Category Archives: Doing Things

So this guy tried to pick me up…. (or, A Tale of Three Men)

Last Friday, I played a gig with two other DJs. I was up first, and I tried something totally new (for me): a set of music from my childhood. Pink Floyd, Cream, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, David Bowie, The Talking Heads… Music I remember falling asleep to as a little kid. If I’d come up with the idea a little sooner, I would have loved to add some Golden Earring and Moody Blues and ELO, but anyway, it was fun.

There was a guy (we’ll call him Stripey Shirt) who was pretty drunk and trying his luck with a lot of the women at the venue. With me, it was “Wow, you got some good dance moves. I mean, I’m from Jamaica and I know you got some good moves!” while his arm was on the back of the chair in which I was sitting. I was leaning away from his arm and planning how to extricate myself when he added “You gotta give me your number. I want to you DJ a private party I’m throwing!” I laughed at him and said “Yeah, because THAT sounds totally legit!” Continue reading

Steinbach’s First Ever Pride March

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and you get caught up in something huge. And sometimes the huge thing is inside your own heart. I had both of those at once last month at Steinbach’s first Pride Parade.

Pride parades are everywhere all the time now, it seems. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked in a Pride march in Toronto recently, wearing pink and grinning—the first Canadian Prime Minister to do so (join a Pride Parade, I mean; I haven’t researched the “wearing pink” part). Pride is big in the big cities, and it’s gotten to the point where a lot of people aren’t interested in them anymore because they have seem to have been co-opted by corporations and the Squeaky Clean Gay Machine. When banks and insurance companies are sponsoring floats, and the spokespeople are mostly white men who can “pass” for straight, it seems not only too mainstream to matter, but also frankly kind of boring.

But what’s still exciting is when Pride marches happen for the first time, Continue reading

At the Scene of the Accident (or, What I do when I don’t know what to do)

About ten days ago, on my way home from work, I came upon an accident moments after it happened. I saw the cars braking and pulling over, and pedestrians and cyclists moving toward  the intersection of road / train tracks / path where someone was lying on the ground. I pulled over as well and rushed over—not because I have any particular useful skills for accident scenes, but because I wanted to make sure someone was actually calling 911. Continue reading

Feminist, Atheist, Queer

The other night, I went to a retirement party. I almost missed it, but remembered about it at the last minute, and managed to get my ticket and figure out an outfit and show up. That’s the best kind of timing for me: not enough advance warning to get anxious about it, but just enough time to make sure I have a clean bra and to polish up my boots.

I first met the new retiree, John, when he taught a few of the undergrad Conflict Resolution Studies classes I took through the U of W. I liked his teaching style, but what I really appreciated the most was how strict he was with my papers. I am a wordgeek who loves researching and writing papers. A well-crafted endnote is a thing of beauty. And a well-placed semicolon? Well, that’s better than ice cream. Continue reading

I Missed My Blogaversary (because I was busy having fun)

Yesterday (Saturday) was my one-year blogaversary. On Friday, I had started working on a post for my blogeversary about why I started blogging, and where I was when I wrote my first posts, and what I’ve learned and gained, and how much I appreciate the people I’ve “met” through blogging…. But it was forced and awkward, because I was writing what I felt I should be writing for that day. My intention was to fix it up and make it perfect on Saturday but here’s what I did instead:

First I went to a community rummage sale and book / bake sale fundraiser for two great causes (from their Facebook event page: “All of the proceeds from the book & bake sale go toward supporting two volunteer-run organizations that provide services to people in Manitoba jails and prisons. The Manitoba Library Association’s Prison Library Committee runs libraries in the Winnipeg Remand Centre and Women’s Correctional Centre as well as offering writing workshops, author talks, and other programs. The Bar None Prison Rideshare Project provides free transportation to people looking to visit their friends or family members in out-of-town jails or prisons“). The books were unpriced and you could just pay what you could afford. I got a dozen or so poetry and fiction books and gave them $40:

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Then I came home and my friend Qrys came over with her laptop so we could work on some WordPress issues. Mostly we sat around eating cheese and dates and olives and sweet gherkins and slices of red pepper and peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffins (from the bake sale) and just talking. Then we brilliantly solved our IT problems and just hung out some more. Lovely!

Then I whipped up my famous bean / avocado / cilantro salad, had a nap, and went out to a BBQ where I spent three hours in someone’s garage listening to musicians jamming. The garage floor was a frightful tangle of cords and amps and guitar cases. There was always a minimum of six people playing, and sometimes up to eleven at a time. I lost track of how many musicians wandered in and out and took over for each other, because after I counted sixteen, I couldn’t remember who I had already counted anymore. Sometimes I was the only “audience” but I didn’t care. I clapped wildly after every song, and basically just toe-tapped and nodded and swayed blissfully for the whole time. I was so happy, you guys, you can’t even imagine! Just the ebb and flow, the give and take, the back and forth among all these people, some of whom had worked together for decades, and some of whom were meeting each other for the first time. Wonderful! I stayed much longer than I expected to stay, and only left when I knew the Brindle Dog would need to be let out. The host had asked if I had brought my DJ gear and seemed disappointed when I said no. I hadn’t realised that would be welcome! Next time.

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This morning, the Fluffy Dog and I went on a playdate, and now I’m headed off to J.’s place for my first installment of a Pandemic Legacy game. A very busy weekend; too busy, actually, but everything has been so much fun.

So Happy Belated Blogaversary to me, and thanks for reading and commenting and following and liking and just generally letting me know that I’m being heard out there!

Finished this book: Stupendous Stitching: How to Make Fun and Fabulous Fiber Art (by Carol Ann Waugh)

Cover of Stupendous Stitching by Carol Ann Waugh

Cover of Stupendous Stitching by Carol Ann Waugh

Back at the beginning of April, I went to a quilt show with my mom. Since her retirement, she’s taken up quilting, and she makes some gorgeous pieces. I’ve resisted having her make a quilt for my king-sized bed, partly because that’s a heavy bunch of quilt for my mom to be working on, and partly because I feel it’s a waste to give me nice bed blankets of any sort, since I share my bed with two fluffy gunky-assed cats and two big dogs. That’s a lot of fur and dirt, frankly, and my bed is always covered with a “dog blanket” anyway, so a gorgeous handmade quilt would be not only endangered but also simply never on display. Continue reading

A Musical Adventure on Earth Day

Last Tuesday afternoon (April 19), I saw a post asking for a DJ to play at a fundraiser on Earth Day. It was for a pancake breakfast being put on by Aveda to raise money for WaterAid. I’ve been on the lookout for morning DJ gigs ever since I read an article about New York early morning dance parties that people go to before work, with smoothie bars and yoga warmups. I’m really a morning person, so night gigs are hard. I work Monday to Friday 8 to 4, so if I’m DJing on a Friday night, I have to take the day off, sleep in, have a long nap, and drink a pot of coffee with my evening meal.

So when I saw an ad for a morning gig, I jumped at it! Continue reading

Stuff I Did in March, Part Two: Music, Recycling, Cupcakes

In addition to getting back to the loom, I had another DJ gig in March. I was playing with two other women, and we were trying to work with two systems: Traktor and Serato. First we tried to connect them with an old Allan and Heath Z10fx mixer, but we couldn’t get it to work: Continue reading

Stuff I Did in March, Part One: Back to the Loom

After a long break due to a rear-ender and the February Blues, I finally got back to the loom near the end of March. This is a loom I got with the warp already on, and I’ve been doing a series of wall hangings on it. I finished off the one I’d abandoned in January: Continue reading

Only One Bandaid! (or, Learning to Make Stained Glass Mosaics)

This past Saturday, my friend R invited me out to her place to make stained glass mosaics. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and R’s work is beautiful, so I was very excited to have a chance to learn from her.

A few days beforehand, she called me with instructions about what kind of glass to get and where. So on Thursday, I headed down to European Art Glass across from the Tim Horton’s at Archibald and Marion to look at glass. There were so many beautiful pieces in there! Continue reading

Stuff I Did in January

February is finally over. I did nothing creative in February at all. After I was rear-ended in January, I stopped weaving (because my back hurt). And when the February dumps hit me, I even stopped doodling, which is a disaster for me, because a doodle a day keeps the crazy away.

I was going through some of my pictures from January to try to get inspired for March, and I found a couple of reminders that yes, I do indeed do things.

Near the beginning of January, I was at the venue where I drew my first mural so here’s an update: Continue reading

A Hard Weekend Ends with a Crash

Happy Monday, everyone! That’s not my normal salutation (it’s more a sarcastic “Happy” Monday!), but after the weekend I had, I’m glad to get back to the work routine. I got some bad news on Friday (I’ll write about it soon) and that affected the rest of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I did go over to a good-acquaintance-maybe-becoming-a-friend’s place for a long- awaited tea-and-cookies visit (and cuddles with her fabulous Golden Retriever).

But on the way home, I got rear-ended. This is the third January in a row that I have been rear-ended by a white pickup truck while I was stopped at a red light. Continue reading

A Gig with a Glitch

About a month ago, I co-played a gig with three other DJs in which I was the mentor. Even though I have been doing this for less than a year, it just worked out that I was the most experienced of the group for that night. In fact, two of the other DJs were performing for the very first time after their graduation recital.

I was playing the first set (10pm) and the fifth (midnight). For the first set, I’d planned a kind of loungy house vibe reminiscent of the first hour at my first solo gig. For my second set, I’d planned some early nineties dance music (think Black Box and CeCe Peniston and Crystal Waters and Technotronic).

Because I was playing such an early set, my mom came down to see me (although it’s not really her kind of music!). She was still using a cane following her knee surgery; after my first set, some of my friends drove her home so she wouldn’t have to navigate the icy sidewalks and drive herself.

The evening went well, with one exception. Continue reading

Dancing the New Year In

 

I spent New Year’s Eve dancing to house and techno music. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the music right up until almost midnight was “Classics from the 60s to the Present!” which is fine for listening, but not exactly exciting for dancing. Fortunately, I got there close to 2330hrs, so I only had to spend half an hour texting my friends (“Happy Almost New Year!”) and looking up dog pictures on Instagram.

A few minutes after midnight—once Auld Lang Syne was over—the good music started. Dave Rad was DJing, and when his set was done, Alexander Krygsveld was up; his set was amazing. Lots of bass, no cutesy bullshit, a steady beat with just enough beatless “build-up” segments to let me catch my breath once in a while (but not so long that I got bored and wanted to wander off the dance floor).

I was by myself. I love being by myself. I can drive there on my own, get there when I like, am not dependent on anyone else for a ride home, don’t have to consider whether others in my group want to dance or not, and don’t have to pay attention to anyone on the dance floor. Sure, it’s fun to go out with friends, but that’s a different sort of evening; that’s social. This is dancing. Continue reading

Finally got to play with my new loom

First I hemmed the work in progress that was already on the loom when I got it.

First I hemmed the work in progress that was already on the loom when I got it.

Back at the beginning of November, I got a new-to-me loom. It was one of those via-via things: the owner of the loom died last year, and her son was finally cleaning out her condo. The son’s partner is in an artist’s collective with a good friend of mine, who heard about the available loom and asked if I was interested, with the caveat that they wanted it gone quickly.

Did I want it? Of course! Could I transport it, and did I have room for it, and do I really need another loom? No, no, and no. But I really miss weaving. My jack-type Artisat loom is in the Room-Formerly-Known-as-My-Studio, and currently known as my bromate’s digs. There is no other place I can put the loom, since it has to be locked away from the cats (all those strings and threads and ribbons and dangly bits: can you say “vet bill,” boys and girls?). Continue reading

1978: The Steve Miller Band opens for The Eagles

 

Blogger sonofabeach96 posts often about music history. One of his recent posts reminded me of the very first concert I ever attended. So this throwback post is for you, son. 🙂

On July 27, 1978, the Steve Miller Band opened for the Eagles at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg. My mom, who was only 32 at the time, really wanted to go but couldn’t find anyone to go with her. So she took me (just turned 8), my brother (6), and two of my cousins (9 and 12). The venue was an open field with rush “seating” (grab a spot and stake out your tarp, basically).

I got my mom to retell the story the other day, and she put a lot of emphasis on how often we kids all had to use the toilet. At one point, the lineup for the women’s toilets was super long, and there was nobody waiting for the men’s. My mom says I just sized up the situation, zipped into the men’s washroom, and emerged drying my freshly-washed hands and looking very pleased with myself (that does sound like me). She was laughing at how much of the concert she viewed from the toilet lineups.

I asked her why in the world she would take four little kids to a concert like that with no other adult to help, and she just shrugged “I thought it would be fun!” And besides, she added, my 12-year-old cousin could be trusted with two kids at the blanket while she took the fourth kid to the can. So it all worked out!

I have two memories of that concert. In one, we are all sitting on a blanket. In my memory, it is one of those acrylic blankets with the wide satin trim—remember those? But my mom says she can’t remember what blanket it was (and kind of side-eyed me for asking about such a detail, haha!). I remember jostling for space with the others, and there were lots of people around us.

I think there were several opening acts. By the time the penultimate band played, we kids were exhausted, so my mom had to start packing up to take us home. My second memory of the concert is of sitting on a bench in the dark and seeing the stage very far away and bright, with tiny people on it. The crowd was a sea of shadowy heads. My mom remembers this as well. She said that as we were headed for the parking lot, the Eagles started playing Hotel California. She stopped at a bench to listen to that song. I loved hearing her retell this story for lots of reasons, but mostly because of the smile on her face when she remembered this.

When I was a kid, my mom’s music was my music. I was probably twelve or so before I realised that other types of music weren’t random anomalies but actual genres. Mostly I thought all music was the Eagles, and Led Zeppelin, and Meatloaf. Foreigner and Loverboy and Toto and 10CC and Eric Clapton and Neil Young and the Who and the Guess Who and Supertramp and the Rolling Stones and CSNY and Bob Dylan and Billy Joel and Queen. Van Morrison, ELO, the Moody Blues, Elton John, Dire Straits, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Boney M… And above all, Pink Floyd. The family still goes wild for Pink Floyd; my uncles close their eyes and moan, and my mom sings along happily.

It’s not my music anymore, not in terms of what I choose to listen to around the house. But when I hear it, I am carried back to my childhood. The nights I spent falling asleep in my bunk-bed to the comforting vibration of bass, the way my mom and her siblings let their faces open up with joy when their favourite music plays, the lyrics to hundreds of 70s songs that still pop fully-formed into my mind when the first notes of those old songs play… These are some of my best childhood memories. I’m grateful that my mom thought it would be fun to take a pack of kids to an outdoor concert. We don’t often listen to the same music anymore, but we still talk about music a lot. I listen when she has something special to play for me, and she has made it out to a couple of my gigs. I’m glad that she has always loved music so much, and that she has passed that appreciation on to me.

In true sonofabeach96 style, here’s a list of some of faves from when I was just a pup:

Pink Floyd: One of These Days

Boney M: Rasputin

10CC: Dreadlock Holiday

The Guess Who: American Woman

Santana: Black Magic Woman

The Moody Blues: Melancholy Man

Electric Light Orchestra: Don’t Bring Me Down

Loverboy: Turn Me Loose

Best Relationship Quote Ever

Okay, so by now you all know that I love Captain Awkward’s advice. I’m slowly making my way through the archives, and the other day I came across the best relationship quote ever.

You know how we always talk about how relationships (friendships, family relationships, love relationships) take work? That we have to expend effort to get something back, and so forth? Well, I always thought of the “work” in this equation as something unpleasant. As in: the effort expended when things are going well isn’t actually work, but the stuff you have to do to repair or maintain a crappy relationship / friendship is what we mean by “work.” Continue reading

Reflecting on NaBloPoMo

 

So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I hope that actually stands for National Blog Posting Month, otherwise I’ve sure been doing it wrong. While I did manage to post something every single day this month, I’m not sure I would do it again. It was great to have the discipline of coming up with an idea and writing something every day, but I felt like I couldn’t give most of my posts the time and thought I would have preferred. Some of them felt more like a wordy Facebook status than a blog post.

Maybe next time I try this, I’ll commit to a post every second day rather than every day. I did really enjoy making the writing a daily practice, but it might have worked better for me to journal daily instead of forcing out a post.

Thanks to everyone who read and liked and commented on my posts. I feel like posting every day was a bit of an abuse of the patience of my readers, so I am extra-appreciative of this month’s audience participation!

Did any of you do NaBloPoMo or one of the other versions of it? If so, what was the experience like for you?

 

 

What the heck is the “Vagina Folder”???

Vagina I (16"x16" acrylic and collage)

Vagina I (16″x16″ acrylic and collage)

I was sorting through old pictures on my hard drive and I came across a folder called “Vagina Folder.” What the heck??? But when I looked in there, I saw pictures of three paintings I had been commissioned to do by a woman taking a course on women’s art. So here are three vaginas in multimedia (acrylic and collage). Continue reading

Good Self-Care Means Drugs and Dancing

I may have mentioned before that I have endometriosis. One effect of this condition is that my periods are brutally painful. At their peak, over-the-counter painkillers don’t even touch the pain, so I spend a few days a month on prescription opiates. Before and after those days, I snack on ibuprofen and acetaminophen like candy. My cycle is short (23-25 days), and my periods are usually preceded by a few days of cramps, as well as the random flares at other times of the month, so I spend close to half my life living with and managing this condition. Every period has its own internal cycle as well; some are worse at night, some worse during the day, some have 6- or 8-hour pain cycles.

The thing is, it’s kind of like rain in Holland. When I moved there from Winnipeg, I went from a very sunny place to a classic coastal climate: grey, rainy, and damp. Continue reading

A Doodle A Day (acrylic version)

6"x6" acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

6″x6″ acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that my friend R. and I repeatedly take the acrylic painting class at Forum Art Centre with David Cooper. Here’s the only thing I have actually completed so far this session. There’s one more class next week but it’s the critique class (with wine and snacks). At that class, we won’t be painting, but we’re supposed to share everything we’ve worked on during the course, whether finished or unfinished. I’ve got eight other pieces on the go, and am hoping to find time this week to work on some of them before the last class. But I’m not going to stress about it; this is funtime!

 

 

The Bird Dance Revisited

 

This post is dedicated to honestme363 after our little conversation yesterday in which they wondered if I was planning to play a rave remix of any polkas or perhaps the bird dance at an upcoming gig… I said “No way!” but actually, it turns out I have some options:

DJ Birdy’s Techno Bird Dance (Techno Chicken Dance)

The Chicken Dance, Techno Remix

Chicken Dance Techno Remix

The Chicken Dance Club Mix by DJ Tob-i

Loituma levans Polka Hardstyle Remix

Hardcore Polka

Techno Polka

Double on Genre (Techno + Polka)

The last one features a cat!

It was a lot of fun looking this up. Thanks for the smiles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staycation Day 4: I Hid the Lists and Did What I Wanted

There’s not much to add, really. I cleared all my papers and lists off the kitchen table, and then spent a few hours doing this:

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

It’s been months since I last played around with the watercolour pencils. Not since last winter, I think. I used the notebooks as a way to warm up a bit, and then I did the heart above on a postcard to send to a friend whose birthday is coming up. Then some more notebook doodling, and the heart below (not finished yet in the picture) for my cousin’s upcoming wedding.

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Also, I was approached about maybe DJing a rave-themed wedding, which is about a 90% perfect fit with my DJ style and music collection. I hope it works out, although I bet they’ll have second thoughts when they think about their poor grandparents!

Tonight is studio time at the Forum Art Centre where R. and I take an acrylic class taught by David Cooper on Thursday nights. This is the fifth (I think) time we take it together. The class fee includes studio time on Tuesday evenings. So I am considering heading down there for that, although if I take advantage of the cleared-off kitchen table, I could do “studio night” here at home, and not even have to put my bra back on!

All in all, hiding the lists and choosing to just play today was the best idea I’ve had in a while. I even got a couple of errands done and took the dogs along in the car to pick up the winter tires. A lovely day! It’s amazing how much better I feel if I’ve made something. Writing, weaving, drawing, painting, anything. It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to be made.

Frustrating Vacation Days

This is my third day of a five-day “vacation” in which I am just staying at home and trying to catch up on my life. I had a huge long task list involving some cleaning and organising, some art-making and writing, some (limited) socialising, and some progress on contract work and paperwork.

Saturday went really well. I met with the bank about the mortgage, sorted through all of the stuff in my front alcove (which is supposed to be my Reading Corner but has slowly filled with books and bags and baskets and bird cages), freecycled a bunch of books and other stuff, brushed the Fluffy Dog, wrote a blog post, and came up with a grocery list. Super productive, and I still had time to do some reading and kill a dragon or two in Skyrim while finishing off the bottle of wine I’d started on Friday.

Sunday was slightly less productive. I did get grocery shopping and dishes done, and sent out another invoice (yay for income!), but the big event of the day was a combo art playdate and doggy playdate with J. at her place. I love spending time with J., and the Fluffy Dog loves spending time with her new little rescue dog, but we got no art done. As a visit goes, it was lovely as always: we humans drank London Fogs and discussed the state of our psyches and the world around us while the two dogs (one 80 pounds and one not even 8 pounds) gnawed on each other and played adorably. But the thing is, I got no art done, and I had been looking forward to that for days, anticipating our playdate. This is the first time we’ve tried to combine the two (art and dog playdates). Maybe over time, as the novelty of these two dogs developing a friendship becomes more mundane, we will be able to do both. But I think that for now, I will have to just accept that when the dogs are involved, art won’t really be on the table.

The thing is, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for art-making now. Today has been mostly given over to waiting for and dealing with contractors. Electrical estimates this morning, and now I have been waiting for over three hours for the drain people to come and clean out the main drain. The appointment was for between noon and 2. I called at 2 to ask for an ETA and they said 45 more minutes. I called again at 2:50 and they said they couldn’t tell me a time because there had been an emergency and the guy got his machine stuck in a hole. Sigh. It’s 3:10 as I type this and they just called to say the technician is on his way, so I live in hope but I am not holding my breath.

I can’t make something when I know an interruption is coming. If I have 20 minutes or an hour or (happy day!) four hours scheduled, I can use it to make something. It doesn’t matter how short the time is as long as I know it’s mine. But in a circumstance like this, when I’ve been awaiting the doorbell’s ring since 11:45, I can’t put my head into that space. So I’ve sorted through paperwork and pulled the things I know I’ll have to work on later. I’ve replied to a few emails. I’ve sent another invoice, and after the electrician left I zipped over to the hospital to pee in a bottle for the urine metanephrine test. At 4:45, I have to be at The Forks to meet S. for coffee and I had been planning to walk over, but time is starting to get short.

***

Two polite young men showed up and cleaned out the main drain. This is a major deal for the household. We used to get it cleaned every two years, as we have massive oaks growing along the sewer line and roots get in there. Last time, we left it for two and a half years…. and had a sewer backup, rendering our former tenant homeless and leading to a five-month, $15,000 renovation. The nice young men (a white tattooed supervisor and an earnest brown apprentice) did find a fair amount of roots in there even though it was last cleaned eleven months and three weeks ago.

The main drain access is in my tenant’s suite, so I had to be present while the guys were down there. How odd to be in someone else’s space like that, in a power position (I, Landlord), seeing their things and the intimate details of their daily life, the apple on the counter and the scrub brush in the sink and the knick-knacks and baby pictures.

Now it’s time to let the dogs pee and I probably have just enough time to walk to The Forks to meet S. instead of taking the car. Yay for beautiful autumn walks! Perhaps that will make me feel less time-wasted and frustrated, and maybe I can get back on track for Day Four of my mini-stay-at-home-vacay.

Use Your F*$king Turning Signal (or, Driving is a Team Sport)

I love driving. I really do. And most of the time I try to be a very chill driver. I listen to music and drive just slightly above the speed limit (or, you know, maybe a bit more than that, depending). I use my signals to indicate what I plan to do. I come to a full stop at stop signs, and I try to give others space—no tailgating or cutting people off. Ideally, I want people to see me but not have to think about me or worry about what I’m going to do next. Driving is a team sport; if we all behave predictably and politely, we’re all going to get where we’re going with as little stress or mess as possible.

But at the same time, I have a really low frustration tolerance when it comes to other people being selfish jerks. And there’s an awful lot of selfish jerkiness on the road. Those super important and busy people weaving in and out of traffic with no turning signals, racing to get ahead by just a couple of car-lengths. The ones who race up the empty right-hand lane and then bull their way into traffic. The ones who ignore construction signs and speed past workers. The ones who don’t pay attention to traffic flow and are always riding the gas and brake at the same time, speeding up too much and then braking, speeding up and braking. The ones who have no patience for cyclists or pedestrians, and who therefore take huge risks in driving too close to them, because they can’t bear to slow down for ten seconds and keep everyone safe.

And then the slow ones. The ones who brake for green lights and slow down for clear intersections, or for smooth, dry curves. The ones who even under the best driving conditions can’t bring themselves to drive the speed limit. The ones who drift slowly in and out of their lane. The ones looking for a particular street or house who don’t just pull over when they see the long line of traffic backed up behind them.

And then the pure ignorant narcissistic assholes. The ones talking on their cell phones. The ones who are high (yes, pothead, marijuana affects your driving). The ones who’ve been drinking. The ones on coke (yeah, you, who thinks you’re invulnerable and no one else is really real). The ones who can’t pull over for a minute but have to retrieve that dropped item, or hand their kid that thing, or find the thing in their purse, or find the right radio station, or use the rearview to fix their hair, all while still driving the car. The ones who claim they’re good drivers because they’ve never been in an accident and yet leave a trail of rage and smoking brakes and near-strokes and terrified cyclists behind them every time they’re on the road.

So most of the time I try to be chill, yes. But if you’re the guy tailgating me in the morning on the way to work, you can bet I’m going to take great pleasure in slowing right down to exactly the speed limit and preventing you from passing me all the long, curvy way down Wellington Crescent. And if you’re that entitled jerk racing and weaving through rush-hour traffic to get ahead of everyone, you can bet I’m going to nose right up to the car in front of me and not let you into my lane. And if you’re the guy in the big soil-hauling truck who suddenly dropped into my lane on a curve the other day and nearly hit me, I just want to inform you that what I was screaming as I slammed on both the brakes and the horn was “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUUUUUUUUUUCK?????” which is a step up from my usual “Wow, you suck!” or “For real?”

But if you are obviously anticipating the traffic around you and making an effort to drive well and safely, I am going to see your turning signal and give you space to get into the lane in front of me. And when you lift your hand to acknowledge me, I’m going to nod back at you and feel pleased that we treated each other as teammates and actual real people.

I was in Montreal a few years ago and an acquaintance picked me up from the train station. That was a scary ride. It seemed like most drivers kept their car straddling lanes (reserving a spot to move over?) and seemed to rely a lot on the quick reflexes of others to prevent accidents. My driver was yelling at other drivers on the road, at one point shouting “You fucking asshole bitch!” Then she turned around (still driving!) to grin at me: “That’s what I say when I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman!” At that point, I decided to just lean back and pretend I was on a carnival ride.

Many years ago, when my mom was teaching me how to drive, she berated me for only using the turning signal after I had started braking for the turn. She explained: “Your turning signal is a signal of intent, not of action.” In other words, people and bots, let others know what you plan to do, don’t just show us what you’re already doing.

It’s not rocket science. Mind your manners and show a bit of empathy. That person who doesn’t spring into action the minute the light turns green? Give them a sec before you honk. That’s a real person in there who just found out their mom has cancer, or whose dog just died, or who has terrible insomnia, or who simply happened to be looking in a different direction when the light changed.  During the end of my marriage and my divorce, the car was the only place I could cry, so I cried myself to and from work for nearly two years. I’m sure I wasn’t the best driver on the road during that time! I try to remember that when I get impatient. And I try to remember that the old guy in the hat drifting around his lane who irritates the daylights out of me is probably going to have his license—and thus his independence—removed soon, and that really sucks for him.

I love a nice smooth ride. I go home at lunchtime during the week to let the dogs out, so I’m on the road multiple times a day. It’s just lovely when everyone is driving smoothly at or just above the speed limit, using their signals, moving into the lane they need with plenty of time to spare, and allowing others to move around as well. When backed-up traffic remembers to leave intersections clear for others to turn, when people wave each other in and wave thanks, when drivers show some planning and consideration—that’s good drive.

 

 

 

 

 

My Very First Art Lesson (in which I learned I’m no good)

When I was six, I learned that I would never be an artist.

Like any other kid, I loved to draw and fingerpaint and glue stuff onto other stuff, especially if beads or glitter were involved. In the homes of my grandparents, my father, and my aunt, I was surrounded by evidence of art and artists: my great-grandfather was a master painter back in the Old Country (Denmark), and my grandfather had been apprenticed to him. My grandparents met when my grandmother took a class with the master painter, and my grandfather would offer to walk her home and carry her painting gear. The walls of my grandparents’ home were filled with paintings and drawings and woven tapestries and other work by my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, aunt, and other artists. Every bit of wall space was filled. Continue reading

Survived my First Solo Gig (with some help)

My improvised laptop stand: a thin wooden box decorated by yours truly.

My improvised laptop stand: a thin wooden box decorated by yours truly. The grey cat is inspecting it for crumbs.

This past Saturday, I did my first ever solo DJ gig. All me, all night, booked for three hours. I was excited and terrified, since the longest set I’ve ever done in public before was only forty minutes, and I have always had sister DJs with me as mutual backup and support.

The venue was a downtown restaurant. They don’t have a dance floor and they weren’t expecting dancing, although they did know I mostly play house music and were okay with that. I planned to tone it down a bit for the beginning of the evening and so I prepped a lot of chill house, like St. Germain and Laurent Garnier.

On the day of, I had slept well but then couldn’t nap much during the day. Was starting to get nervous by the afternoon so I didn’t eat much. Continue reading

A Golden (Blue) Oldie

So I have another gig coming up and this one will be my first ever solo gig—All Me All Night—three straight hours with no sister DJs or mentors to back me up. I’m nervous, of course, but also pretty excited. But until now, I’ve never played more than an hour’s worth of music in an evening, so I am going through all my old music to see if I have enough music appropriate for this venue. And I’m coming across some great old electronic stuff from when I first moved to the Netherlands Continue reading

My First Mural: Reflecting on the process

The completed mural, with a chair for scale.

The completed mural, with a chair for scale.

At the beginning of August, I finished my first public mural. Well, it’s my only public mural, but I live in hope that there will be more! The staff at the venue where I drew the mural are concerned that it will be defaced, but I’m pretty chill about that. It’s public art; the public will add to it or hide it or otherwise react to it however individual people choose (that is, people might “deface” it). But putting something out in public is an invitation to interaction, and anyway, entropy happens. Things decay. What happens to the mural now is still part of the mural, and it’s the part I have no control over, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the process. Continue reading

By the way, the lake was wonderful…

View from the dock.

View from the dock.

A few days ago, I was complaining about how hard it is to be a vegetarian among meat-eaters, and I realise I probably gave a misleading impression of my weekend at the lake. It was fantabulous! The food issues were a very small part of the whole experience, and I was pleased and grateful to have had the chance to head out to Lake of the Woods for a lovely weekend.

I’m absolutely a city person. I want to be close to everything, can’t abide the idea of not having quick access to grocery stores and art galleries and friends and work. But at the same time, I really hate the city. I hate having neighbours so close, I hate the noise, I hate the light, I hate the compromises and disruptions. Continue reading

Skratch Bastid, Mama Cutsworth, and mosquitoes

Last night, Skratch Bastid’s BBQ came to Winnipeg. It was on from 1500h to 2300h in the parking lot of Union Sound Hall, and I really wanted to go. But for most of the day, it was too damned hot to dance, and sitting around drinking with strangers isn’t really my thing. So after careful consideration of information found on Facebook and Instagram (and of my pathetic budget), I decided to “steal” the Skratch Bastid show and then head over to the Cube to see Mama Cutsworth. Continue reading

Awful Earsplitting Horrifying Singing in the Car

What stops me from doing new things is that I can’t instantly do them perfectly. So frustrating! All those years of being an A-student don’t seem to translate into instant skills in other areas. I’m no Ella Fitzgerald, no Emily Carr, no Margaret Atwood, no Scratch Bastid, no Frida Kahlo. But I read a post by a sister blogger the other day (I Can’t Turn my Head to the Right) and it reminded me—again—that the trick is to do it anyway. Continue reading

Day Trip: Winnipeg Folk Festival

Went to the Winnipeg Folk Festival on Saturday for the first time in nineteen years. I picked a great day for it: There was a weather warning because of the extreme heat and humidity, and thunderstorm warnings for later in the day. On Friday evening, a nurse friend working a twelve-hour shift at Concordia Hospital texted me to let me know that Emerg was full of Folk Festers. “The heat?” I asked, and she replied “Overheated… and a few bad cookies.” Continue reading

Morning Commute Cyclist Falls off Bike: Blood everywhere; bystanders mostly helpful

It’s not the kind of thing I expect to see on my way to work. Traffic slows a bit and I am more irritated than curious. But today was different.

First I saw the car stopped in the middle of the oncoming lane, then I saw the two people moving off to the side of the road, one supporting the other who was limping badly. Then I saw the bicycles lying in the grass. Continue reading

Ringing In My Birthday

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Some of the gear I have to return today

Last night I deejayed at a great little non-licensed venue for an event showcasing the work of women and non-binary trans people. There were four artists performing, and L. and I deejayed before, after, and between the other performers. This is the first time either of us has deejayed without a more experienced DJ to mentor, guide, and rescue us. We both messed up in various places, Continue reading

Walking the Dogs: Mud and Mosquitoes

The Fluffy Dog in his wading pool, with gunk in his fur and in the water.

The Fluffy Dog in his wading pool, with gunk in his fur and in the water.

My dogs could have a better life, I know. Mostly, they laze around waiting for something interesting to happen. We don’t do flyball or Schutzhund or agility or any other formal training. The Fluffy Dog goes to daycare one day a week, but the Brindle Dog doesn’t even get that. I try to take them each on a long walk every day but that depends on my internal stuff (stress, anxiety, depression) and my external stuff (work, physical health).

But when we do go for those long walks—or even for short ones—I try to let them do what they want. Continue reading

Walking the Dogs: Pride Fest weekend

A picture of Pride at The Forks, shamelessly stolen from www.pridewinnipeg.com. The attribution is Cynthia Bettencourt (at the bottom right).

A picture of Pride at The Forks, shamelessly stolen from http://www.pridewinnipeg.com. The attribution is Cynthia Bettencourt (at the bottom right).

I was planning on a quiet couple of days, but there was so much going on in Winnipeg last weekend! Bike Week, Jazz Fest, Pride, FIFA, farmer’s markets, parades and art openings and films and picnics and concerts, oh my! Plus in my own life, my dear friend got a new dog, and one of my French cousins whom I haven’t seen in ages was stopping by on his way across Canada to go pick cherries in the Okanagan. So much for a quiet weekend! Suddenly there was so much choice! New dog! Interesting cousin! House music at the Pyramid! Pride Fest and market and music at the Forks! Thunderstorms and BBQs! Continue reading

Purple Hair and Frankenstein

Picture of purple and grey hair.

The hair in question.

Someone grabbed my purse while I stood in line at Tim Horton’s today with my bromate. Well, not a grab, really, more of a tug on the strap. I whipped my head around, ready for confrontation, and a very young white woman said “Hey, I just wanted to compliment you on your hair.” I checked my purse (still zipped shut) (who the hell touches someone’s PURSE to get their attention?) Continue reading

Looked at this art: Alex Colville (and William Eakin) at the National Gallery of Canada

One of William Eakin's photographs at the National Gallery in the Alex Colville exhibition. Taken by me.

One of William Eakin’s photographs at the National Gallery in the Alex Colville exhibition. Taken by me.

On Tuesday (12 May 2015), I went to the National Gallery to see the Alex Colville exhibition. Well, more specifically, I went to see William Eakin’s part in that exhibition. The idea of having several contemporary artists share their responses to Colville’s work intrigued me, but mostly I have to admit that I was thrilled to have a chance to see Eakin’s work at the National Gallery. I’ve met him a few times, seen a few of his shows, had a conversation with him at his opening at Actual in Winnipeg recently (“Time”–Those watch faces! Wonderful!) and had a chance to pet his gorgeous dog a couple of times. So it’s not like Bill and I are buddies, but he’s an interesting guy who does interesting work and I was super excited to go to the National! Gallery! of Canada! (omg, right?) to see some of his work. Continue reading