Just passed Elizabethtown, Kentucky after twelve hours of driving, one hour of eating Mexican food and another hour stopped at Customs convincing them our band wasn’t going to be making any money in the States( we aren’t- check our bank statements, that’s why we are called “The Heartbroken”). At last we have seen a sign for our final destination of Nashville, standing there on the side of the road beckoning like a palm tree in the desert. I feel like a little kid, it could be because I packed a lunch for the car so everybody could have little sandwiches, fruit and cookies (something I have never done in my life) but more likely it’s because my band mates and I are playing a new iPhone video game called Scramble and we might as well be twelve years old sitting in the back seat being bribed with a stuffed Smurf to be good or at least be quiet. If it was anything of any importance I would never say this out loud, let alone put it in writing but I am blowing them out of the water. I’ve won every single game since Ohio and it is absolutely infuriating them. Every game is going to be the last but each time after the score is announced and they see I’ve won, they bark in harmony ” One more game, let’s just play one more game” . I am a little scared now, not of losing, but of them ganging up on the “know it all sister”, of them stealing my dolls or ratting on me to the folks for stealing gum. It’s funny what type of regression happens when you are cramped into a tight space for so long, now we are a family of three brothers and their sister who’s about to be told she’s too young to play with them ( ok, ok that’s a stretch I know but a girl can dream can’t she?). I figure I’ve got to cut loose here, find something to distract them so I can move the target on my back and while I am figuring out how to do this, I lose. A straight up, no excuses, drop the ball fail but I feel like at least they’ll cut me some slack. Instead, the accusations they heap on me for not trying and accusing me of throwing the game is worse than when I was on a winning streak. So I’ve got nothing to lose but to roll up my sleeves and win, only the glowing lights of Nashville will save me or should I say save them. Music City here we come.
I am sitting in my hotel room in Ottawa overlooking the Rideau Canal, trying to breathe, reason and well, breathe again for a million reasons.
In a month I head to Rwanda with a group of artists and a record producer to make an album with local Rwandan Musicians for ” Song For Africa” as well as set up and teach them how to use a recording studio and film a documentary about it. Even more pressing on my mind is that tomorrow I head up to Parliament Hill to interview Canadian Senator General Romeo Dallaire about his insights into Rwanda, its people and its children and I am more than a little intimidated. In 1994 Dallaire was offered the UN command post for its Peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, he accepted and ending up flying into a whirling dervish of simmering racial tensions that was set up by Colonialists and funded by the French. Despite Dallaire’s pleas for more troops and requests for permission to raid the massive store of weapons that pointed to a very well planned mass slaughter, the powerful countries of the world decided that Dallaire’s mission should remain a peacekeeping one and ordered him to forget about the cache of weapons for fear of upsetting the balance. This inaction by the UN directly led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that killed at least 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. It is easy in the western world to turn a blind eye when you hear words like Hutu and Tutsi, almost as if it is something from a book, but if you substitute the words Catholic and Protestant and imagine losing 800 000 souls on the island of Newfoundand in 100 days, anyone in their right mind wouldn’t believe for a minute that the world wouldn’t intervene to save us. But alone with a small band of soldiers Dallaire stood and tried with all his might to do everything he could to change the tides of civil war. From my understanding, the years after he returned from Rwanda were mired in deep guilt and regret about every step he took and didn’t take and how the mission failed despite his greatest efforts, weighed down by “what ifs” and “I should have”. My question is, how do you tell a man that will never believe himself a hero that for the thousands of lives he did save and for the lives of their children’s children, that he is in fact a hero? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
They say you learn something new every day even if you are not trying, knowledge has a way of seeping in. With me it means that I am the holder of useless information, tidbits, facts that I half read or heard and ultimately retain. I am usually the only person at the party who knows the what, the who, the when or the where of something completely insignificant but that sits infuriatingly on the tip of everybody else’s tongue without any hope of jumping off. Why my memory doesn’t come through for me when I need to remember song lyrics or names of people I actually know, I have no idea, but I figured if my brain needs to work in that capacity I might as well be trying to absorb something I care about, so I decided to take a sewing class. Now I don’t have any grand designs about making my own clothes and I certainly have no desire to go walking around looking like one of the kids from ” The Sound Of Music” but I do have an awesome collection of vintage (aka cheap as dirt) dresses that would be perfect if only there was a nip here , a tuck there. I stopped shopping for them a few years back because I realized they were just sitting in my closet taunting me with their rips and tears, because the thought of gathering them up and bringing them somewhere to get pinned and trimmed overwhelmed me. I am a straight up, iron my clothes in the dryer kinda girl, so they dangled there like dinosaur bones.
I was apprehensive about my first class, about meeting new people, about trying not get my hands caught under the needle and a little nervous that I might get bored during the two hour class. What I should have been worried about was the whiplash I got from spinning my head around to watch the teacher demonstrate, then to see how in the world that demonstration applied to my machine and then to scramble to jot down notes filled with words like serger and selvage that I had never heard in my life let alone tried to spell. So here I sit trying to make out the list of things I need for my class tonight but my writing looks like a four year old hit up a box of Fruit Loops and went through a box of pens and attempted a sugar fuelled therapy/ art project. For the life of me, I can’t cull the list from my memory from just last week yet I still know every word from the movie Pretty Woman . . . one of life’s sad and twisted little ironies, that I really wish would right itself.
Is it just me or is it terribly morbid to want to watch a movie based on the rehearsals for Michael Jackson’s last tour when he was strung out and listless, a shadow of his former self? Who would want to remembered for the very last days of their life when in fact they were actually half dead? Especially someone who so carefully cultivated and obsessed over their physical image even though it wasn’t in keeping with society’s’ version of beautiful. Let’s put it this way, if anyone taped the band rehearsal we had today I would hunt them down and burn it before I kicked the bucket. Airing footage of rehearsals is like inviting people over for dinner, marinating chicken and peeling potatoes and putting it on the table before ever putting it in the oven, uncooked, raw and salmonella worthy. The previews for the movie are as unavoidable as clips of Kanye West interrupting, insulting and humiliating a seventeen year old girl( Taylor Swift), then apologizing, crying and finally admitting that he was wrong about something for once. When Kanye and Jay Leno sat down to talk on Jay’s first night back to prime time in a new time slot, it was like watching a grade five therapy session, a la Dr Phil (which I am sure Dave Letterman loved with a capital L), he was publicly chastised while this is one of the best things to ever happen to Taylor Swift’s career. It was almost like Beyonce pulled a Dirty Dancing and said “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” and Taylor instantly became as beloved as ” Baby” herself. Sadly today while celebrities were twittering, blogging and revealing too much in interviews, the original ” Johnny Castle” Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, a battle he fought with enough dignity and pride for all of the Kanye’s in the world. So, if you want to be truly touched and entertained by a life lived with beauty, turn off the TV and go see the Beothuck Street Players version of “Tuesday’s With Morrie” at the St John’s Arts and Culture Center September 16th to the 19th, your mind and heart will thank you.