Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Song of the Year

I’m always tempted to write New Year’s Eve posts with quotes from old songs. Maybe because music has always been such an essential part of my life. Or maybe because there are lots of people out there who can write about how I’m feeling better than I can.

When I was in high school, every year on New Year’s Eve, our friends would choose the Song of the Year, meant to help us remember the last 12 months. When we parted ways, as people tend to do, we stopped this tradition. I miss it though, and every year wonder which song would remind me of the year gone by when I hear it 5 or 10 years from now.

It seems like life has sped up this year. I felt like there was never enough time. Maybe this is what it’s like when you get older – everybody is busy running around with their families and work. You want to sit on porches with a beer or have tea with your friends, but suddenly everything has to be scheduled a week in advance. Or re-scheduled over and over until a month has gone by and you’re wondering what happened to your social life.

Working two jobs has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve had a little more money to do things with friends, but no time to get together with them. As the years spin by, I realize that the life I used to know is gone, and while I look forward to getting married and building my own family, I sometimes miss the way it used to be. Then I go out to the bar and remember why I'm happy with the life I have now. The friends I have who are still single and childless spend their weekends getting drunk in bars or house parties, posting crazy pictures on Facebook, and reliving the drama of high school or college. So we’re kind of in a limbo, Jeremy and I, caught between people who have Grown Up, and those who are still clinging to childhood.

So maybe, this is a good song for 2008:

Or maybe it’s something else…

This year my relationship changed from the “boyfriend/girlfriend” feeling it always had into an acceptance that this other person really loves me, all of me, despite the crazy pain in the ass I can be, and will always be there. Even more mind-blowing is that he WANTS to be.

When you’re dating somebody, there is a lot of uncertainty about where the relationship is going. You wonder if this person is The One, how long you’ll be together, how much they care about you, how much you are about them. You have days where you worry about breaking up, and fight about stupid things that mask the real issues that you’re too scared to ask questions about. Because you’re not ready for the answers yet. Despite being in a couple, part of you wonder what it would be like to date another person (even though you would never cheat, you still wonder). Because you’re not ready for the commitment yet. You want your romance to be like the movies, and expect Valentine’s Day and anniversaries with roses and sappy cards. Because you don’t understand that those things have nothing to do with real love yet.

So maybe, this is a good song for 2008;

Even if it doesn’t remind me of this year, this song will be special, since it’s at the top of our current list of possible First Dance wedding songs.

2008 was a great year for music to dance to, especially hip-hop, which I’ve loved a long time (blame living across the river from Detroit for a year). Kanye West and Beyonce released albums that are incredible, and there were so many singles that made me turn up the radio and roll down the window, it’s hard to pick just one. So here's one of the many I danced to in 2008 and look forward to hearing again in 2009...

This song will forever remind me to dancing down Richmond Street singing "Shawty got them applebottom jeans, boots with the furrrr" after a night of dancing with the girls.

This year I added a new song to my All-Time Favourites List, which I’ve already posted up on my blog: “I’m Yours”, by Jason Mraz. I love this song the same way I love “Drive”, by Incubus, “I’m Gonna Be” by the Proclaimers, and “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel.

Since I’ve already posted it, here is a fantastic video, and another runner-up for a first dance song, by Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait. It’s called “Lucky” and would have been even more perfect if we’d gotten married right after I moved home from England.

(sorry there's no video, but the ones with a real video had embedding disabled)

Often, a Song of the Year was chosen because it represented a major moment in our lives. This year, that song is “Forever” by Chris Brown. Not for the lyrics or the music, but for the memory it represents…

The sun was sitting in the sky at that angle where everything is lit in golds and reds. The air smelled sweet, and birds sang in the trees as people walked together in the early summer evening. I didn’t notice any of it though. I drove through the streets in a daze, quickly and carefully trying to get through traffic without causing an accident.

The phone call had come in about 15 minutes earlier. Though it was expected, it sent me running through the apartment with my heart thumping. The news that it was almost time to meet my new little nephew was long-awaited, and the honour of being asked to wait at the hospital was not lost on me.

As I drove up Richmond street towards the hospital where my best friend laboured through the beginning stages of what we hoped would be an uneventful childbirth, I caught the beginning of “Forever” by Chris Brown on the radio. Turning up the radio, I looked out at the world around the hospital, hoping to always remember the kind of day it was when Oliver was born.

It was a beautiful day.

* click here for the song. None of the actual videos would allow embedding *

So I guess I don’t really have just one song for 2008.There are simply too many to choose from. And if I want to get philosophical, this means I spent a lot of time smiling and singing, with my hair blowing in the wind as I drove to where I was going. Just enjoying the moment.

Maybe that’s why we loved picking the Song of the Year so much – it was never a sad song. We chose to remember the good ones.

Happy New Year world!

May 2009 bring you many happy memories. And some good music to sing along to.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another year come and gone

Christmas was wonderful. So great that I forgot about pulling out my camera because I was so busy enjoying our families. We played cards, drank good wine, had delicious meals, lots of laughter, and made some more great memories. Jeremy and I were ridiculously spoiled this year, yet again. I can't wait until the day we can spoil them back! We baked cookies and other goodies for everybody as our gift this year, something that was necessary due to finances, but ended up being lot of fun.

Unfortunately, the sinus cold I've been fighting for the past few weeks didn't go away, so I'm on a second round of antibiotics. These ones have left me pajama-clad all day long, sleepy and lazy amidst a pile of Christmas bags and assorted items still not put away after the holidays. It's frustrating having such a messy house, but I'm too wiped out to clean right now.

On a brighter note, tomorrow is New Year's Eve, one of my favourite times of year. 2008 has been both good and bad to us (and the world), and I'm hopeful that things will settle down next year a little...

In the spirit of trying to be a good little blogger, I'm going to spend some time to finish my write-up of 2008.

Happy December 30th world! I hope you all make the last day of this memorable year a good one!

Until tomorrow...

Friday, December 19, 2008

blank stares at blank pages

I've been trying to write a publish-able post for several weeks now. It's not for lack of things to write about, but somehow my posts are not coming out the way I want them to. For example, when I told my best friend about the last one I wrote, her response was "oh, that's kinda depressing, huh?"

On hindsight, it kinda is. In an attempt to be cheerful, I'd listed reasons why Life Doesn't Suck Today. While I was trying to be funny, I can understand how this would be interpreted and am pretty sure nobody wants to read the same old thing about life being tough but focusing on the good things. It's been a theme in my blog pretty much since Day 1. Probably because that attitude is such an ingrained part of my personality.

I like to think I'm a positive person who focuses on the happiness that comes out of life, but to be honest these thoughts are usually in contrast to the stressful things - a silver lining to the black cloud, if you want to re-use an old metaphor.

Maybe it's just that there has been so much bad news lately, in my own personal life and in the world. Maybe the weight of being broke (my substitute for the word "poor" that for some reason doesn't sound as depressing) for 3 years has become more of an issue sub-consciously. I don't want to think about money as often as I do, but it's hard not to when the whole world seems to focused on it. On top of everything, I keep hearing stories from friends and family about these awful things that are going on.

So I try to write something that will help to take it away - even just for a minute or two.

But the pages either fill up with things that would only remind them. Or they stay stubbornly blank, as I flip back and forth between Blogger and other websites, hoping for inspiration.

Ironically, I don't feel unhappy. There are so many things that I am thankful for and love about my life that sometimes I just smile. I have two jobs that I absolutely love, a host of friends and family who are just wonderful, and many, many things to look forward to. I've been out supply teaching several times now, and am slowly inching toward seeing my name on a classroom door one day.

Yet the pages stay blank.

People are writing inspiring Christmas stories, sad tales about lost loved ones, funny anecdotes about things happening in their lives, and still I sit, unmoving.

It feels like there's something inside me to share.

This morning a snowstorm moved into London. The weather is so bad that schools are closed today, giving students and teachers here an extra day of vacation. The cars on the streets are already covered and the wind chimes on the porch are singing as snowy gusts whip past the windows. The weather makes me want to sit in my pajamas with a cup of coffee and a book, but I have one last day of work before my own holiday. A busy day ahead.

So I'll get up and sing in the shower for a little while before pulling on winter clothes and heading out into our snowglobe world. I'll pray for my 94 year-old grandmother who's in a hospital bed, in a sort of limbo now, hoping she'll be comfortable today.

Hundreds of thoughts will push in and out of my mind. Maybe I'll write some of them down later and see what happens.

Friday, December 05, 2008

a great song to have stuck in your head for three days

Usually when this happens, it's a Britney Spears song. And since I don't particularly like her, it's pretty darned annoying. But this time, I've had this song in my head:

Not only is the song super-catchy, but the lyrics are fabulous too:

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
Now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my bestest
And nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it's again my turn to win some or learn some

I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment people dance and sing
We're just one big family
And It's our God-forsaken right to be loved love loved love loved

So I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours

Scooch on over closer dear
And i will nibble your ear

I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and laughed
I guess what I'm be saying is there ain't no better reason
To rid yourself of vanity and just go with the seasons
It's what we aim to do
Our name is our virtue

But I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find that the sky is yours
Please don't, please don't, please don't
There's no need to complicate
Cause our time is short
This oh this this is out fate, I'm yours!

No matter what kind of mood I'm in, this song seems to magically cheer me up.

This morning on the drive to work, I sang along with the windows down and the cold air blowing into the car, mindless of the looks some of the other drivers were giving me. Even better, "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers was next, followed by "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey, "The Way I Are" by Timbaland, then "The Longest Time" by Billy Joel (yes, I switch radio stations. And no, great songs do not usually all come up in a row like that).

It was hard to get out of the car this morning, but I did walk into work smiling...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

it's okay to say "Merry Christmas"

Yesterday on, there was an article talking about shoppers who were offended when people said "Merry Christmas" to them while they shopped for The Holidays.

The article then went on to ask people to vote about whether or not people should say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays".

Um, excuse me?

Last time I checked, December 25th, CHRISTMAS DAY, is a national holiday. It is NOT referred to as The Holidays. While yes, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Diwali, and occasionally Eid (the end of Ramadan) occur in December, the reason people are Christmas shopping is not for those holidays. The reason people talk about Santa Claus is not because he helps to celebrate Africa or the fact that a jar of oil lasted long enough to save people's lives. We don't hang stockings above the chimney to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Merry Christmas does not mean an end to a month of fasting.

I'm so sick and tired of people stealing this holiday away from its original meaning. Like it or not, this is a Christian holiday. About the birth of Jesus. The extreme commercialism that has gripped this holy day in our calendar, which in turn shoves red & green decorations down the world's throat for 2 months, is destroying the meaning of our holiday.

I don't care if you aren't Christian. I don't care if you don't believe that Jesus was born and died the way I believe he did. I don't care if the story of the Three Wise Men or a star that led people to find a newborn baby makes you roll your eyes.

But who in the HELL do you think you are to go shopping for this holiday and complain when people wish you a Merry Christmas???

I can't even imagine this happening to another religious group. People would riot. Yet if we complain about the secularization of one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, we are pushing our religion on you.

How about you taking our religion away from us?

I'm all for tolerance and acceptance. As a teacher, I've made a point of learning about the different cultures here in Canada and can discuss any of the major religious holidays with anybody. It's important to recognize that there are other groups out there who are celebrating things like Diwali and Hanukkah, while others prepare to attend Midnight Mass or open presents Christmas morning.

I have no problem with non-Christian holidays or people who don't celebrate Christmas. It's your religious right.

Where is my right? Why do I have to bow down to people who choose to sing about Santa coming down a chimney, but refuse to accept the actual meaning behind Christmas. Why do they get to complain about us when we have no choice but to accept millions of people celebrating our holiday while scoffing the beliefs behind it?

I knew somebody back in university who complained about how "those Christian people shove their beliefs and holidays in everybody's face". He thought Christmas and Easter were over-done, and couldn't understand why so many people celebrated them. "First it's Santa, then the Easter Bunny - give me a break!"

Who made the choice to show Santa Claus in a commercial? Who decided the Easter Bunny was a great symbol for Easter? You can be sure Christians weren't the driving force behind this.

Just imagine the conversation:

"Oh, hey. You know I was thinking about Easter. It's so solemn and serious. We need something to make people smile. Like a mascot, maybe?"

"Right. I've got it! How about a bunny rabbit?!"

And so it was decided that the symbol of a holiday that honours Jesus dying on the cross and then rising from the dead is a big bunny rabbit who bring eggs and chocolate treats to all of the children. Yep, I'm sure that was the intent all along.

If you celebrate Christmas but aren't a Christian, this is not necessarily a swipe at you. My problem is with people who have stolen this holiday from the people who have been honouring its meaning for centuries. And then assigned a meaning of their own to it. Then turned around and insulted those of us who still believe that the reason for its importance is a miracle birth.

"I'm not Christian, so I don't believe in all of that Jesus stuff. But Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year. Presents, songs, great dinners with family - it's wonderful!"

Yes, there are fantastic things attached to celebrating on December 25th. We all have the right to enjoy family and gifts. But please, I beg you to remember that even as you sing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", some of us are singing "O, Holy Night".

Because for many of us, it IS.