Posts by Alyson Shane

Lazy Sunday

- 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.

Tags: Life

 

It's a lazy afternoon

- 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

he's dreaming

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

then faster

listening to the sounds of the afternoon

cars and bikes and kids playing outside

coming through a window that's blissfully 

open

to the warm sunshine and refreshing breeze of spring.

I feel like my cat feels

happy, lazy

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.

 

It's busy in Wolseley

- 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

watching everyone 

turn 

and cross

and turn

and cross

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.

Tags: Winnipeg

 

The Story of Us

- 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 √údavs!

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
an email

a kiss

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.

Tags: Bears

 

love you mom

- by Alyson Shane


These are the words on the little box of chocolates sitting in front of me.

I bought the box of chocolates at Shoppers before realizing 1) it was Mother's Day chocolate and 2) it said

love you
mom
je t'aime

on it. 

I felt awkward buying it. I was probably acting frazzled at the checkout, but I couldn't stop feeling like a fraud because I don't celebrate Mother's Day and I don't love my Mom, and I felt like the very nice cashier knew I was going to come home and put the box on my desk and

stare at it

thinking about those words.

It's been a long time since I've said, or thought, or felt those things, which is okay. It's a weight off my shoulders, but being able to rationalize it and feel good about it doesn't make it less weird. 

Especially when there's a day once a year dedicated to how amazing and caring and great Moms are.

Mother's Day is hard because it highlights all the things my mom isn't, and that our relationship will never be. We're not bffs, and I don't confide in her, or spend time with her, or buy her cute little pink boxes of chocolate that say

love you
mom
je t'aime

on them.

Quite the opposite.

Standing there holding that small, unassuming box of chocolates brought back uncomfortable memories. Scenes from childhood that I'd rather forget. Betrayals and let-downs. Things that can't be taken back. 

Words and actions that gaslit my reality the point where I doubted my own perceptions of what was going on around me. That made me feel stupid, and worthless, and small. That told me I was a bad person who didn't deserve to be happy, or loved, or successful.

I felt awkward holding something that expressed a sentiment I didn't feel about someone who made me feel horrible on purpose for so long. 

It made my cheeks burn and my heart pound.

It burned a hole in my backpack while I shopped for fruit at DeLuca's and I after I got home I unpacked my groceries and sat and stared at it for a long while.

Then I thought about how far I've come in spite of her

and I ate the damn chocolates.

They were delicious.

 

Just fire a cop

- by Alyson Shane


Last Tuesday Colin and I were having a beer at The Yellow Dog and we were talking about the recent uproar in the city over the new $5 charge to attend the hockey playoff street party.

100% of the proceeds from ticket sales are going to fund the United Way's homeless, mental illness, and addictions programs in the city

which, I dunno, seems like a pretty OK thing to do with the money if you ask me

especially considering that one of the major complaints suburbanites have about downtown is that it's filled with drunk homeless people messed up on drugs

(it's not.)

People were posting about this new $5 charge all over the place, and we were talking about how most of them are forgetting that a downtown street party closes several major roads, impacts nearby businesses and services, and requires additional policing, among other things, and paying $5 to support our homeless population isn't really a big ask if you think about it.

It wasn't very crowded in the bar and as we were talking a dude kept looking over at us, and at first I thought he was agreeing with what we were saying because he just sat there and smiled and nodded along, but as we were getting up to pay he turned to me and said:

"Hey, I heard you guys talking about the Whiteout Party tickets. I think that's bullshit, man, that shit should be free!" 

So I explained my points about the homeless and street closures and extra policing, and he got this funny look on his face which made me hope that he was going to give me a thoughtful response.

But then he said

"Fuck that, we don't need extra police. Do you know how many tickets you could pay for with a cop's salary?! What do they make, $100,000 a year? JUST FIRE A COP!"

Now generally I try to be considerate of other people's opinions, but that has to be one of the most profoundly stupid things I've ever heard

and I just stood there for a second with a blank look on my face. Then I said "OK cool, enjoy the game" and left, because what do you even say to that?

He clearly has no respect for people who put their lives on the line to keep us safe, and there's no point in trying to reason with someone who has such a loose grasp on how the world works.

Besides, that guy wasn't there to have a real discussion. He was there to wear his Jets jersey, go drink more beer with his buddies at the street party, and enjoy the benefits of a downtown that he clearly has no interest in supporting.

He just comes downtown to party, man.

Which makes him a lot like all the other people who voted 2-1 against allowing pedestrians to cross a street in our downtown 

who are suddenly now OK with people getting wasted and stumbling around downtown near high-traffic intersections while disrupting the normal flow of traffic

as long as they're the ones doing it

and as long as they aren't forced to donate five bucks to help the homeless.

But hey, who knows.

Maybe that dude's onto something.

I bet we could fill a lot of potholes with those cop salaries.

Tags: Winnipeg

 

Sunday was a weird day

- by Alyson Shane


I wasn't at my best over the weekend.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and from the minute I got up everything felt overwhelming, negative, and frustrating. I snapped at John and I snapped at my friends and I posted some dumb shit to Twitter that I later deleted because I looked at what I'd said and realized that even though it felt good to call out some shitty behaviour I'd been made aware of in the moment, imitating that toxic behaviour didn't actually make me feel any better or help the situation at all.

We were planning to go to Electric Six on Sunday night and I spent most of the day in an anxious panic worrying that I wouldn't be able to handle being in a crowded public space trying to focus on a band I like and would spend the whole time

standing with that tingling, tight feeling in my face and stomach and throat 

kind of like the numbness that hits you just before you throw up or when you get some really bad news

and I kept saying "I can't, I can't, I can't" because I believed it.

Luckily John is an understanding and patient person and he said "babe if you need to stay home that's okay, but I want you to know I was really looking forward to seeing the show together"

which was hard for me to accept because of the baggage I have from years of having my feelings and needs invalidated and thrown in my face

but I wanted to try 

so I said "let's go to dinner instead of hanging around the house" and we went to Elephant & Castle and I had a really good burger with bacon and BBQ sauce and we laughed and talked about our super-secret project over pints of Guinness.

We talked to some ladies in town from Calgary sat down next to us and started chatting with us which seems to happen every time John and I go somewhere

and I deleted all the dumb shit I said online and reflected on it publicly 

(because it's good to 'fess up to when you're being a tit, I think, which I was)

and maybe it was the beer or maybe the music but when I started dancing in the crowd at Electric Six the numb feeling that was sitting in my gut and throat and face started to melt away, and it was nice to have a break from that feeling for a little while.


 

You can make money doing anything these days

- by Alyson Shane


I've been working for nearly 10 hours so to mellow I was sitting on the couch watching a video by my favourite ASMR artist

(look it up)

where she's walking around her studio showing people the process and setup she uses to create ASMR videos and I keep thinking

"This girl has 1.5 million subscribers and makes a living creating these videos"

which literally involve creating fake scenes and talking/whispering gently at people to help them relax, go to sleep, or just feel nice.

And yes, okay, it's not a perfect system and video creators have to work a crazy grind to beat the algorithm and generate enough ad revenue

but it's still kinda nuts that this is the thing she does to make money, don't you think?

Either way, as I'm watching this video she starts talking about how she looks "deep into the eye of the camera" so she can create a more intimate experience for the viewer, and how before she creates her videos she'll meditate, or read messages from a "Gratitude Folder"

which is a folder she has filled with messages people have sent her thanking her for her videos, or saying kind things about them, or telling her about how her videos helped them through a really tough time

and it occurred to me

this woman making ASMR videos on YouTube for a living has probably touched more people's lives than a lot of us ever will.

Not only that, but she also clearly really enjoys what she does, and can see real-life examples of how her work has value and contributes to the world around her.

So maybe it's a grind and absolutely we need to push for fair treatment for creators, but it's still a living and people in startups and small businesses have to grind and hustle, too

so we can make money doing something we enjoy

and while it's a tough slog and sometimes feels unrewarding, for some of us it's the very best thing in the world

getting to do the thing we love for a living

and it's pretty cool that we live in a time where that's possible.

Tags: Thoughts

 

People keep asking me how I'm doing

- by Alyson Shane


which is a weird thing to ask someone who just publicly admitted to being depressed but what else do you ask someone in my position?

"Hey, still feeling like a human dumpster fire today?" isn't a great opening line.

The answer is Fine, I Guess. 

As Fine as I can be, I suppose.

I saw a new therapist last week and she's very into these visualization techniques that psychotherapists use to help people who have experienced traumas like PTSD overcome their issues, which I'm down to try but to be honest makes me feel a bit silly.

She had me picture a jar with a lid and had me describe the jar in crazy detail, then she told me to talk about an upsetting experience I'd had recently and how it made me feel, and to feel my feelings and allow myself to cry, which I did.

Then she told me Put your feelings in that jar and close the lid so you can't feel them anymore. So I did. 

And you know what. I felt better.

Not one hundred percent better, but a bit better.

That's how it works, my therapist said.

So there's that and we'll see how it goes.

I spent the weekend taking it easy and working a bit and last night John and I went to this dive bar in our neighbourhood and ordered some local craft beer and a slice of lasagna to share

and we talked about the future and the things we wanted and the people we know and the things we're hopeful for, and the place was bathed in the glow of some hockey game on TV nobody was actually watching and everyone was wearing toques and comfortable sweaters and looking very Canadian.

It was very familiar and comforting and it was nice to feel that way. 

We stayed for two beers and burnt our mouths a little on the hot cheese because we can never wait for the lasagna to cool, and today we spent some time planning the garden and working on projects, and I've been trying to catch up on the mountain of emails and DMs and text messages I've been receiving since Thursday.

It's been humbling and strange to receive such an outpouring of support and what's funny is that for a person who never shuts up and writes for a living, figuring out what to say back is really hard

so if I haven't replied to you I'm sorry and I'm working on it

but I see you and I appreciate you 

and I appreciate that you keep asking.

Tags: Personal

 

I'm not okay

- by Alyson Shane

I've been staring at this blank screen like a page waiting to be filled and I have this pit in my stomach, round like an avocado pit and heavy-feeling, dragging me down into my chair and the floor and the ground. I wish the earth would swallow me whole.

People ask me to talk and I have nothing to say. My words are like ash in my mouth and they feel caked on my tongue. Nothing I say has value. Makes a difference. Matters.

I wake up in the morning and I want to go back to sleep so I don't have to feel this way and so I don't have to fake being happy and smile and be loud and enthusiastic and pretend like I don't have this

hole in me

that keeps growing larger no matter what I do.

It got real bad after VoteOpen but this lack of feeling has been there for a while, or maybe it never really went away and I was just covering it up. Like a hole in the floor that you put a piece of wood over, and then you put a really thick rug on the wood so when you walk over it you don't feel the emptiness underneath your feet. Or at least you pretend you don't.

I regret being involved with that campaign. The city ground me down and I saw an ugly side of it that I can't unsee and I don't know how to love the place that I used to love

so much

anymore because I don't feel connected to it. I've lost my sense of place, and with it a portion of my identity that was so, so important to me, and it feels like that hole is getting bigger and deeper and more complex and I'm losing myself in it more every day.

In the winter I needed to hustle so I could take time off so I barely had time to acknowledge it. I poured myself into my work and hauled ass and accomplished a lot but I did it so I could have an escape from my life and pretend like I was fine for a little while

and I felt fine in Thailand. Most of the time, anyway.

But then we came back and at first I tried to chalk it up to being incredibly jet-lagged, then being incredibly sick, then one thing and another thing and then another thing but the truth of the matter is that 

I don't feel much of anything these days. 

Just a hollow ashy feeling in-between bouts of profound sadness and red-hot anger. I yo-yo between being angry at everything and everyone, to feeling so sad I can barely get out of bed, and in-between I feel numb. I walk and I talk and I feel myself going through the motions of living my life but it's like watching a movie because the things that are happening have no meaning. They just happen. They don't matter.

Nothing matters.

John asked today me if I was excited about anything. Folk Fest. Rainbow Trout. Summer and gardening and riding our bikes. Our wedding. Any of the dozens of things going on in my life that I ought to be excited and happy about.

But I'm not. There's that hole in my chest where my feelings should be and it's deep and dark and grey and it feels like if I stare into it for too long I may lose myself and fall in and never come out. I could get lost in it like a series of hallways that lead nowhere but go on forever, empty and dark and endless.

If I were someone else I'd tell me to talk to someone. Anyone. That's what John tells me to do. 

"See a therapist" he says "get some help."

So I'm getting help. 

Tomorrow I'm seeing a new therapist and maybe that will make a difference but I'm nervous and scared, because the last time I saw a therapist it was to manage the emotional baggage I was carrying around from my relationship with my parents and for some reason I'm okay being a victim of abuse but I'm absolutely terrified of being depressed even though that must be what this is, right? 

Is this what depression feels like?

Am I depressed?

I don't want to be. I want to be someone who overcame some shit and maybe still has some anxiety, but is pretty okay now and working on it but can do normal things like talk to their friends and partner about their feelings and get excited about getting married and the future and all the amazing, positive, special things in my life that should be making me feel anything but exactly how I feel right now.

But I'm not okay 

and I need to do something about it before this hole in me eats me up and there's nothing left.

Wish me luck.

Tags: Personal

 

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