Saturday, July 29, 2006

I remember sneaking illegal substances past the border guard....

I had traveled alone on a Greyhound bus down to San Francisco for a vacation back in 1989. My friend was working there, and she hooked me up with all the great parties. I have a few memories from this trip, they'll probably work into other blog entries....but for now, I'm thinking about the ride back.

My friend, D., happened to be in Frisco doing some band business (she was a promoter for alternative and punk bands). It made way more sense for me to travel back with her in her van than to buy another Greyhound ticket! D. planned to drive back all in one shot, using speed to help her stay alert on the road. My job as navigator was to mix the speed into our drinks and keep an eye out for the cops (I had to stay awake, too, to help D. stay awake!!). We drove too fast, listened to loud punk rock music, we waved at cute boys in other was quite a trip.

We pulled up near the border in the very middle of the darkness of the night. The speed was all gone, no problem there...but there was a bit of marijuana that we planned on smoking once we got home so we could fall asleep. What to do? Obviously, I wasn't thinking that clearly anymore, and I suggested that we hide it. I took D.'s little garbage can by the driver's seat, dumped it on the ground, then took a nondescript dark plastic container out from the midst of the refuse. I stashed the weed in the container, dumped all the garbage back into the can and put it back by the seat. "There! He'll never see it." We felt very clever.

When we got to the border, the guard took one look at us, all tattooed and wild-eyed, and told us to pull over. I can tell you honestly that I wasn't nervous at all. We sat side by side on a little bench while he proceeded to go through every box and bag and suitcase in the van. As he came across all the band merchandise that D. had, he was very suspicious--the one band, Lard, had given D. baggies of actual lard to use as band promotional material. We could see the guard hold up the baggie full of a white square like he'd hit the jackpot....we saw him open the baggy, stick his finger into the lard, then taste it to see what drug it was all we could do to keep from screaming with laughter!

After about half an hour of fruitless searching, he let us go. I promptly rolled a big joint as soon as we were on the Canadian highway, and we toasted each other's good fortune.

This story. I don't know how to tell it. I look at it now, and I am amazed that we didn't end up with a huge fine or a criminal record. I feel like I should turn it into a morality tale of how bad drugs are....but I just can't. Don't get me wrong...I think drugs stole the best part of my brain, and I have no desire to do them again--yes, kids, they are bad. But this story! We got away with it! We stuck it to the man!! No other experience I've had can match the glowing feeling of invincibility we had as we smoked that weed on the last leg of the journey home.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I remember feeling bad for Peter.

Grade 8 in small-town Alberta, sitting in class listening to the teacher. She asks me to read aloud from the text. I stand and read, clearly and with good diction. I feel somewhat proud of my reading ability. She asks the person behind me to read, and they do so, and so on down the row. She gets to Peter, the last in the row. He stands to read, and he can barely get the words out. He is sounding out simple words, words like "actual" and "promise". I become very embarrassed for him. Some kids are giggling, but I can't join in. I wonder how he can have got to Grade 8 without being able to read. I want to stand up and read for him. I want to tell the teacher to quit asking him to read, she knows he can barely do it. I do none of these things. I feel bad.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I remember my sister talking to me about love...

I was hanging out in my bedroom way back in, oh...1977 or '78. My oldest sister, Carol, who was home for a visit, waltzed into my bedroom and flopped onto my bed.

"Love is grand!"

I had no idea what she was talking about.

"Look at the hat he bought me at the Calgary Stampede! It was really expensive!!" He had bought her a cowboy hat. I tried it on, but at the age of 11 or 12, my head was already much bigger than Carol's, and it perched on top of my hair like a novelty hat. We laughed.

"He makes me feel so wonderful! I just want to spend all of my time with him! One day you will fall in love, too, Paula, and you will see what I am talking about." She sighed happily, then floated out of the room.

I sat down on my bed, wondering if there was someone out there who would buy me a cowboy hat one day, and would that actually make me float like Carol.

I hoped so.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I remember my first black eye...

It did not happen in my childhood. I had scrapes and bruises like most kids, but no black eye, no broken bones. It did not happen in my teenage years. I wasn't really a brawler.

It happened at a Red Hot Chili Peppers' concert. I was in my early twenties, probably 1989. The Peppers were playing at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, the place with the springy dance floor. I was very excited, everybody I knew was excited...the Peppers were touring the "Mother's Milk" album and it was going to be an explosive show.

The dance floor was packed. The term "mosh pit" hadn't really come into vogue yet, but picture a mosh pit with about 800 people, all just going bananas! (There were no spectators, if you know what I mean.) I was right in the middle of the floor, dancing like a maniac. At one point I vaguely remember making contact with some sweaty hunk's elbow...we grinned at each other and kept on dancing. I didn't think anything of it--I was making contact with everyone around me!

At the end of the night when I went to the ladies room to freshen up, I saw I had a huge shiner! My left eye was turning that beautiful purple-black colour. It must have been the elbow from the cute hunk...

This black eye became a badge of honor for the time it took to heal. "Where'd you get the black eye, Paula?"

"Oh, I was slamming seriously hard at the Chili Pepper's show..."

Inevitably..."Coooooooooool!" with a tone of hushed reverence and awe.

Yup, I milked that black eye for all it could give me. Looks like I still am!

Monday, July 10, 2006

I remember discovering what burning hair smells like...

I'm not sure how old I was in this memory, but I remember it very clearly. I was probably 9 or 10, when we still lived out on the prairie. Our family was invited over to another's family's home for supper, and I was excited because these people actually had kids I liked near my own age. As a pastor's family, we were often invited over to the homes of people with no children at all, and we'd have to be good, and it was SO BORING!!!

But these people had Janelle, and she and I got along great. After supper, she and I were playing in her room...we were playing with Barbies, which usually went against my grain, but I let it slide in order to be friendly. All of a sudden, all the lights went out, pitch darkness--no big deal, just a power outage. If you live on the farm or in the country, the power could go out during any little wind storm, and we were all used to it. Janelle's mom came bustling with a candle for us into the room where we were playing...she set it on the dresser. Then she bustled out to take candles all over the rest of the house.

As soon as she was gone, we realized that the small light of one lone candle didn't reach down to where we were playing. We moved the candle down to the floor beside Barbie's Dream House and continued to play, doing our best to be careful and not knock the candle over. All of a sudden, we both stopped. Eeeew! What was that awful smell? I was turning my head to see what was so stinky all of a sudden, when Janelle noticed that my long hair was decidedly shorter in one area. We took the candle into the bathroom so we could inspect my hair with the help of a was all frizzly on the ends. I must have moved my hair through the candle flame when I was reaching for Ken or something!! I could have lit my head on fire!!

For some reason we felt incredibly guilty, and had an overwhelming urge NOT to tell our mothers what had just happened. Surely trying to light your own head on fire was a punishable offence! We used fingernail scissors to trim off the frizzly burnt parts, but how to hide the smell? We scrambled through the bathroom looking for something, anything...hairspray! That stinks pretty good! Janelle and I sprayed first my head, then her entire room with hairspray.

No, we did not set the house on fire. Somehow in our ignorance of the flammability of aerosol propellants, we managed not to spray near one of the open flames. To this day, the smell of burning hair gives me the delicious sneaky feeling of getting away with something. Unless my mom starts reading this blog, which is unlikely, she will never know I burnt my hair that evening! Ha ha ha!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I remember listening to rock and roll with my cousin...

We moved to my uncle's farm when I was 14 years old and lived there for two years. This time shines in the history of my teenage years like a polished diamond. Previous to moving to Vauxhall, I experienced three years of living hell during junior high in Three Hills, and my last year of high school in Coronation was OK, but mostly lonely. It was in Vauxhall that I truly enjoyed being a teenager, and that is largely due to the influence of my cousin, Tim.

Tim was one year younger than me, and the only child remaining in my uncle's home. He and I were inseparable. We'd discuss all manner of things, from whether the people in the new school would think I was good looking (Tim assured me they would), to whether a vanilla milkshake made with a whole bottle of vanilla would make you drunk or not (Tim assured me that it would).

Tim knew so much more about music than I did. He had records--rock and roll records!! When our parents weren't home, we'd sit in Tim's living room and he'd put on Styx or Rush or Meatloaf at ear-splitting levels and we would pour over the lyric sheets or dance around the house. My little sister would be at home in our trailer, and she assured us that the windows were shaking even over there!! Wow!!! What power...

I remember reading the lyrics for songs like "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" or "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and realizing that I knew nothing at all about sex. Tim and I would discuss this unknown part of life, wondering what it would be like, wondering why God had to make things so difficult for teenagers. I value those discussions, I hold them like precious stones. It was perhaps the first time that I was able to be completely open and honest with someone, to ask any question I was thinking of without fear of judgment or embarrassment.