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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Goodbye, 2009!

Well, there you have it. Another year very soon to be gone.

2009 was a pretty good year, all in all. I haven't done anything too exciting, I don't feel like anything really earth-shattering or soul-stirring has happened. But I was generally happy most of the time, and that's about all that matters.

I really feel like I should have more to say about 2009. It was a year that started with excitement and hope and change, and that actually happened to a certain extent. I guess I already wrote about that here, so I just don't want to repeat myself.

How's about this: here is my year in blog posts. Probably not really an accurate representation of the year, but the best I'm going to give you.

January:

February:

March:

April:

May:
(The good parts of May didn't get blogged. It was actually one of the better months!)

June:
(and employment!)

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December:

And that's that. Tomorrow: Resolutions!

I'm having some friends in tonight to ring in the new year, and since they're arriving in about an hour, I should start getting myself ready.

Happy New Year!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Best of 2009: Movie

So you may have noticed that I haven't done any of the Best of 2009s lately. To be honest, the list kind of fizzled out after a while - I mean, stationery of the year? Really? I understand that it's difficult to come up with something for every day. I'm sure I couldn't come up with a good list of 31 things to reflect upon over the past year. But stationery? Really? I was astonished, however, to find that 'movie' was omitted from the list. This one seems like a no-brainer to me. So I'm going to post about it anyway, because hey, this is my blog, and I don't have to follow someone else's list.

I have two best movies this year: one is the best new movie of 2009, the other is the best new-to-me movie of 2009.


Best new movie of 2009: Up

I saw this delightful animated picture with a couple friends to celebrate one of their birthdays. It was a humourous and adorable watch, and the story was absolutely wonderful. It was such a happy movie. The message really struck a chord with me: life is an adventure, and we ought to celebrate it as such.


Best new-to-movie of 2009: Harold and Maude

My roommate in first year recommended this 1971 film to me, but I never got around to seeing it until this summer. I am very glad that I did watch it, and I think that I appreciated it far more now than I would have two years ago. Another movie reminding me to really live and to enjoy life. Also, the soundtrack is exquisite: 9 wonderful tracks by Cat Stevens, a few of which really resonated with me, most particularly "Don't Be Shy" (imagine that!).


I would recommend either of these movies to anyone. They are both excellent, and well worth the time to watch them.
Received for Christmas: a copy of the newest issue of World Literature Today.

Realization: I will never, never, be a poet.

I want to do something big and crazy. I want to hop on a plane and go somewhere, just go, with no plans or worries or cares. It would be so un-me. I would probably have 12 panic attacks before I even got to the airport. But I just wanna be outta here. I want the world.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is one of my absolute favourite movies. I always forget this from one year to the next. Every December when it's on TV I watch it with my mother and remember why I love it.



What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
And here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children
What's so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don't I just know I'll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them
I'll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I'll do better than my best
I have confidence they'll put me to the test
But I'll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children (Heaven bless them!)
They will look up to me

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas Canon - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It makes me so happy that this was on the radio today.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Every year, it's the same thing...

Come Christmas break I'm going to go home and get sooo much stuff done that I want to do! I'll write a million stories and read thousands of books and spend time with friends and play piano and clarinet every day! And then I get home and watch tv and play computer games until my brain runs out my ears. I just don't understand me sometimes.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Allow me to elaborate...

I love my parents' cooking. I love baking all day. I love electric blankets. I love the smell of the wood room. I love the eleven and a half foot tall Christmas tree. I love the millions of Christmas decorations that we have. I love my advent calendar. I love snuggling with my cat. I love playing with my cat. I love the skylight. I love seeing trees, and I really love seeing stars. I love driving. I love not hearing traffic all day long. I love the smell of the air. I love worrying less about eating a specific thing before it goes bad, and not eating the same leftovers three days in a row, and having all the food I'm used to in the fridge. I love the Christmas dishes. I love snuggling up on the couch with a blanket. I love the large picture window.

I love home.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I love home.

<3

Monday, 14 December 2009

In the home stretch

Christmas party went really well! I am so pleased. Definitely worth the amount of effort that went into it.

Could not get to sleep until really late last night.

Need to finish writing a paper in the next 7 hours.

Don't really want to.

But then I'll be done with this semester!

And am going to Clay Cafe afterward! :D

And home tomorrow. Yay home!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Best of 2009: Change to the place I live

I have to say, the best change I made was living in a different place.

I loved living in res in first year. It was the best.

But last year? All my friends moved out, I got left behind, and I was too shy and anti-social to make new friends until it was getting close to the end of the year.

My floormates were less than ideal, and the people on the floor below me were mostly bros. Um, yuck.

The toilet on our floor broke about once every week or so.

And dealing with dining hall food two years in a row is more than should be asked of anyone, really.

But, come May, I moved into an apartment with two of my best friends. I love it here. This is a good place. I like the happy colours, I like having our own kitchen and our own furniture and eating what I want when I want. I even sort of enjoy walking to campus, exercise and fresh air are good things! I like barely being able to hear the neighbours, I like not having to follow campus rules, I like all of it.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Best of 2009: New Food

My favourite new food is definitely falafel.

A friend of mine had a falafel party for their birthday this summer. It was my first experience of it, and it was super-tasty. Sadly, I have only eaten it a few times since then.

Perhaps, a New Year's resolution: eat more falafel.

Friday, 11 December 2009

(

I have a bad habit, when I'm taking notes, of forgetting to close my parentheses.

I sort of worry that someday I'll forget to close an important set of parentheses and then I'll just live the whole rest of my life in a parenthetical aside without even realizing what I've done.

)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Best of 2009: Album of the Year

What's rocking your world?


The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists.

I love everything about this album, and I'm going to leave it at that.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Best of 2009: Challenge

Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?


The real challenge I set for myself this year was to re-become someone I like being. I think this was a challenge at which I succeeded. Not to say there isn't still room for improvement, but I have come leaps and bounds from this time last year.

I like myself in high school. I wasn't perfect, nor was my life, but perfection is an impossibility. I was in general happy, and that is what counts. I was academically stimulated; I had two amazing groups of friends, who I saw every day; I participated in a variety of activities, all of which I loved; I was physically active; and so on.

Then I came to university. I never stopped being academically stimulated, but the rest certainly changed. First year, everything just stopped. I stopped doing anything extracurricular. I stopped getting any exercise or eating food that could possibly fall within the realm of "healthy," and as a result felt tired and gross all the time. On the one hand, I made another amazing group of friends. On the other hand, the majority of both my high school groups were in the city too, and one group I saw occasionally, the other... well, we made pretenses of keeping in touch, but that's about it. And there was the drinking. Every time we got bored, we defaulted to getting drunk. Or because it was a Monday/Friday and we always get drunk on Monday/Friday, so we had to get drunk on Monday/Friday. I do not like that lifestyle, and never want to live it again.

So I came home and had that one amazing summer. Then back to university, and first semester of second year was when things got really bad. I was the only one of my friends to stay in residence, and I a) am bad at making friends and b) didn't want new friends, I wanted my old friends back. It took me a very long time before I got to know anyone well enough to even feel comfortable sitting with them at meals on a regular basis. Of course, there was also the problem where I was a horrible friend and never made time to spend with my old friends. I still wasn't doing anything extracurricular, still wasn't taking care of myself physically. I got involved in bad relationship situations. I was absolutely miserable.

And then over Christmas break I decided that I was sick of it, and I was just going to make things better.

In 2009, I:

-wrote and directed a play in Fringe Festival
-performed a piece of music (with a friend) in front of a crowd. Twice!
-started work as my student union's council scribe
-moved out of residence into a house with two of my best friends, where I no longer eat things like "tater tot casserole" and have to walk a good 25 minutes to and from school now (and about the same for work over the summer)
-had a summer job that I loved, for an organization that I feel like does good work in the world, and even became friends with my coworkers
-learned to see the good parts of living in the city, instead of just the bad ones
-took swing dancing lessons ("learn to dance" is an item on my list of things to do in life, so this is more significant than one might think)
-wrote a senior's memoir
-took a workshop to help me get better at something I find difficult
-am slowly improving at being a good friend
-learned how to be happy

It hasn't always been easy. You know that anxiety I was talking about? It was hard for me not to quit swing dancing, or the memoir project, or Fringe, after the first meeting, because the first time is always so scary. But I convinced myself that it wouldn't be as bad the second time, and I made myself go back. In all cases, I am very glad I did.

It's been a good year. A hard year, at times. But a happy one.

In a daydream on a hill

I think I've become addicted to blogging. When I was doing NaBloPoMo, by the end I was tired of it and didn't bother with real posts. I was going to take a break, but then I found the Best of 2009 challenge. So I was going to only write on days that I liked the prompt. But I still feel compelled to write here. It's as though as soon as I didn't have to post every day, the idea of posting every day became a lot more interesting.

Anyway, things that are going on/coming up soon around here:

Two exams this week. The first, calculus, should be really easy. I love that I'm an arts student and by far my easiest course is my math class. But the other one (Witchcraft in early modern Europe) is going to be difficult - apparently this prof writes really hard exams, and there's just SO MUCH information. Blech.

A paper due next Monday that I have not started yet, have no interest in starting, don't even feel like reading through the topic list again because they're all going to sound just as lame the 5th time as they did the first.

We've got a Christmas tree! One of my roommates and I went out looking for one the last weekend of November, with no luck. We were pretty disappointed. It's one thing that's super weird about living in the city. Coming from the Christmas tree capital of the world, we're used to driving down the road until you find a tree farm, and have your pick of them. Not exactly an option within the city. So we figured that the grocery stores would have them, since they do at home (you don't buy them there, mind you, but they have them). Sobeys didn't have any, wasn't getting any, and suggested we go to the Forum. The Forum is way across town. Fine if you have a car. We are poor starving students. We do not have a car. Carrying a Christmas tree for what Google Maps says is a 45 minutes walk? Possible, but far from ideal. So we went to Superstore. They had four Christmas trees, all of which were too big and too expensive for us. We asked inside if they were getting any more and they said no, but told us that most years someone sets up to sell trees in their parking lot, so maybe check back the following week. This past Friday, we went back, and sure enough, there were trees for sale! We were so happy. The guy showed us one, and it was just right, and he said "this one's $20, but I'll give it to you for $15." Perfect! We carried it home, singing Christmas carols, and got wished an emphatic Merry Christmas by one fellow we passed. It's the prettiest little tree, and I love it.

A Christmas party on Sunday! I'm so excited. We're hoping to have a whole house full of people, and there's going to be food and music and cider and everything Christmassy. I'm heading out in a little bit to pick up gingerbread decorations, candy canes, and other food-like necessities. I love Christmas.

Also, if you don't already, go listen to A Fine Frenzy. I am in love. Haven't listened to anything else in about a week, no joke.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Om nom nom nom!

I don't have an eating problem.

...until I get stressed out or upset. Then I'm out to the kitchen to get a snack every hour or so.

My head aches, I should get a snack.

I feel tired, I should get a snack.

I'm crying, I deserve a snack.

I hate studying, I should have a snack.

Writing papers is dumb, I should have a snack.

And so on. Any excuse at all will do. I just have this need to constantly consume food, and I do not understand it. Food will not solve any of those problems, except on the rare occasion that I actually am tired because I need to consume some energy. So why do I continue to believe that stuffing my face with empty calories will somehow make me feel better?

I don't know. But my roommate just made cookies, and there's one out there calling my name, so if you'll excuse me...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Best of 2009: Workshop or Conference

Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?


My small, cozy, everyone-knows-everyone university is very closely affiliated with a large, you're-a-number university. I like this system, because I get the community of the small school with the services of the large school.

One of these services is their Counselling Centre, which offers a variety of workshops each semester. They email out a list of them every time, but I've never really given it more than a cursory glance before. This year, something prompted me to actually read through it. Am I ever glad that I did!

I noticed they were offering a workshop to help people who had difficulty with public speaking. Boy oh boy, does that ever describe me. I am shy. I am nervous. I experience a lot of social anxiety. I find it difficult to speak to anyone who is not a fairly close friend, no matter what the context, so speaking to a group of relative strangers when there is nothing else to distract them is not something I am comfortable with. Normally, signing up for a workshop is not the kind of thing I would do; mostly because it would cause me too much anxiety. Which is what made this one such a good idea. Not to mention I was more than a little concerned about the 5 upcoming presentations I had...

So I signed myself up for it, figuring that the worst that could happen is it wouldn't be helpful and would be a waste of my time. The worst did not happen. It was probably one of the best uses of my time in recent memory.

Although it was advertised as being geared towards public speaking, it was mostly about anxiety reduction in general, with a little bit of work on public speaking skills thrown in. I use those anxiety reduction techniques all the time now. They helped me get through one presentation that I was particularly nervous about. They help me keep my heart from pounding every time I have to make a phone call. Heck, I use the relaxation techniques to help me get to sleep at night!

What was even more important than these techniques, though, were the connections I made with other people. There were eight of us in the workshop, and by the end of 5 workshops of an hour and a half each, I felt comfortable talking to these people and laughing and joking around. It never happens that quickly for me. That alone was a really good experience.

The workshop also reminded me that I am not alone. Everyone gets anxious sometimes. Those other 7 people? They get nervous too. We had to give a 2 minute presentation at each workshop session, and if I hadn't already known that they had public speaking anxiety, I would not have guessed it from watching them. Which made me realize that other people who seem confident are probably nervous about it too, an idea which was reinforced by talking about the workshop with other people. Someone who I perceive as extremely confident told me they get terrified when they have to do presentations. And my dad, MY DAD, who is, you know... father-like, and grown-up and unwavering and a semi-important government worker and has done a million presentations in his life, my dad told me that last year he had to give an important presentation and he got so nervous he thought he was going throw up. Knowing that other people get just as nervous when they have to do presentations makes me worry a little less about them judging me when I give a presentation, you know?

All in all, it was a wonderful workshop. I'm slowly reducing anxiety in my life, I met some new people, and I realized I'm not totally abnormal. These are all positive moves forward.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Best of 2009: Night Out

Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?


I don't do nights out very often. I'm just more of a stay-in sort of person. Going out tends to be loud, and expensive, and crowded; and then at the end of the night you always have that cold and tired walk home (probably in uncomfortable shoes, too!).

However, I am occasionally persuaded to go out, and sometimes it ends up being a pretty good time. This Halloween, one of my roommates and I went out to a pub just down the road. We saw the Mellotones play - a local jazz/funk cover band. They are absolutely excellent. We had the most wonderful time dancing the night away. It was an absolutely stellar night.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Best of 2009: Book

What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?


Strangely, this is actually a difficult topic for me. Any other year of my life I'd have been like "Books?! I love books! I've read so many books this year I can't even count all the books I've read this year! How am I ever going to choose just one? Or even cut the list down to a reasonable length?"

This year? Kind of the opposite, actually. I barely read any books. I mean there were plenty of books I read for school. Most of those were okay, but none were stellar enough to be a favourite. In the winter semester I'm not sure I read any books that were purely for pleasure. This semester it's only been the ones for book club, most of which were re-reads, and the two that were new to me were not good enough to make "best book of the year."

So that leaves the summer. I know I read books this summer. I made good use of the library. But I can hardly remember any of what I read.

I remember bawling my eyes out over PS, I love you. I liked Sense and Sensibility, and the copy of The Undead and Philosophy that one of my roommates picked up for me was pretty neat.

The only one that really stands out for me at all is The Graveyard Book. And not that it struck some chord with me or made me see things differently or anything. It was just a) cute, and b) well-written. Which go a long way in a book's favour, but usually it takes something more than that to become a favourite.

2009: The year of bookfail.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Some cheese with that whine?

No interest in today's Best of 2009 topic (It's "article," I don't really read a lot of articles, and have neither the time nor the energy to write a satirical post about how important and influential the article "the" was for me this year. For the record, I did consider it, so I get some points, yeah?). Anyway, so instead of that, I'm whining. Yay.

I want:

-freshly-baked gingerbread cookies
-apple cider
-chocolate mint sticks
-a decadent breakfast
-to go dancing
-to be done this bloody semester already
-for today to be as quick and painless as possible (I have a paper due first class, three in-class exams, then finishing another paper that's due tomorrow)
-a pillow that is less flat
-hugs, lots of hugs. Not enough hugs going on in my life lately.
-ideas of what to give people for Christmas
-a Christmas tree!
-the abillty to transcribe piano music from listening to it
-singing skillz

Best of 2009: Restaurant Moment

Today's Topic: Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?


To be honest, I'm not sure there is one single restaurant experience this year that stands out far and ahead of all the others. How about a slew of honourable mentions instead? Yes. Order is chronological, not win-ical.

Honourable Mention 1: One of my now-roommates, then out-of-town-friends came to visit for a weekend. We decided we should go out for brinner (breakfast for dinner), because breakfast is the best meal, after all (breakfast: kind of a theme for this post). I invited along some of my other friends, and during a Facebook chat conversation, spur-of-the-moment invited a co-worker that I didn't know that well, and he brought along his roommate too. We went out to the local Smitty's, but got there about 15 minutes before they closed and stayed anyway because we're sort of jerks. This makes the list because: a) throwing together a random mishmash of people worked out surprisingly well for me, and b) there's this hilarious cake story... (cake stories: also a recurring theme in this post). My co-worker had already eaten, so he mostly just came along for the trip. But when we walked in, he saw the waitress walk by taking a dessert to another table. He decided he wanted that, so when we were seated, he looked through the dessert menu and figured out which one it was. When his dessert arrived, however, it was not at all the thing he saw when we first came in! Upon further examination of the menu, someone else found a picture of what he had wanted. What was it called? Chocolate Confusion.

Honourable Mention 2: This year my school hosted an improv competition. By virtue of being friends with most of our improv team, my friends and I ended up tagging along to the party they had afterwards. Since I stuck around until way too late to walk home, my friends MM and DC lent me their couch for the night. The next morning we went out for breakfast at the Ardmore. This one makes the list because: a) I like those two! and b) I like the Ardmore. It's just this laid back breakfast-diner place that feels cozy and homey. And they serve pancakes the size of my head.

Honourable Mention 3: So I have these friends that are kind of... insane, for lack of a better word. Two of them are in my year at university, and one's a year behind us. The two in my year were always talking about this local Turkish restaurant that they sometimes go to, and how good the food is, and how attractive the waitresses are. The third friend, who is equally as attractive-women obsessed, had been wanting to go to this place all year, so one day during the exam period, he finally convinced the other two that they should all go. I happened to be there at the time, I was invited along as well, and in fact it was hinted that they wouldn't go if I didn't go (they're just sane enough to recognize the fact that they can't be trusted to behave themselves in public; they recognize the need for my calming influence). Anyway, while three of us were waiting for the fourth to show up, the (then-)enemy happened along and got invited as well. There was a serious lack of attractive waitresses, but no shortage of ridiculousness. One of the friends convinced me that it would be a good idea to buy a whole cake because it would be cheaper than by the slice. He managed to bargain it down from $60 to the low price of just thirty-five dollars! Still a bad, though. Did not need that much cake. Fortunately, that issue resolved itself with him paying for the cake and me not paying for the cake, which was really the ideal outcome. This makes the list because: It was absolutely hilarious. No written words can do justice to the comedy of that night. (also, it holds a special place for me because it set the wheels in motion for the then-enemy to become the now-boyfriend).

Honourable Mention 4: My dad is kind of important in the government. Not, like, super-important, certainly not elected-official important, but, ya know, manager-level, been-in-charge-of-some-rather-important-projects kind of important. Anyway, when he finished his last project and moved to a different position, the people who had worked on the project with him got together and gave him a gift certificate for a family meal to a super-classy restaurant down home (super-classy by rural kid standards; I'm sure I don't mean the same thing that rich city folk would mean by super-classy). This was made use of over the summer, when my brother and his girlfriend were home. It was the first and only time I've ever eaten in an upscale restaurant, so it was an interesting experience. The food was delicious and abundant. This makes the list because: a) It was really neat to live the rich and famous lifestyle for a couple of hours. I could not in good conscious live the life of luxury all the time, even if it were an option financially, but for one night, it was nice; and b) sometimes I forget just how much I like my family, and it's nights like that one where we all really come together that I remember how great they are.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Best of 2009: Trip

I know, I know, I promised a break, and here I am back already. But the 20something blog posted this Best of 2009 Challenge, and I could not resist. I don't see myself doing all the prompts, but I'll post something up for the most interesting ones, anyway.

So the topic for December first is the best trip of 2009. For me, this has to be the secondish annual backwoods camping.

Four friends and I packed ourselves off to Kejimkujik National Park for three days. The hour plus drive involved the usual "funmobile" dance party, plus a stop at the General Store for the boys to buy beef jerky and the girls to sort through the shelf of trashy romance novels, hopefing to find a gem of good reading amongst them (alas, no such luck). Upon our arrival at the park, we hiked the three kilometers into the woods to get to our lovely isolated campsite.

We spent Friday and Saturday setting up camp, cooking corn on the cob and ridiculous amounts of crazy stirfry, swimming across the lake (sort of a habit of ours), and taking twenty questions to new levels of meta-ness (I had them stumped on "Tuesday" for hours).

We also suffocated in our ridiculously stuffy tent, and wrote a long and random entry in the campsite log (a journal stored in the outhouse for every site visitor to add to). We did not get eaten by any bears, or see any live turtles crossing the road (it only takes two years to stock up a whole host of backwoods camping in-jokes).

Sunday, however, was a whole other kettle of fish. See, there was this hurricane coming our way... I believe that by the time it hit us, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was still pretty intense. Unfortunately, the rain started before we had quite managed to get everything packed up, so we had to deal with wet gear. And by the time we hiked the whole way out, we were very soaked ourselves!

Already being wet, we decided that it was an ideal time to go for an afternoon swim, which we followed up with a meal of bannock, fruit, and cheese. We also got some tourists to take a group photo of us all looking like drowned rats.

So, why was it the best trip of the year? A whole bunch of reasons. It was one of the few times this summer that I got out of the city, and not only did I escape to the rural area of home, but got all the way to the peace and beauty of the backwoods. Hiking 3 km while carrying 30-35 pounds of gear on your back is a serious ego boost (If I can do this, I can do anything!). I loved the pure adventure of the weekend: I love roughing it, I love challenging myself, I love being able to say that I went backwoods camping in a hurricane. I love everything about camping; tents and swimming and campfires and camp food and actually being able to see the stars and just EVERYTHING. But the main reason why it was the best trip: I love those kids. No one could ask for better friends, and having a whole weekend together all to ourselves is just the best thing. :)