Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I remember when I was a mechanic....

I was 6 or 7, I'm not sure. A lady in our church was getting married to a nice man, a mechanic. As was the custom, all the other ladies in the church planned a big wedding shower for her in the church basement. Someone had the cute idea to have the presents brought in on a wagon pulled by me, dressed as a mechanic, driving my little push-pedal station wagon. (Mine was a cool gold colour, not the sissy pink in the picture here.)

Mom left me pretty much to myself to pull my outfit together. I put on jeans with holes in them and an old sweatshirt. I asked Dad if I could borrow his tool belt and some wrenches and stuff, and I also asked for a shop beanie, the kind with a little brim. I tucked my hair into the hat, brim backwards, rubbed a bit of grease off the floor of the garage onto my face and hands, buckled on the tool belt and headed over to the church. I think Dad must have carried over the pedal car for me.

In the basement of the church, I ducked out of sight of all the ladies gushing over their little ladies games and tea and fussy little sandwiches. We tied the wagon onto the car in the hallway just outside their meeting room, and I climbed in to wait for my cue.

The door opened and one of the ladies beckoned to me. My stomach lurched a bit, but I composed my face into bored nuetral and drove the car into the room, heading for the table where I was supposed to drop off my wagon load...I could feel every eye on me. There was whispering and giggling, and all those women looking just at me...and I LOVED it! I decided that if I was a mechanic, maybe I should probably fix my car a little. I turned my head to the side to listen to the engine as I had seen my dad doing, then got out of the car, grabbed a wrench and stuck my head as far under as I could. More laughter and whispering! I tinkered for a few minutes, then got up, wiped my hands together in satisfaction, and finished my drive to the gift table, all decorated with pink streamers and pompoms. Could this be my first ever round of applause? I know I loved it.

I didn't stick around for long. Us mechanics feel kind of uncomfortable in the presence of all those ladies...we get worried that we will get them dirty or something. I seem to recall eating a bit of white cake with pink frosting and then heading back to the garage.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I remember seeing a white guy that played guitar like Jimi Hendrix....

Because of my radio show at a college station (CiTR), I was exposed to all kinds of music that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. One of my favorite guitar players was Roy Buchanan, mainly because he sounded just like Jimi Hendrix, all bendy and trippy....yet plain as day on the cover of his album, he was a grey haired white man. I loved the paradox this presented to me!

When I heard he was coming to town, I bought a ticket right away. I figured when I got there, I'd run into all the other people I knew...but as I entered the main area of the Commodore, I realized I was wrong. The club was full, but not of my scenester friends. I was surrounded by a club full of men, men with short-cropped beards, men with jean jackets, men who had no fashion sense at all. I was surrounded by blues fans! It was quite funny! I think there were about 800 men, and maybe 6 women. I had entered the blues universe.

It was an amazing show. Roy Buchanan played guitar in some other dimension, he was a complete master of his instrument. I never noticed anything else until the lights came on at the end of the show, he really took me somewhere, I tell you. Once the show was over, I hightailed it out of there...too much testosterone for me to handle, even though apparently I was man enough for the blues.

The next year, I heard that Mr. Buchanan had hung himself in his jail cell. I felt very sad about that, he had seemed so happy when he was playing guitar on made me wonder about happiness and the things that bring it, and why is it so fleeting? Why is happiness unable to penetrate to the dark parts of our soul? It didn't seem fair to me.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I remember Valentine's Days in elementary school...

We'd spend the week preceding Valentine's Day making little mailboxes to put on our desk. Then on the big day, everyone would walk around and drop Valentine's into all the mailboxes. It was expected that you'd just give a card to everybody, but I always had a hard time dropping a Valentine into Walter P.'s mail box. I really didn't like him. Near the end of the day, there'd be a little party where we could open our mail boxes and read all our Valentines.

Every year, from Grade 1 until Grade 5, my mother would make heart-shaped sugar cookies. She'd spread the hearts with pink frosting, then with white frosting she'd write the name of everyone in my class (AND my sister's class) on their own special cookie. Each heart would get a white piped edging of icing, and maybe a sprinkle of pink sugar. They were beautiful, true works of art.

On Valentine's Day, my sister and I would carefully carry our own Tupperware container onto the school bus, guarding it with our lives. "What do you have?" "Is there one with my name on it?" "Those look so good, can I have one?" As soon as we got to school, we'd give the container to our teacher, and she could guard it until the right time. I remember feeling very proud as the teacher would announce each year, "Paula's mother has prepared us a special treat!" and then she'd call up each person by name to get their very own cookie. It used to bother me, though, that Walter P. got a pretty cookie...I didn't think he deserved one at all.

Is that what they mean when they say "It rains on the just and the unjust"? Even the unworthy get pretty cookies? I guess that's good. I've been unworthy of most of the blessings in my life, too, if you come right down to it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I don't remember writing this letter....

"Dear Roger: You don't need to apologize for writing a depressing letter. Depression is a normal human emotion. I love you even when you don't tell jokes. (God, how I need someone to tell me that now.)

Is loneliness an evil under the sun? If it is, then I am a very evil person. But I don't think being lonely is evil; it aches almost the same as love.

I will read 'Waiting for Godot.' When you become a famous director you may cast me as Vladimir.

Funny thing -- just yesterday I was full of joy and very happy. Now I feel awful. This too shall pass. I had been wearing my hair forward. Today I brushed it backwards. Everyone said they like it. This too shall pass. I was very popular in high school. Now I sit alone at dinner. This too shall pass. Oh God, I pray that it will . Consider yourself privileged, Roger. Rarely do I get so personal in a letter. (Perhaps that is why it is so short?)

From one brave new lonely wave,


My friend, roger, called me yesterday. He had been cleaning out old boxes in the garage, and there was this letter from me. I had written it on the wrapping of a McDonald's Apple Pie, slapped a stamp on it, and mailed it to him. I didn't date the letter, but it was probably from 1985 when I was a student at Trinity Western University. I don't remember sitting and writing this letter specifically, but I do remember the general malaise of my youth.

Looks like I was emo before any of these young kids with their hair falling in their face were even a tear-drop in their fathers' eyes.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I remember realizing I was claustrophobic...

Another winter day in Alberta, another day my sister and I were kicked outside by Mom to play in the snow. Bundled up in our warmest coats and snow-pants and boots and hats and scarves and mittens, we were exploring the back yard...again. We had explored the yard countless times already, but we had no choice but to explore it again. Mom said.

We noticed that the latest blow of snow had covered over the white picnic table. One of us decided it would be cool to dig a tunnel under the table, and it would be safe because the table couldn't collapse on us like snow could. We began shoveling the snow out by the mitt-full, and soon we had a neat little cave. I began crawling in to explore the space, which would have been fine, but then Pam came in close behind me, wanting to explore, too. As she pushed against me from behind, I realized there was no way out, no quick way out at any rate, and I began to panic. "Get out! Pam, back up, let me out!" She didn't respond, wanting to come in. "Get out NOW!!!" I screamed.

"What is your problem?" she asked as she backed out, injured that I'd yelled at her.

"I didn't like that. I didn't like feeling trapped in there." I answered shortly, embarrassed at my weakness.

Pam spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the cave. I never went in it again. I'm still no good with small, enclosed spaces.