Book Nerd

So.  I’m a book nerd.  Both houses I’ve owned have had libraries – they pretty much have to.  I’m a devoted library user, and still have a room of books.  I’ve moved them enough times to know what a pain it is, and I do my best to only keep books I might read again, but that still leaves a lot of books.  3 large Billy bookshelves and 2 small ones in the library, 2 medium sized bookshelves upstairs, and then two more downstairs for all of David’s books.  Oh, and books in the 40s teak display cabinets on both floors.  I admit I have a bit of a problem… 

I love the library.  I love the ability to have most of the books I want to read delivered to the place just down the road.  I love that I spend $12 a year and get to read $10,000 worth of books.  My first year out of University, I read constantly and figured that I would have spent my gross salary on books had I not had a library card.  (And that would have made paying rent challenging.)

I don’t just read fiction, although that’s still the bulk of it. I also like to take out cookbooks and dvds and decor books and non-fiction about whatever my current obsession is.  (Which is how I managed to read literally 25 different wedding planning books.)  Which brings us to last week. 

So.  I had the IUD removed and then, neurotic optimist that I am, I went on the library’s website and requested a half dozen giant pregnancy tombs.   What to Expect when You’re Expecting; Pregnancy: the Mumsnet Guide; Your Pregnancy Week by Week; Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care; One Year to an Organized Life with Baby; From the Hips…  You know, your standard collection of pregnancy books for the OCD bookworm type.  So I stacked a couple of fiction books on top and headed to the check out counter.  One of the lovely librarians I’ve been dealing with for years gave me a big smile and noted that there was a bit of a theme here.  I kind of grinned and nodded and she then beamed at me and offered her congratulations.  I blushed and said thank you – it just seemed so much easier than having to admit I’m just a forward planning, overly optimistic, totally OCD dork.

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Travels

I was thinking the other day about travel, and how clearly David and I have made it a priority in our lives.  Now, before we started dating, I’d been to a few places: Mexico (x4), Dominican Republic, Costa Rica (x2), Oman, Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, and on numerous roadtrips, primary through BC, Montana and Idaho.  But in the three years (tomorrow!) that we’ve been together, we’ve managed a ton of trips.  Especially considering work, and the 8 months he was unemployed, and buying a house right before the wedding, which we paid for.

Our first trip was to Washington DC – 10 days in April 2009 of museums and monuments and cherry blossoms.  David was unemployed shortly after we got back. 

Then for the May Long, we drove to Vancouver to visit my sister.  We hung out and ate good food and took an extra day coming home so we could mini golf in Kelowna. 

David was still unemployed when we decided that August was the time was right (and we had the money) to go to Scotland and Ireland for three weeks.  Castles and museums and ruins and cider and beer and trains and a boat and soccer and more castles in Scotland.  Giant’s Causeway and cider and beer and museums and ruins and a heartbreaking tour of Belfast and a cave tour and the Burren and a viking boat tour and Gaelic football and passage tombs and whiskey and Guinness and a proposal at a neolithic portal tomb. 

The next trip was March for our honeymoon – we went to St. Lucia in the Caribbean, and lay on the beach and rode zip lines and saw UNESCO volcanos and went to Martinique for a day and flew in a helicopter. 

In September, we took some of my inheritance and went to Europe for three and a half weeks, starting in Paris and ending in Frankfurt, via Belgium and the Chezk Republic.  We ate and drank our way, walking till my feet actually bled, and loving the whole thing (except for Prague).  We saw the highlights of Paris and Versailles, Vimy Ridge, the battlefields of Iepre, Brussels, Waterloo and two UNESCO cathedrals in western  Germany (Arras and Cologne).  We spent most of a week in Berlin, exploring the depressing history and museums and walking tours.  Prague was next, and it didn’t do much for me, but Kutna Hora and the church decorated in bones was cool.  We also saw a hockey game there.  We finished the trip via and NHL exhibition game in Mannheim, and a fabulous festival day in Frankfurt. 

David went with a friend to Detroit and Ohio for a sporting weekend – NHL, AHL, NFL, MLS and a college hockey game, all in 4 days.  I went to Vegas with some girlfriends that same weekend.  Then we went to Raleigh and Nashville for hockey games with the same hockey obsessed friend, and I got to go to Fort Nelson for work.  Though that was only an overnight trip and the weather was just above -30, so I don’t think you can count it as a vacation, but it was two chopper rides and flying in private planes, so I’ll count it. 

Then, in March, for our anniversary, we went to LA for an extended weekend and enjoyed ourselves despite the weather.  La Brea Tar Pits, of course – satisfying my childhood dreams.  Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach.  The Getty.  Two hockey games – Flames road trip against LA and Anaheim.  Queen Mary and the Long Beach Aquarium.  Hollywood and Warner Brothers Studio Tour and lots of wandering around.

I’m not really going anywhere with this.  I’m just feeling very, very lucky and happy to have gone to so many places in such a short time.  I’m happy it’s been such a priority in our lives, and so happy we’ve been able to afford it.  Vacations, investments and paying off the mortgage is where almost all of our money goes, and that works for us.  I’m hoping we can squeeze at least one more trip in this year – David’s voting for Boston and/or Hawaii, and I’m leaning towards Montreal or Jamaica.  But you know there are no wrong answers here, and that whatever we do will be awesome.  Because we like the same things as we travel (museums, good food, good drinks, early evenings and endless walking) and I’m pretty much happy anywhere if he’s there beside me.

End of an Era

The first concert I went to was an all ages punk show at a long-gone venue.  I think I went to see Eve 6.  I was 18 and had never been to a concert and I think I wore heels and took them off to mosh barefoot and walked away with a few bruises.

In second year university I took a job on campus as a Red Shirt – as concert security.  I was mostly working with big tall bouncer boys, but they needed a few girls and I was strong and had an angry lesbian haircut, so was hired on the spot.  I worked at the job until I graduated.  I figure that over the years, I easily saw more than 250 bands perform.  Most were totally forgettable, as it was the city’s main small punk/mental/indie venue.  I worked awful things, like all ages punk shows, and the endless Billy Talent shows; bizarre things like a pow wow with the grossest clean up ever; played Spot The Nipple at hip hop shows; had to tell the lesbians in the bathroom at a Tegan and Sarah show to get a room…  I watched people resist arrest – that was always scary.  I infamously missed GWAR and the nasty cleanup because of an art history class.  I saw some decently big names over the years: Bad Religion and Frank Black of the Pixies.   I saw some stellar shows  – Great Big Sea’s Kitchen Party, for example.  Sold out Ballroom (800 people), 50 cent Screech shots and music I love?  Fabulous.  Finger 11 isn’t my music at all, but they played One Thing in their encore and thinking about it still gives me chills.  And disappointing shows, like Amanda Marshal, the first show I worked.  The job itself was only okay – lots of standing around and picking up cans at the end of the night and shoes that smelled like beer.  But the money was adequate, the tip out was nice, the people were a ton of fun, and it totally worked around my schedule.  I don’t miss the job, but I enjoyed the hell out of it while it lasted.  (Except for the all ages punk shows.  They were terrible.)

My first job out of university had some pretty great perks, like tickets to arena concerts.  I got to go a couple of times a year for free, and saw a really random assortment of shows: Cher, Meat Loaf (<3), Bare Naked Ladies, Feist, Billy Joel, Sarah McLaughlin, Blink 182…  The corporate seats were good, and it was nice sitting down for a concert.  The concerts and hockey ticket perks of that job helped me to stay longer than, in retrospect, I should have.  So, figure, with opening acts, another 30 odd bands. 

I also started going to the Calgary Folk Fest, because I got cheap tickets through the social club at work, and that’s at say, 50 bands per summer, and 4 years in a row…  200 groups, give or take a wide margin.  I really enjoy the Folk Fest.  Sitting outside in July as the sun sets can be a lovely experience.  (Unless it’s raining, and you really, really want to see Ani DiFranco despite the torrential downpour.)  The main stage can be pretty hit or miss –  they’re appealing to a wide range of tastes.  I am way more in to the indie-folk stuff, and have no real interest in ‘world music’, so there’s a lot that doesn’t do much for me.  But the side workshops are great – lots of good exposure for lots of people you’ve never heard of, and every year I buy at least a handful of cds.

And then there are all the indie/rock/alt concerts.  Billy the Kid, Matt Good, Tegan and Sarah, Jeremy Fisher, Tokyo Police Club, Wolf Parade, Our Lady Peace, Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviakuk, Goo Goo Dolls, Manic Street Preachers (in Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom), Bloc Party…  Shows at the Ballroom, MacHall, the Gateway, Liberty Lounge, Coke Stage, the Corral, the Republik, Saddledome Arena, Jubilee Auditorium, Jack Singer Concert Hall…  From the small rock venues to the big shows, I’ve seen shows in all of them.  

But as time’s gone by, I’ve become less tolerant.  Of the crowds, certainly, and the pot smoke, and the fact that everyone is taller than me.  Of standing in line and overpriced drinks and more standing around between sets.  Of the ringing in my ears afterwards.  Of the late start times and badly run shows.  Of broken toenails and elbows in the head.  Of opening acts that fail to impress.  Of standing around unable to talk for the loud music between sets.  Of wishing they would hurry up and get to the encore so we could go home.

Which brings us to last night – second concert in two weeks.  The first one was Mother Mother at MacHall, and we went with a coworker and it was weird because people I used to work with before I graduated in 2004 are still there, so that’s surreal.  And I ran into a bunch of people in the crowd I knew, which is always fun.  Still, the opening act (some name that involved a whale)  didn’t do much, and Mother Mother is more David’s music.  It was a fun Saturday night out, but still, long lines, loud music, pat downs, overpriced drinks.  Last night was Tokyo Police Club, which I was really excited about.  On a Sunday night – less excited.  Doors at 8, first band at 9, second band at 10 and main act at 11.  They went until 12:30, and I had an 8:30 meeting today.  Standing in line at 8:30 in below zero weather, I could feel my desire to do this again passing, and said as much.  The opening act was okay, and then we actually got a table and chairs for the second band (Said The Whale) and that helped.  But sitting there, between sets, we raised an overpriced toast to the End of an Era, because this was probably it.  The end of the time we want to go to loud, intimate clubs for loud, fun music.  Of outdoor rock festivals, like SonicBoom last summer in Edmonton.  (Folk Fest is still on the table, because it’s all done while sitting on tarps in the sun.)  Of going to shows because I like a couple of songs on the radio, or because I got tickets through work.  Of rolling in at 1:00 am and going to work the next day.  Of elbows in the head and sore feet and moshing. (who are we kidding?  I stopped doing that around 25.)

It was a good era – almost a decade of music.  A ballpark of 550 musicians and bands.  More money than I want to admit spent on tickets and cds, and yes, I buy cds at shows.  A decade that will surely cost me in hearing later, but one that was worth it.

Still, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to something that’s been a huge part of my life.  And I know I’m hardly saying goodbye to music, or even live music.  Just to a certain type of concert, of club, of music.  Of experience.  But when it’s time, better to do it gracefully.  End of an era indeed.

Hockey Talk

Some good news and some bad news. 

First, the bad: the Flames are out of the playoffs and they’ll probably play the backup at the last game on Saturday, so they Flames have basically pulled their goalie for the season.  Given how crappy the season started, they finished strong – Kipper’s tied for most wins as a Flames goalie, Iggy got his 1000th point and 40 goals this season.  My beloved Bourque stayed pretty and tied his records for goals.  (We’ll over look his +/-, because ouch.)  Try harder next year, boys.

Second, the good: I too have pulled the goalie.  And can I just say that there’s some strange inverse math here.  IUD: really very painful and unpleasant going in, no problem at all going out.  Babies: fun ‘getting them in there’ and I hear that it’s really super very painful and unpleasant going out. 

So.  Um.  EEEeEEEeeeEkk!

Baby fever

So.  About two weeks ago it magically kicked in and it’s all I can think about.  No, that’s not quite all.  It’s that, and questioning my career choices, because I’ve realized I’m doing tech work at low admin salary and I’m bored right now and all this future-thinking stuff and some good conversations with coworkers prompted the renewal of an earlier plan and so on.  But that’s later this week’s problem.

Because really, it’s all about the babies.  I bought a shirt for my friend’s upcoming baby and it’s so freaking cute I keep squeeing at the package.   (This shirt. I hope he gets Donut Tycoon.  Because that’s a future we can all get behind.)  I go to the doctor on Thursday.  I’m killing time on the intertubes reading about babies and pregnancy and generally being all around obsessive.  It doesn’t help that there are three (maybe four) pregnant women on the floor and they all walk past me to the bathroom, so it feels like a parade of bellies. 

We were in LA and were talking about babies (again, I know) and I asked David why he was so calm about the whole concept and he told me that it was as simple as that he has more faith in my abilities than I do.  That we’ll be just fine and we’ll figure it out as we go, just like everyone else.   That whatever happens, we’ll be fine.

And so here we are.  With a doctor’s appointment and a brain full of knowledge and no idea what I should be talking about.  In ‘real life’, I mean.  I’ve been pretty open with girlfriends about the plans, and the fact that the pulling of the goalie will be soon.  And everyone’s been really happy for us and I have two ‘aunties’ already ready to steal my baby so I can nap.   But what to tell people, and when?  I am in no rush to say anything to my mom (she who told me that if I had babies, it would heal all her emotional wounds from my father’s death, which made me laugh in her face).  I like a good secret.  When we got engaged in Ireland, two weeks in to a three week trip, we didn’t tell anyone.  We just enjoyed our vacation and each other and our joy together, and started telling people when we got back.  (I didn’t think much of this until a coworker was telling me about proposing to his now wife in Machu Picchu and the struggle to find a long distance phone hours later.  I could think of so many more fun things to do on a vacation than phone home.  A couple of blackberry photos to the parents seems more than enough for me.)   I like holding delicious secrets to my chest for a while, savouring.  And I don’t really want to be that girl sharing the details of sexcapades and periods and waiting.  But on the other hand, I’m prone to being a neurotic mess and talking helps that.  A lot.  I want advice and stories and more stories and sympathy and not have to make up excuses about why I’m not drinking (because lord knows, that will be obvious).    So.  I know I’m pre-worrying, but that’s what I do, and I don’t know what the too much/not enough information line looks like yet…