Posts

Showing posts from 2010

One Last Hurrah

I am always surprised to look at the calendar (or, lets be honest here, the right-hand corner of my computer screen and my cell phone) and realize it’s December 31st. It always feels like I should be more prepared for the end of the year, like there should be an announcement across the city three days before to remind everyone to prepare to write “2011” in their notebooks shortly.

The end of December practically begs for year wrap-ups, conclusions about what the previous 364 days has taught us, and observations-turned-promises of how we can improve in the next calendar year. While I often reflect on how things made me feel and, thus, changed me, I’m not really one to see the end of December/beginning of January as the opportune moment to do so. I feel like our culture views New Years as the time to make changes, end bad habits and take up new challenges. I think we should be doing this all the time; change should not be reserved for one day of the year.

All of that said, I am going to…

Silently, How Silently the Wondrous Gift is Given

Christmas fast approacheth! And thus, in typical TV sitcom fashion, I thought I’d do a sort of Christmas blog special. I’ve changed my background to give the sensation of staring at Christmas lights through my eyes with my glasses off.

Christmas is the reason I am a Christian. The birth of Christ is without a doubt the most beautiful story ever told:

The Almighty God, filled with compassion and love for his people, his creation, decided that the world needed something concrete to believe in, a tangible example of his power, kindness, wrath, love, and forgiveness. So he chooses a young girl, a child burgeoning on womanhood and without any titles or fame or wealth, to bear his son. God sent himself to begin life as all humans do - as a humble baby. A tiny, powerless, completely dependent human being. And at his birth there were both poor, dirty shepherds who brought nothing but themselves to worship the King, and rich, educated, and wise Magi who lavished the Baby Jesus with expensive g…

The Final Test

Hello!

I've been meaning to post for quite some time, but I've been far too occupied to be able to sit down at my computer and dedicate an hour to writing a new blog post. I arrived back in Newfoundland on 11 December and have since been visiting with friends, watching Mom decorate, snuggling with my kittens, and generally enjoying being at home. The best part about leaving home is coming back to it.

I wanted to post this particular thought about 10 days ago, so it's a bit less timely now, but it'll have to do. It's still applicable, anyway, as exams are still happening at UBC. Onwards!
_______________________________________________________________________

On 9 December I wrote what was, by all accounts, the final exam of my career in the Arts.

I have always hated writing English exams. I feel that are totally non-pedagogical in that I have never understood what I’m supposed to learn from walking into an exam where I don’t know what question I’m going to have to a…

Excuse Me, You're Stepping on My Canadianness

Image
"What does it mean to be ‘Canadian’?”

As much as the academic world has become a part of my very being, there are some things that happen to you when you fully commit to the thinking and philosophizing lifestyle that you don’t necessarily like. Namely: questioning everything you ever believed in or understood to be true.

When I was a child and into my mid-teens, I was very patriotic. I painted a Canadian flag on my headboard; I relished playing the anthem when it was B Band’s turn to play at Starrigan’s flag break; I watched the olympics and cheered for Canadian athletes with a passionate fervour normally reserved for wedding nights; I wore my Roots hoodie almost exclusively throughout grade 9 until there were no sleeves left; I counted down the days until I could legally vote for our Prime Minister. Mom even had to stop me from painting the entire Molson Canadian poem “I Am Canadian” on my bedroom wall. You can still be patriotic, it seems, without etching a beer commercial into…

"The greatest of these is Hope"

Life is very fickle.

At first, I thought I should write “I am very fickle.” That statement is indeed true - I change my mind more frequently than a rodent reproduces (which is to say a lot) - but I think, also, that life, such as it is, is just as volatile as me.

This blog has been plagued with my constant flip-flopping between complaints and praises of my escapades and adventures of the past three months. As of three weeks ago, I decidedly hated Vancouver and wanted to return home as soon as my money ran out. Lately, however, I’ve started to appreciate this city, the friends I have made here, and the simple fact that I am able to have this experience.

And so life is fickle. What I mean is, I inherently know all the good things about being here. I know that I am blessed that I am financially able to live here, that I am able to study under and meet renowned academics and authors and illustrators, that the people in my program are lovely and friendly and funny and all-around wonderful …

On Eros

I was watching an interview with Stephen Fry at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales this past July, and he was asked to speak on the subject of eros, which in Greek means martial love, passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. I thought his response was beautiful and profound, and so I thought I'd share it with you.
Stephen Fry on Eros:
“When you’re a child and you watch films on television, you tend to wonder why it is that the action, the comedy, the adventure stops every now and again for this bewildering, baffling nonsense that is eros, that is love.
And then when you pass through childhood into adulthood there’s a part of you that sometimes questions why there is any other subject in the world. It is all there is to think about and talk about, love. It is, of course, everything within us, and the extraordinary thing about, and of course there are many shapes to it, the Greeks - I alluded to a couple of them,agape and eros and philia, of course there are…

The Eloquence of A Fall

As I was reading my nightly chapter of Bryson (ok, so I read two chapters today. I'm rewarding myself for being productive), I came across this hilarious passage and had to share.

Bryson's newest book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life talks about just that: the history of the home. Each chapter is named after a room in his current 19th century home in Norfolk, England, and deals with the history of how that particular room came to be, what it was used for, and other various interesting tidbits of information. He provides countless anecdotes (my personal favourites are about the monumental houses that insanely rich people insisted on building, which, in turn, collapsed) which are hilarious and of the sort that you would never have known, or indeed knew you cared to know, had he not told you.

The chapter I'm currently on is "Chapter XIV: The Stairs." Bryson recounts statistics about who and when and how many people fall down stairs yearly, and then talks ab…

An Italics-Worthy Adventure

I said I would write a post about my adventure to Powell’s, and I submit it thusly (warning: I use lots of italics in this entry. Beware):

I first learned about Powell’s from reading Don Miller, who you may or may not recognize as having the distinction of being both the author of great books such as Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in A Thousand Years and my favourite author. Don lives in Portland and has mentioned Powell’s in blog posts, live video blogs, and perhaps also in a book or two (I cannot say for certain this last fact. I’ll have to look it up and get back to you).

I had forgotten about this bookstore until sometime earlier this year. When I decided to move to Vancouver, a professor at MUN advised me I had to take a trip to Portland and go to Powell’s, a bibliophile’s heaven. Suddenly it was as though my whole purpose for moving to the West Coast was clear - I would go to the world’s largest bookstore, and get to meet Don Miller in the same trip. A flawless plan.


A bit of…

The Family From America

Image
There has been an almost unforgivable amount of time since my last post, but I have excellent excuses. Firstly, I had an enormous number of assignments to finish last week, and then I was off to Portland, Oregon to visit my cousin Tammy, her husband Jeremy, and her two kids, Maya and Declan. Forgiven? Thanks.
I left for Portland on Thursday. My flight wasn’t until 12:45, but I left campus at 09:00 because I kept imagining a bus breakdown or that the SkyTrain would stop running for some reason. But I made it to YVR with 2.5 hours to spare. Luckily I hadn’t caught up on the latest episode of America’s Next Top Model so it was a morning well spent.
The plane I learned, once we boarded, was one of those tiny 30-seaters with one flight attendant and aren’t worthy of a walkway that’s indoors. We had to walk outside and up those tiny plane stairs to get on, an experience I equate with the cheap, questionable EasyJet flights in Europe. My seat mate was a slightly balding older gentleman with  G…

Love/Hate

People frequently ask me how I feel about Vancouver, only it’s usually phrased like this:

“OMG, don’t you LOVE Vancouver? Isn’t it the BEST place on the ENTIRE planet!? When I was there, I saw a UNICORN leaping out of a DOUBLE RAINBOW!”

And yes, I do like Vancouver. But I also dislike it sometimes. I’ve decided to compose a list of my loves and hates about every day life in Vancouver.


Loves

1. Bakeries and Bookstores: As far as I’ve discovered, Vancouver does two things better than any Canadian city I’ve ever been in - bakeries and bookstores. On almost every corner, there is a locally owned bakery selling fresh baked bread and pastries. I have a very hard time resisting these shops. They usually sell some sort of lunch-type roll (such as the COP which I discovered this weekend and stands for Cheese, Onion, and Peppers - omg delicious) and various other perfect snack-type baked goods. I’ve yet to be let down by the bread in these shops. There are also an abundance of stores dedicated so…

Paying Homage

Every semester for the past 5 years, I’ve reached a point where I seriously question why on earth I have voluntarily decided to pay an institution to force me to read difficult theory and write papers about arbitrary close readings of books and worry about every minute punctuation quotation mark and italicization in a paper, lest I be accused of plagiarism. It’s insane, really.

Right now I’m working on an annotated bibliography of 25 picture books. We were told we could pick any subject or theme and find 25 illustrated books that talk about it. I chose to look at stories about Noah’s Ark (originally I had planned to look at stories about Newfoundland, but the UBC libraries don’t have many of those). This is the first time I’ve ever written a paper or critiqued books with a (blatantly) Biblical foundation, and also the first time I’ve looked extensively at picture books. I’m finding it all very interesting: some stories gloss over the issue of God killing everyone who wasn’t chosen to …

"Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy"

I always have great ideas for blog entries at like 01:00 when I’m lying comfortably in bed and just on the cusp of sleep. I’m always so much funnier when I’m approaching dream-land than when I’m wide awake, oatmeal stuck to my ribs, and trying to decide which shoes are appropriate for the weather of the moment.

The past few days were sort of difficult. I’ve started watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (clearly I am in need of serious procrastination material if I’ve gotten over my Meredith grudge), and there was an episode that really struck me: A doctor, who had Asperger syndrome and didn’t like being touched had a massive freak out and the only way to calm her down was to hug her. She used some fancy medical jargon to explain why the body’s nervous system reacts to pressure, something about suppressing the nerves, blah blah blah. And something about that episode, that moment, made me realize how incredibly lonely I was.
I’m not a lonely person by nature. I like being with people and …

Geek Chic: How YouTube Has Made it Cool to Be a Nerd

I’m a nerd. I’ve read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban more than 40 times. I would rather go to a history museum - and not even a good one - than go shopping. I spend hours cataloguing my books and making sure its organized by author’s last name. I like discussing critical theory, especially Foucault and issues of power, over coffee. I watch Russian movies with English subtitles for fun, I have a T-shirt depicting Karl Marx with a lampshade on his head (A “Communist Party,” if you will), and my idea of a perfect date is a night out at Chapters. Oh, and I'm doing my Masters in Children's Literature.
My mom gets disgruntled when I acknowledge my nerdiness out loud, or when I declare that my dad is a geek. And understandably so - the word “nerd” was coined in the US in 1951, a derivation from “nut,” meaning “a stupid or crazy person” (Dictionary.com, for those who need sources). Wikipedia says this about it:
Nerd is a term that refers to a person who avidly pursues intellec…

Today I Wear Purple

I’m sure most people have heard about the recent suicides of Tyler Clementi and other LGBT teenagers in the United States. Tyler was outed as being gay on the internet in a graphic way by his friend at university. He committed suicide shortly after.
There have been several suicides of LGBT teens reported in the news over the past few months. Each had been bullied, abused, and tormented for their sexuality, actions, and mannerisms. 
The It Gets Better Project (www.itgetsbetterproject.com) has been working with actors, musicians, journalists, and people who have survived bullying in high school to promote the news that “It Gets Better.” Bullying and abuse from peers is rampant in high school, but there is life after high school, and you will survive and thrive.
Today, 20 October 2010, I, along with thousands of others, wear purple to commemorate the lives of those who felt hopeless, marginalized, and estranged because of their sexuality and saw no other way out. I wore purple to show that …

The NHL: A Love Story

Image
Several cool and unexpected things happened to me this week: I sat next to a woman on the bus who turned out to be from Newfoundland and used to work with my aunt; I went to a super fancy (and delicious) free breakfast with my classmates and got to meet Canadian author/illustrator Pierre Pratt, who signed a book for me and was absolutely delightful; and I had to get my glasses fixed and I met a lovely optician and a friendly woman from New Brunswick who asked me to dog sit for her while she’s in the States. It was an alright weekend, all ‘round.
Most importantly, though, I saw my first NHL game yesterday: Canucks v. Hurricanes. You must all know by now that I am a self-proclaimed useless hockey fan. I would cheer for the Habs, but only because my Dad does. I know nothing about NHL players, except Sidney Crosby is a good player and he’s beautiful, and Wayne Gretzky is a super hero. People over the years have tried to teach me the rules of the game, the scoring, and about the players, bu…

Frustration, or Why MUN is Better Than UBC

Image
Now that I’ve been here for about a month and a half, I have realized that there are a bunch of things that are annoying about life in a big city and life at a big university. Obviously there are lots of great things about Vancouver and UBC, but there are plenty of things that make me frustrated, angry, and upset.
Today was a prime example of everything I don’t like about a big university colliding into one gigantic collage of irritating. I had an assignment due for my class this evening, and I needed to verify how to properly cite newspaper articles. I know I can access the MLA guide online, but I’m super old school (learned it all from Ginny) and I like using the MLA Handbook. Anyway, I figured I’d stop by the Writing Centre (WC) on my way to print my paper off, because at MUN the WC has reference books that anyone can stop in and glance through. I, perhaps naively, presumed the WC here would be the same.
This was not to be so. When I went in, there were several offices, none of which…

There's So Much to Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving! I never really know if Thanksgiving is celebrated on the Sunday or Monday; my family usually eats turkey dinner on Sunday, but we have a holiday on Monday. 
Anyway, I’ve been feeling homesick the past few days. It seems silly because Thanksgiving is usually just another turkey dinner, except we go around and say what we’re thankful for. And there’s pie at the end. And usually the majority of my friends are away for YC or gone home for the break from MUN. But I realized that this will be my first holiday away from home like, ever. Except Canada Days spent at camp, but I’ve never been too broken up about that.
So in the spirit of this weekend, I thought I’d make a list I of things that I am thankful for: I am thankful for my parents and their kindness, generosity, and truly unconditional love, even when I’ve been a nightmare to deal with; for their support in the decisions I’ve made in life and trusting that I will make wise choices in moments of uncertainty.I am thankf…