Much Finer

I started this blog February 5th, 2012, almost 6 years ago now. Pop quiz, do any of you readers out there remember why I started it?

Here’s my maiden voyage.

I started this blog because my professional life was a bullshit horrible nightmare that made me want to fling myself off a ledge and I needed something to keep myself motivated and sane. Or if you prefer, I was on a quest for positivity and laughs.

A lot has changed since that first post. I’ve grown, I’ve learned and expanded my world views. I left my first job out of school, took another software job at a different company and started a new chapter of my career. I spent my time there building something truly remarkable with my mentor and friend The Magpie. We added more super awesome people to the mix and our dreams were taking off, for reals yo. And even though a lot has changed in my life in the years since starting this blog, life is comically still the same in so many ways as well. In particular, this blurb of text from a post I wrote in April 2012 when I left my shit job to start something new really makes me laugh:

At this time last year my work life was a fucking black hole of awfulness. The bitch in charge of the training department choose someone else over me as her second in command because I didn’t really care for puckering up to provide the daily rim-job that was apparently required to get anywhere in the company. I was surrounded by slackers and assholes who all wanted to call the shots but not provide any actual results.

I found myself at this very same juncture once again, this summer. Everything is cyclical, it seems. The Magpie and I built something spectacular. We really did, I’m not painting it in a more romantic light. People used to be jealous of my job, they’d say “man, your work looks so cool! What an awesome job you have!” And I did, I had an awesome job that was very fulfilling and meaningful to me. Unfortunately, piss poor leadership from the corner office has been slowly and painfully eroding everything wonderful we’ve built over the years. People who used to believe in the dream started feeling demoralized and depressed. When my friend, and my leader/boss said “fuck this shit, I’m out” it was the watershed moment that made me realize the party really is over. She had to leave, otherwise we’d have stayed there forever, fruitlessly trying to convince ourselves that this thing was still viable. But we both knew, long before she decided officially to leave that the dream was dead with management no longer allowing remarkable individuals to flourish. Instead, hiring a bunch of poser asshole entitled men who want to sit in an office with their C-level titles just delegating instead of actually fucking doing the work that needs to be done to make this company BOOM.

It’s a bullshit boy’s club now. A bunch of rich men patting themselves on the back all day, talking about their fucking yachts and how much money they all make while the rest of us break our backs lining their pockets. I realize such is life, you work to make a rich man richer, but most people in executive level roles at least have the class to not overtly rub lower level employees’ noses in their excesses. I refuse, straight up REFUSE, to work for a company like that. Fuck you, dicknoses! My awesome badass workhorse self is going to go work for someone who actually appreciates it. Not only that, incompetent morons getting promotions that they’ve in no way actually earned just because they have a penis and will kiss any ass for a little power? Ugggh, no. Again, that’s not the right place for me.

I value honesty, kindness, and respect above all else in life. At work, in relationships, friendships, every day life, whatever it is, those three values are everything to me. And we used to have all three in spades at work. But we sure as shit don’t have any of it now, which is why I decided to leave. I also think it’s important to work hard and earn everything you aspire to have, not just expect it to be handed to you because you’re a man and you’re there filling a seat.

I invested so much time and energy into that job, I gave it every last bit of grit I had to get shit done, solve problems, make clients happy, and put us on the fucking map. It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to some of the greatest people I’ve ever worked with, because there are some truly impressive people still working there who have become lifelong friends that I will always cherish. But it was incredibly easy saying “fuck you, peace out” to all of the assholes executives, that’s for sure.

On a more positive note, I had been there for about 5 and a half years. 5 years of my time was absolutely wonderful, one of the best experiences for me professionally in terms of growth and learning, becoming stronger and more capable every day with the responsibilities on my plate. Achieving amazing things with wonderful coworkers who inspired and encouraged me, and helped me do seemingly impossible things. The last 6 months of it, since they decided to hire the stubby little Napoleon fuckhead who ruined everything, sucked. But that’s not so bad statistically, 5 great years vs. 6 horribly unbearable months. I purge the bad memories and bottle up the good times to appreciate for what they were.

I feel happy again. I feel excited about doing something new, changing the tides of my career. I’m going to take a new job somewhere better, where I can already tell my boss is super cool and we’re clicking in that oh-so-amazing way that I know means we’re going to be a killer team. I need that in my life, as someone who seeks constant self-expansion and development, I need to work for someone I respect who has a breadth of experience and knowledge that they’re willing to share, to help me learn from.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phoenix this month. A powerful, awe-inspiring mythical creature that lives a cyclical life of regeneration and resurgence. The nature of this wondrous creature resonates with me a lot right now. I had to burn down what I had before in 2012 and reset myself to start something new. I find myself doing the same thing once again. I burn down that part of my career and myself, incinerating all of files of knowledge in my head dedicated to that software, that industry, those clients. I arise from the ashes, regenerate myself stronger than before, with a fresh mindset and open heart. Ready to take action, ready to build again. Ready to fly, to soar.

It makes sense, burn the past and move on so you can embrace the future. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I’ll come back more magnificent than the last time. There’s a phoenix in this heart of mine, keeping us on course and cycling us through my life journey. I trust it’s razor-sharp reflexes and immaculate steering, it knows when it’s time to start over and when to take flight. I’m ready for this next chapter and excited to see what the future holds.

It’s all good vibes again, the universe is singing to me and she sounds a hell of a lot like Kathleen Hanna these days. Singing super rad songs of empowerment, resurgence, and badassery galore! And I am kick fight superstar dancing my ass off at her party. Feels fucking fantastic, man.

Don’t you know? It’s our dance-floor.

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That Night in Toronto…

If you read this blog, you know me. You know that in my core, in my bones, I am passionately, proudly Canadian. I’m a hoser, man. Through and through. I fucking love the shit out of Canada and I am especially proud of our incredible music. I could get lost in Rush for days. The first concert I ever went to was Bryan Adams. I worship The Barenaked Ladies and hum Crash Test Dummies in my sleep. And honestly, I know the words to a lot more Shania Twain songs than people even realize. If I listed here every single Canadian artist on my iPod right now, you’d get dizzy. CanRock is everything. It’s just simply a fundamental of who I am.

And yet, none of these gods or goddesses in the great CanRock pantheon come even remotely close to inspiring the devotion in me that The Tragically Hip does. This band is Canada itself, personified. Their music reaches me on a cellular level and connects to parts of me that nothing else can. And I’m not being intentionally hyperbolic, this is serious shit. If there’s music in your life that you fucking love like I love The Hip then you get it. If you’re some kind of weirdo that doesn’t even like music then I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry that you’ll never know what it’s like to be affected on every level of your being by artistry so divine. Artistry that nurtures and nourishes your soul. It’s crazy, but that’s what it is. It’s the life-sustaining thing that my soul needs. I need The Hip’s music like I need air to breathe.

That’s what I thought when I heard the news about Gord; the air that I need to breathe, to live, is being taken away.

Yeah, I’ll always have their music right at my fingertips anytime I want it. But knowing that there will eventually be an end to it, no more new stuff to get lost in, its unbearable. I’m not a “just the hits” kind of gal, I live for it all.

Deciding to tour after going public with Gord’s news about the incurable brain cancer was absolutely the right thing for the band to do, the only thing. And after the concert on Wednesday night, I’m convinced that he’s immortal anyways. Cancer won’t kill Gord. When he’s good and ready he’ll just decide to start his next chapter, that’s all it is. Cancer doesn’t get to have a say, Gord’s in charge and he does things his own unique way, he always has and he always will. It’s why I love him so much. That casual cavalier who-gives-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks approach to just being himself, it’s inspiring.

I’ve seen The Hip live a number of times, and you never get the same show twice. You can’t ever tell what Gord will do next and it’s thrilling. You follow where he leads and you love every goddamn minute of it, that’s how you experience The Hip.

I was lucky enough to get tickets for the first in a series of three Toronto shows on their final tour. I got hosed on the pre-sale and the general public sale, but a couple of weeks later when more tickets were released I’m convinced that my kind and generous CanRock Gods let favour swing my way. Like I said, I’m bonkers for this band. While I saw plenty of other people give up saying “I’ve seen them before, guess that’ll do”, I wasn’t willing to give up hope so easily. I thought about it every single day. I even considered shelling out thousands for platinum seats in more feverish moments. If it came down to it, sure, I’d bend the knee for the StubHub lords, whatever it took. I just felt it, that I would go to this show. I needed to be there and the universe gladly obliged. I got an email through the fan club about more tickets being released, I marked it in my calendar and I wished with all my might. The day of the sale, it all worked out and I’m eternally grateful.

When the tour started I devoured every single piece of news about it. I loved seeing the band’s set lists on their Instagram account. I read so many fan reviews and stories about the shows. All of it just stoking the fire of my anticipation. Waiting was excruciating, but so worth it. It was impossible not to get emotional any time someone asked me about the show. I feel my feelings quite freely, no shame in that, and plenty of times I cried just telling people what this concert means to me personally. And most of the people I talked to were kind enough to not call me insane directly to my face, instead they probably thought it politely in their heads while nodding along, which I appreciated.

And then all of a sudden it was time.

5 minutes

This night will live in my heart forever.

the hip show

We had rear view seats, which I was a little worried about, but turned out amazingly well. There were massive screens on all four sides of the stage, so we didn’t miss a single thing. I saw every beautiful nuance of Gordie’s face while he sang to us. It was also really cool getting to see the bulk of the audience facing us, seeing what the band sees when they play to these sold-out maniacal crowds. What an amazing view!

audience

And the setup with the screens was perfect. Gord knew where the cameras were and he didn’t shy away from them at all. He loved using the cameras as a way to connect with everyone. There was this really wonderful moment where he just stared straight into the lens, a myriad of expressions passing across his face, and it felt like he was looking right at you, looking into you. Such a special thing, it allowed 20,000 people to feel like they got to have one personal moment with Gord.

They played so many great songs. The Hip have the most incredibly robust catalogue. So many crowd pleasers, too many for one performance. Some fantastic deep cuts too, stuff that is just always so surprising, but awesome to hear live. The new material fit right in. What Blue and Tired As Fuck felt like they were old gems I’ve always loved. Grace Too, 50 Mission Cap, Lake Fever, Little Bones, Three Pistols, Music at Work, Fully Completely, Wheat Kings… they just gave and gave.

Gordie

I expected to cry the whole time, to just be overcome. But I wasn’t. We rocked the fuck out, the band made sure of it. They played for over two and half hours and while there were lots of emotional moments peppered throughout the evening, the overall tone was much more triumphant than sad. It was a passionate and heady performance. I cried as soon as I heard the first few notes of Fiddler’s Green mostly because that’s just such a weighty song anyways. And again I cried hearing one of my personal favourites, Ahead By a Century… that lyric “disappointing you is getting me down” just felt too real.

But the most emotional moment of the whole concert was after the encore, Bobcaygeon, when Gordie bowed to the crowd and said “Thank you, Toronto. Thank you forever.” Instant waterfall of tears. Bawling, all of us, a whole stadium of people.

Gordie

It couldn’t last forever though, no matter how much I wished it would. All things end.

When it was time to say goodbye we cheered our hearts out for Gordie for a full three minutes while he stood there soaking it in, waving and bowing so appreciatively back at us. A thunderous amount of love for the man who means and has meant so much to so many of us, to this nation, for over 30 years. That was our moment to say what we needed to say to this great man. We fucking love you. So much.

You can watch it, our applause for Gord. And if you couldn’t get the tickets that you desperately wanted for one of the shows, I’m sorry. That fucking sucks. But you can take comfort in this little sliver of the magic that I bottled up and saved for you:

Best concert ever. Period.

The Hip

I’ll never forget that night in Toronto.