Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kensington.

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I took a walk around Kensington on Monday, while my friend was at work. Kensington is a quaint neighborhood in Calgary's SW that houses local art and small businesses and eclectic building fronts. Even the Starbucks looks poetic and original, if that tells you anything. I stopped in at i appeal, a cute little gift/vintage store at 1109B Kensington road. Amongst the random assortment of purses and papers and rings, I found some lovingly offensive greeting cards; too bad no one I know well enough is having a baby or pissing me off, because those cards were the funniest.

i appeal is right down the street from Crave, a cupcake store that sells the best chocolate cupcake I have ever eaten. EVER. I asked, and they have no affiliation with the Vancouver based Cupcakes. No offense intended to BC, but in this area (cupcake deliciousness) Calgary has got you beat. Sorry W Network.

My meandering through Kensington took me by a coffee shop called The House. Not unlike Small Rituals in White Rock, this shop is a non-profit organization that gives any financial gain to the surrounding community. I was looking for a place to set my laptop and my body for a few hours, and I managed to find a place that not only had heart but also played Mumford and Sons on the overhead speakers. What are the chances!?

The atmosphere in The House was comfortable and inviting, and completely non-pretentious. The barista moves quickly and efficiently and yet, knows how to pause long enough to see his customers, to smile with them, and converse with them. Refreshing? Absolutely. I tried the raspberry latte, simply because the idea of a raspberry latte was so intriguing (and I'd never heard of it before). No regrets on that one; raspberry lattes are as good as they sound.

Calgary's weather may be a bit of an odd duck, but this corner of the city makes up for it. Whatever happens in the sky while you're in Kensington will feel linked to whimsy, I bet.


*1st image taken from here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

solo, corner table

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There is so much that is good about sitting alone in a coffee shop armed with nothing but a book and a laptop and steaming cup of caffienated milk. Except for this part: I have to pee, and there is no one to watch my stuff. I suppose I could....bring my laptop with me? Hot dang. I still have to write letters; I don't want to lose my spot (corner, by the windows, in the sunshine, underneath the music).

Calgary.

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Stop 2.1 on my roadtrip is Calgary, visiting my Cuddly-Boo Steph in her second floor apartment in her life in Alberta. My Cuddly-Boo and I have been friends for...twelve years? For three of those years, I have been promising I would visit her in Calgary. I am pleased to say that I am finally here.

The drive from Penticton to Calgary came with a forwarning from my Okanagan friends: watch out for the crazy drivers between Revelstoke and Golden, BC. "Odd advice" I thought, as I considered that all the crazy drivers certainly didn't congregate on that one stretch of highway. My advisor was right though, and I was wrong: all of the crazy drivers congregate on the highway between Revelstoke and Golden. All of them. I actually got my phone out from my purse and placed it in the compartment right beside me, about 5 minutes past Revelstoke; so convinced was I that Death would be something I'd witness or experience while driving. I managed to keep my stress levels down for the most part though, by listening loudly to some very calming music. Once I was past Death Highway, I was into Banff and greeted with 2 long hours of construction and 30km/hr speed limits. I kept the calming music on repeat. My stress levels stayed relatively unheightened. Thank you Enya, for driving me to Calgary.

Now that I've been here a few days, you may wonder what I think about Calgary. Good question. Yesterday afternoon as we walked by the river in the sunshine, it started to lightning-thunder-rain. Last night, the wind was coming so forcefully into the window that the bedroom door was rattling on it's hinges; having just watched 8 episodes of TrueBlood in a row, I was just creeped out enough to be afraid of the wind and to sleep with my light on (do I blame the Vampires or Calgary? Hard to say). This morning I assessed the weather from the window, noted that it was sunny as, and went out in just my t-shirt; this being August and all. I got outside to dark clouds and gusting chilly winds, so I ran back upstairs and grabbed a scarf and a sweater. Back on the street, three blocks into my walk, and I am sweating. The air on the streets of Calgary is an inconsistent mix of sunny summer, muggy Toronto, and October breezes. It's weird.

The people on the streets here are buzzing; they are all going somewhere, and quickly. Hordes of people run and jog on their lunch breaks; together in groups of 2 or 4, they discuss their business notes and personal quips in heightened semi-breathless tones. If they aren't running or jogging in shorts too short for workdays, they are speedwalking in suits and blazers, to or from a meeting or responsibility. Rushing to or from something, or maybe they are just rushing because it's Calgary and that's just what you do here. Even these people, though, aren't going too quickly to miss how weird the weather is.

I have found a few parts of Calgary that I like; I am sitting in one of them now - but, more on that later.

My favorite part is obviously the time I get to spend with my CB. It has certainly been a long time coming, love. I am only 4 days in to my 2 week vacation, and I can already say with certainty that my new dream job is to travel and hang out with my friends. Know anyone hiring for that position? Let me know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Penticton.

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Stop one on the 2010 Grande Tour de Friendville was Penticton, BC. Penticton is a pleasant little city filled with fresh fruit and summer air and lakeside conversation. There are orchards and vineyards and craftspeople all throughout the Okanagan, and during the summer it is commonplace to see local vendors selling their wares in parks and on sidewalks to the flood of incoming tourists. People here seem light (as citizens of Perpetual Summer should appear); nobody rushes and everyone smiles.

I met up here with fabulous friends I had during my first year of college, who were in from Ontario, visiting family. Emily & Dave were almost immediately two of my closest connections during Year One of my college cycle. When I met them, they weren't yet "Emily&Dave", but their friendship soon turned into crushing turned into obvious attraction turned into DAVEJUSTASKHEROUT. Now they are married. Seeing them Friday was a comfort and a joy at once. Dave still tells his memorable stories with actions and humor, and beautiful Em still defines Genuine Grace; it's nice to know that some things never change. It's a rarity for some to come across the type of friendship that doesn't break over time, and yet I seem lucky enough to have a collection of these frienships; Emily and Dave are no exception. Now if only we could convince them to move to BC, so I don't have to wait another 5 years for a visit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

compassion fatigue?

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Reading in the paper today, I came across an article dictating the UN's urgent need for finances in their aid to Pakistan (photo on right is from the Wikipedia). Here's a short excerpt:

With hundreds of villages marooned and highways cut in half by swollen rivers, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 500,000 of the millions of flood survivors... "We have a country which has endemic watery diarrhea, edemic cholera, endemic upper respiratory infections and we have the conditions for much much expanded problems"..."We cannot spend pledges. We can not support Pakistan with pledges. I urge the international community to urgently change pledges into cheques." (quotes given by UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole) (my emphasis)


We Canadians can donate via the UNCHR (the UN refugee agency for Canada- link to donate is right on the main page) or directly through UNICEF. Americans & Worldwideians can donate via the UNICEF website as well. Just select your country from the dropdown list, hit submit, and you've reached the form.

Appeals like this are made when they are needed. Appeals like this are met when we humans do what we can in response; when we refuse to grow tired of being compassionate.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the elusive button

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My year has finally begun what feels like a psuedo dénouement. Mainly because my schedule has slowed dramatically, giving me time to have time. My spirit is settling in for the long Season ahead in moccasin boots and soft mittens and comfortable chilly-weather clothing; on a lush green forest floor beside a high outcropping of grey rock. Waiting for the rain, or relief from the rain, or desire for rain, or something. With all this extra non-scheduled time I now have to take time, I'm finally starting to notice that I'm breathing. It's a good feeling.

I spent the better part of 2010 so far, from January to July, in a haze of activity. I would get up in the morning and make it to work and then after work I would go to my other work or to a planned-3-weeks-in-advance activity or social gathering, and then I'd get home late and go to bed. Every single day it was the same, get up early, go out, get back late, bed time, up early, etc. On the weekends I would go to my third place of work and crash, sleep in, do it again, home late, crash sleep, and go to work on Monday. 7 days on, 0 days off. I never slowed, nor allowed myself to crave it. I may have cooked four meals for myself in the entire first half of this year (not including the occasional late night KD binge), although I feel that number is a bit generous.

Running parallel with that purposeful insanity was the shift of every Paradigm (documented - in fractured, ambiguous bits - here). While the movements in my spirit are far from finished (see above: long trudging season ahead), I am now at least aware that they are moving in a good direction. Or at least, in a direction. It's a comfort, somehow, knowing that I'm not entirely lost; my heart's returned chestward. I think. Thank God.

In short, there's been a lot of processing, and a lot of running around like a crazy person, and a lot of dealing-with-it that's been done in the past 6 months alone. I feel like I started in January on the tip-top of a mountain and spent the next 6 or 7 months or so tumbling awkwardly downward. While I know the fall and winter will bring their own particular rockfaced-hill-climbs, I don't have to scale them just yet. I get a reprieve in the form of a two week vacation to Bestfriendville. If all my "valleys" had Best Friends in them, I'd be happier in the valleys than on the hilltops.

So while I escape in a few short days to the hearts of my beloveds, I leave you with this (as I'm not sure how often I'll get the opportunity to write on here). I found it on sonicgypsy....which I suppose means that sonicgypsy found it, and not me at all... Regardless, I invite you to turn up your speakers, tilt your chair back, close your eyes, and take a cleansing breath as you listen. Pause, and rest...and sleep, if you feel so inclined.





(you especially want your speakers UP for the word "bed" in the second verse, 0:55-1:10.
God Himself made that chord up. It's true.)
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fortune cookie faith

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To understand this story, you first need to know a bit about my dad. My dad is a wonderful man, a centered and well-thought-out man, a man of integrity. He loves his wife and his kids and has a work ethic rivalled by few. He’s got a big heart and a strong opinion. He loves God; and that – his faith – is the crux of this particular tale. This story takes place at his then-current work locale, on some evening, around some tables.

The people with him were coworkers; men who’d made no secret of their thoughts on my dad’s beliefs. But my dad had never made a secret of his faith either; he was questioned and challenged enough that he had answered enough people to have his faith turn into common knowledge. The atmosphere seems almost jovial to me, whenever I hear this story; they would tease my dad and sometimes the challenges would turn into deeper conversation. The point that you need to take forward, though, is that they were relentless in their pursuit of making him explain himself. They got a kick out of it, you could say. They thought it was funny that he believed in God and lived by faith. “It was known,” he said, “I didn’t believe in luck or fortunes.”

So it happened, on this particular evening around those particular tables that the company had provided these men with dinner. They were staying late on a course and at the dinner break, Chinese food was delivered. Everyone knows what happens at the end of a Chinese Food dinner: fortune cookies. The men finished eating and were opening their cookies, reading their fortunes, and enjoying themselves…until they noticed my dad. He hadn’t opened a cookie at all. This wasn’t an act of religious defiance, he simply wasn’t interested (nary a thought will cross my mind if someone walks by me with a liquorice allsort, and I think this might have been the same thing: it just didn’t occur to him). “OH come on,” they teased. This was too much! The Man who Believes, not reading his crispy fate! The conversation got riled up as more and more of the men decided that my dad, this cookie-non-believer, should read his fortune!

Finally, my dad smiled and sighed and cracked open the cookie for a room of rowdy grown ups.


Once he read his fortune, the men shut down immediately, and nobody wanted to talk about it anymore.
Because this is what it said:
“Your prayers will be answered.”

“It was a real good conversation killer,” says my dad when he retells the story.

I love this story. Something about seeing my dad calmly reading aloud a fortune to a room of men, who had hoped for more ammunition, kills me (wink. Holden reference. That was for you Sharelle). I like it more than that, though, because it reminds me how important it is to have a sense of humor about these things, from all perspective points. Had my dad gotten riled up and defensive, the story would not have had the same smart ending. It would have ended with a negative, instead of a noteworthy positive.

I wonder how many smart endings I’ve missed by being reactive instead of unruffled. Perhaps my North-American-Need to be RIGHT! and defended is actually losing me out of some of life’s best moments. If there is a corner to turn, or an edge to soften out, it might be in that exact location: reaction. How we react to people and their differing opinions will determine how they understand our beliefs, almost exclusively.

I suppose it might be stories like this one (above) that make me less afraid of difference; in people, in belief, in decision. Like maybe those fortune cookie moments are everywhere, and because we are too busy walking away in righteousness, we miss them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

love? really?

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I was in my car today, with the radio on, and I started listening to the lyrics of this certain song that was playing (you should try this sometime, if you don’t already practice the art of Critical Listening. It’s fascinating). It’s a popular song, by a popular guy, which means that people at large are responding in some way to his music. But the more I listened to the words, the more sad I got. I realized this dude is all confused about LOVE and what it actually looks like, but he doesn't know he's confused. He kept referring to LOVE as these ridiculous things that are only by-products of love and not real LOVE at all. And then he kept talking about how awesome he is, because he is awesome, and this girl is never going to know "real love" (not a direct quote) until she was with him, because is he awesome (also not a direct quote). And then I started to think about all the people that comfort themselves after a breakup by saying that the other person doesn't know what they're missing by breaking up with ME!!! Finally, I started to wonder if we are all just as confused as pop culture is currently indicating that we are.

If popular culture (read: all forms of media) is indicative of a generation or a society’s ideals, then I think our culture has some pretty scary indicators in it…namely, what we as a young society seem to think this thing called LOVE is. Blanket statements don’t work, I realize. But what if (can you imagine?) we could each recognize our own tendencies towards a blanket-statement life? Our own tendencies towards acting like we've got it all figured out, when we're poking ourselves in the eye just as frequently as the next person?

Maybe instead of assuming that we understand what LOVE is, we should assume that properly defined and genuinely acted LOVE is something we will always need to chip away at. Maybe we need to work hard to understand and adopt real LOVE-ingness, daily and hourly and minutely. Maybe the only way you really get it is by admitting that you are only good enough to try. I have more often felt loved by the statement “I don’t know how to love you well, teach me how” than by this one, “You are going to love being loved by me, because I am awesome at it.”

Dramatic sentences all, and likely rediculous. Who knew a car ride with some well disguised lyrics could turn into a blog post?



it's okay to hide them

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In the form of many things,
I keep receiving pearls;
in conversation, in timing,
in dreams – these precious
stones (are they stones?) keep
showing up, bathed in
poignancy, placed with subtlety,
and somehow formed to fit
with bold exactness
into the deepest reaches of my heart.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catcher in the Rye



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Life is funny, you know. Like how you can spend your whole life waiting for something you eventually realize you never even wanted in the first place. Then you discover you want things you've never expected yourself to want at all. Then while you're over there, wanting all that new crap, all the things you thought you wanted keep jumping up in your face and telling you what a bad human being you are for abandoning the old Dream.  Or how about the time when some guy tells you that you look "classy today" when all the "Well, at least I still look human" you've mustered somehow fell into place in those frazzled ten minutes it took you to get ready this morning (the ten minutes between the time you abruptly woke up and the time you normally leave the house)...and then on the days when you feel the absolute best about yourself, like you're real terrific, no one says a word. It's corny to say it, and especially to say it again, but life is funny. Something about life just kills me. I just finished reading this book, too, you know, this little book that said a lot more about life than I think it even knew it would. But I don't even want to talk about it, it's just too much. Don't even ask me about it.

I've heard about this book for a hundred years at least, people kept going on about what a splendid book this was and what a fabulous piece of English Literature and all that... and I really wasn't going to read it, I swear to you I wasn't. In fact, I had forgotten the book had ever existed at all. I didn't even give two shits that it had been written. But I was in the bookstore last week and it, the book mind you, just got right up off the shelf and put itself in my hands. I swear to you, that's exactly what happened. I was there looking for something else, all innocent-like, and this little orange book just got right up from where it was sitting and snuck quickly into the crook of my right arm. I mean, the bastard, can you even imagine.

So I'm reading this book, and this Holden kid is just so goddamn funny, that I keep laughing out loud. To myself, in public. I'm a madwoman, I tell ya. It only took me like eight minutes to read the book from start to finish, if you want to know the truth. I picked it up, and I read it, and there I was all over the pages. Only I wasn't myself. I was this pessimistic kid from NYC, punchy as hell, named Holden Caulfield. I mean it, I almost took notes and got out my highlighter, for chrissake. I mean, this book just killed me.

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(ps. for those that will be offended by my language, go read the damn book and get over it already)

Monday, August 9, 2010

bathtubs and books

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As I’ve mentioned before, it always surprises a bit me to hear that people don’t love to read – much the same, I’m sure, as it surprises some people that I don’t love to have athletic equipment lobbed at my head… Anyway, reading is so…therapeutic, lovely, and addicting. It is, I daresay, one of the only intelligent forms of escapism there is. I personally experience the reading of a good book much the same as I experience an anticipated hot bath: I don’t just stare at or skim the surface, I get right in – submerging up to my shoulders, to my neck, to my earlobes in the warm comfortable escape I find there. I stay awhile. I bring wine. I prefer if you leave me alone. Really, books and bathtubs have a lot in common.

I picked up Catcher in the Rye at the bookstore the other day. I didn’t mean to pick it up, I just did. It was there on the shelf and it was there under my arm and I don’t really remember the moment between those two memories. I’ve heard certain musicians say that they didn’t write the song but rather the song found them, and I often feel the same way about books: like I’ve been chosen, instead of the other way around. I don’t know if I will feel this way about Catcher, but I will certainly let you know when I’m finished. 

There are three books I am currently working on; four if you count Anna Karenina, the book I have been reading for over six years*. The first book in the group of three is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Iriving, a novel I picked up at our inter-office used-book sale awhile ago. I noticed the title almost immediately amidst the piles of boxes of books, and it took me walking by it about five times before I realized why it already felt so oddly familiar, like it was staring at me: this is the book that the movie Simon Birch is based on. And if you haven’t seen Simon Birch, you’ve obviously never cried your eyes out quite as hard as I have (warning: overstatement). I’ve made it about halfway through the book and I’m already starting to get nervous because I know the sad part is coming. I have vowed to read the rest of it in the solitude of my own home, to save the rest of you from the awkward moment that will surely arise if I’m sobbing openly in the corner of a public venue.

Book two is a book by the handsome (irrelevant fact) & fantastically relate-able Donald Miller; called Searching for God Knows What. Don writes a lot from personal experience, so it’s a totally different style of book from Owen, and I am liking the switch between the two. This book in particular was gifted to me by a delightful woman I know who is well tuned in to the needs of others. You may have noticed my blog lately has been a little…uh…shall we say, honest? You could even say I’ve seemed desperately unable to deal with the things of life; yes, that sounds about right (and if you’d seen me in real life, you’d know for sure that I was recently one hair’s breadth away from institutionalization). There have been a few things in the past weeks that have come to my rescue, though. This book – and the gifting of it – have been small but important pieces of that saving. I wrote a wee memo in my phone the day I started it that went a little something like this: why do I get the distinct feeling this book is going to save my life? Not the book, but the words inside it. Not the author who wrote the words, and not the words themselves, but the recognition of myself I will find within them. So far, it’s been a very well-timed read, and indeed I’ve seen myself jumping back out at me from what I’ve been reading, on more than one occasion. I even gasped, laughed, and cheered (quietly) out loud at one point – when I was reading Don’s thoughts on Jesus – because I so whole-heartedly and giddy-like-a-schoolgirl agreed with what he was saying. It’s good to read a book like this once in awhile; if no one else in your world understands you, some author who wrote some book might. It feels a little like camaraderie, and I am currently pretending that it is.
 
The third book I’m reading is that sneaky little bugger, Catcher in the Rye. I started reading it the day I bought it because I had time to kill and the only other book I had with me was Owen Meany and I was in public and the sad part is coming; enough said. It took at least two pages before I really started to understand Holden(the main character)’s thought patterns, but as soon as I did I actually found myself giggling. It’s quite funny. I hadn’t a hot clue what this book was about before I started it – save the fact that it’s a Very Famous Book – and I still don’t know what to expect at all. But I’m excited to read it all the same; this kid is moody and hilarious and I am so excited to see what sort of crap he gets himself into. Don’t tell me anything –you’ll ruin it and I will hate you (at least for a little bit).



Book reviews to come as I finish.

Tell me, which book(s) do you consider a MUST READ? Do you have a list? What tops it? Why?


*yes, six years…and yes, it is that exhausting of a read; delightful in parts, but so very long and belaboured with details for the rest of it. Plus I already know how it ends. That's what happens when you take six years to read a Famous Book, you eventually stumble across pop culture and learn that everyone else knows how it ends and expects you to know it too and so they tell you and then you've spent all that time reading a book to get to the ending and in a way you've already gotten there vicariously through others, so it gets very boring, very fast. Hence the reason I am only two or three chapters from the end and I can't make myself pick it up to finish it. 

has anyone seen my sunglasses?

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I have an espresso hangover. I don’t know if that’s even possible, nor have I ever experienced an actual hangover…but if I were to imagine what a hangover felt like, I would probably come up with my current experience. Mild nausea? Check! Desperate starvation impulses accompanied by a stomach churn at the thought of food? Check! Muscle weakness and joint pain? Feelings of being not-quite-dead? Slight headache IN MY EYES!? Nodding off in my cubicle? Check, check, check. Check.

It’s my own fault really. I was trying to stay awake yesterday evening and had, within a 3 hour time frame, 4 espresso shots. Not by themselves of course, but there were 4 in total, regardless. They didn’t even keep me from the occasional yawn, the bastards.

If anyone asks, I’m off coffee. At least until tomorrow morning.

Friday, August 6, 2010

for the love! (of reading)

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For as far back as I can remember, my favourite place to stick my nose has been between two book covers. When I was younger, I would hunker down in a ball on the couch in our living room (or on the cosiest corner of my bed, or by lamplight into the wee hours of the night when I should have been sleeping) and plant my face four inches away from the words in my chosen novel. I would readreadreadreadread until I was yanked back to reality by a tangible human person, or until I fell asleep: book open. I remember vividly, on more than one occasion, my mom or dad or one of my sisters would come and stick their hand in front of my face and wave it around – that being the only way to get my attention once I was glued to the pages.


My love of reading only deepened as I got older and permeated my highschool experience; English was the only class I actually enjoyed and excelled at, purely by nature. English homework was either reading or writing and – hello – that’s not homework at all. College came along, though, and threw what felt like a heavy damp towel over my favourite pastime. Required reading immediately felt required. I actually went through all four years of study without cracking a single textbook spine (save the ones in my English Lit courses, and the few where the textbook was the assignment). In the years after college – what with all the adjustments and Becoming An Adult to do, my books stayed in boxes and my love for reading became something of a memory. I remembered that I used to love to read, and I assumed that – given time – I would still love it, but finding the time to read had fallen so far down the priority list that it grew it's very own colony of dust bunnies. In short, it was all but forgotten. I would wander around bookstores quite often though, new and used alike, and pick up the books - just to pick them up. I would read the titles and critique the cover art and breathe in the scent of literature; I’d even hunker down on occasion, right there in the aisle, when a book would captivate me enough to steal the moment; but reading, and the energy and time required for reading, seemed to evade me.

I can’t remember exactly what got me back – I think it may have been The Paperbag Princess, truth be told – but my love for books and reading slowly reclaimed its rightful spot on the priority list: right near the top. I’ve come so far around the circle that I now have an entire bookshelf of unread books in my bedroom, demanding to be opened, and soon. I am currenly reading 4 books (or 5?), and I keep buying books. I commented to a friend the other day that I have “at least 40” books on my To Read list, though I am quickly realizing that number is far too modest. I have more than 40 books To Read in my bedroom alone, and that doesn’t even count the literal hundreds of books and authors I have note-to-self’d over the past ten years. I have even begun to consider that I might have some kind of brain disorder – who reads that much nowadays anyway? Who wants to spend all their time in books?

…and then I read this (you should read it). My daily stop to Don’s blog is always a lovely and insightful pause amidst the noisy humdrum of my boring desk job, but this post in particular hit a nerve. Specifically, this:

According to Para Publishing, 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. And 42% of college graduates follow suit. 70% of U.S. adults have not stepped into a bookstore in the last 7 years and 80% of American families did not purchase or read a book last year.

Eighty percent of the continent isn’t reading…at all? Some people don’t spend any of their free time in bookstores!? One third of the “educated” population stopped reading after the age of 17?? I can honestly say I’ve not oft’ been happier to be a part of the minority. I am so compelled to leave everything I’ve learned and go back to what I knew as a child: reading is, absolutely, better.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

you've been lied to

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...I only put in one. The other, not so tattered hoodie crawled its way onto my body and zipped itself up and dragged me in front of the mirror and bombarded my visual cortex with memories. Plus, it felt really cozy and warm and comfortable. It didn't take much arguing, to be honest - back you go old friend, even though I never wear you.

Nostalgia: 1
Ashley: 0



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college hoodies

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I feel compelled to announce that I've just placed both of my ugly, tattered, ill-fitting college hoodies
into the giveaway bag and by doing so, have subsequently entered adulthood.

Yay me.


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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

autumn

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I have this weird moment every summer, every time I realize it's August, where it feels like the year is already over. It's not - I know this - but the feeling I get would certainly tell you otherwise. In so many ways, fall is my favorite time of year; I love the visible change in nature, I love the crispness in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot. There's a feeling of safety that comes in fall - permission to cocoon, it feels like. I anticipate that feeling; am anticipating it now. But even with all the warmth and fuzziness I hold for this changing season, I still catch my breath when I realize it's already here. January, where did you go? Regardless, fall is well on its way; time to watch the leaves fall and pick them up and turn them over, if we so choose.

There is a habit of mine, so deeply entrenched in my makeup, that I hardly even recognize it as habit; it feels as subconscious as breathing. That cliche "leaf turn" is my daily methodology; as often as my lungs embrace the air, so does my soul and everything in me look for change and meaning and something new; a 'new' not obtained in abandoning the old, but by turning over surrounding leaves and seeing what lives on the other side. I've turned over so many leaves in my day, and yet I've only just begun to realize: they're all the same. From what I can tell, I've been looking at the alternating sides of the same three leaves, my entire life. Maybe there've been more than three, and maybe there's been more growth & change than I realize, but there's something oddly familiar about my current seat. I've been here before, in one way or another.

I cleaned my room today. Well, if you looked at it now you'd think it was experiencing the aftereffect of an earthquake or mad temper tantrum - there is still a lot of stuff everywhere (laundry: you are the bane of my existence). But I moved my desk to the opposite corner, downsized a piece of furniture, organized the many bits of nostalgia that clutter my life. If you follow this blog, you know that Ashley-Cleaning-Her-Room is a big enough event to blog about; my room has come to symbolize everything about myself that I don't quite like - I avoid the mess until I break, and then I do an overhaul (and turn over that "new" leaf), and then a few months down the road, I reconnect and realize that the leaf needs turning once again.

I woke up the other day to my sweet roommate knocking on my door to say hello.
"Look at my room" I said with painful recognition, as I gazed over the clothing heaps.
She laughed and said, "This is the way it always looks."

It's true. This is the way my room always looks. Messy. I know this (have known since I slept my first night in a big girl bed). But the moment I connect with my mess is the moment I recognize its bigness. And this - not the leaf turn - is the habit that feels more like breathing than learned behavior: I become a mess, and the mess becomes me; the piles inside the walls are only a symptom of this reality: I have become my own afterthought.

In truth, I don't really know what to do with myself at this point; I don't know what I need or what I'm craving. I don't know why I'm sad or why I'm happy, and I don't know what I thought I knew, and as much as I try to contain the mess, it always turns to meet me. I tried turning over a leaf this morning (that old, familiar coping mechanism), but I soon learned that there are no more leaves left to turn; I've tried them all. Everything I touch turns to humanity, and somehow - though I'm human - it hurts.

Maybe the reason I'm anticipating fall this year is because it matches; instead of adjusting to the seasons, I feel like this year, they are adjusting to me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

...need....water...

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What they didn’t tell you in elementary school that the Imagination is actually necessary for life. Imagination keeps the world at bay and brightens the sun and suspends mundane reality. Today, for example, I have already been here:

…Anita said I could live in the yellow one (thanks, Anita!).
The view from that top set of windows is quite lovely indeed.



I’ve also eaten my body weight in chocolate (or imagined that I did, at least).

However – “and sadly,” said my overdramatic half – there are days where Imagination and chocolate just won’t do (no offense, my sweet, sweet Lindt); days where the Minutes drag their heels through setting concrete, refusing to go any. faster. My word! The minute just changed…perhaps the clock is reading my blog? Just in case…excuse me for a second whilst I yell out some desperate instructions: HURRY THE FRICK UP.

Sigh.

I am forced to retreat to the concentric circles of thought that take me through mid-mid day crisis and pseudo-dissatisfaction with a life that the Bird’s eyes might otherwise consider…well…quite wonderfully unruffled, actually. Perhaps I am being too harsh. Or maybe all this sitting around trying to look useful has done more harm than good, over the years. Like I don’t know how to use my brain anymore? Something like that.

I’ve considered winning the lottery. Not so I can buy things (because things are useless and silly) but so I can buy time: time to use my brain in ways that actually… use my brain. Time in which I could utilize my creativity instead of squelshing it into the dusty corner labelled “not NOW because there is looking busy to be done”. I think I just need some time off; I am turning into one of those crazy women that are all Type-A-or-I-Bust and WOULDSOMEONEPLEASESTRAIGHTENTHEPICTUREFRAMES!? Example: While I’ve spent part of my day in that Oceanside paradise up there, I’ve spent all the rest of it in my house (the one I currently live in, which also happens to sit Oceanside). What have I been doing in my house, you ask? Organizing boxes and folding clothes and vacuuming the carpet obsessively. I’ve been counting forks. I've been polishing the window specs and waxing the hardwood and building a shelf and when I am finished all those things I want to reupholster my arm chair. Then I want to use my entire paycheck on food and teach myself to cook delicious things that even Gordon Ramsey would have trouble spitting back out. And then I would like to read on the beach. And then I would like to write write write write write. And then I want to search the world for new music, new art, new design. And then implement those things in my own personal world. Essentially, I want to be anywhere that might inspire my brain to actually operate as it should be operating, instead of humdrummingly pretending to look busy.

Is humdrummingly a word? Use it in a sentence this week, and get back to me.
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