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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

I grew up on Tolkien.  When I was young, my mom used to read to my brother and me in the evenings, and The Hobbit was one of the ones I recall quite clearly.  Unfortunately, my poor auditory learning skills lead me to imagine hobbits as something much closer to large gophers than smell men, but that mistake was soon remedied when I re-read the book for myself a few years later.

My grade six teacher gave us reading projects from a list.  The list one hundred different projects listed on it, each one with a different point value.  They ranged from re-writing the ending to keeping a journal for one of the characters to building a diorama of a scene.  We could pick any book (with teacher approval), and do any project we liked for it, as long as the points added up to 100 for each book, and we didn't repeat one project for multiple books.  We would do several books over the course of the year.

When my brother was in grade six, he used The Lord of the Rings for at least one of his books.  Everyone was so impressed that he was reading such difficult books at such a young age.  Academics is about the only area where there has ever been competition between my brother and I; outside of that, we share very few interests and skills.  When I was in grade six, I also read The Lord of the Rings.

Fortunately for me, I accomplished this just in time.  It was during the next three years, the duration of my junior high years, that the movies came out.  Of course, this only served to feed my enthusiasm for all things Middle Earth.  Those were the golden years of fandom.  Everyone loved Lord of the Rings and it was a beautiful and wonderful thing for us all to share.

I re-read the books in junior high and again in high school.  I haven't had a chance in the last few years, but I did re-read The Hobbit for the book club my friends and I briefly had, read a copy of The Tolkien Reader that I found at the thrift store, and make yet another half-hearted attempt at The Silmarillion

In the past few weeks, casting confirmations for The Hobbit have been trickling out, and what a slippery slope they are leading me down.  There are so many tumblrs out there dedicated to The Lord of the Rings.  I keep looking at pictures from the movies and making my heart hurt for nostalgia for the days when it was all Middle Earth all the time.  And oh, the cast interviews!  I love this one with the four hobbit actors - so adorable, and so hilarious.  I really really wish I had twelve hours to spare, because I haven't seen the movies in ages, and I've never seen the extended editions, and and and...

Basically, in the amount of time I've spent drooling over fan sites in the past few days, I could have watched at least one of the movies instead.  This realization has lead to a new addition to my wall:


Gandalf the Wise, indeed.  Back to work now.  No more tumblrs.  Maybe I can spare the time over reading week.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Stuck

One of my many New Year's Resolutions was to publish to this blog twice a week.  My plan was to try and do it every Monday and Friday (my "bonus" days off due to my fantastic class schedule).  I've been trying to write an entry since Monday morning, and I still don't have anything.

The reverb10 experience made this blog into something it isn't usually, and as I wrote in my wrap-up post to that, I liked telling stories and being a little more personal and sincere, rather than my usual banality.  That is something I would like to keep up here, but I am having a really hard time producing that kind of content of my own volition.  I'm going to work on it, and hopefully by Friday I'll have come up with something.  For today, my very sincere story is about how I've been trying and failing to write serious blog posts with real content to them.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Resolutions

I am one of those people who always makes resolutions, but never keeps them particularly well. I'm quite determined for this year to be different. Which means I have to change how I go about it.

One of the "future tools" attached to the later reverb10 prompts was Chris Guillebeau's How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review, which I found incredibly helpful. I think in spreadsheets. My goals for the year are all put into nice little categories. I have a tab for each month to keep track of weekly and monthly goals, I have deadlines set for non-ongoing goals, and I have a master tab to keep track of my success rates on all fronts.

I'm also coming at it with a different attitude. Several of my goals are to do things x times per week or month, and those are the sorts of things that usually defeat me. This year, I'm not going to ask myself for 100% perfection. I will aim for 100, but if I come out of the year with a 75%+ success rate on these ones, I will be content.

My resolutions were pretty heavily influenced by my response to the reverb10 prompt on 11 things my life doesn't need this year. I'm dropping #6 Perfectionism from the way I measure success. I've got resolutions to counteract #4 Laziness, #5 Loneliness, and #11 Clutter.

I won't list all my resolutions here, because there are a lot of them, but I they fall into the categories of Health, Friends and Family, Clutter, Writing, Crafting, Music, Happiness, Money Management, and Miscellaneous. Some of the most interesting ones are:

The aforementioned inventory and purge
Read 25 books from my to-read list
Bake twice a month
Listen to The Vinyl Café once a month
Cook from 20 different world cuisines

I've already been making good progress on quite a few of my resolutions, though I expect this will slow down within a few weeks, once reality kicks in and I have to start doing actual school work. Ah well.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Reverb10 Wrap-up

Yeah, so this is a little late, seeing as we're into the second week of January already, but here it is.

The final prompt for the month was entitle Core Story, and read as follows:


The central story bit is a bit new-agey for me. If I had to give an answer it would be that I don't know what my central story is yet because it's still being told and I'm not sure what direction it's going to take.

The bonus question, however, is a-okay. I'd say probably the main thread in my responses, especially the later ones, and including this one, is my refusal to respond to prompts properly. I'm not sure why I struggled so much to do some of them, but that is the way it went.

I actually don't even really want to respond to the bonus question. Forget that. I just want to do an overall review of how I felt about the month. I enjoyed it as a whole because it brought out a more personal, coherent side to my writing that I confess doesn't show itself frequently on this blog. I tend to write posts that go something like "here is a list of things I've done recently" or "here are a few jumbled-up paragraphs about things I've been thinking about lately." Reverb10 gave my posts some order and consistency. It brought out stories and coherent reflections.

In other ways, the project had a pretty big influence. My response to the 11 Things prompt has affected my plans and resolutions for 2011. Reverb10 also got me started on using 750 Words, which resulted in me writing 35 of the last 42 days, and making progress on a story I've been trying to get out for a year and a half.

I also enjoyed building community, however small (shout-out to Kim and Bob). The daily prompts got to be a little bit overwhelming as the month went on, however, especially when trying to read and discover and comment on other people's posts as well. That is my only complaint about the month, well, aside from the fact that I apparently didn't like as many prompts as I thought I would.

Overall, it was a good experience. I'm glad I did it. This is the final post I will write for it. The end.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Inventory

One of my New Year's resolutions this year is to take an inventory of my belongings, and purge at least 10% of them, preferably by the time I move out of this apartment. I'm hoping this will serve multiple purposes:

1) getting rid of 10% of my stuff, thus reducing the amount of clutter in my small room/stuff I have to drag with me when I move possibly far far away
2) forcing myself to go through everything means that when I'm done everything should be more neatly organized
3) reminding myself what I have so that I don't go out and by more things that I don't need/continue to add to my toothpaste collection

I've already started in on it because I'm super keen on this particular resolution, and so far I've inventoried 247 items, 81 of which I've gotten rid of. That's more than triple my target percentage! But I know it will only get lower from here, because I've mostly gone through things like clothes and jewellery, which I'm far more willing to part with than the things I have yet to inventory, such as books and dishes.

The unexpected thing that this project has forced upon me is that I'm also taking another type of inventory. I find myself taking stock of which memories, attachments, and emotions I'm still holding onto, and which ones I'm ready to start letting go of. Disposing of the physical reminders of these things means that I'm relying solely on my memory to keep them with me, which means eventually I will forget them. There were a lot of things I was ready to let go. There were some things I was not.


For example, when I found this necklace in the bottom of my jewellery box, I thought "I never wear this. I can't even remember the last time I wore it. It's been years. I could get rid of this." The flash of memories from the day it was first pressed into my hand, and the accompanying lump in my throat as I stretched my hand toward the 'discard' pile, disagreed with this diagnosis. The necklace is back in my jewellery box, where it belongs.


The once-treasured Reel Big Fish scarf hiding at the back of my closet led me to discover that they put out a new album two years ago, and I had no idea! I'm listening to it now to make up for lost time. After that, I'm going to listen to their live album to see if I can still sing every word and speak every piece of dialogue along with them. I really thought I could have let this one go, but it somehow ended up around my neck instead of in the pile. I guess I'm holding on for a while longer.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Going Back (Again)

I have a lot of things I want to write about: a reverb10 wrap-up, the holidays, my New Year's resolutions, etc. Today, however, is the very last day of Christmas break. I don't understand how that happened. The whole three weeks feel like they just flew by me. I didn't get any of the work done that I meant to, and I'm sort of panicked about how that's going to go in the next few days. I don't want to go back to the city, I don't want to go to class, I don't want to do homework.

Every single semester, from second year onward, I've been hit with a huge case of the "don't wannas" about having to go back. After three years of this, I've figured out that when I let myself convince myself that it's going to be awful, it turns out to be awful. So, to prevent awfulness, I started listing the good things that I'm excited to go back to. This semester, the list looks something like this:

1) My mug. I have this enormous mug that I painted at Clay Café a few years back. It's black with fall-coloured leaves on it, and it's big and round and completely fills up my hands. It is my absolute favourite mug. When I get back to my apartment tomorrow, I'm going to put on the kettle, open the cupboard door, and my mug is going to be sitting there, loyal treasure that it is, saying "welcome home."

2) Roommate parties. I love seeing friends who are away and come home over Christmas, but it is so weird not to see the people I live with. I'm excited to see them.

3) Seeing other Hali-friends that I haven't seen for the past month, too!

4) Leaving the house on a daily basis. I don't even want to talk about the proportion of days I spent sitting inside over the break. I'm sure once I get back I'll start complaining about having to walk to and from class in the freezing cold, but the fresh air will do me good.

5) Swing dance. It is one of the things in my life that just fills me with joy whenever I do it. I missed a few weeks at the end of last semester because I was just too busy, and then it was the holidays, so it's been a while. I'm excited to get back at it.

6) Skating on the Canada Games oval. Every year my friends and I take our skates back with us after Christmas break, intending to go skating at the arena, and every year they get sent home, unused, in the spring. This year, I'm hoping that the super-cool outdoor oval will be motivation enough to actually go, at least a couple times.

7) No more TV. My parents watch TV most evenings, and I actually like a lot of the shows they watch, but oh my good gracious. It is so hard to do ANYTHING else when that thing is going. It is so distracting. I am so pumped to get back to watching my two shows a week on the internet and not having the damn thing melting my brain all the time.