The first time I met her was at a bus stop in front of Lakeport high school at night. I was headed to my first high school dance. It was grade nine, and my christian high school didn’t have dances, for whatever biblical reasons, and I was nervous.
Jen was already too cool for school dances. She was leaving the dance–she had better and more interesting things to do and cooler people to hang out with. She was dressed in all black, the jeans tight on her skinny legs, her long red hair had a slight feather to it and the wings of her eyeliner were extended further than I had ever seen on anyone since the 80s.
Her tough exterior and aloof coolness were intimidating to this square and dorky church girl. The friend I was with introduced us, and I felt lame. I was definitely not as cool as this girl and there’s no way she’d want to be friends with lame preppy little me. She was rock and roll. She was Jen Hatcher.
The following year, I transferred schools, and started attending Lakeport myself. But badass Jen had already been kicked out of Lakeport or some shit, so our paths never really crossed again, until much much later. That brief meeting must have made some impression on the both of us, though, because years later we met up again, and there was no question that we knew each other.
I was in university at the time, and had landed my then dream job, working at Scizzions as the receptionist. Jen was working as a stylist at the same salon, and was a bit standoffish at first. I’m certain she had kept her distance because of my lame quotient, but running into me at a Sick Boys rock show upped my cool factor by about a million. So then we were friends.
We worked together almost every day for 5 years, along side our other co-workers, and I often describe that time as “working with my best friends everyday”. The pranks we pulled were outrageous and often ended in uncontrollable giggle fests while clients were left waiting for their hair cuts and colours. We took liberties with each other’s personal property that no coworkers should ever take but our senses of humour made it work. The laughs and our friendship extended far beyond the walls of the salon as we often spent our free time together too…smoking cigarettes, sharing secrets and spilling drinks for hours before passing out on each other’s couches.
I learned a lot about Jen in that time, and we became very very close friends–Another unique friendship with a special soul that I have been so fortunate to collect in my lifetime. So please, let me tell you all about her. My friend, Jen.
My friend Jen was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s. She’s always loved (hair) metal, which is totally weird for someone our age. I liked metal for a spell in the 80’s, when I wanted to be like my babysitter. I listened to Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain, maybe more than most 8 year olds, but Jen loved it all. Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, even Ratt. She’s been to more Cinderella concerts than is even conceivable for someone in their 30’s and if there was a world record for use of the kyuss in everyday life, she’d own it. Jen is a skid. A rockin’ 80’s skid.
But beyond her skiddy tastes in music, is a beautiful and loving sweet soul. She is the kindest, most gentle human you’ll ever get the chance to meet. She is friendly and cheerful, and has hoards of friends. She is bright and sunny and motivated and ambitious. She’s even sensitive, though she’s not likely to admit it. She is empathetic and loving and wonderful. She is the truest of the true, the bluest of the blue and the best god damned friend you could ever ask for.
Jen Hatcher has been there for me in some of the most difficult and trying times in my life. Always offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to lend, or pages of words encouraging me to do something with my life. Urging me to follow my dreams. Pushing me to turn my life around when there was no one else that could do that for me. She was there cheering me on and chairing my fan club when I felt alone and scared and was ready to give up.
She’s tougher than tough, stronger than strong and has endured some extremely challenging times in her life–things that could literally crush anyone’s soul. And she has lived through it all with remarkable grace and poise and patience. The world would be a better place if we would all strive to be just a little more like her.
I could go on for days, and it still wouldn’t do her justice. I am so lucky to have such a incredible and amazing friendship with Rock and Roll Jen. I never saw it coming that cool autumn some 20 years ago as Meatloaf blared from the high school gym. But beyond the eyeliner and tight jeans was an extraordinary spirit so unique and special who has come to mean so much to me. Ultimately, I’m writing because I’m inspired by her and I’m grateful every single day to have her in my corner.
My friend Jen. Keep on rockin’, you skid.
Every once in a while, all things align to make for a great day. A really special day. The best day even.
A day where plans are loose, some freedom is in sight, and your best pal is in town.
People on the streets are happy and the air is light. No where to be, no one’s schedule to follow and the day just unfolds itself for you with almost no effort.
And at the end of the day you just can’t seem to fire your way into the number one spot for all time galactic hero, but it doesn’t matter because there’s still the walk home. It’s quiet and oddly bright and it feels like you have the night all to yourself. Just you and your Parkdale.
I think I always knew about Sleater-Kinney, but I never really listened to them before I heard this song. Like really heard it.
If I had to guess, I would say that the song is probably supposed to be sarcastic in undertones, judging solely on what I’ve learned about Carrie Brownstein’s sense of humour on Portlandia. And since they’re sortof punk rock, it might just be a commentary on how people rely on material possessions to bring them happiness. Here’s what comes to mind when I put it on repeat.
Listening to Modern Girl reminds me of the way I felt about Hole’s “Violet” back in the 90s. It makes me want to wake up really early, drink coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes while I drive a really long distance shouting the lyrics at the top of my lungs. This song picks me up, it perks me up and makes me feel like I can face the world. The entire world. It doesn’t matter to me what social commentary Sleater Kinney meant to disseminate with Modern Girl. I blast this as my anthem–not because I’m a punk rock socialist. It is my anthem because my life, my whole life, IS a picture of the sunny day.
I have a beautiful baby who loves me. I have an amazing husband who loves me. I can get a really fucking awesome donut if I want, and buy a television if I really wanted to. And even if I didn’t have any of those things, my life would still be full of sunshine. Because that’s how I want to see it.
There are so many things that can stand in the way of happiness. Things that seem so important to the value of our lives, but instead of propelling us forward, they push us down or hold us back. Negative thoughts and actions have no purpose, but rather, they simply sap your drive to live and your will to see all that is good and lovely.
I don’t live in some weird euphoric utopian paradise zombie state, though reading back on what I’ve written, it may sound that way. I hurt and I cry and sometimes I think I simply can’t go on. Dwelling on those horrific feelings, while it seems to temporarily offer comfort and relief, doesn’t really offer any value, to me or anyone else. It simply draws energy away from the things I want to accomplish in this life.
I grew up in a pretty negative environment, surrounded by some pretty significant negative influences. I was so negative I can remember an era in my life where I would actually say to people that I didn’t want to live past 30. My first thought now is to laugh at such immature rationale, but when I really reflect on the implications of those things I was saying, I get scared. If things hadn’t changed and I hadn’t made a conscious effort to shed the negativity, I might not have made it to 30. And I never would’ve been able to enjoy this extraordinary life that I get to live today.
Happiness is a choice, and several years ago I made that choice to be happy. Surely I have days now and again where again I find myself smack in the middle of misery and despair. But I try to remind myself about the choice I made as quickly as I can. Rather than slowly wasting away in the dismal and gray, I can choose to live on and thrive in the shining sun.
Thank you, Sleater-Kinney, for writing and recording Modern Girl. It helps me remember to make that choice. Over and over again. And that’s what makes me a modern girl.
I just looked it up. It was actually March 5th. Turns out that’s actually my pal’s Parks’ birthday…funny coincidence. I didn’t even know there was a Park’s when I moved to Toronto.
|West Queen West upon entering Parkdale “You’ve Changed”|
Coming to the decision to move away from my friends, my family, my love, was actually easier than I thought it was at the time. I had been to visit my dear Kindred on several occasions, and cried whenever I left. So I moved, and my life changed. Of course I miss my friends, and it was challenging to make new ones, so that part wasn’t easy. But the rest really was pretty simple. It didn’t matter that I was surrounded by tons of really rad people who I really really really love a whole lot, I always felt lonely in the Cath. I knew that if I stayed in Niagara I would live a sad lonely life. I needed things to change. I needed to be alone to end the loneliness.
There I was yesterday. Here I am now and where I’ll be tomorrow–ever so much to celebrate! I know March 5th, 2013 has come and gone, but each year I try, at the very least, to remember the time with celebratory thoughts. I try to remember how I felt then, and how it feels more right every day.
The Dakota, Lakeview, The Gypsy, The Park, 909 and my dress, the dog bowl, Squirrelys, The Paper Place, Preloved, Queen and Dovercourt, The Cock and Tail, The Gladstone. The Dufferin jog, the now bricked up stairway under the GO overpass. Streetcars, Lamport, the amphitheatre, the Caddy, Salvador, the Rhino, Meher’s deck, Capital, Not my dog, The Village of Parkdale mural, Thrift Town. Mezzrows and Tibetan protests. The CN Tower. Going Steady. The Golden Dogs, White Cowbell Oklahoma, and the Wednesday night residency at the Cameron. Bikes. The people. The people on bikes. The transit. The vibe. The sounds. The weather. The fresh flowers on the street corners. I look around me at the city and I am in love. In love with the people and the places. I have never in my life felt more at home.
On the sunny Sunday afternoon that Cindy and Juliee drove me into town, this song by Bjork came on. Just as it was supposed to–this song played and I laid eyes on the city that had become my new home just at the moment where Bjork says “this is where I’m staying. this is my home.” In March 2006 I came home for the first time. Happy anniversary, Toronto.
|Roommates Ruling Supreme|
Every spring I used to plan a party with Gord to celebrate another year of us ruling supreme as roommates. This spring, I’m planning a different kindof party. A party that I’ll surely celebrate for the rest of my life. I look forward to the traditions that will follow.
Sometimes music changes things. Sometimes walking changes things. Sometimes time changes things. Somehow, I have become increasingly content. Maybe it’s not contentment, but things just feel right. I would probably be a lot happier right now if Marigold hadn’t torn the “A” key off my laptop a few months ago. It is making this typing incredibly difficult.
Ron Leary : The Road in Between
The walking, the living, the family, the job are all things I’m really enjoying. I get to see my friends a lot. My skin has never looked better. I dare say, I have never felt better…
Maybe it’s all the lattes.
Anyways, I really like that song by Ron Leary. It makes me happy. And I want to remember it forever.
And, I’m exhausted.
Over the last few months, I have been spending my days watching Marigold learn to grab things with her hands, learn to roll over, and learn to stick out her tongue. Not high in stress levels to be sure. Don’t get me wrong, staying at home and looking after a baby is very tough, but not incredibly challenging. At least not for me. I love my little baby so much and think she is the most amazing thing in the world, but spending every day all day with her (at this age at least) probably just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Leaving her to go back to work was heartbreaking, because I knew I’d miss her. I’ve spent 24 hours a day for the last 150 days with her, save for a few hours here and there. She’s my best friend. I’m her best friend, of course it was going to be hard. Fortunately, she’s staying home with her other best friend, her daddy, who loves her just as much as I do. Thank god.
The transition for all of us wasn’t as difficult as I thought, or at least not in the way I anticipated it to be. I thought I would spend the first day crying in my office because I missed her so much, and that she would be wailing and whining all day waiting for me to come home. Not so much.
I was also worried (and I can say this, because I know Martin doesn’t read my blog) that I would come home to a disaster house everyday. That I would be the one to walk in the door, clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, look after the baby etc etc and then fall into a nervous exhausted mess and end up locked up somewhere. I have been surprised everyday, that this has not been the case in the slightest. And in reality, it would’ve been impossible, because I just don’t have the energy.
Of course I have high expectations for my home, and men often just don’t get it when it comes to having a tidy house. But that’s ok…I knew I couldn’t expect things to be done my way any more than I could expect Margiold to be dressed clothes that match. Let’s be serious.
He’s doing an excellent job. Accomplishing more than I thought any stay-at-home-dude ever could! And she loves being with her daddy, and he’s great with her. The dishes might not always be done, and she might be wearing a yellow striped onesie with pink polkadot pants, but the house is still standing. And frankly, I’m so happy to walk in the door when I get home, that I really don’t care that much that things are not done the way I would do them.
You see, this is a really big step. I am a boss, a manager, a director. Not just in my job, but in my home life too. To let this go is an amazing accomplishment for me.
So that being said, the whole transition was more difficult for me than I thought be in a way that’s different than I thought it would be. Does that even make sense? Let me explain.
My day goes like this…times are approximate
630-wake up feed the baby from one side, then pump the other
7-745 shower and get ready
745-8:30 Drive to Richmond Hill
830-12ish go go go go work work work work
1230-4 go go go go go work work work work
430-5 clean up any last bit of work before I leave
5-6 Drive home
6-7 Feed the baby and spend time with her while Martin preps dinner
7-8 have dinner and mind the baby
8-10 try to relax and spend time with Marigold and Martin
10-1030 Nurse the baby to bed
Sometime after 1030–go to bed.
There is not one second in my day that is for me, except for maybe when I go to the bathroom. And before you jump on me and tell me to get used to it, fuck you. I’m sick of people telling me it’s only going to get worse. I know this is the way it is when you have kids, but I’m just telling you how it has been for me, ok?
Furthermore, my maternity leave Employment Insurance deposits were screwed up, so I haven’t received the proper payment in close to a month, and we made an error in budgeting for Martin’s last pay, so we are incredibly broke. Which, if you’ve been broke before, know that it’s one of the most stressful things in life. I don’t know how people do it regularly. We’ll be fine and it will all work out, but it’s just one more thing to add to the list.
On top of that, my job is pretty demanding, so when I’m not working or doing anything, I’m thinking about work. The problems, the solutions and how we’re all going to get through all the bullshit that goes on are always on my mind. My day is filled to the brim with things that need attention immediately, which leaves little time for planning, evaluation and staff development….and in my opinion, these should be the key functions of my position. So, that is how I spend my free time. Thinking about work.
I was anticipating that I was coming back to a changed workplace–that things were different now. This is what I was told. Unfortunately, the differences are small and the issues that I felt needed to be addressed, hadn’t in my departure. In fact, in some ways, things are worse, since neither of the two people that were hired to replace me, worked out.
That being said, I have a team of 5. Three of those teammates were there prior to my departure, and have made me very proud. They have worked so hard in the face of adversity, surrounded by crazies and lazies and have managed to come out on top. The amount of effort, time and dedication that I see in my employees, I think, is unparalleled. This is the most rewarding part of any job that I have ever had, and this is why I am a boss. Seeing people change and grow with my guidance is more pleasing than any other accomplishment in my life and it is so worth the investment of my effort and time. And the fact that they were able to keep the ship afloat in my absence is thoroughly impressive. More than anyone else could ever know.
I find it difficult to leave the office every night. I am almost exasperated because in order for the necessary changes to take place to improve our workplace, I feel as though I need to put in the hours like I used to. I can’t do that anymore. I have a life, in fact, an excellent one. And I need to enjoy it…and staying at work till all hours of the night will not allow me to do that.
I’m not bragging here, but I have a fucking awesome position at a rapidly growing company, I have a nice home, and I have a handsome soul mate who is perfect for me in every way who loves me and our little family more than anything. He is faithful and loyal and committed to me and our family in a way I’ve never seen from a man in my life ever. I have a beautiful, healthy and hilarious daughter with a super rad name. I have my health, and I am pretty and sexy (though, a little flabby), and I’m funny, nice and generous and smart and successful and people like me (I think). I have what so many people want in life. I am so lucky. And I don’t take it for granted.
But I am a workaholic. And fighting that addiction is pretty tough. It’s not like heroin or anything, like I’m not going to die from shooting some bad dope into my veins, and the risks are not nearly as bad. But, hurting my little family is too high of a price to pay to see someone else’s company succeed. I’m not giving up on my job by any means, I’m just working at making work priority #2. Martin and Marigold need to be #1. And that’s the part that I’m struggling with inside. My job defined me. My success and dedication have been who I am for the last 10 years, and especially the last 3. The party Peattie that everyone knew and loved in my personal life is gone now too.
The hardest part of any of this is figuring out who I am now and who I want to be. The non stop party days are over. The work till you drop days are over. I have to find the right life/work/party balance that works for my new life….a balance that Marigold will love, admire and respect when she’s old enough to figure it out.
As Marigold continues to grow, I have less and less time to write. She’s requiring more attention to keep her amused each day, which means, less time for me to do the things I want. That on top of household chores that are mostly getting done at the bare minimum leaves me with only a few minutes to surf the internet, and play video games. And I’m going to learn to knit plus I want to learn to sew. God, if only I was one of those people that could get by on 4 or 5 hours sleep then I might be able to do the things I want.
I keep being faced with decisions that I really don’t want to make. We are constantly making easy choices from the minute we wake up in the morning and often we don’t even give it a second thought that we have a choice. Getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for the day and the list goes on. And on and on and on. Then there are the larger life decisions: who you are going to marry, where you are going to live, what you are going to do for a career. But sometimes, an unexpected quandary presents itself before you and suddenly you have to make a decision about a situation you have no prior experience with. Or sometimes you are faced with a decision you have made many times before, and you need to be reminded that you’ve done it before on blind faith, and it’s worked out in the end…hasn’t it?
It would be great if every time you had to make a decision that the only person affected would be you, and you alone. I think this is the reason why decisions become so difficult–the outcome has a great impact on someone around you. And it’s typically someone close to you. Someone who you love very much. I always think back to moving to Toronto, the biggest decision of my life thus far. Again–my decision to move meant leaving Matt (and dumping his sorry ass–I can say that now, it’s been long enough) and hurting someone I loved very much. I was leaving behind my friends and family and the only life I had ever known, but on the other side of that decision was tremendous opportunity which I would not have had otherwise, and I’ve been reaping the rewards ever since.
The last unexpected quandary I faced was a high impact/low return type of decision. My decision, in fact, has permanently damaged a friendship, and hopefully most of that damage will be repaired, though I’m sure some scars will remain.
Sometimes you just need to stand up for what you believe in regardless of how much it might hurt someone and regardless of how supportive you really want to be. It makes me sad to think that I had to choose at all let alone make the choice I made. And though my decision is hurtful, I hope it makes a strong statement. Because after this, I’m not going to beat the dead horse, because the horse is already dead, there’s no sense in that. And beating dead horses just makes a bloody mess that becomes pretty impossible to clean up. I’ve said my piece and voiced my concern. I’m going to let the issue die and rest in peace. At the very least I can show my support for moving forward.
God, disappointing people sucks so bad. And I really fucking hate letting people down. I want to make everyone happy all the time, which is probably why I’m so great with customer service. But, I know deep down that making EVERYONE happy is an impossibility. I have to think now of how my decisions–high impact/low return, or high impact/huge opportunity will affect Martin and Marigold first and foremost. I have to do what is best for our family, even if that means letting other people down that I care about very much. I have to make sure that the choices I make are ones that Marigold will admire once she’s older.
You can’t take a mulligan. There are no do-overs. Life was so much easier when it was just me. I don’t mean because of the extra work of taking care of a family. I mean that if I fucked up, the only person that faced the consequences was me. Gone are the days of risking my job with people calling in sick for me because I was passed out on a toilet in the bar’s basement bathroom the night before (Thanks Peter Peattie). Gone are the days of complete and utter irresponsibility. Now MG and MM are in the line of fire, and I just want to do what’s best for all of us, even if it means moving to Scarborough**.
I want to be someone she is proud to call her mother. And sometimes that means closing some doors and opening some windows. Right now I’ll just wait for the window to open, and decide whether or not it’s time to close the door, and try not to get black out drunk while I’m waiting.
**For the record we are not now, nor ever moving to Scarborough, it’s just a phrase I use now to demonstrate just how much I’m willing to sacrifice for my family.
For Christmas this year, we got satellite radio, and what an excellent gift it was for us. There’s about a dozen channels that we listen to on a regular basis, one of them being “Lithium”, the 90’s station. Try listening to 90’s radio and see what it does to you! It’s funny how many songs I hear that cause me to think of certain people, or certain times in my life.