Monday, January 28, 2019

37.

"The evening sun touched gently on the eyes of Lucy Jordan..."

37.

Just like that.

Another day come and gone, another trip around the sun, and blah blah blah more adages and cliches and bullshit.

You know, the lustre of birthdays wore off decades ago, and I am unsure if the shininess went with the Pass-the-Parcel parties or if it went with realizing each year's exercise in planning grandeur ideas was one of futility.

Turn your plate over! See if you've won a prize.

No cakes, no party hats, no balloons. Pack that noise.

36 was hard, man. I think I will wear those scars for a long time, and I hardened under much of what came down. I often wondered if I would see the other side of it all but here I am, on the other side and flipping off those and what I have left behind.

I like it over here.

As I sit here, embarking on another year, on my Lucy Jordan birthday, I will try a new exercise. Last year I lamented on how I seem to always spend this day setting myself up for failure with hopes and dreams of what I will accomplish in the year approaching. I will not do that this year. Often times the forces we need to accomplish what we put our hearts and souls into are out of our control.

Instead, I will try to annotate some of the lessons I have learned this year.

1. Never be afraid to believe things happen for a reason, no matter how hard or cruel they may be. Sometimes the hardest lessons we learn give us skills to navigate through other times; and sometimes those hard times - the cruelty, heartbreak, mistreatment by those who you trusted - bring you on new paths, and bring others into your life who are sincere and true. Things often do not make sense while they are happening, but one day you will sit and realize that if all of the hurt and bullshit did not happen the way it did, you would not be sitting where you are and with who you are. Every single decision and step is like one of those cheesy "Choose Your Own Adventure" books from those elementary Scholastic book orders. Maybe you needed to choose the snake pit to end up at the castle.

2. Advocacy is hard. We work in arenas where our hearts and souls go into everything we do, and often times we fall into the lion pits where we find ourselves eating our own. The heart, the brain and the psyche grow tired. There are days when we ask why we do what we do, if a difference is made or is to be made, and if we are constantly just clawing at quicksand. Find yourself a "raft of bitches" and remember we are so much stronger together, rather than tearing each other down or stepping on the heads of others to propel our own agendas and careers. Nothing built on the oppression of others will last. Just keep true to your goals and dreams for our communities, our groups, each other. Keep working your ass off. Oh, and division helps no one only those on the other side who want to see us fragmented and divided.

3. Rupi Kaur taught me a lot about selfish people. Selfish people will use you and hurt you for their own gain, simply because you are something they did not want to miss out on. "They gamble entire souls, entire beings, to please their own." Rid your life of those people. Do not let them consume you and remember, "Your existence meant that little next to their curiosity of you." Let them create their narratives. Go on with your life knowing your armour is stronger because of it and you have learned lessons on human nature, and how to not be. And sometimes, as a wise woman told me, what might seem like trying to get by is actually you dodging bullets better than Neo in The Matrix.

4. It's okay to not be okay. Take the opportunity when someone offers you an ear to use it. Talk. Even those who do not have advice are offering you priceless things - their ability to listen and their friendship. Those people are the ones you need in your life. Good people are damn hard to come by. Surround yourself with those who offer you their friendship and remember, as a good friend said, "Everyone is more than five sessions worth of fucked up." We're all a little broken and there is zero shame in that. Those who perpetuate perfection are likely the most broken of all. Do not let them make you feel wrong or ashamed for all of your broken pieces.

5. Chin up, woman. Things could be a lot better but they could also be a lot worse. You have wonderful people in your life, cuddly pups, and work that you love. There will always be those who throw the banana from their Mario Kart. Just fly on past. Do not let speedbumps, hazards or someone else's pathetic behaviours and insecurities hamper your goals, get in the way of what you do, who you are or where you are going. Feed on it and use it as fuel to be a whole damn fire.

6. Of all the things in your life to be thankful of, appreciate the people who stick with you the most. Make sure they know how important they are, return the favour when you can, and never take them for granted. And there will also be people you need to leave behind, scorch the earth behind you and salt it as you go. You'll be better off. Someone told me you make the most meaningful relationships later in life, and if that hasn't proven true this year, buddy, I'll eat my #gongernation hats.

7. And trust that intuition now. I have a sneaking suspicion you might have found where you are supposed to be. This just might be it.

At 17 I drunkenly said I would not be Lucy Jordan.

I'm not, but maybe we have some things in common. That's not always a bad thing.

Here's to 37.

And hey, I'm now at the age where buying that new Roomba was pretty exciting. If anyone needs entertainment I'll be charging admission to the event where it squares off with my robot dinosaur because, you know, I'm an adult.

BATTLEBOTS!

I think I'll go have a glass of wine, pack my bags to hop on that plane tomorrow. Though I spent this post reflecting on lessons learned, now I start to look forward to all that is to come instead of looking back at all that went wrong.

"So she let the phone keep ringing as she sat there softly singing pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorised in her daddy's easy chair..."

Friday, January 11, 2019

My Lucy Jordan Birthday

Ray Sawyer died this year. How fitting on this, the year of my Lucy Jordan birthday. I'm still 17 days away, but it is coming.

For those of you who have never heard "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan," this post probably will not make sense, but I will include a link for your listening pleasure.

My Lucy Jordan birthday has been a milestone for 20 years now.

It all stems from a night in 1999. I was 17. Friends and I had gone to one of their family cabins at Princeton Pond for a night of debauchery. When we arrived, his parents were there and his dad was half cut, strumming away on a guitar.

As the night progressed we headed to a bonfire away from the cabin, spent a night with friends that culminated in the usual night for me in my abusive relationship where I was, to spare you details, dragged through a gravel pit. We went back to the cabin.

The girls and I sat at a picnic table outside the cabin as I licked my wounds. All of a sudden, Gord started slowly strumming and singing "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan." I was no stranger to Dr. Hook. I adored Ray Sawyer.

Sipping on a bit too much Smirnoff, I stood on the picnic table seat and exclaimed to Krista, Kirsten and Crystal, "When I'm 37 I will not be a Lucy Jordan!"

And we sang.

"At the age of 37 she realized she'd never ride through Paris, in a sports car, with the warm wind in her hair..."

In 2002 I stood in a field with the rain pissing down, the crowd sparse because of weather, as Ray Sawyer belted out Lucy Jordan's plight in front of me at Salmon Festival. I remember leaning over and whispering to my friend Eugene, "I'm not going to be Lucy Jordan." He just kind of looked at me funny.

And here I am, 37 approaching, and the song I've held dear has taught me lessons on the passage of time, how quickly 20 years fly by, and how naive we are at 17 when our minds have grandeur ideas of how our lives will be when we leave our little towns for something bigger.

While I am not the protagonist in Lucy Jordan's suburban housewife life, no husband to go off to work or kids to go off to school, 36 was a hard year for me. I questioned myself personally and professionally, and maybe came a bit too close to figuratively being "on the rooftop where she'd climbed when all the laughter grew too loud."*

*There is still debate whether or not she jumped or if she was carried away. Either/or.

But, like Lucy, I had not made it to Paris. I likely never will. Paris stands for so much here, and I think that is the biggest lesson. Where we see ourselves at 37, when we are 17 and our eyes are dinner plates looking into the future, is often a much different reality when compared to what 37 really is.

Where did 20 years go?

A shoutout to my coworker here who I shared this with and who brought me a keychain from Paris last year. Rol, you're a doll, and you get it.

My upcoming Lucy Jordan birthday has made me reflect on how we prioritize progress and goals in life.

How important getting to Paris was to that little girl.

Paris is just a place.

How close and attainable Paris seems when you are 17 at Princeton Pond with your whole life ahead of you.

My Lucy Jordan birthday comes in 17 days. For those of you who have read here for a while you know I have never really done well with birthdays. I reflect a bit too much and I overthink the losses instead of the gains.

This year has started out positively, and I am hopeful; I am probably feeling better than I have for as long as I can remember. I have such amazing people in my life. You are all my Paris.

Maybe this year, on that day, I will reflect on it as one where "she let that phone keep ringin' as she sat there softly singin' pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorised in her daddy's easy chair."

Who knows?

All I know is that time moves fast; 20 years pass by like 20 days, and I can so vividly remember that night in Princeton Pond and how hopeful my 17 year old self felt that by 37 I would be invincible.

I don't know about that anymore. I feel pretty mortal.

But at 37 I know I will conquer and I will make inroads to continuing to carve out my place in this messy life and world.

And maybe it will be done "with the warm wind in her hair." For Lucy.

Have a listen: https://youtu.be/FDS2hSmokQ0

And Dr. Hook > Marianne Faithfull.