Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: Let's Break it Down!

Hello patient Blog Fans

I've signed onto my blogger account to recount this past year's events much like I did last year. It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge that my blogging took a mighty dip last year. I have only 4 posts, and most of them involve my uterine situation. I'd say I will vow to blah blah blah...write more blah blah...but I just don't know if I can keep writing promises. Anyway, I can try. I have a project in mind for the coming the year and my blog will be a part of that project. But for now, it's time to go over the year that was 2017.

January 2017: It often feels like the years go by so fast, like everything happened feels like it just happened, which they do in some ways, but as I sit here in my living room thinking about the past year, I'm having trouble remembering January 2017 with a lot of clarity. At least the beginning of it anyway. The end of January was memorable because of an ice storm that hit our area of the country. It was an experience I hope to not repeat this year and not even necessarily for my sake. Losing power for three days wasn't terribly fun, but we had offerings from many generous friends to come over to their place and get warm or use their showers and so we survived it quite fine. It's the trees I worry about. There was so much damage that not all of it has been cleaned up. When you drive south, you can see the evidence of the storm in the still bent birch trees. There are homes around my neighbourhood that have trees, half broken, on the lawn. If we get another ice storm this year, well...I fear the compounded damage will be evident for years to come.

Our One Tree: It's much smaller now.
So basically when I think of last January, I think of ice.

February 2017: My birthday month. This month is usually a difficult one as it's one of the coldest of the year. I took my birthday off as I usually do and when I returned to work the next day, my cubicle was all decked out in Skeletor. It was delightful. I was not a He-Man fan when I was younger. Granted I wasn't the target audience but I just didn't get it, or enjoy it. What a fool I was! A fool! But thanks to Netflix, Sean and I started watching He-Man and I discovered that the best character on the show, by a huge margin, is Skeletor. He's so into evil that it's more like he doesn't have a choice but to live out his life as an evil being. He simply can't help it. He was born this way. He doesn't know how to be nice. He's sure footed and confident when it comes to being evil and frankly, it's inspiring. One of the best Skeletor quotes that I've heard to date is, "He-man, have you never considered doing anything evil?" See? This guy, he's the best!

To keep me inspired, I hung up a few pictures of him in my cubicle, much to the amusement of some of my team mates and so for my birthday, they added about 30 more Skeletor pictures to my area. I was still finding pictures of him on my desk things 10 months later.

Damn right I do!

So yes, when I think of February I think of Skeletor.

March 2017: Spring Break! Well, not really. The kids get a break the second week in March, at least a week before technical spring. (I say technical spring because the date on the calendar that announces, "Hey! Hey! Spring is here!" is not at all accurate for this part of the country. It's a lie! A lie I say!) And, for a break away from it all, Sorcha and I went to PEI. It's not far and it's pretty and it was REALLY cold. However, it was lovely. My bear is growing up so fast and it won't be long before she's out on her own. I truly treasure all the time we spend together.
I do NOT own this album.
I believe Sorcha's favourite part of the trip was trying to prevent me from going to every single kitchen store and listening to Neil Diamond on satellite radio until we heard the hit, "Heartlight": the oh, so moving ballad about boy and his wee alien friend who has a glowing heart that advertises his mood and whether or not he's alive. Adorable.

In all seriousness, we did have a nice time. So when I think of March, I think of Sorcha, and Neil Diamond.

April 2017: This month...well, Sean was in the play, "Peter Mitchell, Canada's Forgotten Father". It was a very good play about New Brunswick's role in Confederation. It was written by local writer and performer Shawn McCarthy in honour of Canada's 150 year anniversary. Originally, I too was in, but unfortunately had to back out of it due to health reasons. (see 3/4 of my 2016 posts for more details)

Sean (L), Tilley (R)
Since January, Sean had been growing a beard. I know, right? Big news.  I should have put it in my January memories. Ok, that was a bit sarcastic. He looks nice with a beard, but he was growing it for the role in the play as Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley.  Back in his day, Tilley didn't have a beard but he had AMAZING breezers. You know, mutton chops, side burns; whatever you're comfortable calling them. So, when the big day arrived, Sean shaved the beard into his delightfully large breezers. He fluffed then out and ended up looking so much like Leonard Tilley that it was a little frightening.

I'm sure there were was more memories from this month, but honestly, I'm having trouble recalling April.

So, when I think about April, the top memory is  "The Tilley Breezers".

May 2017: So...this will be short. When I think of May, I think, Hysterectomy. End of passage.

'Nuff said!

June 2017: Sorcha finished up grade 10 and did very well on her exams. Sean got to reprise The Tilley Breezers again, but this time not in Miramichi, but on the Playhouse stage in Fredericton. I spent a lot time resting and recovering from my surgery. It was quite a nice month, really...even with the recovering. I did very little and when I did things, I did them very slowly. Also, I wrote a couple songs that I am particularly proud of.



July 2017: I...somewhat reluctantly, returned to work. It was rough. So...positive note? I felt great. It was wonderful no longer being at the mercy of my uterus.

AND, this is the month that I became completely obsessed with My Chemical Romance.
Welcome to the Black Parade
You know, the sometimes EMO/punk/ rock band that broke up in 2013? I also got into comics thanks to the lead singer of the broken up 4 years before, MCR, Gerard Way. I started listening to their album, Danger Days, after Sorcha bought it earlier in the year, but I didn't become a super fan until July.Now, I don't want to get into this new obsession too much because I will sound crazy, but I will ask ask aloud, what cave was I in when they were at their peak? They were very popular and yet, I barely knew they existed until 2017! However, I now celebrate their entire catalogue and listen to them A LOT.

Coming soon to Netflix!
I also celebrate Gerard Way's entire comic catalogue meaning ones he has written (Umbrella Academy, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Doom Patrol) and  the ones he's curated. For those of you who are into comics and care, Gerard Way  started and is in charge of The Young Animal line at DC Comics. I strongly advise you check this line of comics out if you're into a style of comic that is not at all mainstream. Ok, I'll stop now. Starting to sound like a creepy fan girl.

So, when I think of July, I think of My Chemical Romance, Comics, and Gerard Way...sorry honey.

August 2017: This month was the beginning of a busy travel season for the Rules.

Family hanging out with Sir John A.
We took some vacation time at the end of the month and went over to PEI to visit with Sean's sister and her family. They rented a lovely cottage not far from Charlottetown and we had an enjoyable 2 days with them. After that we ventured to Sydney, Nova Scotia where we'd never been. It's very pretty and we stayed right downtown.

Large Cindy with Fiddle
We saw the big fiddle, took many walks around town, bought LOTS of books, and discovered a GIANT mural of our friend Frank on the back of a newly renovated you do. We also went to an absolutely beautiful contemporary dance show with Frank and Jennie. It was very moving. I cried...a lot...I do that.
Mr. McKibbon

We also visited Fortress Louisbourg. It's pretty cool and really interesting but, after I while I got historical buildinged out and so took advantage of the historical benches while Sorcha and Sean took a look at more historical houses. I also enjoyed sightings of historical geese and historical chickens.

So, when I think of August, I think East Coast Road Trip.

September 2017: and the start of grade 11. Sorcha began her second to last year of high school. Gulp. Too fast...too fast.

And we went on family trip number two to Hal-Con; Halifax's awesome version of Comic Con. This is the event that we attempted to go to 4 years previous, but due to over selling of weekend passes, we actually never made it in as the fire chief kicked everyone out. This time we successfully made it in and had a blast! Sorcha had worked on her cosplay outfits all summer and I, for a few weeks. We each had 3 outfits, all very different. Sorcha dressed up as a cartoon character called Star, a character named Metaton from a video game, and Gerard Way (Ya! She likes him too! It's not just me!) as his Danger Days character, Party Poison. She received many enthusiastic responses and picture requests.

As for myself, I picked a  theme for my cosplay and the theme was "Characters with Glasses". I really need my glasses to, you know, see and so picked 3 characters who sport specs. Yes, I could have gone as anyone and put my glasses on, but it just didn't feel right.

Dalek meets Grunkle Stan
So, I went as Milhouse's Mom, Luann Van Houten from the Simpsons (Crickets. No one asked me who I was and I received confused looks), Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls (Awesome response from fans) and Mable Pines from Gravity Falls when she is dressed up as Boss Mabel...the only time she is wearing glasses (A couple people knew who I was).
Jim and Mitch.

 It was a great weekend. We went to panels, and got to meet Bobby (Jim Beaver) from Supernatural and Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) from X-Files / Samuel from Supernatural.
Went to a dance where, as background visuals, they played the Star Wars Holiday Special. It was painful. No, I couldn't hear it, but it was still on of the worst things I've ever unintentionally seen and have avoided for years. No offense to super, die hard Star Wars fans, but wow. It hurt.

We also met some really inspiring writers like Ryan North (writes Squirrel Girl and more) and Conor McCreery (writes Kill Shakespeare and more) and artists like Gerhard (artist for Cerebus the Aardvark and more ) and John Kovalic (illustrator for Apples to Apples and many Muchkin games and more) and we caught up with friends we hadn't seen for a while. It was a really fun weekend and we hope to go in 2018 too!

And not long after we returned from Hal-Con, Sean and I were off to Stratford, Ontario, but I'll talk about that more in my October rememberings.

So, when I think of September, I think of Hal-Con.

October 2017: This month was full of ups and downs. A very big up is that Sean and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on October 3rd.
Festival Theatre, Stratford, ON.
Our celebration started in Stratford, Ontario, where we attended 3 plays at the Stratford Festival, and then continued to Niagara-On-The-Lake, where we attended 2 plays at the Shaw Festival. See, Sean and I met in theatre school and had always wanted to go to the Stratford Festival, so this was all very fitting. Both towns were beautiful, all the plays were wonderful, both B&B's we stayed at were comfortable, clean and accommodating. (The Legacy House in Stratford and Bruce Manor in NOTL)

Celebrating 20 years in Style.

We ate at some lovely restaurants, went to Niagara Falls on our anniversary, visited with family, and met some really interesting people along the way. It was a beautiful way to celebrate our 20 years, so far, together.

However, as happens in life, even when things are at their best, something tragic can happen right in the middle of it. While we were away, a very dear friend of ours, Lloyd Cameron died. It was awful. He was a wonderful man who loved art, travel, and wine, his family and friends, and being a life long educator. His passing has left a huge hole in our community. Not being from this part of Canada, I did not have the privilege of having Lloyd as a teacher in high school, but I was fortunate enough to work with him on 4 plays since 2014. I will miss working with him and I will miss his energy and enthusiasm for theatre. He brought out the best in people, made them raise their bars a little higher than they thought possible, and he was also encouraging even at times when you felt at your worst.
 A Lantern for Lloyd.

At Lloyd's funeral Reverend Charlene asked us to take a moment to think about our favourite moment with Lloyd. I didn't have to think that hard. My mind immediately went to our second night of performing "Waiting for the Parade" back in November 2016. My character, Janet, had to play the opening of "God Save the King" (it took place in WWII so yes, it was King) and just as I began my brain suddenly reminded me that 200 people, including my parents, were watching me play the piano (something I never did for anyone) and I screwed up. The chords came out wrong. My hands wouldn't stop shaking. It was very messy. I turned to the audience and said, in character, "You know, we're going to try that again". I put my hands back on the piano and played a few more chords that didn't belong to the song I was trying to play and decided screw it, let's get on with my monologue. I got up an announced, "Well, that was supposed to be..." and went from there.

Taken at the Shaw Festival.
Once my scene was over, and I got back stage, I mentally punched myself in the face, and may have said a few choice words. I was devastated and embarrassed and felt like I'd let everyone down. Apparently, this was not the case. At intermission, Lloyd came back to congratulate us on a good first act. I apologized for my mistake and he smiled and hugged me and said it was fine.  He said that no one had noticed. I didn't entirely believe that, but the next night, Lloyd told me that at a party he'd been to after the show the night before, there was debate about that moment. Half the people there thought it was on purpose, and the other half figured it was a mistake. Lloyd didn't tell them which is was and thought the debate was so interesting that he asked if I could do it again; purposely play the song wrong. I said that I'd prefer to play it properly if at all possible, but I was deeply moved. Here I had been at a very low point, I'd made a huge mistake, in front of a sizeable crowd and because I'd carried on, Lloyd thought it was wonderful and was proud of me.

That is my favourite personal memory of Lloyd because it shows the kind of man he was. He wasn't about perfection. He honestly was about doing your best or, when you need to, making the best of perhaps a bad situation because that, in a nutshell, is life.

Fall Out Boy Concert with Sorcha.
And as a quick side note, at the end of October my bear turned 16! We celebrated with a quick trip to Toronto where we visited friends, went to see Fall Out Boy, went up the CN Tower at night and where we received a very special, personalized video greeting from the incredible and much beloved Canadian TV personality, Rick Mercer.

So, as hard as this month was, when I think of October, I think of life: the beautiful and the tragic.

November and December 2017: I'll wrap these last 2 months up quickly. They were full of ups and some very low downs for many reasons. However, the highlights include:

- Our Words on Water Event at the Rodd, honouring many local veterans.

- Eyes on the Steeple: A really fun play I was involved in to help raise money to get the steeple off  lawn of St. Patrick's church in Nelson, NB and back onto the church.

- Completing the November National Writing Month where I finally took the time to write about our 2015 trip to London, UK.

- Finally getting the change I desperately needed at my job.

- Being involved in a tribute to Lloyd.

- Celebrating the holidays with family and friends.

- Finding real joy in a very up and down year.

Happy New Year!

So, when I think of November and December, I think about happiness.

 And when I think about 2017, I think about how grateful I am for all that I have and all that I am able to do.

My best to you all.

And here's to 2018.