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Reading in 2013: Capote, Milosz, Lewis & More

Last day of the year. Last books of the year.

Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Stories - Truman Capote. The only fiction I read during the semester, this was for a book club meeting that I didn't make it to (thanks a lot, winter cold!). However, I enjoyed it immensely. Not only the title short story, but the three others included in this small volume. I would like to read more Capote. And watch the classic film adaptation with Audrey Hepburn.


As soon as the semester ended, I ravenously picked up more fiction. Actually, that's not entirely true. Before I hit up any fiction, on the silent retreat, I leafed (leaved?) through several books in the monastery guest house's little library, skimming a bunch of Nouwen, and ultimately sitting down to read this book:

Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies Throughout the Ages - Ursula King. I enjoyed this and found it utterly fascinating. For one, it features several women of prominence in their own time and culture, women known…

Peace and Joy

Exams are finished, papers handed in.

I am back from the silent retreat where the snow fell softly for 48 hours and I curled up with books and wrote and thought and sat and breathed deeply. We trekked through the snow to the abbey for prayers. We dreamed and we prayed and we thought and we wrote, and I'm pretty sure we heard things in the silence.

My Christmas shopping is one small gift from finished.The first gift has been given and received. After dinner out with my roommate this evening, we exchanged gifts - beautiful, lovely, thoughtful gifts. And cards. Cards with near-matching sentiments of prayerful care and gratitude for one another. I feel a great deal of gratitude this month, one extended sigh of relief.


And yet, as I ponder the concepts of peace and joy, what they mean, and how we live them out, there is much to be somber about.
This afternoon I took photos for a family whose baby was not expected to live two months, and now they celebrate Christmas with her. Her diagno…

Semester 1: The Home Stretch

I have had a cold since last Monday. Today is the first day I can breathe through my nose. On this Monday, I woke up with a stomach bug.

It was not a pleasant day.

But guess what!? I am nearly better and nearly done.

This morning I sent in a take-home exam and wrote the in-class portion. Then I ate some lunch and laughed a lot and then I went to the library. And now, five hours later, I am almost there.

"There" being finished. I have one half of a ten page assignment completed. The difficult half. So I came online and said hi to a friend:

me:want to skim seven pages of catechetical analysis?
ha ha ha ha ha ha wait. only 6 pages. it is supposed to be 4. :S Teagen:catechteticghctall? kitty-catical? kitty, calico?? me:yep. it's six pages of kitty pictures and criticism of them. Teagen:then YES!!! give them here Oh, if only I were analyzing adorable kittens.  Although I am also enjoying this assignment. But not as much as I will enjoy no assignments, for almost a month. A MONTH!
Ok. B…

3 Thoughts & A Poem

Last week of classes. I feel a bit bittersweet. Like I haven't learned enough to earn any credits. There is still so much that I don't know; I wonder how I will feel at the end of the degree and whether it will still seem like such a tiny fraction of the things that could be known.

Next week is exams, and then I'm going to get out of Dodge (Ford) City and have a silent weekend of thought and writing to see what to do with all that this fall has held, in and out of classes. I'm quite excited for a getaway, the friends coming along, and what it means to be together without speaking. No, seriously - speaking is not allowed inside the monastery we're staying at.

I've started reading poetry before bed. It helps me unwind and encourages me to think creatively. I am almost finished a volume of Czeslaw Milosz' work that I started 18 months ago. Here is one I particularly liked last night:


VOICE

It was in hospitals that I learned humility
and I walk, listening to a …

Fears & Films

Last night I watched12 Years a Slave. It was upsetting and disturbing, and rightly so. Based on a true story, it chronicled how Solomon Nor thup, a free black man, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840's.

I found myself hiding behind my scarf.

They're actors, I told myself, This is a movie set. They're acting. That is not real blood.

And then the next voice jumped in.

But it really happened. Maybe not exactly like this, but worse. To more people. Who weren't actors. This isn't pure fiction. And this isn't over..

I feel a bit ill today, thinking about it all.


About who I might have been if I had been born two hundred years ago and what I might have turned a blind eye to. About Grampie and last week's blogpost, about this photo series, about my friends' documentary on sex-trafficking & prostitution, and the horrors of sexual violence:


I fear many things for my life, but I do not fear being enslaved.
I don't fear being victimized repeated…

Ginger Orange Cookies

Last night I needed to make cookies, and desperately wanted ginger cookies. Chewy, delicious, ginger cookies. So I found tworecipes from brilliant food bloggers, and wound up with my own blend of a recipe. They were a huge hit with my Tuesday night-class Cookie Club and other friends, and most importantly, myself. Since I measured precisely (for a change), I thought I would share my recipe:


1/2 c. unsalted butter
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves/allspice

1/4 c. molasses*
1 egg

zest from 1/2 an orange
roughly 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/3 c. raw/white sugar, in a small bowl

1. Cream butter, brown sugar and spices.
2. Combine remainder of wet ingredients, add to butter mixture. Blend well.
3. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add to wet mixture, just to incorporate.
4. Forming small balls with the dough (I used a tablespoon-ish amount and rolled them in my palm), roll them i…

Three Good Things

Earlier today, my boss referred to me as "Queen Bee" in an email. I have been humming Royals ever since. If only he knew this song! The image of a 65 year-old Welshman grooving to Lorde makes me grin.

This evening I attended an evening event in memory of CS Lewis, on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. If you think I am a book nerd, you should have seen everyone else there!! Seriously though. It was something good for my heart.

After, I wandered briefly around a moonlit courtyard - my eye was caught by a tree with only one branchworth of leaves left hanging...somehow this sign of an imminent winter made me grateful. I'm not even sure what for.

What Is the Point of Remembering?

It's November 11th, so you all know what and whom I'm writing about. When I sat down to write, I wasn't sure what thoughts I had. And now this is my preamble: the following is by and large a sermon to myself. I don't intend to point fingers anywhere but at my own self (and more broadly, at the whole of our culture).


Remembrance Day isn't exactly a "holiday," but to me it is one of the most important days that we recognize as a country. This morning I stood in the small chapel at my seminary, participating in a brief service of prayer and rememberance while the cannons at Queen's Park echoed off the bricks and a distant horn sounded the Last Post.

The sounds of war.

Briefly, mutedly, minutely, a reminder of what too many people lived through for too many days, weeks, months.

The act of remembering. An important occasion.

But here's my question: does it matter? What is the point of stopping to remember and honour the past if we aren't actuall…

Thoughts: A List/Poem

The other night, as I lay in bed, I realized I've dropped the ball on blogging recently, especially my weekly seminary updates. And then I thought, Right now, if I never posted on my blog again, I'd be okay with that. I have quite a few offline outlets for conversations and life-processing, and maybe this one is becoming unnecessary.

This morning (for a moment, I thought it was yesterday!), I wrote a list of the things I've been thinking about recently. The list managed to come out as a poem:
Thoughts.
On being more myself,
on jockeying for power
and hearing others' stories.

On writing papers for what I learn
and not the grades I'll get.
On Germany and Tanzania,
on money
and trusting it will come.

Becoming old and wearing out.
Remembrance Day, peace and
whether we learn from the past.

On gratitude and fear and how
          everything is grace.
And suddenly, I wanted to blog all these thoughts, unpack the seeds I had just mentioned, and share it all with YOU!

Bu…

The Fears that Define My Generation

In the past two days, I've had two conversations about young men who seem to hold onto passivity and indecision as long as they possibly can. One of these conversations was with a peer and was about dating. The other was with a mother of a newly-adult-but-still-teenage son. In these dialogues, I proposed two fears that entangle my peers and I, and I would like to hear your thoughts on them.

(Now, as I move from the described context into two generalizations about my generation - and subsequent generations - please note that I am not speaking only of a particular gender. Although I do at times grumble about seeing this in my male counterparts, we women are just as prone...)

1. Fear of failure. Of course, everyone is afraid of failure. But many in my generation have been raised without exposure to failure at all. We don't know how to recover from a mistake or a disaster or anything that is difficult. We haven't been equipped with the social or psychological tools to work th…

Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitude

For gorgeous fall weather and sunshine.For Laura's visit and presence and friendship in my life.For Les Miserables, one of the most beautiful and moving musicals.For roadtrips and francophones and family to visit.(QC, here we come!)For ultimate frisbee and seeing improvement in my game.For music mixes to mark the seasons.For beautiful spaces to study.

She Does Seminary: A Whole Month

A month since I first met my classmates in an awkward lobby mingling. There were nametags and I was stressed, looking for a corner and familiar faces. But I survived, and found my friends, and made new friends, and one old-and-now-new again.

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I can translate whole sentences out of the Greek, at least if their verbs are "to be" or "to say." It is amazing to think that a month ago, I didn't even know what an omicron was.

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Tuition is waiting to be paid, and debt is happening, but I'm keeping calm. This small job on campus is a life-saver and I'm grateful that I will at least be paying for groceries out of pocket.

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My head is above water, but I am not doing all the readings. I am assuming I can/will catch up over Reading Week; this may be naive.

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Crises of faith? No. Crises of self? Yes. What I am doing and where this will take me seems much foggier than six months ago. And there are already decisions to be made. Do I take a CPE (clinical pasto…

Style Swap Round 3.

Best one yet. And not just because of my haul, although it was impressive:

3 tank tops
2 long-sleeve shirts
1 cardigan
1 knit sweater
1 dress (2ish, but I doubt I'll keep the second)
2 skirts
1 pair shorts
1 pair jeans
1 pair shoes
1 purse
1 necklace

I wore a new outfit today, and I'll have new clothes on tomorrow, and probably the day after that, too!

There were 15 lovely ladies of all kinds, and 2 wee babies who were passed around. Karen made an astounding lemon tart, cheddar & chive scones, and pocmorn*. Wine and teas and veggies and fruit and cheese.

Much laughter and enthusiasm. Such a great time and thoroughly successful evening. Leftover clothes will be going to a local refugee community called Romero House.

I really should have taken photos. Sorry for the lack of visualization. But hooray for a non-seminary post! If y'all are within driving distance, you should come in the spring. And if you're not, I highly recommend hosting your own!!!



*pocmorn = popco…

She Does Seminary: Week the Third

Here's the thing: there is nothing new under the sun. All these doctrinal debates? All the fear of heresy? All the either/or discussions and stances about all the nuances of what one believes and how one ought to live it? It's been around, folks. Since the 4th century. Presumably earlier.

I find this somewhat comforting. None of my fears are unknown. None of my wildest hypotheses are out of the realm of the normal. Someone else has thought the same thing. And someone else has disagreed with them.

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You know what else has been around since the 4th century? Church politics. We may have separation of church and state in the western world, but there are still politics inside the church. And the church can be quite political. This came up quite clearly in the past couple of weeks, and frankly, it makes me anxious. I don't want to get all broiled up in politics and manoeuvrings. Can I be involved in church/ministry without it? This connects to thought #3...

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Unity. Is such …

She Does Seminary: Week Two

I hope my posts are not reduced to weekly-point-form-notes from now til Christmas. It may be. It's my blog and my life, and I know I don't need to apologize, because I haven't promised you anything else. But I will tell you that I hope I still have interesting and/or random thoughts to share with you.

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So much to read. I like reading. But sometimes the absorption takes longer than the actual reading. I wonder how much of the material I cover & thoughts we discuss will make its way from brain to heart and heart to hands, you know?

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Greek words! Noun declensions! Pronoun charts! I like them. I love learning languages.

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Friendships. Some come easily, and sometimes becoming friends is awkward even though it seems we all want to be friends. There are also some moments where I am relieved I don't have to be besties with everyone. But I do think I need to be kind.

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Starting on Tuesday, I have a part-time job. Flexible hours, laid-back boss, at the college. Id…

She Does Seminary: The First Week

School is...great. In 3 days of classes, I've already learned more (or at least more relevant & cohesive) church history than in all my years at church.

--

One of my classes is called "Teaching the Faith," and the prof started by stating that the way we learn something is different than the thing we come to know (there is some sort of Latin saying about this), and talked about how this is relevant to faith/Christianity. As he shared his own story, he said that his first post-seminary assignment was to teach in Burundi in the early 80s, after major genocide. The church had lost an entire generation and had no educated leaders. So he arrived with the mandate of teaching theology/history/ministry to 5 high school graduates. With no textbooks outside the Bible.

He was struck by the fact that Burundi was considered one of the most Christian nations in Africa, and yet was marked by such violence. "What faith is it that they know?" he asked himself, "and how…

TIFF 2013: Sunshine on Leith

I'm grateful for friends like Selina who help me remember that Toronto has fantastic arts & culture offerings. As an avid TIFF fan, she's my go-to movie friend throughout the year, and even more so in September. So when she texted on the weekend to ask if I wanted to go see, Sunshine on Leith, a Scottish musical, I didn't need any other info.

I was in. And once again, wound up with more than I'd expected (last year, the Countess of Wessex attended the same film as us, Rebelle, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar, and was stunningly beautiful and upsetting). Scottish musical, yes. With an exclusively-Proclaimers soundtrack? Yes. The world premiere? Yes. Two rows in front of said Proclaimers, the film director and main actors? Yes.

Guys. And gals. It was a good movie. It avoided much of the schmalz of musicals (only one moment of eye-rolling cliched conversation), wound three love stories around the beauty of Edinburgh and the return of two young vets from ove…

Hip Hop Karaoke & Seminary: Risky Business

Q: What does seminary have in common with hip hop karaoke?

A: They're both terrifying. And yet I said yes.


Earlier this summer, I asked my friend David to please invite me next time he was going to perform at HHK...somehow, that became a plan to do a duet with him, and let another friend, Shetu, make a video about it (as part of a series she's making on women trying things for the first time).

Yeah. What had I done!?

Of course, I was more fearful of backing out than of performing, so after several rehearsals (including one as we cycled through downtown Toronto, rapping together in loud, outdoor voices), I found myself at a night club, choosing a hip-hop name for myself, sweating and shivering.

Here's the result (minus a final sound-edit):


Beth does hip hop karaoke from Shetu M on Vimeo.

Mad props to Shetu for her interviewing & video-editing skills. And much thanks to David, for being a master of hip-hop and constructive, encouraging feedback.

I am proud of myself, frie…

Oh Hello, September.

The light seems more suited for 9pm than 9am, but weather does what weather does, so my dad and I sit in the semi-dark of this Labour Day morning and hardly even notice that we should probably turn on a light.

Long weekends are for many things, and one of them is thinking. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. My family is fantastic. We just are. I love each one of them - the sometimes-grumpy brothers, the just-in, jet-lagged parents, the hostess-with-the-most-cutest-baby sister, the in-laws who add so much goodness to our crazy, and of course, the kidlets. Oh, the kidlets. Stop growing, please!

2. I am officially a student. I don't have any notebooks. I don't have any books. I don't even own a desk. But I bought a few new* shirts and I have a schedule of mandatory orientation events this week and then I am going on a retreat with fellow students and some faculty, and then, voila, classes. It's a thing.

3. Last weekend. I'm still mulling over just how much I adored bein…

Music for Many: Gentlemen of the Road

Last weekend, I (along with 30,000 others) went to Simcoe for a music festival. Yes, thirty thousand.

It was fantastic. I have a lot of thoughts that are not-quite-music-related, and I will likely (possibly) write another post about those.

But first, I'd like to talk music! The Gentlemen of the Road tour headliners were, of course, fantastic. Edwarde Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros put on a trippy hobo show. I can't help but think their lead singer would have been an itinerant back-country revival preacher in the 1920's. Mumford and Sons brought the proverbial house down. I assume you've all seen or heard some of their songs, so there's no need to post any here.

I would, however, like to introduce you to a couple of bands you may not know.

First, it is important to note that there is a difference between country music and bluegrass music. If you've got a hate-on for country, I would plead with you to give bluegrass a chance. Maybe start by watching O Brother,…

An "Alive List": Email Excerpts

I've got more email excerpts for you.

This may become a series! Ok, this is totally an informal series. If you want to email me and have a profound conversation*, maybe I'll ask if I can post a piece of it here, to bring others into the dialogue.

Here's the set-up:
I was alarmed to realize today that I don't know what really makes me come alive. I need to think on this more, because there must be a number of things, and I should be doing those things, but I feel like I'm not really doing much that I get excited about.... Some days I'll just feel inspired to do stuff, and on those days it feels like everything is what I was made to do: cycling, dishes, work, conversation, cooking, art, hiking, improv, anything. But I wish I knew more clearly what makes my heart come alive... do you know for yourself? Do you ever get into this with your SD**? Does this question seem important to you? I'm thinking about it a lot at this moment, so it feels very importa…

3 Hippie Habits I've Recently Adopted

This will come as no surprise to many of you; I'm slowly turning into a hippie.

I don't often blog about these things, because who wants to hear about my personal hygiene and cleanliness strategies? Also, when I read other posts about amazing DIY projects, I roll my eyes and scoff - nothing I make looks that pretty!

BUT, when I find something fantastic, I like to tell my friends. And I believe in living simply, minimizing processed/strange/chemical goods in my life, and saving money. SO. Read on, if you like, or skip over, if you prefer.

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Last year, there was my natural-hair-care experiment. While I didn't stick to an all-natural, home-made products after it was over, I have made significant shifts. For one, I only wash (shampoo) my hair every 5-7 days (every 3 showers). On other shower-days, I "co-wash" - mix a small amount of baking soda with my conditioner, work it into my scalp, and rinse well. I also use a leave-in conditioner, and hardly use gel (although …

Endangered Species: Anthem for the Day/Week/Month/Year

Can't get enough of this song:
I am an endangered species 
But I sing no victim's song 
I am a woman 
I am an artist 
And I know where my voice belongs



(First heard on So You Think You Can Dance; I adore Jasmine.)


Cycling in Toronto: That Girl

I have been a grown-up urban cyclist for almost a month (maybe more?). I'm amazed at how easily I've fallen into it, how quickly I've become THAT GIRL.

that girl with chain grease on at least one (if not both) shins at all times. How will my wardrobe survive in the fall??that girl ringing her bell loudly as she passes a recently parked car.that girl on the sidewalk going up the big big hills.that girl in the clunky helmet because WHO CARES ABOUT FASHION. that girl occasionally sneaking the wrong way up a one way street.that girl madly peddling to make it through a yellow light. that girl with the pannier full of vegetables from the farmer's market.that girl carrying a bag of groceries precariously over her shoulder.that girl who wears her helmet in the grocery store because I'm not an octopus with enough hands for everything.that girl whose butt is constantly slightly sore, whose quads cramp occasionally from this new repetitive exercise.that girl cycling in a skirt…

Reading in 2013: The Sacred Journey, Sinners Welcome, Time and Materials & MORE!

I'm reading faster than I'm writing these days, so here is a snapshot of May-July's books:

The Sacred Journey by Frederick Buechner. A fantastic spiritual memoir that my friend Aimee lent me back in October. I delayed reading it, because I knew I wouldn't want to finish it. Then I read it slowly and in pieces, and I loved it. Here are my 3 favourite excerpts:
 Listen. Your life is happening. You are happening. You, the rooster, the clock, the workmen, your stomach, are all happening together. A journey, years long, has brought each of you through thick and thin to this moment in time as mine has also brought me. Think back on that journey. Listen back to the sounds and sweet airs of your journey that give delight and hurt not and to those that give no delight at all and hurt like Hell. Be not affeard. The music of your life is subtle and elusive and like no other - not a song with words, but a song without words - a singing, clattering music to gladden the heart or turn …

I Forgot My Socks

While on the subway to yesterday's soccer game, I realized something distressing; I had forgotten my socks. Socks that would fit over shinpads and into cleats. All socks. Any socks.

You cannot play soccer barefoot when others are wearing cleats. Even casual games of barefoot soccer run the risk of broken toes. I cannot wear shinpads and cleats without socks: blister city!!

What to do?
I was running late.
My team does not have extraneous women.
Going home would essentially mean missing the game...

The bus stop I get off at is across the street from Marshall's. So I bought a pair of men's socks at Marshall's.

Striped socks that pulled up over my shin pads although they weren't made for this type of wear. Socks whose purple heels sat above my heel, at the back of my ankle.

Unethical socks, most likely. I feel sad about this, as I've been enjoying the challenge to put my money where my mouth is and only purchase ethically made or used clothing. I don't feel th…

Saturday Self-Talk

Sometimes on a Saturday morning, my to-do list looks like this:
edit photos for S&Jsend photos to Sallyblog: books, photosemail: Ryan, Lisa, Jayfix: dresser, necklacecraigslist: camera accessories, glasswarebuy: GROCERIES, shoes And my schedule looks like this:
noon - Ruth's w/ bikes3pm - Erika for coffee7pm - Claire & (other) Ruth?
I am trying to sort out how to make it all fit, when I realize I don't want to do any of those things at this precise moment. So I boil water and grab some Earl Grey and the last of the raspberries I picked from our overgrown bush this morning, and I take up the book I put down last night when my eyes couldn't stay open, and I curl up on the couch, and trust that I will do the needful eventually, and that this little time of quiet is valuable and necessary and allowed.

Questioning My Faith: Email Excerpts

Earlier this summer, a new friend asked me in an email if/when I first started questioning my faith. This is my response, edited slightly for clarity. I wanted to share it because it is honest but risky, and I want to be honest. I also want to ask you all the same question I ask her at the end... What about you? What's your story?


I think my questioning started in high school, when I was 14 or 15. I had a lot of self-loathing; most of it came from the gap between how others perceived me (the good Christian girl) and who I felt I was (someone who didn't understand if or how my faith worked outside of church walls...)

I didn't admit most of my questions and fears for years, and at the time I definitely accepted teachings that I don't anymore. The more I've seen and interacted with real life, picked up pieces of philosophy, and come to understand the methodology behind historical criticism, the more I've re-examined my beliefs. Having a friend who loves Jesus and …

An Earlier Morning

Thoughts on the subway to my new summer job:
I wonder if the office environment will be half as good as I've heard. And if the work will be twice as boring (or maybe only half).There is a gelato place nearby. I may become a regular.Maybe I will bike to work. I could totally bike to work. Next week. If it doesn't rain.What do I do with an hour long lunch break? Other than visit the gelato place, of course.Should I have left earlier? Maybe data entry will be how I finally get into podcasts. Or techno music.I like that tattoo.

Summer Stanzas from Emily Dickinson

Inebriate of Air - am I -
And Debauchee of Dew -
Reeling - thro endless summer days -
From inns of Molten Blue

...

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze -
Permit a child to join.
Thy sacred emblems to partake -
Thy consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!

Esse - Czeslaw Milosz

I'm on a bit of a poetry binge this week, and Monday afternoon found me lying on the luxurious shag rug of a friend's tiny apartment, re-reading some of my favourite poets (ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, Czeslaw Milosz). It is an adventure to re-open a collection and wonder what will pop out, knowing something you've read before will strike you afresh, or you will be reminded of a particularly moving line that you had somehow forgotten. Like this piece from Milosz, which floors me.

Every. damn.* time.

The first time I read it, I lay in a park with a friend (this same friend who offered me her rug as my reading burrow) and demanded that I share it with her. I spoke it carefully, and then, into the post-reading silence, I slammed the book shut, and dropped it as loudly as I could onto the grass.

"I'm never reading anything again," I declared, "What else is there to say?"

Esse

I looked at that face, dumbfounded. The lights of m├ętro stations flew…

Halfway Day: A Quiet Holiday

I had an idea on Thursday: one of the better ones I've come up with recently.

Tomorrow (as of this writing) is June 30th. And at midnight on June 30th, we are officially halfway through the year.

This deserves celebrating. So I'm declaring it a holiday!!


The kind of holiday where you drink slowly in the twilight hours, on your deck, or in the yard, at the beach or around a fire. You talk with your friends about the best and worst of the year this far, and what you hope for the next six months.

No loud fanfare, no countdown to midnight or fireworks (we have the next day for that, here in Canada, or a few day wait for my American friends).

A holiday for the introverts and overthinkers among us, a chance to celebrate and regain perspective and anticipate the goodness in store.


Care to join me?

Color Me Rad: Call It Progress

Where to begin?

I am trying to do things that I may (definitely) not be good at instead of waiting until I am magically perfect before attempting any sort of anything where others may see. Example: ultimate frisbee. When I started last summer, I was by far the worst player on the team. Now I'm just mildly the worst player. Improvement! Progress! Growth!

(hurrah for me)

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One time in Vancouver, I signed up for a 5k run called the "Turkey Trot." I jogged a few times, and planned to do it with my lovely friend Wendy, and then I got a migraine the night before, and had a terrible sleep and felt ill and didn't run. Although this was disappointing, it was also a relief. It is the closest I've come to a "race" of any sort since junior high track and field, where I am fairly certain I never placed better than last.

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People often think I am athletic, because my limbs are gangly and scrawny. This is not the truth. Mostly, I have avoided sports out of insecur…

Things I've Done Recently

Once upon a time, a very thorough career/personality test told me many things about myself. Scary accurate, rather helpful, occasionally annoying. One of the suggestions it made, which I have been slow to adopt on account of how it makes me feel "needy," is that I would benefit from keeping a list of "recent successes" to encourage me in "emotionally difficult times." (I am inserting those quotes as remembered phrases, being far too lazy to walk upstairs and find the report and quote it accurately).

This week has been an unexpectedly "emotionally difficult time" for no particular reason, apart from being unemployed and impoverished. So I am sharing some phone photos of "recent successes" (things I did/made) in the hopes that it will remind me that I'm mostly awesome. And so you can also get excited and maybe do some of these things, if you're into doing things.


I bought this satchel for $2 at a garage sale. Dumped out the bird…

Reading in 2013: A Recipe for Bees, The Virgin Cure, I Remember Nothing

Folks, I'm falling behind on my book recaps, and I bet you're all desperately sad. (note: sarcasm) Here are a bunch of recent reads:

I picked up A Recipe for Bees by Gail Anderson-Dargatz because of how much I had enjoyed The Cure for Death by Lightning.

Of the two, I prefer Death by Lightning, but the Recipe for Bees is not without merit. It is, in some ways, Stone Angel-esque. The protagonist, Augusta, reflects back on her life as she ponders the meaning of a vision that seems to indicate her death is approaching. She remembers other moments of "second sight" and walks through the difficult years of her marriage. She is sharp and honest, demanding and insecure - like all of us.

I imagine that I will face my own aging and mortality, failures and insecurities much like Augusta does. What I'm not sure is whether I like her for it, and by extension, whether I will like myself. At the end of the day, it's a decent read, and my heart is soft toward Augusta, and …

Playing Frisbee in the Rain

Last night, I played ultimate frisbee in the rain.

1 hour and 45 minutes of rain.
Pouring rain.
Wind too.
Did I mention the rain?

I am a bit of a rain wimp, and as I stood shivering on the sidelines between shifts, I vacillated between two thoughts:

Thought #1: I am winning. I am amazing. I am in the rain and I am not dying.

Thought #2: Why am I doing this? Why am I shivering in this cold when I have a warm, dry home? What kind of macabre self-torture am I putting myself through?

At the one hour mark, I said to my teammates, "I don't know if I can finish this game." I said the same thing ten minutes later, and ten minutes after that, and then maybe every 30 seconds until the buzzer went. We lost by a wide margin, but I got a ride home and was grateful for the warm shower waiting for me there.

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You all know I'm prone to reflection, and I've been thinking a lot this past week about loved ones who've been sailing rough seas for quite some time. I imagine thei…

Reading in 2013: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Dang.

After my last "book report" about how beautiful I found The Winter Vault, I hesitated to start a new read; how would anything be half as good?

Then I picked up this book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safron Foer.

I opened it knowing only that it was about a boy who lost his father in the Twin Towers, and had been made into a film that was considered not-as-good-as-the-book. And really, that is all one needs to know. 

But it is so much more than that. It is the story of three generations, of love and loss and secrets and space and the way family is intertwined, for better or worse. It is surprising and wrenching, and a little bit magical. The tension was too intense for me at times (in the best way possible), and I found myself needing to take small breaks, setting the book on my lap, reminding myself to breathe, and sipping on iced tea in the sun.

Another highly recommended read, particularly if you like inquisitive children, WWII history, the idea…