Friday, December 31, 2010

looking forward: a glimpse at 2011

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.” 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. 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. 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? 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. 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

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."

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, 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

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, 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

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


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!

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?

Your simple minded friend.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

practicing my high notes

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


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.


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 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. 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


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?

Monday, December 6, 2010

seeing red


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


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.
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!)