Sunday, December 31, 2006

My New Year's Resolution

Spoiler Alert

I just read a book called "The Pact". I found it to be a very upsetting book and I'm not sure why. I mean, there is a lot to be upset about. The girl, Emily, is molested when she's nine, that taints her experience of her sexuality when she's older because she never told anyone and she never dealt with it...and she is pushed into a life she didn't choose, pushed like many children are pushed by their parents’ blind unspoken assumptions – and this life includes a romantic relationship with a boy, Chris, who loves her to death (literally) but whom she sees more as a brother. But because she can’t be honest with him or anyone else, she enters into a sexual relationship with him and she gets pregnant. Her whole life is built on these lies so she doesn’t tell anyone this big thing either and decides the only way to solve these problems is to kill herself, and because Chris is young and stupid and in love, he helps her, which is where the title comes from – the appearance of a suicide pact.

None of that was necessary. The whole story could have been avoided if she had told the truth. I know that if that was the case, the book wouldn’t have been written. I know that drama is made of these sorts of situations. But a part of my soul still cries out that she could have told the truth and avoided so much pain for so many people. She could have told someone what happened when she was nine, and gotten therapy. Or she could have been honest with Chris and told him she didn’t love him that way. Or she could have told him she really wasn’t comfortable with having sex. Or, she could have been honest and told people, especially him, that she was pregnant. And then she could have been honest and said she didn’t want to marry him. Dammit! But because she let her fear rule her, she lied and lied and lied and then, to escape the lies, she killed herself and put two families through a lot of shit that quite honestly was more difficult to deal with than the truth would have been.

Maybe it upsets me so much because I know that I’ve lied to people I love because I’m afraid that I’ll lose them or scare them away or that they’ll be angry with me. Perhaps I find it so upsetting because I don’t know where I learned that. I spent the vast majority of my life believing that I was an honest person and that my family was an honest family with no unspoken secrets and no unspoken lies, but if that is all true then why did I decide that if I soften the truth, my life isn’t as scary? Somewhere I learned to lie to keep myself safe, and I don’t really know why.

I hate that about myself.

I hate that I soften the truth as a natural way of dealing with people. I can count on one hand the people I don’t think I’ve ever lied to in any way…r., T., and J. I think that’s it. Three people in the whole world that I have never softened the truth for. Three people that I believe will see through my fa├žade, three people that will be honest with me, even brutally so, three people that I trust will stay anyway, so I’ve never even bothered trying to lie to them.

But everyone else in my life? I’ve altered the truth to everyone else at least once. And I hate it.

Thank God I can see that I want to change, and that I am getting better – even if it seems to be taking place on a geological timeline. It is so hard to learn to trust people, especially the ones that I think I should trust already. Especially the ones I think I should trust already.

It is so much easier to focus on the fact that I ‘should’ be trusting this person or I ‘shouldn’t’ have a problem being honest with that person than to focus on the simple truth, which is that I don’t trust, and deal with that.

T. laughed once when I went to him in tears about living with M. He said he thought it was kind of funny that a girl with trust issues and a boy who hates being betrayed would end up dating each other. At the time I just laughed, albeit shakily. I didn’t see the extent of my trust issues then. I have the sinking feeling that I am only touching on the tip of them now.

But I guess there is a silver lining. My life isn’t built out of lies. I am trying to be honest with the people I love (don’t ask about the ones I don’t. One thing at a time, people, one thing at a time). I have cleared the air the last three times I hedged around the truth, even though it was very, very difficult to do, and I found out it isn’t such a horrible thing – it’s actually quite a relief. It’s been almost a year since I consciously decided to stop making excuses to shield myself from my own bad choices, which for me was a huge way that I was dishonest with people. And I don’t have a suicide pact with S.

I guess if I was going to make a huge discovery about a ‘bad habit’, now is the time to do it, huh? Just in time for New Years, the time we make pacts with ourselves.

So here I go.

This year, I vow to tell the truth, however scary that might be.

And, hey...at least I know I can live by this promise.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

10 Things I Love About S

Okay, so that is a little misleading. This isn't actually all about S., the person. It is a list of 10 things that I love that begin with the letter S. Antony at www.tothequiet.blogspot.com started this one - well, I guess he didn't start it exactly, but since he's the one who gave me a letter I'll give him the credit.

(I think the letter S is a most appropriate one for me.)

1. S. Of course. Although it scares me sometimes.

2. Snuggling. There is something so comforting and relaxing about being all cuddled up to someone (and by someone I mean S.), all warm and cozy. I love being held, and I count myself lucky that S. likes to snuggle while we watch t.v. or talk or listen to music, or just hang out.

3. My senses. Being able to see colours and shapes, like the ones that filled the art show that the first year students put on before school ended for the year or the ones that God fills the sky with every morning and evening. Smelling food or the first wild rose of the year, so sweet and delicate, and the smell of S. when I hug him. The taste of autumn air, filled with fallen leaves, and the taste of homemade iced tea, which brings me instantly to my grandparent's house. Hearing the spaces in between the notes of music, or a finely tuned choir singing in polyphonic majesty, or birds chattering while my friends walk down a sidewalk with trees whispering above. The feel of snow melting in my hands, of chocolate on my tongue, of lips on my neck... the senses are pretty fantastic.

4. Snow. Call me crazy, but I really enjoy snow. It was cold in my little village for quite a while before it snowed, and I complained with the best of them about the weather - but as soon as the ground was white, the temperature ceased to bother me. If there is snow, then I like the feeling of my nostrils freezing shut as I breathe, my eyelashes turning white with Canadian Mascara as my breath condenses to them, my glasses fogging up until I can't see a thing but frost. Snow crunching and squeaking underfoot, snow covering every mar in the landscape, snow that reveals the midnight dances of mice and small birds - I think it is beautiful.

5. Stories. I hold story in such high regard. My whole life is a story, and I mean that in a good way, not a 'I'm living a lie' sort of way. I really resent that the word story was ever used to describe lying, because stories are such a key way for us to communicate truth to each other. I have learned more important things from stories than from any other thing (except actual life experience, I suppose...but it is probably a much closer race than I even realize). The stories of Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card...there are too many people to list here. God's story. My story. Stories are so important. Perhaps that is why I want to devote my life to telling them in one way or another.

6. Which leads me to the stage. I do love the stage, although it scares me sometimes too. There is life there, like the life I find in stories, because it is where the stories come to life. An empty stage is potential incarnate.

7. Spirituality. I am glad there is more to this world than what I can experience with my senses, as much as I love them. The mystery that cannot be explained by anything, but that the spirit understands. The fear, the peace, the love, the wonder and trembling awe.

8. Secrets and surprises. I have, to my surprise, become a keeper of secrets for a handful of people that I would never have expected to become a secret holder for. It makes me wonder. I don't think I mind, but it can be tiring sometimes. Other times it makes me so happy because some secrets are wonderful - and those are the ones I love. And really good surprises, like the one I managed to pull off for S. (I wrote about it in an earlier post)...those are wonderful too.

9. Second chances. I don't know that I love them, but I am extremely grateful for them.

10. Singing. I didn't know how much I love to sing until this year, when I really started to use my voice properly and with confidence. Voice lessons have been a wonderful thing for me, and performing music in front of hundreds of people has helped my confidence immensely. I am so glad that I was given the gift of a beautiful voice. I love the feeling of my voice soaring out free and clear and bigger than I ever thought it could be. Music is beautiful. I'm glad God invented it.

And that brings me to 10. I didn't even touch on a sense of humour, or sunshine, stars, sweetness, salt and spices, savouring experiences, or sexuality. When I started, I wasn't sure I'd be able to find 10 things that began with s. It turned out to be surprisingly easy.

And now for another s-word I love - sleep. Too bad I have no one to snuggle with tonight...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Surprise Me

“So, what did you get me for Christmas?”

This question has hit my ears many, many times this December. In the middle of a conversation, while cuddling, in the midst of kisses, while we are making supper – any time S. thinks my guard is down, he asks me what I got him. Every time, I say, “I’m not telling you!”. I’ve got years of experience in resisting curiosity. I have my mother to thank for that – if you can surprise her, you can surprise anyone.

S. and I have different mentalities when it comes to gifts. S. doesn’t care about being surprised as long as he knows he likes what he’s getting, and that he isn’t going to get multiple copies of the same thing. It’s a practical, pragmatic approach to gifts that is almost completely foreign to me.

I like being surprised. Of course I like getting things that I like, but if someone has gotten me something that I didn’t expressly tell them to get me but they thought I would like it, that matters more to me than what the gift is. The fact that they put thought into what to get me is what matters to me – and if they know me well enough to risk like that and get me something I like too, then, well…then you’re golden.

S. is golden. He didn’t even ask for a list. He just went out and risked, and his risk paid off. He got me a gloriously soft and fluffy and big bathrobe and a Sam Roberts CD, both things that I mentioned in passing, brief comments that he made mental notes of. I am very pleased and touched that he remembers things like that. I mean, I knew he listened to me when I talked, but it is always nice to see that proven.

Although S. liked surprising me, he didn’t want me to surprise him. But I stuck to my guns – no matter how many times he asked, no matter how distracted I was when he asked, I refused to tell him what I got him. I did a lot of scheming and I wasn’t about to crack.

However, I do need to spill the beans here or the rest of the story doesn’t make sense. Let me take you back to the end of August, 2006. S. and I were going to go and watch a movie for his birthday. He was eagerly anticipating going to see Lady in the Water. We phoned the local movie theatre. It wasn’t playing but we weren’t surprised. It’s a small theatre. We phoned theatres in Calgary. Every single one of them had the same thing to say. Lady in the Water wasn’t playing there anymore. It was very disappointing and irritating.

Within days I had a brilliant thought. What if I got him Lady in the Water for Christmas? That might not seem so brilliant until you know that every New Years the technical people in this theatre town set up a projector and a huge white cyc (which is a screen, basically) and watch movies. It’s like being at a movie theatre. What if I got the projector set up earlier so we could watch it on a big screen? It would be like I brought the movie, and the theatre, to S. Brilliance indeed.

So I did my research. I discovered that Lady in the Water was about to be released on December 19th. I talked to the tech people and got the projector set up. I phoned S.’s family and told them what I was getting him, and swore them to secrecy. Then, when the release date arrived, my friend R. and I made up an excuse to go to town by ourselves, and I bought the movie. I secreted it away in my underwear drawer and kept on misleading S. into thinking that not only had I had his gift for weeks, but that it was hidden somewhere he’d never find it. And I told him I wanted to watch a movie on the projector – so what did he want to watch?

He went and borrowed some movies that he thought would look good on a big screen – King Kong, Monster House and X-III. “I wish Lady in the Water was out,” he said with a sigh. “That would look good on a big screen.”

“Yes, it would,” I said with my best actor face.

After supper, R., L., S. and I went to the Studio Stage where the projector was set up. I had the movie in my backpack, hidden under a blanket and cans of pop. R. and L. were in on the plan – but apparently the technical people were not, for when we arrived we found the cyc, but not the projector.

“I thought B.G.G. had set this all up,” I said.

“Maybe he just meant the screen was up,” S. said. “It doesn’t matter, we can just watch a movie in Lola’s.” Lola’s is the student lounge. It has a nice television at least – but I was somewhat disappointed. Whatever. Plan B, phase 2.

I went to the washroom and extracted the film from the case, hiding the case in my backpack again and holding the disc carefully by my side. I walked back to the lounge, where R. and L. were serenading S. on the piano while he organized the couch and wiped down the tv screen. R. looked up when I entered. S. had his back to me, so I frantically mouthed, “Distract him! Distract him!” and showed her the disc.

R. is one smart cookie. “Hey, S., are the lights still on in the set shop?”

“I think so,” he said.

“Where are the switches?” R. knows exactly where the switches are.

S. looked at her with a puzzled expression as he explained their location.

“Okay.” R. and L. walked down the hallway to turn off the lights – and S. turned towards the movies. Great.

Then L’s voice came down the hall. “S., we can’t find them!”

S. shook his head. “Frick!” he said and he got up and walked down to help the clueless women. I quickly opened the DVD player and inserted the disc. Where the hell’s the remote? I thought. Do I just push play and hope for the best? I could hear them coming back. I pushed play and stood up.

The screen turned black just as S. entered the room. “What are we watching?” he asked. “A movie,” I replied.

“You can’t just pick a movie for all of us,” he said, going over to the stack of full DVD cases. Dammit!

“Well, I just did,” I said, as he began to open the cases to see what we were watching. I grabbed the only one he hadn’t opened yet.

X-III? Okay, fine…” he said. He went over and picked up the remote from its hiding place on the shelf. The sound of water came over the speakers, and the image from the trailers, of Paul Giamatti looking down into the pool, came onto the screen. “This is what I want to watch,” S. said.

As the words left his mouth, the image arranged itself to be the DVD menu. S.’s brow furrowed and his mouth opened. “What…?”

“Merry Christmas,” I said with a very smug grin.

He blinked and gave his head a little shake. He looked at me and back at the screen.

I laughed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so confused or surprised in the two years I’ve known him. “Come sit down,” I said. “Let’s watch the movie.”

He smiled and shook his head. “Thank you, sweetie,” he said, and he gave me a kiss. “You got me. It’s hard to get me.”

I giggled and kissed him back.

I’m glad I kept the secret. I think my way of doing presents is much more fun.

And I think maybe now he’d agree.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Break time!

Well, school is over for the year and I am enjoying a well deserved break. I have finished my show, finished my homework (except that damn character biography for Juliet that really doesn't interest me but that I should probably complete to build my own character...rrrr), have found a way to get out of student housing (yeay!) and I've almost finished my Christmas shopping. I am spending a great deal of time doing whatever I feel like doing, which amounts to hanging out with friends, making out with S., eating Russel Stover French Mint chocolates, and spending time alone. It has been marvelous, and it's only been two days.

Of course, next term I'll be busy again. I get back just in time to begin the intense workshops referred to as Intercession (perhaps because we need the saints to intercede on our behalf in order to survive them), and to begin another rehearsal process. One of my roommates is in the midst of producing her final project and I got cast in it. I was thrilled. I've wanted to be involved from the moment I heard she was doing it. And then I'll have classes and a trip to London. It will be a busy year, like every year here in this valley town.

And the most exciting news of all - this summer, I'll be in my first Opera House show! I was cast in "The Good Doctor". I found out about both this role and the other one on the same day. It was a very good day for me...it isn't often in an actor's life that they get two roles in one day.

The only note of sobriety was that some of the competition for those two roles are my friends. It is very hard to be happy for oneself and sad for ones friends about the same event. There are aspects of this career that suck, and fighting for work with people you love is one of those sucky things.

I'll be using some of my alone time to write so hopefully this blog will have more new material than it has for a while. I had every intention of writing something profound and meaningful (or at least brilliant) but I've used all of my creative steam finishing some homework and journalling assignments so the brilliant post will have to happen later in the week.

But never fear - it will arrive. Sooner or later.

After I've had another little chocolate break.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Etymology

S. must think I'm a very strange person sometimes. I can get so passionate about things that he has no interest in.

Case in point - yesterday we were talking about Christmas, and he asked me what sort of things I liked. I started where I always start - books. He took a deep breath, so I got specific. I somehow ended up waxing eloquent on the amazing qualities of etymological dictionaries. I would love to have an etymological dictionary - one of those hefty tomes that seemingly has every word, where it came from, and every meaning it has ever had. In close second comes the huge set of Oxford English Dictionaries...a set of dictionaries! They need more than one book to give you the whole alphabet, with meanings, a small etymology, and a pronounciation guide! Did you know that some dictionaries don't even have phonetical pronounciation guides anymore? It's pathetic. But I would hope the etymological dictionary doesn't make that mistake. Oh no. It is lovely and thick, and practically perfect in every way. And very, very expensive. I probably went on for 10 or 15 minutes about dictionaries, with S. just watching me in wonder. Finally he broke in with, "You would like a dictionary?"

"Oh, yes! They're amazing!"

"Why?"

"Because...all the words!" I was almost drooling at this point.

"But you can't read a dictionary."

"Oh, yes you can. You don't read it from cover to cover, but you'll be looking up a word and you see a word you haven't seen before so you read the definition, and then the word under that catches your eye, and then you realize that you were looking for something specific, so you look that up and then the word across the page from that calls out to you and before you know it you've randomly read 20 definitions and you're late for your next class."

S. raised his eyebrows.

"Okay, you don't. I do. I love randomly reading the dictionary, if it's a good dictionary." At this point I realized how crazy I must sound. I suddenly felt shy about it. "Just in case you were thinking I was normal or something," I said, looking at him through my hair.

He smiled. "I love you."

Just out of the blue, just like that. No dictionary required.

Three simple words - I don't think hearing them will ever get old.