Monday, December 29, 2008

Customer/service


I went to the store to buy something. Nothing in particular, just something. The clerk, ringing through my odd purchases, was surly, her hairy upper lip curled into a snarl that was half way to permanent.

We exchanged no words, no communications other than overt hostility; mine reactive, I might add. As I took the bag from her (the bag containing yet another pair of gloves, replacing the pair lost outside the swimming pool where it's no wonder mitts get lost; bundling and trundling wet haired children as the wind whips frozen cheeks is no picnic in the park) I considered options. "Have a nice day" might be misconstrued as truthful, "Good luck with your face" just too mean.

Instead I said nothing, intending with my eyes which I imagined red as burning coals, to convey annoyance. She said nothing too and our interaction seemed complete.

Until I realized I had to go back. The matching sweaters for the girls were buy one get one 50 percent off and in this economy hey, one can't be too careful and if it is a mother's dream to have creamy full necked sweaters on sweet girls for stunning family photo then by all means, brave the till and shop some more.

It was time for pure psychological warfare, although only I knew we were playing. When I worked as a waitress in a time long ago we would force smiles on our faces, the bigger and more ridiculous the better. I approached, teeth barred in a semblance of a smile but in what some countries might be an invitation to kill. Here in Canada means hit me with some more of that customer service.

*Incidentally, when travelling, also many years ago, in Europe I was surprised to know that Canadians are considered really picky, aggravating customers. Who knew?

Joke's on me.

Hideous by one turn the clerk beamed on like a flashlight (terrible, terrible metaphor) and was sunshine and pleasantries. Turned on my own self I was shamed by her smile. Could it have been me that brought out the worst in her? Was it my growly mood and snarky demeanor? I think perhaps.

I live, I learn.

*I was just joking about her looks. She was actually super cute in that way all people who work at The Gap are.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shiny red Jetta


I can only think that the two young men in the shiny red Volkswagen Jetta had somehow come under the delusion that life is a movie. I simply can't think of another explanation for their behaviour.

Stuffed full of turkey and fuller of family we headed home Christmas Day. Around nine p.m., late for us with the two little wees but early, one would think, for a full-on festival of inebriation.

Sitting at a t-shaped intersection waiting for the light to change we had our first encounter with the red Jetta. When it whipped through the intersection, careening wildly on the road, my assumption was that somehow the driver had misunderstood. Obviously, the new lights at this intersection had confused him; after all, at barely a year old it was in the realm of possibility that the driver, home for the holidays, simply was unaware until it was too late.

Of course this presupposes that he had completely disregarded the fact that it is typical to stop at intersections, and that if he had any familiarity at all with the road and the rules of such, he would have stopped for the stop sign that pre-dated the lights.

The car that had to veer off to the side must have been in shock, but as nothing bad happened my breathing barely changed and we moved on.

The street has the option to merge to the right onto another high speed road. As we approached the intersection the shiny red Jetta roared towards us off the merge in reverse. When I caught a glimpse of the driver as I quickly changed lanes and tried to anticipate the actions of an obvious lunatic, I was shocked by his blase demeanor. One hand casually on the wheel, the other on the back of the passenger seat, cigarette dangling from his lips and Santa hat perched on his head, that split second was enough to comprehend just how much this guy didn't care.

I'm sure that the music was turned up loud, the drinks liberally poured and quickly downed. And can't you just feel it? The callous disregard of youth, the feeling that life is endless and easy and that if you want to act like your actions have no affect on others, then hey, let's do it.

As that stupid little car raced past us all I could think of was that on this night, of all nights, please let there be a blanket of protection placed. For all the people making their way home and not home, immersed in family and friends and love, let them be safe. Safe from one who mustn't enjoy those things, or if he does, has no true understanding of what those things mean.

This is the guy who, standing amidst the carnage he wrought would weep and gnash his teeth. His misery palpable and his anguish audible.

This is also the guy who doesn't get that he is in control of whatever is making him so unhappy. I'm not the praying type, but I think he could use a little of whatever I've got.

I should end this now but it's been like poison in me, thinking about the little red car and how close we (others) came to - what? To death? To injury? I know, we come near and far from those things every day. Every moment, and know not.

But to see it, so clearly and in focus. To see it with the two most precious things in the world sitting in their winter jackets and toques, peering with their big beautiful eyes out the windows, asking about Santa and watching the new Tink movie. To think, that at that very moment, stupid little red Jetta could have obliterated all that is good in our life. If you could feel this, this lump in my chest that for whatever reason I haven't been able to massage down, the tears at the surface.

In our quiet city, where not much happens and that is a good thing, that we have to worry about this. In a city with no war no terror no politicking we have to remember that some guy might feel a little Down in the Dumps on Christmas Day and might feel the need to pretend that life is a cartoon and that actions have no consequences....

I repeat my mantra. I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's my birthday


Mid thirties.

That's how I describe myself in the little blog description, and now it is completely true. On Wednesday I will be 35. Exactly mid-thirties.


I don't have an issue with age per se; especially since I still feel the majority of the time like my eighteen year old self and the rest of the time like my twelve year old self.

But as friends and I were talking about going to Italy for our fortieth birthdays and as that is fast approaching I wondered if all would be committed. I thought, no biggie, if people opt out we could do it for the next big number. And that would be 5-0. And I remember a woman whose husband surprised her with a trip to Italy for her fiftieth and thinking all sorts of thoughts, most of which centred around how many light years away that seemed for me.

I started thinking about this when I was staying with my parents a while back, travelling familiar roads. How have I changed? Am I different? Same?

I anticipated growing older as changing into someone else. I didn't realize I had to keep all the dumb stuff I did. Didn't realize that my brain would still be the same, that I would still remember taping Men Without Shame off the radio when I was in grade seven and how it felt to take the bus to the mall on the weekend.

It's all still in there, a veritable mish-mash of important and mundane, and no real semblance of order. When I picture people's brains I sometimes imagine their system of order. Methodical people, like my husband, I picture with a head full of shelves, reaching all the way to the ceiling. Boxes and boxes, all alike, line the shelves, all labelled with black marker and neat capital letters. "BIRTH OF FIRST CHILD" and "WEDDING" and an entire wall dedicated to basketball.


For someone a little more disorganized, let's call it creative, shall we, the boxes are heaped everywhere in a room that's just a little too hot. Overstuffed bags with items spilling out are pushed into corners and every container is different. Some areas are labelled and somewhat compelling in their neatness, but only because the owner has been alive for so long that really, if she can't organize the three thoughts she had before she was five she doesn't deserve to have any more. But jumbled together are weddings and picnics and thirty four Christmases along with many Easters and ham with cloves stuck in.

On a table, quite disrespectfully, truth be told, are all sorts of Bad Conversations and Hurtful Things, that if it were possible to just get rid of them it would probably be best for all. A sweeping arm, braced strong, wiping across the table and with one swoop, pushing this unorganized drivel into the bin.

Although a good strong Rubbermaid container, opaque, would do the trick since I don't think that, barring a head injury, selective memory processing works. Let me rephrase. For women over the age of seven, selective memory doesn't work.

It just hasn't turned out quite how I anticipated. Looking back, I can see now that the assumption was that when you had children it was like a big Secret (no, not that Secret) was unfolded. Wisdom, maturity, knowing the Right Thing To Do - it would all be there for me. Easily accessible and I could look back at my pre-child self with a gentle pity, 'ah, how hopeless she seemed. Look, there, at her putting on those pants with little stirrups on the bottom.'

Maybe that is the realization. I'm still going to be me. I'm the me that peed my pants in kindergarten and the me that won a prize in ballet and the me that has two beautiful children. I'm the me that has a hard time being wrong and the me whose heart bleeds at least once a day when she hears a sad story. Energetic and frantic. Bad housekeeper and good mother. All of the good and the bad wrapped up and none of it going anyplace soon.

Now if I could just wrap this thought all up in a gorgeous little package with a bow. And a card that says "To: Me."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh baby it's cold outside


This has nothing to do with anything, but someone in our local paper spelled 'hoodie' with a y this morning. I know it's not the most compelling thing I read but I can't stop thinking about it.

It's not a new word, although that statement is only true outside Saskatchewan, where people persist in calling it a bunnyhug for reasons yet unknown.

How then, could such atrocious spelling get by? It doesn't even look right, which is always my excuse for poor spelling.

At this moment I should give a shout-out to a reader who kindly informed me that I spelled feminism incorrectly on my page....he even took the trouble to let me know via email as opposed to in the comments section so that it remained a gentle, private correction. Thanks again, and shame on me, a graduate of Women's Studies. That would be like a geologist not knowing how to spell his job title.

It is odd how dependent we have become (okay, fine, how dependent I have become) on spell check. I don't even try that hard, truly, to spell certain words because I trust my spell checker will pick them up for me.


That brings me to wondering what on earth will happen to this generation of texters, who have paired down words to the bare essentials. Will they ever be able to spell? Or will it be extreme polarization: those kids who enter national spelling bees versus the txtrs who don't give a hoot.

Interesting times.

And that brings me to my last thought. It's apparent that I am jacked up on too much caffeine by my inability to write a cohesive missive on anything. But this is my page and I can do what I want to.

It makes me crazy when people check their email or text right in front of me, as we're talking or while we're driving or whatever. I mean, is this only obvious to me that this is not exactly the most polite thing to do?

I'm not just talking about kids, either. The meeting I was late for yesterday? People who thought that they were subtly checking emails and furtively typing under the table. You're kidding, right? Turn. Off. Your. Phone. You are not eleven, you didn't just get an iPhone for Christmas, and really, if your assistant needs to know how you like your coffee I'm sure she can wait.

Like the guy in that really funny movie said, gosh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Abundance




I've been repeating a mantra of abundance to myself. Time and money seem to be topping the list but hey, who's counting, besides me and Mr. Visa.

Images of completed manuscript (edits due SOON) and completed manuscript (who asked their mother to line edit? Not I. Whose mother is line editing? Yup. Line. By. Line.) Tree trimmed. Gifts wrapped. Music on. Children sleeping. House warm.

I read that book THE SECRET quite a while back. Not a huge fan, I found it overly simplistic and incredibly culturally placed. The scene where the guy is imaging himself driving a new car while ensconced in his reclining leather chair is seared forever in my brain as a what? really? that's what you focus your energy on? kind of imprint.

But it lead me to those other books, THE ALCHEMIST and ones like that, where the quest is on a different (dare I say higher) plain. And abundance seems to fit in with that.

As I drove to a meeting fifteen minutes late this morning. (Aside: I hate being late. Hate is a strong word and I use it purposefully; I hate being late. I find, however, that it may be a natural state of being while I have small children. My time, for now, is not my own, however I may bend and twist, and once I relax into acceptance I may be able to handle this concept better.) Had I left the house on time I would have missed the traffic heading downtown. As it was I was travelling with that great mass of people on their way to work. Missed all the lights and the short journey was more than doubled. On top of being late I was now....later.

I encouraged Raging Self to accept. No point in getting mad, I reasoned, as all the parts of me that I don't particularly like reared their heads like sharp toothed monsters. Abundance. Abundance. Life will go on the meeting does not fail without you it is better to come late than to not come at all....

And you know what? I got a perfect parking spot, didn't plug the metre because I had no change, didn't get a ticket, saw a bunch of people I like, and generally had a great day.

Abundance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Santa,


A five year old (almost five) wants many things for Christmas. Barbies, Polly Pockets, movies, DVDs, some sort of ice cream maker, Doodlebops. You name it she wants it.

I'm sort of past that. I say sort of because I still love the magic of Christmas but I have this feeling that really, if I want something throughout the year I get it. I don't pine away, wishing for an iPod or a new perfume. I'm an adult and I'm the keeper of my own list, and perfectly capable of making sure all my needs are met.

Except that isn't necessarily so.

I had Christmas until I was seven. Sevenish, but for sure seven was the last normal Christmas. After that it was a mixed bag as one parent believed and one did not. More so than did not believe, that parent actually outright disdained it. I'm not going to get into all that, Time and Place, right, but suffice to say that Christmas was by far not fun.

Now that I'm all growed up and have my own house (that's sort of a lie; it seems to be in the clutches of a mad group of contractors whose version of "bright and early" comes at 2:00 p.m.) I want to have the Christmases I dreamed of. Of course expectations like that are easy to appease, right? Right?

I want lights and decorations. Inside and out. Scents and candles. Soft music. Let me be more specific. Seasonal soft music. Gifts and secrets and hiding spots. Something that tastes better than Egg Nog but does the same trick. Lots of drinks and wine. People dropping by. Secret Santas. Peering in windows of gorgeous storefronts. Games. A warm fire from out new gas fireplace (that one is about five years out but hey, I'm a planner). Cookies. Cookies dough frozen in the freezer, just waiting for someone to pop by. Appetizers on tiny plates with real napkins.

This year is a planning year. I can't get to my decorations or my Christmas music because they are in the storage area that requires a ladder and the ladder that has been custom built for the space is buried under a good two feet of snow. For you Canadians that's about a meter. Actually I have no idea what the conversion is but that made me laugh out loud. I know - it wasn't funny at all. Plus I spelled 'metre' wrong. Is that an Americanized spelling of a Canadian measurement? I can see where this is going.

Bed.

Part II (series on feminism)


Without a contract, I found, was not a good place to be. Nor is it a good place to be without a contract, without a job, pardon me, mid mat leave.

Ah, yes, but I did have a job. I had a job that was a demotion. That job was undeniably mine, waiting for me to come back to. A job I had conquered and done well at. That was part of the whole thing, you see. Because this whole thing went to court and we had a big fight about it, I have copies of their emails and other correspondence. Emails where they said that yes, I was the right person for the job, I believe the verbiage was "by far the better suited candidate," but yet the crux of it was they needed someone, anyone to do the job now. And I had no intentions of giving up that first year of sweetness with my little baby to appease these greedy little men.

I stuck to my guns, arguing and persuading (although obviously not well enough) and under the assumption that people generally do what is right. Generally buck up and get it done. Honour and all that.

Ha.

Not so, my friends. I found my delusional self consistently surprised by what [language alert] assholes people can be. People that I considered mentors. Peers. And some, even, gasp, friends.

The job was given, the contract signed, the deal was sealed. And thus began life's greatest adventure. Aah, don't be so dramatic, I tell myself. One of many adventures, not the greatest, surely, but one that certainly took up a good deal of valuable Time and Energy. Although these blasted renos seems to be ranking right up there alongside childbirth (and that's a mind freak if I ever saw one) and the Case of the Missing Job, it's still high on my list of life grievances.

How do you say it? Que serra, serra.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gross

I try to keep this light. No, that's totally a lie. But I don't usually go here. If I didn't have my own family to look after, I would kill these people.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Part I (series on feminism)


Back in the day when I was a little less world-savvy I got pregnant (on purpose) and lost my job (not on purpose).

I'll try to be the least melodramatic I can, although that also means I will stifle my innate tendencies. Here goes.

I had a job in a restaurant. Started as a waitress (love that word, don't you? 'server,' it's benign replacement, fails to connect the colour of a waitress, saucy and snappy and streamlined efficiencies) and was promoted to office manager then day manager and then acting general manager.

The acting part was a little bit annoying, but I was told it was while my boss ironed out his own niche. He was the district manager, I was the acting general manager until he was certain that he wasn't promoting himself out of a job.

I got pregnant and went on maternity leave. That, for the Americans, is a government funded leave of absence that extends for a full year. It's not a choice, for employers, it's the law.

It's also the law that they have to give you your old job back at the end of it, but that is where it gets a little fuzzy. For some people.

Mid-way through I was told through the proverbial grapevine that the woman I had chosen to fill my leave was now gunning for my job. Full of trust and naivete, I scheduled a meeting with the chair of the board. Imagine my surprise when it didn't seem as clear cut to him, this law on giving me my job back.

"Do you have a contract? That says that you are the general manager?"

Appalled, I answered. "No, you know I don't. You also know [my boss] and you know that with him it was all on his word."

He seemed to mull this over. Stuck between a woman threatening to quit now, leaving them with a full-time gig for eight months till I came back, or screwing me and dealing with the consequences later, they opted for the latter.

"Well, if you don't have a contract...."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

oh Canada (musings of a tired and sick person)


Quiet snow, falling all day long. Silence is thick and calm.

Trees heavy with frost and the air full of fairy dust, sparkling. Every once in a while snow drifts down and lands noiselessly.

Tires crunch and it's hard to see the road through the swirling sifting snow. Eyes play tricks as gusts pick up curtains of flakes and set them down at random.

People hurry, some grouchy, mouths in firm lines slashed across their face, impatience bleating. Others luxuriate in the season, lulled by parties and drinks and carols.

Snowsuits and mittens and boots and scarves. Snowpants for playing and wrists that are cold. Toes frozen in boots. Cheeks red. Noses running.

Ice skates and snowshoes. Fast walks on frozen lakes. Street hockey.

Cozy inside. Reading and resting. Warmth and fires.

Even though I hate winter I wouldn't change it. I lie. Maybe the duration.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dazzling prose (not mine)


I just finished a heartbreaking/lifting book. The quote on the cover says it all:

"A wonderful feat of imagination and empathy. I had to supress bitter feelings of literary envy even as I couldn't stop devouring it." - LOUIS DE BERNIERES

SWEETNESS IN THE BELLY, by Canadian author Camilla Gibb, is thick with stories. I'm too young to remember Ethiopia as more than a place where there was famine and some singers sang a sad song to raise money, but Gibb's raw depiction of the land, the people, and the story of one in particular were epic in proportions.

Set in Ethiopia and in London, the intricately worded story of Lilly follows this displaced young woman as she searches for love and a place to call her own. Born of European parents who lived a nomadic and romanticized hippie life, Lilly ends up in Ethiopia just before the Emperor was deposed and the famine ravages and war ravages what the famine did not.

One of those authors for whom I force myself to slow down and read every word in the page so as not to miss any of her gorgeous prose, I know already that the story will stay with me forever. Images are seared into my mind and I think about Lilly and the people in her life throughout the day.

On a more base note, I certainly wish I could write like Gibb. Her sentences, the words she uses, I cannot even imagine how on earth she does it. I think perhaps I will ask. Do they tumble out, unbidden? Is it a work of art, each word on the page, its perfect placement well thought. Examined. Ach, well. It is enough that we are all different.

*Happy note; I wrote a letter to Nick Hornby and he wrote back! He also recommended some authors. I will post their names once I'm back in my palace so we can all check them out.

Monday, December 08, 2008

lost / Found Found


I think the crux of it all may be very simple. We spend so much time searching, whether we acknowledge it or not, and very often we miss. I know you know how we miss. I won't get into it.

At the risk of sounding like a certifiable lunatic, I really think that yoga might be the answer. An answer. My answer, anyways.

Now even Scientists with a capital "S" are finding that yes, maybe it's true.

I just have to quote, but please spend the time to read the full article on the Yoga Journal site.


In fact, many studies suggest that yoga can effect positive states of mind, despite life's highs and lows. In 1993, a British team measured the effects of three relaxation techniques: chair sitting, visualization, and yoga and found that yoga resulted in the greatest increase in alertness, mental and physical energy, and lust for life. Likewise,a 1994 German study, which compared a group of women practicing hatha yoga to a second group that did not, found that the yoginis showed markedly higher scores in life satisfaction, and lower scores in aggressiveness, emotionality, and sleep problems.

"Yoga primarily changes your consciousness, which includes your way of looking at things," says Cornelissen. "In the process, many aspects of your physical functioning also change, including your brain chemistry." Whether we use yoga or some other self-affirming behavior, it's clear that even born-to-be-negative types can choose to cultivate happiness. Just as a bad mood can become a bad habit that
perpetuates unhappiness, so can nurturing positive feelings lead to a more permanent positive state of mind.



I remember myself at the beginning of this journey, not even a year ago. Soggy body, from two children and not enough exercise. Soggy mind, from allowing the things around me to control my thoughts.

Twice a week, every week, and the changes were almost immediate. I remember wondering if they played a CD of swirling breaths, as I practiced in the warm hardwood filled room, soft lights and the night sky still black outside. It took me months to realize the breaths were the breaths of the other students, whose energy lifted me up and carried me until I found my own breath.


Now I know that forever this will be a part of me. That without it I have no centre. Lost/found found.

Life at the Manor


There must be something about moving away from the place a person is born and raised. Something that allows for in-depth introspection.

The children and I are lucky enough to spend a week at my parents while the bedrooms in our house are shuffled. Walls came down and are back up again and the dust is flying while they sand and smooth before the paint goes on.

We moved to an acreage when I was fifteen. I lived in this house until I was about twenty one; back randomly for varying degrees of time as I took my time finishing university. The life of a poverty stricken student was hard on the wallet and it was nice to always have somewhere to go.

I've driven these roads thousands of times. It's nearly rote. An advantage or disadvantage, dependent on the always present Time and Place, is the extra time it takes to get anywhere. There are no two ways about it, factor in a couple of highways and some snow and a person had better leave a nice cushion of time in order to be anywhere not late.

The disadvantages are obvious. I won't list them. The advantages not so. For me, it's a good thing to have that forced break; the lull in busy, as I drive to and from. Prior to an event it allows for a plan, thoughtfulness. Post event is decompression. Finishing.

What really got me thinking on this though is driving those same roads, with the same bumps and same scenery, is that it really walloped me and put me back. Pulled me back to my teenage self with a force I seldom experience, given my focus on the present and worries over the future.
I wonder if people who move away, and by that I mean far away, if they experience that visceral whomp when they come back home. When the familiar is laid out in front of them and it is all so...apparent. When you see the same paint and the same furniture, same roads same trees same skyline, it all blends and you really don't see it at all. But when you come back it's almost like it's all more alive, more poignant.

I wonder if seeing things like this makes a person more cognizant of who they used to be and who they have become. I wonder if people who move far, far away somehow have a leg up. If these things are front and centre come holidays when they traverse the familiar from long ago.

I wonder.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Power


You know how hindsight is always 20/20? And after the fact you can see why something had to happen? or not happen?

I've been stewing in my own misery for the last six weeks or so. After a strong and incredibly enjoyable yoga practice, life changing/affirming in its strength, the practice simply shrivelled.

Sometimes, to get by in life, certain things go by the wayside. Like a budget, only this was a time budget.

With this renovation swinging madly all over the place and eating up every last ounce of household energy it would have been pure selfishness to continue taking that time for me. I went about once a week, clinging to the liberation it brings mentally and physically, but once a week is like a drop in the bucket.

On this subject I was dejected. Of course my mind spiralled all over the place. Will I return? Is this the start of just not going anymore? You know when you go to the gym for a while and stop; you can't imagine just where you ever found the time? It became harder and harder to remember that this isn't normal life, that there would again be time.

This week, for the sake of my sanity, I went two days in a row. Going, feeling everything open and flex and move with the fluidity that yoga brings, I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

I relearned that likely life-long lesson about time and place. I learn it and I forget. I learn it again.

I learned that sometimes a break is the best thing. Somehow, oddly, I could bend further and experience parts of yoga that I hadn't when going three or four times a week. How odd, I thought. Upon reflection I realized that I was likely stuck, had rutted myself by preconceived notions of what I could do or not do. Taking that break I came back refreshed and with the ability to let my body do, instead of my mind allow.

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Spoiled


Did I mention I got a new laptop? First laptop ever.

I love it.

White and wide and new and all mine. I can bookmark without someone adding new sites in and not organizing according alphabetically. No one will be allowed to troll Polly Pockets on this machine, nosiree.

When I go to client meetings I will have at my fingertips something professional, useful, and a heck of a lot more impressive than my trusty pad and paper. Not to say I won't continue to take notes copiously; I love scribbling madly while someone talks and then trying to decipher just why I underlined the word strategy three times. But it will be nice to have files at my fingertips and my good friend the world wide web at my veritable beck and call.

I desperately wanted a Mac. I've avoided them for years. For so long it seemed to me that they were a showpiece for people to do a bit of nah-nah-nah-ing about. But lately their appeal has grown. Maybe it's an age thing; as I age I get busier, and I like technology that holds my hand. I love the Time Capsule, a product Mac has that automatically backs up your computer with Bluetooth. I know. When my file got all shaky this summer and my husband had to piece it back together (minus a day's work) while I stood tearfully over his shoulder, I became a back-up born again. Now he says I go overboard, but hey, he has servers that do it for him. I am in the hands of my crappy F-drive and those shady little memory sticks.

So instead I got a sharp little Sony VAIO. White. White mouse, too. Bluetooth. Now I just need a back up Fairy.

You know how cordless phones changed the world? And cheap long distance? How about fax machines. Email. Microwave ovens. Express manicures. The PVR. I think this little machine might do just that level of awesome in this house.

YEah.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

let it ROCK


I was born on the wrong side of the tracks. In my hood, this is called North of Dewdney. In your town it might be something else. Eastside/westside whatever it is / wrongside.

So I have a private fetish for loud rock music. Let me be more precise. Bad loud rock music. AC/DC, Def Leopard (see you thought I was going somewhere good when I said AC/DC - ha) and the more current Nickleback. Rock anthems, basically.

Tonight I was driving back from picking up my NEW LAPTOP (first laptop) and this ridiculously wicked song came on. I've only heard it a couple of times so I have to make up my own words but I just had to sing along.

Kevin Rudolph. LET IT ROCK.

My little Toyota was thumping as I pushed the factory stereo as high as it would go without crackling. Incidentally, that was pretty high.

My little head was (I'd like to say bopping but that just doesn't have the same impact) banging and I was throwing in the odd made-up lyric to make it seem like it was my song.

The reviews on iTunes are all on par; from 'sick sick sick' which I'm pretty sure means really good, to 'OMG GREAT!!!' to 'Pure Genius.'

Suffice to say that if I could have morphed back to the late 90s, to the Checkerdome, with about three stiff vodka paralysers, I would have. I wanted to breathe in that smoky, humid air and carve out my own niche on the dance floor and just throw up my arms and stomp my feet. The mood would have been perfect had I felt the abandon that comes with knowing I had a paper due the next morning. Even better. A midterm. I could always blow off a paper at two in the morning. Midterms, not so much.

If I could buy this song for all of you I would.

10 000 hours




That is what they have determined is the magical number that will make you really good at something.

Dr. Daniel Levitin has come up with that number in his book YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC:

…ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery
associated with being a world-class expert -- in anything. In study after study,
of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert
pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes
up again and again. Ten thousand hours is the equivalent to roughly three hours
per day, or twenty hours per week, of practice over ten years. Of course, this
doesn't address why some people don't seem to get anywhere when they practice,
and why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others. But no
one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in
less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it
needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Interesting, I say.

I don't think I can count all the writing that I did in university and high school, when I wrote like a mad fiend for school and for pleasure. Nor can I count the "work" I did for the past few years, where writing has been a part of but not the whole.

So let's say I'm starting from scratch in June 2008, when I started to write the book. Four thousand words took approximately two hours per day, plus work was another two hours of some writing. I'll average it out to 2.5 hours over the summer.

This blog (still hate that word), a forum for me to practice since I'm useless without a deadline and a cup of coffee, only takes about an hour. If that. Each post may actually take a half hour, even less, as I'm sure is readily apparent by the quality of the writing.

Somehow, I need to figure out how to practice for a full three hours each day. I'm not ready to do another book; that's a summertime gig for me. Facebook doesn't count. Essays? Maybe I should try essays.

It's going to take me ten years at three hours a day to get to ten thousand, at which point I can shut this blog down because I will be a master. Be happy you're in here at the beginning. Hold on, we're in this for the long haul.

Monday, December 01, 2008

This is likely to offend someone (and ask me how much I care)


What the hell is going on in Canada?

As much as I have given kudos to the Americans in the past weeks I bow my head in shame over the shenanigans our parliament has been up to. Embarrassing doesn't cut it.

Pardon me, eastern provinces, but it really isn't all about you. Backroom dealings, the like of which we are witnessing today, smack to me of partisan politicking by no doubt about it, people whose ears still burn with disgrace over a lost election. Oh right. Two lost elections.

Do we really expect that during turbulant economic times throughout the world that an indecisive and playground fighting government is secure?

Here is a thought. Play fair. Don't like the results? Focus harder and play to win. Next time.

See cbc.ca for biased coverage and check out the comments.