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Showing posts from January, 2011

Friends Without Benefits: Is It Worth It? (4th WaoW)

Can guys and gals be friends? Just friends? Real friends?
Short answer: Rarely.

Mid-length answer:

Casual, circumstantial friends? Absolutely.
Close, committed friends? I usually recommend against it, and I have far more disaster stories than I do "success" stories.
Best friends? No.

Long answer:

Casual friends:
I think that, in church circles at least, we don't do enough of this. These are the people you work with or the people you see on a regular basis at your church, or friends of friends that you're often in contact with. When group events happen, you can have genuine (but general) conversations with them. You don't avoid them, you like them, you enjoy your interactions with them. But you don't seek out time with them. In this context, I think men and women can do a much better job of being encouraging and caring than we often do. I think you can love someone without an intimate friendship. And we should do more of that.

Close friends:
The first thing I have to…

People Are Funny

My weekend was 89% good times, 7% a difficult conversation, and 5% so full it exploded at the edges and left me quite tired.

Here are some comments I enjoyed this weekend (I've helped a little if you want to guess which are from Nadine):

girl #1: "AND he (Adrien Brody) is attractive."
girl #2: "What?! I guess so. In a sewer rat sort of way."

girl #3: "You can't go to guys when you actually want someone to make you feel better!"

girl #2: "I found a jumbo bag of Smarties. And then I ate one. And then another...but now the bag is gone and at least I can't do it again."

in a board game conflict:
girl #2: "As a woman, I need you to understand the essence of what I am saying."

decision making & my winter coat:
guy, to me: "You're wearing a seatbelt. So you're in the driver's seat! But can we decide fast? It's Canada, and it's winter!"

girl #4: "You could sell that booze to bums on the street for p…

Hoes Before Bros* (WaoW #3)

Important facts to establish: women are competitive (almost always) and catty (occasionally).

A few months ago, someone (I genuinely forget who), told me they find it difficult to be friends with other girls and that they'd rather spend time with the guys. This bothered me, more-so the longer I thought about it.

Not that I've never had the same thought. I am totally guilty of my fair share of Ugh. Girls. I'm done with them moments. But the thing is, in those moments, I contribute to the problem instead of helping solve it.

Oooh, problem-solving. That is a good approach for this topic.

The problem:
Girls often stink at being genuine friends with other girls. The main factors are comparison and competition. It is a dog-eat-dog world, and although we're subtle and passive, we have great capacity for aggression towards one another. We are jealous of others' bodies, their relationships, and everything else you could be jealous of in someone.

What it boils down to is ins…

Saddest Graffiti Of All

Pie Haters are taking over subway stations all around Toronto!

The Body, Our Frenemy (WaoW 2)

I appropriated this title from a friend of mine, one of the most physically beautiful people I know. She commented not long ago that she currently views her body as her "frenemy." (frenemy = friend + enemy) On one level, this surprises me ("But she's beautiful!!"); on a deeper level, I know that all women have a love-hate relationship with their bodies.

What else is there to say?

I was talking with a guy friend about body image not that long ago. A paraphrase of our conversation -

me: All girls struggle with it.
him: I think I know some girls who actually like themselves.
me: Really? Good for them. (sounding sarcastic)
him:(looking at me sideways)
me: (not sarcastic sounding) I mean, good. That's great. (pause) I hate them.
him: What?
me: Kind of. But not really. I mean, I don't actually believe them. Maybe they like themselves most of the time, but I can't believe they never have a bad day about it.


Beth's Scale of Self-Image
(pun intended)

Very conc…

Today (A List of Happenings)

I woke up before my alarm. Poor sleep has been haunting our house for TOO LONG.

I felt sick enough to be grumpy, but not sick enough to skip work.

I had a cultural misunderstanding. G needs a dress-up costume for school later this week.
G's mom: You could be a Hanson brother!
Me: Yeah!! No one would get it but the teachers, but it'd be great!I love their new single. Well, I guess it's not new anymore...but it's great!
G's mom: What?
Me: Yeah, they're still making music. Crazy, hey?
G's mom: No, I meant the hockey players.
Me: Oh. (who're they?)

I went to the zoo.
C: What's that hanging down there?
Me: (trying to remain calm) Um, I think that's the rhino's penis.
C: Oh. What's that animal? (pointing elsewhere)
Me: It's a tapir.
C: I want to be a baby tapir.

I sang along to M.I.A.'s Paper Planes with a 3 year-old. It seemed wrong and yet adorable.
(I skipped some lyrics)

I enforced health and safety rules.
(after school, picking up G)
Me: Where'd…

The Moon, The Month, The Mystery (WaoW 1.0)

It started with a tweet from a friend:
"A girl said this to me today: "I hate ovulating! All the guys are soooo attractive and I want to eat everything!"I retweeted it. Said,
"I've said this before."Friend #1 (girl) was impressed that I'd admit this publicly.
Friend #2 (boy) said, "You've said that before!? Actually that doesn't surprise me anymore."


Then I had this conversation with myself:
Women have hormones too. Why is this surprising?
I suppose I'm surprised and bothered when men admit to hormonally-based attraction to women. Why should it be different for women?
I feel like it's different for women.
Why is it different for women?
It is different because... because it's part of a cycle?
That can't be right.
It's different because it's surprising?
That is true. But is it reason to make it acceptable?
Gah! (I gave up at that point in the conversation)

But here are the things I would like to say about women…

Women And Our Ways: Intro

Last summer, I started writing a blog entry that I never finished. There are several like that, actually.

This particular one starts out:

If you are male, you probably don't want to read this entry.

I mean it.

If you were grossed out by my entry on placenta lasagna, didn't understand the problematic tea commercial, or were surprised by my thoughts on the curse of Aunt Irma, this one is bigger, badder, and more bold. I'm going for broke.

I've been meaning to write this girls-only series ever since. But then I realized that I want to write a series that may frighten or surprise men, but is not meant to exclude them. Then I thought that maybe I don't want to do that, as it will stir up controversy and I will be misunderstood and I will unintentionally offend both men and women and I will write about things that don't often get talked about.

But I think I'm willing to risk it.

Titles in the series Women and Our Ways may include:

The Moon, The Month, The Mystery...…

Set The Fire to the Third Bar*

This song is beautiful and haunting and spinning round and round in my head.

Snow Patrol + Martha Wainwright = wow.

I hope you find it is the same sort of fantastic.

*I don't actually know what this phrase means. I apologize if it is inappropriate.

Buy Nothing Month

It is a combination of

my Christmas bills. I am so thankful I could pay my credit card bill this week. my deep desire to travel later this year, but no current distaste for culture's (my) lighthearted consumerism.curiousity. Which kills the cat, I know.From January 16- February 16, I am having "Buy Nothing" month!

The exceptions:
food.necessities I run out of (ie, "I have no toothpaste" is okay, "Hey, toothpaste is on sale. Let's buy 7!" is not).haircut (It's prescheduled for the 12th).gifts for other people.

I think that's it.
Hopefully I won't try adding more exceptions.
Hopefully I won't forget and buy something before I remember. You'd think this unlikely, but I find(found) it often happens(happened) when I fast(ed).*

*all those tense substitutions are a reminder that I don't really remember the last time I fasted. Which is, as always, a topic for another post. Now I'm going to be mulling that over too. As if th…

Happiness Is...


My cheeks are full of deliciousness. That's why my face looks funny. But happy.

The friend who took this photo said this (me eating a pre-dinner slice of bread because I was SO HUNGRY) was the "saddest thing they'd ever seen."

An exaggeration. And, according to my love of carbohydrates and baked goods, a tragic misunderstanding.Who doesn't love fresh bread and butter!?

On that note, I think I'll slather myself another slice of sunshine.

What Is Love?*

Last night, a friend asked me, "Have you ever been in love?"

I have never been asked this question before.

In November, the same friend asked me if I'd ever had a serious boyfriend. I answered something along the lines of, "Well, none of the guys I've dated have been flings. But none of them have made it to the six month mark."

"So no," he replied, almost instantly.

It made me sad. Not because of what he said or how he said it, but because it rang true. (I think this is one of the things that makes me sad about my relationship history - I've yet to get into the nitty-gritty of relationship, the daily grind, the conflicts that are inevitable. Is it strange that I want that?)

This time around, I didn't have an answer very quickly. I scrolled through the memories in my mind. I umm-ed and uhhh-ed for a minute or so. Then I said something like this:

"I don't know. I really don't know. I have been giddy and crushing and so excited …

Am I Being Overdramatic Here?

Last week, C and I went snowshoe-ing in a nearby cemetery. I love cemeteries, although it is less of a reflective experience when you're with a 3 year-old than if it were just me and my journal. But I still looked around and took note of a few interesting things.

One epitaph felt like a punch in the gut. I read it, and my first thought was, I would never want my life to be summarized that way.

I did my duty in life.

Isn't that tragic!?!?

If, at the end of my life that is the best thing that I can say... I will consider myself a failure.

26 Secrets: The Photos

Dear God
Originally uploaded by bethaf. This afternoon I took down my art and chatted with the barista (who has GREAT dreads) about art and literature and metaphysics and the divine. So fantastic.

Now I've uploaded the images to my flickr account. Here they are, for those of you who couldn't make it. Some of them are ones you've seen before... but of course, not paired with the poems!

The poem partnered with this image was a surprisingly popular one. It was really fun for me to see which poems resonated with people most strongly.

Also, if you're interested, most of the 8X10 prints are still for sale. Not sure what I'm going to do with 20-odd prints if they don't sell - I don't have enough wall space for them all!

Stream of Consciousness

At the end of this work week, here are some of my thoughts and feelings:
I miss the interweb. I wish I weren't away from the internet for 12 waking hours each day.  I feel tired. I think that 8 hours of sleep is not enough.  I came up with more blog topics to write about: Player One. Prayer. Brand Loyalty. A depressing epitaph.What is next?I want to live my whole life believing that my best days are still ahead of me. Did I mention that I'm tired? I am impressed by my ability to remain calm in the presence of a perpetually whining child. Two grouchy children, is, however, unbearable. I dislike the way my patience disappears. Can it be springtime now?My room is a disaster. When will I have time to clean it? Next weekend? Yes, next weekend.I used to say I would never drink alone. I need to figure out the new modification for that rule. It was a good rule. It is a good rule. But this is the second time this month I've had a glass of wine by myself. Ok, technically Nadine also …

Notes on Christmas Gifts

I finally started reading Player One, the latest novel by Douglas Coupland, delivered as the Massey Lecture series last year (woah, feels strange to call 2010 "last year"). I am sucked in and want to skip work or make C take care of himself or something similar so that I can finish it. Thank you to my sister-in-law for gifting it to me at Christmas!!

G and I were discussing his Christmas gifts while I was prepping dinner yesterday. He told me he'd gotten one book:
me: From whom?
G: N__________
me: Who's that?
G: She lives across the street. She's a doctor. She was the first doctor to do wiener surgery.
me: Oh? (not really sure what to say to that one, although I doubt his facts)
G: Yeah. I'm glad it wasn't on me.
me: I'm sure you are.
G: I would cry for nine days if I ever had to have wiener surgery.
me: Nine days, hey?

I gave my nephew this super-cool art paper that already has frames printed around the edges, so you draw/paint/whatever in the middle…

26 Secrets: Music & Absent Friends

I was going to post Saturday's entire playlist, because that is not at all my "work" and is very much open for sharing...but even though I tried to cut it down, it was still 86 songs long. Which would be a very long entry. I'll happily share it with anyone who really wants to know the whole deal, but for this morning, I'd like to highlight some of the artists I included because they remind me of faraway friends.

Chromeo - KIRSTEN! Thank you for calling. Can't wait to see you and hug you and sit in silence with you this summer. (Hurry up, time!)

Franz Ferdinand - Karen, do you even know I associate you with this crew? You introduced us. Also, you are my first ever "arts patron" and there will be an 8x10 photo coming your way later this month.

Shout Out Louds, Boris Smile - Alasdair, you have great taste in music. And I still think you should have chosen Canada as your vacation destination last week.

Headwater - Laura. Of course. I can't wait to trade…

26 Secrets: The Debrief

I'm pretty sure that everyone is waiting for a recap and summary of last night's shindig. I don't feel capable of doing a full and complete breakdown tonight - possibly due to lack of sleep, possibly due to my generally slow emotional processing speed. But I do have a few point form thoughts I'll throw out there in no particular order.

1. (okay, the order for this one is particular) I feel incredibly loved and encouraged deep in my being. More than a punch on the arm, You're great! kind of thing, but that the core of who I am is worth existing and sharing with others.

2. The trio of pairs that I saw as "central" were well-noticed and generally liked: "Hope Is" "Come Home" "Permanency Frightens Me"

3. The closest thing to "negative feedback" that I received was the three or four people (all male), who were surprised at the "darkness" of some poems. I don't know whether this was a good or bad thing in their…

Finally Feeling Old

friend: You blab.
me: No! I'm a verbal processor. (pause) And have a lot of good friends.
friend: Nice get out clause.

This conversation is going through my mind as I prep for tomorrow's big art show, and wonder if I am really as secretive as I think.

What I do know is that I'm blessed with an abundance of fantastic people in my life. This last month has been full of encouragement from people who are thrilled that I'm doing this.

I can't stop smiling.

I thought to myself earlier today, I hope this is what a wedding feels like. Other than a wedding day, how often does a girl have (almost) all her favourite people come to one place to ooh and ahh and compliment and celebrate her life?

Not very often. But if I never get married (which I hope is not how my life pans out), I will have had at least one good party with people from all parts of my life. I am amazed by the assortment of people who are coming.

If people like my artwork half as much as I do tonight, I will be smiling…

Inception in Real Life

I woke up at 5:18 this morning from a dream about a dream.

In my dream, a guy I know and I were telling my mother a "funny story" - namely, how we had (independently) had the same dream. We interrupted each other, filling in details and saying how strange it was that we'd dreamt the same thing. There was a barn involved; I think we were stranded at a farm, and had to spend the night in a tent, which I remember thinking was a detail that sounded sketchy and maybe shouldn't be included in this retelling.

Arriving in my dream (the movie makes a good point - you always arrive in the middle of a dream, when something is in process and you're just suddenly there), I noticed that this guy was massaging my feet as we casually chatted with my mom. I guess we're dating? I thought. In Dreamland, I was fine with this foot massage, although I'm not sure how I would feel about it in a real life relationship...

Anyway, I woke up and looked over at the clock, and wonder…

2010's Biggest Disappointment

...was that I did not get to go to North Korea.

This means that:
a. My life has been good. I am not entitled to many complaints.
b. I will travel in 2011. Travel is as engrained in me, perhaps, as the arts.

I have been in Ontario for seven months now.
Seven months without getting on a plane.

It's the longest time I've gone without flying in...six or seven years.
I'm feeling itchy.

But blessed.

I Did Not Stowaway

I am on holidays until January 10th. This is lovely, as I've not had any vacation time (apart from Thanksgiving) since I started work in August. It is also strange, as I miss the boys by the end of each weekend; who knows how it will be after two whole weeks!

On Christmas Day, I got a call from the family. The boys wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas and tell me what Santa brought them. It was an adorable and chaotic call. Apparently, C asked if it was "a Beth day" early in the morning. While on the phone, he asked if they could come to my house in the morning to see me.

Two days into my time off, I found myself promising to stop by for a visit sometime (granted, I forgot a camera card that I would like to have back). But I'm not surprised. It's the obvious build-up after a great month of work. The visit fell through, but a second phone call reminded me that I have indeed fallen in love with these boys.

December was the best month so far. We're all hitting ou…

It's Obvious We're Useless On Our Own

I wanted to tell you all about my current favourite song, which feels like a perfectly soft and cozy and much needed scarf during these winter months. I was so excited to share it.

Then I went to see if there are any videos of it on Youtube. There aren't. So I widened my search, and came across this interview with the musician, Kelli Schaeffer. And I read it, and I felt happy and then I felt sad, because I thought, "Oh, she loves Jesus!" which I sort of assumed from the lyrics of said song-that-I-love, but then she talks about not being a Christian anymore, and I thought, "WHY!?!?" because that is how I feel about these things. Like I felt about Mumford & Sons, and like I feel about my friends who have decided that Jesus isn't for them (or isn't real).

It's not a judging WHY!?!? (I don't think), but an honestly perplexed one. I want to understand the process of how it happened for each of them.

I share a lot of my friends' criticisms of …

Did You Miss Me?

I'm back! Did you notice I was gone?

It was great to take an unannounced break from blogging. I wasn't planning on it, and then it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Here are some things I loved on my holiday:

1. Family.

"Scheme-ish people are all around me! I mean squeamish. But scheme-ish too..."
- my brother makes me laugh.

"That is like playing with food in my country..."
- my Peruvian brother-in-law, on our nephew's new ZhuZhu pet.

"When I am old and rich and own my own garage, I will get some Chia pets in my head."
- same brother-in-law, on dealing with going bald.

Crokinole tournaments are fun - especially when the entire family is cheering for the same person to lose. Twister is fun, especially when you play with five twenty-somethings and a 3 year-old. Hopefully the photos your aunt took of your bum sticking out of the strange tangle do not end up on a Christmas card, as she suggested.

And if a cousin ever offers to show you phot…