lawyer turned road manager and nanny

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oh canada!

my friends m and m and I joke about what if canada’s national anthem was spelled “oh canada!” instead of “o canada.”  as in, “oh canada, i didn’t see you there, when did you get here.”  “oh canada, i didn’t see you pass me on your snow board.”  or “oh canada, how nice of your to host the olympics.”  i watched the opening ceremonies last night and felt a twinge of national pride.  let me be clear, i didn’t feel national pride during the nelly furtado bryan adams duet.  that was a hot mess.  especially the horrible lip-syncing.  but i did feel proud when k.d. lang stepped up and killed that leonard cohen song (although what was up with the david byrne suit?).

i’ve had some other nice reuniting feelings about canada lately.  i was driving around winnipeg today, listening to CBC, and something felt so right about spending this year getting to know this place again.  and it is really nice that part of that involves getting to know the music and arts of this country again.  try as i did to not let that stuff drift away when i moved to the states, it inevitably did.  mamasquared and r did a little gig in winnipeg this week.  a haiti relief show.  and besides mama and r being lovely on stage, i got to see a couple of other awesome native winnipeg musicians (check them out – john k samson of the weakenthans and daniel ROA).  seeing live music is just one of the best things.

i’ve been taking a class on music management.  canada has some great government funding for the arts (even despite having a conservative government right now.)  thanks to some of this funding, there is an awesome local non-profit called Manitoba Music that supports and nurtures musicians.  they have a new program to support artist managers.  it’s just five classes, but i am learning a ton.  i am particularly excited about the marketing aspect of the work and can’t wait to experiment with the band.   all this is to say that canada is pretty awesome in many ways.  don’t get me wrong, we still got issues (like bryan adams and nelly furtado duets), but there are some things that we do pretty well.

i’ve been booking flights, hotels, van rentals, pricing tour buses, talking to venues, and folding band t-shirts.  only six days until we hit the road and so much to do still.  i can hear the band in the basement practicing – some bass, a little tambourine, accordion, harmonica, and some sweet-sounding voices.  oh canada, i could drink a case of you.

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lazy + stupid no more

i made one pseudo new year’s resolution this year.  it is a little difficult to explain, but see if you can follow me.  i often do stupid things out of laziness and then quickly come to regret it.  for example, the old use a knife in the toaster to retrieve toast without unplugging the toaster.  or, stick your finger in the emulsion blender before unplugging said blender (hi M!  did this one myself this week and quickly wised up and unplugged).  in the past, i’ve done plenty of stupid things out of shear laziness.  i usually have a moment before these acts where i know i should do something differently, but i try to cut corners, cut time, cut energy, and do it quickly and usually make a mess.  i do it in cooking.  i do it in knitting.  i probably do it a dozen times a day and something inevitably goes wrong.  the knitting project looks all wonky.  a recipe tastes horrible, or perhaps i get a cut finger.  hopefully, you understand where i am coming from and i imagine some of you operate this way as well.

anyway, my new year’s resolution is to try to break this habit.  i’ve had some relapses (like thinking i could make banana bread with the emulsion blender…although truth be told, in the end it tasted great), but for the most part have been really successful.  it has meant fewer injuries, some well-executed recipes, and it one circumstance it meant having a mattress to sleep on rather than the floor.  these are all good things.

on the job front – we are in full swing getting ready for the tour.  i’m advancing – which i have learned means communicating with presenters to make sure everything is set for the show, making and confirming all travel arrangements, and dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  mamasquared is practicing and planning for the babes – travel highchairs, travel placements, ordering baby food and shipping to hotels, and trying to make sure those babies know how to sleep.  who knew learning how to sleep could be so hard!

two final notes.  thanks to all of you who are reading!  i really didn’t think anyone would.  so thanks.  i’ve really appreciated all your encouraging words.  keep it up and i will too.  also, it seems to have been one of those weeks in the universe that was hard for many friends – deaths, illnesses, and other stressors.  life can be so difficult and relentless sometimes.  had me thinking about a mary oliver poem that came to me when i decided to make this journey back to canada….here it is:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

hard times come again no more

i opened yahoo this morning and saw a news story about the earthquake in Haiti.  i thought something must be wrong with yahoo’s site because the headline made it seem like the earthquake just happened today.  alas, i read on only to discover that they had a horrible aftershock today and i thought, ‘can’t these people catch a break?’  i’ve been hesitant to write anything about Haiti.  truth be told, i’ve been hesitant to think that much about Haiti.  so much sadness is difficult to comprehend and feel.  i keep searching for some pearl of wisdom, some insight that will help it make sense or at least provide some clarity.  i come up with nothing.  it is just horribly horribly sad.

another Canadian singer-songwriter passed away this week – kate mcgarrigle.  she was best know for the music she created with her sister, anna mcgarrigle.  she was also the mother to the awesome rufus and martha wainwright.  i saw the mcgarrigle sisters perform once in 1996 or 1997 at the Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky.  i went with my dear friend Julie.  hi jules!  i had been living in the States for about two years and was struggling to find ways to stay connected to Canada.  i remember that it was pouring rain that night and all throughout the show, you could hear the rain hitting the roof.  that evening, the mcgarrigle sisters helped me feel a little more connected to Canada and home.

i was on youtube this morning watching clips of the mcgarrigle-wainwright family and found the following clip.  it seemed like an appropriate way to tie together the two topics of this post.  i hope that everyone who is reading this is safe, appreciating the comforts of their surroundings, and holding their loved ones close.  be well.

corner of my mind

above is the picture of the first house i lived in.  we lived here until i was about five years old.  i don’t remember anything about this house except for the floors creaked.  i have other memories that i think are based in having seen photographs of the house and heard stories.  like the story about how my brother threw an aerosol can in the fireplace one day.  you can imagine how that turned out.

i also remember sitting on the roof of our blue station wagon and watching the activity of the street.  my parents have pictures of me running up the windshield of the station wagon.  they must have had a lot of confidence in my agility.

it is amazing how a physical place can trigger so many memories that have otherwise been lost.  i saw the park to which my friends and i would ride our bikes and hang out.  the old outdoor skating rinks (really?  outdoors?  whose idea was that?).  the bowling alley that my mom would go to and i would hang out in the daycare in the bowling alley.  the place where my brothers would get their hair cut and i would get a lollipop.  it has been years since i thought of these things.  it’s nice to be reliving them.  finding those memories is helping this place feel less foreign and more like home.

back in the tundra

i’m back in winnipeg.  this place is cold.  seriously.  friends who live south of the border…you don’t know cold.  ok, maybe you milwaukee peeps and maybe you chicago peeps, but those of you in d.c. or even new york, you really don’t know cold.  it is minus 11 right now as i write this.  and the interwebs tell me that “it feels like” minus 37.  and that’s farenheit people.   the other night papasquared and i discussed how people must have settled here in the spring or summer.  thinking it was nice, lots of space, moderate climate, rivers, farming land, they stayed.  and then winter came.  and there was no escaping.  it was too cold to go anywhere and nothing close enough to escape to.  thus, came winnipeg.  yet, people have stayed.  miraculously.  and the population slowly continues to grow.

the job part of this adventure has kicked into overdrive.  lots to do and learn before the touring starts next month.  the babies seem to be doing really well.  napping, eating, playing all like regular happy babies.  it will be interesting to see how they adjust to life on the road.  i’ve gained a new appreciation for all the detail involved in the band work.  i’ve already started about three different checklists/spreadsheets in an effort to organize everything that feels so new to my brain.

sadly, an awesome mexican-american-canadian singer passed away last week.  lhasa de sela.  i first heard her at the winnipeg folk festival sometime around 1998.  i was mesmerized and made sure to catch all her performances that weekend.  i even remember being backstage with mamasquared and catching a glimpse of lhasa and swooning.  we were the same age and she died of breast cancer.  such a talent.  such a loss.  check out the clip above.

the most wonderful time of the year

a dear friend dropped me at the airport for my flight to go visit my family for the holidays.  on our way, we both told stories of some recent difficult moments for us.  we commented on how the holidays seem to draw out some difficult moments.  she sang, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  we both laughed, thinking, yah right.  i walked into the airport and there it was again, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” playing over the airport intercom system.  and wondered to myself if the person who wrote that lyric actually believed it and what kind of charmed life they must have had.  man, i am a cynic.  ouch.

as i sat at my gate, i thought a lot about the holidays and what they represent – the expectations, both fake and real.  how we crave for connection, intimacy, family, and yet so often fall short.  we stay stuck in our roles, walled off.  so often those moments of connection and intimacy arise organically.  i wondered about how to create the spaces for those moments.  and i realized how my decision to change my life this year is so much about this – about creating the opportunity for connection, for happiness.  and i wondered how to do that in my own family.  and how that might be different for each of us.  and then i saw a small boy, about four years old, run across the gate area to give his mom a kiss and then run away again.  she paused, watched him run away, and smiled at his unexpected show of affection.

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

– naomi shihab nye

i’m back in my apartment now.  for the last night.  surrounded by boxes.  thinking about the ending of this year and what i hope for next year.

happy new year.  i hope this next year brings so much happiness that you cannot contain it.

beloved

i am in d.c. right now.  we just experienced a snow storm that brought about 18 inches of snow.  the city looks so peaceful and at night, there is this wonderful white glow from the light reflecting off the snow.  during the storm, i have stayed confined to my apartment, (hopefully) nearing the end of packing up all my possessions.

i have moved 12 times in 13 years.  i should be a professional at this packing business by now.  yet, it still causes me anxiety.  the worst is that last push – the final five or so boxes that you fill with random oddly-sized objects – hangers, a desk lamp, that huge wooden bowl, that magnetic knife bar that i never hung up in this apartment.  i am reminded of all the things i wanted to do in this apartment and never got around to doing them.  then i am sent on a thought process about how i never settle into any apartment – the combination of immigrant status, unstable employment, and changing relationships has caused me to feel like everything is temporary.  i felt like i might have to pick up and leave at any moment.  i am finally learning how my worrying creates the sense of impermanence in my life.  that if i can just be in the moment, i can find all the permanence and stability that i might need.

and then i realize that 30 minutes have passed and i haven’t made any progress with those last five boxes.

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

~ raymond carver, last fragment.


tight in the bud

anais nin, “there came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (via a.l.).

the first 23 years of my life were relatively stable – same city, same neighborhoods, same home, same family.  the last 14 years of my life have felt like an almost constant move – city to city, apartment to apartment, boxes upon boxes.  recently, i’ve been feeling a little too old for such shenanigans.  time to settle down, pick a place to live, maybe even buy a home.  there is some part of me that felt, and perhaps still feels, like a bit of a failure for not doing this.

only recently have i come to accept that this is how i live my life.  that such fluctuations do not have to represent failure – they represent my path and all that i have been fortunate to experience.  there are moments when i feel untethered – when i don’t know where to call home.  and then there are amazing moments when i feel roots binding me to so many places that i feel truly lucky.  making the decision to move again, pack everything up again, this time live with even less of my stuff, live with an even greater sense of transience – this decision was really about taking the risk to find that place again where i can be in my own skin and be happy and feel at home wherever i am.  although moving and leaving again are hard, staying where i was would have been more difficult. 

Transitions

hi there,

about two months ago, i decided to take a sabbatical from my career as a non-profit lawyer.  serendipity would have it that just as i thought i was getting laid off, a friend’s band was making the decision to go the self-management route.  they needed to hire someone to help and the friend also needed someone to nanny her twin baby boys on the road and during other busy days.  i needed a break.  i couldn’t deny it.  as much as i loved my job, eight years of grant-cuts, lay-offs, poor non-profit management, and overall job insecurity  had gotten to me.  spending a year with babies, dear friends, and music seemed like the answer.  i know it will have stressful moments and challenges, but i am ready for this change.

this transition also involves my moving back home to the city and country where i grew up.  this aspect of my decision was the most difficult.  after living in the united states for 14 years, my motherland doesn’t feel much like home anymore.  i am looking forward to getting to know my country again, seeing what memories it opens up for me, what new memories i create, and how i might redefine home.

please visit often and leave a note or two.

~ tjd.

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