Monthly Archives: June 2002

Pet Peeves

If Kate asked me again what my three biggest pet peeves were, I’d have to rewrite my answer. Among those three peeves would be being taken for granted.

I detest being taken for granted. It’s rude, it’s not taking someone else’s feelings into account, and it’s using someone else.

I was put into a position this weekend where someone asked me to do something at the last minute. It wasn’t a big thing, and I know perfectly well I was expected to say yes; I don’t think it even crossed the questioner’s mind that I’d refuse. I also know perfectly well that we always have a choice, etcetera etcetera; one can always say no. However, I was asked in front of other people, and to say no would have looked petty.

I hate being in a position like that. To me, that’s taking someone for granted.

Every once in a while I work on radio dramas, and I love it. One of my contacts has a habit of calling me and asking if I’m available a couple of days before a potential performance. Same thing: simple courtesy goes a long way. Asking me to rearrange my schedule so I can fit rehearsals and a performance into it without a couple of days’ notice is not only presumptuous, it’s downright discourteous. The kicker here is that I love to do radio dramas, especially with this contact, and it puts my whole week off if I have to turn him down due to other scheduled events that can’t be shifted or cancelled. He’s always disappointed too. There’s a simple solution: call me earlier. Let me know ahead of time. Assuming I’m free does both of us a disservice.

To me, being taken for granted means I’m not being considered as a real person. One of the things that frustrates me about society today is that no one seems aware that other individuals exist outside their own personal sphere. People who cut you off on the road, who stop suddenly on a crowded sidewalk, who blast their music in cars, who smoke in bus shelters – not a single one of them understands that their actions affect others around them. They’re unable to understand that everyone is an individual, that we all work together. One of my husband’s frequent comments while driving is, “Wow, it must be nice to be so important” when another driver drifts into our lane, or cuts across three lanes of traffic to get to an exit, or pulls out of a parking space without looking to see if anyone’s coming down the lane. That saying encapsulates exactly how I feel about being taken for granted.

The Grand Poobah posted an entry a couple of weeks ago about something very similar to what I’m frustrated about. I put a lot of effort into being certain that I’m not inconveniencing anyone, to be polite, to think of others, which is probably why I snap every once in a while when I feel I haven’t been offered the same consideration. Sure, I’m only human, which means that I mess up every once in a while, trip over myself, crash and burn in a particular situation; I’m not perfect. So often, though, I get fed up. Why do I bother? So few others do.

I know why I do, though. It’s the same reason that Hobbes does. Because we’re decent people. Because we have that queer ability to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see how our actions will be interpreted. It’s a disability at times, but overall, however, I think it gives us a really good look at the human condition. I treat others – strangers and friends – the way I would like to be treated. So when people don’t extend me the same courtesy, well, after enough of being walked over, I snap. Unfortunately, sometimes I snap in the presence of someone who has no clue why, because the irritation and unfairness of it all tends to pile up until that proverbial straw on the camel’s spine enters the picture.

Yes, I do often wish I weren’t so damned principled. It would make life a lot easier if I were one of those people who didn’t care.

I don’t post song lyrics because journals should be about your own words, but this sums things up nicely:

Wouldn’t it be great if no one ever got offended
Wouldn’t it be great to say what’s really on your mind
I’ve always said all the rules are made for bending
And if I let my hair down would that be such a crime?

I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
Just say – na na na, na na na na na na

I could really use to lose my Catholic conscience
‘Cause I’m getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won’t abuse it, yeah I’ve got the best intentions
For a little bit of anarchy, but not the hurting kind

I couldn’t sleep at all last night ’cause I had so much on my mind –
I’d like to leave it all behind, but you know it’s not that easy
Oh for just one night

Wouldn’t it be great if the band just never ended
We could stay out late, and we would never hear last call
We wouldn’t need to worry ’bout approval or permission
We could slip off the edge, never worry about the fall

-Great Big Sea, Consequence Free

From now on, I say no when I feel like it.

The Morning After The Farewell To Retail Party

Traditionally, I dislike parties. I especially dislike parties at my place because I can’t get away from them. I’m unsocial that way. Only once did I actually leave; I walked out of my own birthday party a few years ago. I called off holding parties for that very reason: you’re stuck there. You can always leave other people’s parties.

Last year I decided to give it a try again, and we had a successful housewarming. Might have been a fluke, I thought. We had a couple of small gatherings throughout the year, getting me up to speed again. Nothing huge. It’s not like I’ve suddenly decided that I’m throwing myself a big birthday party or anything. Let’s not go to extremes.

MLG suggested I have people over to mark my last day of work before my sabbatical. I anticipated a quiet evening with much conversation. Sure, why not, I said.

Well, this morning, I walked into my kitchen and looked at the number of empty bottles on the counter and the table. I have no idea how few people could drink so much. I’m afraid to do the math. The glorious thing is, though, that it wasn’t an alcohol-fest (I just don’t do those); it was simply a terrific evening. I think everyone needed to relax. And for once, I was happy to be the excuse everyone used to kick back.

Note to self: drink O’Casey’s with cream again sometime. Mmm.

So people had fun. Yes, we had that good conversation thing; there was also much laughter, good music (in my CD changer at the beginning of the evening: Buffy – the Musical, Ella Fitzgerald, the LOTR soundtrack, Great Big Seas’s Turn, and Classic Yo-Yo Ma… I am nothing if not eclectic), good food (I made baked Camembert with sage and then forgot I’d made it, although everyone else tells me it was terrific), and of course, good company. I know good people. And it’s good when we all get together.

My first day of my non-retail life was lovely. I went for a walk at 9 AM, grinning like an idiot. I practiced. I read. I napped a bit. I tidied up all those bottles and cans (still unable to comprehend how much alcohol was consumed). I nibbled bread and cheese. All in all, a wonderfully relaxed day. My parents should be en route to Montreal from Oakville; I’m really looking forward to seeing them soon too.

Life is pretty darn okay.

Canada Day Concert Countdown

It was a three-hour, gruelling dress rehearsal. At the end of it all we stumbled out of the church, exhausted. We were driven, forced to repeat bars over and over again, made to feel like we were all fumbling amateurs, threatened with removing pieces from the program if we couldn’t get it absolutely right. When we were released, our conductor thanked us, and said quietly that we should all be very proud of ourselves, because we sounded fantastic.

I should know this tactic by now; I’ve worked in theatre for seventeen years. It gets me every time, though.

If I had any doubt as to my sight-reading abilities, they were assuaged by the smooth, adept performance of the German aria Andras distributed when we arrived. It seems that in the eleventh hour we have added another piece to the program. For those of you who know Marian Siminski, our lovely and talented Mozart soloist from our last concert (and, incidentally, the musical director of Lakeshore Light Opera who has directed me for years), she’ll be back on Monday night.

The church is lovely, so if anyone gets bored with the music, they can look at the architecture and all the saints (if they tire of Andras gesticulating wildly). I know I spent a lot of time looking at it while various sections worked through rough sections and transitions. (Oh, we had our share, don’t think we didn’t.) We played with all the doors open last night, and people walking by came in and sat at the back for a while when they heard the music. I thought it was lovely. Imagine taking a stroll by the lake as the sun is going down, and the air is cooling off, and you hear this wonderful soaring Mozart which draws you in. The church melds the sound beautifully; I can see why many groups choose to record in such places. I can also see the immense technical headaches they create, namely that the brass and winds sound like they’re a fraction of a second behind the strings at times, because the sanctuary is round and collectes their sound before projecting it outwards.

One. One more day. Seven hours. Then friends, and music, and a summer of freelancing, writing, and catching up on me again.


For some reason, I feel six feet tall today, willowy and all leg. My cello feels tiny. I hefted it through metro turnstiles and (worse) the outside doors to the stations themselves, where the vacuum created by the trains sucks them shut on you, forcing you to struggle to keep them open. Hard at the best of times; nigh impossible when you’re carrying sixteen hundred dollars that could all too quickly become firewood. Today it was easy, though.

I am, however, stuck humming I’m Getting Married In The Morning from My Fair Lady, since I played the Lerner & Loewe medley to bits this morning. I simply cannot get the Camelot section – Lusty Month of May is a cinch, but the actual Camelot theme – it’s a write-off. Fortunately I surge back supremely well with The Night They Invented Champage, thanks to MLG who burst into song in HMV last week when I asked him what show it was from. (You had to be there. No, really.)

There’s hope for me yet.

Play Dreams

It’s happened. I’ve had a play dream about orchestra.

Play dreams, for those who have never been involved in theatre, involve a variety of disasters revolving around the production which is rapidly approaching. They trick you by showing up even when you are fully confident in your abilities and the show. By dragging themselves out of your subconscious, they make you second-guess yourself, create your own doubt, and generally weaken that supreme confidence you worked so hard to construct inthe first place. Essentially, play dreams are paradox-creators. They’re self-fullfilling prophecies of the worst kind.

This one wasn’t completely awful, though, since for some reason Ceri was sitting next to me. No clue what she was doing in the cello section – without an instrument, no less, although she had a music stand (which I didn’t) and a good chair (which I was also missing). No, she didn’t have a sax.

I was sitting in the first chair (naturally – play dreams go right for the way to make you panic the most) and the whole thing began without me having my music out and ready, because the damn music stand kept swinging back and forth and wouldn’t support my music properly (this, at least, is based in fact), nor was there a chair available that was the right height. I didn’t even have my cello out of the case before Andras began conducting.

And, to make matters worse, he began with the Bizet.

I should have sat back and let them go. After all, it’s the first movement of the Bizet I detest.

I woke up with that annoying racing heart feeling that’s always worse in the middle of the night. My sense of time was so messed up that I thought it wasmorning, but it was only an hour after I’d fallen asleep. So I slept again to have more vaguely bad musical dreams until I woke up this morning and realised that the concert is not in fact a week away. It’s on Monday.

I’ve been meaning to practice for the past three days, and something always comes up – my husband doesn’t do something out of the house like he said he was going to, I fell asleep on the floor because my back hurt, I lost track of time, etc etc etc. I have a dress rehearsal tonight. I get half an hour this morning, then Saturday, then Sunday, then that’s it. My parental units are in town for the concert and I’m spending the day with them on Monday.

Actually, that’s lots more time than I thought I’d have. For some reason I thought I’d have to cram in a half-hour on each weekend day and that would be it. I can play a lot more than that. Good.

Enough delaying. I’m going to go practice now.

(Including today: two more days. And today isn’t the regular eleven-hour shift from hell since I must leave early for this dress rehearsal.)


I should try one with a Vanilla Coke.

Gah. Only if I require a massive sugar intake to save my life for some arcane reason. Or if I’m feeling very, very sorry for myself.

I forget sometimes that sugar doses which wouldn’t have made me blink as a child now make me choke.