Category Archives: Memoir

On Seeing my Favorite Band in Chicago

The line for the concert wrapped around the building and snaked into the alley. Megan and I were in the back third of the line even though we arrived an hour and a half early. Several of Zooey fans were dressed from head-to-toe in vintage polka-dots and peter pan collars. Usually I would be dressed the same, but it was windy and I had spent the afternoon watching my sister tuck her skirt between her legs to avoid giving Chicago a peep-show. I wore my Darth Vader t-shirt and jeans.

Before I changed into my Vader shirt I was dressed up too!

Before I changed into my Vader shirt, note the peter pan collar necklace

Since we were so early, I went to find a quick meal for us to eat in line. Unfortunately, the line started moving into the building while I was gone. Megan had to come and get me and we were two of the last people into the building. I had to leave our dinner outside, but somehow we nudged our way to the fourth row.

As with any concert, we stood around for more than an hour before the show started. My feet ached in my flip-flops and the crowd was getting antsy. The family next to us held our spot while we bought overpriced t-shirts. The air in the room became heavy with anticipation. However, the Aragon was a beautiful distraction. The black and blue ceiling was littered with stars and whirls of Milky Way. The planets bulged in the second dimension, hanging pregnant above our heads. Branching from the balcony were Rapunzel-style towers. The proscenium framed the stage in the same rich storybook style as the towers.

Pictures compliments of the Aragon's website.

Pictures compliments of the Aragon’s website

Since arriving at the theatre, there were signs everywhere discouraging people from recording the show and taking pictures at the request of the band. Everyone was asked to live in the moment and watch the concert through their eyes, not their viewfinders. As soon as Camera Obscura started their pre-show show, the cameras came out – not just cameras but phones and ipads too! There were bouncers pacing back and forth between the stage and the audience hunting for screens, flashes, and clicks.

I wish I would have listened to more Camera Obscura music before the show. I watched the keyboardist play three keyboards in amazement and admired the lead singer’s lack of Katie Perry sugar and spice as she sang beautifully in a blazer and button-up.

How to describe watching She & Him… adorable throwback vintage magic?

Zooey and Matt entered stage left; Zooey in a vintage tea length party dress with perfect bangs, Matt in a grey blazer and dripping with charm that most modern Justin Biebers could never hope to understand (obviously, I have a bit of a crush on M. Ward, his guitar, and his curly hair).

Last year, Megan and I saw Ingrid Michaelson in concert. We hadn’t bothered to get her new album since we weren’t impressed with Parachute; we spent the entire concert listening to songs we had never heard. It was kind of awkward and really disappointing. However, She & Him played songs from all of their albums and a few well-known covers. I am always impressed by musicians who can play several instruments, and Matt and Zooey did not disappoint. Though Zooey’s voice is hauntingly beautiful, the crowd went wild every time M. Ward opened his mouth. He is truly a talented artist. They ended the show on a cover of I Put a Spell on You that blew my mind. The spectacle and music of the evening blurs together as the best concert I have attended.

... the picture my sister wasn't supposed to take...

… the picture I was mad at my sister for taking…

The only things that bummed me out about the concert: we were too close to the raised stage and I couldn’t see what shoes Zooey was wearing with her incredible dress and how sad it is that people feel the need to live through their viewfinders instead of experiencing the concert first-hand.

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Moving Home: Balancing my “Big Family”, my “Little Family”, and the Space Between

A new chapter.

I have been MIA for a while, but for good reason: Jason and I moved back to Wisconsin. We decided after several frustrating conversations, that neither of us were happy. He wasn’t happy with his graduate work since it was far from what he actually wants to do, and I wasn’t happy working as a receptionist. I am a writer. I am a teacher. There is no creativity in doing menial bitch-work for 5 business owners. Neither of us felt like ourselves and we didn’t feel much like the “us” that we want to be.

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So much has happened lately that I can’t seem to keep up. After a year away from my friends and family, I feel overwhelmed. My first week home I felt like I was trying to make everyone happy and cram a year’s worth of quality time into a few days. I missed Jason and our cats – my Little Family. My Big Family, my friends and family of origin, wanted to spend as much time with me as possible; which is great, and I want to spend time with them, but it was difficult to take in all of the invitations and events without turning others down. I was glad for Jason to come home at the beginning of the next week.

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I am from Oshkosh. My Big Family is in Oshkosh. Jason is from South Milwaukee. Right now, my Little Family is living in South Milwaukee. I love my Big Family, but it is nice to have an hour and a half of highway between us while my Little Family figures out where we want to be and how we fit back into Wisconsin.

mlk to osh

The First Day of Spring in Hoth, Saskatchewan

The First Day of Spring (in every cartoon/movie/book I have every seen):

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puddles of melted snow giving my galoshes purpose

the promise of blossoms awakening on branches

children’s coats disregarded on playgrounds

baby rabbits huddling together in hidden nests

the humming of bumblebees as they blur through the air

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The First Day of Spring (in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan):

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wind whipping new life into month old snow

sidewalks rubbed out beneath the white eraser

dusted valleys form where roads once stretched

winter sifts across the pavement weathering blacktop to ice

cars drift between grooves and into powdered ditches

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I don't see the difference.

I don’t see the difference.

Watch part of our ride home from work yesterday afternoon:

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Of course, we still made it to the comic book store…

it was Wednesday after all.

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Check out some more photos of Spring in Saskatoon.

Argo-Fudge Yourself!

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Since Jason and I frequent the budget cinema for “Toonie-Tuesdays” and last week it was my turn to choose which movie we saw, we went to see Argo. I knew a bit about what it was about the premise from seeing the occasional trailer, but I had no idea it would have the impact it did. Since Rainbow Cinema is a budget cinema, each screening room is cozy and the opening credits that ask the audience to turn off their cell phones and buy some popcorn are laughable. (These credits remind me of the opening credits of You’ve Got Mail.

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There was a couple with a young girl wearing a shirt that said “Glitter is my favorite color” who may have mistakenly come to Argo when they meant to see Rise of the Guardians who was sitting to the right of us. The theatre is always packed on “Toonie-Tuesdays” and last Tuesday was no exception.  There were no more than 10 seats unfilled. (Again, this is a tiny theatre, so it felt extra cramped.)

The movie started off in the thick of the action with the Tehran students storming the American Embassy and the 6 escapees making their way to the Canadian Ambassador’s house. I was immediately sucked in. Clenched.

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As the film went on, the crush I had on Ben Affleck as a teenager crept back (he lost my love with Daredevil). It may have been the intelligent, selfless CIA agent thing… it may have been the beard… probably a combination of both.

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I usually have to get up to pee about every 30 minutes, whether I am at the movies or not, but somehow I managed to stay in my seat throughout the entire movie. There wasn’t a lull long enough to go even if I had to!


SPOILER ALERT:

You know that feeling you get at a play or a movie or while you are reading a book when you completely suspend your disbelief and forget you are in a theatre full of people and are completely alone with the story? A part of the story? I love that feeling! Argo did that for me. When Tony Mendez (Affleck) and the 6 escapees were going through the bizarre to the time the plane took off for Switzerland I don’t recall breathing. As far as I was concerned, I was just as invested as the characters on the screen – if they got caught, we would all die.

As soon as the movie was over, I noticed how sweaty my palms were and how sore my lower back was from being in such a clenched state for 121 minutes of tension. I talked endlessly about how amazing the movie was and drove Jason nuts on the car ride home and texted everyone I knew that if they haven’t seen Argo to go watch it. Once I was out of my coat and boots I sat down to do some preliminary research on Tony Mendez and Argo or the Canadian Caper, as I learned it has been referred to. I also found the real Mendez’s memoir Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History on Amazon.

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A couple of days later I found a single copy at a nearby bookstore. Needless to say, I am currently reading it. I am a slow reader, but got through about half of it in one sitting. I had a difficult time putting it down to eat dinner.

A couple of days ago I got a text from my step-mom: Argo-fuck yourself! We liked the movie too!

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I can’t wait until it comes out on video!

Food Security

So Jason and I have been ridiculously broke for the last month. Two weeks ago we literally could not afford groceries. We went to the grocery store, got about 12 items, went to the check out and found that all of our cards were denied. We thought we had more money in our accounts, but somehow we miscalculated. Completely embarrassed, we left the grocery store with nothing but the empty bags we brought in.

A few days later, Jason’s birthday check cleared (it takes nearly a month for a US check to clear in Canada!) and we were able to get the essentials: eggs, milk, bread.

This past week I got my first paycheck from my new job. As almost all first paychecks are, this was only for one week’s pay. This is what we expected.

Yesterday we went to the grocery store again. The sense of doom had lifted and been replaced by a warm sense of security. We could actually afford to buy food – and not just a few cheap items. We bought fruit and ice cream and meats! I usually him-and-haw about carrying in the groceries (I have to do it in one trip  – I don’t know why), but yesterday the weight of the canvas straps on my arms and all that they contained was welcome and felt lighter than usual. I was glad to unpack them and fill our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer.

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We immediately made a tasty (but quick) dinner of grilled turkey and Gouda sandwiches with spiced tomato soup. I can’t recall anything tasting so delicious.

This morning I woke up and had a heaping bowl of mixed berries and some Tim Horton’s coffee (with a little hot cocoa mix so it tastes like a mocha) made in our fancy Keurig wedding gift. Money may not buy happiness, but it buys security. We are going to be okay.

First Week as Part of the 480 Group

So my first week of work went off without a hitch. I read A LOT about accounting and Canadian taxes. I haven’t met all the tenants of the “480 Group” since many are on vacation, but they will be trickling into the office in the next few weeks. Even though it has only been a week, I already feel comfortable there; this is definitely a good sign.

When you walk into the office, this is what you see:

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… my desk…
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You can’t see my Wonder Woman mug, but it is there.

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Now I just have to decide which Valentine’s Day treat to make for next week.

I Finally Started My New Job!

Everything ran smoothly this morning: I woke up on time, my bangs didn’t do the weird thing they do sometimes, I had picked out my clothes the night before (and changed my mind this morning), I remembered my lunch, and I got to work with time to spare. I should mention for anyone who is not familiar with Saskatoon that the parking downtown is horrible. The city was not made to expand in the way that it has and because of this finding a parking spot in an expensive nightmare. I was fortunate enough to have a parking ramp suggested for me by one of the other people in the office last week so I knew where I was going. (Yup, I did a Google Earth search to see what it looked like, found directions on Google Maps, and even checked the parking website to find out that it would cost $7.50 to park there everyday.)

I was completely at ease pulling into my parking spot fifteen minutes before I needed to be in the office. Then, when I went to pay for the parking pass at the kiosk, I was hit with the sudden news that the kiosk only accepted change and credit card – it also costs $10 to park for the day and the website is out of date. Awesome. Of course, I had a few loonies in my purse, but I had planned on paying with the $5 bill tucked in my wallet. I calmly slide my debit card into the machine. It was denied twice, even though there is enough money in our checking. I plunked the few loonies I had into the machine and dashed across the street and down the block to my building. Luckily, after explaining my parking dilemma, the woman who suggested the parking ramp loaned me another $5 and I got change at the coffee shop downstairs.

After the daunting task of paying for parking, my day got much better. There are only a few people in the shared office and several of them are currently on vacations. I met four of the people in our office today, they were all very welcoming and ready to give me work right away. (I was so glad for this, since I have had so many first days of observing, training, and reading associate modules). Though there was a few things to get acclimated to (especially the phone with many lines and even more buttons), everything ran smoothly.

Since part of my job description will be “bookkeeper”, I was given some basic accounting materials to familiarize myself with since I have absolutely no background in this type of work. At first I felt smothered with jargon, but once I got the hang of it, the materials started making sense. This is the only part of the job that makes me nervous. Answer phones, greet people, paperwork, filing, and data entry? No problem. Bookkeeping and accounting? Terrifying. I am not a math person. I keep thinking of this as a challenge – a way to prove to myself that I can learn difficult material outside of my comfort zone.

I think I will be comfortable in this office. There are adults to talk to, but there is time to be alone with my work. I have a reason to get dressed up beyond yoga pants and a sweatshirt that nannying did not give me. I finally have the chance to meet people over the age of four for the first time in seven months. And there is always delicious coffee at my disposal.

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