Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top 10 Music for Babies

For something a little lighter than my usual fare: inadvertent music for babies. By this I mean music made for baby-listening that wasn't actually made for baby-listening. Toss out your "Baby Einstein" CDs (I mean get some classical music from somewhere super affordable like Naxos and skip the whole Disney-fication of Einstein and classical music).

1. Radiohead: especially Kid A and OK Computer. (Dennes and considered naming our baby Kid A for a brief time but then realized our second choice for a name, Pablo, was also a Radiohead album and probably would garner less teasing at school).

2. Sarah Slean: Pablo particularly likes The Baroness, tracks "The Lonely Side of the Moon" and "Willow".

3. Arcade Fire: anything and just about everything

4. Modest Mouse

5. Sam Roberts: Pablo used to squirm in my belly when "Them Kids" would play.

6. Flobots: especially "Rise" and "Combat", what can I say, he's a politically minded kid.

7. K'naan: "ABCs" unlike the usual alphabet song.

8. Arvo Part: just about everything he's written can act as a great lullabye.

9. Alexander Balanescu: "Bee Dress" from the Angels and Insects soundtrack. Pure lullabye honey.

10. Leon Redbone: anything at all by this dude.

BONUS: Tina Turner: "Proud Mary" -- just because it was the first song that came on the radio on the drive home from the hospital with Pablo.

I really believe the "music for babies" industry is a crock. They need to hear real music not the plinky-plunk of synthesized xylophones (hey you can get that on Kid A plus a little bit of emotional and poetic content as well!) Lullabyes can be anything, really. Pablo likes "Karma Police" (recognizes it when it comes on the radio) and "The Lonely Side of the Moon" and Gary Jules' version of "Mad World".

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home, the hardest part

Sad, home from tour. Joyous, while I have a whole week to just hang out with Pablo (and do LOTS of laundry) but I am saying goodbye to playing the ship Titanic again. I love performing "April 14, 1912" with Theatre Rusticle. It is one of my favourite things I've ever performed. Even though there were times on the tour when I thought my body could use a break for one more day, I feel like I could go on exploring, testing, deepening the role for years and years. There is no concrete plan for the future of this play...

The week with Pablo went so quickly. I was upset to go back into rehearsals....and I went into a heavy rehearsal week to boot. When we were trying to get pregnant -- the whole 5 weeks we tired before success! -- I was worried about work after Pablo was born and somehow this year has been a heavier workload than many other years. I suppose I could say the Fates are asking me to choose wisely and feel deeply, both at work and at home.

There was a lovely fantasy quality to touring. Spending time during the day with baby and Dennes, Dennes working remotely and assertively while we had coffee by the ocean, swimming in hotel pools to warm up for the show, the ritual of putting on make up and doing hair -- these are things I never do at home. I'm lucky if I remember to put on mascara and have time to blow dry my hair. And that's not because I have a baby, that's just the way I've always been, excluding those heady hairspray days of high school wherein my tresses resembled those of Robert Smith, but kind of not in the cool way.

And the discipline of preparing for the show physically....this I cannot rein in satisfactorily when I'm not working on a show. This is part baby, but also partly due to my disinterest in most of the technical dance classes going on in Toronto. Yet a dancer at heart, I feel guilty for not being in daily class, though that has never been my forte or the thriving place.

At home my training of late consists of bouncing on the mini-trampoline while Pablo is in the jolly jumper of the exersaucer...or squeezing in Donna Krasnow's CI training DVD while baby naps. Pleasurable, but I'm starting to crave more.

I would also like to go to Cuba.
How's that for rambling all over the place.
Dreaming all over the place, like a messy head.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Still touring....Salt Spring Island

Well, the inevitable happened. I've been told it happens to every baby....he fell off the bed in the hotel. I've heard stories of falling off beds, change tables, down stairs while strapped into a stroller, but it still didn't stop my breath from being taken away as I saw his little face as he went down.

We are now in week two of the tour, on Salt Spring Island in the beautiful Salt Spring Inn. Pablo was playing with my copy of the Dance Current magazine and got excited while I brushed my teeth at the sink next to him, watching him in the mirror. In the blink of an eye, over he went. I caught him before he made complete impact with the floor. My stomach and intestines have not settled, even though he cried for just a few minutes and has been in a good mood for most of the rest of the day. I can't believe it happened. He fell. I could not stop it. I'm not sure I'm prepared for what is going to happen for the rest of my life with Pablo.

I refuse to believe I'm a terrible parent...I've heard too many stories about babies falling, especially once they figure out how to crawl, roll over, toddle etc....and you can't stop them from making mistakes. They need to faceplant every once in a while in order to figure out how to do things themselves. But I have a horrible bloody imagination and can see in almost every situation how things could become fatal or gruesomely sad. I say it's a genetic flaw, or too many teenage days spent reading and writing morose poetry. Makes no difference now as the vivid images or possible tragedies creep in.

On another note entirely, our opening on Salt Spring Island was mind-blowing. The audience was so receptive. A standing ovation! Today we have struck a good balance, Dennes and I. I played with Pablo early in the morning while Dennes did some work back east for his "real job" -- i.e. not his "nanny job". We lunched together between sessions of rehearsal in the theatre and napped together between rehearsal and opening. We have traded off on rounds of drinks in the hotel bar. I had round one, Dennes round two. I type this as Pablo stirs in the bed (the scene of this morning's accident!) and falls back to sleep. I can hear the cast having a good time downstairs and buoyed by my glass of wine, I hope that we are starting to figure this out: how to be a family with a performer who may indeed tour again.

I wish with all my heart that I had enough work so that Dennes could just follow his wishes for work and time with Pablo. But today was a beautiful, drizzling day that feels like we are on the cusp of discovering a soft and gentle road through this.

I was feeling that I was screwing up on all fronts, letting everyone down, or at least stressing them out. I try very hard to sort things out myself, but self-sufficient and not bother anyone with my nervousnesses or questions. But I am learning that trying to be stoic often leads me to be completely wild and quivering.

Tomorrow a day with baby and Dennes, perhaps some mussels and chevre and good coffee.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Touring with Baby Part 1

I love flying. I love the surge of take off and the expectation of the wheels touching down. I love looking at the pattern of 'civilization' and nature from way up. I love being reminded of the similarity between the patterns we build and the patterns nature builds -- we are made of her.

I am taking off from Toronto, flying to Calgary for a brief stopover and then on to Kelowna with Theatre Rusticle -- touring "April 14, 1912", the show in which I play the Titanic. It is one my favourite things to perform, because the team involved is brilliant on every level, because there is no phoning it in. If you do, the whole show sinks -- and not the good way.

I have my baby in my arms and my amazing husband in the seat next -- he has taken two weeks off work to come along so that we can all be together. I am suddenly not so thrilled to fly. I am excited by the idea that Pablo gets to fly, see mountains and ocean before he is a year old, that Dennes and I are continuing to do the things we would have done without a baby...of course taking into consideration Pablo's needs, but not becoming complacent to life, especially our desire to travel, and have vacations. (Next stop for Pablo: Cuba? where we decided on his name.)

I am suddenly frightened, as the wheels leave the ground, of the fragility of all of this, of the utter incomprehensibility of this grimy metal bird of gigantic proportions with all of us in it taking off into the air. What if the laws of physics just suddenly stop obeying themselves? Have we discovered a principle that guarantees that these laws will always behave in a certain way? Perhaps it is the research for this show that has me thinking of the mysteries of the world (eg: the depths of the ocean that we understand less than the depths of space). It all seems a very delicate balance, a delicate battle, to use the title of a Matjash Mrowzewski ballet, and I am not sure I am willing to put Pablo into this uncertainty.

But Pablo's hand reaches to the wall of the plane. He places his palm flat against it and, feeling the vibrations, he smiles at me.

And then he doesn't cry for the whole 4 hour flight.
He has prunes and a bit of avocado salsa from Daddy's hamburger in the Milestones (ugh) restaurant in the Calgary airport and then falls asleep for most of the second flight to Kelowna.
What an amazing kid.