Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken

If you're not Canadian, this post might be weird to you.  I grew up listening to The Tragically Hip, who pretty much Canada's band, but didn't make it so much anywhere else.  Which made us love them more. I was a teenager during the heady days of 90s Can-rock, so the Hip's songs run through my veins, even if in my early twenties I was too cool for them and shirked them away, much like a teenager would to her father.  However in my mid-twenties, I was back to appreciating them but they were always going to be there, so no big deal, right?

Anyway, this spring it turned out the lead singer of the Hip, WHO IS A LEGEND, has terminal brain cancer.  Gord Downie is Canada's unofficial poet laureate.  The band was going to do one last tour.  I managed to score EXACTLY ONE ticket to a Toronto show.  I went.  It was amazing.

After petitions, our beloved national broadcaster, the CBC, said it was going to air the very last (albeit a miracle) Tragically Hip show from their hometown of Kingston Ontario.

That show was tonight and WHAT THE FUCK I'm more emotional than I was after the show I saw in person.  I do not understand feelings.

I wrote a long rambling thing I was going to post for my high school friends' (Group of 9) Facebook Group but I decided it was embarrassing so I'm posting it here because in a a away, I want to remember these feelings.  Forgive me.


Guys, I'm an emotional wreck after that Hip show. Who else watched it? (I know Joanna did.)

I think we ALL went to that Hip festival together in 1997. Am I right? I know MEL and I were in a car with Jonas and Mark W. She was being annoying by throwing pretzels around.

I remember so many shed parties and dancing (okay moshing) to New Orleans is Sinking. I remember when the Trouble At the Henhouse album came out and we'd drive around listening to Gift Shop and Ahead By A Century. I remember wide open blue country skies with white fluffy clouds and feeling that we were invincible and life would never change.

But then it did. I remember moving to the city and listening to Phantom Power and In Violet Light and saying about the Hip "it's not the band I hate, it's their fans." (Snobby Sloan lyric.) I listened to those songs so much as I did my best not to fail out of U of T.

I remember studying, studying, studying but then taking a break to see Gord play a solo set at Yonge-Dundas Square during the Coke Machine Glow era.

I remember seeing the Hip with new friends but still feeling connected to the past. I went to the most amazing Hip show for Canada Day 2012 with my friend Elisa (who is Vern's friend too now!). I remember Gord playing with the Sadies at the Field Trip music festival a couple of years ago and when he came out, so did the sun and my friend Matt from Winnipeg and I said that if Gord can't change the weather, no one can.

I would have never guessed that I'd be obsessively listening to the Hip again in 2016, more than 20 years since I discovered them. I took them for granted. I take a lot of things for granted. I suck at living in the moment. I don't think I have much courage. I need to work harder at boosting people up, especially myself. Art of all types has always been my solace. Where would I be without words, stories, and music? And I think that's why I've been so sad about the finality of this tour. I always thought I'd have access to these words and music that make me feel better, but I don't. I always thought there'd be another Hip show.

I just now want to to approach everything with courage and grace, too. And to remember that there is no dress rehearsal, this is real life and let's get friendship right, get life day-to-day.

Monday, August 01, 2016

I'm Still Here

Wow.  I think July 2016 is the first month since I started this blog back in 2005 that I've gone without posting. 

It's not that I've been busy.  My mind has been scattered and unfocused, I suppose.  Tasks that require full attention (like reading and blogging) have gone by the wayside for wasting time on Twitter, watching baseball as escapism, and paying too much attention to American politics (I was glued to the DNC).

The upside of summer is that I'm not longer feeling tired, stressed, or overwhelmed and that's a sweet way to feel.

What have I been doing with my time if not blogging, reading or traveling?  I guess I've just been being.  I've caught up with friends somewhat.  I've gone to a shitload of baseball games (seven in July).  I visited my parents.  I saw some movies.  I watched Stranger Things on Netflix (loved it).  I've gone to a few concerts.  

The most notable concert that I went to was Hawksley Workman in his hometown of Huntsville, Ontario.  I've always wanted to see him play there, and it's close to my pal Becca T's cottage.  I was hoping she'd be there for the show and we could go together, but her calendar didn't align with the show.
As I was sitting on the train going to visit my parents, I was thinking about how much a Hawksley Workman show would soothe my soul.  I decided that I was going to go, so right there on the train I used my iPad to book a rental car, a hotel room, and a ticket.

It was a great idea.  I think my only regret is that I didn't spend more time out in cottage country.  I decided that it'd be a 24-hour trip which consisted of me driving there (about 3 hrs), settling in, having a Dairy Queen Blizzard for dinner, a nap, and then walking from my kind of crappy hotel (which reminded me of travels with my parents in the 80s/90s but with wifi) to the theatre.

It was a beautiful theatre that was installed inside the old city hall.  Hawksley was amazing.  It was just him and his longtime piano player, Mr. Lonely.  It felt like he had seen my "Favourite Hawksley" playlist and was exclusively playing songs from that.  It was definitely what I needed and planning that little concert getaway has been my best decision all summer.

On the baseball front, the Jays have been treating me to some amazing baseball.  I've been to 15 games so far this season and I kept track: the Jays are 10-5 when I'm there.  I've seen some crazy stuff, including a 19-inning game on Canada Day (they lost) and some exciting wins.  I have a good network of baseball friends to stand in giveaway lines with, and endlessly message during live and televised games.  Our baseball in-jokes are growing by the day.

There's been a lot of bad news in the world this year, and I'm glad to have baseball as my blanket fort of escape.

Oh, and the best part of it is that the Jays are in playoff contention this season.  They were in first place of the AL East yesterday but slipped to 0.5 games back with today's loss (in extra innings).  I'm looking forward to an exciting August and September.  That AL East will be a tight race.

On Friday I'm leaving for a little trip to Kansas City for a baseball game, a blog friend meet-up, and some midwest road-tripping.  I'm also hoping to get to Cleveland for another baseball roadtrip.

And who knows? I'm trying to be more spontaneous this summer so maybe something else will pop up.

Well, now I've got at least one August post in, ha-ha.  Hope to make it more!