"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Friday, 29 February 2008

Swan Song

It's funny how life always orchestrates a splash of brightness in the midst of sorrow and sadness to make me smile, just a little.

My Nana is dying, which is hard to think or say, let alone write about. She's 96 and has enjoyed unusually good health for a lady her age; she shops the streets of Belmont, eats out at fancy joints on a weekly basis, has her hair and nails done "just so," and has cultivated more friendships than I could ever hope to achieve. I've never seen her wear pants in my life - and I've rarely seen her without lipstick. She plays the stock market and listens to Elvis. We have spirited conversations about literature and music and farming and food. She talks to my baby bump like it's an old friend.

Nana used to make an annual announcement to the family, usually around Christmas, that this celebration would be her "swan song" and she wouldn't be around to see another. We just got used to these morbid - and always untrue - proclamations and even began to expect them around the 24th of December, her birthday. I guess that's why it's hard to think of her actually being gone. I mean, I knew it was inevitable, but I didn't think it would be NOW. And not in a hospital, suffering the gravest of indignities: having people see her in a state of fragility, with her hair an awful mess.

I've been grieving, quietly for the most part, a few discreet tears here and there when no one is looking, waiting for that horrid call from my Dad or aunt or sister. It just kills me that Nana won't get to meet my baby, and that my baby won't have a "Gigi" to cuddle and spoil her/him. Selfish, I know, but it's what irks me the most at this point.

I tend to always be on the lookout for signs and symbols - I'm a sucker for counting crows to determine joys and sadness; twinkling stars and brief rainbows and rings around the moon all mean something to me. So when I woke up this morning and heard a cardinal trilling a quick song outside my window, and yesterday when I watched the fox running madly across the 4th concession and into the field beyond, I thought of Nana. Fleeting moments of gladness to mark a week of sorrow.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Behold the glass trumpet...of rye

I love lotteries. I don't play them very often, but when an opportunity comes up to bet on something, or try to win something, I'm in 100%. Sadly, I rarely WIN anything, but it's still kinda fun waiting to see what the outcome will be.

Case in point: D, C and I went to see the Lighthouse Swing Band on Sat night in Goderich - a 15 piece orchestra that plays all sorts of "oldies" a la Lawerence Welk (yes, we're a bit lame). Anyways, it was a benefit dance for some recently deceased guy we don't know and there were lots of draws plus (my favourite!) a silent auction.

I bid on a bunch of stuff and actually had a pretty hot bidding war going on for a four course dinner for 10 + a night of dancing deal...but I didn't win. So of course, C goes and wins the "glass trumpet" draw, which was a giant bottle of rye. He proudly brought it home and set it a place of honour in the kitchen so he could gloat over it. I so wish he would have poured himself a shot, because the next day we got a call from the organizers saying it was just a bottle of coke and water mixed together - C was supposed to have gone to the bar and got the real thing! Mwah ha ha! Schadenfreude at its best.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

I - can - sing - most - an -y -thing!

That is probably the most untrue statement ever made, because a) my voice is not conducive to singing and b) I screw up pretty much every song lyric I've attempted to warble. With a few notable exceptions - which I'm going to list here - there are just so many ways I like to massacre lyrics. Doesn't matter what genre of music. If I can sing it, I can kill it.

I like singing - in fact, it's one of those things that when someone randomly asks, "If you could have any talent, what would it be?" I'd yell, 'SINGING! SINGING! FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, GRANT ME THE GIFT OF SONG!' If I could magically become something I'm not, I'd become a singer way before I'd become a movie star, breakdancing/krumping phenom, lion tamer, snowboard champ or even hottest chick in Bruce County (does that qualify as a talent?). I've pictured myself on stage belting out some heartsick tune a jillion times, a feeling I've only approximated during my stagette karaoke episode at the Silver Spur, which is best not spoken of.

My voice has been compared to Cher with a cold. Which isn't really a compliment,is it? I've heard myself, and there is a slight nasal-infectiony quality to my singing that is not endearing, especially when sung at high volumes.

To make matters worse, I can't even sing the right words when I do sing. You'd think that after years of studying literature and memorizing lines from sonnets and plays and all that other crap that I could at least remember simple songs like "1-2-3-4" by Feist or at least an anthem or two by Bruce Springsteen. But no - I constantly scramble words up, or blank out mid-song and have to resort to humming tunelessly, or switching the radio dial to mask my shame. If I've got D's car and I'm listening to a CD, I've begun rewinding a pesky song at least 6 or 7 times to TRY and figure out the lyrics and sing them just right. Not only is this annoying to other passengers, I still can't get the lyrics right.

D loves to sing. And he's got a decent voice. AND he knows ALL the lyrics to every song he sings. Which is both delightful and annoying. He always tries to coax me to sing, especially on long car trips. "Sing me a song, Kimmy," he'll say. I've whispered the few lines I know from "Wonderwall" and once I even belted out the first verse of a slightly dirty Chris Whitley tune, but mostly I clam up and let D do the singing.

So imagine my delight last week, as I was making the slow 2 hour drive from Waterloo to Kink, when a song came on the radio and I ACTUALLY KNEW THE WORDS. All of them. Okay, the song was Gino Vanelli's "Black Cars," but I don't feel bad about that. What's important is that I KNEW THE WORDS. It got me to thinking, what other songs might I actually know, Christmas carols and Happy Birthday aside? Here's the brief list I came up with:
-> Pink Floyd, The Wall. - I can sing large snippets from almost every song on this album. I spent a lot of time listening to The Wall on my sony walkman in the '80s...usually while walking around New Hamburg feeling so very, very dark inside.
-> Black Crowes, Hard to Handle . Don't ask. Just...don't.
-> Timbaland/One republic, It's too late to apologize, - Only because I've listened to it obsessively for the last 30 days.
-> Always on the Run, Sympathique -A quirky song about only wanting to smoke. I'm especially proud of being able to sing at least a part of it, considering it's in French!)
-> Billy Joel, Uptown girl - Again, no comment.
-> Eagles - pretty much ANY song, although Take it Easy is a fave. This is directly related to having listened to Eagles Greatest Hits repeatedly one summer while trapped by rainstorms in my friend's cottage at turkey point.

And that's it. That's all I know. No doubt my overall tragic inability to remember lyrics is karmic punishment for laughing hysterically at my sister in the 1980's for thinking the words to Eddie Grant's "Electric Avenue" ran: "We're gonna rock down to/electric avenue/and then we'll take your tires."

What do YOU sing in the shower/car/changeroom?

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Do I curse thee?

***WARNING...this blog contains language unsuitable for people who don't like to read naughty words. Although there are only 7 of them.***

I really have never been much of a curse-word person. But I'm telling you, living with farm boys is changing all of that.

My parents rarely said anything worse than "hell" or "dammit," although they did favour taking the Lord's name in vain fairly frequently. I remember being throroughly shocked the one and only time I ever heard my mother drop the F-bomb: she was tipsy, it was New Year's eve, I had about a dozen friends over and we had just run into the house after being screamed at by our neighbour for almost setting his roof on fire with misdirected firecrackers.

My mother appeared on the landing, asking if we were having fun. I screwed up my courage and told her what had happened, knowing if she heard it from someone else that my punishment would be even more dire.

Mother surveyed me and my panting gang of friends with her chin uptilted. She shrugged and swayed slightly on the staircase.

"Tell Jim," my mother said, "to f*ck off." An awed hush fell over us. Mrs. F had just said...F*CK! It was too much to believe.

My friends were usually in awe of my sophisticated, imposing mother. That particular night she was wearing two different earrings, stiletto heels and a fancy silk dress and was on her way to my Aunt Grace's for a new year's eve nightcap. Her hair was teased up into her usual blonde puff and she was wearing bright lipstick. She'd already been to one party and had just stopped in for a moment before going on to the next. But alcohol consumption didn't usually soften her attitude towards wrongdoing or misbehaviour of any kind. Yet tonight, she had not only defended our reprehensible actions with a naughty word but seemed genuinely amused by our attempt at vandalism/pyrotechnics. It was a New Year's Eve miracle.

Anyway, I didn't grow up around much cursing. As an adult, I still didn't hear too much of it, having spent most of my formative adult years with good Christian folk. Even a 6 year stint working for Bell Canada with a variety of guys who installed cable didn't give me a taste for naughty language. But after living with C and D for 6 months, my vocabulary has taken a decided turn onto Profanity Avenue.

At first, it was sub-conscious. An occasional "shitball" (thanks to D) or "piss bucket," muttered under my breath when the dog ran onto the road or I got dripped on by the leaky eavestrough over the front door. Not pretty talk, but nothing too foul either. Lately, however, the fouler stuff has been edging its way into my conscious mind, popping out on all sorts of occasions. I didn't really recognize it until I caught C laughing at me one day. He had popped by to use my computer since the one at the farm was down. I had to finish up one piece of work before I could let him have the controls; I had just about to publish the document when I got the red screen of death and Lotus Note crashed. Which caused me to unleash the floodgates on a string of profanity so gnarly it surprised even me.

This evoked muffled laughter from C, waiting patiently for his turn while lying facedown on the bed (my lavender office is also the spare-room).

"What?" I demanded, a little embarrassed but not willing to admit it.

He raised himself up on one elbow and shook his head at me. "Ohhh, Kimmy. You've been livin' here with us too long. You'd better move out before you really start losin' it."

I have to admit, this is becoming a problem. The last time I was in the city office, I read an incredibly convoluted email from someone on our project team and said "Oh, f*ck me!" - out loud. Seriously - I channelled C, as "f*ck me" is his cuss of choice. Just like I would have if I was at home with only the dog to hear me. Oopsie.

I'm not sure if my newfound love of swearing is due to the fact that I've been watching more Trailer park boys, or that C and D let fly with the nasty words fairly frequently. Or maybe it's the wretched hormones raging through my pregnant body. Maybe it's just that my own inner bad girl has finally awoken. F*ckin' A!