August 31, 2008

Guest Appearance on Oprah Winfrey

subtitle: Caffeine MIGHT Affect Me After All

Last night, I lay awake in bed. Eventually, my train of thoughts took me to the place where I was planning what I would say to Oprah Winfrey if ever given the chance.

Scene: Oprah's Studio, in front of a live TV audience
Characters: me, Oprah

me: blah blah blah blah, something something something about whatever it is that's gotten me a chance to be on Oprah's show (either a harrowing near-death experience, or my debut novel has been chosen for her book club: this may be a compliment or turn out to be the downfall of my career)... And that is why Jesus is so significant to me.

Oprah: (nodding graciously) Yes. I can see how Jesus has made a difference in your life. And that's the beautiful thing about connecting with the Divine. There's just so much hope there. I know that I've found God within myself and I love her very much. (this last sentence is an actual Oprah quote)

me: (head tilted to the side) You know, Oprah, I don't know if we agree on this.

Oprah: (there's a brief pause. When was the last time someone disagreed with Oprah!?) We both have personal interactions with the Divine, and we both value love and hope and peace, and we see that reflected in our lives. I think that's the important thing, whatever we may call it; the results are the same.

me: No, I don't think so. (pause) I think it's kind of like a cat and a dog. You could describe each one with the same words: its furry, about this big (I indicate the size of a small terrier), gray and white. It licks my hands and comes when its called, and it eats food that comes from a can. It snuggles on my bed at night, and it makes me happy. (pause) The result is the same: companionship, contentment, joy. And they're both animals, yes. But they're intrinsically different. And it's the same with us. We're both talking about our spirituality, and we use similar terms. But the things we're talking about; they are vastly different. More different than a cat and a dog. And we can't pretend they're not.

Oprah: (maybe looking a little taken-aback, maybe looking a little patronizing) Well, I always appreciate hearing another opinion. It's time for a commercial break now, but up next we've got Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, talking about how parenting has changed their lives!

(fade to commercial)

August 28, 2008

12 Years, 11 Months

That's how long it's been since the last family funeral. It's funny, because just last week I was recollecting my Grandpa's visitation. I wrote:

The visitation before my grandpa’s funeral is actually a fond and pleasant recollection. Yes, it was somber. I remember seeing his body, my grandma looking small beside the casket. And then we went upstairs. To the room where family gets to graciously retire. In this case, the room where all the cousins get to play euchre. It was a weird mix of requisite quiet and the inevitable laughter of having all of us together. I remember flipping through a Reader’s Digest from a coffee table, quickly bored and uninterested in staying, knowing we couldn’t really have any fun, yet desperately wanting to avoid the reality of death that was playing itself out downstairs. I guess the pleasantry of this memory is that we were all together, and I was young enough to be content with that, and of all my grandparents, this was the one I knew least. So it could have been much worse, but it wasn’t. It was almost like a family reunion with a bit less laughing and just as much food.

In the morning, I am getting on a plane for Ontario. For a funeral. This time it's my Grammie. This time it was expected. There will probably not be any cousins. I don't know if we have been able to reach the one that I have on this side of the family. I don't think I'll be able to hide in the relatives' room this time around. And I don't feel any more prepared for dealing with a grieving family. I love my family. I grieve with them. I feel broken for my Grampie. And I feel useless. But I also feel peace. And I want to be there.

August 26, 2008

Dear Charlene Robson,

You don't know me, but I know you.

In the summer of 1998, you went to see Bard on the Beach. You carried Wet'n'Wild lipstick in your purse, along with a small mirror, a Kleenex, and a small booklet. It was entitled Have you made the wonderful discovery of the Spirit-filled life?

I believe you have two brothers. You went to high school in Unionville, but I believe junior high was in Calgary. You went to Trinity Western University. You are now 39 years old, I believe. You liked stenciling and once hand-stamped Christmas cards for friends & family. You traveled in Europe - Germany and Switzerland, I'm guessing. You met the Armerdings, whom I have also met.

(is this creepy?) You might be wondering how I know all this. I know all this because you used to live in my house. And you left your junk here.

Last night we found it. We took some of the more useful stuff: like the $5.35 in change, and a Rubbermaid container, and the Christmas card stamp. Some of the less useful stuff we are giving away - a couple sweaters and some jumper cables. And some of the really useless stuff (like eight roles of developed pictures, mainly of a house and Christmas tree), we have left in the crawlspace.

So just in case you wanted your stuff, it's still here.


August 25, 2008

Grace is Gone

Grace is Gone is a movie I quite enjoyed. Starring John Cusack. Written by an unknown. Musical score by Clint Eastwood (who would have guessed!?). Child actresses who were adorable and fully believable. A plot about the US and war that didn't make me want to gag or run away.

I loved it. I want to watch it again because I liked the characters and I want to go to Enchanted Gardens with them.

Also, this movie is good to watch if you anticipate getting a difficult phone call. Watch the movie until you have 10 minutes left, then answer the phone and hear sad news. It's guaranteed to help you cry. If you're the sort of person who needs help crying.

August 23, 2008


Yesterday, the glass came off my watch. I bought it two weeks ago and I am sad.

I am also on a bit of a comedy kick. Specifically Mike Birbiglia, whom I discovered through housemate Dan.

One of my new coworkers is named Amelia. She made me laugh out loud several times yesterday. I think my favourite two lines were, "This just in: breast cancer is not caused by sexual activity!" and "He said, 'This is like kicking baby seals!'"

That second one was her fiance, on learning to skate last winter.

August 21, 2008

Magnetic Poetry

Originally uploaded by bethaf.
For some reason, I still like magnetic poetry. Am I the only person left? I don't know. But I like the challenge of bringing a limited number of words together to form something lovely and meaningful.

I'm a Bit Obsessed

With the Olympics. I'm not sure why. Maybe because as a child, my parents broke the "no-TV-in-the-house" rule every time the Olympics came to town. We would RENT a TV (yes, that is possible to do) and put up the bunny ears and watch the games. And maybe another show or two...and if I recall correctly, the Olympics were the final push that resulted in permanent bunny ears on the "only for movies and video games" TV they purchased sometime after I moved out.

But I digress. Living with Americans, the Olympics are a different experience. Not better, not worse, just different. They are kicking our butts. BUT, as one friend points out, we're doing pretty well when you break it all down.

(as calculated by Katie V.)

Canada's population per medal: 2 307 692
China's population per medal: 15 294 117

Unfortunately, when you compare us to the USA, we're still losing:
(as calculated by me)
USA's population per medal: 752 993

But that's ok, because in Canada, we like ourselves anyway. And I'm sure we have about ten different reasons already thought of for why the results look like that.

Hello, Little Friend

Snail 2
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
This guy came for a visit last night. For a snail, he was pretty speedy! I moved him back outside before he made his way off the window sill.

August 18, 2008

A Brief TV Appearance

I forgot that there was a film crew back at my "birthday ceilidh," but this morning, I found this video file from CBC.

Thank goodness they didn't film the entire crowd singing Happy Birthday to me.

I still don't know who told Duncan.

August 16, 2008

It Wasn't Itsy-Bitsy Teen-Weeny or Yellow-Polka-Dot

But it was a bikini.

Yes, that's right. I wore a bikini top at the beach yesterday.

For some people, this is a near-mortal sin. For others, it's a big fat "So what?" For me, it was both momentous and (I think) sinless.

You see, I have two major fears regarding bikinis:

(Oh, before I go further - these are a lot of girl-type thoughts. Because I'm a girl-type person. Just so you boys don't feel like it all sneaks up on you. It's coming. Now.)

1. I am afraid I will look unattractive.
2. I am afraid I will look attractive.

It's really been a lose-lose situation for me. In scenario one, all my worst fears of body image and beauty are confirmed, and it turns out that stretch-marks are a deal-breaker with my friends, or the boys I'm hanging out with see me as I am, and poof! there goes any possibility of anything.

In scenario two, I look amazing, but I know it. This goes to my head, of course, and before you know it I'm wearing a bikini everywhere. Or at least men are lusting after me, and then the guilt is on my head!

So why do it? Because I don't think those are good reasons not to wear one. I'm getting a bit tired of living my life and making decisions based on fear. Fear of my body, fear of sexuality.

It seems that, somehow, intentionally or not, I figured those two things out early on. Blame it on the media and the conservative Christian upbringing, if you will. Although I'm pretty sure you can't blame it on my mom. I don't ever remember a negative comment from her about my appearance, and I won't say much about this, but I think my parents have modeled a pretty healthy sexuality to my family. Appropriately, of course.

(Random sidestory - the first time I ever went in La Senza was with my mom and sister, in search of lingerie for my soon-to-be-married cousin. I think I was 16, and completely freaked out/uncomfortable. I told them I couldn't handle the store and would wait for them outside.)

Anyway. Yesterday. I put on my new, $5 from Superstore bikini top, a tank top and some shorts, and I walked to the beach. I found a semi-shaded spot, set down my towel, and started to read. I debated whether I would actually take off my tank top or not. Is this indecent? Am I sure I want the world to see my stomach? How do I sit up without showing rolls? What if someone whistles at me?

Then I had a little self-talk. I reiterated my earlier thoughts: This isn't about sex appeal. You're reading a book and you have your earphones in. You can choose not to notice how others respond. This is about choosing to love your body, to not hide or camouflage. This is about having the self-control not to pay attention to who's paying attention - which is something you do no matter how many layers you've got on.

So I did it. I lay down and I read, and I hardly paid attention to anyone or anything outside of me. When I was done reading, I closed my eyes and rested for awhile. Then I walked down to the water and debated wading. I didn't - too much algae/seaweed grossness. And then, after an hour that felt like 5, I put my shirt back on and walked home.

The point of the story is this: I will not live from fear, and I will not continue in dissatisfaction with who I am.

Will I wear a bikini every time I go to the beach? Definitely not. Will I wear it again? Definitely. Will I sin in both ways, hating my looks and finding pride in them? I'm pretty sure I will. But I think I'm growing, and that's the best part.


by Katie Herzig. I heard it, and I thought - Sometimes, this is me.

I’m gonna let you down
Gonna toss you around
Gonna make you want everything you haven’t found
I’m gonna hold your hand
Then ask you to stand
Ten feet away

Oh it’s just like you said
I live in my head
I’m saving up all that I have ‘til I’m dead
It’s always the same
And never the same way

But oh if you don’t want me though
I’ll only want you more
I fall in love with hard to get
You know you’re just like me
A mystery with nothing more to see
A virtual reality

I’m in a love affair without a love song
I’m in the habit of having what I don’t want
I’m just a hologram
You can see but don’t touch me baby
Oh I bet you want me

I am taking up space I’m right out of place
I’m holding a half-hearted smile to your face
It’s pretty enough but watch out it fades away
Time is ticking so fast
Does anything last
Soon I will be just apart of your past
I’ll leave you with this
You hold on in blissful memories

Oh if you don’t want me though
I’ll only want you more
I fall in love with hard to get
You know you’re just like me
A mystery with nothing more to see
A virtual reality

I’m in a love affair without a love song
I’m in the habit of having what I don’t want
I’m just a hologram
You can see but don’t touch me baby
Oh I bet you want me now

Now that you can see
I’m not, not what you make of me

I’m in a love affair without a love song
I’m in the habit of having what I don’t want
I’m just a hologram
You can see but don’t touch me baby
Oh I bet you want me now

August 15, 2008

Night Window

Night Window
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
I'm not overly thrilled with this photo, but it is a definite improvement, and I really love the upper window pane/sky/star. So there we go.

August 14, 2008


...I am not yet a proficient night-time photographer.

Attempts 1 through 3:

August 13, 2008


I like the word nebulous. I think I went through a phase of overuse, though. Today, a friend emailed me this cartoon because it made her think of me. I'm assuming that is why...

Anyway. It made me laugh. Hopefully you do too.

August 12, 2008

5 Months Later

Back in March, I watched Legends of the Fall. I didn't like it. But I still have a quote from it on my desktop. I don't know what it is, but I can't let go of this line:

He was a rock they broke themselves against.

August 11, 2008

I Am Not Okay With This

I am not fully comfortable around old people. I realized that today. I often enjoy them and find them amusing...but rarely do I feel relaxed and at ease. I'm not sure what it is, exactly, because I don't think I fear death. Maybe I do. Or maybe I fear not death itself, but death happening after a disappointing or meaningless conversation, so I opt for none at all.

Maybe it's that I don't like feeling sad. For some reason, I can't help but well up with pity and sadness for people whose lives are slowly slipping away from them. They lose more mobility, they can't see anymore, they move into assisted care. They wait for death to come.

Maybe they don't wait. I've never really asked; I just think that I would. Maybe I won't, really. When I'm there, with soft sagging skin and a body that doesn't obey me, maybe I'll still want to hold on. To relish the good life and the things that haven't slipped away from me yet.

I think it's the useless-ness. In my mind's eye, in their mind's eye - we both wonder what they're good for. Call me crass, but isn't it just a little bit true? They are untapped fountain of knowledge and wisdom and experience, I know. But if I can't get inside, what good is it? I ache at the thought of untold stories, the experiences and the memories that end when they do. Is that selfish? Or is that actually selfless - wanting someone else to have the greatest impact, wanting their memories, their life, their stories to live on beyond themselves...

August 9, 2008

A Short Film in One Part

I am on my way out of the building, heading to the bus.
Him - middle-aged, friendly, sharp-looking ultimate player from unknown country
Me - well, me.

Him: (voice comes from behind me) Don't tell me your name is Russell too!!

Me: (confused for a second, before remembering that the back of my shirt reads
RUSSELL Brewing Company) Hunh? Oh...yeah. That's a funny thing...

Him: (now caught up to me, we walk out the door) What?

Me: That's a funny thing about us Canadians - we're all named Russell.

Him: Well, my name's Matt. (he extends his hand)

Me: Hi. I'm Beth. (I shake his hand)

Him: Well, thanks for volunteering!

Me: Not a problem! It's been fun.

Him: So do you play ultimate in a city league?

Me: I've been away for most of the summer, so I haven't been able to. But I'll be playing in the fall, for sure.

Him: So when you were away and you'd call your friends, would they ever say (he starts singing), Beth, I can hear you calling....

Me: No...(looking a little quizzical) I don't think I know that song.

Him: You don't!? (we are now standing by a car, presumably his, with number pad entry)

Me: No, I don't know many songs with my name in them...

Him: Oh. I know all the lyrics, because when I was in sixth grade, my friend had a crush on this girl named Beth, and when we were at summer camp we memorized them all...

Me: Who's it by?


Me: Ohhhhhh. I have heard of it. I just don't really know it...

Him: Well, then maybe you'll have to call me and I'll sing it to you.

Me: Uh...

Him: My wife wouldn't really like that.

Me: Well, that's understandable...

Him: But someone has to sing it to you. And I know all the lyrics, from back in sixth grade.

Me: Ha ha, well thanks for the offer. Nice to meet you. (I start walking away)

Him: (singing) Beth, I hear you callin'
But I can't come home right now
Me and the boys are playin'
And we just can't find the sound (I turn and wave)
Just a few more hours
And I'll be right home to you (I think...What do I do now?)
I think I hear them callin'
Oh, Beth what can I do?
Beth what can I do? (I turn and shrug, empathizing with his dilemma. He waves in return)

(calling out) Nice to meet you! Have a great day!

Me: Thanks for the song! You too!

End Scene.

August 5, 2008


Back in the day, there was a cartoon with a character called Baby Plucky. I didn't often watch Tiny Toons, but I have a crystal clear memory of one snippet...he's in the elevator and he's pushing all the buttons, and...well. It's better just to watch it.

August 2, 2008

Officially a Grown-Up

See this bed? Beautiful. My back is already feeling more relaxed. I am anticipating a great night's sleep, and I think I'll like the feel of a higher bed (I can't even touch the ground when I sit on the edge! Hurrah for a frame). It'll just be so easy to roll out of in the morning...