Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lessons From A Rough Start

Even though every year I swear I'm going to figure out a way to plan things so they don't all pop up in April, it always turns out to be the busiest month of the school year. There a lot of extracurricular stuff going on in addition to the planning, the marking, and so on.

It's also the start of baseball season!

However, my beloved Toronto Blue Jays are off to a rough start. As of this writing, they are 6-13 and that's actually a bit better than it was a few days ago.

No lie: I was feeling down about this and actually stopped watching a few games. My sports therapy wasn't very theraputic. But then there were a couple of games that brought me complete and utter joy, despite the hovering spectre of 13 losses and being in last place. (Not to mention four injured players on the DL.)

On Sunday, Marcus Stroman pitched a wonderful complete game against the Angels. For awhile, the game was actually quite dismal: a ridiculous call by the umpire lead the Angels scoring one run, and for a long time it looked like that was all there was going to be, and lack of offense was going to sink an amazing pitching job.

But then! A trio of homeruns by Travis, Pillar and Goins cemented a healthy lead and Stroman got a complete game win! I had fun watching a baseball game again! It was glorious.

Last night, the Jays were in St. Louis, which is my second favourite ball park after home. The lineup was released a few hours before the game, and Russell Martin (my favourite player and everyday catcher) was slotted at third base. What in the world?? It was confusing, but strangely delightful.

The game went up and down with Jays continuing to lose the lead. But there was a moment of baseball magic: Chris Coghlan dove over the catcher at home plate to score a run. Despite that, the game had to go into extra innings. In the 11th, Marcus Stroman, a pitcher (!!!) was put in to pinch hit and got a double that would win the game. In it was a night of the strange being magical.

I am recapping these two games because they've taught me a lot. Yes, times can get rough, and even if they are mostly down, you really have to hold onto those moments of joy and light to keep you going.

I think I've fallen for baseball so hard because it's a game where there is always almost tomorrow, and you can hope for better. You also know there will be more losses, no matter who you are; but even so, you end up losing with your friends by your side and in the end, it's the teamwork that counts more than the win anyway.

(Note: tonight's game was rained out.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

I've forgotten to update in awhile.

The beginning of baseball season has been dismal.

I had an A+++ Easter weekend. Plaskett concert with my dad. Wine tour in Niagara with my pal AlieMalie. Other good things too.

I have to wake up at 5 am for work tomorrow so I should be sleeping, not blogging.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring Break!

Well, we don't really call it that in Canada. It's more often referred to as March Break.  Calling it Spring Break is too risky because it might just turn out to be a week of freezing cold snowstorms.  Looks like this year is taking that approach.

I didn't go away this year because it seems like I got back from my Christmas trip to the Dominican Republic just yesterday even though it was two months ago.  I'm saving my cash for summer trips.  So far a baseball trip to Chicago is confirmed.  I have tickets to see the Jays play the Cubs at Wrigley on a Friday afternoon and on a Sunday afternoon in August. On top of that, I plan to stick around for another day so that I can catch a White Sox game and knock two ballparks off in one year.

The week before March Break kind of sucked.  I was having an exceptionally good Wednesday: I went with a friend for a tattoo consultation (I'm getting inked on March 31st... ugh do people say that?) and then I went to see Matthew Good play his 1997 album Beautiful Midnight in its entirety. I'd been waiting to hear some of those songs for twenty years.

My phone buzzed in my pocket.  I thought it was Becca T texting me from Vancouver. She is my closest friend who likes Matt Good, and I texted her during the show because I was nostalgic from back in the day when she and I would see Matt Good shows together. Checking my phone was a bad idea because I got some shitty news that I had an inkling would be coming my way, but COME ON. What ever happened to checking if someone was out before unloading crap on them that isn't even suitable for a text message?

Let's just say my life is playing out like the situation with David Price in Boston. He left the Blue Jays for a big contract in Boston, but since he had a rough season, he feels sad because the whole city has been so hard on him and don't even care about him as a person, and ignore his charitable works. Now he's injured, and might be on the DL for Opening Day, and the Jays have one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball.  If you apply this analogy to my life, I am Toronto.  My analogy breaks down because Toronto did not make Price an offer (so he didn't really have the option to stay here), and the "Price" in my life is no effing David Price, that's for damned sure.  Anyway, I just look forward to my starting rotation having a great 2017.

Oh baseball, is there any problem you can't solve?

So, as my sad little heart is recovering, I've been having a chill March Break and it may be what I need. I went home to visit my parents for a couple of days, and had a nice time watching some World Baseball Classic games. Who know I loved the WBC so much? It's great! It's more exciting than spring training, that's for sure.

I'm now back in the cold, snowy city and after a killer workout, I've decided to stay in with Ms. Rilo and watch a movie and drink some red wine. I have social appointments for pretty much every day until the end of the break, so I think the quiet night will be a blessing, especially in this weather.

Maybe after "spring" break, we'll see some spring.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Another spin around the Sun.

Today is my birthday. Thanks to the luck of having a birthday around a newly made-up holiday (Family Day) and a PD day, I haven't actually had to teach on my birthday in quite a few years.

It was a good day though. Many of my students from last semester remembered the day and made the trip upstairs to the third floor to wish me happy birthday. Some of them also came back from a trip to BC and bought me a burrowing owl hand puppet, because they know that I love owls.  (Little did they know that the burrowing owl is a favourite species... I should dig out my burrowing owl tshirt.) One of my colleagues made sure that my current classes knew that it was my birthday so that they would treat me well (they always do anyway).

My pals organized a nice birthday lunch with unbelievably thoughtful gifts. I love my friends/colleagues/people who keep me sane.

I'm lucky.

I called my parents as is the tradition on my birthday.  My dad and I have a running gag (based on the Simpsons) where I thank him for driving my mom to the hospital to give birth to me.

Tonight is dinner and then a play.

Birthdays are nice.  I'm glad we celebrate them.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dark Day

This morning as I was sitting on the subway, I realized that I completely forgot to make my lunch.  It wasn't even a "crap I forgot it on the kitchen counter" moment, but that the thought of assembling food to get me through the day didn't even cross my mind.

Not a big deal, I thought.  I had some tangerines on my desk, and I could grab a bagel at Tim Horton's as I got my morning coffee.

When I got upstairs to my office,  I realized that I completely forgot to pick up my bagel at the food counter at Tim's.  Crap.

Luckily for me, I don't teach during the first period.  I was assigned a coverage, but not until the second half.  I threw on my coat and ran back to Tim Horton's where my bagel was still sitting for me as the employees chuckled over my forgetfulness.

As I was jay-walking across Bloor to make it back to school, a co-worker let me cross and offered me a ride down the street back to school.  I told her about my forgetful morning, and she commented "when I'm out if it like that, usually it's something... it could be getting older, my period..."

"Oh, I know exactly what it is," I replied. "I'm just bothered/scared/anxious about the inauguration." And then we chatted about the myriad of terrifying problems that the new presidency will bring.

I guess that's my story about how today is a dark day and as a result I feel scattered, distracted, down.  It's the symbolic beginning of potentially darker days to come. 

I try to be optimistic: that with resistance he won't be able to change much, but we all know terrible things could happen.  I try to think about all of my favourite quotes about how after darkness come lights, and so on, but I feel like today, I just need to embrace and feel the darkness and then perhaps get ready for the fight so that that the light can come through the cracks.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Concerts! 2016

  • March 23rd - Metric and Death Cab for Cutie @ The ACC
  • May 3rd - LIGHTS @ The Danforth Music Hall
  • May 11th - Ben Folds @ The Danforth Music Hall
  • May 25th - BEYONCE @ Rogers Centre
  • July 13th - Lisa Loeb @ Adelaide Hall
  • July 21st - Hawksley Workman @ The Algonquin Theatre in Huntsville
  • July 30th - Silversun Pickups @ The Danforth Music Hall
  • August 12th - The Tragically Hip @ The ACC
  • October 25th - Our Lady Peace with I Mother Earth @ Massey Hall
  • October 28th - Tegan and Sara @ Massey Hall
  • November 3rd - Mariah Carey @ The Bay
  • November 26th - Basia Bulat @ The Danforth Music Hall
  • December 16th - Hawksley Workman @ Hamilton Public Library
  • December 21th - Stars @ The Danforth Music Hall

Books Read in 2016

Reading (2016 goal = 26 books)

  • 26) Missing, Presumed - Susie Steiner (quite good)
  • 25) The Conjoined - Jen Sookfong Lee (excellent)
  • 24) Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton (OK)
  • 23) The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena (OK)
  • 22) Wilde Lake - Laura Lippman (good)
  • 21) The Best Kind of People - Zoe Whittall (excellent)
  • 20) My Sweet Audrina - V.C. Andrews (awful but fun)
  • 19) Arrowood - Laura McHugh (quite good)
  • 18) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (excellent)
  • 17) This Is Not My Life - Diane Schoemperlen (quite good)
  • 16) All the Missing Girls - Megan Miranda (meh)
  • 15) Don't You Cry - Mary Kubica (meh)
  • 14) Shrill - Lindy West (amazing)
  • 13) I, Bificus - Bif Naked (loveable)
  • 12) The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson (quite good)
  • 11) So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson (excellent)
  • 10) Hide - Lisa Gardner (good)
  • 9) Find Her - Lisa Gardner (good)
  • 8) Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson (okay)
  • 7) Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes (good)
  • 6) Still Mine - Amy Stuart (good)
  • 5) The Passenger - Lisa Lutz (good!)
  • 4) The Widow - Fiona Barton (meh)
  • 3) You - Carolyn Kepnes (deliciously creepy)
  • 2) Down the Rabbit Hole - Holly Madison (trashy read)
  • 1) Wildflower - Drew Barrymore (pleasant!)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Summary of 2016

As you can tell, I do not blog with the voracity of the old days.  My posts in 2016 have been few and far between.

What has changed?  I don't exactly know.  I'm no more or less busy than I used to be, other than the fact I devote myself way more to the baseball season than I used to.  I think the words don't come as easily as they used to, and that I don't always have my laptop with me.  (Surfing the internet from an iPad is great; writing not so much.)

Anyhow, before I take off to the DR for the second time this year (they have good beaches, drinks, and food!) I wanted to summarize this year for myself.

2016 has been a shitty year for politics and pop culture, no doubt.  I think the consensus in social media has been that 2016 has been a dumpster fire.  We've lost many amazing artists and people, and the politics of hatred and ignorance has reared its scary and ugly head.

But when I reflect back on my year, I realize that hey, I'm actually feeling OK and a heck of a lot better than I did a year ago.  And that's a huge blessing, because I think that if I was feeling the way that I did in 2015 after this dumpster fire of a year, I'd be in a dark place indeed.

I started 2016 in a flurry of tears having lost some essence of myself somewhere along the way somehow.  It's not that there had been a change in my life or something bad had happened, I was just feeling lost.

After some self-care and reshuffling of priorities and hard work and forgiveness of self, I managed to find my way again this year.  Of course I stumbled and fell along the way, but as I compare where I am to where I was a year ago at this time, I feel sooooooo much better.

I credit Beyonce. Lemonade was the best album of the year and I loved seeing her Formation tour.

I credit the baseball season and my baseball support group of friends.  I'm happy that my Blue Jays made it to the ALCS for the second year in a row.  Playoff baseball is fun.  But playoffs or not, I love that team, and I truly appreciate the game for what it is, and how each one of the 162 signifies a new start, a new narrative, and another go at it.  There is always another day in baseball.

I credit friends.  I have great friends.  I got to visit friends, had friends visit from afar, and have my usual crew who live around here.  I credit the new friends, and the friends who have been around forever.

I credit lifting weights twice a week.  I'm not running like I used to (I want to get into race shape again).  I don't feel faster this year, but I feel way stronger this year.

I credit small adventures.  I didn't do anything too crazy in 2016, but I have good memories of cross-stitching at breweries, baseball talks, midwest roadtrips, away games in Kansas City, little concert roadtrips, scoring a Hip ticket, curling for the first time, boxing for the first time, standing outside for two hours to see Mariah Carey sing two songs, and my first resort vacation in ten years. 

I'm glad I found my strength again in 2016.  I goddamned well needed it. 

Happy new year to you all!  Maybe 2017 be better than 2016, and if it's not, let us all have the strength to fight back.

Holidays (so far)

The September - December part of the school year is the longest slog of the year since there are no real breaks, other than Thanksgiving in October.  This year we had three PD days which provided some respite, but I still had to go into work.  (Although one of those involved boxing, so that was pretty awesome.)

Anyway, by Christmas Eve Eve, it was the last day of school before the holidays and I felt like a shell of a human being.  I was exhausted.

However, a week later and I'm feeling waaaaaay better.  I took the train to my parents' house on Christmas Eve, and just returned to the city today.

While in Stratford, I slept, read, spent time with my parents (and Ms. Rilo who is staying there), and saw friends too.  It was a good break.

I came back today so that I could meet up with my friend Gloria (from my university days) who lives in Singapore now and is around for the holidays.  We met up with another mutual friend and had drinks at a literary-themed bar and I was so happy.

I'm home now, and going to sleep early.  Tomorrow I need to get my nails done, my hair done, and pack because on Saturday I'm leaving for (another) tropical vacation to the Dominican Republic.  A week of lying on a beach, reading books, and drinking pina coladas is exactly what I need to fill up my shell with humanity again.