Monday, August 31, 2009

through the eyes of a wandering transient

Flux (n): continuous change, passage, or movement.
Fill in the blank: Ashley is in a constant state of _ _ _ _.
This makes concrete planning: somewhat difficult.
Current soundtrack: Souls, by Chantal Kreviazuk
New project this week: a novel, in which the main character is a lot like me. Only cooler. With better hair.
Where my mind just went: a crowded bookstore, a sharpie pen, blank title pages. Thoughts that carry weight. Being known for being profound.
Fear & self loathing: check.
Social Networking? or Pretentious Show?
This week’s biggest surprise: I don’t miss facebook, at all.
Sad dependence: it’s only been 3 days.
Today’s nostalgic observation: I miss experiencing 24-hour periods during which I did NOT hear the word “facebook”
Where my mind just went: 1987
Coffee & Dreams:
Per month coffee purchases/before I decided to write books: 0-1.
Per month coffee purchases/after I decided to write books: a lot more than 5.
Free specialty coffees: always a good thing
Where my mind just went: a small café table, a Grande Macchiato, a stack of unfinished manuscripts staring me in the face. Rejection letters in the mail. Self publishing. Gifts for Mom.

Current level of annoyance: quite high.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

new leaf, new layout.

So I realized a few things today. A LOT of new things today. No specifically differentiating thoughts; more just a mish-mash of a lot of things. Vis a vis, the following: I am really going to try to change the layout of this blog.

If you're reading this as of 18hundred hours on August 26, you'll notice it's a very pretty layout (that I downloaded). The only problem with it is the HTML is ridiculous, coded weird and is impossible to edit. So pardon me whilst I try to create something new (in short, because this layout has so many glitches my OCD is threatening to run screaming into the road)

Update: if you're reading this as of 1100 hours on August 27, you'll notice it's back to the original boring layout it was before, plus a few obvious glitches in HTML formatting. It's bothering me, but I can't do anything about it right now (although it would be nice if my boss would just pay me to blog all day...). I have something new in the works and will unveil it in due time my friends.

I'll be back in awhile. In the meantime, why don't you write a letter to your mom?

Monday, August 24, 2009

SHOUT OUT! - rightOut photography -

Wow! Not gonna lie, I almost forgot it was Monday; further to that, I almost forgot to SHOUT OUT! - it would be a sad day, wouldn't it?? I knew you'd agree.

The term 'shout out', according to Wikipedia, is "a greeting or acknowledgment of a person, group, or organization of significance. It is often done as a sign of respect, synonymous with "giving props".
I have decided that each Monday, I am going to post a SHOUT OUT! where I will highlight some of the sweet local talent in and around BC. Why Mondays? you ask. The answer is simple: we can all use a little something to look forward to at th
e beginning of yet another work week (haven't I retired yet??); and if you're anything like me, your "please entertain me" internet surfing habits skyrocket on Mondays.
Why only BC artists? One, because I live here. And two, because this province is loaded with artists of all kinds; so whether it's a painter, singer-songwriter, photographer, or ______: if you or someone you know wants to be featured in my weekly SHOUT OUT! let me know!

This week's SHOUT OUT! is actually a reader submission! How cool is that!? I do have a few other artists I want to get to, but wanted to make sure that diligence was rewarded! So here you go Linsday, first reader submission! YOURS! Woot!

Lindsay (one of afterthoughts' lovely visitors) wrote me an email almost immediately after I posted my first SHOUT OUT. I was led in the direction of Angela from rightOut photography; and I have to say it was as sweet a visit as Lindsay said it would be! Like any photographer, she's got her own unique style and way of looking at the world. Whether you want family photos, baby shots, wedding day memories or want to boost your portfolio; she appears to do it all! Although photography is something she has recently stumbled into, I think it was a good place for her to fall!

i picked out my favorites from her blog: here they are!

So with people like Angela at the helm of our inspiration: here's to the dreamers, the brave ones, and the risk takers- you see that limb out there? Start walking.

Friday, August 21, 2009

the daily routine:

Drive in, greet coworkers,
Sit down.
Heater on, computer on,
Make tea.
Check email.
Check social networking profile.
Check other email account.
Check third email account.
Check blog,
Check friend’s blogs.
Consider doing actual work.
Work for 10 minutes.
Walk slowly to the bathroom.
Go pee.

Back to desk; check email.
Write an email.
Check social networking profile.
Write a message.
Check other email account.
Check third email account.
Doodle some thoughts onto some scrap paper.
Consider working.
Organize a small Stack of Documents;
Ordered by date.

Daydream; what must it be like to have a purpose?
Reality: I am too comfortable to find that purpose.

Check bank account; scrutinize financial habits.
Daydream; what must it be like to have freedom?
Reality: I am staying too comfortable on purpose,
So I can slowly get to there.

Routine: day job.
Routine: imagine myself elsewhere.
Routine: check email.

Drink water.
Refill water glass.
Drink more water.
Wait 10 minutes,
Go pee.
Back to desk,

Nap in the Secret Break Room
Under an old fleece jacket I found hanging on the back of the door.

Back to desk.
Check email.
Check other email.
Check third email account.
Drink more water.
Write an email.
Write a blog entry.
Contemplate the meaning of life.

Open up my electronic calendar,
Examine the days; by month.
Listen to how they buzz, in their excitement to rush by.

Print a few pages from an inter office program.
Save them for that last, Dragging Hour.

Antiques Road Show in closed-captioning on the TV in the
Secret Break Room.

Check email.

Office gossip and coworker’s surreptitious theories
On upper-management’s plans to take over the world.
Meander on over to my favourite websites and peruse for a bit.
Laugh and giggle silently to myself at my desk.
Re-read inbox messages, maybe write one.

One more big gulp of water,
A snack, some online News and more useless scribbling;
thoughts on paper that no one will be reading.
One more bathroom break.

Stare at the calendar and imagine the coming days.
Notice the clock on the monitor.
It’s arrived: that last, Dragging Hour.

I breathe a short, unmotivated sigh
as I pull out the Organized Stack of Documents
and the pages I printed hours ago.
Put it all together,
Divide it in half.
Save second half for tomorrow.

10 minutes, blink.
Work done for the day, blink.
Brain cells fusing together from lack of use…

If you spend your life staring at small screens:
Your eye sight will get worse,
You’ll put your back out from slouching in a chair all day,
And likely, you’ll get cellulite on your ass.
(this is what I hear, anyways).


Thursday, August 20, 2009

yet another reason to envy Gwyneth.

I can deal with all the graceful beauty, poise, and notable talent. I have settled on the fact that I will likely never be as stylish or as lovely or as influential. And I can even get on board with “accepting” that she gets to be the doting wife to a musical genius. But this? This is just plain annoying.

I present to you, GOOP. Gwyneth’s blog.

I'm torn between jealousy and really wanting to be friends with her.

I have a new goal in life: be so cool that Gwyneth wants to be friends with me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

adventures in creativity-isms

What I did after work today:

-drove downtown all by my directionally-challenged self
-parked approximately 50 blocks (a 15 minute walk) from where I needed to end up
-used a very questionable public bathroom in a humid, sticky coffee joint on Davie Street
-drank an iced latte that tasted too much like espresso and not enough like latte
-admired my friend's artistic abilities (see previous post)
-wrote a chapter for my book on some fliers i found in the coffee shop beside the sugar table
-realized halfway through my latte that A) I hadn't eaten dinner and B) this drink is caffeinated and C) that this meant I was going to feel sick and be awake into the wee hours of the morning
-contemplated reading a chapter in the book I brought to read. Opted to go socialize instead.
-walked to Coastal Church; listened to a recording project
-caught a bus by myself for the first time ever as an adult (using money given to me by Ryan, because I was too chicken to walk that far in the dark)
-discovered that German Reggae music actually isn't that bad. Thanks CBC radio2.
-realized at midnite that I still hadn't eaten dinner. Out comes the mini quiche and on goes the oven. Into my belly goes the mini quiche. Yum.
-spent over 2 hours trying to re-design my blog.
-spent at least half of those hours trying to decode HTML.
-gave up on the idea of having a perfect looking blog. this will just have to do.*
-decided to go to bed after nodding off with my laptop in my lap.

*reverted back to original the next day. if you missed the temp-disaster, you really didn't miss much. just a bunch of obvious glitches in HTML all over the screen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

SHOUT OUT! ----Ryan Hauser.

The term 'shout out', according to Wikipedia, is "a greeting or acknowledgment of a person, group, or organization of significance. It is often done as a sign of respect, synonymous with "giving props".
I have decided that each Monday, I am going to post a SHOUT OUT! where I will highlight some of the sweet local talent in and around BC. Why Mondays? you ask. The answer is simple: we can all use a little something to look forward to on Mondays; and if you're anything like me, my "please entertain me" internet surfing habits skyrocket on Mondays.
Why only BC artists? One, because I live here. And two, because this province is loaded with artists of all kinds; so whether it's a painter, singer-songwriter, photographer, or ______: if you or someone you know wants to be featured in my weekly SHOUT OUT! let me know!

I'm so excited to introduce my first guest, Ryan Hauser. If you've ever met the guy, you probably understand the importance of practicing your bladder control; this guy can improv like nobody's business. Not only does he frequent some of the local stand-up comedy joints around town, he's a talented artist to boot! He's creeping up the Vancouver art scene with his work, and currently has an exhibit at Melriches Coffee House, 1244 Davie Street in downtown Van. The (free!) exhibit runs until Aug 30; get yourself down there, have an espresso-infused beverage and enjoy the innerworkings of a wizard's imagination. Without further ado, let me introduce you to DRy, Inc.

(this next one's my personal fave)

I'll be heading to the exhibit this evening with a friend;
Check it out!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

anonymous is the new black

Whoever said that the internet isn't safe has obviously never used it properly. Where else can you can express things as freely, say things as boldly, or craft opinions of yourself so stealthily? There's no other place where stalking has become, well, totally legal. Nope, this can only happen on the internet.

How else can you follow up on the lives of people you barely know and don't really like, without them ever catching on? You can't just go to someone's house unannounced, pull out all their photo albums, leaf through each one and make remarks aloud with abandon. They would probably think it was rather odd. And depending on how well you know the person, they might even be offended (and why should they be offended? they chose to wear that ghastly outfit and date that total loser!)

And where else would you post questionable photos of yourself, if the internet didn't exist? It's not like you could hang them up in your living room, where your guests could make comments; where you would actually have to answer for your lewdness in person.

If we had no facebook, no blogs, no myspace and no twitter, we would not be able to live our lives through other people - imagine that! - and we certainly wouldn't be able to judge others quite as often, or quite as secretly.

And what kind of outlet would we have for quoting song lyrics at random, pointing out the mundane things of life because we think we're funny, or expressing thoughts that should probably stay inside our heads? What would we do if we had to stop advertising our marital problems, intimate personal details, and got-so-drunk-i-can't-quite-remember-it Friday nights? We would have no outlet at all. It's a sad truth; a sad truth we don't have to deal with, thanks to the anonymity that comes with online living.

We couldn't write out the words we would never say in person. We would never be this bold in living color; we need the internet. We need our suffocatingly comfortable cess-pools of unaccountability.

There is so much safety in anonymity, isn't
there? Before the virtual world we had to try so very hard to hide behind the façade that we were proper and polite. We had to actually walk (in public!) to the store to pick up our devil-pleasing fetish; the risks were great - what if someone caught us? But ah, now, we have the sweet priviledge of hiding our unholy habits behind the front doors of our houses: in the mailbox at the end of the drive, stashed quietly in a kitchen cupboard, or on a screen in a room where we live.

We are safe here. Safe to say whatever we want; regardless of how rude, crude, or brazen it is. Or better yet, we can say only sweet, even-tempered things. We can hide the very worst of our reactions with ease; we are no longer required to react in the face of the person we are dealing with. We are safe to learn the intimate details of the lives of people we don't really care about, and we are able to spend our lives chasing meaningless information. Best of all, we are safe to show only the parts of ourselves that we want people to see; we can become the type of person we want to or wish we could become, without ever having to become that person.

Nope, the internet is the new anonymous. And anonymous is the new black.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Single.

Wow. First of all, I want to say a huge THANK YOU! to everyone who contributed to this discussion; clearly it is one that needs to be had more often! And that’s my second point I suppose: have this discussion, more often. There are some pretty obvious rifts in the way we as men and women are currently communicating, and there are some pretty significant implications and assumptions that are made in the process. Which brings me to point number three: I was right.

I mentioned in my “sidenote” in the previous post (in other words, of course) that I like to stir the pot once in awhile. I don’t do well with stifled conversation or empty communication. I also don’t agree that there are “taboo” subjects – political correctness is more often an annoyance than it is constructive. So, I like to bring up controversial subjects every now and then, pick a neutral point, and see what people do with it (all the while standing on the sidelines, popcorn in hand, marvelling at how great it feels to be spot on). This latest venture into the world of “M&B” was no different – maybe some of you guessed it, but I wrote that post as a way to prove that my current theories about men and women are accurate.

Before I get into my theories (and the ways in which they were so recently proven), I want to give you a bit of a preamble (necessary though, no small print here). I am not, nor do I pretend to be, a relational wizard. I am not saying that I have all the answers, or even all of the questions. And I am certainly not saying that my theories are unchangeable – these thoughts, like any other, are constantly being re-evaluated – I make a point of being diplomatic in my approach to theory-making by constantly asking others what they think about point X Y or Z. The only thing more annoying than a theory-maker is one who refuses to listen. Also I want to say that many of the comments were encouraging and constructive, challenging, and each one had it's own form of intelligence. While my "theories" won't touch on each person's reaction, I can’t stress enough how awesome it is that each and every one of you were so honest in your responses and were so willing to venture out onto this ledge with me. Now let’s get on with it.

Theory #1: regardless of how they approach the subject of relationships, women are viewed as desperate.

This theory was pretty simple to prove. The blog was written fairly objectively, however: Not only have I had more offers to be set up in the past two days than I have in the past two years, but one commenter even typed the words right onto his screen: you are desperate. His reason? I brought up a subject that is normally taboo. The exact quote was “If you are afraid to say something because you think it will sound desperate, I've got news for you: You are desperate.” I’ll be honest Makana, your comment gave me the most to think about. Especially that last sentence.

Am I really desperate? I’ve spent the whole of the past year (plus) feeling inexplicably free from the oppressive feeling of wanting to date someone – happy single? That’s me. It's a great feeling- realizing there's more to my life than one common answer. It's like being given permission to dream big. I realized recently that, even if it’s only for a time, I’ve been given the ‘gift of singleness’, I don’t even know if I could explain it fully to you…and could not be more at peace and elated about it! So your bold statement that I must be desperate because I brought up the subject with hesitation stopped me and caused me to re-evaluate where I stand on this (..which I don’t mind, like I mentioned earlier).

I recognize that assumptions will be made about women who talk about babies or marriage (in any fashion), and so yes, I do hesitate to bring up the subject. But this is where you’re mistaken: I hesitate to bring it up because I know what it looks like (…that annoys me to no end, by the way) and not at all because of where I’m at with it personally. Please know that while I can not speak for all women (because there are some who would really like to be wives and moms and presently), I can speak for quite a few. Hesitation has more than one source. And sometimes, hesitation is just....hesitation.

The debater in me would also like to write a paragraph about how, often, the most desperate women will speak and act with far less tact or hesitation than those who are comfortable with where they’re at. But I think that sentence will do.

Theory #2: it’s easy to be extreme, if it gets your sex off the hook.

Okay okay, I’m smiling as I write this one. Did I not just say that I like to stir the pot by being blatantly outspoken? Yes, I suppose that I did. This theory is pretty quickly explained: generalizations are a great way to get people talking, but (Makana! You were right!) it certainly isn’t healthy to stick to them. I feel bad for picking on Makana in the first theory, so I’ll be nice in the second one and say that this part of his comment had me nodding along in agreement – YES! Thank you! Not all men are the same...and not all women are the same either! Just because 90% of the encounters that I have had with “men” have been negatively charged, doesn’t mean that all men are idiots, it just means this has been my experience. And men: just because you’ve met one “desperate” woman who lied or hesitated to talk about her own desperation to be a ________, doesn’t mean that all women who hesitate to bring up a subject are desperate. (do you see what I did there? I’m bad I know).

Theory #3: the theory about expectations: we’re all forced to deal with them.

Whether we like it or not, we are still defined by our relational status. Words like “yet” have permeated the single marketplace – there is an air of expectation here. BUT (and I could go on for days about this) : The only way you’ll fit into a box is if you let someone put you there. In other words? False expectations shouldn’t define you. Culture is on the move people, things are happening FAR differently than they used to – timelines for marriage/relationships included. Find your own life, secure yourself in the ONE who IS our security. Define yourself in Him and Him alone…you’ll be much better off. Pressure?....what pressure? I’m happy single :)


Sunday, August 9, 2009

a swift kick to the ________ instincts

If I learned anything during and since my four years at Bible College, it was that you should never have conversations with a man (as a woman) on the following topics:

#1: Marriage
#2: Babies

Now before you go and get all defensive on me (guys and girls alike) and tell me that I'm being far too definitive in my line-drawing, let me tell you why I'm right.

#1: I want to get married one day.

Ladies: remember that time you were hanging out with that guy and you started to talk about big ideas; life and dreams and futures. And remember when the conversation turned to relationships, and you started talking about how you really hope to be married one day. And remember that crazy look he got in his eye, as if you were proposing to him on the spot?


Gents: remember that time you were hanging out with that girl and you started talking about relationships, and before you knew it the girl was dropping hints that she wanted to marry you!?

Ahemahemahem...could I have just proved my point?
I think so.

#2: Space available - one Uterus.

I remember quite vividly an experience that happened in and around my 2nd year of college. I was walking through the bustling hallways of the Academic Building on my way to class with one of the girls I was friends with. We walked by a baby. I said something like: "Oh! What a cute baby! Oh I can't wait until I get to be a mom!"

"ASHLEY!" she gasped, "Say that louder why don't you!?!" You see, it was her understanding that if I continued to spout off about my maternal instincts (which, um, all women were born with) that it would come off as blatant desperation. You may think that my friend was nuts, or oversensitive, or just plain off her rocker. But the fact of that matter is: she was right. Needless to say, I learned (from this experience and many others) to keep my mouth shut about all things baby-related.

- (a sidenote) -

...I often start conversations, or say drastic things from time to time, for the sheer joy of watching people panic, or gush, or get vehemently annoyed (or in other words: prove my theories). Social experiments give me an odd sort of thrill. That being said, I have toyed with these two conversation topics (marriage and babies) many, many times. And as much as you might not want to hear it: my education has served me correctly.

#3...What has happened to us??

Women my age now gather in hushed circles to celebrate their femininity, instead of feeling like they can be who they are in public social circles (the very fact that I'm writing this blog where I mention wanting marriage and babies is likely going to be a bit scandalous). Why? Because if we are too nice, or too interested, or laugh at too many jokes, or make too much eye contact, we are at risk of being preyed upon by unaware men who read normal social activity as flirting. And we also risk marking ourselves as "immediately and desperately available to anyone".

Men aren't immune from this either. Men now hesitate to to be men, because women now view everything they do as an inappropriate attempt at seduction. "Gosh, that guy is totally into you" (uh, actually, I think that was just a polite introduction sweetheart). Like it or not ladies, we've put men in an impossible position. We want them to be gentlemen, we want them to be interested, but we punish them for showing interest by belittling their attempts at friendship; and in some cases, we punish them for something as simple as holding open a door.

I can say this so boldly because I am a part of the very generation of which I speak. And I've been burned more than once by ignoring the very rules (unspoken or not) that I'm talking about. Burned how? you ask. How about being accused (as a shy girl!) of being inappropriately flirtatious for laughing at a joke. Or being accused by a 'good friend' of hitting on her boyfriend for asking him questions about himself. Or getting solicited (yes, for the very thing you're thinking of) in a grocery store lineup for breathing a simple and polite "hello". Or being told a million, billion, kajillion times that you are "too nice", and this is why you have to deal with the things you have to deal with. What else is there to do but alter the personality just a bit (or a whole lot), if only to try and salvage a reputation that is unjustly tarnished?

My point is this: we have completely screwed up our perspective on all things relational. We've been so over-sexed as a culture that a simple statement is no longer a simple statement. A kind word is now an act of subtle desperation, and friendships between guys and girls are usually eyed suspiciously. There is no longer any such thing as "innocent conversation". Women feel preyed upon for being women, and men are demasculated for being men.

Disagree? Here's an experiment for you then. Women: start talking more freely about that desire you have to be loved and to be a mom. Or even if those aren't goals of yours: Laugh when he's funny, and look him in the eye lots when he talks to you. Come and see me in a month and let me know what it's done to your reputation (and your love life, for that matter). Men: ask her out if you think she's interested. Same thing, see you in a month with your tally-board of rejections.

Scary, isn't it? And that's my point.

Our definitions are skewed. How do you know someone is interested? Someone has GOT to start teaching our men what this means. Someone has also got to start teaching women not to find their confidence in having men like them. That right there is the source for a large part of this problem.

I am interested in hearing your perspective regardless of whether or not you agree with me. In all my years of searching I have yet to find a person who can honestly say our generation has not been effected by this horrible dichotomy (is it generational? or is this simply "adulthood"?).

...let the social experiment begin... :)

~afterthoughts: after reading the comments (a few of which are proving my theories, by the way!) looks like i'm gonna have to "part two" this one. next few days i'll have something up...stay tuned!...and keep commenting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the meaning of life

the Meaning of Life is a question;
It’s a picture I can’t quite describe.
the Meaning of Life is an unending search
through a world we must learn to abide.

I paused for a minute to find It;
I wanted to see what It was.
but somehow my sightlines were guarded,
and I couldn’t find answers at all.

I decided right then just to leave It alone;
it seemed such a meaningless quest.
but surrender is right where He left It.

if I live with the joy of the Spirit,
learn to love with the heart of my God,
if I walk through this world eyes-wide-open,
I have found It, and I am at rest.

© afterthoughtcomposer

Sunday, August 2, 2009

if only tears could change it, pt 2

Josiah's gone to be with Jesus. :(

please continue to pray for Andrew & Marie as they walk through this next chapter.


...we miss you.

if only tears could change it

Hello all,

I am writing this post as a call/request for each of you to take a moment to pause today and pray for my friends Andrew and Marie, and their son Josiah. Andrew and Marie are the kind of people that stay with you even after years have passed since your last meeting; they amaze me constantly. Their son, Josiah, was born on Feb 16, 2007 with some complications. This morning, he suffered from an unknown medical emergency that took him into cardiac arrest, and is now unresponsive (Andrew explains it well here in the post from August 2). Andrew and Marie may now need to make decisions for their baby that no parent ever wants to make.

I ask that you take a moment today, brief as it may be, to join me in lifting them up and caring for them in prayer.