Today I put up my Christmas lights in about an hour. And I don’t mean one string along the balcony railing, I mean the full meal deal. I have two levels of balconies decorated with a coloured top row and hanging white icicles all suspended from the overhang. There is drape of coloured netting lights over the lower balcony rail and the back courtyard is decorated with lights on the fence and bushes. It’s a spectacularly festive display (well at least I think so). And the whole exercise, from dragging the boxes out, to testing the lights to that final flip of the switch – just slightly over and hour. The first time I did this on my own, which was 3 years ago, it took 2 days, many trips to the hardware store and I cried, several times.
Three years ago I bought my own home. It’s an 1800 square foot townhouse on three levels. It’s not new – it hasn’t been new for more than 30 years, but it is all mine and I take a great deal of pride in not only owing it, but in renovating and maintaining it. And I now own my own power tools. Several of them. And I know how to use them. But that wasn’t always the case.
The day I moved from my former family home to my new single gal pad was a tough day, there is just no way around that. As the afternoon wore on and I finished loading the moving truck – the one I decided I could load, drive to my new place and unload myself (what was I thinking!!!) the enormity of both my task and my error became apparent. I was saved from complete despair by the timely arrival of my good friends Kathie and Cindy and Cindy’s husband John (they are both married to John’s so I thought I better clarify who this one belonged to). They had to work that day but showed up, literally, in my darkest hour and saved my bacon. They helped me finish loading and supported me through that last, heartbreaking drive away and then helped me unload in record time at the other end. Their support was both timely and priceless; I can never thank them enough for that.
I had been to the new place earlier in the day when I first got the keys and was greeted by a disaster. The movers from the last occupants had trashed the place. There was garbage strewn in every room, nothing had been cleaned and, worst of all, they had dropped something big down the stairwell, ripping the light fixture completely off and leaving several large holes in the drywall. There was broken glass and drywall debris everywhere. In an already overwrought frame of mind, this was . . overwhelming. My fabulous real estate agent (thanks Jane!) who had wisely insisted she come with me, waded in with advice and help and in no time she had cleaners lined up and insurance agents called, while I basically stood there, quite literally paralyzed.
But the move went ahead that night and despite it being one of the longest, most difficult days ever, as I lay on the coach – only piece of furniture not buried – with the fireplace on and a glass of wine in hand, I realized I was happy. Not just an “oh that’s nice” sort of happy, but a deep down in your bones, with every part of me happy. Sometimes you don’t even know you have been holding your breath until you finally, finally, exhale. To quote Stephan Jenkins, “I’d never been so alone and I’d never been so alive” (Third Eye Blind).
The next morning my friend Joanne arrived to help. Along with the damage inside the house, one of the first things I had to deal with was a broken gate in the backyard. My faithful pooch couldn’t hang out in his new territory till the gate was secured. He’s a terrier, prone to both running away and beating up the other neighbourhood dogs, so a tall fence with a strong gate was a must.
In my previous (married) life I’d been fortunate enough to have someone who was very handy and could build or fix anything. So fixing stuff had never been my responsibility. Now I had to learn – quickly. As I contemplated said gate, what does Joanne produce but her own toolbox, complete with drill. I was amazed!! It wasn’t her husband’s, no, it was her very own tool box with battery operated power tool. She had that gate fixed in no time at all. Fantastic!!! It was a turning point for me that I’ve never forgotten. Maybe it was all going to turn out ok after all.
And it has turned out not just OK, but fabulous. That first Christmas was difficult for many reasons, not the least of which was doing battle with the lights for the first time. There were times when I just wanted to forget the whole thing, but I’ve always believed that I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to, and I did not want to become one of those helpless, passive women, so I persevered. Now my lights are completely organized, I know what extension cords I need, I used my own power drill to install permanent hooks on the balconies and I”m done in record time.
I’ve come a long way baby. And I’ve learned that a good, sturdy power tool, with rechargeable batteries, really is a single gals best friend.
The Printed Word: I recently read “Guilty of Everything” by John Armstrong (aka Buck Cherry, bassist for the Modernettes). Fantastic book. One review said it so well, I”m just going to quote him: “as guitarist/singer for the powerpop/ punk legends the MODERNETTES…he gives you a candid sordid drunkseye view of the fertile and psychotic late 70s-early 80s Vancouver punk/indie scene. vivid and detailed and a hell of a fun ride thru the wastelands of pre-MTV music America. fans of D.O.A, SUBHUMANS, POINTED STICKS and many other Canadian bands need this book…”
In Heavy Rotation: I want to be super cool and say I’ve been listening to the latest indie/hard-core/punk stuff I can find, but I’ve been in a much more contemplative (some might say sappy) frame of mind and have found myself listening to Butch Walker and Chris Nathan all week.
And Chris is a brilliant young singer/songwriter that I just discovered on ReverbNation and I’m hooked. Take a listen to “Happy” (it’s not at all) or “Words” if you are feeling blue or “Sugarcane” if its sexy time.
And on the subject of ReverbNation , my bitch of the day – My Space sucks. As a music site, its brutal. I keep a profile because a lot of artists still maintain their profile there, but it truly sucks. Reverb has a clean interface, it’s intuitive to customize and use and once you do the basic set up gives just brilliant concert updates, live music information and profiles on your fav artists. Make the switch.
I keep breaking down these walls, just to get to you
I’m hoping you’ll be there, on the other side
Waiting by the phone, not knowing what to say
Hoping that the words don’t get in the way
Chris Nathan – “Words”.