Tuesday, May 22, 2007

what a day

This morning saw the dawning of another "Marnie-Day" in my life, a day which involves spending the day with my cousin Marnie and her 2 children. Seeing Marnie in action - juggling the needs of a 20 month old toddler and a 9 week old newborn, while playing the role of eldest daughter, older sister, devoted wife and friend, and a semi-retired (I say this because she has been on maternity leave for ages now) professional Mediation Coordinator - inspires a level of clarity that cannot come through imagination and daydreams alone. This clarity has revealed that while I'm confident that I will by an aunt some day, I've found that simply being a generously involved cousin introduces its own challenges. Thoughts of being a mother have never crossed my mind, and spending time with the Bondar babies has not changed this. I should clarify: NOT because of them - but rather, in spite of them, I know that bringing a child into this world would be highly irresponsible of me, and a truly unfair thing to do - to me, and to them.

My Marnie-Day involved a number of memorable moments worth mentioning, but none have been as painfully memorable as my morning tumble down the baby-gated stairs. I suppose it was inevitable, given the calamities leading up to it... First of all, I'd had less than 6 hours sleep. Foolish on my part, yes, but to be fair, I've always been a night person, and since I'm not working yet, I have grown accustomed to sleeping in. Next, I zombied my way through the Tim Horton's drive-thru, but barely had time to swallow 1/3 of my Cappuccino. Then, as I made my way up the stairs to the front door, Marnie was already there holding the door open for me, suggesting that she had been desperately awaiting my arrival. She quickly began listing off the events she wanted to accomplish for the day, and so I dropped my breakfast and did my best to assist her in getting the children ready to leave. The toddler already had his sneakers on, his jacket zipped, and was just itching to get out the door. The baby wasn't quite asleep, but she laid back happily cooing as Marnie began settling her into her baby-seat for the car ride. It was then, when Marnie asked me to run down the stairs and grab a pair of socks for the newborn. Eager to help, I rushed over to the stairs, and stared dumbly at the baby gate that stood in my path.

"Just squeeze down and push it out," Marnie called to me from across the room.

Simple enough, or so I thought. Only.. where was I supposed to squeeze? Confused, and way to confident in my competence to ask for clarification, I decided that I was agile enough to step over the gate and avoid it altogether. I can picture the following events, almost in slow motion. It was easy to step over the gate and place one foot on the landing over the stairs. It was while I was bringing my second leg over top of the gate, that my body spun out and I lost my footing. I'm not sure that I knew what had happened before I came to rest at the bottom of the stairs, but judging from my bruises, aches and pains that have developed over the day, it must have been quite a tumble. I know that I basically fell backwards, ass-first towards the ground. I completely flipped over in what I can only imagine as the most awkward backwards somersault the world has ever seen, with my arms and legs flailing out futilely. Marnie's recounting of the sordid event mentioned seeing me disappear beneath her line of vision while the shadows on the wall were clear enough for her to describe that I literally flipped head over heels on my way down. Perhaps the worst part of the whole clumsy escapade was that in shock and surprise, Marnie called out to see if I was a) hurt and b) unconscious, and her children were both instantly aware of her panic. In chorus, the two kids began crying, and poor Marnie was stuck upstairs trying to console them while wondering if her plans for the day would be replaced with a call for an ambulance and a trip to the emergency room. I think she was relieved when I answered back, told her I was fine, and did my best to rush back with the fuzzy pink socks I'd been sent for.

Throughout the day, I felt fine, and really thought nothing of the whole event. That is, until I noticed that one of the fingertips on my left hand was turning black. Now, as I type this, I can't help but cringe every time said finger presses down on the "s" key. It reminds me though, how habitual some actions can be; how the tiniest details of our lives can become routine without our knowledge. I wonder if it is possible to reclaim control over these unconscious acts. I know that the longer I type, the stronger of a reflex I can develop against using my bruised fingertip, but without conscious thought, or further repetition, my typing will return to normal. I wonder what other little habits I have developed.. I wonder if I have the strength and conviction to change them.

Curious.

Very curious.

Monday, May 21, 2007

yiippeeee

Got our tickets for Pirates!! Thursday at 8pm.

The Summer Movie Bonanza is well under way.
Shrek 3 was dissapointing, but Spiderman wasn't so bad.
After Pirate's there will be Ocean's 13, Simpsons and Harry Potter.

So many movies, so little time.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

another stream of consciousness

how strange life is sometimes.. fair? unfair? who am I to judge.. but challenging, and ironic, and with strange parallels that pop up when I least expect them. I am here. and you are there. what is it that separates us? time? distance? circumstance? destiny? I'm too much of a realist to believe in fate, but if you believe in it, does that make it real? I hope not.. that would mean that we're not meant to be.. that being apart is part of some greater plan, and that plan is cruel and heartless and unkind.

the silence is deafening & I feel so alone. the alone is different than the alone I had before. the alone is something I chose. the choice was to sacrifice you for them. ... unfair that I had to choose. but more unfair that you never asked me to stay.

msn. icq. aim. yahoo. skype. facebook. blogs. email. so many places. so many ways to stay in touch. but none feel the same. none wipe away my tears or make me laugh. none are there to wrap their arms around me when I ask. none of them bring you to me. none of them help you to know me. they can't - not unless you care enough to know me, and you don't. we both know it.
I wonder who you are. you, who I think about and write to. you who I imagine, you who I try to understand. but you do not ask about me, you do not try to know me. maybe you aren't the you I thought you were. maybe you .. no, I shouldn't say it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

4 days and counting

I'm listening to the strange new sounds of my whirring dishwasher, and for the first time, in a long time, feeling truly at peace. Bizarre, I know. But the sounds, the whole experience really, signifies the fulfillment It's hard to explain, but having my own home has been my lifelong dream. I suppose it's not that unusual, given my background, but having a place that's mine - a place where I can feel safe and secure and where everything I own will be at arm's reach - is something I never had growing up, and something I've missed since leaving my condo in Edmonton.

As for my condo, it's not quite finished yet, but I have all of my bedroom furniture in place, and I've slept at home for the last 4 nights. My couch has arrived, but the matching chair had to be special ordered and will be another few weeks. Dad bought me a super-huge TV as a housewarming-slash-graduation-slash-birthday present, and Squidge topped it off with the fancy-shmancy Shaw HDPVR box which lets me record up to 20 hours of TV. This has spawned a whole new TV addiction, since I can watch all the late shows without having to stay up for them. Yay.

I picked out some coffee tables from Pier One that I liked, and eventually I would like to get a rug and an entertainment unit to finish off the living room. I will need something with a billion shelves to hold all of my videos & dvds, but it would be worth it just to see them all out of their boxes again.

The kitchen is on hold, since the table & chairs set I chose is back-ordered and will be delivered who knows when. The actual kitchen part is pretty much done, but I've been lazy about buying groceries. I have some of the basics, but if I really stock up on everything, I will have to start cooking again and I'd prefer to feel like I'm still on vacation.

Sorry this was so boring. Nothing to write about these days.. I should just stick to posting pictures maybe.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

delivery daze

Moving into my new condo has been an extended process, involving many cleaning days, shopping excursions and random drop-ins (usually to drop off boxes of misc. Edmonton leftovers). Today, however, the last 2 weeks have finally begun to pay off.

This afternoon, just before noon, my furniture from the Brick arrived. Two guys, who were tiny, imho, schlepped the ridiculously heavy boxes from the truck, in and out of the elevator, and then across the hallway to my end of it. They then unpacked each piece of furniture, assembled the bed frame, and put everything into place for me. They carried the garbage out with them as they left, and they thanked me for choosing the Brick.

Sears, on the other hand, arrived 2 hours later. (Granted, this was within their pre-determined time frame of noon to six). Again, 2 moving guys were waiting for me downstairs when I went to open the front door, but this time, they were remarkably unfriendly, refusing to participate in small talk or any form of communication beyond grunts and hand gestures. I led the way to my apartment, each of them dragging a mattress behind me, and once inside, I gestured to the bedroom where the freshly assembled bed was waiting. At this point, one of the 2 Sears delivery guys turned to me with the following mover's urban legend.
We no longer unpack mattresses as part of our service. We'll bring them as far as your room, but we will not rip the plastic off for you. Why? Well, because there was a mover out East that was delivering a mattress set to a customer. At the time, the customer was helping out, and must have cut himself on one of the staples. The mover, also managed to cut himself, on the same staple. Low & behold, the mover developed AIDS from said blood transfer, and as a result, Sears' movers are no longer expected to unpack the furniture they deliver.
Well. There you have it. Evidently, this mysterious mover out East was able to accurately trace back his contraction of HIV to this one isolated dangerous staple event. Do I believe this? Hell no. Do I assume this was just a lazy and socially-inept mover's attempt at getting out of doing his job? Hell yes. Do I care? Not really. Instead, I did the work myself, and I now have a fully furnished bedroom complete with a staple-free mattress set.

Monday, May 07, 2007

a decorating plan

A few of you have asked, and I will post photos of my new place soon -- but not until after the furniture arrives and I have actually moved in (current plan: Thursday). For now, though, the shopping extravaganza continues, and my car is slowly filling with odds and ends that I will eventually have to unpack. There are still boxes of goodies lining my bedroom at Dad's place, and my grandmother's garage, but those too will slowly make their way south to Evergreen, my new suburban neighborhood.

This afternoon, as I made my drug-induced way through HomeSense, I came across an aisle carrying row after row of picture frames. I was hit with inspiration, or at least, it felt like inspiration at the time.

I have decided that in place of cheap Ikea art & the soul-sucking mass-produced posters from Imaginus this time around, I'd like to frame pictures of each of you, and photos that you have taken. It will be nice to feel surrounded by art that represents something & hopefully inspires my writing. So please, please, go through your albums and send me copies of the photos that you are most proud of. I want pictures you've taken, and pictures of yourselves that will not make you wince.
I want your art, and I want it on my walls!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Facebook - a blog entry especially for Carter

Ms. Dushane:

I hereby cordially invite you to get your web-addicted ass over to facebook.com and sign up already. Let's see if I can relieve your irrational (or quite possible rational) fears, and introduce you to the world of high school pain, drunken wall posts, and social networking that has taken the internet by storm.

Ok, that being said, let's explore the reality that -is- Facebook (FB).

First Encounters
Approximately 9 months ago, when I had gotten back from Japan and moved back home, I was hit with the realization that sometime during my year abroad, Squidge (my brother) had become more of an net-o-philiac than I am. He introduced me to the now infamous FB, describing it as MySpace, with a twist. He was eager for me to join. Why? Simply enough, he & his friends were competing to see who could have the most 'friends'. To help boost his numbers, I signed up, and spent a few hours filling out my profile info. To this day, I never found out who won between Steve & his friends, but in the mean time, FB has become a daily part of my internet life.

The Skinny
What can you actually do & not do with FB?

You Can:
- control who has access to your profile, your newsfeed (which tracks changes you make to your profile, messages you leave on friends' walls, and pictures you upload or which you are tagged in), and you can control what information is available to applications built using the Facebook Platform.

- block someone's access to finding you in searches. BUT, you can only block a FB user. There are no preemptive blocking capabilities yet.

- join various groups showing your support (or distaste) for different causes, world issues, or just random silliness

- post notes which are basically blog entries which your friends can read and comment on

- send private messages to both friends and users that you are not officially friends with

- accept or reject individual friend requests, although, as far as I know, FB will not actually report that a request has been rejected.

You Cannot:
- find any information about a user that they have not actually put onto FB themselves

- (sorry, there's not really much more that you can't do.. or at least nothing else that I can think of. FB is unbelievably interactive, and users seem to range in the amount of information they share, time they spend online, and methods of interaction)

And some FB Propaganda - straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
The following is taken from the FB Press Page.
Facebook is a social utility that enables people to understand the world around them. Facebook develops technologies that facilitate the spread of relevant information through social networks, allowing people to share information online the same way they do in the real world. Facebook is made up of many networks - individual schools, companies or regions - each of which are independent and closed off to non-affiliated users. To join Facebook, people can authenticate into a school or work network, or they can join a regional network. They can then create profiles to connect with friends, share interests, join groups, send messages, write notes and post photos.

Facebook gives people control over what information they share and with whom they share it. Using Facebook's privacy settings, people can limit the information visible to someone or block that person from seeing them completely. The ability to control their information means people can stay current with their friends and the people around them in a trusted environment.

Facebook launched in February of 2004 and the website now has over 21 million active users across over 47,000 regional, work-related, collegiate and high school networks. According to comScore, Facebook is the sixth-most trafficked site in the United States and the number one photo-sharing site.

FB in the Media
I think, despite my own enamoured opinions, and some internal propaganda, it would only be fair to share some of the less popular opinions of FB that are roaming their way along the internet. Here are a couple of articles I found online that I think are worth a read, especially with your particular net-stalker experience.

Life Experience: Opening a Facebook account for the first time [Canadian Press]

"The utterly faceless aspect of Facebook bothered me the most. When a close friend told me about a significant event in her life in a short Facebook message, I realized she probably would have called to let me know if I didn't have an account. I saw myself taking similar shortcuts because I didn't have time, because it was easy, because at least this little contact was better than nothing.

But I realized that if I lost touch with some people from high school, maybe it happened for a reason. And I knew I would keep in touch with my closest friends regardless of Facebook.

So I deleted the account. At first I thought I'd committed social suicide, but days went by and I didn't miss it. Facebook won't miss me, either."

The Wrong Profile [Montreal Mirror]

"I had just about become bored with the site when, two weekends ago, I discovered I had a Facebook impostor. I was shocked. And intrigued. And hooked. An old friend had invited me on his network, and as I looked over his list of Facebook contacts, there was another Samer Elatrash. This one had uploaded a picture of me he found on the Web to his profile.

I called up my friend, whom I hadn’t seen for more than a year. “Why is there another Samer on your friend list?” I briskly asked.

“I thought you had two profiles,” he responded.

“I have one,” I said. “Couldn’t you tell which one was real?” He couldn’t."

Some FB Statistics
Statistics, according to FB.
& according to the National, these are some statistics in Canada.
  • 2 million users
  • grows by 100,000 new users a week
  • 500,000 users alone in Toronto makes this the world's largest network
And that, my dear Carter, is the sum of my advice to you regarding Facebook. It's an online social network that has taken the internet by storm, and which makes it possible to access some of the more personal aspects of lives both near and far. It offers the illusion of privacy, while making it possible to find and be found by nearly anyone, which can be taken as both a good and a bad.

Should you join? Only you can decide. I know that I for one, would love your occasional wall posts and I can just imagine the poking wars... but for quality communication, I'm not sure FB is the answer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

the beginning of the end of the beginning*

2 days and counting. My room is nearly packed and my days are full., but my heart is trapped in a web of confusion. I'm moving home... aren't I? But, what if Edmonton became home when I wasn't looking? My friends are here. My life is here... I'm not sure that family is enough anymore? Not after so many years apart.

I keep telling myself that this move doesn't have to be permanent. Calgary can be a stepping stone between my past and my future, even if I don't know what future is in store for me just yet.

~~~

I think there might be something inherently 'off' about me. Lately, I find myself eager to spend my time doodling, but out of an ironic peculiarity, the only thing that seems to pour onto the page are words. I don't really understand -- how can doodling be so difficult? Isn't doodling, by its very nature, an absent-minded form of expression (much like humming)? Isn't it supposed to be one of those things that anybody can do?

And I should clarify: I don't mean that my doodles are boring or trite, but rather, when I am sitting through a boring conference lecture, or daydreaming by a sunny window, or lost in front of the TV, even though I'll sit with a pad of paper and a pen within my grasp, it is only by a conscious effort that any shapes make their way onto the page.

I wonder if this is some strange side effect of not being absent-minded? I suppose I have a bizarre habit of focusing particularly closely to what people are saying, but shouldn't doodling still be a natural form of expression of my subconscious?

I am incapable of doodling**.

~~~

At the conference this morning, one of the lecturers sat down between myself and Dreads. He said something that was sweet in an uncomfortable and inappropriate sort of way. I think he's just having one of those days where the buffer between inner-monologue and outward speech went out for a coffee break, but it was still nice to hear. God knows he's got a harem of school-girls that make their way through the halls every year in hopes of his praise, but I look to him for guidance, friendship, and mostly just a snappy comeback to my random cracks as we pass each other in the Department. I admire his recent candor and openness to the thoughts and opinions of those around him, and hope one day to adopt the general ease with which he carries himself through life. Email King, I'm not sure if you've dared to visit my blog, but I still want to say Thank You. So, Thank You.

~~~

"The mirror can only reflect the real mask, not the real self."
-- Keiko MacDonald

~~~

I wonder what life would be life as a grad student. Over the last 2 days, the University of Alberta hosted a Grad Conference in East Asian Studies. 15 lectures ranging from linguistics to translation to literature and cultural studies, all related to this year's theme "conflict, crisis and negotiation." As with any series of lectures, some were more engaging than others, but all were impressive - at least those that I was able to attend. But, despite all of the intellectual discourse I was exposed to over my final days in Edmonton, what I've taken away from the experience speaks more to my true nature than anything else.

Imagine being interested in something; in a topic that inspires you enough to want to learn as much as you can about it. Imagine researching and analyzing said topic long enough that your friends & academic peers begin to recognize you as a sort of expert in the field. Imagine an institution believing in you, in your inspiration and in your intellectual potential, to the extent that they encourage you to complete your MA studies with them and pay you handsomely to do so.

Now, imagine all of the potential and all of the opportunities that could come along with it: public lectures, publications, and an elitist social circle with which to debate, discuss and develop together, invitations and Trans-Canadian flights to share your thesis and intellect with like-minded individuals.

Not really a future to look down on, is it?

Then again, as my oh-so-encouraging uncle pointed out, these days, in Calgary, Tim Horton's is always hiring.

How am I supposed to believe in myself when my own family doesn't believe in me?

~~~
* I stole this title from a Smashing Pumpkins song. I can't remember the song for the life of me, but the title always struck a chord.

** For Lora's eyes only! (with the exception of course of a certain speculatory name over and over. I feel like I'm 12 years old)