Thursday, April 02, 2015

Same Shit, Different Title

Shit, man, I don't know what happened. It's been over two years, plus a good month for bonus.

The last two years haven't been much more exciting than the previous 40, except in small, concentrated bursts.

I defended the Big D on July 3, 2013. It didn't escape anyone's attention that the next day was American Independence Day.

What does one say when they finish something like that? There's not much TO say, really. It's done. It's over. Do the next thing. What is the next thing? My standard answer to everyone who asks is, "Same Shit, Different Title". It covers many possibilities. I work on another study, another paper with a different title, but really it's the exact same shit I've been doing for years. I can use the title 'Dr.', but I'm still the same little shit.

There are a number of pictures from that day and that evening's post-(successful)-defence party, and I have the exact same expression in all of them. My smile looks like I glued my face into that expression. Not that it was a fake smile, I mean, I was happy and everything, but it's the smile of a woman who is 352% exhausted, has had maybe 2 hours of sleep in the last 36, and is going to fall over as soon as possible.

A few months later, my parents and big sister came to my commencement and took lots of terrible pictures of me wearing a robe and a hood. And then Husband met us for dinner at one of my favourite little restaurants and I had a margarita and... something with fried plantains and guacamole. It was a good day.

So now I go on. I work. I write. I research. (I still work for Lady S, which is altogether pleasant and comfortable). I knit. I read.

That has been one good thing that's come out of finishing the Big D — I started reading again, for pleasure. Mindless, fun stuff that isn't (mostly) young adult, for a change. I'm over on Goodreads, but don't expect anything too deep or insightful there.

But really, I'm just trying to get on with life. Find my happy. Do the things I like to do, and find a way to get out of the things I don't enjoy anymore. Make a little bit of money. Play a little more music. Take more pictures. Hug a kitty. Make (and keep) good friends. Stop allowing the less-than-good ones to drag me down. Enjoy the occasional odd, private, older-man crushes. Drink more red wine.

Just a little more.

Same shit, different title.

Friday, February 15, 2013

This one time, at band rehearsal...

Once upon a time there was a girl who played French Horn. She loved her horn. She loved Band. She liked playing solo things, of course, but always felt that there was something very special about the way nearly 50 people can come together and make something amazing.
She played her horn in elementary school, middle school, high school. In university, she wasn't a music major, just your average every-day liberal-arts major, but she chose a school that gave her plenty of opportunities to keep playing. She played in marching band (even though she could have cared less about football), pep band (even though she cared even less about basketball) and concert bands and made friends that she keeps in touch with over 20 years later.

Then she moved to another country. It wasn't far away from home, but a lot of things were different. Subtle things. There wasn't a 'marching band' culture where she moved to, for instance. But she found a community concert band, and they welcomed her and her horn, and she was happy.

Many years went by. Some members of her horn section came and went, went and came. Some of the ones who went she still keeps in touch with, and still plays with from time to time. Other members of her section, and the band in-general, became friends. Even the type of friend you call when you're having a real, honest-to-god nervous breakdown and need someone to help you get help. The band grew, and some things about the band changed, and sometimes people got angry with one another, because people are people and what can you do? She tended to avoid the band when things like that were happening. But one thing always remained: being a part of nearly 50 people coming together to make something amazing.
Sometimes she took the band for granted. Sometimes it was a royal pain in the ass to get to rehearsal. Sometimes she didn't go — not because she was sick, or too busy, but because she just simply couldn't summon up the energy to be arsed to leave the house that night. Sometimes she would be all like, "This is supposed to be fun and a hobby and it's stressing me out! Screw that!" When she did make it, she was usually a little late, because she couldn't seem to get it together to leave earlier. (Her mother has assured her that tendency is genetic.)

Sometimes very nice people helped out and picked her up and gave her rides to rehearsal. Those were some of the only times she was on time. Her section teased her a little about that, because that's what friends do.

It was funny, though — she noticed that every time she got up the energy to go, even on the days she didn't want to, she came home feeling better.

Because nearly 50 people had come together to make something amazing, and she was still a part of that.

After several years, the woman went back to graduate school. Again — not for music. She was still a silly liberal arts geek. She was in graduate school for a long, long time because she works very, very slow. It became harder and harder for her to get to rehearsals. A couple times while she was in school, she had to take breaks from her band because her schedule was so crazy it felt like she was juggling geese. It made her a little sad, and she missed some of her friends and her horn (which she still loved), but mostly at those times she was just grateful that she didn't have to leave the house again for another obligation. (She is very bad at juggling geese.)

She sometimes still took her band and her friends for granted. She always figured that they would still be there when she came back.

And even though they didn't have to be, they always were.
One day, she went to rehearsal after being away for many, many weeks (again). She was a little resentful, because she had so many other things to do, and a huge deadline that was pretty much the be-all, end-all of why she had been in school for 10 more years, and she was running 30 minutes late and annoyed at traffic and life and the fact that she hadn't had time to stop for coffee and she was generally pretty annoyed at the world (because OF COURSE, it's all about her, right?). She arrived at rehearsal, quietly took her seat and apologized to her section mates. They simply said, "You made it! We're so glad!", and she got ready to play.

And the band started to play.

Suddenly, all the tension and all the anger and stress and everything she'd been holding inside her for weeks and months came pouring out. She sat there, holding on to her horn (which she still loved) for dear life, sitting in her seat while the band played around her, and she couldn't stop crying.

Because nearly 50 people had come together to make something amazing, and she was still, despite everything, a part of that.

She played with tears running down her face for that whole piece (a hymn), and she was still crying when the band started the next piece (a mambo). It was awfully hard to play a horn and cry at the same time, so the notes coming out weren't very good. She apologized to her section-mate sitting beside her. It was maybe a little ridiculous. But maybe not. She was so glad to be there, and so grateful that everyone was just happy that she could make it and didn't hold it against her that she hadn't been there for weeks before.

Or at least, if they did, they didn't let her know that.

She really appreciated that.

If anyone noticed that she was playing out-of-tune upbeats during the mambo with full-on tears running down her face, they didn't say anything, even if it was a little bit funny.

She appreciated that, too.
She's not done with school yet. After she is, something else will probably come up to take a lot of her time, like, say, a JOB. She'll probably still sometimes take the band for granted. She'll probably still miss more rehearsals than she should, because energy is still a commodity that she has to ration. Music is still her hobby, not her job, and sometimes life takes priority. She's older now, and had more practice, but she's still not very good at juggling geese.

But she's pretty sure now that she's where she belongs.

And although it took her almost 20 years, now she knows to always bring tissues to band practice.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Taking inspiration as it comes

Wash: "Would be you get your most poetical about your pecker"
- Firefly, "Heart of Gold"

Or, in my case, when it comes to toilet humour. At this point in my life, I just go with it. Take the inspiration when it comes and all that.

A few days ago, I woke up with this song in my head. No reason, but there it was:

I started to get dressed, and within about 10 minutes, had new lyrics for the chorus. I feel the world is a lesser place without them in it, so I will share.

A Single Pair
(sung to the tune of "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts")

I've got a single pair of underpants;
The loneliest underpants you've ever seen.
Sad ones, grey ones, elastic giving way,
don't really fit, I hesitate, but there's nothing else that's clean!

I'm down to a single pair of underpants.
Riding up my bum in uncomfortable ways.
Fit me like a thong, shifting 'round the whole day long,
Roll the quarters up, it's laundry day.

Monday, October 08, 2012

But when I'm not working...

I've always had a love affair with the darkroom. I first started developing my own black and white in high school, under the guise of working for the school newspaper and yearbook. A guy I had a huge crush on taught me how to develop film and print photos using the enlarger, and I spent many happy hours in there, under the red light, sometimes with friends and sometimes alone. My first real job was doing shift-work in a large photo-processing plant the summer after my first year of college. Fun times.

I did a quick refresher black and white workshop last summer (whee! developing film on a warm August afternoon in the alley behind Queen Street in Toronto, the smell of drunk barf from the night before still lingering in the air... if you can develop film there, you can do it anywhere, I promise). I don't print my own, just develop the negs and scan them. Yay, technology! Progress! Maybe some day I'll play with doing my own colour film, but right now that's too fiddly for me.

When my long-time hobbyist photographer father-in-law heard that I was now developing my own black and white, he dug out and gave me a couple of his old film cameras (he went digital in the late 90s). They are wonderful things, and I love them. Here's a couple shots from the first few rolls I've run through his old Minolta Autocord II (all black and white are home-processed in Rodinol). I have another black and white roll from this camera drying right now, yay! (Upcoming post: the other adopted vintage camera, the 1946-47 Argus C3 Brick.)

There are two seasons in Toronto. "Cold" and "Patio Season"
(March 2012, Ilford HP5+ 400)

Shopping on Queen Street West
(March 2012, Ilford HP5+ 400)

Cherry Blossoms at U of T
(April 2012, Lomography CN400)

CN Tower in Redscale
(June 2012, Lomography Redscale
XR 50-200, shot@50iso)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Still Here, Still Working

I work with words,
but maybe not the way you do.
For me, they are sounds and symbols,
bits and pieces,
some parts visible, some parts not;
to be taken apart
and assigned some kind of meaning.
Social, grammatical — sometimes it's the same.
It's meaning.
Quantify it, code it, count it, run it, explain it.
My life is with words, and their tiny bits and parts.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shiny Happens

Made on Thursday, April 12, 2012:


Unlocking a Bit of My Inner Lioness (*waves to Elise*)
A yellow-green stone that I love (no idea what it is, I bought a full strand of them from Arton over a year ago), faceted carnelian beads that I've been hoarding a full gorgeous strand of forever, base metal and plastic findings & charm.

Thanks to Michelle and Ailis for organizing the workshop, that was tons of fun to watch everyone's creations take shape. I finally made something with some of my bead stash, and I was able to trade and give some beads away that I'll never use - bonus bead stash clearance!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Days like today

Some days... are not good days.

Some days, even when you have accomplished things — good things — all you can feel is the weight of the things that you haven't done pressing down on you.

Today was one of those days. You know how sometimes when people ask you if you're able to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet? And if that light is likely to be a train?

Sometimes I think the damn light is just unplugged.

So, let's have some pictures that make me happy.

Bullwinkle, is that you?

Only the finest severed heads will do here.

And finally, for Lady S:

They're not daffodils, but they sure are fantastic, no?

Today sucked balls. Let's try again tomorrow, shall we?