Welcome to SANDYLAND!!

stories from my childhood

You Wanna Buy A Gate?

There’s a scene in the movie Almost Famous where the Stillwater tour bus, after one of the band members is electrocuted on-stage, mows down the locked auditorium gate.

- You want to buy a gate? - Yeah!

There’s also a story in Drew Barrymore’s book Wild Flower where she tells of being young in NYC and returning to her Bronco after a concert in parking complex, only to find that the complex had been locked up….by a 20 foot gate.  Which she proceeded to ram over and over and over and …. well, I won’t finish her story.  But I’ll tell you mine.

My story that is coincidentally very similar.

When I was somewhere around 20 or 21, I went to the see the Tragically Hip in concert in the City with some friends.  My friend David drove and we met up with my best friend and her boyfriend for the concert.  When it was over, we decided to grab food and hang out for a bit.  Dave and I both had to be at work bright and early the next morning (me at 5:30 and him at 6) and it was already very late/really early into the wee hours of the morning.

We had parked at a very popular parking complex and when we finally dragged our butts back to his his, it was basically the only one left in the parkade.  We drove to the gate (not 20 feet high) and plugged in our ticket and nothing happened.  The parkade was now closed and we were trapped.

If you don’t know me, I have very little patience for things like this.  I liked to be punctual and prompt and I don’t like it when unruliness gets thrown into the mix.  After what seemed like a very long wait and trying to figure out what to do in this scenario (which, by the way, in hind sight, likely wasn’t that long of a wait after all), I told Dave, just go through it!  To my surprise – because, although it’s something I totally would have done, it is not at all something Dave would have done on his own and without my prompt), Dave gunned the gas and drove into the gate.  Holy shit!

Doris

The gate budged but it didn’t allow us enough room to pass, so David reversed his little car, then put it back into drive and gunned ‘er again.  RAM!

He did this several times.  Once eventually breaking the arm of the gate and then finally, the rest of the thing pretty much just fell to the ground and we had enough room to pass and leave the parking lot.

I’m sure we laughed at those moments a lot.  And I know we made it to work on time a few hours later.  And I’m sure the first person onsite at the parkade the next morning scratched his head and said “WTF???”  But for us, in the heat of the moment, it was the only way out.  (Sorry Mom.)

 

 

Advertisements

Chasing Jordan Catalano – Part 5

It has been a fairly long time since my last installment of my Chasing Jordan series – and I’d like to be able to be able to blame it on being busy, dealing with a very, VERY sick Winston, and summertime everything.  But in truth, I think I was trying to keep you on  your toes, Jules!  I got “meh”.  But, after a little absence, here it is.  Part 5.  (Jules – You’re Welcome!)

Chasing Jordan – Part 5

The day after our evening at the party was basically an extension of the night before.  We chatted all day and made plans to get together.  But soon after, things got weird.  In fact, shortly after that night, things got complicated between Jordan and me.  We were both unsure of where things were going and what was happening between us and outside of us.  Jordan was flip-flopping all over the place and our mutual confusion was mounted high.

Jordan-Catalano-Being-ignored

I never thought that I would have a connection so strong with someone I barely knew.  It was heart and head.  And although we kept talking about meeting up to talk about everything, we were both nervous about a get-together – but we were also confident we knew where our friendship was leading.

~Sandy

 


Chasing Jordan Catalano – Chronicles (Part 4)

And it’s like the universe was delivering signs of him to me everywhere I turned.  Even the name “Jordan”, a name that is not super popular, was now appearing all over the place. Day after day after day I would see his name, in one variation or another, in everything a dozen times a day.  I kid you not.  I’d walk into a book store and the first book I’d see would be by an author named Jordan.  Television show credits, which I normally wouldn’t pay attention to, were now written, starring, directed by Jordan Somebody.  Articles in magazines or conversations among friends would be about a Jordan.  And my friends would out-of-the-blue start talking about Jordan….MY JORDAN. It was uncanny.  But it became an inevitable part of my daily goings on.

Then it happened.

One night we ended up at the same location – unplanned, but not completely unheard of.  We both had an idea of where the other would be and it seemed kismet that we would end up at the same locale.  A random party.

I was making my way around the room, mingling.  Enjoying the party and the people I was running into.  And there he was.

We laughed and we chatted.  I tried as best as I could to keep some distance between me and Jordan – just to be on the cautious side.  And because I like to spread my wings when I’m out.  (I am the social butterfly.)

As the evening progressed, I eventually made my way to the dance floor with some friends.  Enjoying the music and the moment.  And within a minute, Jordan appeared at my side.  We danced together within the group, and finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, I finally got to touch him.  An innocent hand on a hip as we swayed (not really  – it was insanely giddy music) – but it was enough to send heat through my veins and sparks through the air.  That one touch between us was worth every moment on earth.

my-so-called-life-1

And I realized then, my feelings for him, whatever they were, they were real.
To Be Continued.

Chasing Jordan Catalano – Chronicles (Part 3)

We began that day to talk on a consistent basis.  Like, every day.  At first it was idle chit chat; small talk.  The two of us just trying to figure the other out without really getting into too much detail.  But within the first week of our initial friendship, Jordan started showing up at places he knew I’d be.  Places I’d talked about in random conversations but that I never would have expected him to appear at.  Places that I’d mentioned in conversations with others while in earshot of him.  Places that were completely out of his way.  But he made the trips to see me.  He’d pop in here and there to just say hello, have a quick conversation, and then be on his merry way.

Jordan-Catalano

From that day on, Jordan was on my mind all the time, and he was in my head.  He was all I could think about.  It was sickening, really.  It’s as if I ached for him – to be around him, and it was like getting punched in the heart when I wasn’t.  Those moments I couldn’t see him or speak to him were killing me.  My anxiety levels shot through the roof and felt sick at the thought of seeing him AND at the thought of not seeing him.  But he was there…everywhere I looked, I saw Jordan.

to be continued.

 


Chasing Jordan Catalano – Chronicles (Part 2)

I was literally mesmerized by him.  By everything about him; his energy, his positivity, his kindness, not to mention his good looks.  What’s really funny is that he is not what I would have normally considered “my type”.  But there was something about my Jordan that I just couldn’t shake and the attraction was stronger than any other I had known.

Jordan bad Habits

Even his bad habits were ignored by me.

When those two days finally passed and I was about to be near him again, I could barely contain my excitement.  It was complete insanity to be this excited over someone I didn’t really know.  But as soon as I saw him, I understood it once again.

We saw each other and it was like the world around us was set on fire.  We were in a very crowded room among a frenzy of people and I had to leave.  I hate crowds (and sometimes people) and it was all too much – Jordan or not, I had to escape.  So, I went out into the hallway where the crowd was lessened and the noise was minimized.  And as I waited for my friends and for the event to start, the door opened and out came Jordan.  His beautiful bright smile was directed at me and while he busied himself, he stood next to me and engaged me in conversation.  It was everything a young (or old) girl could have asked for.

After the event, I was once again trapped in that small room with him again.  And like the two days prior, once the crowd thinned out, it was just a small group of the same people left.  And here we were – Jordan and me (and it seemed, no one else) chatting away as if we’d known our entire lives that this moment was meant to be.

…to be continued.


Chasing Jordan Catalano – Chronicles (Part 1)

Remember “My So-Called Life”?  That ridiculously real show from the 90’s that launched the careers of Claire Danes and Jared Leto?  Remember how Claire’s Angela pined for Jared’s Jordan?  (“Don’t you just love how he leans?”)

jordancatalano

Ah, Jordan Catalano  (via Yahoo)

Jordan Catalano was the epitome of teenage boy crushes.  Because he embodied everything we had imagined, our entire lives, our soulmate to be.  Jordan was imperfectly perfect.

I’m sure we have all experienced a love like that of Jordan Catalano.

The one guy who you see for just a split moment in time and you simply….fall.

You can’t sleep without dreaming of him, you can’t eat, you see him in everything you do; his name is written on every page or sign.  You simply can’t function because your “Jordan” is everywhere.

I remember the first time I saw my Jordan.  I noticed him from across a very large and crowded room.  I recognized his name, but had never actually met him.  I will admit, although he was not what I expected, he caught my eye.

The next time I saw him, several weeks later, my eyes lingered on him for a long while.  An amidst a sordid incident with others, I felt an unrelenting need to protect him.  That same day, I found myself in his presence, hearing him speak and being in close proximity to him.  And I can say this with complete honesty, I have never wanted to physically put my hands on another person so badly in my entire life.  Standing just a few feet away from him, all I wanted to do was reach out and touch him; to graze even just his stomach.  I had never been this physically drawn to someone before.  And maybe never since.

Less than a week later, I was sharing space with him again.  We spoke briefly before an event and it was as if the world stopped around us for those few moments.  Mini fireworks seemed to go off in the background while we chatted.  For the next hour, we watched each other from across a room.  Eyes meeting eyes.  And then once again, we were next to each other in a small room, amidst a small crowd, and once our eyes met, they never left each other.

From that moment, I could not stop thinking of him.  He was on my mind constantly.  The mere thought of him made me dizzy and I often had a hard time catching my breath.  And each and every time we spoke by phone or email or in person, my heart rate would jump and the butterflies in my stomach would swirl around in a frenzy.  When I had plans to see him again just two days later, I couldn’t shake the feelings of excitement, nervousness, and anxiety.  Here was this boy that I barely knew, and I was headed to see him.  My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, and my breathing labored…or at least it felt that way.  I felt like I was on a roller-coaster that would never end.  I spent those two days thinking of him…of nothing but him.  I was like a kid at Christmas waiting for Santa.

….To Be Continued.

~Cheers


Halloween Movie Countdown – Part 7

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

H20

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120694/?ref_=nv_sr_1

This movie jumped on the bandwagon of teen horror films post Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.  I mean, sure, it’s a franchise that had started in the 70’s, but this time around it really seemed it was geared toward a younger crowd.  And it did ride the heels of the others.

Cool Kids

The cool kids

I am not a big fan of the Halloween movie(s).  Not because I found it super scary, although, don’t get me wrong, Michael Myers is definitely a creep, but moreso I found it boring and annoying.  And because I’m not a Jamie Lee Curtis fan.

HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER, Jamie Lee Curits, Chris Durand (as Michael Myers,) 1998.

Aww…look at that face.

All that being said, I have always like H20.  And perhaps it is because it is in the same keepings of the Scream and IKWYDLS films.  So, I was happy to rewatch it this year after not having seen it in a long time.  And, of course, the fact that there’s a new Halloween movie geared for release next year (40 years!) did give me some incentive to see this one again.

~Cheers


Tales from the Fog

Last weekend I got a hankerin’ to start my Halloween movie watching – albeit a little early.  With the coolness in the air last weekend, and now that the leaves are starting to change color and develop their crisp, Autumn scent, it seemed appropriate that my viewing  would come sooner this year.

My beau and I were talking about Stephen King’s Silver Bullet and, of course, that’s what I decided to spend a late, lazy Sunday afternoon watching.  After spending nearly all of my weekend working on my fitness biz, it was a perfect-ish way to relax for a few hours.

silver-bullter

Total 80’s creepiness and fromage.  Oh-so-fromage.

And, as always, Silver Bullet did not let me down.  Corey Haim and Megan Follows are forever perfect as Jane and Marty, siblings dueling with each other, and with a werewolf – with a conscience.

haim-and-follows

Childhood horror heroes (and Anne of Green Gables, yo)

And, of course, we can’t forget Gary Busey.  I love that dude.  He is spazz-tastic.  Just say no to drugs, kids.

gary-busey

Um….caption this….anyone?

So, there I was, Sunday evening, watching Silver Bullet with not another thought to it.  A movie I’d seen a bunch of times before.  And all was well.

Then, Monday morning came.  Eaaarly Monday morning.  I’ve been teaching fitness classes in the park very early Monday mornings since the summer and as the summer came closer to ending, the later the sun has been rising.  And last week when I went out, not only was it pitch dark, it was foggy.  There was a thick rolling fog.  Perfect for a nervous Nelly….and werewolves.

As I’m waiting for my class participants to arrive, I’m sitting in my car, doors locked, of course, staring down over the park, trying to see through the thickness of the fog.  And texting my friend about the possibility of werewolf attacks.  She called me a fool and said there was no such thing as werewolves.

werewolf_hunting_woods_fog_night

Don’t think I DON’T see you lurking there.  This was pretty much my view at  the park.  Pretty much.  😉

But, I’m pretty sure that the last person who got attacked by a werewolf was certain there was no such thing as werewolves.

Next up (hopefully):  Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original!)

~Sandy


Hitting the Family Jackpot

To say that I grew up in a loving family is an understatement, to say the least.  I grew up in an abundance of love.  With warmth and hugs and kisses.  I hit the family jackpot!

I was surrounded constantly by my family – parents, brother, best friends – who were basically adopted siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  And everyone is very close.
My mom’s parents lived only two houses up the street from us and they were the foundation of my family.  They were our proverbial rock.  Walking into their home was always walking into warmth.  They had an open-door policy and their faces would light up anytime we walked into the home.  And although they lived just a few minutes away and I got to see them pretty much anytime I wanted, nearly every day, it was always a great treat to visit them.  Nannie and Grampie.
My brother and cousins and I would take turns having sleepovers at their home.  And they made each and every one of us feel special and like we were the most important people in the world.
When I was very little, not school-aged yet, my nannie would take me shopping.  My grampie would give me money before I left and my mom would joke that I would always come home with a treat and more money than I left with.
I was their favorite.  We were ALL their favorite.  And they never made us feel like we were anything less.
These people were so special – to all of us.  We would always have big family Christmas parties there; celebrating, and being in love with each other and being so thankful for having these wonderful, loving people in our lives.  Feeling truly blessed.  In the summers, we would have “wiener roasts” – a backyard barbecue of sorts on the side lawn with a fire pit and swings and making “hobo pies” out of white bread and pie filling and roasting them in the fire.  These would go to after dark and were such a treat because we kids, the cousins, got to stay up late and play and be surrounded by so much love and friendship.
My grandmother, Betty, was an incredible woman.  Bright, witty, spunky, hilarious, and hip.  And my grandfather, Brent, loved her more than words can ever express.  And the two of them loved us unconditionally.
Nannie

Catching a fish and wearing white jeans with a thick black belt – this woman was ahead of her time

I remember never wanting to disappoint them.  And even today I still try to live each day trying to impress them and making them proud from their perch in Heaven, as I know they are looking down on me.
In fact, I remember the first (and maybe only) time my grandfather yelled at me.  I was maybe 3 or 4 and I was playing with my baby cousin, Daphnie and I held her wrong or something that may have injured her – and my grampie yelled at me.  Not out of anger, but to prevent me from hurting the baby.  I was instantly heartbroken and I burst into tears, confused and ashamed that I made this man, who I loved so dearly, angry with me.  Of course, he and my grandmother cleared up the confusion but I still remember that moment vividly.
My grandmother was very, very hip.  She drove a moped!  And she loved Billy Ray Cyrus and Clint Eastwood.  And she taught me how to play (read: cheat at) cards.  If were driving with her and jokingly said “Nannie, look at the cute boy, stop the car!”, she would indeed stop the car.  And she would laugh.  If she saw cute boys she would call them over and introduce us.  Instant mortification to a teenager, but funny as hell now.  Nannie would let me put make up on her – regardless of how hideous it looked – and tell me how much she loved it.  She would welcome me with open arms when I would “run away from home” and walk on the inside of the guardrail to get to their place (my mom would always watch from the end of the driveway).  I never felt of out of place with my grandparents.
Nannie had a heart condition.  She had two heart attacks by the time she reached 40 and then had a pacemaker put in. When I was diagnosed with a heart condition when I was in my late teens I was also told I would have a pacemaker by the time I was 30 (Note 1. My family doctor was super pissed at this statement and said the specialist had no business telling a kid something like that!  Note 2.  I don’t plan on ever turning 30.).  At the time I was annoyed and confused and scared at this diagnoses.  But, although I saw it as a potential obstacle in my health and life, I also saw it as something I possibly inherited from her.  Something that made me feel just a little more bonded to her.  I have held onto that.
When Nannie was diagnosed with lung cancer in the late 90’s I was devastated.  I remember my mom told me one Friday night while my friend Kim was with me so that I could be comforted at the time of receiving this terrible news.  But Nannie was so strong.  And after having her lung removed, her cancer was gone.  I also remember that while she was in the hospital for this surgery and treatment she was telling me about this gorgeous (male) nurse or orderly that she thought I would find so cute – as she found him so cute – but then she broke the news “….but I think he might be gay.  Dammit.
Within months of having her surgery Nannie was out in the fields picking berries in the summer heat.  Something she loved to do.  She took me with her one summer when I was 15, but I was not meant for that kind of back-breaking work – or using a port-a-potty in midsummer heat (so that I complained the entire day about having to pee) and she refused to take me again.  Ever.  And she kept her word.
That fall I had an essay to write on heroes.  And in my essay I wrote that I did not believe in heroes because I saw them as mythical beings, but that the closest I could come to was my grandmother, for all that she had done and gone through, and even made mention of the berry picking right after her surgery.  (I may also have mentioned my affection for Drew Barrymore for all that she had gone through in her short life and had overcome so much.  See, lifelong follower of this girl.) My nannie was indeed heroic.
Not long after, Nannie was diagnosed with throat cancer.  Cancer so bad that there wasn’t much to do.  The cancer would win.  My nannie, however, stayed strong and fought as much as she could.  We had family gatherings and spent as much time as we could with this woman.  But sadly, devastatingly, heart-breakingly, Nannie passed away in November of 1999 at the age of 60.  A young woman still with so many years of love and adventure left to live.  And my world crumbled.
I have never experienced pain like that in my life. Ever.  This woman was our world.  Our rock.  Our light.  And her death devastated me.  I still have not fully recovered.  To this day, even in this moment, I cannot think or speak of her without crying.  And maybe it’s because it was the first time I really experienced death and loss.  And maybe because she was just so full of life and love and liveliness.  I continue to mourn her loss each day.  But I also celebrate her life each day.
I live in my own world sometimes – hello, SandyLand.  I have adventures, I laugh my ass off – even at the most inappropriate things, I hug and kiss my nephews with so much love that I think they can’t stand it, and I have taught Abby how to play the first game of cards my nannie taught me to play.  And, just like my nannie, I play to win!
There are moments when I can be a real scrag.  I admit it.  But for the most part I try to live each day with goodness and love and laughter.  I want to continue to please my grandparents and not disappoint.  Because I know one day I will see them in Heaven and I know I will have to explain my actions to them if I’ve been a real asshole.
Each night I say a prayer for them – and my dearly departed Aunt Linda – and pray that they are all together and loving and watching and waiting.
I know, since the passing of my grandparents and of my aunt Linda, my mom and my aunt and uncles are pained.  They are broken-hearted, as we all are.  And sometimes it’s terribly difficult to get the family together for holiday celebrations or gatherings because it feels like the spark has gone out.  Like the house is empty and there’s really no point anymore. Because deep down – or even right on the surface – it’s so unbearably painful to celebrate our family when we’re no longer complete. Since my grandmother’s death, my mom (the eldest of her siblings {sorry I used the word “eldest”}) has pretty much taken over the role of the rock; the matriarch of our big but little family.  She always makes sure that no one is left out of Christmas gifts or celebrations.  She wants to honour everyone in the family – especially those who are no longer with us. But everyone sticks together.  As a family, we have had our moments, our ups and downs, that’s what happens in families sometimes.  But we love each other.  Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  We support each other.  And there are days we want to beat each other over the head with a golf club, but at the end of the day, when it comes right down to, our family is bonded with love and togetherness.  That is something we all inherited from Nannie and Grampie.
I want my family (my nephews, my future children) to feel like it’s Christmas morning – to feel that abundance of love and togetherness and that incredible light of love that I always felt at Nannie and Grampie’s.  Walking into my parents’ home I always feel the warmth and the welcoming I felt each time I walked into that house up the street.  And when I visit my cousins and my aunts and uncles I am always welcomed with open arms and smiles and hugs.  The way it was meant to be.  And the way it will be when we’re all together again.
~Sandy

We Are All Made of Stars

A few weeks ago someone shared a video on Facebook.  It kept popping up in my news feed for days and days so I finally watched it.  And I am so glad I did.

It was the clip of little Grace Vanderwaal singing her original song (and playing the frickin’ ukulele!) on America’s Got Talent.

I don’t normally watch the umpteen dozen talent shows on TV.  In fact, I find them very tiresome.  But every once in a while we stumble across these incredible talents. These shining stars that, until the development of social media shares such as Facebook and YouTube, we might never have seen.

So, to that end I’m going to share with you my top 3 (unknown) stars.  The first, of course, being the incredible Grace VanderWaal.

I can’t get enough of her.  There is something so unique in her sound – like you can hear the Dutch ancestry coming out only in music.  And that look Howie Mandel gives her the moment she starts singing is the same way I feel every time I hear her – like it’s shocking that this girl is so.damn.talented.  Each time I watch the clip (which has been a lot!) I teary eyed and goose bumpy.  I am constantly singing her song and cannot wait for this kid to put out a record because I am just so enamored with her. She is a huge talent (did I mention that she writes her own songs and plays the ukulele???) in this tiny vessel.  She is charismatic and innocent and there is something just so special about her.  We need more innocence in today’s musical word of Britney Spears (*barf*) and Beyonce (*barf* squared).  I am predicting big things for Grace.

****

Last summer my friend Jesse said “You have to watch this video”.  I did. Over and over and over and over.  Now you watch it.

This video let the world fall in love with “Backpack Girl”.  I’m not kidding.  After I watched it I Googled and Googled and found out the rest of the internet world was trying to discover the identity of this group of gorgeous singers and Backpack Girl.  Turns out, these lovely ladies are from the island of Grenada and this little minute-and-a-half video of theirs sparked an insane internet sensation to “Find Backpack Girl.”  Yes!  Talent like this should not be kept from us.

Backpack Girl’s name is Jasmine Murray and she’s coming out of her shell.  Check out this remix of the same song at a local function.

OMG That Voice!!

****

Last, but not least, is Shaheen Jafargholi who I discovered after Michael Jackson’s death when we were YouTubing a bunch of Michael’s songs.  This kid was on Britain’s Got Talent years ago and started off singing some shitty Amy Winehouse song.  Simon Cowell stopped him in the middle of his performance and told him to basically try again.  Thank goodness he did.  Shaheen’s next song choice was “Who’s Loving You” by MJ, and man, what a performance.

This little dude embodies the old, bluesy, soulful music of old-time blues and jazz clubs we can now only hear about or see in the movies.  And he’s got that big voice and those little dimples.  I love Simon’s smirks throughout Shaheen’s performance – so much well-deserved cockiness (Simon knows his shit!).  This appearance has led to some big things for Shaheen – including singing at Michael Jackson’s memorial.

****

With all of this talent in only three videos, I can only imagine the sea of ‘undiscovereds’ out there.  Like millions of acres of unclaimed land in the world, there is an multitude of oceans of beautiful voices just waiting to be heard.

~Sandy