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Showing posts from May, 2010

Angst Through the Years

Yesterday was the fourth (and for me, final) installment of our fledgling writers' group. Our theme this time around was teen angst. Instead of writing something fresh, I took the lazy (and yet courageous) path of reading poetry I wrote at the tender age of 15. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing at my young self. The most overly dramatic of the poems, I had someone else read. I couldn't get through my heavy metaphors and expansive generalizations of things I (still) know nothing about.

We all agreed that although we are all far from being teenagers (I am the youngest of the group, at the ripe old age of a quarter century), the roots of our teen angst still exist. They just manifest in more subtle ways.

Anyway. This week's inspirational selection was from Six Degrees of Separation, a play by John Guare. The line from the Catcher in the Rye based soliloquy that stood out to me was:

"To face ourselves, that's the hardest thing. The imagination, that's God…


This has been a roller-coaster of a weekend. Great joy, and great amounts of tears.

This is kind of exactly how I'm feeling right now.

I am both too busy and too overwhelmed to blog, but I'm sure that in the next few weeks many of my thoughts will make their way to cyberspace.

So stay tuned.

And in the meantime, I will note that I acquired 3 new necklaces this weekend. Two were gifts from friends, and one a gift from myself. I am wearing one and making plans to sport the other two as soon as possible.

Much Farther To Go

The genius of iTunes Genius mixes is that it plays songs I have long forgotten about...

Like this one. Beautiful and melancholy. Rosie Thomas & Sufjan Stevens.

It's a great song to play while packing up your life. Just saying.

Breathing is Good for Babies

Tonight I held a baby who stopped breathing.

While I was holding him.

But you know what? That's how he rolls.

At 3 months old, he has graduated from being ventilated 100% of the time to breathing on his own while he's awake. Mostly.

Even though I knew that his little breath-holding escapade wasn't uncommon, that his parents are well-equipped to deal with this, that the beeping of the monitor warned us with plenty of time to spare, AND that there was a nurse in the room, it was still frightening for that split second.

His parents are more good people that I will miss from Vancouver. If you're curious to hear more, they're blogging about their little bundle of fun and how every breath is a gift.

We also ate delicious Indian food and wasted time on websites like the one that gives us this beauty:

image courtesy of

That's right. An entire website devoted to awkward family photos. My life is complete.

Goodbyes & Rocky Spines

Today I said goodbye to one of the first people I met in Vancouver, my massage therapist.

When I first arrived here, I was in the market for someone to help fix my neck/shoulder/back pain (for the record, I am convinced these are connected to my scoliosis*, mild as it is, and despite the doctor telling me I shouldn't have any pain/problems from it). She worked a 5 minute walk from the house. And I have been faithful ever since, even when she moved locations. Twenty minutes on the bus is a small price to pay for someone to fix your aches and pains (regular exercise & stretching also play key roles in my fight against muscle pain).

I've thought a fair bit about the fact that my massage therapist and I have a unique relationship. Specifically, she has a unique relationship with my body. She touches me more than anyone else in my life. She is able to fix and affect my body in ways that I am not able to. She notices changes in my body and can feel when I am stressed.

When my body…

Sundays are Fundays: Eating Out

I am ramping up for a fast-paced last week in Vancouver. Yesterday, I didn't eat a single meal at home. Let's recount.

Breakfast - running late to church. Didn't have time, grabbed a juice box in the lobby. Great gathering, sat way up front, which is strange for me.

Lunch/Brunch - I have been looking forward to eating at The Naam with a university friend for 3.5 years (since I first moved here and discovered this hippy/veggie joint). Today was the day. Forgetting the reality of restaurants in Vancouver at noon on a Sunday, we arrived shortly after noon...waited half an hour for a table. Ordered. Got our hot drinks. Texted a friend we were going to meet up with later. Chatted. Waited. Noticed a table who came in after us getting their food...

I said, "If that table (pointing at another table seated after us) gets their food before we do, I'm going to say something to the waiter."

They got their food. I caught the waiter's eye. Before I could say anything, he s…

The Rest of Cuba: AVOID DAZZLE!!

(When driving in Cuba, it is important that you Avoid dazzle.)

There isn't a whole lot more to say about my vacation. 70% of my waking hours were spent reading or lying with a book not open and listening to the waves. The other 30% contained these moments:

Nightly games of Scrabble. Usually on our balcony. We're kind of like a nerdy old couple, but we embrace our inner nerd with much joy.Fighting the current to ride the waves. A great resistance workout, with the added bonus of floating your way back to shore. Bread. Sweet bread. Cuban food isn't great. But dang, do they do their bread well. It was the highlight of every meal for me.Daytrip into Havana with our rented car and new British friends. Adventure and laughter, sweat and sightseeing. No disasters.Movies on HBO and CTV Edmonton news. From 9-11pm, we knew we'd watch something entertaining, if awful. And for some strange reason, Cuba has decided that Edmonton is the best locale from which to sample Canadian televis…

The Myth of the Soul Mate

Yesterday, this conversation began on Facebook.

You can read the article here.

I started to respond, but then it was getting too long for a Facebook post. And I wanted to bring you all into the conversation. So here are my thoughts:

a. Jessica... (I shake my head)

b. I pretty much agree that our generation expects deep and meaningful relationships to happen spontaneously/up front/without the hard work. Despite dating a super cute rock star, I don't think there is such a thing as a "soul mate" - or that there is only ONE "soul mate," the ONLY person to marry.

My current philosophy on dating/marriage (subject to change without notice) is that the four crucial ingredients are:
a growing relationship with Jesus (applicable for Christians - the non-religious equivalent would be a common worldview, I think)mutual commitment (you have to both want this and be willing to work at it)chemistry (this includes a base of friendship & that ineffable quality of attraction that …

Beach Books

(The best way to spend a morning. Or an afternoon. Heck, the whole day!)

Before I left, I told you what books I was taking with me on my holiday. This is what I ended up reading, in chronological order, and with thoughts:

A Suitable Boy - by Vikram Seth
A great and rolling novel that I am proud to have finished months after starting. I may have skimmed some sections, as my interest in Indian politics in 1951 is limited, and some of the story/commentary didn't really affect my appreciation or enjoyment of the bigger picture. But I do want to visit India. And I did care who Lata ended up with. I also cared about the rest of the Mehra & Kapoor families. I will say no more, lest you decide to pick up this behemoth of a book.

At one point, Lata (our protaganist, who is in the process of being married off to A Suitable Boy) quotes a poet named Clough. Her fragment intrigued me enough to look up the full poem, which I have not yet read, but is available here. The section she refers to re…

Summarized: One Sunny Vacation

(it was a rough way to end each day)

Where to start!? I did so little and yet have so much to say. I am back from my technological fast and warm sunny holiday. It is raining today, but I don't mind, because I almost forget what it feels like to be "cold."

I think I'll need to write two posts on all the details.
Post #1 - reading
Post #2 - the rest of the trip

I might add a third entry of thoughts I had while lying in the shade (I managed to avoid intense sunburn until my LAST full day. Sigh. I was so close).

I'll also review the three albums I purchased just before leaving, although not yet - I didn't listen to them much, because I forgot my converter and my friend was sold the wrong plug by CAA (which I am hoping she blogs about soon, after she visits them and gets her money back). Anyway, iPod battery power was limited, so I only got twice through each album. But so far, they're killer summer tunes.

I Recommend...

... The Brothers Bloom. But NOT Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Lat night was a double-header for movies in my living room.

My brother treated me to dinner, then we picked a movie to watch...a standard and fun sibling date. He'd already seen The Brothers Bloom and was pretty confident I'd like it. I did. You should watch it too.

It has twists and turns, romance, brotherly love, shooting, and a jazzy soundtrack. Pretty much a great combination of all the important movie parts.

He left, and my roommate suggested we watch Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights since
a) she loves Latin dancing
b) I'm going to Cuba
c) none of us had seen it before.

Bad idea. If you're really disappointed that I said so, just watch these two videos:

Now you know the story.

And this video will give you all the dance scenes you need.

Now go watch The Brothers Bloom instead.

Art, Politics, M.I.A. & Twitter

Last week, I watched M.I.A.'s new music video, because I love the Kala album. Its tunes get stuck in my head and I like the mix of cultural insight, fluff, and rhythm.

I was shocked by the video for her new single "Born Free" - a ten minute graphically violent genocide piece. It is supposed to be shocking, I am quite sure. As it has rolled around my head, and then as I discussed it briefly via Twitter with Matt & Nadine, I have been thinking:

this video is not really about the music - at points you can hardly even hear the song over the sounds of much nudity/violence is TOO much? Yes, things like this happen. Yes, it is shocking and disturbing and we should be upset by it. So how far do we go in recreating the evil that exists in the world?
at what point does political art cease to be art and become propaganda?what is this video trying to communicate? What is the point of this?if art is going to make such strong statements, shouldn't it be tied to the o…

A List That Could Be Longer

Fact*. The following things have brought joy to my day:

1. Skype date with the lovely Nadine, my soon-to-be-roommate. I'm praying we get the apartment at Bloor W and Dundas...AC, utilities included, steps from the subway...happiness COULD BE OURS.

2. Texts from Miss Aban. I don't know anyone who embodies the word delightful as she does.

3. Packing for vacation. I know, I'm not leaving for days, but I have to figure out my laundry now that I've set aside everything I'm taking, I know what I can wear for the rest of this week.

4. Sunshine. There has been more sun than rain. This always makes me happy.

5. Dinner plans with a new(ish) friend who is also going to alter a dress for me to wear to an upcoming wedding! If all goes well, it will make an appearance at every wedding I attend this summer.

6. Seeing (from afar) how Francy is going out of his way to be a blessing to people in Nashville after the flood...he's driving down tonight and has filled his van wi…

Conversations I'm Still Chuckling Over

Her: You guys are my most non-dorky friends. So here's my question. I need to come up with a 30 minute fun/get to know you activity. I don't want it to be gay or too youth group-esque and I'm wondering if you have any thoughts?

Me: I recommend a drinking game version of truth or dare.

Him: I would suggest everyone farting in jars and then everyone tries to guess:
1) what they ate in the last 24 hours
2) what part of (insert name of foreign country) this fart will smell the most like

conclusion: we're non-dorky AND we're non-helpful.

me: it is really windy here today.
and i am not getting the ONE item on my to-do-list done.

her: haha just ONE?

me: no, it's not!

her: cos...that would be amazing & timely

me: well, technically two. laundry was on the list. and it's almost finished.

her: the second one is "fold laundry", isn't it?
you oughta write "fraternize with ethnics" on that list so that I can be a part of your accomplis…

Literature List

Originally uploaded by bethaf. I have so many books*. I've been wondering how expensive it will be to ship them all back to Ontario. But I can't part ways with them. I just CAN'T. Well, maybe one or two. But not enough to make a significant weight change.

Anyway, I have a bunch of books set aside for next week's vacation. They are:
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth (I'm finally halfway through this monster. Gotta finish it by the end of the month as it's not mine!)Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals - Immanuel Kant (this has also been partially read for months & must be returned before I move away)The Writing Life - Annie Dillard (a birthday gift from Laura, I've been saving it for some specific time...I think this time.)
And three anthologies of poetry. One by e. e. cummings, one by WCW (William Carlos Williams) and one by Emily Dickinson. All fantastic poets whose styles are reflected in my own writing, I think. And if I want to write good poetry, …

All Onboard for All-Inclusive

I am not fully convinced of the ethics of all-inclusive resort vacations for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, and in keeping with the old adage, Don't knock it til you've tried it, which applies to most things, excluding illegal activity (drugs) and obviously immoral actions (killing cats, for starters), I have booked an all-inclusive vacation with a delightful friend.

In the wee hours of next Monday morning, we leave for a week of sun, sand, and Scrabble.

Yes, my plan is to lie on the beach with a stack of books, play afternoon-long games of Scrabble by the pool, and snub my nose at the nightly "disco," where I will not dance, drink to excess, or dally with the menfolk.

There is a part of me that feels the need to justify this trip. The time, the money, the extravagance... This is the part of me that fears making mistakes, being unwise or running out of money. The part of me that I'm working to silence. Or at least balance out.

Besides, it's too late. The trip …

Cure for the Common Pity Party

I have compiled a list of helpful ways to get yourself out of that self-focused rut we all fall into on occasion. Tried and tested by yours truly.

Clean the house. Take out all those negative emotions on the floor, the bathroom, and the stack of dirty dishes. Then look at them sparkle and be glad again. I recommend listening to upbeat music.Ask someone how their day was - not so they'll return the favour and you can rant about your crappy life, but to genuinely listen to somebody else.Choose a person and bless them. Give something away, bake cookies, find someone on the street and give them a $5 bill.Go to the gym. Kind of like cleaning the house, except no shiny floors. Just sweat and some killer tunes dancing around your head.Watch a WWII movie. Or any genocide-based movie. All of a sudden, your life seems like a bed of roses. No one is killing your entire people group.
Remind yourself of this verse, then do it. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whateve…