Monday, February 27, 2017

Doughty & Wheatus & Waffles & Canada & Life & Everything

Friday after work, we packed up New Gus (Pete recently traded in Old Traverse Gus for New CR-V Gus) and headed for Canada. It's quite fantastic that we can drive for a little over an hour and end up in a magical country with universal healthcare, a base 10 measuring system and a Prime Minister who understands compassion and quantum computing (swoon!). Months ago I saw that Mike Doughty and Wheatus were headed to our neck of the woods and I told Pete I really wanted to go to the concert. He agreed to go, despite having never heard of either of them. They were scheduled to play in Toronto on Saturday and Rochester on Sunday. We weighed the risk of driving north in February against the probability of me being able to stay awake for an 8pm concert on a Sunday night, and decided to make a getaway weekend out of it. As luck would have it, Pete had enough Marriott rewards points to get us a free two night stay and the weather was unseasonably mild.

Saturday morning, we woke up to a thick fog and went for a run at Humber Arboretum with the deer, woodpeckers and fat black squirrels that looked like miniature bears. We ran 5ish miles of dirt and paved trails and then Pete felt that was enough, which I was secretly happy about since I was tired and had a headache.


Favorite Husband Man

Arboretum Love

After taking advantage of the hotel's free continental breakfast, we planned out what to do before the concert. Pete chose the Art Gallery of Ontario and I, of course, chose the tallest thing in the vicinity, the CN Tower. The AGO was like the most torturous playground. It was full of spiral staircases you weren't allowed to slide down and art you weren't allowed to touch. They should really call this the You Can't Touch This Gallery. I really, really, really wanted to jump on this artwork:

Art is a wall sink. And a giant hamburger. Apparently.

And pet this one:

It is so hard not to pet a dog. Even an art dog. 

We happened to be standing in front of Peter Paul Rubens' painting "Massacre of the Innocents" (1610) when a tour guide came through, so we learned that the painting sold at action for $117 million and was later donated to the gallery. The painting depicts the biblical story of King Herod who, after being informed by the Magi of the birth of the newborn King of the Jews, ordered the execution of all young male children in Bethlehem out of fear of losing his throne. Pete remarked how the story depicted man's willingness to do anything to maintain his power, even killing children. I found it depressing that anyone would pay a hundred million dollars for a painting of dead babies and more so that 400+ years later, insecure, fearful men are still trying to gain power at any cost.

As we ascended the CN Tower, I felt even more tired and heachachy and worried that I wouldn't be able to stay awake for the concert, but eating vegetarian nachos at 1150ft with my tallest husband remedied that. I love heights. I find that I can often solve problems just by getting high, as in high off the ground. The height bestows a larger perspective, reminding me of the expansiveness and beauty of the world and, in comparison, the manageability and insignificance of my problems. I decided the CN Tower is my new happy place. It's got everything I love: heights, views, a glass floor that can hold the weight of 14 large hippos, and bear and moose statues galore. At the gift shop, I bought a polar bear hat (!!!!) which is clearly meant for children but I don't care. I don't think there's an age limit on awesomeness.

My new happy place

In the tallest tower with my tallest husband

Glass floor that can hold 14 hippos. No actual hippos were present. 

So many new friends at the CN Tower

We spent the night eating ice cream topped waffles and being thoroughly entertained by Mike Doughy and Wheatus. The former paled in comparison to the latter. And that is the highest compliment I can give anything: it was so awesome it surpassed waffles and ice cream combined. Last year I saw Doughty and Scrap on their Living Room Concert Tour in Albany, which was more of an acoustic show. So it was really neat to see them in Toronto playing with a full band. If, like me, you are a person who loves music but dislikes crowds, especially crowds that jostle you or spill alcohol on you, concerts can be tricky. But this one was my kind of concert: smaller venue, comfortable seating and a quirky, funny, fantastic show. Pete enjoyed it too, even though it's not the kind of music he typically prefers.


Mike Doughty!

Sunday morning I went on a chilly, wintery run from our hotel. I failed at finding a park, so I just ran around the outside of the airport watching the planes land. On our way back home, we stopped to see Niagara Falls and buy maple sugar candies, then had a surprisingly easy time crossing the border back into the US. The customs guy didn't even ask us any questions, other than what was the purpose of our visit and did we buy anything. Pete said "pleasure" and I said "I bought this hat!" and the guy laughed and waved Pete and his polar bear passenger on.

Niagara Falls

Sunday afternoon, I ran a few miles at Ellison with Alison. When I got home, Pete was taking a nap, so left to my own devices, I randomly decided to make crackers (Like from scratch. I know, right? Who even am I now? But don't worry, it's not too domestic, they only have 4 ingredients) and buy cheese from the Trader Joe's. I don't know where thoughts come from, but my brain was definitely in full-on most excellent ideas mode this weekend.

And it's about freaking time. I've spent much of this year feeling like the low point in an ultramarathon, that place where you're like I don't think I can do this, I don't have what it takes, I just want to lie down on the side of this trail and cry/sleep. And then I remembered, but you love this shit. I don't know how to explain it. It defies explanation. It defies common sense. It hurts. A lot. But it is awesome. It's like life. And marriage. And anything that is challenging and exhausting and utterly transformative, that forces you to confront your flaws/faults/failures, to accept rather than deny the darkest depths of your being and bring them out into the light, to become braver, stronger and whole. Some days are Wheatus and waffles. Some days are uncomfortable confrontations and embarrassing feelings. But you keep going. Of course you do. Because this trail, this marriage, this life, is your heart, your everything. Because you love it. Because there's no place you'd rather be.

Lyric of the moment: "Yeah I believe the war is wrong. Don't believe that nations can be steered. Lead the world by smarts and compassion. By example, not coercion, force and fear...Down in the mouth and not half right. But I can feel the changes coming on. Bloom like the flowers in bluest night. Bloom like the sunlight in my song..." ~Mike Doughty "Move On"

Friday, February 17, 2017

I don't even know what to call this so I'mma go with: Water Cheetos

This is a post I didn't want to write and I really didn't want to share. But apart from adventures in running and sugar consumption, honesty is kind of my thing around here. And maybe I'm not the only one who is experiencing complex and sometimes contradictory feelings as of late. So here goes:

So far 2017 has been a series of WTF-is-even-happening moments. I feel as if I'm leading a double life. On the outside, it's awesomeness as usual: Exploring the neighborhood woods with Pete, getting lost and getting found. Going to a Valentine's Day canal crawl at Schoen Place, where we check in and are handed a tiny cupcake that is perfect in every way. And we eat popcorn and chat with a nice bartender who tells us all about his tattoos and meditation practice. And we walk into a wine store with a sign that says "Love the wine your with" and I cringe and say (out loud, because I have no filter apparently) "That sign is incorrect and it's bothering me" and an employee overhears our conversation and immediately comes over to fix it, saying "The sign has been up for 3 days and you're the first person to notice" and then I feel bad for not being like everyone else but also wishing I had the power to point out other things that are wrong  - actual important things - and have someone immediately come and fix them (As in "That's sexist/racist/homophobic and it's bothering me." "That is a straight up lie and it's bothering me.") Running down snow covered roads, enveloped by the silence, darkness and solitude, and marveling at how life sometimes just zaps you with random moments of breathtaking beauty. Shoveling the driveway and thinking about how ridiculous it is that I am pushing around piles of what are basically water Cheetos. Watching friends complete amazing acts of physical endurance and strength of spirit. Being part of a marriage that I am severely under-qualified for and and yet have somehow been lucky enough to find.

And then on the inside, there's this seething and inconsolable ball of outrage and profound disappointment that alternates between a bloodcurdling scream and a tidal wave of expletives. Because I am so fucking weary. Of lies, greed, discrimination and fear. Of gorgeous, talented, intelligent (cis and trans) women being body shamed and silenced. Of another Grammy awards where Beyoncé doesn't win Album of the Year. There are so many problems and I feel useless at solving them. It is brutally unfair that my life is rich with privilege, opportunity and love while others' lives are not. Everyone deserves nutritious food, clean water, safe spaces, civil rights, education, love and the opportunity to build a good life. Everyone. But I don't know how to help make that happen, how to help people treat each other as people, not labels/stereotypes/adversaries. There is no us vs. them. There is only us. We are all in this life together. That is the whole point of existence, of everything. To live together, work together, make things better together. Your problems are our collective problems, your struggles are our collective struggles. We cannot turn our backs and say that does not concern me, that is not my fight. The more privileges we have, the more responsibility we have to use them for good.

I don't know how to do this. I don't have the answers. But I do know there is only one person I can change: myself. Change starts from within. I want to be a force of compassion, honesty, love and happiness in the universe. So I'm working to cultivate those things from within. I will continue to read/watch/listen to the words of people whose lives and opinions are different from mine. And try to do so with a sense of curiosity and objectivity rather than judgment so I can react with understanding rather than defensiveness. I will only engage in respectful discussions of politics/problems/potential solutions. I will strive to act with gratitude, honesty, integrity and empathy in all situations. When I make mistakes, I will apologize and make amends. When I fail, I will try again. When I feel like giving up, I will give more.

If you're reading this and you agree, please tell me how I can help. If you're reading this and you disagree, please tell me how and why. Even if we don't see eye to eye, let's try to connect heart to heart.

Lyrics of the moment: "I see problems down the line, I know they're not mine. I see darkness down the line, I know it's not fine. But don't wash the dirt off of your hands. You're doing the same mistake twice, making the same mistake twice. Come on over, don't be so caught up... Don't let the darkness eat you up..." ~José González "Down the Line"