The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, July 27, 2007

No Regrets Podcast

By now you should've somehow
Realized what you're not to do

"Wonderwall," Oasis

We are driving from Montreal to Halifax. It's not a difficult drive, just so long as we take lots of breaks and bring something to listen to: radio can be sketchy in the Maritimes. One commercial station we picked up briefly in New Brunswick played Meatloaf, Justin Timberlake and REM in disturbingly immediate succession. Elsewhere, there is nothing to tune into at all, which is why we invested in a car adapter for our iPod. We can now listen to anything ever recorded, or so it seems. The only problem is that with so much choice I sometimes forget to take breaks, even with my driving partner there to implore me, "Please. Pull over. You're hallucinating, again."

"Just a little further. I like this song!"

And so we continue until my true mental state reveals itself to be truly mental, when the same impulse that compels me to drive at faster and faster speeds (in spite of a corresponding rise in paranoia concerning highway police) also compels me to turn on the kids when they make some normal kid noise in the backseat. I threaten them with abandonment, death or worse, "No Santa! No Christmas!" When I cancel Christmas, it's time for us to stop.

But today, I didn't wait to go mental before pulling over, and for that I have to thank CBC's Definitely Not the Opera for their No Regrets podcast, which my husband downloaded for our trip. It was the Hockey Day in Canada show, which made me excited, because I had meant to catch it when it had first aired on the radio, because our sometime contributor Pasha was supposed to have been on it. How lucky to find it in my iPod half a year later! I listened carefully for Pasha, tuning out the kids who were getting increasingly restless in the backseat.

I didn't realize it, but the podcast was a different entity from the radio show, and Pasha's bit wasn't included. Luckily, the rest of the show was interesting in itself. The topic was regret—chiefly, how to avoid it—and the main piece of advice was to consider every choice in terms of the distant rather than near future. If I skip out on dinner with my friends tonight, how will I feel about it tomorrow, like it was no big deal? How will I feel about it on my deathbed, like I missed out on living?

After I heard that, I decided that I had better take the next exit. We stopped at a beach, providentially placed across the street from a Tim Horton's. I didn't once question the quality of the water. It was the first time my kids ever got to swim in a river. They were happy to have their freedom. Esme, as usual, wandered off to interrogate random strangers. She honed in on a lanky teenaged girl in surf shorts and a bikini top who was alternating between running with the other kids, up and down the beach and off the dock, and wading in shallow water with a new-to-walking toddler. The girl had tattoos that were already beginning to fade. The baby had white blond hair and blue eyes. A woman not much older than my thirty-one issued instructions from a picnic table. I assumed that she was the baby's mother, but Esme knew better. She used her protected five-year-old status to ask the pertinent questions. The girl and baby were mother and daughter; my near contemporary, the grandma.

"Yep," the girl told Esme shyly. "She's mine."

When I dried off, I headed across the street to the Tim Horton's, where I was served by a very young man with white blond hair and blue eyes. He was covered in tattoos that were already beginning to fade. I wished that I had brought Esme. She would have had no problem asking the right questions. In any case, I made sure to leave a tip, although this caused a stir amongst the old men in line behind me. They scoffed as though to say, "You don't have to do that, here."

Back in the car, I resolved to take more breaks. Stopping was much more fun than taking Christmas away from little kids. What had I been thinking?

6 Comments:

Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Taking Christmas away! What next? Your story of meeting the young mother reminded me of being in the same hospital room with a teen-aged mother after the birth of my daughter -- back in the days when they didn't send you home right away. When she found out I was twenty-seven, she said, "Wow," amazed, no doubt, I hadn't died on the delivery table.

Fri Jul 27, 06:54:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger sass said...

2 ipods were brought on my recent trip across the country. one was my friend's boyfriend's. it contained lots of tragically hip, of course - who from alberta wouldn't have such a playlist - and george michael (which was, grossly enough, his "seduction music". blech.). i vowed never to touch that ipod again. i brought out mine, which has over 3000 songs. but the only one we ever played was fergie's "london bridge".

over and over.

Sat Jul 28, 02:03:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

I love hearing about your drive with the kids and the stops - we're on our way for a really long drive today - this inspiration is just what I need this morning as we hitch up the tent trailer :) Back Aug 25!

Mon Jul 30, 08:55:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Oh, how I love the road trip stories! Esme and interrogation. LOL. Yes, it's time for road trip. I think I've got one planned for early September. I get all giggly at the prospect.

Wed Aug 01, 04:23:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Love it! Although I've been known to use the "I'm stopping the car n you can walk home" bit myself. I feel your pain!

Thu Aug 02, 03:28:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Wed Jul 31, 05:32:00 am GMT-4  

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