Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why We Sometimes Scream Just For Fun Now That We Own A Detached House

What follows is a letter that was taped to our apartment door last spring.

May 2, 2015

Dear Alison (tenant of apt. 1002),

Before Christmas, I spoke and wrote to you regarding Felix's disturbing shrieking. At the time, you seemed to be genuinely concerned, said that you would try to decrease his shrieking, and encouraged me to tell you if it was a problem in the future. Although I have not been in touch because I have been busy, I assure you that it is still a BIG PROBLEM. As I write this, I have been listening to him shriek for almost an hour since 7 am (on a Saturday when I Was hoping to sleep in and start my day peacefully).

In general, Felix's shrieking persists throughout the day. He starts around 7 am and does not stop until about 7 pm. On Wednesday, April 22, when I was trying to work from home, I heard him shriek at least eight times throughout the day (7 am, 9:30 am, 1:50 pm, 3pm, 4:45 pm, 5:45 pm, 6:15 pm). He may have shrieked more but I went out at certain points as well. Needless to say, I did not get much work done because of the noise disturbance.

I don't know if you have tried to do something about Felix's shrieking. I think you had said that this is how he expresses himself and that he will grow out of it. Not being an expert in infant behaviour, I consulted with friends who have children. None of them have heard of such persistent shrieking behaviour. One of them did suggest teaching Felix sign language until he starts to communicate with words. I had suggested before Christmas that you remove him from whatever he is doing when he starts shrieking. He may then learn that this is an inappropriate way of expressing himself. Also, by moving him to the farthest corner of your apartment, you would help decrease the volume heard in the hallway. Neighbours, who live past the elevators, have heard Felix's shrieks.

Some other avenues to consider, if you have not already done so, are to consult with your family doctor, a paediatrician, or speech language pathologist (e.g., Toronto Preschool Speech and Language Services,

I sincerely hope that you will try some of these suggestions and that Felix's shrieking will quickly come to an end. This was a quiet floor before you, Phil and Remy moved here and I would like it to go back to being that way.

Your neighbour in XXXX, Bumface*

*Real name has not been used to protect Bumface's identity

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

On moving back to my hometown.

Phil and I house-hunted for years in Toronto. He, ever the researcher, would send me regular emails detailing the latest listings on the market, complete with hyperlinks and his comments ($499k. Front pad parking. No room dimensions but look smallish. Finished basement but low ceiling? Mud room.) Every so often he'd throw a Guelph listing in there and I'd roll my eyes. Why would I want to live in a big, affordable house in a nice city? Wouldn't moving back to Guelph mean that I'd have to give up acting, and that I was somehow regressing?

Then we had a baby. Babies don't take up much space so we were happy where we were, in our two-bedroom rental apartment near Yonge and Eglinton, while we tried to find a house in Toronto.

Then we had another baby. And no matter what you may think, living in a two-bedroom apartment with two boys under two isn't that much fun. Lots of people make it work, but we wanted space, so we continued our hunt - a little more vigorously - for a three-bedroom house in some of the more affordable areas of Toronto, as those areas got less and less affordable. We lost five bidding wars on houses on which we had put in offers with no conditions and tens of thousands of dollars over asking.

It was time to look outside of Toronto, and for awhile we were really gung-ho about Hamilton. Cool people we knew had moved to Hamilton, and there were at least two articles online about how everyone who was anyone was moving there, so you'd better move there too, you fat loser! Obviously we wanted to be cool, so we found the best real estate agent and spent our weekends looking at gorgeous and affordable houses, and chatting about how great it would be to live near Phil's cousin's family, and most of all - getting excited about the proximity to Toronto, and all the ways it would be easy to get to Toronto for work and auditions and all things good.

And then I thought, "Should we move to a city that is exciting to us mostly because of how easy it will be to leave it to go to another city?"

And the search in Hamilton stopped abruptly. We put an offer in on one last house in Toronto...a great little 3-bedroom on Sundridge near Vic Park and Eglinton. We almost got it - we were so close! But alas, it wasn't to be. Then Phil lost his job, so, y'know, thank God we weren't on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So there we were - one of us out of work, and one of us a part-time actor, part-time legal assistant. Phil stayed at home with the boys while I worked. During this time I found that I had a consistent feeling after visiting my family (mom, dad, brother & family, sister & family) in Guelph. I'd feel like, hey, why don't we move to Guelph?

But the thing was, I had resisted it for so long. It meant I was giving up. That I had changed somehow. 

But I had changed. And I wasn't giving up so much as admitting that things were different, and the dream had morphed into something involving fewer acting classes and more yard space. 

We sat with the Guelph idea for several months. When I took the plunge and auditioned interviewed for a law clerk job in Guelph - and accepted it - I was mostly excited. When we found our wonderful house - the one Guelph people think is totally big enough for now and Toronto people think is A FRIGGIN' MANSION, I felt so good about the space we were creating for the boys, not just physically but the closeness they'd now have to their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. But I did wonder if a few months into my new life I'd wake up one morning in a cold sweat and scream, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!"

But that hasn't happened. Life has been...easier. I can get together with my family and be home in my bed ten minutes later. I can open up the back door and let the kids run around outside instead of having to load them into the elevator and hope to God we don't forget something. Again, lots of people do it, but because I have done it, I appreciate the convenience of not having to do it. Having my first full-time salaried position, it's a joy to know what I'll be making every month. Easier. It does take some time to get used to the whole having to be at the same job every day and having a set number of vacation days thing. My transitional reaction to this was, HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO IT? but the great thing is that I have vacation days! I still get paid on those days! Having an employer is amazing! 

One of my best friends, Kate, moved back to Guelph a few months after I did. This has been one of the most special things about being back here. I get to see Kate regularly, and my boys get to hang out with her son, whom they love. Kate joined the book club my sister-in-law hooked me up with. It's the best book club. We eat cheese and drink wine and sometimes casually mention the book we were supposed to have read ("Did you read the book?" "No, I haven't gotten to it yet" "Cool. It was good. Anyway, about that blind date you went on...").  

What I'm missing in my life is creativity, but I didn't have much of that in my last couple of years in Toronto either. I have kids now. I feel consumed by them in mostly wonderful ways. I sometimes feel like they fulfill the part of me that always loved performing, and other times feel like I'm creatively numb and desperately need an outlet. But that desire for an outlet is always followed by a wave of fatigue. I'll be creative when I've had more sleep, I promise. And I look forward to figuring out what that will mean for me. 

Phil has found a job and he's playing the Baker in the RCMPi production of Into the Woods this spring, so Guelph is looking pretty good on him. I have never seen him on stage because though we went to the same theatre school, he graduated before I got there, and by the time we started dating he had kicked his professional acting habit. On our fifth wedding anniversary I'll have the pleasure of sitting in the audience and watching him perform.

That feeling of giving up never came with the move to Guelph. I'm not moving backwards - I couldn't even if I wanted to. I'm always moving forward, but this step has taken me somewhere very familiar and, at this point in my life, that is a truly wonderful thing.