Friday, December 31, 2010

looking forward: a glimpse at 2011

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Here are some of my pre-thought-compositions for the coming year. They're not resolutions, and they're not even goals. Let's call them...ideas. Flexible habit changes. Worthy opponents.


Dolla Dolla Bill Yo: Well, in my neverending quest to not be a childish dork when it comes to money, I have decided to label 2011 "The Year of Frugality & Adulthood" - implying, of course, that the two are very clearly related. Here's hoping. Thankfully, Victoria over at The Fine Art of Frugality will be documenting her own journey to financial-betterness. You'll probably see the odd frantic comment from me throughout the year. Never underestimate the value of a support group.

Old Maid - for Cards Only: I decided a few months back that since I don't want to be alone at 40, I should probably get a move on with this whole "dating" thing (something I have previously avoided quite comfortably). So I joined a dating site, because quite frankly, my current sphere of influence is manly-man-less. Also, I'm kind of inept when it comes to flirting, and I'm not sure how else I'd meet someone. So, anyway, I'm still convincing myself it was a good idea to join - for the most part it's been a gigantic waste of energy - but, I digress. Because if I don't want to be alone at 40, then I need to have found someone by my 30's, which means that these final years of my 20's should be spent more on figuring out if I want what people tell me I'm supposed to want and less time wanting what I've already got. Right? Oh! And before I forget: no I do not want to date your cousin/brother/coworker/friend. Let's just save ourselves that awkward conversation before it begins.

The End: If you've figured anything out by reading my blog, it's likely been that I am excellent at starting things, and quite distracted from finishing things. So, in 2011, I am going to finish something. One of my books, poetry or otherwise, or that sewing project, or that picture I started to draw once. It'll be something. I'm just not sure what that is yet.


Updates to follow.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

top 10 for 2010

There is a long list of reasons why I write a blog, and one of the reasons is highly selfish: it is purely to appease my heavy-handed-nostalgia with details and pictures and stories. In that spirit, and in no particular order, here are my favorite bloggable moments of 2010.


10. Flash Mob for Haiti - Wise & poetic Sharelle said it best: “I didn't even realize it was on my "bucket-list" until I was doing it.” ...read more.

9. 2010 Olympics - Okay, you know I had to put this one on the list. I actually didn't write as much about this as I thought; blame the gluttenous calendar. In short - politics aside, people - being present in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic games was an experience that will forever be irreplacable. In a world where community is a dying art and "Together" is a slogan instead of a reality, events like the Olympics are a welcome refresher. I have never been hugged by so many strangers-turned-temporary-friends, nor cheered so passionately with thousands, nor felt the absolute bliss of a world with it's finger on the pause button. Anyway, I didn't write much about it, but I did learn some stuff.

8. Arts Umbrella auction - Not only was I surrounded by fabulous art, I was in a room filled with artists; the paintings were not only wonderful to look at, but they were clear examples of what happens when Art meets Dedication. ...read more.

7. Anis Mojgani - Every once in awhile, Grace can be felt tangibly, like a Hand that knows your soul. In this case, Grace chose the poetry of Anis Mojgani as a vehicle. ...take a listen.

6. Roadtrip 2010 - No matter how good the home life, leaving for vacation always feels remedial and necessary. No matter how good the vacation, coming home always feels like a welcome hug... Elusive pause button? I found you, you wandering snob. And now that I've found you, I feel like you're mine; like I own you, and get to keep you as a shield over my daily routine. I like vacations. ...read more.

5. Donald Miller - I know "Donald Miller" isn't really a moment, per se, but his voice has been a lifeline for me this year - reliable, reassuring, and refreshingly familiar. Have you read Searching for God Knows What? I haven't blogged my thoughts about it yet, because I had approximately one million AH-HA! moments while reading it, and diluting those down into a blog post is more difficult than it sounds. I'm working on it. In the meantime, here are some of the other things he's said that have resonated with me this year.

4. Vancouver's Downtown East Side - Despite the supposed risks I signed up with a group of friends for a 10am spot on a Saturday morning; the tour would last approximately three hours and would take us through a variety of DTES locations. I wanted to learn more about this neighbourhood from a non-media standpoint, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. What would I see if I went there myself? ...read more.

3.  Vancouver Sun Run - as we all know, beating a personal best is much more rewarding than beating someone else's best any day. ...read more.

2. Loveliness in Human Form - If you've never been an aunty (or an uncle), I highly recommend it. To say "I love my niece" feels insufficient, and those of you with nieces or nephews will understand. Since she lives out of town, moments with her feel almost sacred, like I am paying too much attention so I never forget what she was like in detail at 2, at 3, and as she grows from here on out. This summer, I took her to the ocean and watched joy in its purest form as she ran and splashed in the tidepools. That visit will be forever brought to mind by the color yellow (my dress, her flellers), and the sweet smell of a moment I felt too human to be part of.

1. Mumford, Mumford, Mumford - Okay, so I may have lied about this list being in "no particular order". 2010 was so heavily influenced by the music of Mumford & Sons that I feel at a loss to try and explain it all over again; the only time I breathed from January to June was when I was listening to their music. Then, in May, I had the most coveted position in Vancouver: at the small, sold out Mumford concert, at the front, an arm's length away from Marcus. Why don't you just hop on over to the saga of my love for Mumford, before I ramble. And if you haven't listened to them yet, may I suggest you add them to your soundtrack for 2011?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

love and the importance of poetry

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Illustration by Warwick Goble to The Juniper Tree

From Anita, to Ashley: "Everyday, Wordpress highlights random blogs on their "Freshly Pressed" home page. A few days ago there was this one blog that has since been set to private and can't be accessed anymore. It's a blog that this guy set up to write his new wife (as of August) a year's worth of love poems...these poems are the ones I managed to "rescue" looking through cached pages."


About
www.ilovejanette.wordpress.com
365 Love Poems for My New Wife

At age 51 I met the woman I had been looking for since I was 15. On August 20, 2010, we became husband and wife. To celebrate, I intended to write her a poem a day for a year. However, we’re much too busy for that; so I will write a poem as often as I can, until I have come up with a year’s worth.  I make no promises about the quality of these poems. I write them very quickly, usually early in the morning, with little to no editing. If you are not my wife and are just here browsing, welcome! If you read something you like, feel free to copy, forward, link – whatever. Send them to the love of your life or, better yet, take inspiration and write something from your own heart.  If you don’t like them, thanks for coming by anyway.

If you ARE my wife, I hope you enjoy the site. I owe you everything.


From ilovejanette.wordpress.com, to his wife: Reflection


I picture myself standing
with guys
you know the kind: flannel shirts, pine
paneling, brown bottles held in front
like incense burners, offerings to
the sacred circle of
small talk

How’s the new wife they ask
as though I’d gotten a new
service or appliance

Great I answer
she still has that new wife smell
which all guys appreciate

And I know they’re generally
not worth it
but I got the extended warranty
with this one

Just like consumer reports recommends

What I would never tell
this circle of stale American beer
is that I lay next to you
and see our future
your face looks as it will
in twenty years
lined, and framed with gray hair

And what moves me is its utter
kindness

and I should have answered
that you are crazy
in the real, clinical sense
and that underlying that
is such a swelling of kindness
and compassion that it
can’t stay in the moment

the future
an eternity of possibilities
cannot contain it
my new wife I tell them
is so beautiful
I can see
her reflection
20 years in the future


From Ashley, to Anita: ...melting. I wonder how we could get invited? [to read]


From ilovejanette.wordpress.com, to his wife: Tao Says


Tao says
what makes a bowl useful
is the emptiness

I look at my bed
and think
Tao was never in love


From Ashley, to Anita: I want to be in love like that – full bowled and poem written.


From his wife:

by Janette

“who is coming for the after-party to help you clean up?”
asks my daughter

well, it’s you and me, babe
and what a glorious morning
to work side by side
a timeless, sheltered space
of togetherness and peace

well, it’s just me now,
you are napping,
a timeless, sheltered space
of slurping afternoon quietude
waiting for you to come back
to smell persimmons and chilis


From Anita, to Ashley (and from me to you): Wishing you full-bowled and poem-written love for 2011 and beyond.


From me to you, again:
...Does anyone know how to get invited to a secret wordpress blog? I wanna read more of these.


all that you are

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2010 was a year in which the world’s weight shifted. Had I been on my rocker in previous years, I would have been off of it by spring. Everything I came to know were things I had known already but had somehow avoided. I became…human. Not better, not more glorious, and certainly not more accomplished. I was, and I became, honest. I am not the best person you will ever meet, nor the prettiest. I am not the most generous, I am not the best at math (in fact, I could quite possibly be the worst), and I am definitely not the most mentally organized. I am messy and faulted and cracked and somewhat crazy. I knew these things before this year, but the honesty comes in this: I am quite okay with it. Why should we hide from our faults or inconsistencies? They make us what we are. We know who we are when we know our weaknesses. We grow because of them, not in spite of them.

It was a year in which I became honest with myself. Had I been off my rocker in previous years, I would have been on it again by spring. Everything I lost sight of were the things that I’d been forgetting to remember anyway. I became…human. Good at daydreaming, excelling in the acceptance of frailty, and certainly more accomplished in the art of being broken. I was, and I became, honest. I am in love with being alive, and in love with the people I get to be alive with. I know what I want from life, and I think I know how to get it. I know who I am. I am messy and hope-filled and incredibly whimsical. Forget “well-roundedness” – it’s a farce. Well rounded people are confused people. “Balance” comes from understanding where we fit, not forcing ourselves into spaces and places where we don’t. I am good at red and yellow tasks, but I am quite wretched at blue and green. Why should we hide from our strengths? They make us what we are. We know who we are when we know the best parts of ourselves. We grow not because of our strengths, but into them.

It was a year in which the word TRUTH got flipped up on its head. I saw God and met him where I was told he would not be; I failed to see Him where I thought I knew he was. He no longer kept himself in buildings or symbols and he certainly didn’t jump up at me from holy pages. He stopped quietly placating the ripples and started to make them, instead; my Quiet Captain Jesus became my Walk The Plank Jesus and my safety nets became war zones. I don’t know anymore how to quantify my faith, but (thankfully) I have stopped feeling the need to quantify my faith in the first place. My definitions are no longer written on high-rises and skylights for people to read; they are quietly etching themselves on the inner walls of my heart. I like to think that God can still read them. The old days might be gone but I don’t miss them. I don’t know how to tell you this: but the God who speaks to my daytimes and my nights is not a building and he is not a set of rules – not according to his apparent Words, and certainly not according to this year. I don’t know who He is. I don’t think I am supposed to define him in my smallness. I like to think He knows me. I like to think he doesn’t stick me in a box to make himself feel better; I feel obliged to return the favour.

May 2011 be a year where we stop hiding from our human selves and reconcile with them, instead. Be who you are, because you are enough. I do say: you are quite loveable. No change required to make you better smarter taller or higher on the food chain; you are enough as is. What if we stopped striving to change the fabulous intricacies of our make up or the blaring cracks in our neighbours and just tried being alive for once? I wonder if the black sheep would be released from their stigma, or if the hungry would eat, or if we would stop feeling like the hungry black sheep. Guilt is a chain, not a motivator. Don’t take it with you anymore. In its place, bring with you all that you are and all that you hope for, but especially all that you are. Because I like you that way.



 

Monday, December 27, 2010

crazytown, population: my family

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Well, minus the polo shirts & sand, this has been the summation of my family during the holidays: together, running around (I don't mean that completely literally), everyone at once. Needless to say, I have had enough spare moments to sleep, a few more to quell the daily nosebleeds I've been getting from the dry air up here (I miss you, Ocean!) - hence, the lack of blogging. But as I'm sure you can understand, I'd rather be chillin' with the folks & kin than typing on a computer. I will be back soon! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

great mysteries of the universe

Here is a thought that dawned on me earlier today, and then immediately began to build puzzles on my forehead: why are chicken wings so small? Arent live chickens like...a whole lot bigger than that?

Sincerely,
Your simple minded friend.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

practicing my high notes

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Due to some recent conversations, I have decided to name a “high point” at the end of each day. This actually came up twice for me yesterday with two different people (something that usually makes me pay attention). I’m starting now (started yesterday, in fact), but then in my head I took it a step further: wouldn’t this be like, the best new year’s resolution…ever? In theory, I will get a notebook and write my high point down each day of 2011, and at the end have a beautiful list to dwell upon and blog about and share with others to inspire the nations and cause other people to start their own notebooks and…that is the theory. In reality, I might get a notebook and write them down each day of January. Regardless, I think I’ll try it; see if I can actually keep it going through to the next new year.

Yesterday’s high point: deep fried mashed potatoes. Or, laughing with Candice. Both made the day worth having.
Today’s high point: far too early to tell, although I expect the Granville Island Improv club will have some effect.
Tomorrow’s high point: I’m guessing, Geoff’s ugly Christmas sweater?

I have heard about this practice for years now – making “I’m thankful for” lists – but for some reason it never stuck. While I love being alive, and often find myself remarking excitedly about simplicity’s best moments, I’ve never felt the need to write them down in that format. But lately, I’ve started to reconsider. I like the idea of purposefully remembering the high notes.

Do any of you do this, or something simliar? Have you decided on any other new year's "resolutions"?


As a related sidenote, I was forwarded this story a few weeks back. I admit, I started craving blue notebooks almost immediately.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Walter.

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This summer, I went on vacation. No wait... let me start over.

A few years ago, I was visiting my family up North when I made the following comment:
“I think I might want a cat one day. They’re sooo cute.”

To which my dad, without hesitation, responded:
“Yah. But then you’d be that lady with a cat.”

Touché, dad. Touché. I won’t get one.

However, just because I am not going to get one, doesn’t mean I won’t still like them. Secretly. At least until I get married to a man and people stop questioning…things (definitely, definitely a different post).

So, where was I? Ah yes; vacation. My trip this summer was, and still is, one of the highest highlights of 2010. The beauty of friends overwhelmed me, and the simple joy of just be-ing with people who know me the best was awe-inspiring. It was exactly the remedy I needed to survive the harsh cold of a crazy summer. But crisp Alberta air and long-time-bests aside, one of the most poignant moments of the trip for me was actually…with Walter.

Walter is Trinia’s cat.

The story’s beginning, if I can tell it without playing too many violins, is that my year had felt akin to solitary islands and flimsy surrender flags during brutally surprising assumptions. Cues have been left on nearly every blog post, so I’m not sure I need to explain it in much more detail – except to say that through the grit and sandpapery heart-handlings, I maintained (and even began to cling to) my weird, nonsensical, readingintoitforthesakeofmysoulandallthatisgood-type habits. Enter Walter.

I was feeling particularly raw when I stepped onto Trinia’s doorstep (ps: if you ever want to meet Sunshine in human form, let me introduce you to this remarkable woman). I fell gratefully into her hugs and smiles and home-cooked meals. To say I feel safe in our friendship is a drastic understatement, and as we visited and talked about each of our years-so-far’s, I could feel my little heart unwinding a bit more. That first day, Walter was where I was. I know this is a cat’s behaviour, but it felt like grace; especially because I was being somewhat coldhearted towards him – attachment felt like pain, even if it was just to a cuddly creature for a few too-short days. But there he was, whenever I sat down. Unrelenting, curious, and unassuming.

Like any night during a crisis, falling asleep proves difficult; especially when there are animals crawling on your face. So, Trinia graciously accepted my request that Walter (cute as he is to look at) be locked out of the room at night. I agreed that we could let him in once the morning came because I might be semi-awake then, and not so surprised when there were whiskers on my forehead. So once the sun had set for awhile and started rising again over Calgary’s rooftop, in came Walter. He paused after he jumped onto my feet, perhaps listening for instruction, then bounded lightly over to my bed head. Gingerly, he crawled himself under the blanket in the crook of my arm, curled his face into the gap between my aching heart and my weary head, and nuzzled firmly into my jawline. Then he put his little white paw around my neck; and then he fell asleep. In that moment, I felt like I knew God.

I know it might be silly, but I am getting a little misty eyed as I remember. It was one of the first genuinely unexpected tender graces I had experienced since January – and here was this cat, taking the shape of the exact thing I had forgotten that I needed. He didn’t even want to know about my many mistakes. He didn’t even want to fix me. Maybe there are no popularly quoted Bible verses on the Grace of God through animals, and maybe Walter just saw a golden opportunity to snuggle with a ravenously attractive woman (totally likely). Or, maybe, this “thing” that we call God is much less “thing” and much more “God” and is not entirely definable. Because I have heard Him speak more often through the things I was told were silent; things like waves on sand and setting suns and feeble white flags on solitary islands. And cats. I have known him to work through cats, too.



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storms, stars, and cell phones

It is 1:35AM and clearly, I am awake. My body is done in for and my brain is swooshing around my head bones, all inside-a-seashell like. You'd think I would sleep this feeling off, but I seem to have been struck with a case of the Insomnias, and as such, couldn't fall asleep if you told me Marcus Mumford would kiss me if I did (can't he kiss me anyway? A valid request, in my books).

The rain storm on my window isn't helping much.

As such, I have resorted to current-century dorkdome and I downloaded the Blogger app on my lovely Android phone so I could write a post...in an effort to pass the time until morning. Perhaps I will write a haiku. I don't remember what the rules are, so I aplogize to the poetry buffs in the room for messing with the syllable-appropritiateness.


Sleep evades me,
The tricky bastard.
Eyeball headache.


....how did I do? I write my best work at 1:49AM, you say? ...I thought you might say that.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

this plastic tastes oddly similar to cheese

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I am thinking today about the difference between Astroturf and real grass; or the difference between bleach blondes and sun-kissed blondes; or reality vs reality TV. What about the difference between “Mountain Air” scented air freshener and actual mountain air? Waterfalls or fountains, relaxation cds or Oceanside property views, credit extensions or lottery wins.

I am thinking about the differences because I am starting to wonder if we still notice
the gap between each two, or if we miss it.

Our Northern American First World is seemingly prouder of its simulated reality than its actual one. We don’t have the cash but we pretend we’ve got it; we are a society that is dangerously in debt yet deeply in love with our debt and we love to lean upon it. We eat “American Cheese” (made of plastic, FYI). We run on treadmills indoors instead of enduring the weather and the pavement; heaven forbid we feel rain or have to squint to see our way. Or what about love; love’s simulation is the easiest physical distraction – it breaks our hearts, but we call it love anyway.

And then there are matters of logic vs faith vs difference vs fear vs individualistic tendencies. What do we believe? We believe in the comfortable, we believe in being right, we believe in self righteous abandon and overshadowed sinners. Our cars run on fuel but our hearts are empty; our bellies are full but they are rotting with the abscess of over consumption. Our hands stay closed on the items and the things and the stuff that weighs the least in matters of richness and lasting depth and in long-term meaning. Our minds are locked in cages, fearing difference, loving sameness, hating contradiction, loving wealth. We are animals in our own right; animals that feed on the naïve exploitation of the poor; animals that starve in plenty, because we do not recognize that we are in plenty.

We crave the breaking of our hearts, so long as this feeling is enough to convince me that I am alive and worth something. But what we forget is that all the doodads and spinning tires won’t fix us, won’t save us, won’t heal us. They are poorly made, pathetically incompetent bandages for an ache that breeds on false reality and simulated joy.

What then, do we stop? Do we file away our tv shows and plastic cheeses and prestigious rights for being first? Could a country town or village function if the hands of the brilliant were not crushing the mouths of the poor, in order that their idea might sell the most figurines in exchange for the most cash; would we like our own strongness if the strongest feet did not stand first in line while the weaker knees stayed bent, heads down, arms outstretched for anything, for something, for at least one thing that feels like reality (or perhaps, if they were really lucky, like love). Would we know our tops from our bottoms if we were constantly wrong instead of constantly wronging, if we left our houses and made way toward our hearts and our homes and the things that make humanity worth something.

So I am thinking of the differences between the fake and the real,
between the falsities and the truths that make up our days.

I am thinking of the things that make up our nights, of the soul and of the sky and of our endlessly approaching bed times, wondering if maybe we’ve gotten it all wrong. Maybe the best things are the things we think of last – after we turn off our box-shaped companions and shut off our lights and crawl beneath the covers of yet another night – when we are in silence, do we know the difference?
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Monday, December 6, 2010

seeing red

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As I was chatting with my successful Stylist friends a few months back, one of them mentioned that a person should never wear red to a dinner party. “But why?” I asked, naively. “Isn’t red the color of passion? Isn’t red exciting?” …”Yes,” he replied, “which is the reason you shouldn’t wear it. It heightens emotions. Bad color for a dinner party.”


Huh. I never wear the color anyway because it stresses me out, but I found this interesting and wondered if it was true (not connecting, of course, the fact that I don’t wear red because it stresses me out).

So today, at just past 2pm, I was assessing my daily anxiety levels and realized that they’re somewhat heightened. Heart? Palpitating. Overactive imagination? Full steam ahead.

…is it the coffee I drank this morning before breakfast? Is it the long mind-numbing conference call I sat in on from 9-noon? Or is it the fact that for the first time since…grade 12, at least…I am wearing red?

You know, I really think it’s the red.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Engagement Survey

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So, my roommate got engaged last night. After I found out this morning, I began to do some math.
...
Now let's see...carry the 1, minus 2, multiply by the number of years and divide by total number of  roommates...
 ...
Yes yes, the equation seems to be as follows:
 ...
In the past 10 years, I have had 10 roommates.
Out of those 10, 8 have gotten engaged within 1 year of being my roommate
(with the odd exception being 1 year and 3 months, or something of that sort).

Out of those 8, 4 of them have gotten engaged while they were my roommate.
...
WHICH MEANS:
 ...
As Ashley's roommate, you have (roughly) an 80% chance of finding marryable love in the subsequent year of your life. And a 40% chance of finding marryable love immediately. Take this into consideration, as I will need a new roommate at some point next summer.
..
I should charge a fee for this service. It's like I have a gift or something.
....
(ps: Congrats Courtney!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

teachable moments: why cats have whiskers.

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Thank you, Wikipedia.

The other day, my friend's pet Chloe was catting her way around the living room; chasing the laser beam, climbing into the Christmas tree to disassemble the branches, laying her head on the couch cushions like a person, stretching dramatically ‘cross the sofa before getting up to do it all again. At one point we wondered aloud what the heck whiskers were for. Neither Bailey (my friend), Andrew (her husband) or myself had any idea. Enter: Wikipedia.
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Friends, this is why cats have whiskers:

"A large part of the brain of many mammals is devoted to processing the nerve impulses from vibrissae [whiskers], because this is important for survival. Information from the vibrissae is transmitted and processed through the trigeminal nerve into the brainstem and thalamus before relaying to the barrel cortex of the brain."
Uhhhmmm….so they uh...?
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Why cats have whiskers, in English:

So they don’t bump into stuff.
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Next time on Teachable Moments: what happened to the statue?
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*Amendment: apparently, the question wasn't about cat's whiskers, but about dogs and other animals. The good word is that it's the same for all animals: whiskers serve the same purpose on mice as they do on elephants. Good to know!
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

on the healing power of words

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This is for the ones who are told only to speak when you are spoken to,
and then are never spoken to,
...shake the dust.
~Anis Mojgani~
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Friday, November 26, 2010

I think I just...yup...my mind just exploded.



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You will not regret it.

Sneak preview (though it was impossible to pick a favorite):
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Driving Tips for Vancouver: a follow up.

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Vancouver: first of all I would like to commend those of you that were paying attention as you drove your vehicles recently. That's right: there have been some mighty careful road-maneuvers these past few days since the snow fell and for that, I and my still-intact-life are eternally grateful. For the rest of you Mainlander dummies (that apparently don't pay attention to driving tips anyway): did you not read this!? What about "ice" suggests that you should speed!? I say this because in the past 48 hours alone, I have seen the horrid driving habits of Vancouverites (read: Lower Mainlanders) return with full force. Accident reports are climbing again, and close calls are visible everywhere. Every time I leave the house, I see at least 3 near-accidents*. For the love of Grilled Cheesus**, SLOW DOWN.

*According to ICBC, only 2% of car crashes can actually be titled "accidental." The rest of them? Completely avoidable. Sad, ain't it.
**Gleek reference.

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God is not a monster

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From an article printed in Esquire magazine, written by Shane Claiborne.
To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.
Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.
The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.
Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news...
For the full article, go here.
(worth the read, as are all things Shane).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

stretch

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when poetry reads me, or i meet
the ocean to feel the salt sprayed air
inside my chest; when music heals me
hears me and sears me; when pictures
catch the best of life; when flowers stretch
and work their details out up on the stem;
when hands meet hearts, and warm bodies
still my bloodline's anxious ripples; when
breathing begets breathing forgets death,
when somehow i survive my latest breath
it is then, and only then,
that I believe in God.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

oh why not: one more song

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I would give everything I own to have this voice. Forget that: I'd give everything YOU own.
Seriously woman. Crap you're good. I am going to stop being jealous. now. or not.


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song for my heart

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my heart feels very safe inside this song. I think yours would too.



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snow-shovel stalker

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Oh wait. I just realized that title sounds a lot creepier than it actually should. Ah well. For clarification: no I do not have a stalker that follows me around with a snow shovel (heebidee-jeebidee). I do, however, have a mysterious (read: creepy) neighbor that shows up whenever I shovel the driveway. Well...that might be a stretch. Here's what really happened:

Last winter, I shoveled the driveway; just once, mind you. The point is that while I was shoveling, a man walked up the street and we made eye contact (because that is just what you do with other humans), exchanged cursory "hello"'s, aaaaaannnd....he watched me shovel my driveway for the next forty-five minutes. As in, he walked twenty feet up the road, turned around, stood there and watched me.  I didn't tell him to leave, because what the crap are you supposed to say to creepy dudes who watch you shovel your driveway from twent feet away while you are alone at night?

(Mom, are you okay?)

So I had totally forgotten about that incident until this morning, when I was (you guessed it) shoveling my driveway...and he showed up again. I don't know for certain if it was the exact same guy, but it was the exact same situation. I exchanged a cursory hello with what I thought was a passing stranger, continued to shovel and hum a little diddy, only to notice a minute later that he was still there [insert: frantic violin music]. Twenty feet up the road again, dressed in black like last year, kicking his toe into the slush and eyeing me in a way that made me feel just a wee bit like an appetizer.

It's okay, I am still alive. I pretended I was finished shoveling and went inside the house for 15 minutes. When I went back out to finish the job, he was gone.

So tell me: do I have a magnet for stalkers and weird anonymous weirdos? I think I might.
...



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a real man

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Oh my gosh...who blogs an email forward!? Well, I am just about do. In fact, I am doing it right now. It was either this or spam a lot of inboxes.
*****

A Real Man

A real man is a woman's best friend.
He will never stand her up and never let her down.
He will reassure her when she feels insecure,
And comfort her after a bad day.
He will inspire her to do things she never thought she could do;
To live without fear,
And forget regret.
He will enable her to express her deepest emotions and give in to her most intimate desires.
He will make sure she always feels as though she's the most beautiful woman in the room,
And will enable her to be the most confident, sexy, seductive, and invincible.

No, wait... Sorry...
I'm thinking of wine.

It's wine that does all that shit.
Never mind.

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*****
I so wish I wrote that.
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summer break, snowstorm

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Well, I am sitting in my room, curled up in my pjs, just a few insulated inches away from a mad snowstorm. Funny how that works eh; the weather is raging outside, and I am calmly cozy. I love the snow, am in love with the nature of it - the look and the feel and the sound it makes under my feet. In so many ways, it feels like starting over; it feels like rest; it feels like promise. Tomorrow's agenda: long walk on the beach in my winter boots.

Despite the fact that I love snow, I am about to post something quite ...July. This can be an escape back to summer for those of you who don't like the snow so much, and a musical reprieve for the rest of us! It's a music video for a song that has been racing up the Canadian music charts all year; racing so fast and strong that the song was recently named Best Pop Recording of the Year at the 2010 Western Canadian Music Awards.

...of course it's by Laurell!!
After some waiting, it's finally arrived!  - the music video for Can't Stop Falling.

Enjoy!!!

Oh...before you watch, perhaps I should let you know: the more you watch & share this with your friends (who in turn watch & share it), the greater impact you will have on our lovely friend being nominated for/winning a JUNO. Yes that's right, you could help a local artist win a national award! Sweet deal.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Pre-emptive strike: Winter Driving tips for Vancouver Drivers

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As a northern girl living in the southern part of the province, I have (for the entire 5 years I’ve lived here) fumed vehemently at the abject stupidity I see on the roads down here. Turn that into blind rage once the snow starts falling and the weather dips to cold. Yes, the Lower Mainland is filled to brimming with intelligent, well-to-do individuals who are smart and pretty and lovely. Problem is, 82% of them don’t know how to drive responsibly. Increase that ten-fold once the cold weather hits.


Now, to be fair, a large majority of the people here didn’t grow up driving in the snow like us Northern folk did, and the concept is still quite foreign. It seems to me that they need new ideas on how to drive in winter; preferably, some good ideas. And since our weather forecast just started to include the white stuff and/or sub-zero tempuratures, I feel the need to address the issue head-on. How else? With a sarcastically laced (yet equally informative) blog post.


Basic information: Slow the $%#@ down.
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In winter, we experience something called “cold weather”, a phenomenon that takes our rain drops and turns them into ice drops, and then of course, into icy roads. Icy roads are slippery and 103% of the time, this means your reaction times are cut a doubled half. By slowing down, you give yourself more time to react, therefore, not killing anyone (or yourself) for Christmas. Win-win.


How to stop: yes, it is different than in summertime.
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In winter (remember: slippery roads), when you are preparing to stop you need to start preparing before you hit the person in front of you. Ideally: you keep your eyes open while you’re driving, and give yourself lots of (what now?) time. Do not slam your breaks last minute and expect yourself to stop in time for the red light. Slamming your brakes on slippery roads causes your tires to lock and skid across the slipperiness and into other objects, like people, other cars, and or lamp posts. Instead, start slowing down sooner, and try pumping your breaks. That means you brake, let up, break, let up, etc. For this to work, you have to start sooner than you would in a hot-pavemented July.


How to go: what it means when your tires are spinning.


I think my favourite part of winter driving down here is watching people try to take off from the intersection. Point number one: in winter, you don’t “take off”, you just start going…slowly. Point number two: it never works, why do you keep trying it? Like stopping, going in winter requires that you give yourself (all together now) more time. If you slam your foot down quickly on the gas, you can expect yourself to create ice under your tires that will prevent you from going anywhere. Or if you’re really lucky, you will shoot in an unknown direction from the sudden power surge. While that may sound like fun, I suggest you don’t kill me or your carmates. Please & thanks.


...
Well, that’s all I’ve got so far. But I know for a fact that a lot of you reading this are from Northern BC, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. I am therefore assuming that you know how to drive in winter. Your input can be added to the comments section. Please, this city desperately needs your driving tips.

Sincerely,
the girl who does not want to die because someone else was in a hurry.

ps. wouldn't it be ironic if I got into a car accident? Dear Irony: please don't win this time.

interactive desk

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My desk at work has become interactive. What I mean by that is, people keep messing with my cubicle paraphernalia after I go home for the day. I guess it’s not totally disrespectful; my cubicle has no door so its not like they’re breaking in. So far the most common occurrence of meddling – aside from the rampant, violently frustrating, daily stealing of pens – has been the mysteriously appearing fingerprints on my picture frame. Or my phone – they like to use my phone a lot after hours, and I often find it moved from the OCD-like-symmetrically-straight position I’ve left it in. I’ve even heard from certain sources that the feet of many an after-hours worker have landed on my desk as they tip themselves back in my chair for a snooze. I’ve had 3 Christmas bobbles hanging in my cubicle for over 2 years now because every time I take them down someone puts them back up – I don’t mind that one so much, it adds some quirk; and we all know I don’t mind being the odd one out (I decided to embrace it. Life got easier).


Anyway. The latest bit of joy has come from the post-it-note guy. Remember him?  This time, he requested that I “BUY NEW TAPE” when my tape dispenser was empty last week. I left it for awhile out of sarcastic pleasure, but found I kept needing to tape things and so gave in a few days later. This morning, I found this post-it on my dispenser:



Whatever helps you sleep at night, post-it-man.
..

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ta-da!

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Well I added the pages (about me, contact, local art, etc) in...um...January? And today, I finally updated them.
No more "coming soon!" lies. When I decided to announce it just now, I got this song in my head:
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They certainly will remain a work in progress, but by golly! I actually did something semi-productive
this afternoon! Someone call the Miracle Police; one's been spotted.

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sometimes rain puts hope in my eye

....

.......... 
....
....
 
....


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

real beauty's on the outside, too.

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In light of some recent postings on the standard of beauty, I thought I might direct you to an interesting conversation over on Leah’s blog. Is beauty on the outside? Should it be? Do we care when it’s not? Big questions – and an invitation for you to answer. May I invite you to join in?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Madeleine L'Engle - Love Letter

Love Letter.
.
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I hate you, God.
Love, Madeleine.

                            I write my message on water
                            and at bedtime I tiptoe upstairs
                            and let it flow under your door.

When I am angry with you
I know that you are there
even if you do not answer my knock
even when your butler opens the door an inch
and flaps his thousand wings in annoyance
at such untoward interruption
and says that the master is not at home.

                            I love you, Madeleine.
                            Hate, God.

(This is how I treat my friends, he said to one great saint.
No wonder you have so few of them, Lord, she replied.)

                            I cannot turn the other cheek
                            It takes all the strength I have
                            To keep my fist from hitting back
                            the soldiers shot the baby
                            the little boys trample the old woman
                            the gutters are filled with groans
                            while pleasure seekers knock each other down
                            in order to get their tickets stamped first.

I'm turning in my ticket
and my letter of introduction.
You're supposed to do the knocking. Why do you burst my heart?

                            How can I write you
                            to tell you that I'm angry
                            when I've been given the wrong address
                            and I don't even know your real name?

I take hammer and nails
and tack my message on two crossed pieces of wood:

                            Dear God
                            is it too much to ask you
                            to bother to be?
                            Just show your hindquarters
                            and let me hear you roar.

Love,
Madeleine
(poem by Madeleine L'Engle)

 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

fta: for my beautiful friends that second guess themselves

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..a slight continuation from yesterday; which in 2007, was the precursor to yesterday. This is a love letter, written to my beautiful friends who second guess themselves.
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It is so easy to get wrapped up in the messes we create. So easy to wonder ourselves into darkness. So second nature to second guess our worth and beauty.


It's hard for me to watch my beautiful friends second guess themselves because they feel like they're alone. We stand and wait, against the wind of the world, clinging to that seed of promise, hoping that somehow our waiting will produce the dream we long for. Hoping also that the dream we choose is somehow accurate.

Have we gone off course?

How stubborn should we be in sticking to our gut feeling that yes, this is right?

This deep seated feeling has to come from somewhere unchosen, because I can't wish it away. Weighing each side, looking at the odds, realizing that I am most likely trumped...even these realities won't make it leave me. My arms are getting tired from holding this Up; clinging to it makes me wearier.

There just has to be something else for you, my love. There has to be, for each of us. We stand at the top of the hill in the wind of our gusting emotions and we feel like we're alone, but we're not. Our hearts are beautiful and have been made good, but I think our minds walk us into danger. They convince us that we're lonely when we're loved; that we're second best when we're priceless. That we have no beauty left, even though Beauty Himself has made us.

I wish I could whisper into your heart and tell it to keep going. Or hold it to let it rest.

But then I remember that you are held already; that I, on my own, can not hold you. I remember what it feels like to need holding. When we are too weak to raise our arms and cry "hosanna!", when our knees are sore from landing there, we are held.

We are held in Hands that only hold the priceless.

You are seen and loved.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

from the archives: standards

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One of the reasons I’m a writer, I’m sure of it, is because I have such a bad memory. Because of this, I often go back and read things I’ve read in the past as a form of therapy – seeing where I’ve been, and comparing that with the Now. Plus, sometimes I’m just plumb out of writing energy and need to remind myself that I once had things to write about. In doing this, in reading through my first (and archived) blog this morning, I came across this post. I’ve decided to re-post it; partly because my brain hurts and partly because I want to. Without going into too much detail, I will say that there are too many women in my life who are questioning their worth lately because of stupid boys who are being stupid (and it goes without saying that there are too many stupid boys in our lives and not enough men…or is that another post entirely?). Regardless, and without any further ado, here is a re-posting of my thoughts from 2007; apparently much hasn't changed. I still believe we've mixed up our standards.




"He's judging books by covers," she said without hesitating, and forcefully.
She said this when I told her that the guy(s) I('ve) like(d) prefer(s) blondes.

It's not that I hadn't thought of that before; I had, many times. I had thought of it each time a guy I liked had started dating one. I had thought of it plenty while looking in a mirror, walking down the street, and sitting in church. It became a pattern for me. Guessing who next would go after that other girl (it was always him); guessing how long it would take me to get over this one.

Eventually, I would. But somehow, my heart always started fluttering in someone else's direction shortly after those self inflicted lies had healed. If I have learned anything about unrequited love, it's that it is much more common than we tell ourselves, and much easier to fall into. Somehow we forget this in the midst of the Crush. We forget that everyone is human like we are.

We also forget to remember that this ended love doesn't tarnish value. These standards for beauty that we've created have seeped through every area of our hearts. It would be impossible for me to count how many times I've heard women say a version of the words "I am not enough, she must be."

And somehow you can only explain that your beauty is nothing compared to hers.

Who got to decide what beauty looks like? Who told you that was a flaw and unnattractive? And where did you learn to convince yourself that you don't measure up? When did it become acceptable to hate another woman because her hair was lighter (or darker), her legs were longer (or shorter), her boobs were bigger (or smaller)? And when did it become acceptable to act on this animosity?

We act on it by telling oursleves we're less, and by alienating those who were given something by nature that we apparently think we should have.

Do you realize that every woman is insecure about some part of her body? Probably that part you wish you had. And that part of your body you despise is probably enviable in some way to someone else.

The standards are fake.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

hypochondria deferred

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If you are going to insist on being a paranoid delusionist about your health problems, might I recommend you have a nurse for a sister? It really moves things along nicely. Plus: no Google required! No clinics, either. No line ups, wait times, or off-white-but-should-be-white button up shirts asking you personal questions in a dingy office. No forcefully speedy exits from the building. No old ladies coughing on your mouth. Instead, a pleasant voiced intelligent woman that will answer your hypochondriatic irrationalities near midnite with genuine care and helpful insight. Thanks to you, Lizann, I have downgraded my condition from “weeks left” to “semi-serious.”
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Monday, November 8, 2010

dystopia

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Happiness is:
thinking you have a purse full of mini chocolate bars to get you through the afternoon.

Desperation is:
realizing that you only had one, and you ate it on the way to work this morning.

Friday, November 5, 2010

things i like

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I like to pile my intentions
up high, where I can see them;
so far up that they stick out
above the rooftops, visible across the city;
up so high they touch the wind.
This way, I can see them
   wherever I am,
and I am always in their shadow.

I like to pack up my sins
in a bag made for weight less heavy.
I keep them like prized posessions,
and re-visit them like dear friends.
I take them out
to tell them my secrets,
    and of my secret plans.
They know my pain because they
are my pain, and I am making
them a shadow.

I like to have staring contests with my dreams and ideas,
as they sit there, stacked up like a pile of books.
They are demanding
to be opened, touched, or tried.
When they become too big,
I file them away with my intentions
(shadow forming as they are).
I keep them from the view of my broken
memory, for fear that the old
   will swallow the new.

I was lying, you know. I don't like that I do any of these things.

© afterthoughtcomposer

photo from weheartit.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

flutter

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social butterfly? or hermit?
can't decide.
maybe I'll stick awkwardly with both.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

webster

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A friend of mine recently commented that I spend too much time trying to “define” the things of life, implying that I have a hard time with things that are unsettled. Admittedly, I was taken aback by his comment. The observation surprised me, especially because I feel like the entirety of my life is spent in transient experience; because what is life, if not a continuous wade through change? Nothing is defined, and I know this truth well and feel quite at peace about it – so the suggestion that I spend too much time defining things felt almost like an insult. I wanted to disagree with this person, “How dare you define me!” but found that I couldn’t. Because he was right; I cling to definition. At least, in part.

To be clear: I detest boxes, and thick lines, and rigid opinion…ironically, I especially hate these things when they are placed on me or my ideas about the world. But I think the cry in my heart to define the things around me (relationships, ideas, and experiences) could stem from the fact that everything I touch (because I am human) is malleabley untouchable; because there really is no one thing in my life that plants its feet to stay there. There are things that suggest permanency; love of family, depth of friendship; but even these things are intangible and elusive. I can’t touch the heart of life with my hands, I can only think about it, and that’s what bothers me. I want to hold something real, and because I can’t, I try instead to understand the world with words.

So maybe I am too stuck on definition.

But, truth be told, I am not very good at being good at life when there’s nothing tangible in it. In fact, I think I might fall apart at the seams without something to hold on to. I’m starting to wonder if we’re all built this way though – we all crave relationship, we all work toward different goals, we all like “stuff”, we all look for something god-shaped that we can define – in short, maybe none of us are good at being good at life without some sort of touchable somethingness in our hands. Each of the five love languages cater to some sort of physical reality, after all. To relax or decompress, we each choose a sense to please; be it touch or sight or taste or smell. We love and crave the tangible. So when life decides to lack it; when the food is flavourless and the air is gray and the curling up is done alone – it would make sense that we set off again, in search of something we can hold; something we can feel. In many cases, people look instead to things that will mask the urge for tangible things – ironically, they usually choose a vice that is tangible (said the girl with a quickly depleting container of Ben&Jerry’s in her freezer). The trouble with all of this is that none of it works as a permanent fix. Even definition – that thing I apparently loathe as equally as I crave – doesn’t last long. Definitions become outdated rather quickly, and so I am constantly self-propelled forward to find a new one.

The thing is though, that I don’t mind living life this way; contrary to the suggestion of my friend, I’m not sure it’s entirely a bad thing. In the words of Chantal Kreviazuk, I am a “fleeting, wandering transient” – I usually make up my mind at the same moment that I change it, and I am constantly chasing and then avoiding that elusive, oppressive beast known as Structure. In short, and especially to this friend, I think I am kind of a crazy person. But it’s the crazy in me that gets me from morning to night, and it’s the admission of the crazy in me that gets me from heartache to rest. I think I like all my crazy, as indefinitely definable as it is.


(if you haven't yet, press play)
Words & Music by Chantal Kreviazuk
"Souls"; Color Moving and Still

Messages from where I used to grow
Twenty thousand frames of mind
This is my soul

Relentless where I'm most alone
Twenty thousand faceless names
This is your show

And, oh, I feel
I am a wandering
A fleeting transient

Soul
All I feel is I am holding on
But only for a moment then it's gone

Covenant we will always grow
Our skin will fade transcend beyond
All we've been told

I feel I am the wandering
A fleeting transient

Soul
All I feel is I am holding on
But only for a moment then it's gone

And oh all I feel is I am holding on
But only for a moment then it's gone

Heal me
I'm healed when you see me
You see me when you feel me

Souls
All I feel is I am holding on
But only for a moment then it's gone

And oh all I feel is I am holding on
But only for a moment then it's gone