- by Alyson Shane
It wasn't about you at first which I guess is how these kinds of dreams always start.
I was in a house, hooking up with someone I used to hook up with
a long, long time ago
and at one point he turned to me and said
"there's an art exhibit happening"
so I walked into the living room and there was a huge, three-sided diorama in the middle of the room
almost as tall as my chest
the kind you see in science fairs, except
built into the diorama were little nooks and crannies
and sections that slid out or folded open
little pockets of memories about us
when we were together, years ago.
I sat down in the middle of the diorama
pulled at a sliding section
and all the words you called me when I left you came tumbling out
your hurt littered like petals at my feet.
As I looked down I saw a light in the diorama to my left and crouched down
pulling back curtains to see our bedroom, back on Spence St
our bed, crumpled sheets
the closet door intact, before you punched it
and realized that I was looking at a history of us
laid out like the set in the movie Rear Window.
I could look from window to window
see moments in our life together
the dinners in the kitchen, the games in the living room
camping at Connect, the drives out to B.C.
how we held each other, the cats climbing over us
our slow weekend starts drinking coffee in bed.
I could open windows, pull out sliding sections
and comic illustrations of our life together would pop out
setting up our Christmas tree
buying snacks at the Marchée Jean-Talon in Montreal
riding our bikes around the city in the summertime
drinking beers in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto
catching plays downtown at The Fringe Festival
watching the sun set over the mountains in Golden
the first time I said I loved you
and you said you loved me back.
I could flip through this collection of experiences we shared
see how you saw me
an inspiration, then
someone you hated.
Someone you still hate.
In the dream you walked in when I was standing in the middle of the diorama
rifling through the memories of us you had assembled
organized into windows, envelopes, pockets
and as you walked in I felt my knees get weak, my legs almost fell out from under me
with nerves, guilt, sadness, shame
a longing for the friendship we shared that I know
we'll never share again.
"Hey" I said "what you've made is beautiful"
(a city built around your ongoing heartbreak)
and you looked at me for the first time in eight years and said
and in the dream we talked about how you'd built the diorama around
the ups and downs of five and a half years of
"I'm sorry" I said in the dream, and I meant it
and you looked at me and said
"it's okay, I'm doing better now"
and then I woke up and I wished that I knew that to be true
but I don't know if that's true.
I wish I did.
- by Alyson Shane
I haven't had one of these in a while. Not bad per-se; just a lot of
to contend with.
John left for California this morning
his first work trip since the pandemic started
and while I'm excited to have a few days to myself, I found my emotions
running high, in an anxious sort of way
throughout the morning, jumping around after he left.
We kissed goodbye before he went to the airport and I went upstairs to keep working
writing proposals, making spreadsheets, comparing benchmarks
(the usual stuff)
but I found myself working at a
frantic, hurried pace
like I was rushing towards something
or expecting something to happen
when obviously it was just another workday.
I went downstairs to make lunch
(salad with tofu, my fav/go-to lunch)
and rushed through that, too
feeling that frantic, hurried tension in my chest
like I couldn't sit still
stop moving, slow down
catch my breath.
So I forced myself to stop.
I ate my lunch, finished my client-facing work and spent 20 minutes doing yoga
breathing in, breathing out, trying to stay present in my body
but letting it go
(to the best of my ability, anyway)
releasing the tension, this now-unfamiliar-feeling in my chest
recognizing that being alone in a new house was weird
that it's normal to worry about the person I love going somewhere with high Covid cases
and that being apart after two years is gonna feel weird no matter what.
After my yoga I read my book club book
wrote some content for the Starling blog
answered some emails
and slowly felt the tension in my chest start to unwind
like a coil releasing its tension.
Later I went for dinner and drinks at One Sixteen with my friend Florence
who is the only lawyer I'm friends with
and the most down-to-earth lawyer I've ever met.
In addition to being a lovely human Florence is also the President of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, so when she asked me to see their final performance of the season with her of course I jumped at the opportunity.
Despite not being able to read music or play an instrument myself
I love chamber music
like, seriously adore it.
I joke that I'm so chatty that I'll talk forever without stopping if you don't interrupt me
and chamber music is the perfect
it takes me on an emotional journey
and instead of thinking about what to
I can sit back and let the waves of emotion created by the layers of music
wash over me.
It's freeing in a way that's hard to explain.
This concert featured an incredible Dutch musician who plays the recorder
(yes, the "Hot Cross Buns" recorder)
that blew my mind.
I've never seen anyone play the recorder like that
was fascinated by her performance, the intensity of it
how she moved with the instrument
added layers and sounds to the pieces she played.
I felt verklempt in a way I haven't in a long time
and today, I needed it
to get lost in emotion like that
to sit and take a journey
led by hands and instruments and effort.
Now it's 11PM and I'm sitting on my porch watching the sun fade from the sky
I walked home under the big, old elms that I love so much
breathing in the warm, sweet air
(and probably some dandelion seeds, but who's counting)
feeling happy and thankful and full of energy and emotion.
It's funny how different we can feel throughout the day
the ups and downs yr heart can take.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
- by Alyson Shane
I’m walking by your house and Fall Out Boy starts playing and it's 2005 and I'm in your kitchen
sitting at the lycra table
eating Cheerios you poured for me
while you sit on the kitchen counter in
your white manager's shirt and dress pants
(you were the only person who could make a McDonalds uniform look good)
telling me some dumb joke. We both laugh and smile at each other.
The first time I stayed over you met me at the bus stop to walk me to your Dad's house where you lived
"it's sort of a rough neighbourhood" you said
holding me close.
It wasn't, but I didn't know it at the time.
That was my first time in this part of the city.
None of my friends lived downtown. They lived in
East St. Paul
in bungalows or duplexes or one-and-a-half storey houses.
You lived with your dad on the first floor of a two-and-a-half storey rental in West Broadway.
I'd never been in a house like yours before.
It smelled old, like all the lives that had filled it left a trace of their scent on the wainscoting and tucked in the cracks of the pocket doors.
The rooms were small and bright with tall ceilings and high baseboards and heavy wooden doorframes
"It's not much" you said "but it's home"
I turned and said "I love it" and meant it.
The next day you took me for brunch at The Nook, a few blocks over on Sherbrook St.
I'd never eaten somewhere like that.
We ordered eggs benedict and coffee
while the grizzled regulars at the next table ordered "breakfast beers"
and sat with such a mix of people
hippies and families and late-night partyers with dark, smeared eyes
everyone leaning over their pancakes and french toast and breakfast sandwiches.
I'd never walked around a neighbourhood with trees taller than the houses
I grew up on a street between two fields and then in a new development
hadn't experienced how the light filtered through the leaves of the century-old elms
"it's like the Lost Woods in Link to the Past" I said
and felt giddy that you knew the reference.
Later, in your bedroom, you said
"Listen to this song, it makes me think of you"
and played Our Trees by Tegan and Sara
grinning at me in your impish way
pulling me to you like a hook through my navel.
We'd hang out in the living room and order Domino's
(your favourite, pepperoni with black olives)
playing video games or watching Star Wars or Wes Anderson movies
or in your bedroom listening to music as you told me fun facts about the bands you liked
(I never said you were a charmer all the time.)
As fate would have it, I lived across from your old house when I was in university.
I could look out my living room window
see the stoop where we'd kiss
the spot on the sidewalk where you made me cry
the lawn we'd lie on together
holding hands under the shadow of the elm trees.
I wish I'd understood what you were doing for me, then. How much your casual confidence and comfort with
that were intimidating and unfamiliar to me helped me see them for what they were:
elements of a life I wanted to have someday.
Now I wake up in an old two-and-a-half-storey house downtown, a few blocks from The Nook
(one of my favourite haunts since the day you took me there)
I listen to Ben Folds Five and The Flaming Lips and I've read most Bukowski
I still get giddy at the old elms above me, spread out like lungs in the sky
I walk the same streets
shortcuts you showed me
that now make up my idea of "home"
which is why I'm taking the shortcut across the field to your house
listening to Fall Out Boy and thinking of you.
- by Alyson Shane
(A portrait of a lady on her blog with a mug promoting her blog)
and it's weird to think about how much of my life has been chronicled here over the years. I started this iteration of this blog 13 years ago and if I go into my blog backend I can see posts that I wrote when I lived in other places, loved other people, and was
a different person in so many ways.
I've been publishing online since 2000 but jumped around to different hosting platforms as they came and went
at first I had a LiveJournal
then a DeadJournal
then I was on Blogger.com
then I was on WordPress
and now because I'm married to a software developer I use his custom CMS called Elefant and he maintains it for me
which is a huge relief because HTML and CSS were never my strong suit.
The other day I was talking to a student and mentioned that I've been blogging all this time and she said
"why? How do you still find stuff to talk about after all these years?"
and I said Well, I write about my life and I keep livin' it, so I keep writing.
How much I blog has ebbed and flowed over the years
there was a time when I blogged every single day and that was hard because sometimes it was a struggle to pull a thought or a story or a post out of the humdrum of day-to-day life
but it was rewarding because I got much, much better at my craft and found my voice in a new way because when you really think about it
this blog is an ongoing piece of art made of my words and thoughts
pixels on a screen organized into dates and timestamps that give me a sense of place and time and offer this strange little window in the things I was thinking, feeling, going through in that moment.
The posts on this blog feel like
puzzle pieces of my heart
of my soul
that I've worked on for years and years
creating a larger image that grows with me
a map of myself that I discover as I explore it in real-time.
Of course people have made fun of me for blogging over the years, rolled their eyes when I pulled out my camera to take a picture of dinner
(this was before iPhones and Instagram)
I've had people treat my blog like it isn't art
tell me it isn't "real" writing
or that it's not a serious form of self-expression
but yr art isn't for other people so it's cool if they don't understand it
or get jealous or petty when the thing you love to do and have done with love for years opens up opportunities for you.
Being known as a writer is why I have my company, why I've gotten speaking gigs and teaching jobs and been on committees and panels and been a spokesperson for causes I believe in
because Alyson Circa 2000 needed a place to put her feelings and stuck with it
despite dry spells
despite feeling dumb
despite feeling nervous, embarrassed, ashamed
this ever-evolving piece of art is something that never fails to make me
- by Alyson Shane
Yesterday I went to the launch of "Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones"which is a thin, beautiful book of poetry by Manitoba poet David Yerex Williamson.
I met David a week ago today when John and I performed on Kelly Hughes Live! which is a live-broadcast variety show of sorts that's shot in The Valiant Theatre, which is actually an old church that's slowly (slowly) being transformed into a venue while Kelly lives in the back.
I'm not religious but there was something moving about being in that old church. The sweeping ceilings, the still-there pews, the stained glass windows and the shadows on the wall where old paintings and religious items used to hang.
Churches, for better or worse, are where so many people's lives start, end, and often where some of the most important moments happen. I don't believe in higher powers but "House of God" feels fitting for these quaint little spaces filled with memory and emotion.
(Unlike the "megachurches" popping up in affluent parts of town that seem out of step with what religion is supposed to mean for people, but what do I know I'm just a heathen atheist.)
When we played in the church it was part of a larger group of guests: there was J. Williamez, a local singer-songwriter who wrote a scathing series of songs about our previous monster of a Premier
(not to be confused with our current monster of a Premier)
Shelley Cook, a local journalist and writer who I feel like I've known my whole life at this point
us, Big Trouble in Little Wolseley, who provided musical entertainment,
and David Yerex Williamson, the poet.
I've always had a soft spot for poetry. I'm less partial to poems that rhyme — I don't usually rush to read Whitman or Chaucer even though I have a soft spot for Poe and Keats — because they tend to feel flowery. Too full of extra words just for the sake of completing the rhyme.
The poetry we heard last week, and that I heard again last night, didn't rhyme. Didn't feel like words or lines were stuffed-in for the sake of it.
These poems were raw. Strong, muscular words gathered together in sinewy bursts of idea and emotion.
Items, places, moments in time. The sharp, biting feeling of loss and grief contrasted against descriptions of open, untouched natural spaces.
The poet has lived in Norway House, MB for 20 years and when asked about how the landscape influences his poetry he said
"A fish doesn't know it's wet until it isn't. That's how it feels to leave nature and come to the city — you don't realize how much it affects you until it isn't there."
(Spoken like a true poet.)
I went to the reading with Tineke and before the event we had dinner at the restaurant, Prairie Ink, that's attached to the bookstore. We ordered the same thing (blackened chicken clubs with french onion soup) and fancy coffees with whipped cream and we laughed and brainstormed and talked about all sorts of things. The hours slipped by the way they always do when you're spending them with someone who matters to you.
After we'd eaten and paid we shuffled into plastic chairs alongside a few dozen people, colleagues and teachers, family and friends, and watched the sun set through the two-storey windows as the poet we'd all came to see fed us slices of poetry like cake.
It felt good to support the arts again. Good to sit next to someone I love, surrounded by people supporting someone they love, letting the words wash over me
taking it in. Feeling normal.
Last Friday when I met David I told him I'd attend his book launch and he demurred the way we all do when a stranger offers to do something for us
"you don't have to"
"that's a nice offer, but unnecessary"
"I'd appreciate it, but I don't expect it"
which made me more determined to be there because that's what you do:
you show up when you say you will.
I didn't get the chance to talk to David after his reading but I hope he saw me in the crowd and could see how his words shifted things in me as he read them, just like they did last week and just like they will again when our copy of his book arrives
(we ordered it online last week so I couldn't get it signed yesterday; silly us)
but I was thankful to be there either way to sit with my friend, his friends, and feel like a community again.
(If you'd like to order a copy of David's book of poetry you can do that here.)
- by Alyson Shane
the window's open and I'm in a beam of sunlight drinking a coffee my man made for me and listening to Qveen Herby
last night I knocked out two pages in my art journal, one about some sad stuff and another about some feel-good shit
I made cardboard rollers and stamps and listened to Conan's podcast and giggled over dumb texts and jokes with friends.
The thing about being in a dark place for a long time is that you don't realize how low and sad you are until you start to pull out of it.
If you'd asked me in February I'd have said I was at my lowest in a long time, and I was, but now that I'm moving on from unhealthy relationships, patterns, and beliefs about myself I'm realizing that
no, I was doing badly for a long time before then.
In 2019 a thing happened — someone I cared about and trusted and was trying to help made fun of me behind my back on a secret Instagram account that several of my friends followed.
Probably unsurprisingly, that fucked with my head. I started to doubt if the people I surrounded myself with
cared about me
were laughing at me behind my back
thought I was
I lost myself in the worry and fear and anxiety of not knowing where I stood with people.
I slowly spiralled into a dark place where I doubted my ability to write, create, imagine
I stopped dressing up, felt guilty about wearing makeup and leaning into expressing myself
I tried to dim my light because it seemed to overwhelm people around me
and yet it never seemed to make a difference. I kept feeling like an outcast, a second-rate friend, and unimportant to the people I loved.
(If I post on social media that I'm struggling and you're my "friend" and you don't reach out are you even a friend?
How do I interpret getting messages of love and support from strangers when the people I used to hold closest to my heart avoid asking me how I'm doing?)
For a long time I turned those bad feelings in on myself
but lately those bad feelings have been slipping away though words, paper clippings, layers of paint and stitched-together ideas
laughs and good chats with friends, long hugs, tearful candid conversations
working out, eating better, drinking more water and less alcohol, doing yoga and sitting with my body
listening to podcasts and reading books about philosophy, mindfulness, and creative self-expression
watching movies and comedy specials that make my face hurt from laughing.
Maybe this is just the natural evolution of moving past something
shedding the skin of the sad, small, struggling person I was allowing myself to become
stepping out into something brighter, fuller, more me?
I couldn't tell you; I've never gone through something this dark and bad and hard before
but I feel like I'm moving past it
coming through slaughter
holding my treasured people close and laughing and smiling and leaning into the good parts of life
more than I have in a long, long time.
- by Alyson Shane
A week ago today I woke up and didn't need my glasses. I reached for them at first the same way I'd done every morning since I was 13, but they weren't there and I when I gave my eyes a second to settle I remembered that
I didn't need them anymore.
(That still doesn't feel real to say.)
I'd spent the day before at the LASIK clinic getting tested. Pre-pandemic I think this used to be two sessions: one to do the tests to determine yr candidacy, and another session to do the surgery, but now they've jammed it all together which freaked me out a bit since you go in and either
get the surgery, or
get turned away because you're not a candidate for one reason or another
and what a heartbreaking outcome that would have been.
I've needed corrective lenses since I was a teenager and I've always hated it. Since it was the early 2000's and I was getting glasses through my dad's benefits I got stuck with these ugly, round, metal frames.
I was embarrassed at how they made me look.
I felt unattractive and unpolished.
I felt ugly.
I spent all of high school feeling this way; the feeling compounding over the years along with other anxieties and feelings of low self-worth until I could barely look at myself in the mirror anymore. I felt embarrassed all the time.
I got older. I got contacts. I got new frames that were darker, heavier, and more my style.
But I still hated it.
Wearing contacts wasn't so bad but having something in my eye all the time meant that there was always a small part of my brain dedicated to thinking about it.
Were my eyes too dry to keep them in?
Were my eyes looking red and tired?
Did I have my glasses nearby in case I needed to take them out?
On and on and on at every party, show, music festival, or long day at a conference or event, there it was: that nagging, niggling thought in the back of my brain.
I think a part of me always planned to get surgery if I could. I got a breast reduction in my early 20's so I'm no stranger to elective surgeries and believe that if you can afford to do something that will make you feel
then you should get 'er done because we only live once and, damn it, we should enjoy our time while we're here as much as we can.
Which is why I spent all of last Wednesday sitting in a clinic "lubricating my eyes" in-between tests, making small talk with the optometrists and attendants
("omg I love your energy" they'd say
"you're so positive and funny"
and I'd say
"thanks, I appreciate it
I make dumb jokes when I'm nervous")
(Because I do.)
Then they'd say something like "why are you nervous? The surgery is going to be fine!" and I'd tell them that, Oh it's not the surgery I'm nervous about — I'm nervous that one of the tests is going to come back saying I'm not a candidate.
And one almost did: I had a 1/2000 deformity in a section of my cornea which meant that I was only a candidate for the most intense/laser-only/most expensive option
(the optometrist told me to tell people I got the "Canadian fighter pilot surgery" since I guess it's the one they use in the army)
and though I'd budgeted for the more expensive procedure and had actually planned to choose the most advanced option it still felt like a gut punch when the optometrist looked at the scans of my eye, pointed to a section, and said
"this area here is a little unusual..."
then he finished by saying "but you're still totally a candidate!"
I told him he needs to lead with the good part first next time, and he laughed even though I was being deadly serious (for once).
People had told me the surgery was scary. Intimidating. Overwhelming.
So I popped a Xanax (you can ask for them), kicked back, and laid on a table while a very qualified and nice surgeon had me stare at a green laser while it reshaped my eyes.
IMO it wasn't that bad. Maybe dealing with 8 years of intense orthodontics (a head brace, retainer, and braces, oooh yeah I was hot) primed me to just be cool with lying back while a skilled professional goes to town on part of my face
(or maybe it was the Xanax)
(maybe it was both)
but the only part that felt scary or weird was when I literally went blind when the doctor peeled back my cornea to do the procedure but everyone I'd talked to had warned me about it so when the moment came I laid there like
"all right, this is the part where I'm blind for a few minutes"
(ok it was definitely the Xanax.)
I went home, slept like crazy, and woke up groggy but with +20/20 vision.
Bless modern medicine.
Since then the thing that's surprised me the most is the number of people who've messaged or commented to say
"I always loved you in your glasses"
"You always looked so good in your glasses"
"Your glasses really suited you"
and while I'd like to say Thank You and Yes I Know... I'm so fucking thankful to not have to hear that again.
Because I don't care how "good" I looked or how much they "suited" me
they never felt like me
and finally, miraculously, amazingly, for the first time since I was 13 years old
I feel like myself again.
- by Alyson Shane
Today is a day to celebrate love, and to honour that I'm gonna dedicate this post to two of my favourite things:
John, and quizzes that remind me of being back on LiveJournal in 2002.
I saw this quiz as a post my friend Donna shared on Facebook and it brought back memories of mooning over boys (literal boys, I was a teenager in 2002) and sharing random quizzes on our blogs even though everyone in my blogroll knew each other so well that we didn't really need to read each other's answers, but we did anyway because what good is a personal blog if you don't share random stuff on it every once in a while?
So without further ado, a lil backstory about us to celebrate V-Day 2022:
How did you meet? At a baby shower for a mutual friend. John was telling some hilarious story and I noticed him right away.
First Date? Cousin's diner (RIP) — we sat at a small table tucked away in a back corner and ate knish while holding hands.
How long have you been together? Almost 9 years
Married? Two years as of January 25th!
Age difference? 6.5 years
Who was interested first? Not sure, but I think we both started making googly eyes at each other pretty much right away.
Who is taller? John, by like almost a foot I think
Who said I love you first? John did.
Most impatient? Me for sure.
Most sensitive? Also me.
Who is the loudest? We're both pretty loud and energetic people but I probably take the cake here.
Most stubborn? John, but (as he said to me in a letter he wrote to me when we first got together) "is always willing to change his mind if shown a better way." That sentence still stands out as something that made me want to be with him.
Falls asleep first? Me, almost always.
Cooks better? I tend to take the lead and make more things/suggest more meals, but we're both pretty adept in the kitchen.
Better morning person? John for sure. I'm grumpy and groggy a lot longer after I wake up.
Most competitive? Me; John's pretty chill about most things.
Funniest? John for sure. He makes me laugh until my face hurts and drops dad jokes on me daily.
Where do you eat out most as a couple? It's a toss up between The Yellow Dog and The Nook.
Who is more social? Me in terms of planning hangs and social activities, but John is a true social butterfly once you get him around other people.
Who is the neat freak? Me FOR SURE.
Who initiated your first kiss? John's ex-girlfriend. We were all partying at Folk Fest and she insisted that John "kiss Alyson just to see what it's like" and we were both so anxious about it that he bashed my lip with his tooth. AWKWARD.
How long did it take to get serious? We'd known each other for years so as soon as we (finally) got together is was a serious thing.
Who picks where you go to for dinner? We usually decide together, but I probably lead with more ideas and suggestions.
Who is the first one to admit when they're wrong? Depends on the conflict, but we're both pretty good at coming back to the table and apologizing (couple's therapy helped a lot with this).
Who has more tattoos? John, he's got three and I have two.
Who sings better? John! But he always encourages me to sing and I have the best time being in our band Big Trouble in Little Wolseley with him.
Hogs the remote? Neither? We don't watch cable so the remote usually just sits on the coffee table until we need to select the next episode or whatever.
Spends the most? Me, but that's because I handle buying groceries, stuff for the house, etc.
Did you go to the same school? Nope — John was already graduated (and living in Winnipeg, I think?) by the time I'd graduated from high school.
- by Alyson Shane
John and I got married right before the pandemic hit, back when you could hug people and hang in crowded bars and scream into karaoke mics at the janky nightclub just off of Front Street in Caye Caulker, Belize, where we got married, without worrying about getting sick.
We talked about "the Coronavirus" breakout in China with strangers on the day of our wedding.
I remember listening to reports on NPR about it while we were in Toronto on our way home
hoping it wouldn't hit Pearson until we were back in Winnipeg aka flyover country.
We got lucky. So so so lucky.
We managed to get 36 people down to a tiny island off the coast of Belize for 10 glorious days of
drinking beers on the beach
lounging in the ocean at the Sip N Dip
and eating waaaaaay too much seafood
right before the world fell apart.
We've talked about that a lot since then, while we've been cooped up in our house for
months on end
talking about The Wedding as if it was some big, beautiful dream.
Which in a way, it was.
We knew that, for most of the people coming, our wedding would be either
their first trip outside of Canada/the States
their first trip to a tropical place
their first trip to Belize
their first trip off-resort, or
in some cases
a blend of some or all of the above.
Weddings are special and all, but we didn't want our wedding to be "just another day" or "just another trip to Windsor/Winnipeg"
we wanted something weird, special, and memorable
and by some weird, fucked-up stroke of luck, that's what we got.
The perfect trip. The perfect wedding. The perfect reminder that we're so lucky to have the friends and family that we do.
People who trust us enough to follow us on an adventure
who dress up like 18th century monks and write rap songs about us
whose laughs we could hear echoing down the street as we walked to meet them
(the thought of it makes me teary-eyed)
a lot of whom we haven't had the chance to see since the pandemic started.
These past two years have made me realize how lucky I am to have married John.
Locking down was one of the easiest parts about the pandemic because I spent all my time around my best friend
(who drives me crazy less often than I would have guessed)
but it's still been weird having most of our marriage defined by this thing that happened
right as it started
and that's still affecting it, two years in.
Still, some of the best parts of the last two years (and being married so far)
have been the times we've spent at home together.
Two years of planning and saving and strategizing
writing silly songs and practicing epic covers
planning outdoor hangs and DnD campaigns on Zoom
cooking amazing food and making fancy cocktails for ourselves
making art, writing, sprucing up the new homestead.
Somehow we always seem to find a way to make the most of the situation we're in.
Lately, since the latest round of Covid cases has had us staying home as much as we can
we've been listening to records when we make dinner and play games in the dining room
Motown, old rock n roll, blues, you name it
these daily moments of intimacy feel like a break from the rest of the world.
A world that feels crazy and scary sometimes
that feels overwhelming and unmanageable
that feels frustrating and unfair and upsetting
these feelings fade away with the smell of something cooking and the sound of vinyl crackling.
The other night while Elvis was on I said to John
"dance with me"
so he did
taking my hand in his and putting the other on the small of my back
holding me close.
We swayed slowly as the music played, singing the words softly, my head on his shoulder
wishing I could stay there forever but knowing that as soon as the song ended
we're right back to facing the world together
the crazy highs, the toughest lows
making magic and memories
and turning everything into an adventure
this year, and every year ahead.
I hope we get many more of them to share.
- by Alyson Shane
Lately I've been having the nicest nights.
One of the best glow-ups about our new house is that the kitchen is approximately 294755859 times bigger than our old kitchen
so instead of tryna make space in a weird corner to roll out some dough or chop veggies on a table that's probably too wobbly to be using a knife anywhere near it
John and I have been able to really collaborate in the kitchen together
which if you follow my Insta Stories you'll know is one of my fav things to do.
Another "new house glow-up" is that our den where the TV and sectional and record player all live is right next to the kitchen
in fact, one of the doorways into the kitchen
(not the one with the fancy double-acting door, but the other one)
opens right up into the part of the kitchen where all the action is, so it's easy to pop into the den and, say, flip the record or choose another vinyl to put on.
Which is what we've been doing lately and omg
it's been so lovely.
John inherited a bunch of vinyl so he has this huuuuge collection of classic rock and pop and Motown and old country and
all these musicians The Algorithm probably wouldn't ever show us if we were using a music-streaming app, like
Jerry Lee Lewis
Diana Ross and The Supremes
Gladys Knight & The Pips
and, of course
the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald.
I dunno why but I've always liked listening to records
thumbing through the vinyl jackets feeling the old, worn cardboard
(or paperboard, or whatever it is)
thinking of all the people and places and times where someone else did the exact same thing:
putting on a record and having a Really Nice Time.
It's kinda like when you find a well-worn book and you think about how many times the book was
putting our old records on feels a lot like that.
You feel the thing that's playing the music for you, treating it with care
taking a second to stop drinking, or shooting the shit
or in our case chopping veggies or sautéing something or other
to hold the music in yr hands and make it a meaningful part of whatever you're doing
instead of it blending into the background, unnoticed and unimportant.
So we've been listening to old vinyl instead of Hot Hot Hits or more 90's R&B playlists
(which I'll never knock but yr girl can't listen to Biggie and Pac all the time y'know?)
and we've been belting songs out and dancing around as we make food together
reminiscing about songs we know
surprising ourselves with ones we'd forgotten until now, songs we'd heard
here and there, on the radio, in movies, in our parents' cars growing up
old memories brought back by the sound of the music
helping us make new memories in a space all our own.