There is no correct way to begin, nothing to cushion the blow of the events, nothing anyone can say to make it easier for the families and the friends of the people on that helicopter last week, you just have to “be”. Certainly there is no handbook to tell you how to show someone how sorry you are for their pain, but if there was, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would have written it. This tragedy which would have torn apart communities anywhere else has served to strengthen them, where people would have turned on others looking for someone to blame, these families have instead lent their hearts and opened their arms. Like everyone else I remember the night the Ocean Ranger went down as if it was yesterday, what I was wearing, what I was eating when the phone rang, with someone saying turn on the news. The sudden loss of life, of people’s fathers, brothers and sons taken in a flash which felt so unreal to me at six years old now seems all too real. I am sure we will all feel the same way about last Thursday twenty-seven years from now, how we gasped and cried when we heard the news, how we stuck to our TV’s and computers waiting for any news and holding out hope, till sadly there was none. How we learned bit by bit of the far reaching net these men and women cast in their lives to affect each and every one of us, whether it was a dear friend’s uncle or another’s nephew, cousin and friend or by tributes on facebook. My husband has been trying to get me to stop reading about the details of the accident online before bed because it’s too upsetting and up until this point he was right, except now it’s three in the morning and I just read they are finally all home. Along with survivor Robert Decker, seventeen souls have been recovered from the hands of the ocean, a gift it rarely gives, now hopefully their loved ones can have some sort of closure. There are no answers as to why something like this happens, but the families and friends of the people on that flight have shown the world how to handle it with grace and dignity when it does and my heart and prayers are with them all.
It’s hard to get anything done in the current economic, social and emotional climate mostly because not having money can be completely paralyzing. It seems everyone in the streets and on TV is being pushed around on a gurney, but hey, at least the person pushing it has a job. People ask me all the time how musicians are affected by the current recession and I say well, CD sales are tanking, ticket sales are down and expenses are up but to be honest we are unfazed because the music industry has been in a recession for about ten years, “starving artist chic” I like to call it. Even though sometimes they’re hard to find there are enormous advantages to being broke because you are forced to get rid of the material things that are only weighing you down, things that you never really wanted in the first place , you were just trying to keep up with your neighbours. For instance, 508 channels will not help you find something interesting to watch, a pair of rabbit ears will save you fifteen hundred dollars a year. You can liberate a thousand dollars a year by not getting your hair highlighted, which will be an added bonus to your friends who will secretly rejoice because now they don’t have to bite their tongues when you ask how it looks and all they really want to do is scream ” Wild African gazelle, you look like a gazelle- put the color down”. Remember the world before cell phones? I loved that world, I miss that world, let alone a blackberryless world, I have beautiful dreams about that place. The money you would save would be secondary, the peace of mind of not being plugged into a universe of other people’s whims at every second, priceless. We are minutes away from being a society so obsessed with technology that soon we will have a chip in our ears that knows who we want to call and when and we won’t have to touch a button. Twenty years ago that would have been a plot for a scary sci fi movie and now we are willingly moments away. Maybe the little things will mean something again, like tea and molasses buns, conversation and face to face communication, cause those are the only things I’d be willing to pay for and thankfully they don’t cost a thing (thanks for the buns Nan).
As much as I can, I try to avoid watching anything on TV that has a plane crash in it, crazy tumors that grow overnight and blind you, and super unlikely places where germs fester and conspire to kill every cell in your body — because I just don’t need to add any fuel to the fire that is my imagination. So in the past whenever anyone brought up how incredible the airplane crash survival show ” Lost” is I just tried to tune them out, but after a certain point I couldn’t stand my own cowardice anymore so I decided to cover my eyes during the plane crash part and give it a try. The entire first episode I sat curled up in a ball, with my eyes sewn shut and my fingers stuffed in my ears but I could still hear the thunderous tear that rips apart their plane. With some pretty believable heart palpitations already in motion, I threw my hands up on the air and forced myself to watch it, episode after episode with a million flash backs to the plane and how it appeared to each passenger. After the fourth episode or so these scenes stopped terrifying me, they just helped put all the pieces of the puzzle together and curiosity won out over fear. Then I got on my first flight since watching twenty four episodes back to back and the fear and the palpitations were back in full force and all I could think was “getting on this plane was a very, very bad idea”. I studied the face of every single passenger to assess if they would be a good ally if stranded on a desert island or if they would turn into a drug addicted, gun toting food thief. Every bump and tumble I braced the armrest for impact, sweating and breathing like I was in labour while everyone else around me laughed at the beyond ridiculous movie about Chihuahuas on TV. When the cart stopped in the aisle right beside me to give out drinks, I cursed under my breath like a mad woman going” you’re blocking my path to the emergency exit” . I remembered in the show they were heading to LA and so was I. Why in the world was everyone else so calm? When we finally landed safe and unscathed, I gave myself a talking to in the mirror of the airport bathroom and resolved to stop being such a grade A idiot. This worked until a few days later when I boarded a flight to Nashville — just after seeing the plane crash in Buffalo on the news, driving by a car wreck on the freeway to the airport where the car blew up as I passed it, and realizing it was Friday the thirteenth. If I was that random guy who had to sit next to me on that flight I would have made it my mission to make sure that crazy lady (aka me) never watched “Lost” again. Good thing he doesn’t know I am packing my bags to get on a flight so I can go home and watch the rest of season two, it’s just that good.
I feel like I have been off the ice, big time. After being an artist for more than half my life, I came to a point where performing felt like going to the moon for the weekend. It seemed like a completely foreign thing to do and I was afraid it would feel like that forever. The last few years have seen me writing and learning behind the scenes more and I enjoyed it more than I ever could have imagined. To be honest, the thought of walking out on stage by myself scared me more than it did when I was nine (and ten, eleven and twelve, thirteen , etc) and was woefully underprepared for the Kiwanis music festival despite my incredible singing teachers. Then I realized I was just lonely, it’s just no fun being a solo artist, I wanted to be in a band, so one night sitting around the kitchen table myself and three good friends decided to join forces. Thankfully the getting to know you process was already complete as Stu, Blake and Pete played with Shaye for years and we had remained the best of friends since ( fans might remember them as ” Sweetass”). We wrote our first song before Christmas and immediately jumped into the fire and booked our first gig. It’s kinda like putting on a really warm and comfortable coat, that goes with everything you own- sometimes it just works. When asked to describe our sound we like to say ” Imagine Bowie and Johnny Cash walk into Willie Nelson’s bar and Linda Ronstadt tries to pick a fight with them”, with some four part harmony thrown in for good measure. I just walked in the door after a seven hour rehearsal, my fingers and neck are sore from playing guitar and I couldn’t be happier, ” The Heartbroken” ( the name of our band) has its first gig Friday night in Corner Brook and I am jittery with excitement and fear. The good thing is that Jian Ghomeshi and I are co hosting the ECMA awards show and I am just as nervous about that so I am hoping the two will cancel each other out and I can relax and enjoy both. After that I head out with David Myles to play the Arts and Culture centers in Labrador and across the island, to sing some new songs and some you know quite well, so come on out it would be great to see you.