Saturday, October 02, 2004


This is hard, and it's not about music. My boss for the last 16 years has died. She had lung cancer that spread to her spine, not surprising considering she was a lifelong smoker. Her death was a surprise however, she was such a fierce, vital woman that I never imagined her dying.

We didn't see eye to eye on many things. Politics being the foremost. I've often described her of being to the right of Ghengis Khan, but that's harsh. Let's say that she was a conservative and I'm a little left of center. Our relationship wasn't a friendship exactly, but it was more than an employer/employee one too.

I didn't like her politics, but I did respect her. I was even a little afraid of her despite all the years working together. People with focus and drive are intimidating to me. How can they be so sure they're right? I've never had that kind of confidence. She did.

I grew up in this company, I was 22 when I started and still learning who I was. Some of the qualities that I'm most proud of came from her. Whatever sense of loyalty, perseverance and duty I have came at least in part from her. Those things will live on in me.

I'm going to miss her.


Anonymous said...

Hey there,

I'm so sorry...

A couple of things though, and it's going to sound insensitive to turn your loss into a sociological observation. I'm sorry for that too.

You, like everyone else, needs to analyse WHY people come to such ends (such as dying of cancer). The bottom line is that we're all going to die, but somehow, when we hear of someone dying, or talk of someone dying, we have to mention how, and whether or not they deserved it (ie: they smoked, they were overweight, they didn't exercise, their HUSBAND smoked, etc.). I find this fascinating. Perhaps it's our way of comforting ourselves by validating the idea that we do have some form of control over our health, and that perhaps we can avoid the inevitable if we work hard enough at it. There are things we can do to maintain our health and therefore prolong our lives. But then, certain things are our of our control...

Another thing you mentioned was confidence. Perhaps having strong ideas and convictions has a little to do with confidence. However, knowing you, a person who does NOT see things in black and white, someone who is sensitive, observant, and not quick to categorize, I can't see how you not having hard and fast convictions is due to lack of confidence. Not really. And I don't remember you ever arguing to win or to be right. You, like me, argue to learn. And perhaps your opinion may change in the end, or perhaps you'll change another's opinion, but it's about growth, which is much better than winning (unless you're a lawyer...).

I hate the term 'lack of confidence.' Everyone is confident in some ways, and is lacking in others. Remember that. Most of the time, it's an image we all project. We all have insecurities. They just come out in different ways. And in our society, we judge 'confidence' through a cultural lens.

On a completely different note, my band had our first bar gig! We were asked to open for a three-chord rock/punk band who were releasing their fourth CD (not the best fit in the world considering we are NOT a punk band, but rather an eclectic alt-folk/Mexicali band - the trumpet adds so much). I was so nervous. It's so different from playing in the park, playing at festivals, and playing at corporate functions. I hadn't played in a bar setting with a full band since the grrrrrrrrrrlz. It's so nice getting a sound check...

Our trumpet player showed up at the last minute (he missed sound check) because he drove in from his home two hours away, and hit a skunk on the way, which almost destroyed his car! Not to mention the smell!!!

All went wonderfully well. I was very pleased. It's nice to be on stage and be able to hear myself sing through my monitor! And by the time we were on the stage, we were all so relaxed (a double gin and tonic really helped - I'm not advocating alcohol, really!!!!) that we had a lot of eye contact, winks and smiles between us, which is nice for us, and for the audience. (Band interaction is what I LOVE about live music...)

And from that, we're headlining a fundraiser in less than two weeks! But we only get to play a 30-minute set. Considering we've got over 1.5 hours of original music (and I brought a new song to the band last night, which we managed to put together in a few runthroughs. I'm so lucky to play with such stellar musicians! All we're missing is the trumpet. We don't get to play with him often because he lives so far away) I'm looking forward to REALLY getting out there. But at least we'll be able to put together a nice, very tight set rather than having our sound be all over the map...

One last thing, I'm flying home on the 1st. I'll be in your area for just over two weeks! I'm really looking forward to seeing you, your lady, and the rest of the gang. (I'm also dying to see M&M's new place. You know they're getting married on June 4th? I'm supposed to become a high priestess of some kind of recognized religion so I can perform the ceremony.... I'm working on it... You have any ideas? Do you think that becoming a Jedi Knight would be recognized in your province?) I'm bringing my squeeze box, and perhaps we could jam a little bit. But a very long coffee and a great chat are in order.

Can't wait to see you!
And do take care... Again, I'm so sorry about your loss...

Coelecanth said...

Hey MJ. Interesting comments, I'm going to have to think about some of it.

One point though, I never said anything about her deserving it. I mentioned that she smoked because that's what caused her cancer and subsequent death. No judgement intended or implied, simply a statement of fact.

My only intention with including her cause of death was to remind the smokers that I know and love how dangerous it is. One relevant piece of information I should have included: she was 47.

Of course we all have to die, it's the one thing in life we *must* do. You don't even have to pay taxes if you're willing to go to jail. How we live however, affects how we die. We do have a choice about that, pretending otherwise isn't something I'm willing to do. Control the things you can, and don't worry about the rest is the only way to go. Perhaps there is some denial of inevitability of death in this, but it makes sense.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing you too.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Sorry for your loss. As you know, they seem to be going around. Unfortunately, death is ALWAYS something that's going around; we're just lucky those days we get to duck it. It's hard, and it sucks, and it's always sudden even when it's expected. My heartfelt condolences.

Coelecanth said...

Thank you Esther. You're a mensch. (hope I got that right, I've only heard the term applied to men)