Posts by Alyson Shane

I feel it still

- by Alyson Shane


It rained today. I found out when I opened my windows to get my laundry and it was wetter than when I'd hung it out to dry the day before

(I should have checked the forecast. My bad.)

I worked
I made tea
I ate tinned sardines on toast

debating whether or not to go out, listening to the sound of the rain and the whistling of the wind through the palm tree in the square in front of my apartment for a clue.

In the early afternoon I pulled on my raincoat and boots and ventured out, skipping over puddles and dodging rainfalls from the heavy, sagging canopies.

I made my way downtown slowly, ducking into doorways and avoiding the streets where the wind made the rain sleet down sideways into my face and hair and into my shoes.

I planned to visit the Contemporary Art Museum but it was closed when I arrived.

Or rather, closing

"for lunch" said the security guard who caught me on my way in as I was pulling on one of the glass doors

"we reopen at 3" he said

so I had a coffee
went to the mall
bought a romper
killed time 

until I popped out on the other side of the mall at 3:03 PM, just in time.

But the rain had picked up again, drenching my feet and hands and legs up to my thighs and pooling in the fabric of my umbrella

so I walked back to Alfama in the squish-squish of my soggy feet

listening to the shrieks of other pedestrians when the wind slapped them in the face

or when a car roared by and splashed them from head to toe.

"I need to go to the market" I thought, realizing that I'd be huddling inside my apartment for the night and punched "mercado" into Google Maps to figure out the closest place to go.

The app brought up a store five minutes away and I jumped over puddles and stayed back from intersections and listened to the foreign voices swearing and shrieking as we navigated the grey landscape of the city.

The store was close to where I'm staying, down by the river where the wind was so strong I couldn't open my umbrella and walked face-first into the onslaught of rain and wind. 

I got turned around and nearly walked into the Ministry of Finance and thought I was going to get yelled at by the security guards who seemed as confused about where I was going as I was. 

But one of the soldiers spoke English and walked me through the centuries-old building

(which isn't open to the public) 

so he could get me closer to the pedestrian crosswalk that connected one side of the street to the metro station where the store was.

(Which wasn't where Google Maps said it was, by the way.)

As I waited for the light to change the French tourists around me shrieked

MERDE

and 

CALISSE DE TABARNAK DE FUCK DE MERDE DE FUCK

and I laughed as the wind nearly swept us off our feet as we waited to cross.

But back in my apartment
with my fruit
and bread
and cheese, and wine
I peeled off my layers

drenched raincoat
soggy shoes and socks
sweater and tank top and leggings soaked from the rain

and sat in front of my space heater in my underwear eating mackerel patê

thinking that I was glad that I didn't wear my jeans today.

Tags: Life

 

Lisbon, day one

- by Alyson Shane


Yesterday after 10+ hours in the air and two airports I landed in Lisbon.

Sweaty, tired 
(I barely slept on the plane) 
I stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of the airport and made my way to the metro where I stumbled through several "voçe fala iglés?" to get my Navigante (transit) pass for the next two weeks.

I dragged my fala (suitcase) down the metro stairs and caught the red line, then the blue line, through Santa Sebastian and to Santa Apolonia
where I walked until I found the Museu do Fado
(Faso Museum)

and parked myself in the square to grab a bite and kill some time.

The restaurant had a name that I forget
but a dish of seared octopus in peppers and vinegar that went perfectly with grilled toast that will live in my mind forever.

I sat and sipped water, then a glass of local white wine, and watched the scenery
couples checking their phones to figure out where they're going
groups of travellers debating day trips
(should we go to Sintra? Or Porto? What about Cascais though?!)
old Portuguese men chain-smoking and yelling at each other
(everyone here yells and I fit right in)
people trying to bum smokes and cigarettes
(the hand motions for "cigarette" and "lighter" transcend language)
and soaking up the heat and the smell of the Tagus river
and way the fresh water that mixes with the salt of the ocean.

At 3 PM I checked into a tiny two-bedroom apartment
overlooking a little square with a huge tree in the middle where people set up stands to sell ginjinha
(traditional Portuguese brandy)
and yelling at passers-by
(everyone yells here, I told you)
and up the flights of stairs is my flat that's so old that the electricity is routed through copper pipes sticking out of the walls.

I showered and packed up my purse and camera and made my way to the Praça do Comércio
the big, old square down by the water surrounded by bright yellow buildings
where people took selfies
buskers sung "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "I Say a Little Prayer"
and kids and their parents played with the waves as the tide came in.

I wandered around Alfama, taking photos and picking up snippets of conversation in my (very) broken Portuguese 
eating pastel de nata and sipping a tiny glass of port
getting lost in the stairs and streets and back lanes of the city
soaking up the din of the city before picking up some wine, tinned fish, and fresh fruit from a tiny merdaco (shop) to have for breakfasts while I'm here

before crashing out at 8 PM.

(Told you I was tired.) 

Tags: Travel Life

 

All the white horses are still in bed

- by Alyson Shane


It's Tuesday evening and I'm warming up from walking to the store. 

Winter has settled in after months of mild weather and my nose, fingers, and toes feel it as soon as I step outside.

Soon it'll be -40 like usual and I'll be barricaded inside my house, cozy with our radiant heat and blankets and multiple cups of tea.

It's been a good day. I submitted a proposal, booked a discovery coffee with a potential client, took a few meetings and wrapped a strategy consulting session with a small business we've been supporting.

I have cheques to cash and emails to send to my new bookkeeper. 

More proposals to send out this week and onboarding a new client to start on next week.

The business feels good; the kind of steady chaos that makes me feel invigorated and excited when I roll out of bed in the morning

though it's hard to wake up at my usual time when it's dark out so I've been sleeping in a bit

(I've convinced myself that summer is the time for early mornings while winter's the time for long, late nights and quiet mood lighting.)

I read an article today about different kinds of teams; how larger businesses split up different groups to tackle tasks and how they work independently and in lockstep with each other

(stuff that's boring to most people but fascinates me for some reason)

and tonight I'll finish a book about haenyeo which are female divers from the Korean island of Jeju. The book is called The Island of Sea Women and I'm obsessed with it.

The book is a piece of historical fiction about the haenyeo's practices how they're fading with time and modernization

(which is a trend that seems to be effecting everywhere these days)

but the parts that interest me the most are the scenes that describe diving in frigid waters, finding different sea creatures and knowing how to feel the water, the tides, the pull of the ocean and knowing how to stay safe

all while managing temperatures that would cause hypothermia in most people, including (according to researchers who come to the island) basically every other group of humans who live in unusually cold climates.

Maybe it's because I grew up and live in a place where it's been known to get colder than the surface of Mars, but I don't mind the cold most of the time and I'm not surprised that it turned out that women on Jeju were the ones who were able to withstand the freezing temperatures

(females are strong as hell, after all)

even though this woman is a wuss who bundles up in 597586482 layers to walk to the G-damn grocery store in broad daylight.

Tags: Life Books

 

Bye 2023, hi 2024

- by Alyson Shane


It's 2024 and a new year and I feel like I should have something profound to say here but I don't, really. 

Life's good. Better than it was this time last year, at least.

This time last year I was prepping for Asia which but we were dealing with the falling-out of a friendship — one in a long line of 'em from the same social circle — except this one was more... personal? Hurtful? 

I guess you could call it that.

We used to be friends with a couple and the husband kept getting wasted and groping me (including sucking on my face while I was sleeping) and when we asked that he go to AA or to therapy his wife called me, screamed at me, and told me I was a "bad friend" for saying that I wasn't comfortable being around him if he wasn't gonna take his behaviour seriously.

I've never been on the receiving end of victim-blaming for sexual assault before and it was a confusing and stressful time and we're not friends anymore as a result of it.

That's the TL;DR version, anyway. 

Maybe I'll write about that in more detail here someday but today's not that day.

Today's about the new year. I have no set travel plans yet which compared to last year when we went away for 3 months to SE Asia feels weird and like there's a gap in my life

but at the same time it feels like a relief. Last year I travelled to:

Thailand
Cambodia
Vietnam
Japan
Baltimore
D.C.
and Toronto

which were all wonderful but the push-pull of prepping to leave and catching up upon getting back was A LOT to manage. I felt like I was always playing catch-up in my own life and not being in that tidal pull of Going Away and Coming Back has felt

like a relief, honestly.

Last year was hard in a lot of ways. My business has a lot of ups and downs which were amplified by my Going Away and Coming Back all the time, plus friend stuff mentioned above, plus general life stuff makes it hard to put a pin on 2023.

Was it a Good Year, a Bad Year, or something in-between?

I guess it was a mix of all three. Lots of emotional rollercoasters and stress but a lot if great experiences, too.

We hosted our friends from Japan and had our friends from Mexico stay with us

we lost two friends, sure, but we also gained a lot and reconnected with several who'd fallen away

we accomplished a lot and John and I became closer as a couple and as a team

we saw so much and I ate, danced, and sang my way through cities and countries I'd never been to before

my business grew and succeeded despite setbacks and my stressing about it WAY more than I should have

and I read a shit-ton of books and made a shit-ton of art.

I guess you could say that 2023 was pretty good despite some hiccups and a few losses here and there, which is more than what most people could ask for I suppose.

Fingers crossed that the new year has more good stuff in store.

Tags: Life Thoughts

 

On the porch at midnight

- by Alyson Shane


I’m on my porch
the only light on a dark block
everyone’s asleep

but me.

I’m sitting here, thinking of you

and you, and you, and you

the seasons we shared
the ways we populated 
the seasons of each other’s lives.

Pulled each other up 
nurtured our roots
or let them anguish
or over-tended
or put in effort in when

things were rotten from the start.

I breathe in 
the empty night into my too-full heart 

and remember 

who I used to be

when we met
when we met
when 

we met

the days, long gone now

years and years 
entire lifetimes ago.

Nobody tells you when you’re young that everybody changes.

Or maybe they 
do but we think
we won’t
we’ll stay 
the same

friends forever.

Lovers for always.

Nothing changes until it does.

Someone told me once that you can’t take everyone with you and I didn’t believe them

Ubers pass on the street over

and I wonder if you’re in one

but you’re not

so I leave the lights on for you
and I make my way to bed

alone 

but just for the moment.

Tags: Life Thoughts

 

Sunset

- by Alyson Shane


I'm standing outside in my leather jacket with the mink fur collar

watching my breath leave my body as the moon rises over the river

and the lights starting to turn on in St Boniface Hospital

vignettes of births, deaths, heartbreak and hope

reflected on water that's getting darker.

It's been a while since I've been here, thought of you

remembered the feeling and fleeting way that your smile

made me feel

my hand stuffed in your pocket for warmth

our prints mixing with the rabbits and deer and the geese and the crows in the snow

while the cross on top of the hospital glows like a beacon.

Tags: Winnipeg Life

 

Friday off

- by Alyson Shane

I took today off because we had someone in fixing our boiler and because I haven't had any
meaningful
downtime where I haven't been wiped from
hosting a party
or prepping for a party
or working 

in weeks.

I woke up late compared to usual
(just after 8 instead of between 7-7:30)
and pulled out pork neck bones from the freezer and an onion and a cup of sliced mushrooms

and set them on a rolling boil on the stove which has been going since 9 AM and won't be done until 9 PM tonight as per the recipe I'm following.

(I'm trying my hand at making homemade tonkotsu ramen broth.)

The guy who came to fix the boiler arrived around 9 and left an hour ago and mostly left us alone while he worked

except at one point where he asked me to "bleed" the rad

(which is where you turn a node and let out any air that might be in the system; we'd been having issues with the radiator in our third-floor bedroom not heating which is why he was here)

and when I did a bunch of smelly, sludgy black water spurted out all over me and the wall

which is how I knew he'd solved the problem.

While he worked I kept an eye on the ramen, since you have to keep topping up the water every 30 minutes or so

watered the plants

finished re-setting the house after putting away the last of the Halloween party decorations

and finished the book I've been reading.

It's called "Ghosts" by Audrey Niffenegger and I've been reading it since the end of September and had planned to finish it before Halloween, but

y'know, life

plus it's 450 pages which isn't long but is long if you only have slivers of time here and there to dive into it.

When I bought the book from the McNally Robinson at The Forks I didn't look closely enough to realize that it's actually a collection of her favourite ghost stories and not a series of ghost stories she wrote

which turned out to be a wonderful surprise. 

I've always liked ghost stories and explorations of death 
(I'm morbid that way I guess)
and while some of these stories were creepy, most weren't.

(Those were the ones I liked best.)

As I was lying on the couch reading Toulouse crawled on top of me
settled in a little cranny between my arm and the back of the couch
kneaded my hair, purred and drooled a bit

(which is a bit gross but I love him so I put up with it)

and eventually fell asleep on top of me, transitioning from a gentle purr to slow, soft breaths, so I lay there after I'd finished the book with my eyes closed, listening to him breathe and feeling his soft little frame pressed against me.

He's 11 now which means when I tell people how old he is they go

"OH"

which makes every day with him extra-special.

It's almost 2 PM now and I've got my eye on my inbox but I'm not expecting
(read: hoping)

nothing else comes in. 

No work worth doing happens late on a Friday most weeks if you ask me.

So I'm sitting at the dining room table, writing this, listening to the soup pot boil and smelling the ramen broth I'm making

and the muffled sounds of John upstairs on a work call.

Earlier I listened to an interview we did with our pal Jim Agapito for CBC Manitoba about Christmas decorations. 

Yesterday I had coffee with a girl I used to work with when I was 19, at The Province, another lifetime ago 

after that we went to Devil May Care and I saw more friends and did some work, and we went to a ramen pop-up hosted by a chef from Japan with Luke and Jen

and then Luke and I hung out and watched Moon with Sam Rockwell, which is one of my favourite movies.

I saw it at The Globe Theatre (RIP) when it came out in 2009 and listened to Clint Mansell's OST while writing papers in university.

Yesterday was perfect and today's been perfect and in a time where life has felt

dark and chaotic and hard

a few days of small, lovely things has been exactly what I've needed

(and that ramen broth is gonna kick so much ass.)

Tags: Life

 

I'm going back to therapy

- by Alyson Shane


I feel stupid even writing this or feeling like I need to say it out loud because I advocate for people to go to therapy

ALL

THE

TIME

but when it comes to my own wellbeing of course that's the thing I'll neglect to the point where I feel like I'm barely keeping it together.

Somehow I've slipped into a place where even the best of days

the biggest business wins

the smallest things that used to light up my world

don't register anymore.

I feel numb and disconnected from my own life and the
many
many
many reasons I have to feel good.

I run a successful company that pays people well and that allows me to live a great life.

I do work I enjoy and I get to do value-driven projects and partnerships that make a difference in my community.

I travel to places where I get to stuff my face with tasty food and have experiences that a lot of people never even come close to having.

I have a partner who loves me

friends who love me

family who loves me

and people in my extended social circle who care about me 

but none of that makes a difference. Every day I wake up and wish I was still asleep

(except the nights where I have nightmares and wake up having a panic attack)

or that I wasn't even here

at all.

It's like I'm gaslighting myself about my own life and I feel so awful and stupid and like such a 

burden

because of this.

Like why can't I get my shit together? 

Why is everything so hard when it doesn't have to be?

Why can't I just stay fixed and stop needing to get someone else to help me glue the pieces of Me back together?

I feel like I let myself down

like I let the people I love down

and like I'm letting my business and my team down because I'm so

so

scared that talking about how hard things have been will impact my business somehow 

even though it's the only place I've been able to keep "showing up" lately and tbh I think that's one of the only things keeping me on-track.

But I'm a writer 

and writers gotta write, even when it's scary

(maybe especially when it's scary)

so here are the words that say 

I Am Not Ok Right Now

but I'm working on it.

Tags: Life

 

Obby Khan is a Sellout

- by Alyson Shane

Today my band, Big Trouble in Little Wolseley, put out a new song.

It's a cover of a Less Than Jake song called "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" and ours is called

"Obby Khan is a Sellout"

because he is.

Obby Khan is a politician from Manitoba, where I live, and during the pandemic the Provincial Conservative government announced that they were giving out $1.5 million in grants to support local businesses since many brick-and-mortar stores couldn't stay open during the lockdowns.

Obby Khan was awarded $500,000 of that money to fund what is basically a delivery service for local items called GoodLocal.

But GoodLocal never really helped anyone. Most businesses had e-commerce set up already.

Later that year, Obby Khan ran as a PC candidate and got elected.

Earlier this year he made the news again by claiming he was shoved by Wab Kinew, the leader of Manitoba's New Democratic Party (NDP) even when video evidence showed that it never happened.

Obby Khan is 6"2 and Wab Kinew is 5'7, but apparently Obby Khan is "scared" of him

(which is really just a racist dog whistle that perpetuates the "scary native" persona the PCs are trying to paint him with since Kinew is Indigenous)

it's gross and disappointing to see someone being such an obvious lackey to a government that is refusing to negotiate with nurses, that's closed ERs, and is playing into far-right rhetoric about "parental rights" like the Republicans are doing in the States.

 Obby Khan is a sellout and doesn't deserve to represent Manitobans

and that's what this song is about.

Enjoy and if you live in Manitoba, don't forget to vote so we can kick these
racist
bigoted
corrupt

losers out of office.


 

Brunch in the city

- by Alyson Shane


On a patio with fairy lights and plants hanging overhead

Nestled at a little table for two, just for me

Between a dad with tattoos on his arms and salt and pepper hair

(When did parents all start to look my age?)

talking to his son about zombie games

“You gotta get the sniper rifle, Dad! Otherwise you can’t take ‘em down in one shot”

and a couple debating a career change.

“I’d love to teach music with Bruce but I also want a job that pays

so I can, y’know

buy stuff.”

Clinking of spoons on the same ceramic coffee cups you find everywhere

A staple of every diner or slightly dive-y restaurant or bar.

The air smells like Clamato and Tabasco sauce and peameal bacon.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been alone for this long,

Away from my city, from my man
I forgot how easy it is to blend in and just 
listen.
Absorb.
Be a bystander to other people’s lives.

Little universes playing out over plates of waffles and over-easy eggs.

Tags: Life Toronto

 

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