Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Club

Rejoice with me, I'm part of a book club now.

I've always wanted to be part of one, but I didn't know how you go about finding those things. More importantly, I didn't know how, after you'd found one, you became part of it. It seemed too much like hunting down and inviting myself to a party, something I'd never do in a million years. I'm not an invitation solicitor. I'm not even an invitation hinter. Or, I don't mean to be. I do it accidentally sometimes.

(This one time, I was talking to a friend who, unbeknownst to me, was having a party at her house that night—'party' was probably the wrong word for it, it was so small. It was slightly bigger than a double date, but much smaller than a party. What's that called? A 'thing?' Like, "I'm having a thing at my place tonight"? Sure.

So, okay, I was talking to this friend and I mentioned in passing that I didn't have any plans that weekend and was feeling preemptively bored and a little mopey about it. She said, bless her well-meaning heart, "Oh, well, I'm having a party at my house; you should come."

Ah. The I Invited All the People I Actually Want There Four Weeks Ago But You Can Come Too If It Will Make You Feel Better About Your Life invite.

So then I had to go because I had already said I had no other plans, and I figured I'd be able to blend in pretty well because I'm good at blending in at parties. But when I arrived I saw that it was actually a thing, not a party, and I was not able to blend, like, at all. The whole time I was there, I felt like I shouldn't be. I felt like everyone else at the thing was thinking, "I thought this was going to be a thing, not a party. Why is there this extra person here?"

At least it was a one-time engagement and not a recurring obligation—like, say, a book club.)

So, anyway, I did not want to invite myself into a book club. Besides, what if, after all the emotional expense of finding an existing book club and getting myself in somehow, I didn't end up liking the group? What if they only wanted to read books about horses or vampires? What if there was a particularly snooty, extremely well-read person who took over the discussion and made the rest of us feel like idiots? What if they wanted to meet biweekly? After inviting myself in, or hinting myself in, or whatever, I couldn't very well quit, could I?

But a few months ago, a friend mentioned a book club she was in and invited me to come along It was that easy—as is almost always the case when it comes to things I've overthought to death. So far, we haven't read any books involving horses or vampires, everyone is very smart but no one is snooty, and we meet once every few months, which is very doable.

We met just last night, in fact. We read the book My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman. I loved it—we all agreed that the first six chapters are ones you have to sludge through a bit, but the ending is worth it. We discussed the heck out of that book and picked a new one for December. I was pleased with the experience.

(When I was leaving the house, Sully asked where I was going. I told him I was going to my book club and he scrunched his little face up and said, "Book club? Is that a joke?"

I said, "No, it's not a joke. Why would it be a joke?"

He said, "Well, okay. Everyone's going to be real surprised to see you there."

What can that mean?)

Friday, October 06, 2017

Snapshots from This Week

Sully and I are cleaning the house and he finds an old baby toy that sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star obnoxiously loud when you push the button. He lets it play a few times, listening intently, and then he goes, "Wow. This really takes me back."

***

My messages app isn't working on my iPhone, so I take it to Sasktel in the Southland to get it fixed. The guy's like, "You probably just need to install the new update."

I tell him, "Well, I tried that already a few times, my phone will download it but then it just freezes without actually installing it."

He says, "I'll do it for you. It'll take forty minutes."

I say, "Fine."

It downloads, which does indeed take forty minutes, and then it freezes. He's like, "Weird. Maybe take this to the Jump at Cornwall."

I say, "Fine."

***

It's Saturday night, and Barclay and I are at the Joe Bonamassa concert. I got tickets through Tourism Regina, and if Barclay didn't love me before I got them, he sure loves me now (there is evidence to suggest he also loved me before, though). He's a big Joe fan. The crowd is amazing; everyone is downright giddy to be here. They are exactly the kind of crowd you'd expect to find at the guitar event of the year.

Bonamassa's band is unreal. He's at that stage in his career where he can handpick the best of the best from the music industry for his tour; they've all played with people like Mick Jaggar and Miles Davis and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash—not just people like that, but those exact actual people.

He's like a king, gathering whoever he wants from wherever he wants. His background vocalists are from Australia, he sourced his drummer from David Letterman's house band in New York, and he got his bass guitarist from Nashville. My favourite is his keyboard player, Reese Wynans, who used to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan. He's an old guy with a big white beard, and the music just seems to fall out of his fingers. Is it against the rules to go to a Joe Bonamassa concert and like the keyboard player the best?

***

I take my phone to the Jump at Cornwall and tell the woman there my problem. She says, "You probably just need to install the new update."

I'm like, "I tried that already a few times, my phone will download it but then it just freezes at the installation point. I took it to the Sasktel in the Southland and he tried it too but it didn't work for him either."

She's like, "Weird. Well I'll try do it for you. It'll take forty minutes."

I'm like, "Fine."

It downloads, which takes almost an hour this time, and then it freezes. She's like, "Weird. You'll have to come back another day and see a technician."

I'm like, "Fine."

***

At the breakfast table, Sully stares into his cereal bowl, unblinking. He says, "My Cheerios are my parents now."

***

I take my phone to the Jump in the east end. I tell the guy my problem, and he says, "You probably just need to install the new update."

I say, "I've had two Sasktel people try that already, the last girl said I just need to see a technician."

He says, "Oh, I'm not sure why she would tell you that. I'll just download the update here. It'll take about--"

And I say, "I'd actually rather you didn't." Sasktel is helping me to be a more assertive person. I feel proud of myself. "I've tried to download that update so many times, and each time I do, I feel like my phone gets slower and more apps stop working It won't back up to the iCloud. I have some important things on there that I don't want to lose, and I'm scared it's going to crash and lose everything completely."

He gives me a very condescending look, which will teach me not to be assertive in the future. He says, "It'll take forty minutes. And then we'll see."

And I say, "Fine."

When the forty minutes are up, he doesn't look smug anymore. He says, apologetically, "I think I wrecked your phone. I downloaded the update, and then it crashed, and now it won't start anymore. I'm really, really sorry. We'll need to send it to a technician. I can't guarantee we can save the data that was on there before."

I say, "Okay, thanks anyway."

***

I've been watching Gilmore Girls while I wait for my manuscript to come back. I hate all of the characters, but I love the show. I don't understand people who are Team Jess, or Team Dean, or Team Rory or Lorelei. They all kind of suck, don't they? I like Kirk and Emily though. I'm team Kirk and Emily.

I've also been reading Fredrik Backman's My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologises and listening to alt-J.

***

I take my phone to the Jump in Cornwall again, to see a technician. They tell me to leave it and wait for an hour and they'll call me on my loaner phone when they're done. I wander the mall for two. I get in my car, pay for parking, then they call and tell me it'll be done in an hour. I go home. I come back in a hour. I get my phone; it's fixed. I go home. I try to text Barclay. An error message flashes at me: No SIM card.

I go back to Sasktel. I say, "Hi, my SIM card is, apparently, here somewhere."

The lady behind the desk doesn't know what I'm talking about. The people who were working on my phone before have left for the day. At last she says, "Well...I guess I could look for it?"

I say, "Sure?"

She searches high and low, and finally finds my SIM card somewhere in the back.

I feel happy. I never want to come back to Sasktel again. I have a working phone! I am no longer cut off from society!

A day passes, two. My friends are strangely quiet. I text one of them this morning. She texts back, "Suzy! Hey! I was wondering why you weren't answering any of my texts yesterday."

So. I don't know. If you try to text me and I don't answer, it's because I've completely given up on technology and have decided to go back to snail mail. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vague and Inane Things

It's 7:22 am and I'm at the Brewed Awakening on Hill. I drove here through the park, by the lake, and the sun had just come up so everything was extra golden. I'm at a spot by the window, facing the door. Everyone who comes through it is, at first, face to face with me. I'm like the coffee shop greeter. I don't hate it; everyone so far has been very sleepy but very happy and some of them smile and say hello to me as they pass. The music playing over the sound system is bland but not unbearable radio-friendly folk rock. I have coffee, a given.

I haven't been getting my Wednesday morning writing sessions in lately. I've got a good excuse or two, but still, I've missed it. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into a rhythm again.

I thought typing out a little blog post before getting to work would help get the words moving around my head, like the agitator in a washing machine—that's pretty solely the purpose of this blog at the moment, to be honest. Word agitator.

So then, what to write about? That's always the hard part. You can't run the washing machine without clothes inside (I mean you probably could, but...). It's not even that there hasn't been anything going on in the month since I last wrote here; I've got lots of proverbial clothes for the machine. In fact, I'd go so far as to make that good old, slightly histrionic claim that my world has recently been turned upside down, or at least tipped over on its side—it's nothing bad, at all, just nothing I can blog about right now. In fact, that's probably the main reason I've been so quiet here and on Instagram lately. I haven't wanted to be vague and annoying (I guess I all of a sudden don't care about that, oops), but I also wasn't sure I could talk around this thing at first, which is...how to describe it...a teensy bit all-consuming. So I thought maybe I could acknowledge it without naming it and that would be cathartic and then I'd be able to write about other things and post pictures of my shoes on Instagram again.

I know, I know. This is all pretty ridiculous but, like, oh well. You can email me if you're just dyyyyying to know what's up, how's that? I like when people email me.

Anyway, that's that. I'm getting used to the new sideways world, and feel like I could probably come back here and start documenting the inane details of my life again. Aren't you so excited?

Let's begin:

I'm working on a second book right now. My first one is coming to the end of its editing process (it's sitting in my agent's inbox at the moment) and will soon be ready to send out to publishers, which is incredibly nerve-wracking, but in a good way, I think. I get a cramp in my leg when I think about it, isn't that weird? This is next-level excitement; I actually try not to give it too much thought because it's so physically uncomfortable.

I'm going to hang some wallpaper in the living room. It's blue and white. I initially found it on Etsy, where a single roll cost over $200. I was sad about not being able to afford it. Then, the next day, I was walking through Winners and there it was and I got all I needed for a grand total of $15. It felt like a gift from whoever's monitoring my internet search history. Blessings on them.

I'm going to get a haircut! Just a trim.

Barclay and I celebrated our 8th anniversary yesterday. 8 years! We bought each other the Snarky Puppy DVD We Like it Here and went out for supper at our favourite restaurant, where we have officially achieved Regulars status (we have a favourite burger there and whenever we go, one of us orders that one and the other orders one we haven't tried yet and we cut both in half and share and judge the new one against the old one and the old one always wins. We have the same waiter every time and he knew last night to bring us a knife to split our burgers without us even asking, which made me happy. I feel like we should bring him a Christmas present this year).

Okay. I should probably do what I came here to do. Later, as they say, Gator. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Trip to the ER, A Wedding, and RFF2017


On Wednesday, Sullivan accidentally stabbed himself in the throat with a stick and we had to go to the Emergency Room (because no matter how many times you yell, "Don't run with that!" kids will, indeed, still run with whatever 'that' may be). (He has, quite possibly and I hope, learned his lesson now.) (And yes, I do have awful flashbacks every time he picks up a drumstick.)

He's fine now. I look in his mouth with a flashlight every night before bed and we have him on antibiotics, which we have to hide in his yogurt because he thinks they taste bad (meanwhile, I remember wanting to drink the whole bottle as a kid).

Throats are very important. I'm thankful his is okay.

After the incident, we headed off to Frontier, Saskatchewan for my little sister's wedding. It was a beautiful day and Elise looked really happy about everything.


The ceremony was at 10:30 in the morning and she had an early afternoon reception, so we left Frontier around 6 and were back in Regina around 10:30 PM. I thought, "Oh hey. Tegan and Sara and are on at 10:50. I could still make it!" And I did.


I also made it to the free stages on Sunday afternoon, just in time for Begonia's set with Charly Hustle, Vox Sambou, and Como Mamas. Sitting on the grass in Vic Park listening to live music is one of my favourite things; it's almost just a bonus when the music is mind-blowing. 

And the music was mind-blowing.


Then Barclay and Sully joined me and we did a little wandering, grabbed sandwiches from the free grilled cheese stand, and sat under a tree while De Temps Antan started their set on the main stage. It was such a perfect afternoon—the sun was bright but not too hot, the people were happy, and the music covered all the bases.


We stuck around for a few acts and then took Sully home to bed, and my heart sank with the sun as I realized that yet another Folk Fest has come and gone and I have to wait all the way until 2018 to know the lineup for next year.

Friday, August 04, 2017

On Going To Concerts Alone

The Zolas opened for July Talk at the Queen City Ex last night. I only found out about the show on Monday or Tuesday, but I already had a pass for the Ex, so the decision was made. I told Barclay I wanted to go and he asked who I was planning on going with and I smiled and said, "Myself."


I usually put in a pretty good effort to find a person to go to a show with, but lately I've been wondering why I try so hard. Why do any of us? I mean, sure, going to a show with someone who values music (or at least the band playing that night) the exact same amount as you is great. It can even be so much as amazing or fantastic. I've got a few friends who are really fun to take to shows. (Don't worry, Those Friends, I'm not going to stop inviting you to shows with me.)

But what I mean is, if you can't find someone to go with, so what? Why is it so dang important not to be there alone?


And there's the other side of the coin, too, to consider. I'm sure anyone who loves live music has had that experience where, somehow, they end up at a show with someone who doesn't love live music as much as they do, and that person talks through all the great songs and complains a lot about standing for so long and wants to leave early. (For some shows, it should be noted, it's fine. MC Hammer? Stay for U Can't Touch This and get outta there. Talk through Elliot Brood's whole set, it's really okay. I went to Bryan Adams with some friends recently and, to be honest, we were mostly there to hang out with each other. But, say, Death Cab? UNACCEPTABLE—no talking, no whining, and we are not leaving until Ben G is literally on an airplane to his next gig.)

It's like going to a seafood restaurant with someone who hates seafood (me) and is just going to sit across from you and make grossed out faces at your plate the whole time. Either find someone who likes fish, or go by yourself. Right?

(No. You can't go to restaurants by yourself either—who makes these weird rules?)


Anyway. With that level of failure as a looming possibility, combined with the freedom to come and go when you choose and the sweet, sweet anonymity of standing in a mosh pit full of strangers...why do people have such a strange attitude towards concert-going solo? Why would you compromise your enjoyment of the show simply for the sake of being there with someone you know? Why is it so imperative that we arrive and stand and leave with someone? And why isn't going alone more often a first choice instead of a last resort?


The lineup last night was significant in kind of a silly little way that wouldn't make sense to you at this point in time (I'll explain later), and as soon as I heard about it I decided I wanted to experience it by myself. Rules schmules. And I did and it rocked. So I'm here to say: let's all start going to more shows alone, together.


After the show was over, I wandered the fair grounds for a while. There's something so eerie about fair grounds after dark. It's great.