September 10, 2005

Feel the Wheeze

A crusty young doctor at the local hospital diagnosed me with a chest infection today. That's kind of funny considering this morning I was lying in bed thinking that my lungs felt mouldy. The town has a massive $12 million drive going to fund a new hospital building, but I'm told that there's only one or two doctors left in the whole town. I had a surprise at the pharmacy, the first of many such unpleasant realizations in the wake of my decision to leave the government, I am sure. $62.00 for my antibiotics and inhaler because now I no longer have a drug plan.

Before going to the hospital, I dropped my garbage off at the dump. On the way there, somehow I managed to get lost, even though it's only a few country blocks away. So I ended up on an unknown road with spectacular reddish gold fields and several green trees slashed through with red branches. As I drove by this slope of gold, I found that I was surprised that I was so impressed by the view. I realized that I was waiting for the beauty of the area to become old news, since that's what usually happens to me after I move somewhere. Eventually, most neighbourhoods I know well get a little grey.

I think I get tripped up living in the country because I keep finding new variations on the same theme. I'll discover a new road, or one day a scene that I thought I knew well will have changed color, benefitted from the addition of a few hay bales, lost leaves or a tree, whatever. I expected deep down that nature would eventually disappoint me, become monotonous, but there's more television around here than anywhere I have ever lived. This morning I woke up and made myself a little breakfast of egg and tomato on toast and sat in front of the large patio door that looks on to our orchard. As I often do, I felt very alone and, perhaps inappropriate in someone so young, resigned to my solitude. Then I looked up and saw the neighbour's gray cat hunting among the trees. So I watched her for a while.

Loneliness is an interesting issue in the country, because I have no soul mate here and probably no chance at one, but never in my life has the pharmacist taken a full fifteen minutes to describe my medication to me and to learn details about me. Even though there is no one here who is dedicated to me, people give each other so much more of their attention here that it almost adds up to a partner. I had a delicious conversation with an old colleague yesterday about living in the country.

She and her partner just bought a century old schoolhouse in Prince Edward County and are saving up to move out there permanently. I think there's a mild smugness to city people who move out to the country. Hope I'm not too insufferable.

All my friends should come and visit me. I have taken to baking. Yesterday I made cheese popovers as well as pecan puffs. Come eat!

Holy Moses

I'm writing this post while sitting at a picnic table outside. The view:

This is the beauty of technology: that you can use voice activation software on a tablet computer while sitting in the middle of nowhere. My only irritation is that the technology keeps translating the sounds of the wind through leaves or of birds chirping. For your information, the rustling rushes in the pond sound like the word 'will' and leaves sound like the word 'one.' Life's a bitch, ain't it?

And now, random facts about Viv! Why? Because it's my fucking blog, wanker/oh gracious one[reader's choice], and I RULE HERE.

Three cheesy things that I love:

  • First of all, McDonald's. Every week I drive an hour south to Brampton to play music in a friend's basement. The band plays everything from Santana to classic rock and the odd original. We have two drummers, a saxophone/recorder, 3 guitarists, a bassist, and myself, the keyboardist. It's the only musical environment that I've ever worked in that is healthy. I used to play classical music with the royal conservatory of music and a more neurotic, competitive atmosphere you'll rarely find. I'm sure a lot of this is my own overly sensitive temperament. Somehow this group has a very happy and exploratory vibe, whether we are jamming on a twelve bar blues or hammering out a rock song. Every Thursday however, there's a little part of my brain that's looking forward to going through the McDonald's drive through at the end of the session. There is no greater pleasure than driving up highway ten at 80 kilometers an hour while everyone is passing you, listening to overly loud rock and roll, eyes peeled for animals on the road, chomping on a quarter pounder wit' cheese.

    [I had to come inside to finish this. Too much interference from the wildlife. The computer was spazzing. Gaaah! A biiiiiirrrd! Nooooooooo! Is that 'will'? or 'one'? or, 'in' or 'an one will an one @#^&*&@' Sobs from the Toshiba... ]

  • Music from the 1930's and '40's, usually sung by jazz musicians years later, like Sarah Vaughan or the King Cole Trio. I like the melodies, the smiling way they are sung, and the simple arrangements. But most of all I like to imagine how people felt when they were listening to this music, during the Depression and the war. These songs must've been like memories of something sweet, like sucking on candy when you couldn't afford supper to begin with. The sunny side of the street, tangerine, honeysuckle rose. Make love to me tonight, baby, "because men is scarce as nylons, and if you can't smile and say yes then please don't cry and say no."
  • And now for my piece de resistance: Keanu Reeves. Oh no, you say, can it be true? Oh but yes of course, Mr. Reeves happens to be my very favorite actor. But I think that I have already blogged about this. Sass, have I covered this ground before? Watch This Space for the startling conclusion!
I had a great job interview today with a company that specializes in teaching high school equivalency and college preparation to injured workers. Typically the students come to the program via workers' compensation, which pays for their tuition. They've lost the ability to do their jobs, most of which are in manual labour, and in the middle of life have to find a new way to feed themselves. Some are highly motivated, some believe that they're too stupid to do it, some try to take cigarette breaks every ten minutes. The teachers have a maximum of three students in a classroom and their job is to teach the students whatever they need to accomplish their goals, from accounting to writing to customer service. You get a workbook for each subject and you teach it.

I can identify with these people. For most of this year I believed that I would be unable to do anything that I had been trained to do because of my disability. I have an English Literature and Creative Writing degree and all of my work experience involves computers, specifically typing. Workers' compensation is still processing my claim [ by the way, I did those italics, like, totally just with my voice, man]. I met the manager and the regional team leader and I could tell immediately that they knew what was important in life, like food, shelter, employment that makes the employees feel useful. And get this, they made sure to tell me not to show up in a business suit. Holy Moses. "It doesn't make our students feel comfortable." It's a part time job and the pay is bad ($12.50 an hour for twenty hours a week) which means that I would make enough money for gas, my bills, food and nothing else, which is kind of perfect, because I'll still have that kick in the pants to get me to do my artwork. So here's hoping.

September 4, 2005

I'm a turkey

I'd like to write more in my blog but all I want to write about is very personal, and largely I try to use this space to communicate ideas or imaginative stuff. Less introspection. I do so much of that that I am too sick of myself to add to my stack of shameless self-expression platforms. Plus, Jesus, the work! Busy, busy.

So. I'll talk music: my friend Suzanne, who lives in Turkey for work, sent me an album by Nazan Oncel (2 dots on the o -- my tablet can't do 'em).

I can't understand a word on the jacket except "Istanbul"... so I'm guessing she's Turkish. On one track I hear words like Mandela, Shalom, Van Gogh, and Beatles. God knows how all that adds up. I hear accordion, violin, flutes, rattles, electric bass, synthesizer, electric bass, hand drumming. Sampling. Guitar. Singing and rapping. Lots of dulcimer and its fabulous bent notes. The clarinet. At times what sounds like the whole strings section.

The music suggests so much, even to my uneducated ears. Striving, melancholy. Humour, sensuality. Something dangerous, I don't know, just lots of feelings. A sense of alertness.

On the cover, her eyes are lidded, lips pinched up at the corner ('tell me something I don't know, my dear' -type expression), in traditional garb of some sort that looks Mexican but I've exactly zero knowledge of Turkey, other than social/ military so maybe it's Turkish daily wear. Red flower on her head and lots of beads and lace. A very mature, self-assured look mixed with flirtation and something demure.

The music really swings. It's hard to describe music when you've got no reference points. I own maybe three or four albums from the middle east and south east, so no comparators (is that a word?). Oh I mean the songs have recognizable patterning of verses and choruses, and they're all that standard three-four minute length. She's the melody and the rest accompany. So it's not so different.

I haven't heard music that was truly different since going to see the Michael Snow Project. I got hysterical and had to go to the bathroom to calm town. Pie plates on piano strings. It doesn't sound so wild now.

I'm disappointed at how poorly I've described this Turkish album. It's good. To me. So. Oh well, I tried!

I was going to talk about my other find, saving the best for last - Songs from the Capeman by Paul Simon - but too tired. I spent the morning painting walls, afternoon hauling tree trunks out of the forest, the evening chainsawing them into split-able pieces.

I am happy to report that I did as much today as I ever could do physically. My left wrist is very tired is all, but it made it. Everything is waking up again through the pain of these months, getting back to work.

This morning I was suspended over a stairwell by three stacked boards, reaching up on tiptoes to paint edges. I'm scared of heights and my balance is terrible at the best of times. I'd had my arms above my shoulders for a long while. Everything hurt. I was thinking about sad stuff. Then I remembered that I could, instead, have been writing a report.