2021 Shitshow, er, Year in Review

I think I said I’d do a year in review type post. I’ll skip some stuff that’s been going on (eg, personal and family stuff), and won’t do a full blow-by-blow since I’ve had the weekly blog posts on Saturdays to cover more detail, but here’s some of the big trends and new beginnings, etc.

Well, let’s start with new beginnings, shall we?

In 2021, I started clarinet lessons. I still suck, especially because I don’t practise enough, but I can play simple things like the Wassail Song and you can more or less tell what it is I’m trying to play, so that’s good.

At least, you can tell when I can read my messy scrawl of it and not have to stop, stare, and try to remember what line or space the scribbles actually are on:

I’ve gotten a bit of a home gym going with my exercise bike and free weights, and while it hasn’t arrived yet, I did order a rowing machine 2 weeks ago, so I’ll say that counts for this year.

I think those are the only truly new things this year, but I have some continuations and developments to report as well.

Funniest amongst these, for those who’ve known me a long time and heard my various music rants, is that I developed a love of U2. It was mostly this year, but technically it did start last December. So… I went from absolutely hating that band, and their frontman, though I can’t remember why exactly, to typing this underneath the following poster:

What can I say? The Gods have a sense of humor.

I’ve been getting into a bunch of back catalogues for bands I already loved but had been lazy about actually hearing all of their stuff. Chief among these has been the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, but also I’ve picked up a few Duran Duran albums from after I stopped paying attention to their new stuff in the mid-90s.

And I’ve been listening to more and more jazz and swing, including works by the likes of Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson and trying to delve into Latin dance music: I love mambo music when I hear it but I’m clueless when it comes to knowing any of the artists.

That kinda picks up a thread I dropped 15 years ago. In the early 2000s I did a fair bit of concert reviews for UBC’s paper, plus CITR’s arts report and Discorder Magazine, and I sorta specialized in the local jazz and art music scenes, but as I stopped writing reviews, I kinda lost touch and I’ve been slowly checking out some of that stuff again.

Like I just found this video of Sal Ferreras from 5 years ago doing an improv on glass marimba:

I used to know Sal a little bit from my UBC School of Music days, and he probably played in like 10-15% of the bands I used to review the most, lol…

I do love stuff like that improv. Definitely not for everyone, but there’s something very appealing to me about it. Kinda reminds me of Balinese gamelan to a certain extent.

(Note to self: No, Pyra, you can’t buy a marimba. At least not til after you’ve settled in the US and have a basement for such things. If you buy one now, you’ll just have to sell it and buy a new one in the US or you’ll have to haul it down there.)

What else… well, work on the web series involving dolls progresses. When I first came up with the idea late in November 2020, I thought I’d have the first episode up in January 2021.

Yeah, right…

But the characterizations are much stronger now than if I’d rushed them out.

In other creative projects, I’m doing The Zamo the Destroyer Show more or less weekly again, though I think maybe it’ll be time to move that into a different format, maybe back to a comic? I dunno.

I’ve been writing poetry again… for good or for bad, I honestly can’t tell most of the time. And even a few scraps of what are clearly lyrics are coming now… well, more on that later.

A couple months ago in divination I kept getting a clear message about returning to the “ancestral temple” so I’ve been reading more seriously on Norse, Celtic (especially Irish), and Slavic pagan traditions (as per my heritage), and a little bit on shamanism and implementing what I can. I’m putting this under continuations because here and there over the years I’d paid a little attention to things like Norse sagas or Irish folklore, and once upon a time I was an anthropology major, so I had a passing familiarity with shamanism to the extent that such things are discussed there. Plus having been an occultist as long as I have been (coming up on 30 years now), one hears bits and bobs about at least neo-shamanism.

I’ve also returned to doing regular ritual work on the 8 main sabbats as well as the new and full moons. The exact nature of such rituals will of course not be posted about there, but general trends or ideas do get posted in the Witchy Wednesday blogs.

I’m down about 20 pounds in 2021. It had been closer to 30 but I’ve been eating way too much candy since Halloween and will be remedying that shortly.

I got up to walking about an hour and twenty minutes in the hills close to my house before the really shitty weather set in to make things too icy for that. I expect I’ll be spending January and part of February working out at the home gym and then will resume the long outside walks when the weather improves a bit.

I’m continuing to stumble along trying to learn some Irish and Polish as well as some Norwegian.

Anyway, I’m healthier and more creatively active than I have been in several years. I suspect the former has to do with the latter as much as with any exercise or diet changes.

Well, that’s beginnings and continuations… what about endings?

There were a couple I could mention.

I’m kinda over the garden. Not that I don’t like looking at it, of course, but I mean the maintenance. Granted, that has to do with not doing enough of it early enough in the year to carry through summer and also I never did get a drip irrigation system set up in the beginning so I was having to spend an hour or more an evening every day in the late spring and into the summer watering.

That lasted until the historic heat dome, when I clocked 118F on the back patio, according to my HVAC’s sensor.

Not fucking happening, so I decided that whatever died, died. And then I never got too much into watering consistently after that.

I did get more mulching done in the summer (should have been done in the late winter and early spring) and occasional watering, but I really dropped the ball and part of me doesn’t feel like picking it back up. Maybe I’ll get my juju back in the spring, and I’ll have to do some sort of something, at least planting groundcovers and there’s still 2 piles of mulch on the patio that need to be put out on the flowerbeds.

In the future, in my next garden, I’m leaving most of the grass, and just adding garden borders a bit at a time and keeping them up 2 years minimum before expanding or adding new ones. I will also make sure to thoroughly mulch each one at the beginning to get ahead of any weeds and also I will make sure drip is one of the first steps I do. If I have to pay to have it done, fine.

I plan to seed creeping thyme in early spring and add in sedums and other groundcovers in March where needed to try to get them established before the heat comes on.

If I was planning to stay here any length of time, I would also hire someone to come and do the drip zones so I could just turn it one with a switch and let it run and turn it off. However, I don’t plan to stay too much longer, so fuck it. The next owner will either take what I’ve started and run with it or rip it out and put the lawn back.

Some stuff thrived, though: props to cosmos and chamomile, and I will be seeding the shit out of those everywhere in early spring, too. In fact, I don’t think I planted any of either this year, it’s all what self-seeded from previous plantings and they both thrived despite the neglect. Ditto the snapdragons and violas.

The garden was great when I had it as my top priority. Now, not so much. And if it’s not your top priority in hobbies, they start not looking so hot unless you pay someone else to take care of it all.

Musically, I’m done with drums… for now. I stopped taking lessons in June. I expect I may come back to it eventually as I have several times over the years.

There were also some podcast endings. I briefly revived my Under My Skin podcast, but the first run of that starting in 2014 involved me doing stand-up, me going to friends’ shows, etc., in addition to a bit of news coverage and celebrity and rock star gossip coverage and ranting.

You see the problem with trying that sort of show during the Karenpocalypse, right? Especially since I now live in a small coastal town with no real live scene or arts scene.

So I was trying to avoid news coverage because it was all depressing, and I had nothing fun to do and talk about, so I mostly bitched about retarded crap John Taylor posted on the Duran Duran Instagram and blathered about my growing appreciation for Bono.


That show might eventually get a third shot at life, but probably I would just do it as a livestream comedy show a la Revenge of the Cis or whatever. And it probably won’t be called Under My Skin, but who knows, maybe it will be.

There was another shortlived podcast with a pal, but we decided to cancel it before it got us cancelled (well, the pal, because I’m kinda antifragile but my friends aren’t that lucky yet). So much for that, but it was fun while it lasted.

And my old pals Ivan and Byron and Eric stuck a fork in the Dry Shave Show and called it done. Once upon a time I’d been the news girl and the producer on an earlier incarnation of it, then they revived it as a livestream and I was the chat moderator, but… well, I think it suffered from the same malaise as Under My Skin with the news all being depressing. The lockdowns were clearly wearing on all of our mental wellbeings, and the livestream failed to really get traction.

I’m sure we’ll all be back for other projects in the future, in fact, last I heard, Byron was off to the US and Brazil for a few months, and probably doing a bunch of stand-up sets while he’s at it.

Y’know, once you leave Canazuela, life gets a lot better. And a lot more normal.

Even in Commiefornia.

Canada still sucks, eh?

Which I guess brings me to my plans/hopes for 2022.

I gotta get out of here. I have a few options on the table, some of which involve my personal life so we’ll leave that alone for now, but back up plans include: liquidating all Canadian holdings, buying a place in the US and a place in Mexico, and splitting my stuff and my time between the two (you can stay 6 months straight in each of the US and Mexico on tourist visas) or sucking it up, waiting another year (because reasons to do with entry requirements) and applying for temporary residency in Mexico a year from now and then just moving to Mexico. Once there, you can renew the temporary residency 3 times for up to 4 years there before I’d either have to leave or apply for permanent residency, which I’d be able to get by setting up a business in Mexico (and rental properties for vacationers like Air BnB should count).

So I hope next year’s version of this post talks about how glad I am to be out of Canada permanently.

Either way, I have to get rid of a ton of accumulated clutter that I don’t want to haul with me.

I also think I want to get back with a bass clarinet. I had rented one in the summer, but it was a Yamaha student model that had the stupid rubber O-rings instead of cork in the middle and bottom joints of the body and it was a bitch to put it together and take it apart and I was worried I’d break it.

I think I mentioned before that I’d see about getting one after I move, but the thing is I want to practise with one now, so I think when I’m doing in Victoria next week I will pop into Long & McQuade and see what my rental options are that don’t have that goddamn O-ring issue.

And of course I plan to carry on with the rest: weight loss, web series, music stuff, etc.