Massage and music

Just had another fab massage by one of the expert final-year students at WCCMT. After the assessment part of it, I was under the sheet waiting for the student intern to come back. I noticed the music was different. No longer the generic spa music or  nonmusic that past students had mentioned they were dead sick of. It seemed to have been replaced by 1960s doctor’s office Muzak. In my head danced visions of 1950s housewives and plastic-covered sofas in empty living rooms.

The next song was a change from the doctor waiting room music, the elevator music, though. It was a pseudo-classical arrangement of “Hey, it’s a beautiful day.” Still sappy as hell, but without the taint of actual Muzak. After that came Chopin. I flinched. It was like a can of precooked noodles in sauce next to Duck a l’orange. Yes, I’m a music fiend. I can’t ignore sounds, but least of all music. The spa music never bothered me. It was so generic, and none of the pieces went anywhere or did anything. Each of these pieces today was going in a different direction.

The Duck a l’orange was followed — the Chopin was followed by a balance sheet of all the safest and most boring notes on the planet, by Kenny G. Kind of like paper on a roll, with a delicate print to give it a hint of character. Good to wipe your mouth on after the duck, I suppose. Duck can be a bit rich and almost greasy. After Kenny G’s account, the soundtrack of my massage swept right back into classical music, an instrumental version of the aria of Madame Butterfly. The familiar strains danced elegantly to their conclusion, and I was taut with anticipation as to what would come next. I tried to relax, because I was getting a massage and that’s my job in that room. I couldn’t help but flinch, though, when the next sound I heard was apparently pan pipes of the Andes – no, wait, this must be Yanni. I think so, anyway. It was a kitsch masterpiece of clattering hammer dulcimer and trembling flute sounds, and towards the end even some folky vocals. I had to picture Madame Butterfly crying in that bathroom in that point. I gasped.

“Does that hurt?” asked the student. “No, it’s just the music messing with my head.” Puccini followed by a kitsch masterpiece. I must know what radio station — or whatever this is. I see nothing in common between these pieces, except that they are all light in texture and mood. The Chopin was very restrained, an old muddy recording, not a flashy close-miked performance where you can hear the very wood and metal of the piano humming.

Yanni gave way to some pablum with forgettable vocals and lyrics – I did try to remember them, but the intense pressure on my quadratus lumborum and piriformis muscles obliterated the words. I couldn’t help giggling. “You okay?” “It sounds like Paul McCartney on Valium, after a lobotomy.” McCartney can be great, and he can be a marshmallow, but he could never sound like this bad imitation. Not unless he was on his deathbed with dementia, as I have seen my mother, and probably not even then.

The final piece was some kind of near bebop jazz. Something with actually some character. I’d never heard this one before, and I suspect it’s Chet Baker, of whom I’ve never been a fan. Thelonious Monk is more my style, and Elvis Costello, and JS Bach, dubstep, and doumbek solos. I also love Chopin’s intensity, close-miked, but, yes, give me intensity! Passion!

This bizarre sequence of music that, individually, I would never choose to listen to, is something I definitely do want to hear again, though not particularly during a massage. I want to be able to listen to this at home, so it can spur me into a bizarre and humourous sense of reverie and creative play. It’s the opposite of what I would ever choose to listen to, and a bizarre mix. I can’t imagine where it came from and I must ask at the front desk, since my charming student is not a music fan and has no clue. He was just sick of the spa music like everyone else.

I ask at the front desk, before leaving. The staff person tells me it’s a mix of relaxation music that one of the therapists put together, and it’s on shuffle. I could create such a bizarre thing myself, because clearly it’s not a radio station I can tune into. This has been a red-letter music day, and I am going to fall asleep with a silly grin on my face, later. So glad I didn’t cancel this massage today. I’m not sure this soundtrack will last. It’s so bizarre. I won’t be the only person who’s going to have cultural chaos in the brain from it, will I?



Freedom from

Freedom from

It’s not okay with me that people modify their vehicles to make excess noise. Do people not understand that noise causes stress? I think they do understand, as it’s evident many people who make their vehicles noisy, whether by pipes, bass, or loud music, get a kick out of bothering other people and pushing their buttons. Not saying it’s the prime motivation for all, but for jerks it’s part of being cool.

So, I was trying to work in this heatwave, with the window open of course, and I heard something like a straining semi-truck or a revving mud-bogging truck with no muffler. It went on and on. I mean even if it went for five seconds it’d be enough to interrupt me.

And, no, I can’t wear earplugs and a construction earmuff on top as I do at other times, because I have to listen to recordings to do my work. And it’s ridiculous I have to double down on soundproofing to have peace, but I do. I realize other people block it out wih TV and their deafness, but I don’t have a TV, and I’m not deaf. It’s a blissful hour when I can play my doumbek music and dance. I don’t notice crap noise much during that hour.

So I look out to see what monstrosity is making such a racket and it’s the nondescript vehicle above. A nondescript young person exits and waits outside the building for apparently a girlfriend. I guess when you appear utterly bland in every way, having the most obnoxious sounding car in town helps you stand out. Not sure obnoxious is better than bland, but that’s just me.

While writing this post, I heard thumping again. Tracked it down a block away at the teen centre. Some deejay thing. Nice waste of time and getting overheated for me to walk over there to whack a mole and get freedom from putting up with a second heartbeat in my body for no good reason.




Well, I done good as my old high school principal used to say. “Ya done good,” a verbal backslap.

I’m cultivating my own peace within, on top of maintaining the body connection. Sure, I just screamed aloud at the Nth irritation here, someone who keeps walking past my window with a crying brat, which happened half a dozen times today. But other than that, I’m doing great with this hyper-alertness that has plagued me.  I recently realized it’s a form of anxiety.

There was a selfish elephant at the swimming pool this morning that joined my lane and hit and kicked me every time he passed. And other annoying behaviours, including when I confronted him on it. There was a selfish neighbour emptying her dust pan several floors up. Her balcony is the source of the sunflower seed shells I get daily, and now apparently this filth that coats my plants, also. And now apparently a boomcar parked outside my apartment. But, no! No, it was over 2 blocks away, believe it or not, a deejay at the outdoor pool. Why and WTF ever for? It was an amazingly long walk, with the ground reverberating through my shoes. And they have turned it down quite a bit. And I left a note for the landlord about the dirt-neighbour and talked to the lifeguard about the elephant-swimmer (someone who takes more than half the area within the lanes) and the swim-slob kept the lane and I got a big lane to myself over in the deep end. Didn’t know there was a lane there! Fine. I’m not scared of the deep end and no more elephants or other nonsharing selfish people joined.

But the main thing is writing that didn’t make me hotter under the collar. After confronting the boom-bass at the swimming outdoor pool, my body was not in a high state of alert, like it always has been in the past. I wasn’t trembling with anger. Apparently my week of cultivating calm, no matter what, is working. And the shitty things I’ve dredged up just now seem relatively far away, even though they all happened today. Today I focused on getting things done and not wasting time in rage and amazement at how shitty people can be.

Triumph and glory. Despite those people.


Joy of quiet

Joy of quiet

Went outside to water my plants and noticed, as I have so often this week, people wearing t-shirts proclaiming “Canada” – today is the nation’s 150th anniversary.

I’m not attending my boss’s ginormous party, because once I calculated the hassle of transit, trying to get there and having to go through downtown Vancouver on my way home around the time the 1M of fireworks aficionados are also transitting, I realized it was all too much. Was going to get a ride with a friend, but then her ride evaporated. Just at that rate, I was kinda dreading the party. I cannot get into saying “Happy Canada Day.” I can do the fake smile thing, but only a few times. Not for four hours or whatever. I have never liked parties that much.

So, tempting as the Waldorf Hotel street party with music sounded in theory, it’s also a party with noise and lots of people, and most likely pot smoke and other obnoxious smells.

Nah, I stayed home. I’ve been so busy lately I forgot how nice that can be on a quiet day. In fact, it’s long been my habit to stay home on big holidays and long weekends, when everyone else flees the neighbourhood. I can sit with windows open and not constantly hear people walking down the street yapping loudly, be it together, with kids, or on a cellphone relentlessly. Instead, I feel I have space around me. I hear crows and other birds. This, I like.

Open windows, cool breeze, quiet. I feel energized! This is what I need more of. I need to move out of this city. That’s top priority for my well-being and motivation. So much easier to concentrate when it’s cool and calm. I shut windows, normally, to block out noise and stinks, and to maintain privacy, and then I overheat, feeling hot, sweaty, and lethargic. Today I can have a heavy-duty dance session. Yesterday I danced up a sweat when I was already starting out sweaty. Even so, dancing gave me a bit of energy, even under those unpleasant conditions. Today’s will be even better.

Under these conditions, life is tolerable. And I have hope of taking constructive action, like getting my volunteer projects finished and even applying for some jobs, eh?

Acceptance and letting go

Acceptance and letting go

I would prefer to hang onto old, cracked, and shabby things. Wabi-sabi is good enough for me, and preferable to new and shiny. But in this case I concede the need to let go.

We aren’t comfortable with each other, and haven’t been since the separation. That’s almost two years ago now, and things weren’t great before that. When he ended our sex life, that was the death knell. He thinks I caused the dead bedroom, whereas to me, clearly, I was willing to carry on and he was not.  As with everything else.

Was it ever good? Was it ever secure? There were brief moments of basking in the wonder of seeming-closeness, but it was never that good. Always insecurity lurked in my question, “How can you love me?” Oh, right, you really don’t. Punch in the gut: I accepted this state of being, this lack of connection. Can I connect with anyone, ever?

I remember once I was trying to make conversation with a colleague that I disliked. Suddenly he burst out with, “You’re not connecting with me.” I was astounded. Back in those days, the concept of connecting with someone was not really a frame of reference for me. People have never been an area of expertise for me. Marketing, diplomacy, influence? I’m the opposite, a geek of some sort.

But with my former sweetheart, I thought we would grow together, nurture each other, always care about each other. He said a few times recently that he cares in his own way. Hmm, a way that includes absolute unilateral demands out of nowhere, shifting goal posts, and General Madness (the guy in yesterday’s post. See painting.) I don’t like being cared for in that way. It’s better than being hated, but cold comfort, that.

I hate to let go, but I have to accept that we aren’t going to sit down and sort it out between us. He wouldn’t do that two, three years ago, never mind now. Oh, and the capper, something he said somewhere during the last year. He was always afraid of me. Now it’s my fault that he put himself below me. He had fear; that must be my fault. I don’t believe that, but I know that’s how he sees it. I always saw that he put himself below me. Then suddenly he put himself above me. I don’t think we were ever equal, and equality is a thing that seems critical to me. Equal partners. My ideal, not his.

So it’s “Good” Friday, a time of ending, of suffering, of seeing my own failings, and having compassion. Yes, I have it for him, but today it will be for me. I have never had enough of it.

I’m not a Catholic or a christian or even religious in the slightest, so I googled what Easter is all about. Amazingly, the term “Happy Easter” can actually mean “Talk to the hand” or “Fuck off bitch,” apparently. I say this because of an unfortunate interaction I had with noisy people outside my door today. After claiming the hallway was not a transitional area but rather more of a hangout type social area where loitering was perfectly appropriate, this woman tried to end the discussion by saying “Happy Easter,” ie “Talk to the hand” of Seinfeld fame. I guess her happy Easter didn’t include having any compassion for someone driven mad by her group-yap right outside my door.

So, I can accept and let go, but there are fresh new irritants around every corner, it seems. I don’t use religious euphemisms like “Talk to the hand,” so I translated it for her then and there.