*Lack of storage/closet space, people.

**Except for human society/human caring, which is something but not everything.

***Speaking of boner pills, have you seen the billboards for one of them that features foxy women holding lute family instruments, gazing coyly at the observer, with the caption “[Mornings/evenings/afternoons] are my favourite time to play” in a font normally used in maxi pad commercials emblazoned across a field of cornflowers or something? WTF? It’s a pill that gives you a boner, not sexual access to a cute girl who can play the mandolin.

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(Mis-spelling intentional.)

Like all humans who have solved the basic problems of survival – though paying the mortgage, feeding myself, and keeping the house in liveable condition can still be challenging – I occasionally pause in whatever I’m doing and think:


What am I DOING here?*

Is this really all there is to life, putting on puppet operas about Tammy Faye Bakker, writing about dog poo, and going to the beach?

Not that I don’t love the things I do, but sometimes they feel a little…pointless.**

But then – and I realized this sounds odd – I thought a little bit about bacteria and I felt better. There are 1014 bacteria in your gut alone. Imagine how insignificant THEY feel. Though I doubt any of them are blogging or producing operas, but who knows?

Speaking of which, Fallen Voices has a theatre space and a definite performance date: Sept. 24-26 at Bread and Circus in Kensington Market. There will be a way to buy tickets online shortly and I will try to set up a livestream for at least one of the shows.

*One of the major limitations of typing (or printing, I suppose) v. cursive is that the statement “I [SOMETHING ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS]” looks like “[I SOMETHING ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS]”, thus implying that the “I” is emphasized instead of capitalized by convention. The distincion remains in cursive, since the capital “I” is clearly in a different font and thus marked off from the “[ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS]” unless you’re one of those wankers that can’t properly write a cursive capital I and use a printing “I” instead. Or if you can’t write cursive at all, in which case there is no hope for you. As faulty as my education was – in particular, the Sex Ed component of Grade 9 Religion class – at least we did spend the bulk of Grade 3 learning to write longhand.

**Non-pointless thing:

A stop-motion video Ben made over the past few days. Here’s to keeping the fire lit under Bryant’s feet.

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1: You’ve heard this before – Western people think of time as being linear, African people think of time as relational (one thing happening at the same time as another), and Eastern people think of time as cyclical. Yeah, total hippy bullshit. However, I am beginning to think that time really IS cyclical, because I seem to be reliving the same things over and over again. I have an experience, a revelation, make a decision, have another experience, another revelation, make…the same decision I made before. Life is cyclical. Weird.

2: Because of this, and in spite of my high IQ and general wittiness, the only manner I seem to be capable of learning in is hardest possible: through repeated blows from a clue hammer. Not always fun, but one hopes eventually it will stick.

3: And every time instead of getting easier, it gets harder, because the older you are the more you invest in things, and the more precious your time is. Because there’s less of it, so the ratio of time spent:remaining years of my life is much smaller than it was, say, ten years ago.

All of this being my way of saying that I feel confused and frustrated by my work – still – in spite of the cycle of success, failure, decision, revelation, ennui, what have you that I keep repeating, and in spite of the positive slogans that I make up to repeat to myself.

But I’m sure it will pass, and I’ll post something almost exactly like this in, oh, I don’t know, six months or a year.

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I would not be surprised if I no longer had any readers, though. Hey, don’t blame me, blame my sudden popularity.

I’m taking a break from memorization to…listen to Act 1 of I Puritani, to help me memorize it.  If it weren’t kind of unsafe to listen to loud music while you’re biking (you’re unable to hear traffic noises etc., so I usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks on my bike) I would be listening to it as I travel.

How I memorize things – I apologize if this is really boring*, but I have nothing else to talk about – is, if I’m unable in the time frame to memorize organically (just by doing it), to record myself singing by memory.  Then I listen back to the recording, looking through the score, see where I made mistakes, practice whatever mistakes I made if needed, then try again.  It works very well, at least for me, but it’s very time-consuming.  Earlier today I memorized the finale of Act 1.  It’s about 8 minutes of music.  It tooks 75 minutes to memorize, and probably it hasn’t quite stuck and I’ll need to do it again tomorrow.  Act 2 has a lot less in it, at least – one big aria that’s pretty much already memorized, a duet, and a few other interjections/ensembles.

If the record/listen/repeat method doesn’t work, there is a more extreme method.  I’ve only done this twice, once for the Eckhardt-Grammate competition, once for the Torture Memos.  You record whatever it is that you can’t get (using the music), then listen to it in your sleep for a couple of nights.

I realize that there have been scientific studies showing that you can’t learn in your sleep, so probably what’s happening here is that you’re learning before you fall asleep and whenever you wake up in the night.  It seems to work very well, though I suppose it could be a sort of musical placebo effect.

Anyway, usually I don’t like March Break, because most of my students go away on tropical holidays and I don’t make any money, but this year I don’t really mind.

*More proof that I have turned not just into my mother, but also into my dad.  When I was a teen I would roll my eyes whenever my dad would talk about his golf games. “I don’t tell you how I do my high notes,” I would say.  And look at me now.

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In this episode:
– There’s a weird kiosk that sells knock-off snuggies and blankets with Hannah Montana on them. No, really.
– A door is a very simple object. It either opens – or it doesn’t.
– There’s some mold growing on it, because IT’S A BATHROOM.
– The part of me that wants to be famous and successful and the part of me that actually wants to make music don’t have much to do with each other.
– You know what? I have no idea what these people want, and I’m just going to sing Caro Nome and, you know, actually enjoy actually making music. What a surprise.
– Nick and Nora: Just like Dashiell Hammet and Lillian Helman, except a comedy.

Me and Ben play Somewhere There (Leftover Daylight series) this Friday, Feb. 12.


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