November 30, 2012

Want (Me) To Catch Up?

If I want to "catch-up" with my normative blogging rates (based on a quick overview of the numbers on this site, where I've been writing since 2006), I would need to write two posts a day for the entire month of December.

Not gonna happen.

But I do hope to write a few more entries than I have this past month. There are thoughts in my head that I want to share - some unfinished "Big Conversation" posts, an update or two on me and Jesus. Also my job dreams, and volunteering if I can figure out how to not cross the privacy lines, and then maybe even a funny story or two about boys.

I may also ask for your input on a few things, like:
what should I do with my life, job-wise? 
does anyone want to participate in some fun life-challenges with me?
and who wants to set me up with their mature-but-not-boring guy friends?

Here's the tiny little thing, though. I have realized that one of the reasons* I've been writing less is that I've been hearing less from my readers. Or at least it certainly feels that way (aside from you, Mom :D). So if I start to write more, I need to hear from you. Because a. I'm insecure and b. I want this blog to be a place for conversation, not just a bulletin board of my life.

So let's chat.

*I'm in no way blaming y'all for my relative silence. Just letting you know that I feel more excited to write if I know people will engage with me, either on the blog or elsewhere.

November 29, 2012

Beth's Best B-Sides

It's not too late to join the B-Sides Music Exchange. About half a dozen of us have uploaded our albums, and there is still time to add yours in!

In case you're teetering on the edge, I thought I'd offer you my mix in streaming format. And know that of all the mixes, mine is the worst. So if this is passable, the others will be even more enjoyable.

November 26, 2012

I Forgot How Much I Love a Good TEAM.

"Team. Team, team, team, team, team. I even love saying the word team." – Denholm Reynholm, The IT Crowd*

The unexpected excitement in my life these days is this: sports.

I am enjoying my twice weekly outing across town to lace up my cleats and run around for an hour, then trek home through the dark (and cold). That is an understatement. I am loving it. It is shaping up to be the highlight of my winter. I show off my bruises**, I grin on the subway, I lie in bed thinking about strategies.

It started in August, when perusing the Toronto Ultimate Club’s website…they were hosting a tournament in 3 days. A hat tournament. And they needed women. The beauty of a hat tournament is that the teams are completely mixed by the organizers, so signing up by myself was no big deal. Relatively. I showed up to Varsity Stadium, where a light rain was falling…I thought I’d hate the rain, but it turns out I’m becoming less of a whiny baby. Anyway, at some point in the day, our team was chatting and someone asked, "So, what teams are you guys playing on right now?" I said, "None, actually..." and by the end of the game, I had one. Two-ish, actually. So I've been playing every week since the end of the summer, and even though I'm the worst person on the team (I say this without malice or self-deprecation), I have fun EVERY WEEK.

And then my friend Aisling asked if I'd like to play soccer with her and I said HeckyesIwould! and we signed up and then the league got canceled and then we found another league that played at the exact same time in the exact same place and voila, we were in. And now on Sunday nights, I put on my shinpads and we run around and last night a guy accused me of fouling him because I successfully took the ball from him, and I felt proud of myself and when he came at me again, and this time I fell over, I rolled it out and got up and chased him down and took the ball again because that is how you play the game, dude. And I'm sorry that you got owned by a girl, but you did. And it's coming back to me, these long-dormant soccer skills, and I feel confident on the field, which is a strange feeling for me.

I wish I could go back to teenaged-Beth who took one sports-rejection very, very personally and tell her, Don't believe that lie that says you are no good! Just do your best and have FUN!

It may have taken me 15 years, but I am glad that I am at a place where I can be on a team and not be the best, and maybe even the worst, but know that it is okay and that everyone is not judging me and that I am my own worst critic and they like me even if I miss up. So I play, and we laugh, and even when we lose, I leave the field smiling.

Because TEAM. TEAM TEAM TEAM. When our soccer team scored our first goal of the season, I may have shouted, "TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAMWORK!" Team. It's a great thing. (Although I also really like winning.)


**at what point does one begin to be concerned about their bruises? If I come home with new bruises every game, but don't remember incurring significant hits, should I be concerned? Or am I just a bruiser?? I'm afraid to Google this, as my internet-diagnostic searches usually wind up telling me I have cancer.

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Stress? #DealWithIt

Chatting with my American friend Teagen this morning, and conversation turned to tomorrow's holiday. She expressed concern about the current big-meal plan, wondering if the plans will be amenable to all involved....

Teagen: as i said, hopefully it will all work out : )

me: i'm sure it will. Besides, Thanksgiving isn't thanksgiving without a bit of tension and drama, right???

Teagen: it's true. that's why i always get annoyed with people that avoid their families on thanksgiving. DEALWITHIT.
wait, that deserves a hashtag

me: yes.
your uncle only wants to watch NFL and not talk to anyone? #DealWithIt
the kids are running around screaming because they each ate 3 pieces of pie? #DealWithIt
your grandma fell asleep at the table? #DealWithIt
that's family. it's how we roll. #DealWithIt

Teagen: The turkey is over/under-cooked #dealwithit
you don't like pie? TOOBAD #dealwithit
me: your cousins snuck hard liquor in, against grampa's express wishes? #DealWithIT

Teagen: this is fun.

me: Little Lucy threw cranberry sauce on the white tablecloth? #DealWithIt
You brought your boyfriend and now he's scared of your family? #DealWithIt
Your sister and brother-in-law are having a massively unsubtle fight in the hallway? #DealWithIt

Teagen: HA
that's a good one
you ate too many appetizers and now you can't fit in any turkey? #dealwithit
you're vegan? #dealwithit

Pretty sure all of these apply to Canadian Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And Easter. And any other time the family gathers. Things go awry. They just do. The thing about family is that you #dealwithit. As only family can.

What would you add to the list?

Guelph Friends' PSA

Any chance you, my delightful Guelph reader, were walking along Edinburgh near Speedvale the other day and said hello to my Grampie?

He didn't recongize you (his memory is not as sharp as it once was), but apparently you had read about him online and called him "Grampie," which means you must have visited this site once or twice...

We're just curious about who it was. It makes him so happy when people say hello, so please, feel free to do so anytime!!

November 20, 2012

Links to Things & I'm Ready to Reboot

All day, my work computer has been prompting me to reboot because of recently installed patches. I have delayed it at least a dozen times, because I have too many important tabs open.

So, for my own sake (and your curiousity/education) here they are:

Music I want to listen to.

Apparel Industry Trends -  looking at forced & child labour in clothing production

Once Was Lost - an online store that gives 50% of proceeds to support adoptive families, including my friends Amelia & Varun.

3 Cords - an online store featuring handmade goods from women in Haiti.

God is not "everywhere" - a theological conversation with a friend.

Self-taught 15 year-old engineer from Sierra Leone. I want to watch the video.

End of the Line - an article about the ICU shared by my nurse-friend Laura.

Joan Didion on keeping a notebook.

November 14, 2012

The Second Music Exchange

Some of you have tuned into the All-Christmas-All-the-Time radio stations or set your ipods to Genre: Holiday. I know this. I am not one of you, although I don't mind that many people have started "preparing" for the holidays.

If, however, you are like me, you are listening to a little bit of everything...and looking for some new songs. In which case, this is your lucky day.

Remember back in March, I hosted a little music exchange? Well, it was a great success (hopefully everyone who participated agrees!) and I've decided it's time for another round!

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Let me know you want to participate, and I will hook you up with Dropbox if you aren't already using it.
  2. Select ten-ish songs. (8 min, 12 max) Songs and artists don't have to be "new," but you cannot include more than 2 songs that appear on other albums (incentive to submit early!!)
  3. Upload your album to the shared folder on Dropbox by December 31, 2012 (your folder name would be MIX TITLE - NAME).
  4. Download all the other mixes.
  5. Listen to good music!!

And here is the theme explanation:

Theme: The B-Sides
Parameters: These songs never made it as radio singles. They aren't the band's biggest hits, and they might not even be their original work. But whether it's a cover song, a bonus track, or something off an early album that only you die-hard-fans have tracked down, you LOVE these songs.

Everyone is welcome to participate, even the early-Christmas-music peeps. Of course, you'll need to take a brief break from the holiday sounds to take a stroll down memory lane and dig up those almost-forgotten-non-wintry songs. But I know you have it in you!

Any questions? Fire away!

Oh! Final exciting note: my amazing roommate Karen is going to design an album logo/cover. It's going to be beautiful and you're going to want to participate just so you can see the secret image (it's only going to be available in the Dropbox folder)! She does lovely hand lettering and drawing and I just know it will be fantastic. So if you don't want to do this for the music, do it for the art!

November 12, 2012

February 28, 2013

February 28, 2013 is a special day for two reasons. 

First, my Grampie will turn 94. Yesterday, he marched in the Remembrance Day parade with many other veterans. He said he probably won't march next year. He also implied he probably won't be around for it next year. A distinct possibility, but one I don't like to think about. 

You all know that my Grampie is one of my greatest heroes. I would like to sit down and share some thorough and thoughtful stories about yesterday - his Scripture reading at church, walking with him - very out of place in the veterans' parade, and the laughter of lunch as he told stories to some of my favourite friends. But there isn't the time today to shape all those words.

I have shaped them, in my mind. I shape them each time I hug him goodbye and wonder if it might be my last visit with him. I shape them whenever I see a soldier, or when I pass a cenotaph. When Grampie does go home to be with Jesus and his brown-eyed sweetheart, there is an obituary in my heart that will hopefully capture a sliver of his spirit and character.

February 28, 2013 is also the due date for Baby Zamora. On Saturday, I took a few photos of the parents-to-be and the growing bump. Lalo is a bit of a goofball, and there was much laughter despite the cold and the wind. I've been arguing that this baby should be named Jorge (pronounced Hor-hay) in honour of his Peruvian heritage and his great-grandfather...but it seems to be a losing battle. I may call him Jorge anyway.

I said a loud hello to my wee nephew in his momma's belly, and Sarah followed it up by telling him, "That's your Aunt Beth. She's a bit crazy, but everyone should have an Aunt Beth." We're all pretty excited that Sarah is "growing a human." I can't wait to meet this roly-poly beige baby in a few more months, and am sure you'll be inundated with many many photos of him!

November 8, 2012

Becoming a Process Person

I was not very into the idea of process during my university years. I liked that word about as much as I liked the words busy, bibliography, and bills.

In the decade since, I have learned that my schedule will always be as full as I let it be, that there is always boring paperwork to correspond with the interesting work, and that paying bills is an inevitable and manageable part of life.

I have also learned that I will never arrive. I will always be in process. For several years, I fought this. Sometimes, I still do. There are days I see where I want to be, and I wonder why I can't just get there and be there immediately. Why can't I change this stubborn heart, when I want to? Why can't I get the job, when I know I'd thrive there? Why can't I be a perfect friend? What if I never get better at any of these things?

These days, I try not to listen to fear or frustration (which is little more than pride proved wrong). And in doing this, I'm taking more risks, doing more things, getting further along and deeper into the "process" of living.

I'm making a concentrated effort to write every day this month. Of course, the first few days produced absolutely awful results and I thought to myself, "I will never make it as a writer." But the story I'm telling kept taking shape in my mind, and I found myself daydreaming it, playing out all the threads and wanting to write it anyway.

And serendipitously, a library book I'd placed on hold before Thanksgiving finally came in. Anne Lamott's writing advice/memoir, Bird by Bird. In the first chapter, she writes:
But I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do - the actual act of writing - turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.
Ah! She is on to something. The more I write, the more I remember that I want to write. I somehow need to write. And as I write, the process becomes the goal. Or rather, I am so focused on the process, on doing and creating and living out where I am, that the future prospect of results and arriving become far less vital (and stressful).

I still hope it happens, writing and life-wise, but I'm not "there" yet, and for now, I'm embracing the process. There will be (and have been) some gloriously awful first drafts. Some things make it through to round two, and as I keep digging in and drilling's amazing what rich rewards I find.

November 1, 2012

Hung Out With These People Last Night

The long bus ride to Guelph was worth it last night.

Worth it to laugh with my siblings, parents and grandparents. Worth it to snuggle with the wee ones. Worth it to eat chocolate fondue by the spoonful. Worth it to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday.

"I can own up to 50," she told me earlier in the day, "But I don't feel 60."

I think that's fair. I like to think of her as 50ish as well. Am I the only one who finds it difficult to let my parents become the grandparents? Who sometimes feels a pang of fear that people my parents' age are retiring, slowing down, occasionally dying? I was thinking yesterday about this fear of aging, the inability to wrap my head around it and embrace it...but I'm getting to somber for this particular post.

Back to the point. Here are some photos that take us back to when my mom was hardly 40...and I was maybe 10.

My dad looks essentially the same today, although his glasses are slightly smaller.
The volume of my mother's dark curls is precisely why I can never have short hair...
Yes, my brother is wearing a Garfield tie.
I really loved that floral suit.
Totally coveted my sister's plaid jumper and waffle shirt.
There is nothing to be sad about the ADORABLENESS of my little brother.