Posts by Alyson Shane
- by Alyson Shane
This morning I was having a dream about being in school, or on a campus of some sort. My dreams are typically pretty vivid and have been positive and adventurous recently, which I've enjoyed.
I was dreaming about sitting in a too-hot kiddie pool and talking to a boy named Eric that I went to high school with about politics when John slid back into bed and brought the cats with him.
We lay there for a long time pressing our bodies together and talking while the cats crawled over us. We talked about the future and our hopes and dreams, and when it got too hot and uncomfortable to lie in bed together we untangled ourselves and went upstairs.
John makes coffee every morning, and this morning while he was catching up with his mom on the phone I went into the sun room to spend some time reading.
I've just started a new Haruki Murakami novel and I'm already halfway through.
Not that I'm bragging or anything; the intro and story are 101 pages total and I can usually read 50-100 words in a sitting, so having started it yesterday and finished it today is pretty standard for me.
But then again I've always read quickly.
I'm reading Wind/Pinball, which is a collection of two of Murakami's first stories. Hear the Wind Sing is the first one, and Pinball is the second.
I like Murakami's novels because even though they explore themes like relationships and loneliness and loss, on the surface nothing much ever happens.
At least, not in the traditional narrative sense.
Humans like to read stories that have a complete narrative arc. We like beginnings, middles, and ends that arrive at conclusions that make us feel like everything's resolved.
I read a book in university called The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell about this exact topic, and he says:
“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It's usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.
I've read several of Murakami's novels now, including:
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
- Kafka on the Shore
and my favourite Norwegian Wood
and can say that generally speaking the stories in his novels don't follow this arc.
Most of Murakami's stories are about a series of normal and benign things that happen to people (usually men) peppered with strange details, made-up references, or the occasional quote so striking that you have to go back and re-read it a few times.
Things happen, and characters explore their feelings and experiences, but his novels feel subdued and introspective and placid in a way that makes him inaccessible for a lot people, I think.
I'm the only person I know who has read any of his work, come to think of it.
Lately I've been trying to do as much of my reading in the sunroom as I can.
Our sunroom is walled-in, but has several large windows that we keep open spring, summer, and fall, but close when it gets too cold in the winter.
I like to work there, or sit and read, and listen to the sounds of the neighbourhood go by.
Today, after I finished reading Hear the Wind Sing, I sat in the sunroom in a beam of light, sipping the coffee John made for me and watching the neighbourhood come to life. A dog was barking down the street. Kids were playing in the front yard across the road.
In front of my house a man walked by pushing with stroller with a small baby tucked up inside of it. He had on sandals, jean shorts, a band tank top, Ray Bans, a man-bun, and was holding a coffee from a trendy little shop up the road.
His other child, a boy of one or two, toddled along ahead of the stroller, teetering on his newly-found legs and feet.
The dad watched after his older son, balancing the coffee cup on the handle of the stroller as he pulled the shade down over his infant's eyes, protecting his infant from the brightness and heat.
He couldn't have been any older than I am.
Watching him reminded me that in a few months I'll be married. Moving into the phase of life dedicated to homes and kids and parenting.
No more lazy Sundays spent sipping fancy coffee with whisky in it watching the neighbourhood come alive through a beam of sunlight in yr sunroom.
Nothing makes you feel older than being around other people.
In the story I was reading Murakami says: “all things pass. None of us can manage to hold on to anything. In that way, we live our lives."
I think he's right.
- by Alyson Shane
who is friendly and sweet and kind, and has a terrific memory for names.
I see them at my local watering holes; at the bars and coffee shops where I sit with my laptop to work when the weather is nice, or when I've been feeling a bit stir-crazy from working from home all week.
We've had lots of conversations. They regularly ask me how I'm doing, even though I'm pretty sure they don't fully "get" what I do for a living. They tell me about the odd jobs they take, how hard it can be to get a full-time gig, and how much they like working outside, and with their hands.
Everyone at all of the places I go knows them and asks how they're doing.
All the staff know their name. The people working behind the bar, or behind the counter, will say hello and goodbye and tell them to come back and visit soon.
Everyone asks what they've been up to, and gives them advice when they ask for it.
They get, and give, a lot of hugs.
I love interacting with them, and watching them interact with others.
This person, by the way, has a developmental disability.
It's worth mentioning because I don't think people usually come together around each other this way. There's a sense of collective caring that seems to manifest itself in the right people.
Every time I sit at a counter or a table or a bar and listen to the people around me come together to care about, support, and create a community that is inclusive for everyone it makes me a bit emotional.
Because I read and listen to a lot of news about people who don't give a shit about one another, and it's pretty easy to start assuming that other people around you are malicious, or ill-intentioned
instead of being, I dunno
just a regular person trying to do their best and get by
and it's nice to be reminded that most people you meet are kind, and decent, and willing to create a community together
and all you have to do is say "hello" to become a part of it.
- by Alyson Shane
You never know when yr last conversation with someone is going to be.
I have an Old Grandma so I think about that a lot.
It's why I try not to go to bed without saying "I love you"
or end a phone call without saying the same
but people fight and have disagreements and not everything can end on a positive or constructive note every single time.
People are people, after all.
Which is why it's important to say those things when you mean it
like when you feel like you could burst because you're so happy to be talking to someone, and you're sure they can hear how happy you are in the excited pitch of your voice
- or at least, you hope they do -
and you know in that moment: this is fleeting.
That these are the best days of your lives
because they're spent together.
It's hard to remember that sometimes
until it isn't.
So consider this yr reminder to hug everyone you love real tight tonight.
And tell the people you love that you love them.
(I love you.)
- by Alyson Shane
I got my first LiveJournal or maybe Xanga back in 2003 and started writing before it was cool to use your real name on the internet.
We called ourselves dumb stuff like moon_meditation, rainbow__heartache_, planetaryattack_, and Sonic_Cry and, thinking back
we were all really into underscores for some reason.
Nowadays it's cool and almost expected that you use your real name online but back in the day we called our blogs dumb things like
The Lost Planet
Marduk The Invincible's Blog
The Lolita Chronicles
and literally just:
We used avatars to set the tone for the way we were feeling with each post. People used Disney images and anime characters and illustrations and animated gifs instead of profile pictures and would cycle through different ones depending on how they felt that day.
At the top of each post we could list a bunch of info, like:
and you'd fill it in like so:
Title: Without You I'm Nothing
I am...: Home sweet home
I hear...: Placebo - Every You Every Me
I'm feeling...: Reflective
I miss those days when blogging was simpler and you could say whatever you wanted.
Back when the internet was young and we poured our hearts here and talked about troubles and heartbreak and didn't give a damn if
things lined up or looked good
or if yr punctuation and grammar wasperfect
because you were writing as fast as you could think, unhindered and unencumbered, and as you poured the words out of your fingertips and onto that digital page you would feel this deep sense of relief and
after hitting 'Publish'.
I miss those wild west days.
But being a blogging dinosaur isn't so bad. I've spent nearly two decades working through my bullshit and honing my craft and watching as the way people communicated online has changed
and my blog has changed me just as much as any social media network
but goddamn if I don't still miss using gifs as avatars.
- by Alyson Shane
It says: "the purpose of this cycle is to alter any assumptions that life will always proceed logically."
Which is spooky-true in the way that only something written to sound intentionally vague enough to sound applicable in 99.9% of cases can be.
Mercury is in retrograde, or so says my horoscope, and I should hold off from buying, doing, or planning significant things like
buying a new house
planning a wedding
launching a business
and other big-ticket life events until a planet has stopped looking like it's moving "backwards" across the night sky.
I don't believe in horoscopes, but I like reading them because they give me ideas to chew on.
Are things feeling a bit tense right now?
Should I be taking more time for self-reflection?
Is there something I should be addressing, or resolving?
What could I be doing better?
Truth is, I read these dumb horoscopes because it gives me a sense of control.
I don't believe in God or the prophets or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I believe in a person's ability to use tech to feel empowered and better manage their life.
Like the apps I use to track my anxiety, my steps, my period and my screen time, reading something that makes me reflective helps me not feel so helpless when plans change, or when things don't work out the way I'd hoped.But that being said
I'm so ready for Mercury Retrograde to be over already.
- by Alyson Shane
The wedding was was funny and unique and weird and wonderful, just like them.
I was happy to be there even though my purse broke and my romper's zipper broke and my hair didn't hold all the nice curls Katrina did for me
oh and I left my dumb, broken purse (with my phone in it) at the venue.
But it was one of those blurry evenings spent staying up way too late drinking and celebrating with people you love that makes the next day's hangover
so worth it.
It moves me to see other people who love each other and compliment each other so well
and who appreciate and promote each other's weirdness
and I feel so lucky to not just be their friend, but to have been invited to share in their special day with them.
Congrats again, Adam and Brittany
thank you for throwing a baller party, and for being in our lives
and for hanging onto my dumb, broken purse when I left it at the venue.
You guys are the real MVPs.
- by Alyson Shane
It's raining and we've been inside for most of the day except the part where we wandered around the garden to check on our tiny tomatoes and baby peppers and little sprouts.
The cats are snoring.
I took a long nap this afternoon.
After being sick earlier this week and busy every night/day for weeks
it's been nice to take it slow and have nowhere to be.
We made breakfast. We made tacos.
John made of cups of boozy coffee with vanilla.
We did a crossword puzzle together and I played some Zelda.
It's damp and grey and smells like it, and the rain mixing with the incense I'm burning that I bought at the hippie shop up the street
along with a vegan recipe book (naturally)
is soothing and making me drowsy.
I know our bedroom is going to be dark and cool and smell like earth when we curl up together.
I hope we set aside some time to read our bedtime book together. John reads to be me sometimes before we go to sleep, and we're halfway through Life of Pi right now.
I've read it before - it's one of my favourite books - but it's a slow read aloud and we've been so busy that we've been falling right to sleep most nights.
But tonight feels perfect for it.
- by Alyson Shane
Toulouse is curled up on the couch
nestled in-between the cushions, shaped like a heart.
He's snoring, and his toes and tail are twitching
his ears moving in his sleep.
I'm on the other couch, stretched out
enjoying the beam of sun on my feet
watching his tummy rise and fall
fast and slow
listening to the sounds of the afternoon
cars and bikes and kids playing outside
coming through a window that's blissfully
to the warm sunshine and refreshing breeze of spring.
I feel like my cat feels
safe and warm
and though it's tempting to lie here
basking in this quiet moment
enjoying the feeling of calm
Toulouse just stretched out again
begging for me to pester him and wake him up
and give him a little payback for this morning.
- by Alyson Shane
Image of these badass ladies + the Wolseley Elm via the U of M
It's busy in Wolseley
kids are getting picked up from daycare and preschool
or walking home from
Balmoral Hall and Laura Secord
it smells like bread on Sherbrook and Wesminster
where people are waiting for the bus with their groceries
or tying their dogs up next to corner stores
next to houses with dragons on their lawns
next to houses with rainbow fences
along streets lined with
porches and sunrooms and front steps
covered in the shade
of old Dutch elms that haven't succumbed to disease
standing guard over busy streets
filled with Moms and Dads in SUVs
heading home to dinner or soccer practice or dance class
or cyclists on their bikes
in their helmets and backpacks and reflective gear
and I'm in the street on my bike
at a four-way intersection managed by a blinking red light
waving at each other and smiling
and I'm waiting my turn
breathing in deep
trying to remember
the smell of fresh produce from the co-op
mixing with incense from Prairie Sky Books
and how the haze of the early evening light
that filters through the budding leaves
turns everything to gold.
- by Alyson Shane
Our story started before we met.
It started in the gyms and basements and concert halls where John played in his high school band, Sewing With Nancie.
It started when I took a job working at a McDonalds so my mom wouldn't throw me out of the house every day with nowhere to go.
It started when John moved here at 18 after meeting a cute girl on a school band trip.
It started when I met Peter, my shift supervisor, who spoke with a lisp like Homestarrunner
(which I thought - and still do think - is super charming)
who offered to give me a lift home and put a Sewing With Nancie CD in the car stereo.
"I love this band" he told me "my friends and I used to carpool around from Windsor, to Brantford, to London, and all over to see these guys play."
It started when I was in Peter's car on the Perimeter Highway listening to lo-fi punk songs like Dave Stieb and grimy covers of Time After Time.
Then our story didn't pick up again for several years.
When we did finally meet it was several years later, at a baby shower for a mutual friend. What I remember most about that day was
the brown sweater vest John was wearing
how good the snacks were
how huge John's mouth is when he smiles
and how much he made me laugh.
It was probably obvious to everyone around us how well we got along, how similar our interests were, and how well-suited to each other we were, which was complicated by the fact that we were both seeing other people
(if only love were an easy, straightforward thing)
but when a writer meets another writer who has a collection of books that rivals their own
well, what can you do
the heart wants what it wants.
Our story is told in an email filled with hopes, dreams, and an Oscar Wilde quote.
It's told in the lyrics of my favourite Royal Canoe song, which I listened to on a rainy, heartbroken walk home to close one chapter of my life and begin another filled with months of stress, anguish, and strain.
Our story through that time is told through the poems I wrote and burned, or tucked into John's pockets, or tore up to get caught by the wind over the Osborne Bridge where I'd trudged home in the rain, knowing what I needed to do the day that everything changed.
It continues to be told through the sayings and pictures and lore of our relationship, recorded in a series of notebooks and cards and scraps of paper with words or drawings on them.
Bears. A She. A He. The Twin Moons of the planet Bayor. The Üdavs!
It's told through the matching ink on our ribs, shaped like the Great Bear constellation. A permanent record of an incredible adventure that's just ours to share and hold and keep forever.
Our story is told through the video of our engagement
(which I just re-watched, and cried all the way through)
where John surprised me on my 30th birthday in front of all our friends, and where I (ever the classy dame) blurted out "oh for fuck's sake" as soon as he dropped down on one knee
and in the email where he wrote his proposal, mirroring that life-changing email that he sent
five years ago today.
I couldn't have imagined, then, that we would be where we are now.
Our story isn't an easy one: it's one filled with doubt and anxiety and discovery and lots of change. It's been a roller coaster of businesses and projects and family and self-discovery.
But the best stories aren't the boring stories, anyway.
The best stories are the ones about overcoming obstacles, and challenges, and growth. The best stories are about taking risks and doing the scary things and
following your heart
even when that means changing your whole life to do it.
(The heart wants what it wants, after all.)
It's only in looking back that we can see how the little things
a band trip
a temporary job
a CD in someone's stereo
a baby shower
string together like words on a page.
When I collect all these stories, scoop them up in my arms and bind them together into a weighty tome of jokes, hopes, dreams, fears, and friendship and hold them close to my chest, pressed against my heart
it reminds me that the stories we tell are all we really have of the people we love.
I clutch at these stories because I know my time with this incredible, strange specimen of a man is fleeting, and has already slipped through my fingers in a blur of weekdays and Saturday mornings and festivals and trips
faster than I could have expected.
Years of our lives, though spent together, are gone, and all I can do is keep these memories safe and protected.
To not take them for granted, or allow details to get lost in the fuzzy haze of history.
To record Our Story as diligently and truthfully as I can.
To honour the story of Bears. Of John Luxford and Alyson Shane.
The most important story I know.