Nova Scotia is a dark and stormy coast that births brave and beautiful people who dance and sing and make music that is perfect and pure.
Halifax is that feeling in your heart. That ache and crest. That inconceivable rush when you kiss someone for the first time and everything is unfettered and flushed and on fire and you haven’t a breath in your body.
Halifax is wishing to live in that moment forever.
Halifax is the biggest sky you’ve ever seen. It’s a blue that burns.
Halifax is your neighbour practicing their bagpipes at 8 AM on a Saturday morning. It is a farmers market selling Annapolis Valley cider and hand-knit socks.
It’s riding your bike through The Commons, just before sunset, and marveling at a world bathed in a rose gold glow. For a moment, everything pauses. For a moment, the world collectively releases its breath.
Halifax is, for a moment, letting yourself go.
Halifax is walking along the waterfront, wind-battered and rattled, wondering what the winter will bring. It’s wondering how anyone could live through this.
Halifax is living through this.
Halifax is running and running and running and realizing that no matter how hard you try, you cannot outrun everything.
Halifax is letting your hair grow and your nails heal. It’s three months of restless sleep and restless nights and tears of such surprising heartbreak that, no matter what, you are never ready.
Halifax is getting caught off guard. It’s letting yourself get caught off guard.
Halifax is a city built on folklore and myth, sea shanties and Stan Rogers.
Its days are fueled by harbour hopping tourists and university students.
The Rotary. The Arm. The Waeg. The Coast.
It’s the ego of knowing that Nova Scotia is the best maritime province, but never saying that it’s the best maritime province.
It’s a night that stretches, wraps its arms snug around your shoulders, warming you with a laughter unlike one you’ve ever known.
It’s laughing until you cannot laugh. Doubled over by bad dates and mingled fates. Staring at the gallows of death and disease, and daring them to try.
It’s a love that transcends continents and causeways.
It’s a love that cascades.
Halifax is family, sitting in a kitchen and talking.
Halifax is sitting in a kitchen. The indefinable comfort of sitting in a kitchen.
Halifax is a barbecue where one person starts singing, and then everyone starts singing.
Halifax is just knowing all of the words.
It’s Sonny’s Dream. And Gillis Mountain. And The Whistling Rover.
It’s unironically loving Rita MacNeil.
Halifax is a city that quietly swallows you whole.
Nova Scotia makes your blood run a little hotter. Gives your legs a new strength.
It forces you to stop. To stare at a sky, and feel the limitless of a place that is haunted and vaunted, and never unnecessarily so.
There is magic here.
Nova Scotia is new Scotland.
It is my Scotland.
And though I am far away, on the briny ocean tossed, I know she heaves a sigh and a wish for me.
So remember last weekend, when I wrote about running in Lynn Park and how I almost destroyed myself over the course of my route?
Well, today it actually happened. I absolutely rocked myself about seven kilometers into a twelve kilometer run.
I was careening along a long, gravel straightaway and stubbed my right foot on the tip of an unseen rock. From this point, I launched myself right into a baseball slide (arms first), straight across the pathway.
I hate falling.
For all of the usual reason, yes: it hurts, it’s embarrassing, it totally messes up your plans, and it makes bathing and clothing yourself equal parts excruciating and ridiculous for days on end.
But what I hate the most about falling is that strange nebulous time frame between the actual trip, and the moment you make contact with the ground. Your conscious, rational self knows that a connection with the earth is imminent, and yet, you still try to think of all of the ways you could stop it from happening. And then, right before impact, you resign yourself to your fate, and brace for the carnage.
After coming to a complete rest, I always try give myself a moment to take stock and check for bad cuts and injuries before getting to my feet, because I always just want to keep running and get away from the crash site as quickly as possible. Today, my adrenaline was going like crazy, and it’s at times like this that I have to be particularly careful not to start again too quickly.
I was also pretty angry with myself for making such a simple mistake, and my gut reaction was to beat it out of there and just get on with completing my run. But noticing a large stream of blood pooling in the palm of my left hand, I thought it better to be safe than sorry, so I ran back to the park’s entrance and washed my wounds at one of the water stations.
A small part of me contemplated just running back to my car and heading home, but most of me couldn’t fathom not finishing what I had set out to accomplish. So, with my cuts stinging like crazy from the antiseptic handfoam I got from the closest outhouse, I ran back to the route and finished.
It wasn’t until I was actually driving home that the extent of my cuts and scrapes really came to the fore. They stung. Stung like mad.
I made a quick pit stop at London Drugs to stock up on Epsom salts and Haribo, and upon my arrival at home, booked it straight into the bathtub.
For the next hour I sat, soaking my wounds, eating candy and listening to Hari Kondabolu stand-up shows.
Not the worst way to spend a Sunday morning, but good grief, next time I’ll elect to do it without having to gently scrape the dirt from my bleeding elbows.
(That’s more of a Tuesday morning chore.)
Everyone has silly little things that made them smile. For instance, I love recognizing Vancouver in movies and television shows. I always get butterflies when people address me by name in conversation – whether face to face, over the telephone, or via text. And I will always, always love a song that has some kind of hand-clap section or chorus.
It’s an inevitable truth of life, and there is nothing to be done. I have resigned myself to this fate.
So you can of course understand why I currently have this song on constant repeat, much to the chagrin of every human within earshot of my musical devices.
I just cannot help it. It’s so darn catchy and it just makes me want to dance about the world, nonstop forever.
(My cat, unfortunately, was very unimpressed by this yesterday, and staunchly refused to join in.)
Some others that I enjoy:
Where It’s At (Beck)
Beck was one of my very first music loves. I asked for, and received Mellow Gold for my 11th birthday but I loved Odelay even more, because of this song.
Cecelia (Simon and Garfunkel)
It is always, always summer whenever I hear this opening refrain.
Women’s Realm (Belle and Sebastian)
This band. Goodness, this band.
I have a recurring dream – or nightmare, I suppose – where I am caught outside wearing nothing but a t-shirt.
No underwear. No shoes. Nothing.
It’s just me, my t-shirt, and the elements. I find myself rooted to the ground in a busy town square or being jostled about by the teeming crowd of an emptying lecture hall. It’s the weirdest experience, trying desperately to both cover myself and creep away without anyone noticing.
What’s even weirder is that it’s exactly the same – the panic, the fear, the discomfort – every time.
I don’t dream this dream as often as the one where all of my teeth are falling out, nor do I find it as terrifying as the one where I am two seconds away from falling off of the chair lift, but nevertheless, it has firmly ensconced itself into my personal narrative and never fails to leave me shaken up.
Because, let’s face it. Nudity is a pretty weird thing.
But the fact that we clothe ourselves all of the time, even when we are alone, can seem equally as weird. Knowing that we are all just a bunch of penises and vaginas, cleverly hidden away, traipsing about the planet is an idea I rarely give time to, but find utterly bizarre when I do.
Sometimes when I was a pre-teen, I would take moments and try to visualize all of the adults, outside of my family, naked. I would try to imagine them having sex, or being “sexy”.
It was both strange and hard, and the moment was always fleeting. (Insert joke here about the parallels between this exercise and the first time I found myself naked with a boy.)
I am not exactly sure that the answer is, nor what exactly it is that I am looking in terms of this dream, or my ideas on nakedness and nudity. I think, for me, the most important thing is identifying my hang-ups – hang-ups I am sure shared by many – around being nude, about being naked (literally and metaphorically), and the overall social expectations and politicization of what it means to be naked (also literally and metaphorically).
My friend Emma Cooper, who is a local comedian and artist has said that when comes to nudity, “Men are not allowed to be vulnerable, and women are not allowed to be sexual.”
Whenever I think about this statement it hits me like a sack of bricks, and is an idea that I remain sensitive to, and cognizant of whenever it is that I find myself thinking about these things.
Now if only I had something to help me, during those moments of peak vulnerability, when I’m standing in that town square.
In light of the Seahawks’ absolute dismantling of poor Peyton Manning (and what I can only surmise to be the entire collective Coloradean consciousness), I figured post-game we all needed to bring a bit of levity to the situation.
Because, and I think we can also all agree here, that a slightly more entertaining game, and not just a blow-out of every tire on the Denver semi-truck heading to Nowheresville, would have made for a much more enjoyable three hours of football.
(And to all the glorious, gloating – totally deserved, and encouraged gloating – Seattle-ites – yes, I too am including you in that sentiment.)
But seriously though, what is wrong with this man?
Why does he look like this?
(Also, WHO IS HE?)
And why doesn’t he know that, in the end, the light side always, ALWAYS wins?
“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” —Charles Peguy”
I have been thinking about this a lot of late..
I came across this text in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death this past week. Someone commented that, although he was not a writer, he was often reminded of Mr. Peguy’s word when confronted with Hoffman’s seamless, and yet soul-wracking transition from one character to the next.
And of this, I agree.
I cannot say that I have ever been disappointed by any of his myriad performances. Whether disgusting, or delightful, there was always an innate (and oh-so important) humanity to his characters; one that was never forgotten, nor manipulated, or abused.
But truly, for me, Hoffman will always and forever be The Big Lebowski’s Brandt, the most amazingly sycophantic suck-up to ever grace the silver screen. An absolute perfect foil to both the Dude’s lackadaisical, anti-hero, and Walter’s neo-conservative, Vietnam vet (and owner of Sobchak Securities.)
Just listen to this laugh:
I love this movie more than I can properly communicate, and although only a supporting role, Hoffman’s brilliant portrayal of the Big Lebowski’s assistant is the linchpin, of what I believe to be, the best movie I will most likely ever watch.
And I think that’s why I’m thinking about the quote – everything about the film feels as though it is the sum of months, and months of meticulous preparation, culminating in pitch-perfect performances by absolute masters of their crafts.
It is gut-wrenching in its simplicity, and perfection.
You truly can always tell when an individual, or individuals, put everything they have into their art. (I use the term “art” loosely, and define it as anything from dance, to sculpture, to ultramarathon running, to public company auditing.) It doesn’t matter the medium. Gut-wrenching transcends boundaries, or definitions.
It, as I believe as shown by the outpouring of grief over Mr. Hoffman’s death, transcends life.
For my part, I’ve been doing some light crying all evening long.
Not for any real purpose or another.
I watched this video a couple of hours ago, and all I’ve done in the interim is listen to incredibly sappy, emotionally destructive songs, and read about all the insane human rights abuses occurring at this precise moment, all around the world.
Sometimes I think the world is void of anything good.
There is no other way to describe the sensation of emptiness I feel when confronted by such ignorance and inequality.
I want to run away and hide and have Marc’s strong arms wrap around my weak little body and then we’ll just lie that way until our bones rust, and our smiles turn to stone.
This could, of course, never happen.
Because a.) I know how to turn off Youtube.
And b.) because I am, as some of you know, a proper LOVE WARRIOR and if nobody else is going to champion the betterment of this heaving cesspool of a planet, then I bloody well GET ON IT.
Plus my body is jacked.
I am writing a book.
This is exciting.
For my birthday I did this to my hair:
I have been wanting to do something blondy-blond for a while now, but haven’t been able to muster up the appropriate level of courage to commit to the follicle colourization process with gusto.
(AKA I am a giant wimp.)
But I figured I am only twenty-nine once – I might as well do it now before the aliens arrive and I spent the next sixty-odd years of my life making origami toilet paper swans for our six-legged, intergalactic overlords.