September 30, 2010

I Need To Make Note of This

Two weeks ago, I felt a seed of panic that I was beginning to "settle" into my life here in Toronto in that negative sense, that way that I don't want to ever "settle." I love feeling content and confident that this is where I am supposed to be. But then I kept thinking, Please don't let me be here in five years. What if I stop here? Stop growing, thinking, dreaming, changing? I like this place. But I don't want to be here forever.

This week, I feel a growing sense of confidence that I have just tipped the marble onto the track. There are conversations and opportunities and random encouraging moments that have me excited again. Excited for the future, excited for the present, excited for potential.

(months of indoctrinating myself by setting this as my wallpaper are finally paying off)

Stay tuned for upcoming plans to unfold.
Right here.
On the internet.

September 28, 2010

Music For My Mood

When C. whines at me, I consistently say, "Oh, is that Mr. Grumpypants talking? You know I don't talk with Mr. Grumpypants."

I feel the need to say this to myself tonight.

Even baking didn't cure the blues. Chocolate Zucchini Loaf...you are mediocre. And it is my own fault. (Why do I think that I can modify recipes I've never before attempted?)

For the first time all week, I stuck my earphones in and turned my iPod on. It is unusual that I would go this long without music, and it was half intentional. Musical therapy seems to be the thing I needed tonight. And these songs that hit the right spots.

(each link is to a live performance)



Generation Spent - Charlie Winston


I don't wanna be a victim of this culture
More prey for a people to dispose of
Anytime I try and come to some conclusion
I'm only faced with confusion, confusion


City - Sara Bareilles

Here in these deep city lights
Girl could get lost tonight
I'm finding every reason to be gone
Nothing here to hold on to
Could I hold you?


Daydreaming - Dark Dark Dark

Oh the unspeakable things,
It's land I can see for miles,
With only the wind whispering,
Land I can see for miles,
With only the wind whispering


City - Beast

Sometimes I'm thrown and driven
Sometimes I don't know where to run
I've heard of a city called Heaven
I've decided to make it my home

September 27, 2010

Sharing Some Lubter

Although it may seem that way, Nadine is not the only person I have (interesting) conversations with. Here are some quotes from other friends that have me pondering and/or laughing:

(on dating & social events)
Conversation with someone you're not interested in is more boring than silence.

(on a certain musician)
It's like a cup of hot cocoa for my ears.

(laughing over an obscure TV reference)
I'm glad we could share that lubter. (pause as we realize what was said) By which I mean, love and laughter.

(no explanation needed)
I'm not intellectually stimulating. I'm hot.

(same friend, to a third friend)
I want to give a speech at your wedding. I may or may not be sloshed.
(she won't be)

(on getting together with another friend “to process life”)
Dual processing. I'm gonna call you Intel.

(relevant to all sorts of situations)
You cannot be convinced of something against your own will; you won't change your mind unless you want to change your mind.


Friend: Remember when you said it was fall and not getting warmer? Glad I didn't listen.
Me: Yes. I am a terrible weatherman.
Friend: You're a terrible man in general.
Me: Thank you. In other news...(insert life happening here)
Friend: Sounds sketchy. Approach with the caution one would give to a raccoon holding a $100 bill.

(what I want to know is, how did that raccoon get the money in the first place?)

September 26, 2010

One Dollar Drinks


One Dollar Drinks CH
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
Would YOU pay 1.00 for a Sprite from this machine?

Photos & Mirrors

Today was a wildly successful photo adventure with the vivacious Shelly. It was the first time I'd pulled out  my SLR since moving to Toronto, and a great warm-up for my photo shoot with a friend and her fiance on Thanksgiving weekend!

I've uploaded my top pics onto Flickr, but I would also like to pause for a second and share some thoughts on these self portraits. In each one, I'm intentionally difficult to see, incomplete. I think this captures a profound insight into identity and self.

Photo #1
There is so much going on here that it's difficult to pick the pieces apart. Can you tell what is reflection and what is "real"? There is place, clothing, colour, movement...it's so rich! And that's the reality of life. I exist in chaos. Beautiful, overlapping, complex chaos.


Photo #2
Here you can see my reflection quite clearly. But you know what? It's such a small section of mirror, one part of a larger mosaic. You can only see part of my face and one hand, in the same way that glimpses into who I am come in tiny snippets, quick moments and unexpected spaces.


 Photo #3
Although the third photo captures me from head to toe, it's not coherent. I'm fully visible, and yet not. The pieces don't fit together, and somehow my face is missing. Other parts of me are duplicated. I'm wholly there, but what you see is fractured.

And that's all I've got to say about that.



It's also important to note that we stumbled upon garage sale alley, and for the low, low total of $2, I got two cake pans, a wicker basket, and a melamine sugar/creamer set!

September 25, 2010

A Little More Honesty

I have not neglected my promise to continue thinking about honesty. In fact, it feels like it's all I think about these days. It fills up the cracks and rare quiet moments, pops up as I walk to work and home again, comes up in almost every conversation, and even rears its head in dreams.

I have followed my thoughts on honesty down rabbit trails and into rabbit holes of alternate universes and possible conversations and through the threads of movies, novels, poems and song.

I've covered so much ground that I forgot where I started or what context this question exploded out of. So I went back and reminded myself, and am ready to write down a small portion of the ever-expanding cloud diagram that exists only in my mind.

I wish there were a way to show you how convoluted all these thoughts have been, and just how difficult it has been to pin them down. For the sake of coherency and readability, this entry will stick to the thoughts directly related to honesty and the internet.

Pre-thought: The actual issue at stake is better described by the word “vulnerability” than “honesty.” In my life, I am committed to honesty. I do not make a habit of lying (although I can't pretend it doesn't happen). But vulnerability is a subset of honesty that I struggle with far more.


Thought A:
Your personality is your personality, and that will (eventually) play itself out on the internet as it does in “real life.” Or as I prefer to say, “in person.”

My personality is this: I am outgoing but shy. I take my time to fully trust. I am keenly sensitive to others' opinions. I am much more likely to be vulnerable when asked specific questions than given a wide blank slate and told to fill it up.


Thought B:
There is a vast difference between vulnerability under obligation and vulnerability out of compulsion and then vulnerability out of deep thought.

I remember sitting in a small group of Christians, knowing there was an assumption of vulnerability (which is great), but it translated also into a certain amount of pressure. It felt as if I had no right to privacy, that it was wrong to hold thoughts and fears internally for a time. To speak in that setting, I would have been honest, but it would have been a reluctant, begrudging vulnerability.

There are rare moments in my life when I blurt something out without forethought. An uncontrolled confession or an unmediated thought whose implications may be bigger than I've considered. And words cannot be undone. Often, this type of vulnerability comes from a manipulative or insecure place, wanting affirmation and attention in one form or another.

And then there are the times that, in my gut of guts; my heart of hearts; that place between my liver and my left kidney where conviction lies, I know what I need to say. I know that it won't be easy, and I can't control the outcome, but this is what I need to do. This is the kind of vulnerability that I want to mark my life.


Thought C:
Life is not meant to be lived selfishly.

As someone who loves Jesus, I am deeply convinced that my life choices should not be a response to the question, “What do I want out of this?” but “What does it look like to love Jesus and my neighbour in this situation?” So questions of vulnerability need to shift from a matter of control and pride to one of service and love.

What does all this mean for my blog (and my facebook and my twitter and any future online dating endeavours and every other part of my life)?

A. I need to love who I am: present myself as myself and not as someone I might prefer to be.
B. I need to consider that no topic or truth about myself is “taboo,” but that I am under no obligation to expose my heart against my own will.
C. I need to be walking closely with Jesus, knowing his heart more even as I know my own heart more. Then I'll be able to see and love his desires for my life.

THE END.

ish.

September 23, 2010

Good TV Returns. Sarcasm Never Left. (Round 13)

Nadine & I spent a little time watching TV this week. And a little more time talking. Here are the gems. (And here's the rabbit hole, if you're new.)

On hypothetically having a baby this year:
her: Would you start charging me two thirds of the rent?
me: Maybe. Depends how loud it makes my life. You know, you could just wait til our lease is up and get your own place. Have the baby sometime after July. 
her: Tell me when I can get pregnant. I need to know!


On saving sex for marriage (not hypothetically):
her: One of the advantages of waiting for marriage is that you KNOW when your first time will be, so your legs WILL be shaved.
 
At the end of my facebook story -
her: Did you defriend her?
me: No.
her: Oh. (disappointed)
 
On The Situation:
me: He DOES ooze charisma. And probably other things. (pause) Pheromones.
her: STDs.

her: You shouldn't ruin Modern Family with serious conversation.

her: I have a pumpkin pie problem.

her: Is it wrong to eat M&Ms while watching The Biggest Loser?

her: Oh man, if you weren't Beth...I would suspect things. But if really covert sketchiness was going on, you'd be more subtle.

September 21, 2010

A Bucket List: 5 Big Dreams

On Sunday, someone I just met asked me what the #1 thing on my Bucket List is. I wasn't sure how to answer. Then it was expanded to Top 5, and I immediately knew the Top 2. I hesitated before sharing #3, because who knows how it comes across; we're socialized against that sort of thing. Thankfully, the conversation got diverted.

Anyway, I've been thinking about it over the past couple days, and thought I'd share the completed Top 5 list. Subject to change over the course of my life.

1. Live overseas for at least a year. (the US of A doesn't count)
2. Publish some sort of book. (self publishing doesn't count)
3. Say "I Do." (get married, folks.)
4. Become fluent in a foreign language & use it for work/life on a regular basis. (hopefully tied to #1!)

5. Go back to school. (someday, for something)

Let me know if you want to be a part of adventures 1, 2 or 4! Adventure 5 is kind of a solo-affair, and adventure 3 isn't an open invite. Although if you are interested...well, Nadine says, "Good luck."

(remind me why I live with her?)

Kids. Saying Things. Disagreeing With Me.

Yesterday, G had a friend over after school. They were trying to tie a rope around me, trapping my legs and tripping me. They were pulling, tugging, generally hanging off me.
me: Oh, careful! You're pulling on my pants a bit too much. You don't want them to fall down!
B: Why not?
me: Then you'll see my underwear. You don't want to see that.
B: Yeah, I do!
G: Yeah, we do!
me: (hiding my face so they can't see me laughing)

Clearly, I misunderstood how 7 year-olds think.



Today, C & I are sitting on the couch for a cuddle.
C: What's this? (pointing at the outside of his ankle joint)
me: That's your ankle bone!
C: No, it's not.
me: It's not?
C: No, it's a rambunctious!

September 20, 2010

Autumn Audibles

As these brisk autumn mornings roll around, I am throwing out some new music love!

I've been thinking about if and how my listening preferences change seasonally. This would be an interesting scientific study. If anyone knows anyone doing this type of research, volunteer me.

I also wonder about themes or threads that find their way into my mixes. What umbrella would you put this one under? Tell me!

Stillness is the Move - The Dirty Projectors
Change of Seasons - Sweet Thing
On The Subject of Our Past Selves - The Seedy Seeds
Things Will Never Be The Same Again - JJ
The Wanting Comes In Waves - The Decemberists
Things I Never Needed - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
The Feeling - The Breaking Lakes
New Inheritors - Wintersleep
Heard It On the Radio (cover) - The Bird and the Bee
Big Jet Plane - Angus and Julia Stone

September 18, 2010

Today Was Near Perfect

I am tempted to say that traffic wrecked my day. It didn't, because that is blameshifting. I did find myself in a foul mood after my drive back to Toronto took twice as long as expected, but before that hiccup, I had a stupendous day.

Here is an outline.
  • Slept in for an hour. (Feels weird to celebrate an 8am wake-up.)
  • Went to the Farmers' Market.
  • Went to Red Brick Cafe.
  • Had a fantastic whirlwind conversation over doughnuts & drinks with Jay and Michelle.
Subpoints about Jay & Michelle:
- Jay & Michelle and I went to the same high-school church group for 2 years. Jay doesn't remember this. (He does remember me from the elementary school we both went to.)
- At this youth group, Michelle and I joked about starting a hip-hop band called The I-O Oreos. As in "inside out" oreos. Because we were both white on the outside but black on the inside. I don't know why I remember this.
- Jay & Michelle just returned from 5 months in Central America. They just went. Packed up and left. One of the things I like best about them is that they don't just sit around and talk big - they think, they talk, and then they do.
- Michelle is passionate about ending sex trafficking. I feel like this deserves more attention.
Michelle is passionate about ending sex trafficking.
And you should check out what she's up to.
- Jay is passionate about Michelle. And church. And a lot of things.
- Jay & Michelle leave on Tuesday for an apprenticeship with a church on Vancouver Island. The lead pastor at that church is one of my favourite writers on Christian spiritual disciplines. His book on Sabbath and his book on Heaven both rocked my world.
- Jay is hopefully going to help me bring all my blogging mayhem into one beautifully simple site.
- Jay suggested I call my first book Ministry for the Men, Poetry for the Money: Mistakes So Far?
- I said that my favourite word is redemption and if I ever get a tattoo, that's what it's going to say. Without missing a beat, Jay said, "Oh, so you really like coupons?"
- Michelle is afraid of bees.
- Jay & Michelle are incredibly easy to talk with. I hope our lives intersect more often in the future.
  • Surprise lunch with the family for Dad's birthday!
Subpoint highlights:
- Goats' cheese on my salad. Love the goats' cheese.
- Biggest ice cream cake I have ever seen.
- Holding my niece.
- Playing eye-contact games with my nephew.
- Laughing with my sister.
- Laughing with my sister at my brother.
  • Seeing my sister's makeover! Taking some photos of her new do.
  • Shopping with a friend, who brought peanut butter cups & helped me buy a jacket.
  • A few more moments with the parentals.
  • Homemade "johnnycake" (cornbread) from Grampie for the road.

Making that list was helpful.
I like lists.
And now I'm dreaming about all sorts of things.
Specifically:
  • my fantastic family and what it will be like when my little brother rejoins us in Ontario.
  • travel. Where I will go, why, and with whom.
  • blogging. All the thoughts I have are bursting out of my orifices. (I have been a chatterbox all week.)
FINAL NOTE.
You really need to click on the links above that will take you to sites run by Jay & Michelle (and one site for the author dude).

    September 16, 2010

    Internet Dating & Other Wonders (round 12)

    This week, Nadine and I have been like ships in the night. The conversations we've had have been few but as great as always. However, most of the funny things she's said have been veto-d from blog publication. I've added a few quotes from the vault to plump things up.

    her: "Oh. I don't think we're allowed to watch this show."
    (Two and a Half Men, for those who care. And no, we're not allowed. House Rule #2.)


    her: "The difference between a roommate and a brother is that a roommate throws the pillows on the couch, and a brother throws the pillows at your face."


    (on internet-stalking fueled romance)
    her: "It’s not like researching which vacuum cleaner to buy."


    her: "I wanna be rejected! I'm going to pretend there's no boy in my life...it's too complicated if there is."


    her: "E-harmony is free this weekend. You should try it..."
    (when I read this back to her tonight, she said, "I sound so cruel!")

    (Also, I did test the internet-dating-service waters for a weekend. Blog pending.)

    September 15, 2010

    Life Happens TOO Quickly

    I am making lists and lists of things to blog and things to think about and conversations to have.
    I am not used to being internet-free for 11 hours a day.

    (deep breath)

    For tonight, I would just like to note a few effects of my new job.
    1. I eat like a fiend. 
    2. I am physically tuckered out every day.
    3. I need to go shoe & coat shopping.
    Pretty sure it's because I walk the boys to and from school...
    Three days a week, I walk 8.4 km. Two days a week, it's a measly 5.4 km.

    September 13, 2010

    It's The Little Moments

    This afternoon, G asked me to play darts with him. This is the first time he's asked me to interact with him in a significant way, and it completely made my day.


    After a complete meltdown of epic tantrum proportions, C calmed down enough that I could leave. But first, he tried to give me a goodbye kiss with a mouthful of banana. I laughed and pushed him away before he succeeded in getting banana mush on my mouth. Attempt number two coincided with a cough - a gust of lovely toddler breath and a near-licking. On the third try, we got our kiss.

    Three year-olds are so adorable.
    And so gross.

    September 12, 2010

    Letters to Strangers

    Two facts about me:

    1. I am a people-watcher.
    2. I am an introvert.

    I've decided to combine these two "strengths" into a new blog I call Open Letters from Beth.

    It's pretty self explanatory.


    Two related thoughts:

    My last "specialty blog" was a collection of lists. All lists, all the time. Eventually it died. I have a feeling the new one will too, but hopefully not for awhile. Until then, I hope it entertains you all.

    It is fascinating to go back and read old blog entries. It's like finding a journal I'd forgotten about. Reading my old lists made me happy. And kept me up past my self-imposed curfew.

    September 10, 2010

    It's The Thought - Right?

    For what it's worth, I sat down at my computer around 7:30 this evening with two goals in mind.

    a. Write an overdue email.
    b. Write a blog entry to follow-up Monday's post.

    In between a. and b. were 4 hours of time well-wasted in conversation, clicking, and calculating (settling the roommate tab).

    The only thing I've written of the intended blog entry is the title, and it's not that creative. But, dear readers, I'm at least thinking about the things I said I would think about, and we all know that it's the thought that counts. Or so they say.

    In my thoughts, I have one sentence confidently composed:

    I don't think I want to be honest.

    September 9, 2010

    Hello Cupcake, Hello "Pottery Wheel"... (Round 11)

    Do I need to keep intro-ing these posts?
    World, meet my roommate.
    Nadine, please keep amusing us.



    Her:(stomach growl) That’s my stomach. It’s saying, “Hello cupcake, I’m a sweet potato!”

    (on kids)
    Her:
    That’s why God makes them cute. So we don’t kill them.

    Her:
    Hugs are magical.
    Friend: Yes. The more you eat, the more you toot.
    Me: Um, can you live here all the time?

    Her: His handwriting is really girly. Good for him!

    Her: My one regret in life is that I never saw my grandmother do pot. Although I think she would have gone for the brownies instead of smoking it.

    (on college memories)
    Her: I was going to say, "Oh, my childhood!" but I was 20.

    (on sex education & that birthing video)
    Her: I didn't know what I was watching. I had no idea it was a birth. I thought it was a pottery wheel.

    September 7, 2010

    Tick, Tock

    If ever you come visit my parents' house, one of the first things you will probably notice (it's been a consistent trend thus far) is that there are multiple clocks in each room.

    My maternal grandfather was an avid clock collector. By avid, I estimate that he owned over 500 clocks of all shapes and sizes when he died. The best of the clocks were then divided among the children, and the rest were sold.

    The inundation of clocks served to make my mother an even more avid chronomentrophiliac (lover of clocks), and we have added even more to the ones she inherited. I'm a fan of antiques, and antique clocks - even greater.
     
    Now the goodness is slowly trickling its way down, and I am the owner of one small but adorable clock. I still have to get the hang of it - winding every day & adjusting the speed to keep an accurate hour. Some people can't handle it, but falling asleep to a ticking clock brings back happy childhood memories.

    To paraphrase a Lifehouse song, the ticking clock is a comfort.

    September 6, 2010

    Honestly.

    (these are thoughts with no conclusion)

    Last month, I was scrolling through my blog looking for entries related to a specific experience/time frame. It turned out that there were no such entries, which surprised me. Then I started looking for other key moments and topics, and I stumbled upon a profound realization:

    I don't blog about the difficult things in my life. 

    When I do mention them, it's all vague generalities or cryptic anecdotes. I may refer to feeling overwhelmed or thinking a lot about serious things (see my entry on hope from earlier this summer), but rarely, if ever, do I explain the specific situations or dilemmas that bring me to these places.
    ---

    The "tricky factor" that I think has become an excuse for avoidance is the issue of respecting other peoples' privacy. My life is never just my life. Situations almost always involve more than one person, but rather than wrestling through those murky waters, I've been sitting on the beach, high and dry. And I'm not sure I'm okay with that.

    ---

    Awhile back I had a conversation with my mom about our family. We tend to keep our problems to ourselves, put on a good face and plough ahead. Or we have a brief discussion acknowledging conflict/messiness, then put it aside and move on. This is something I'm actively trying to change in my own life, and it's certainly not easy.

    ---

    Agree or disagree: In this world, there are two types of people: "over sharers" and "overly private people," and both need to come down from their extremes and find that balanced middle ground of honesty.

    ---

    A friend of mine is in the midst of some major life-crisis. A well-intentioned friend told her that she needs to stop telling people what is going on, and trust solely in God for comfort and help. I disagree - it is most often through the community of humanity that God's comfort is experienced, and that requires honesty from people who have suffered (or are suffering). I think the Bible even says something about this.

    ---

    Last night, another friend and I were talking about intentionally taking the initiative to be honest and sincere - no half truths, exaggeration, or avoidance. It's an interesting challenge that has me thinking about the boundaries of honesty and benefits of complete sincerity. Am I known as someone who's honest? Do I see myself as someone who is actually honest?

    ---

    I don't want my blog to only be about music, funny stories, and what I'm eating for breakfast...

    ---

    ...I don't have anymore thoughts at the moment, but I want to share this work-in-progress, so I'm going to hit publish and revisit this topic soon. Deal with it.*


    *every time I say this, I hear my friend Jesskah's voice. And see the face/shrug she makes when she says it. And then I smile.

    September 2, 2010

    The Birds, The Bees, The Benefits of Jogging

    Now that I'm working, I don't get to spend 10 hour days with Nadine. I miss it. But thankfully, a 10 minute conversation is just as likely to yield incredible quotes. (Here are last week's goodies.)


    me:
    (in full melodramatic mode) AH! My room is a disaster. Why is it such a mess? And why is my life so chaotic?
    her: I don't know. These questions are too deep for me.
    me: And why don't the boys want to date me?
    her: (without missing a beat) Because your room's a mess.


    her: Oh, clothing, why am I not wearing you?



    her: I still don't really understand the birds and the bees... I will not teach my children about the birds and the bees, that's for sure.

    her: If I’m going through the pain of childbirth, it’s not going to be because of artificial insemination.

    her: My children will be toilet trained by the age of...six months.


    her: My pants fit better already since I started jogging!
    me: Impossible.
    her: No, they do.
    me: Nadine, you've gone jogging twice.
    her: I know.

    September 1, 2010

    Album Artwork

    Here's the photo I'd like to make into the cover of my compilation album.Thanks Amelia, for sending those photos during moving week! You're a true friend :) (does that make up for my "public sassing" in the last post?)

    This photo was taken at Miss Cora's Kitchen in Kensington Market. I will go back there. Anytime anyone wants to take me.