This question came up in an essay I read recently, and when I pondered it, it confused and bewildered me so much I had to write about it.
I’m always amused when movies about olde tymes show someone travelling with just a single small suitcase. Especially when they’re wearing crinolines and huge hats that you just know require multiple boxes and trunks and people to carry them. When we talk about emotional baggage I think about this comparison; the difference between people who can get their baggage all into one small carry-on versus the people who need a trunk.
Me, I carry my pain in two big steamer trunks. I imagine them as being like those gorgeous old Louis Vuitton wardrobes, with lots of little drawers and compartments, and the rod that pulls out for things that go on hangers.
A year ago, I thought it would be a good thing to look at this time away from the rest of the world as an opportunity. To write another book, to exercise, to learn something new… And while we pretended that it was only going to be a few weeks… no, maybe a few more weeks, or maybe a couple of months and… oh, maybe longer… I think most of us, back a year ago, knew this was going to be a long haul kind of deal. But that was too terrifying to contemplate, so we kept telling ourselves it would be over soon, disregarding all the proof that it was going to take years to resolve.
And during that year, time was elastic; days were both far too long and way too short. How can it be March again already, I’m not done with first March. And I didn’t get anything done.
That bit is okay; even if you had nothing else going on, we all had that low-level anxiety that made us frustrated and tetchy and just exhausted all the time.
I’m always a little confused when people dis the fashion of the 1980s. 80s fashion was cool and innovative, political, even… then I remember that most people equate 80s clothing with baggy acid wash jeans, huge hair, shapeless over-sized t-shirts, and too much neon. But that would be off the mark.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1984, wasn’t exactly a hotbed of alternative fashion. If you were a young person inclined towards punk, post-punk, mod, new romantic, or new wave music and styles, your best bet for cool clobber was to write away to the UK clothing shops that advertised in the back of Star Hits magazine, wait impatiently for a catalogue that may or may not ever arrive, make your selection based on black and white, usually photocopied images and weird European sizes, purchase and send an international money order, and hope like hell that your gear arrived and (haha!) actually fit.
I’ve never been a bucket list kind of person. Which is weird, because I’m a list person. “Girl of 100 Lists” is one of my favourite Go-Gos songs because it feels as if it was written just for me. But the “bucket” list, that big, big list of dreams, goals and aspirations, has never appealed to me. It feels too grand, too fantastical, especially when it’s full of things that just don’t seem realistic. My lists are, if nothing else, pragmatic.
For instance, my imaginary bucket list would include jumping out of a plane. I would love to do this. I would never do this.
My imaginary bucket list would include travel to lots of places, but pragmatic me, for reasons both environmental and personal, is fairly anti-travel. I’m sure we were promised Star Trek-style transporters by now, weren’t we? Until those are available, I’m happy to stay home.
Let me tell you about the best restaurant I’ve been to lately…
Nestled in a corner of Parkdale, the room is pale green with a wall covered in black and white photos of (mostly weird) celebrities. The table is large and round, glossy black with red and orange accessories. Seating is straight-backed parsons chairs; super-comfortable with lots of back support, and covered in slipcovers that evoke a mid-century lounge. The lighting is bright but not glaring, and nobody EVER turns down the lights to near-darkness just as you’ve started to read the menu. The soundtrack on the stereo is whatever you want it to be, but mostly leans to bebop jazz or Klezmer music at brunch. Nobody, diners or staff, wears perfume, cologne, or bad aftershave. Service can be a bit haphazard, but is warm and charming, and nobody ever corrects you when you mispronounce the name of the wine, or uses their pinky finger to point out the various elements of a dish while you sit impatiently waiting for them to shut up and go away so you can eat already. The linens are well-washed cotton napkins, not old tea towels that shed all over your outfit. The menu changes daily, and ranges from super-simple to multi-course high end fare, offered at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch is served on weekends. There’s only one table so your meal is never interrupted by other guests, and there’s no worry about social distancing.
Welcome to my dining room, which I’ve discovered that I prefer over pretty much any restaurant I’ve ever been to…
I’ve swiped this great idea from Pip at Meet Me at Mike’s. It’s a fun way to look at what’s interesting and important and it’s very grounding to take the time to stop and think about my answers based on the past month.
Making: knitting rainbow scarves for wee nieces’ Christmas presents
Cooking: easing into summer salads and trying to make do with the not-exactly-right ingredients because a trip across town for one specialty item seems frivolous — but is it still a Nicoise salad with a different type of olive?
Sipping: Hidden Temple Gin with Elderflower tonic; tastes like candied flowers and goes down way too fast
Reading: I’ve still got all the Zola to read but my author of the summer (in which I read through the entirety of their available work) for 2020 is E.M. Forster Continue reading “Taking Stock – May 2020”
I just bought a dress online. I had decided in Before Times that in 2020 I would not buy any new clothes unless I was replacing something that was no longer wearable. For instance, I bought new socks when all of my regular ones seemed to lose their elastic at the same time and kept scrunching down into my sneakers and bunching up under the arches of my feet. So the dress was totally unnecessary and a broken promise to myself, but it was super cute, very me, and something that I’d wear a lot.
If I actually had a place to go to that required wearing a cute dress.
My husband Greg and I are fortunate enough to not be overly affected by Covid-19 and the associated lockdown. The one major change the shutdown has caused for us is the cancellation of all live performances. Our day planners are sad patchworks of crossed out and canceled concerts and theatre events.
So when Factory Theatre announced a live, online, one-night-only performance of a show we had tickets for, we figured sure, why not.
At 8 weeks and counting, you’d think we’d have the basics figured out. After all, for most of us, if we don’t have a dog, grocery shopping is the only reason to leave the house. And maybe because purchasing essentials is the only reason we’re leaving the house, interacting with others has become kind of terrifying.
Headlines such as “Why shopping for groceries is no longer fun” or “We’ll never shop for groceries the same way again” make it clear that a meandering stroll through the aisles is now a thing of the past. There is no lingering, no reading labels, no picking out the non-bruised apples. You need to get in there (after standing for 45 minutes in line), get your stuff, and get out as fast as possible.
They were late this year and it seemed as if they knew the current state of affairs and just decided to bypass Southern Ontario for safer places up north. But then the first “ocaleeee” rang through the trees of the Victorian neighbourhood near us, from a high branch or the peak of a gingerbread-trimmed rooftop, flashes of red catching the eye as they moved about. And then there were more, and more again, like incidents of this virus, multiplying exponentially, so the cacophony is now almost deafening on certain blocks. Turns out, the blackbirds don’t care about current affairs. They return every March, regardless of whatever is going on with the humans they encounter, here to scream their fool heads off, decimate bird feeders, terrorize local cats, and generally welcome spring, pandemic be damned.
Despite the freakishly empty streets, this is heartening. Likewise the songs of the bluejays, chickadees and the laser blast of the male northern cardinal looking for love. Snowdrops and early crocuses are appearing in front yards, buds are close to bursting on various varietals of trees. The tips of privet hedge branches are a greener shade of grey than they were a week ago. The raggedy green leaves of the first dandelion burst from a crack in the soil against a sunny, south-facing wall.