This past July I went to my first Major League baseball game. It was the Toronto Blue Jays against the Tampa Bay Rays. They were playing at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (Skydome to me) and it was also the first time I had been inside Skydome. I know nothing about baseball, as I have discussed before in this blog, I lead a very sheltered life.
That being said, I am unashamed of how uninformed I am and have no problem looking like an idiot because I get very excited about new things, turns out baseball was no different. We had really good seats in the first deck and it was a lot of fun. The day was blazing sunny so the dome was open. This was before the Blue Jays started doing really well and in fact they lost the game 3 – 2 to the Rays. That did not dampen my enthusiasm, however. My husband very, very patiently answered my myriad of questions throughout the game, many of which were also uttered by the six-year-old boy sitting behind me to his equally patient uncle. Between these two tolerant men, I managed to get a decent sense of, “what are all those letters on the score board?” “What’s a throwing error?” “Who’s that guy?” “Why does that guy suck?” and the infamous, “Why can’t he hit the ball?” The highlight of the game for me was when Jose Bautista hit a home run. Turns out he’s pretty good at that.
My dad played baseball when I was a kid and I remember attending his games regularly, he was a catcher and I paid about as much attention as you would expect of a little girl. His mother, my little Québécois nanny, was a huge Blue Jays fan and I remember visiting her often with the game on in the background, she had to watch ‘her jays.’ Wherever she is now, she must be a very pleased spirit. I also remember playing baseball, exceptionally poorly, in gym class. No one wanted me on their team. That was probably because I could not catch, throw or hit the ball well. Makes sense.
Turns out I like baseball, at least live. And what a fortunate year for me to discover this. There is one Major League baseball team in Canada, which you may recall is the second largest country in the world and has a population of 36 million people. One. The Toronto Blue Jays. Since the early 1990’s, they have pretty much sucked. Most of the players on the team are not Canadian, but Canadians don’t care much about that. Wednesday, they beat the Texas Rangers and are now in the American League Championship Series. 9 Million Canadians watched the game, which I find impressive. By four o’clock that day, Canada was a ghost town, and everyone said the same thing, got to get home to watch the game.
This is completely lame, yes, but we Canadians are a boring people. There is a lot to be said for our boring, comfortable existence. Let’s face it, nothing really happens here and that is usually a good thing, no news is good news should really be the motto of this country. Nine nights out of ten, the lead story on the national news will have something to do with the weather or an accident. Weather or an accident can trump even federal election coverage here. NOTHING HAPPENS HERE. Some times we import news from the U.S. or Europe just so our reporters have something interesting to talk about. Some days after watching twenty minutes of news, you honestly wish they had just said, you know what, Canada? Nothing all that interesting happened here today, so carry on, instead of the filler they come up with. If you talk to most Canadians for say, ten minutes, you will find that almost every stereotype pertaining to us is true. Yes, we flock to Tim Horton’s like it’s the golden gates. Yes, most of us do like hockey. Yes, we do say ‘eh’ a lot. Yes, we are very nice and yes, we apologize constantly for everything.
Some people are upset that everyone in the country is jumping on the Blue Jays bandwagon because they’re winning, people that aren’t ordinarily fans and don’t normally care. Personally, I think it’s nice. We don’t galvanize much in Canada, we don’t get excited and we don’t cause scenes, usually because it’s either too hot or too cold out for us to bother, hence all that news coverage. But the Blue Jays are winning and people are excited. People everywhere are wearing Blue Jays gear, watching the games, talking about them, and just having a good time. This is a big country and there is a lot of literature about how little different areas of if have in common. That may be valid, but right now everyone has the Blue Jays in common and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t know if they’ll keep winning, but it’s been a fun ride. And I’ve learned a lot about baseball. Go Jays!
When I was a teenager I lived in a fairly boring place called North Bay. My friends and I hung out at a small grocery store with a coffee shop called DeMarco’s, I have no idea why, but that’s where we went pretty much every day. One evening we were sitting in there, having coffee and venting teenage angst and whatnot when two interesting characters walked through the door. They were two members of the band Econoline Crush, who was playing in town that night.
I didn’t recognize them, but my friends and boyfriend certainly did. I believe it was the guitar player and the bassist, but I could be wrong. I remember thinking how cool they were. One was wearing a leather jacket and had cool spikey hair, the other was wearing a long black trench coat and a thick black and white striped scarf. I don’t know why I remember that. They were also incredibly nice. They bought coffee and some snacks and took pictures with DeMarco’s staff and signed some stuff for them before heading back out into the cold, back to the club they were playing that night.
Even though my friends, and myself as time went on, were big fans of this band, we weren’t going to the show. I think it was a 19+ venue, we certainly didn’t have any money, or our parents may not have been on board, in any case, we weren’t going, and it sucked. I remember vividly the heavy, sick feeling in my stomach watching those two walk away.
Fast forward, yowzahh, nearly twenty years…
A few weeks ago my then boyfriend, now husband and I were on holidays. We were heading out of the city to visit an organic honey farm, I kid you not. We were driving on a road to nowhere, going nowhere and what did I spy on the roadside? A small billboard advertising a fundraising concert in a small town close to where we live. Six bands were playing the event, but I saw the name of only one: Econoline Crush. Twenty years, nearly twenty years had passed. It might as well have been twenty seconds.
Never have I smart-phone googled something so rapidly. The event raises money for spinal cord research and Finger Eleven was the headliner, an awesome band that we’ve seen before, and who is on just before them? Yep, I read the sign right, Econoline Crush. It took us about a nanosecond to decide we were going to this event and scramble up some tickets. It was Friday, August 14. Gates open at five. Five, that’s cute. It was on a Friday, so my husband and I had to perform some athletic feats to leave work on time and get ready, but we made it happen. Some friends decided to come with us so they picked us up and we headed out, trying to ignore the threatening skies and risk of severe thunderstorms.
I was panicky, as I always am when something I really want is close to happening. What if the concert was rained out? What if the band couldn’t make it? What if I got struck by lightning and died before Econoline Crush came on? Completely legitimate concerns. Fortunately none of those things happened. It was a great outdoor venue and with all the weather warnings it was busy, but not crowded. The sound was excellent. There was food, beer and lots of bathrooms. Except for the black skies and flashes of lightning, it looked things were shaping up to be pretty great. I got a beer and waited. Since we were late arriving, there were only two bands on before Econoline Crush. I stood back while my friends and husband grabbed some food and tried to listen, but I just couldn’t get into them. I was there for one reason and one reason only, to make up for a missed opportunity.
I hung back and waited, searching the ominous skies for any chance of clearing. Our other friends were mostly there for the headliner, Finger Eleven. When the fourth band finished their set, I made my move. Twenty years is a long time to wait for something and I’m a lot less docile these days. So while they were setting up Econoline Crush’s gear, I finished my beer and strutted my way right up to the front of the stage like a woman possessed. Lightning was rampant by that point and my husband and I exchanged a glance, wouldn’t it just be our luck for the show to get cancelled. Our friends elbowed their way up to the front as well, probably to see what all the fuss was about. This is a band whose greatest success came twenty years ago, after all. But I cared, I cared a lot.
They took to the stage with no banter, just opened with their very first single. It was loud, it was awesome, and the lead singer Trevor Hurst looked exactly how I wanted him too, like a rock star. And he preformed like a rock star. The band was tight, there was lots of energy and Trevor sounded exactly like he should have, twenty years ago or yesterday. They played every song I wanted them to except for one. It started to downpour during their set, but nobody seemed to mind. I sang like a fool, danced incredibly poorly and screamed like an idiot. I didn’t take any pictures because I was too busy making an ass out of myself. My husband took this one:
When their set was done, the singer, Trevor Hurst, said he would be heading to the merchandise both to meet some people and sign some stuff. By that point it was raining pretty hard and my friends and husband didn’t want to lose our awesome spot in front of the stage before Finger Eleven. I didn’t blame them, but it was a no brainer for me, I was going to stalk Trevor Hurst at the merch booth.
I waited in the rain, in the frigging downpour, soaked to the skin. Finger Eleven was up next and the weather was awful, so I was one of only a few. My adrenaline was going, what an awesome show! I was so, so happy, so content that it had finally happened, I’d finally seen Econoline Crush and they were awesome. Then Trevor Hurst actually did show up. He was happy, friendly, he signed cd’s, took pictures with the people waiting and I stood in the line. I didn’t have anything to sign, I’d bought a t-shirt. I didn’t even really know why I was waiting. I looked like a drowned rat, I didn’t want a picture. What did I want? I got to the front, our conversation went something like this:
TH: Hey, how’s it going?
Me: Awesome! Thanks, you guys were kick ass.
TH: Thanks. I saw you up front, you were singing right along with every song!
Me, fainting with delusional glee: You’re @#$^&U right I was, I waited twenty years for this show! (insert Cole’s notes version of North Bay story)
TH: Wow! I hope it was worth the wait.
Me: It was. Sweet Jesus, it was.
TH: Do you want me to sign something for you?
Me: Oh, I already have all of your cd’s, I only bought a t-shirt.
TH: That’s okay, I can sign a t-shirt. (signs t-shirt with sharpie, and spells my name right) Can I tell you a story?
Me, blinking stupidly: Um, yes, please do.
TH: We played Edgefest one year, and it was the weirdest thing, I felt like everything I signed that day was made out to an ‘Erin’ I hope I spelled it right.
Me: You nailed it. I just wanted to say thank you, that was awesome.
TH: Thanks for saying so, it means a lot. (Trevor Hurst and Erin hug. That’s right, Trevor Hurst and Erin hug.)
I wandered back to my husband and friends, signed t-shirt stowed safely into my gigantic, impractical purse, floating on a little cloud of joy. The rain let up, and Finger Eleven played an awesome show, but for me that will always be the time that I finally saw Econoline Crush. Sometimes when you miss an opportunity, you’re painfully aware of it. Something about it stays with you. If you’re really lucky, life might throw you a bone and you might get a second shot at it. If you’re lucky enough to have that happen, let your hair down, sing in the rain, and stalk Trevor Hurst at the merch booth. You never know, you might just get a hug.
An unintended theme of this blog seems to be that I, as a human being, a woman, wife, writer, employee, dog owner, et cetera, have no idea what I’m doing. Thankfully that seems to amuse people, because that’s pretty much how I feel most of the time and I am really, really bad at hiding it.
I hope, and hope springs eternal, that this is true, but sometimes it doesn’t feel true, now does it? And those are times of low motivation and general feelings of malaise. But let’s leave that unpleasantness behind us and move on to greater, more fulfilling things, shall we? Without further adieu, I present three writing related things that are awesome!
- I tweaked my query letter! I continue to query agents about my novel and even though I haven’t sent out very many, oddly enough, they are not yet beating down my door. Weird, right? So I tweaked my letter a bit and now feel that surely it cannot be improved upon and the storming of my home by literary agents should commence momentarily.
- I wrote, and completed a short story! Since I have given up my life to my novel, I stopped writing short stories a few years ago. But, I got this idea a few weeks ago while I was staring blankly out my office window pretending to work. Then, I did something weird. Instead of just shrugging at what might have been an okay idea, I turned to my computer and started to write the story that I had just thought of. Basically, it was like a miracle occurred right there in my office. As if that isn’t mind-blowing enough, this morning I finished the short story. That means I wrote an applicable ending. The weirdest thing is, it doesn’t suck…
- I listened to this podcast! (Henry and Heidi Podcast, episode 14) Because my husband is awesome, he passed this along to me. It’s Henry Rollins talking about the writer Hubert Selby, Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream). They were good friends and it’s about writing, mentors and getting the hell out of the way. Enjoy!