Friday, February 25, 2011

mind explosion: Pecha Kucha

For almost a year now, Anita has been trying to get me along to a Pecha Kucha night, and while event’s description immediately fascinated me (I’ll explain that in a minute), I never really “got around” to getting myself a ticket, thus missing each one as it came and passed behind us. This time, however, Anita bought my ticket in advance with her own (I paid her back, of course); and I admit, having someone else watch the details works best for silly, distractible girls like me.

So last night, I attended my first Pecha Kucha. Next, we insert cheesy, retro cartoon images of my brain exploding:

Pecha Kucha, which I've heard is the Japanese version of "blah blah blah", is a phenomenon that was started in Tokyo in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, and has since spread to 387 cities around the world. Why is it so catching? According to Pecha Kucha’s website, it’s because “most cities…have virtually no public spaces where people can show and share their work in relaxed way. If you have just graduated from college and finished your first project in the real world - where can you show it? It probably won't get into a magazine, you don't have enough photos for a gallery show or a lecture - but PechaKucha 20x20 is the perfect platform to show and share your work.”

Here is the format of Pecha Kucha, as described on Vancouver’s Pecha Kucha website: “Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each - giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.”

Here is the format of Pecha Kucha, as described by me: Each presenter talks about whatever they want to; typically, something they love or are passionate about – a new creative or community project, a new idea, a favourite pastime. Their passion spills out through their mouth for 6 minutes and 40 seconds while you listen and watch the 20 giant on-screen images they've chosen to coincide with their message. Thirty seconds after one speaker ends, another one begins. Or in other words…

Volume 15 (last night’s Vancouver Pecha Kucha), had 11 speakers: writers, entrepreneurs, architects, artists and others like them: Office Supplies Incorporated, the anonymous Vancouver street artist (no longer anonymous), and Stewart Butterfield, founder of Flickr. Each presenter was dynamic and engaging in their own way, honest and forthcoming with their views of the world and what matters to them. Lisa Robertson (Vancouver poet and essayist) started us off with a reading from her Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture. This was, without a doubt, an incredible way to start off the evening – for one such as myself, who drools over immaculate word combinations and lights up at the sound of innovative sentence structure – I sat there with my jaw locked open, listening to her describe the world and our city in ways I have not heard before; her poetry juxtaposed with photos from around Vancouver: tarps and columns, water and back ally ways; stubborn blackberries. Before my mind could even comprehend the beauty of her latest phrase, she’d have another one out in the open; triplicating beauty on top of insight on top of shrewd observation. Just as I was ready to stand and cheer, “NEXT SPEAKER…” appeared on the screen in front of us. Lisa Robertson exits the stage, making way for the next presenter.

One more quick introduction from the host, and Scott Hawthorn the Entrepreneur approaches the momentarily empty microphone. This is the man who started the Salt Tasting Room (award winning restaurant, Gastown, Vancouver), Al Fresco flash mob dinners, and the Parking Spot art space (a small gallery in Vancouver, where Natalie Purschwitz made her clothes), among countless other ventures. He spoke of the necessity of community, and the desire he has to utilize current spaces for the desire we all have: to connect with other people. He talked of the ability Design has to either bring people together, or not. His Salt Tasting Room, for example, has one long communal table (not small, individual tables); the intent, of course, being that you converse with those beside you; that you meet someone new; that you connect, as we all hope to do. Al Fresco flash mob dinners put strangers together – again, at a community table, over a locally sourced meal. His speaking and engagement with life’s brilliance was undeniably catching (anyone want to Al Fresco with me?). He ended his presentation by hitting tennis balls (with dinner invites wrapped inside them) out to random audience members; fostering again his love and natural ability in bringing people together. NEXT SPEAKER…

The entire night was like this; 6 and a half minutes of mad inspiration, rampant enthusiasm, brilliant ideas, with barely enough time to absorb the words and message before the next speaker would be on stage doing the same thing; bombarding us with their hope for a better city, their love of a certain sport, their desire to connect street artists, or their intelligent approach to green spaces and structures (or, one of my favorite speakers - I believe it was Micheal Tippet, founder of Now Public - gave a hilarious and wildly insightful presentation on social media). By the time the night was over, I was near vibrating; my heart rate had increased and my mind was racing. If you are artistic, entrepreneurial, business minded, community oriented, free thinking, looking for resources, searching for beauty, or simply looking to experience something unique and fresh, GO TO PECHA KUCHA. (hint: tickets sell out really quickly).


Thursday, February 24, 2011

the contextless poet


if the little girl
into little pieces
who will pick them up?

for the little girl
each time she bends
to remember what was dropped.

if another boy
another piece
of the little broken heart;

what is offered next is just
and pieces;
not a perfect girl, at all.

© afterthoughtcomposer


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

hello, friend.

Someday I hope to party in a balloon laden castle.

taken from

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

blog loss


don't jump.

[insert frustrated, whiny sound effect here]

What happened: It’s gone. All of it.

What happened?: My phone needed a software upgrade.

So, um, what happened? The phone people did not inform me that “software upgrade” is code for “erasing everything you had on your phone”

Again, this time In English: my phone needed a software upgrade. So I took it to the store for the upgrade. They took my phone. They shipped it to the supplier. They did not tell me that the upgrade would delete everything on my phone. (that sentence was hard to type).

(yes, I am being overdramatic).

(yes, I did actually cry in public like a wobbly child when I got my phone back).

This actually took place last week, but due to the state of shock my nostalgic innards have been in since Wednesday, I haven’t had the strength or wherewithal to write about it. I mean: I lost everything that was on my phone. Eeevvverrryyytthiiiinng. Photos (hundreds of them, including the ones of me and my niece at Christmas! Knife stab). Calendar dates. Downloads. Links. Games (just a few levels short of BEATING Angry Birds, I now have to start over from the beginning. Blind rage). Memos; I had started to use my phone as a sort of note pad – jotting the myriad of thoughts I have into my memo app for later use; I had at least three blog posts on there, waiting to be shared (including one entitled “things I learned about dating by joining eharmony”. It might have been as good as it sounds). Needless to say, there is a giant hole in my chest. A phone shaped, blog shaped, photo shaped, nostalgic hole.

I’m getting over it, slowly. I still have some choice words for the staff who so lovingly kept this knowledge to themselves while they packed my phone into a box for shipment & repair. Problem is, choice words aren’t my specialty (I tried already, and I even cried, but I just got blank stares and tied hands in return). The other problem is, there is – essentially – nothing that can be done.

In the meantime, I have reformatted my phone so it looks like it did before. The background picture is the same, and the font is the same. I have re-installed my apps, and started the long Pig Slaying journey once more. I have even tried to remember what I had in my calendar for this week. I’ve taken memory snapshots of the photos I wanted to keep (my niece is, after all, the cutest human on earth). But the one thing I actually can’t think about is the writing; it feels like a phantom limb, or a boot to the chest. I don’t remember everything I had on there, but I do know it was there. And now it's gone. Oof.

So, since Phone People like to keep important information from you, be warned: a software upgrade will DELETE your phone!!! Save it to your memory card, or email it to yourself -- whatever you do, save it. The Phone People probably won't tell you to do it; in fact, they won't even mention it. At all. And then when you tell them they should have told you, they will pretend they have no brain cells and hold their hands in the air while they say something about their manager.

If you are a Phone Person, I am going to be mad at you by default for a little while. Take it personally.


Monday, February 21, 2011

...and counting


Betwixt the sky & pavement
the earth and I will meet;
I run not from the past,
but to the things I see.
My breath makes clouds inside the air,
my lungs expand to breathe;
this gives more room inside my chest
for thoughts songs and heart beats.
Betwixt the sky & pavement,
I’m learning how to be.

There are approximately seven weeks left until the Sun Run, and I admit I haven’t run in well over a week, which puts me behind schedule by at least two practice runs. But, have no fear; as soon as this snow clears I’ll be back out there. Unless the snow doesn’t clear, at which point I will stop being a pansy and run anyway.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

off the mark

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Reputation, and subsequently: Belief. At first, the two might not seem to fit together, but as things shift and the reputation in question is yours, somehow “belief” is a word that becomes more and more prevalent in the mind. The thing is, in certain circles, my “reputation” has recently moved away from reality, and the only reason it is that way is because there are some who have chosen to believe things without really knowing them – or in other words, they have chosen to believe things without really knowing me. Typically, the separation between truth and reputation happen in places like school classrooms, office corridors, social clubs, church groups, and other public-persona venues. Words like “reputation” are not used within family or immediate friendship circles, because when we get close to a person, their reputation is no longer important; we know them, not just what has been said about them. Or in other words: what has been said is no longer important in the face of what is true.

The trouble comes, though, in those bastard public venues. What is a girl to do when her reputation, in any sense of the word, gets twisted by surreptitious onlookers? What can she say? Not much, unfortunately, especially when enough people have chosen to view you through the lens of false certainty. And this is where the word “belief” comes into play: more often than not, I have found that people will believe the things they hear the most, not necessarily the things that are true. We see this in the media all the time, in the glossed lives of celebrities, or the adverts for the latest nutrition craze; research on the part of the common man is missed. Why research? It’s been said 100 times. But just as I believe we would all do well to examine the health effects of diet fads on our own time (instead of jumping into them because they’re popular), so do I believe that a person should not be marked by reputation alone; because more often than not, that “reputation” is misleading. The onus is not on others to clear their own name; the onus is on us, to keep their names clear in the first place.

If only we would seek to understand those who’ve been marred by public opinion, instead of simply drinking the Kool-Aid and swallowing wholeheartedly, when we aren’t even sure what’s in the cup. Anyone will look how we want them to – that part’s easy – the trick is to see people how they are, instead.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I prefer lillies.


No flowers for your heart, my love, though petal’d stems abound.
No lover to embrace your name or make your name a loving sound.

So rally up the troops of memories, and happy tries;
let’s brace ourselves for yet another onslaught of advice:
That Blessed Day is coming (a day we’ll largely be ignored),
though we stand beside the Fallen on Love’s same o’ercrowded shore.
It is Vict’ry of a diff’rent sort, over battles that we win
simply by enduring twelve more months of Pity’s din:
"Why you’ve not been snapped up yet, I can not pretend to know!”
is a word that precedes silence, awkward stares; unfunny jokes.
Perhaps it’s what you’ve wondered ‘loud, in sage-like wisdom best:
that something’s gone amiss with us, it is our fault; we failed your test.
I mean…there must be something wrong with us, or something not quite right.
Are we too opinionated? Too relaxed? Or too uptight?
Perhaps we analyze too often, or we think not near enough?
I bet we stay inside a lot, or do we brazenly show off?
We are far too independent right? But not enough to last?
Wait- if only we would just depend, we’d find our “second half!”
We’re bitter, feministic, absent-minded, comatose.
We’re messy, sad and desperate…or perhaps we’re none of those?
Please do suggest some more, I say, what faults do we possess?
What have we done to make you look at our lives with unrest?
On second thought, please disregard the charge to box my life
into your tiny corner filled with vanity and strife.
You would do best to give your lips a squeeze (not just your spouse);
don’t judge me if I use this day to clean my quiet house.
Don’t be upset that I get to have tea for one, not two;
that I’m not oft' awoken by a giant, snoring dude.

The single life’s not better, but it is the life I lead.
I lead it with panache and grace, you might want to take heed.
Please don't insist I trust the Lord, then ask what's wrong with me.

For those of you who knew this poem before it here was wrote,
I’ll leave you in your solitude once through this final note;

No flowers for your heart, and no lovers them to bring,
But you have got what’s long been sought: a life that’s worth something.
It sounds quite trite to say it (and with such a Day so near), but
I’ll say it anyway, on the off chance that you’ll hear:

The end is not the matter, nor is a golden ring;
Life is not lived the best at ends, but in its journeying.

© afterthoughtcomposer

Monday, February 7, 2011

Benjamin Franklin, you smug bastard.

Ew; another broken record.

OO! PRETTY! Another leaf! I wanna turn it over…

Fine…I’m almost embarrassed to say it. Here goes: Finances (*looks quickly over shoulder…is anyone watching?). Your guess is correct: I’m at it again…re-vamping, that is. Re-inventing, Re-learning, Rah-Rah-Rah-ing, and all that dissonant jazz.

I took a finance course last year that rocked my world. I loved it. You may remember that I blogged about it. I got preachy. I wrote guest articles on a local website about how to manage your finances, based on the things I was learning. And then…and then. The course ended and I turned into a whiny baby with Spending Impulses as frighteningly overwhelming as 11th grade math. And just like I did back in highschool when I was faced with a difficult equation, I gave up. I spent the whole year giving up, in fact, and if there were a prize for how heartily a person could Give Up!, I would probably win first prize (okay, maybe I’d get the bronze). Fast forward one year, and I’m back at it.

Back at what, you ask…the course? The mad dash toward supposed financial freedom? Both, actually. Including, but not limited to, weird, self-imposed money rules that affect my social life. My current imposition is titled No Spend February. Anita cleverly pointed out that No Spend February and iNSufficient Funds have the same initials. Poetic irony? I think so.

Just as the title implies, I’m not spending money all month unless it’s on food, and by food I mean groceries, and by groceries I mean products that are actually legitimately counted as groceries (there’s a little side goal where I hope to pay off a wee plastic card, but that one’s a bit harder to do so I’m keeping it to myself).

Can I just say it? …UGH. My friend Victoria, over at the Fine Art of Frugality, kicked patooty in January with her financial goals, spurring us on to betterment and coolness. While I haven’t spent a dollar outside my ideal budget (in a whole week), I am waning on my desire to continue. I mean, I am going to continue. But I am going to be running my mouth off on occasion to relieve the pressure on my brain (tea’s done!...oh no wait, it’s Ashley’s head).

I go for my second class (of 13) tonight. Good timing; I need a swift kick to the rear.


Sun Run 2011


Well, I did it! I registered for the Sun Run! That means, in 68 days or exactly 1,654 hours (thank you, uselessly specific but interesting internet countdown site), I will be jogging 10k with a million* strangers. I've already gotten in 3 pracitce runs so far this year, and if I stick to my current pattern of one jogging session per week, I will have gotten in at least 12 practices by the time race day hits -- almost double what I did last year. Also, I signed up for an earlier-starting group so I will be dodging fewer strollers and walkalongs as I go... which in theory, means I should be that much faster getting across the finish line. Are you listening, LastYearMe!?? I am about to kick your butt.

*this number is not entirely accurate.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Poison and Wine

This song chills me. Like poison, like wine? Bit of both, actually. Beautiful.

Watch ""Poison & Wine" | The Civil Wars | OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO [HD]" on YouTube

Friday, February 4, 2011

sunshine, secrets, and other yummy treats

The sunset was beautiful last night; why it always surprises me with its splendor I'll never know. Maybe this is the last remaining part of me that's remained untouched by cynicism and serious adulthood. Dear Sky, I am in love with you. Readers: prepare yourselves for a lot more of these glorious, watery landscapes. I can't help but try to keep them (and then, of course, to share).

My car drove me to the beach directly after work, though I was hungry and still in my dress shoes. Maybe my car knows me better than I do, or maybe I heard something in the ocean call my name and I felt obligated to go see who or what it was. Feet wet? Hands numbing? Meh. There's not a lot I wouldn't put up with for a one-on-one date with the ocean.

I didn't end up with a dinner date yesterday (unless you count the seagulls and the sun and my pre-dinner romp by the water); in fact, in my desperate attempt to A) not cook anything and B) not spend money, I stayed home by myself and ate freshly popped, generously buttered popcorn for dinner (don't worry Mom, I ate a toasted cheese and leafy green sandwich at bedtime to make up for it). Originally, the plan was to squeeze another run into my week, but by the time I got home it was raining and dark, so I opted to cozy up indoors instead and watch the graying sky from inside my apartment; with my thoughts and future plans beside me, and my list of "must accomplish...someday...eventually"'s on my forearm as per usual.

The popcorn was excellent, Chandler was hilarious as always, and eventually, I started moving again; down the hall to my bedroom, where the majority of my faults are hiding. If you know me by now, you know that my weakness usually shows up in the form of empty hangers, clothes on furniture, and papers in boxes. Sigh. I have a habit of rooming with Supernaturally Organized and Efficient Ladies, too, which only stands to illuminate my mad retreat to chaos. Task one: ignore neighboring Domesticity. Task two: play music to drown out any residual inner nagging. Task three: compliment self.

The best part of my week, in pertinence to my room, happened the night before last, when a friend came over, rolled up her sleeves, and helped me start. I didn't get to the paper boxes last night, but after the help-reprieve on Wednesday and my night of tunes & solitude, I managed to move my bed three feet to the right. Which for some odd reason, made the weight on my chest feel lighter. I organized my bedside table. I hung a picture on my wall. I started a dream journal. I ate my cheese sandwich. I thought about my secret crush (not the dentist), and the news that he might call. I sat on my bed, three feet to the right, and felt happy.



I've done it again.
One square away from finishing this morning's puzzle, I wrote Anita to enquire about "Piano piece", 5 letters, ET_DE. (It's true, sometimes I will get all the letters but one and still be stuck. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Okay...I'm a little bit ashamed to admit it). After asking her, I gave her some more context, "The cross-word is..." ...and then it hit me! Cross-word. Cross word!!! Crossword! Genius.

ps. A five letter word for "Piano Piece" is ETUDE. Thanks, Anita.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

life as a collection

Death is something that, at 27, I am still hard-pressed to process. It’s weird. So I am sitting here with cycling, suprise emotions, having just heard about the passing of a woman in my building – a woman who’s been a gentle light to the staff here; quiet, but constantly smiling; one of those rare people who still gave genuine Hello, How Are You?'s. A woman whose schedule I entered into the system each day for the past 3 years. I am staring at the sign in sheet I know I should be processing, knowing it’s the last one I’ll enter for her; wondering if it’s normal to cry while staring at paper. Death is weird.

And now we process the paperwork, think of the family, and remark at how the lens on our life’s eye is somehow tinted a different color (if Poignant was a color); like we are somehow more humbled to be alive. Healthy and loved; breathing and capable; living. 

Just this morning I posted pictures from the run I went on yesterday evening – truly, it was a beautiful time to be outside. I kept getting distracted, my eyes and feet wandering seaside. My breath kept catching in my throat; I think I even giggled once because it was SO! PRETTY! It was all magnified by the fact that I was one of the few people out there - so the serenity was almost pure. My run was more a collection of short jogs than one continuous workout; I kept losing my intended focus.  I even sat down for awhile at the edge of the rocks just to listen to the water, and to watch the bird-like sillouhettes above the steady ryhthm of the waves. Today, I am inexplicably glad I did that.

It is important to stop and notice your life; what is around you, who is around you; to focus not on where you are going but where you currently are. I once heard a Cliché say that life was short, and the Cliché was right. Let’s not waste our time, friends. Be alive while you are living; learn to live while you are alive.

in the name of love

.Sometimes, the best part about the running is the stopping.