The Final Big Belly Gig

Photo by Guo Jian, October 2011, Pregnant w/ Echo


*Written October 17th, Posted October 18th*

Tonight is my last performance of the season…. and the next. There will be no winter shows this year due to this second round of baby-making. Tonight’s concert is the last until spring.

Today’s show is making me think of a show two years ago at the end of October in the same venue with a tummy about the same size as this one—the one that’s bumping into the edge of this desk as I type. Guo Jian took photos that night with a fancy camera with real film and then had them developed into large black and white prints (see image above). I am round and swollen in these shots, but happy to be becoming a mother soon. In one image, I am leaning diagonally into the microphone and gripping my guitar, side-saddle, so that I can still reach the chords around the bump. They’re good photos, I must say. They’re full of life, just like I was.

Now, tonight, I’m debuting my new all-girl band and I can only give them one local show before I must disappear and allow the last two+ months of gestation to take place in my home country. It’s making me feel nostalgic already and we’ve only just begun working together! I’m wistful for two years ago when I stayed here in China to give birth and continued to rehearse with the band right into December (even though I eventually could barely play a song without feeling like Java the Hut, winded and immobile in my immensity). I wish I could give these girls that, somehow, but this time it’s not to be. While I have no regrets about choosing to birth in Canada, I’m still sad about leaving. A new band is like any new relationship and here I am about to slip out the back door just as joy has been reached. Tonight I’m going to tear up, I just know it.

(I’ll blame it on the pregnancy hormones, of course.)

And this evening, as well, there will be a fairly good showing from the ex-pat community—especially fellow moms—and I am humbled by their support. In the past few years and particularly since coming to China, I’ve been slack at promotion, preferring to see whether or not word will spread through social networking channels without my direct (or minimal) effort. It’s also interesting to see whether or not the music will draw people in on its own, regardless of constant reminders from the band. The days of media promotion to ensure numbers in a venue are over. Often the shows that are the most publicized, officially, are the least well attended. This is the word-of-mouth era (and mouth=both verbal and digital communication via email, posts, forwards, etc.) and, ultimately, the only kind of promotion I’ve ever believed worthy of investing in—in my humble opinion—is the kind that is attached to friendships and/or faces we recognize. It’s not the kind of promotion that is purchased; it happens only if you’re willing to invest your time in other people on an equal footing. It’s an exchange. So, tonight, there will be friends in the audience and I couldn’t be more grateful or moved by their support. I’ll take a few tables full of friends versus a packed house full of strangers any day.

But, I’m tired. I want to rest. I am eager to be back in Canada in my parents’ home where there is a large bathtub to soak in, two beautiful fireplaces to watch crackling with heat, the river to look out on in the quiet moments, and stars every night to point out in the sky. Echo can now say “stars” and “moon,” (although they sound a bit more like “dar” and “moo,” but it’s coming!), and I can’t wait to show her how many there can be in a clear Canadian night sky.

My friends here keep asking me how I’m doing, which is so kind and thoughtful, but the truth is that I’m simply counting down. At nearly 7 months pregnant, the time has sped by. A toddler keeps a person busy, yes, but so does life in general. Next week, I go to Hong Kong for a five-day academic session with my Masters program, and then the week after that, I’ll be on a plane for Canada (with Echo) to arrive the day before Hallowe’en. By then, I’ll be down to single digit weeks before this little guy’s arrival. Phew.

While this pregnancy has been easier, that doesn’t make it enjoyable. I have to admit it once again: it sucks being pregnant, especially during the final three months. I am encumbered, burdened, heavy, awkward. I can no longer tie up my shoes without breaking into a sweat. My feet have started to swell. I have to roll on my side before I can get up out of bed. Today, I tried to rush to get something out of the car and attempted a light jog to where I’d parked only to find that my stomach bounces at a completely different rhythm to the rest of my body. It forced me to slow down to a quick walk for fear of wobbling myself into a face plant. Too bad they don’t make running bras for the baby belly, eh?!

So, in summary, it’s a temporary but annoying physical state about which only a countdown can ensure my psychological calm.

As of this writing, exactly 83 days to go.

And counting.

And 1 more gig. We’re going to rock this house tonight. Four women and their instruments (as well as a partially stewed little boy hidden in my stomach) are going to take to the stage in Beijing, play hard and sing loud. And we’re going to do a lot of smiling on stage. That’s the part of the show that I’ve already started and the sun hasn’t even set yet.


Photo by Guo Jian (Beijing's Jianghu Bar's logo in background), Oct 2011

Preggers in Hong Kong: The Student Story*
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