Saturday, September 29, 2012

IDS West

IDS West - by Chelsea at chrysalisden

I made it last night to IDS West (Interior Design Show West) - one of the many Fall Events I wait for all year withbaitedbreath. With birthday excitement dwindling and Halloween just on the way, IDS West serves as an appropriate, inspirational, lovely bridge between the two. For those who've never been, IDS West is a showcase of interior designers & design, furniture & furniture makers, antiques, pickers, pieces rooms ideas inspiration. Other years, I've traveled down to the show with my friend, the design nut, Chelsea. I call her a design nut as a compliment. This woman could make toilet paper look couture.

This year, Boyfriend and I braved the event with his adorablicious (new word. suits her.) daughter in tow. Four years old and then some; energy, bravery, spunk. If you're wondering what it's like to attend a large-scale design showcase with a curious four year old, it goes a little something like this:

"Where'd she go?"
"Oh, sweetie, those are breakable"
"Come back here!"
"Put that down."
"I don't know, have you seen her?"
"....gah! How did you get up there?"

Perhaps I should also mention, it goes a little something like this:

She is interested in everything.
She wants to touch and feel everything.
She wants to figure out how everything works.
She is amazed by everything.
She is distracted and excited by everything.
She wants to show you everything. Now. All at once.

Even the glass things. Even the Pure White Italian Leather Recliner worth multiple thousands.

...and it is fabulous to watch.

While I missed the slow exploratory feeling that came with the show other years, there was something quite sweet about this time, as slight a frenzy as it put us in. In fact, I highly recommend you take a toddler to a trade show; keep yourself young. Show yourself the beauty of being delighted, by watching a delighted child.

More details (the slower version) available on Chelsea's latest post.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Writer's Process

1. Wake up. The decision has been made: TODAY I WILL WRITE.
2. Check email, twitter, facebook, other email, and text messages. Respond accordingly.
3. Lie in bed and think about today's outfit. Get up and put it on. Change mind. Change mind again.
4. Walk to the coffee shop.
5. Sip coffee and write a few mediocre poems. Feel proud of self.
6. Decide you need groceries. Walk to the grocery store. Buy groceries.
7. Walk home, turn on laptop.
8. Google "how to make poached eggs"
9. Attempt to make a poached egg.
10. Try again. Eat attempt #2. Critique self.
11. Decide laptop is too loud, restart.
12. Search pantry for a snack while computer restarts.
13. Google "hot, loud computer"
14. Internet is down. Diagnose the problem. No solution. Disable internet.
15. Look at writing project beside laptop. Eye suspiciously.
16. Ignore loud laptop. Put on top of plate to prevent desk fire.
17. Open writing project file, scroll to last known location.
18. Scoff at the terrible sentences.
19. Wallow in fear and self doubt for a few minutes. Eat chocolate as emotional compensation.
20. Start typing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

it appears I'm afraid of bleeding

I'm doing it again.

Yesterday was spent reading through old posts here on afterthought and on my archaic, only two of you read it, not much was said but lots of words were typed blog called soup de jour (spelling mistake was intentional; I think I thought I was clever). Last week, without warning or forethought I dove into a box of old journals; caught myself up on the younger version of me.

I've mentioned before that one of the reasons I love writing is because of the way it serves to remind, console, or show growth. But something happens to a girl when she reads a half-decade of blog posts plus a decade's worth of journaling. She starts to notice patterns. Awkward, silly, obvious, stagnated patterns. As if the younger version of me has been ruling all along and I've failed to notice. As if I haven't changed at all since early adolescence.

So I'm the same as I was. My habits are unreformed. I still don't exercise and have yet to give up sugar. Whenever I go for a manicure the soft-spoken Taiwanese girl still says "Ooo...shaawt!" My heart still chooses flight when things get hard. I often decide my writing is crap and there's no point in continuing. Once a year, I boldly proclaim I am leaving the world behind so I can write books. I have not yet finished a book. I still don't think I'm a good enough writer to write things people will read.

Where was I. Ah yes, the repetition. The "Hey! I've seen this spot before!"

In a little under a month I will be attending a writing conference, one I have been dying to go to for years. Insightful Boyfriend lovingly and fantastically registered me for the conference for my birthday present and I can't believe I get to go. I am so excited I've cried. I am so nervous I've developed a twitch in my left eyelid. To be around all those writers and agents and publishers and authors and people who know good writing... I'm petrified I'll be found out. I have to keep reminding myself there is no "Point and Laugh at the Girl Who Doesn't Belong Here" workshop. I am fighting the urge to put everything I've written into a pile and light it on fire and laugh manically while it burns and discover as a result of my pageless apartment that I am actually quite good at making pots or fixing computers or selling houses and there was really no reason to try that writing thing anyway.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Who cares about the bully?

I had a very interesting conversation just now with a woman who's son is the class bully. Well, that would be the insensitive-bird-eye way to phrase things. What should be said is that the boy exhibits aggressive behavior at school. What isn't being addressed by the teachers is why, or how he feels inside those walls. In fact, he feels unsafe. He is bullied often, and has been since early elementary. He has been threatened on many occasions by other students. The boy has a small run of social inconsistencies which prevent him from behaving properly. At this point, he has been quarantined (no really); told to walk only in certain hallways, not allowed to speak with other students; forced out of the places at school where he feels safe, where his only friends are. But this boy is big and tall, and with those social difficulties, is an easy hiding place for the quiet fighter.

While I don't wish to excuse aggressive behavior (not acceptable), I do hope there are teachers willing to look at the reasons for the behavior and how to best address those reasons, instead of slapping "zero tolerance" band-aids on every aggressive kid. At which point will this boy earn the respect of appropriate teaching? Rather than dismissing the problem by way of avoidance, which is not productive at all, I wonder if the teachers would, instead, deal with the problem, and in so doing: teach.

I remember boys like him, both in elementary and high school. Large in stature and in voice, bumbling through social cues where others their age skated gracefully. Yes, they bullied others. But what most people failed to notice is that these boys were bullied too; often first. I was in grade 6 when Sean, the socially awkward "loser", pulled my ponytail so hard I actually saw black spots and felt dizzy; I heard my neck crack. Oh, didn't I mention? I made fun of him immediately prior (quietly, of course). It's not a proud moment, but one that should be looked at. In that situation, I was the instigator; Sean simply lacked the ability to deal with rude people appropriately and lashed out.

While I understand this new move for "zero tolerance" bullying, I have to ask: when will we take a closer look at the reasons, and not just the reactions, of those who bully? I want my children to grown up with empathy and understanding, even for those who are mean to them. If my child is the aggressor, I want that child to constantly meet people who will set boundaries for him, so he has to learn. Hiding these kids and cutting them out of society will not teach them anything good. I am much better off for having to deal with those who picked on me, than I would be if they had been plucked from my view early on. I had to stand up for myself. This is good for kids.

Perhaps I should reiterate: I was bullied in school, and I get it. I get how much it hurts, and I can't even imagine how much it would hurt to watch your child go through it, and of course there are cases where reconciliation would not work. But what if we made education and growth and relationship the first goals, and put alienation as a last resort? No child should be disregarded; even those who bully.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

fta: nostalgia

Funny how some things never change.
Regardless of the good, there will always be things to miss.
And yet, I wouldn't trade the good.

Here's another post from the archives: my 7-years-ago thoughts about nostalgia.

original post: Monday, September 12, 2005

In the sky last night were the most beautiful northern lights I have seen in awhile. By my fourth year in Saskatchewan, wandering out into fields late at night, at -35C, had sadly lost it's glory (mostly due to the fact that I didn't know anyone who'd walk with me by that point--and I'm a pansy who, at almost22, is still afraid of the dark) needless to say, I was absolutely amazed by the brilliant lights displayed in shades of green and purple waving across the sky; now fast, now slow, now faded, now radiant.

Nostalgia: those fleeting and yet resilient moments where the past comes close enough to feel but not close enough to touch; memories hit you in the face with their suddenness, yet softly cradle your heart in the same instant with their warmth. Time seems to happen in one moment: you remember four years (or perhaps a lifetime) of joy, pain, hurdles and triumphs...and suddenly wish you could relive them..hold on to them for just a little bit longer. And then you remember; they're already gone.

It had been, and was, a good evening. Lying on my back looking straight up at the sky, letting the body heat of friends beside me be my source of heat. It took a little effort to ignore Elvis, the dog, as he sniffed my hair and eyed me quizzically. As cute as he was, I was busy: watching the most beautiful of God's creations dance above me in the black sky.

So why the flash of emotion? Why the tears? Why the longing for years gone by?
Perhaps it is because watching the northern lights, which are so majestic and awe-inspiring and mysterious, I can only be still and allow God to gain me some perspective, and give me grace to ask questions I don't need answers to; to step back from myself in a way. To focus on everything and nothing at the same time.
to breath
to be

...and in this graceful allowance feel and realize that which my busy, selfish, day to day life does not allow me to stop and think about: though I miss days past, it is vital I embrace today; this recent future. How ironic; in four years I may be gazing up at the northern lights, wishing for today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

welcome Fall.

welcome Fall and its changes;
welcome turning leaves and new formed frost;
teach me what the summer held, what I miss
and what I've lost. bring me closer to winter
(that sweet hibernating darkness)
wrap me up; my dreams avoidancing, accost.
weave your way in, find there my heart,
use hands, entwine with warmth,
like fireplaces burning:
melt ice, hesitation

hold me to my sentences, to my
best intentions, bring me closer to
the heart of what my heart holds dear
and all it mentions. Break my
stride; hold the hours steady;
marry my thoughts to my deeds
and keep them at the ready.
      wander me not;
keep me from that permanently suspensioned eddy.
push harder where I oft' forget; don't let;
allow me to forgive me for the things
I've not accomplished yet.

let's move on, to stiller days and slower traffic,
to unfolded page corners and loving the stuff of life;
to shutting off auto-pilot and making good responses automatic.

welcome Fall and its changes;
welcome mittens and sweaters;
welcome boots and knit scarves and Vancouverite Umbrellers.
welcome hugs and hot cocoa and crisp nights warmed with fires;
welcome leaf's turning and untold adventures;
welcome Fall.
welcome Fall.

Monday, September 3, 2012

15 year wait on a 13 year old dream.

Dear 13 Year Old Self,

You will never believe me when I tell you this, but I saw HANSON in concert last week.
I know right. How much dying did you just do.

Self: they are what you hope; what the DVD's suggest, what your CD's promise. It's probably a good thing you don't get to see them; you'd probably embarrass yourself. I was much cooler.

For the most part.

Taylor's voice sounds the same, so many years later, and he moves his mouth the same too. He sings a few octaves lower, of course. He still wears tight pants. Silly boy pulled them over his boots though; it looked awkward. You'd never guess it, but Isaac is the most attractive to me now. How weird is that! He started out so geeky, I know. Aging does good things to men (you will learn this, soon, too).

Taylor Hanson at the PNE Amphitheater
photo source: sceneinthedark

You've wanted to see Hanson live for awhile now, and I know you've resolved yourself to the fact that it will never happen. So you stare at your poster-laden locker door, CD cover, fan page, and just imagine it. But guess what, it does happen, you just don't know it yet. You have no idea what's coming. 15 years later, you'll be 30 feet from Taylor and his piano, singing along to! You might not believe me, but I had completely forgotten about Hanson until I saw the concert listing just last week. All these years they've been producing music, and I payed no attention. Isn't that funny? You're completely obsessed.

I've been thinking, 13 Year Old Self, about dreams. You have so many, and truthfully, so do I. Our dreams aren't the same anymore; I've seen yours come and go, reshape themselves, or vanish completely, and I've thought up new dreams on my own to make up for the lack. Where you want to learn guitar (and you have...basically), I want to make music. Where you want to be popular, I want to be respected. Where you want to be an author, I want to write books. See the difference? You don't yet, and that's fine. It will come.

I've learned so much about us in the past 15 years, and I wish I could tell you now what I know. But in a way I think it might spoil the surprise, or the lesson, or both. If you knew these things, you'd be ahead of your time, and even more awkward than you are now. Hard to believe, but you eventually get less awkward.

For the most part.

You're nearing 30, self. One more birthday and another year and you'll be the age you've wanted to be since birth. Only this time, you'll actually be 30, and not pretending. Guess what (I'm a little sad to tell you this); you haven't finished those things yet. One more year to go - I'm trying! - and we'll see if I can hold up my end of the bargain. I can feel you rushing me, but only I know these things can't be rushed. I know because I've learned it; you haven't yet. You wouldn't believe how quickly 15 years can pass. I can feel the pressure coming from your young, expectant eyes. What will I have accomplished? Self, I don't know yet. I'm trying, but I still don't know.

You're just 13, and you don't realize: life is not your picture. Learn early to put down your defined markings and solid lines and enjoy the feel of a blank canvas; feast your eyes on the fields of white, untethered land lying before you. Learn to relax when the drawings finally show up, and when they take shapes of their own; it will be good in the end. Dream even though it seems impossible, but give your dreams time to show. 15 years late, they still feel amazing.

I promise.

with love,
Your Almost-29 Year Old Self.