Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Higher Standard

I understand that we women come with our own unique style of communication. Reading between the lines is much more necessary with us than with our male counterparts. However, I don't believe that simply because we're women, that gives us free reign to intentionally trap people with our words. So, when I read things like this, it makes me ashamed to belong to a gender that would proudly claim this as their own. Are we not intelligent people? Can we not be respectful enough to the people around us to simply state what we're thinking?

Now, I have, on many occasions uttered an insincere 'fine', 'it's ok' and alike. However, and I sometimes need reminding of this, if that's what I'm saying, I need to be accountable for my words. If I say 'it's ok' and it's not, I take responsibility for whatever the outcome is. It's my choice to close up and not be honest. I need to deal with whatever it is, so that it is ok, or I need to go back and confess what I'm truly thinking.

To see women proudly boast about the mind games they play makes me shake my head. Truthfully, the above graphic needs to be appropriately relabeled as 5 Passive Aggressive Statements You Can Say To Make Women Appear Immature and Catty. Come on women-hold yourself to a higher standard!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Less Is Less and That's Okay

A number of weeks back, I saw a commercial for a computer program that backs up your information, your "stuff". Important personal information, music, documents, photos-protected. You know the drill. I wasn't that interested in the commercial(to me, computer talk = boring) but my attention was caught near the end when these two phrases were uttered "What are you without your stuff? Better yet, without your stuff, who are you?" Honestly, I sat there for a second wondering, "Did I just hear that? Is this what it's come to?" Now, you may tell me, identity theft is not a joke. I completely agree, it's not. You need to take the necessary steps to protect against identity theft(I hear Norton's good). However, since I saw that commercial, I've been seeing that message everywhere-without your stuff, who are you? Commercials, magazines, TV shows, radio ads, everywhere. I know it's been there for years, but I had never heard it so clearly put before and it's got me to thinking. More and more, I'm seeing products, whether that be technology, vehicles, music, whatever, being promoted as identity and it's frightening. Think about that for a second. I certainly hope that my identity is not resting on my dented, rusted, run down Sunfire, or I'm in trouble.

When did we start thinking that we are owed a comfortable life? Not even that, that we're owed a convenient life. The new feature on the newest iPhone4S, Siri, is almost obscene to me. According to the Apple website, 'It’s like you’re having a conversation with your iPhone'. And that doesn't scare anyone else? Can we not function on a basic human level without our technology?

We, first world-ers, are very quick to "blame" our excessive living conditions on circumstance. For example, "Can I help it if this is where I was born? It's not my fault! I'm just trying to keep up/stay current/be relevant in my society/culture!" Did you follow all that? :)

It's true, save extreme measures, we can't help where we live. But we can help how we consume and how much we consume. Sometimes, the better choice is just not to buy that new whozit or whatzit. Sometimes the upgrade isn't necessary. Sometimes you should go without because you don't have to live with more. Sometimes, less is less and that's okay.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shannelle and Megan à la Dale from Ava

video
This will really only be funny if you watch 'Up All Night' and have recently received a lovely card from Shannelle and Megan. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Snippets of Friendship

There are some memories that, for some reason, stick out to me when I think of different friendships that I have. Some are big moments, some are small, but they all hold a special place in my heart. :)

Christi-We lived together for three school years. At the beginning of our second year, I was the first of the roommates to arrive in our apartment. I remember laying on the floor in the disastrous living room, looking through a book and the door flew open and it was Christi! We both screamed with delight, I jumped up and we threw our arms around each other. She said, "We're going to the Cannons game! Let's go!" It was one of the last Calgary Cannons games and it was the perfect way to start the school year.

Tammy-I hadn't really had a job where I had the potential to make friends before I started at Chapters. That makes me sound a little sad, don't worry I'm not. But I think Tammy is the first work friend I've ever had. Her persistence in trying to arrange a coffee date with me kind of threw me off at first because, well frankly, I wasn't used to going out with people from work. There wasn't a stand out moment when I realized this but I think I slowly realized, 'Oh. She wants to have coffee because......we're.....friends. Huh. I have a work friend. Did not see that coming.' I'm so glad she persisted because she's fantastic and I'm glad she's in my life(however infrequently). :)

Matt-When it comes to movies, Youtube clips, romantic stories, I'm a huge sap and have no problem crying in front of others. When it comes to personal issues, I'm quite private and generally keep my tough emotions to myself. After/during a particularly trying time in my life, I went to Matt(and Monica)'s house and basically blubbered like a fool. As I completely vented, Matt listened and offered encouraging, supportive words without being condescending or dismissing me. I've cried in front of him more times than I prefer to admit but I know he's person I can trust completely and that's invaluable.

Aurora-I worked with Aurora at Chapters and we didn't often work similar shifts. One day, after we hadn't seen each other in a really long time, I came into the back to start my shift and she was there looking for a book. As soon as she saw me, she gasped and ran over and gave me a huge hug-even though I was on the phone. I'm not really a huggy person but it was a really nice way to start the work day.

Stu-I met Stu when I was a teenager and he was MUCH older. After a rocky start(pranks and name calling were involved), we developed a mutual respect and enjoyment of teasing each other(pranks and name calling were still occasionally involved). Now, he's honestly one of my favorite people and I'm proud to call him my pastor. :)


Adriana-I lived with Adriana for one year and at some point during that year, we thought it'd be so great if we read bedtime stories to each other. For about a week, we would take turns reading 'The Magician's Nephew' to each other. I don't really know what brought that on but it was a great week and I'll never look at that book on my shelf the same way again.

Dan-The few times I went to Dan's place in university, I annoyed him by placing all of his, very disorganized CD's, in alphabetical order. I couldn't help it and eventually I think he came to expect it. Thanks for understanding Dan.

Leanne-Leanne and her, then boyfriend, now husband, Jonathan went on a trip to the UK to visit a couple of mutual friends and I met them at the airport upon their return. Previous to this trip, Leanne and I spoke every day, seeing each other quite frequently, and, as it turns out, the trip was a nice break. For both of us. :) We had both secretly not really missed the other and both secretly been a bit nervous that we wouldn't be that excited to be reunited. *Sidenote-it sounds like we hated each other. On the contrary, we loved each other immensely.* When they walked out of the gate, one of the first things Leanne said to me was "I'm so glad I'm happy to see you!", to which I replied, "Me too!" I'm glad I have a friend I can be that honest with.


Jennie-I have spent many of the last 7 New Year's Eve's with Jennie and I've learned one thing. If Jennie's there, it's gonna be a good time. You'll laugh-a lot. Like I did when she accidentally over shared a slightly inappropriate piece of information with a few of us a couple years back. I won't say what it was but her face went red and we all laughed.


Thanks to all my friends who provide me with an abundance of wonderful snippets. You make my life better.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

2632

It's 1:30 a.m. and as I make my way home from a friend's house, I'm struck, as I always am when I travel at this hour, how peaceful and calm the city streets seem in the darkness. I pull up to a red light, beside another car presumably on it's way home as well. We sit at the light for approximately 45 seconds before a cop car pulls up directly in front of us, blocking either of us from proceeding. The officer parks the car and my heart starts to race. The peaceful, calm streets have turned suspicious and unpredictable in a manner of seconds. At the exact same time, myself and the passengers in the neighboring car look over at each other, as if to say, "What did you do?" We share a bewildered look and an assurance is passed between us that neither of us is a criminal. We're in the same clueless boat.

I begin to look around to find the reason we're being detained and I notice flashing orange lights coming towards the intersection from the left. Two or three trucks slowly pass in front of us, and then comes the main attraction. A house.

An entire house passes in front of us, slowly, as if being carried by a cloud. The house has a mailbox, a front door, even a house number. The moment is surreal and amazing. I feel like I'm in a strange house transporting dream. Peace is restored to the streets and to my heart as I take in this sight. It feels differently from when I have seen houses bring transported on the highway. Those houses lumbered down the road, inconveniencing or frightening those around them. This house is graceful somehow. The street lights gently cast a faint glow on what will be someone's home as it leisurely makes it's way through the intersection, continuing on it's way.

The police officer starts up his car and pulls away once the house is at a safe distance. The light turns green and I smile as I slowly pull away from such a strange late night experience.


Over the years, I have often thought of that house. It's house number is up on my wall. I'm not sure why that experience struck me or stuck with me like it has. However, I do know that whenever I look at those numbers and I recall that night, a sense of calm comes over me and my often scattered mind takes a deep breath. So, for that, 2632, I thank you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sing My Lonesome Away

I came across this thank you note today and it clarified something I've been thinking about for a while. Let me start here-

I'd like to say that I'm never jealous of my married/parent/'together' friends. :) I can't. There are still days that I think, 'What am I doing?? THIS is where I am in life? What the bloom is going on? Look at her/him/them! Now THEY'VE got it together!' It never lasts too long, as I realize that my singleness has blessed me with opportunities and experiences that my married/parent/'together' friends won't have the chance to partake in. Most of time, I'm good with where I'm at-even though I don't know where that is ninety percent of the time. However, I've realized one thing over the years, as many of my friends have gotten hitched and/or started families. It changes things.

I'm not going to get into how it changes things for people getting married or becoming parents, I think we all know. I'll just say that, for me, it's changed things. It's left me in a place I wasn't prepared for when I was younger. I never expected the vast majority of my friends to be a such a different place in life as me. I never expected to be single in my late twenties. So, even now, years into my adult life, I often find myself being pulled two different directions. I spend half my time trying to embrace my unique situation(I know it's not completely unique. I do realize I'm not the only single person my age) and half my time trying to figure out if I fit/ wanting to fit into a group. And unlike Leah, it's left me feeling lost and lonely at times.

I'm still trying to strike the right balance in my life. I'm not really sure how to do it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dear Almost All Teenage Girls,

Is there really a need to make a funny face, stick your tongue out or pucker your lips in every. single. picture? I'd like to see your real smile! I've seen it before and it's nice! I prefer it to the contorted expression you insist upon.
Sincerely,
Jenn
PS It's also okay to look directly at the camera. Who's ever off to the side making you smirk like that can wait.

Livin' The Dream

1997 was the year my little Sunfire was born. Back then, the 14 year old me, thought nothing was cooler, sleeker or awesomer than the new two-door, Pontiac Sunfire. Especially those teal ones I'd seen driving around town! How lucky were those people! It was my dream car. Maybe, if I played my cards right, I could own one of those beautiful cars one day.

Fast forward 10 years.

The 24 year old me had never owned a car. But when my job required that I have a job, my dad knew a guy(as dad's often do) that had an available car. All I knew was that it was cheap. Excellent. All I was really looking for at that point. My dad and I drove to the shop, walked in and when we turned the corner, I couldn't believe my eyes. A teal, two-door, 1997 Pontiac Sunfire. It was happening. After all these years, I was getting my dream car. Sure it had a dent on the side, over 170,000 km's and it looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to the windshield-I was in love. I drove it back home and began looking on baby name websites to find the perfect name for my lovely car(true story)!

Fast forward 4 years.

After a rough few months, Elaine, or Laney, has decided to take a break from driving me around. And so she sits outside my house, patiently waiting for me to have the funds to make her feel like cruising our city streets. After another few months, a lonely Laney gets taken to the shop to get fixed up! She was there only 2 days, but as I walked from the bus stop to the auto shop, I had butterflies. As if I were about to be reunited with a long lost friend. My eyes scanned the parking lot and landed on my perfectly imperfect car. I am so excited to drive I actually squeal a little.

Fast forward 4 days.

I haven't driven for almost three months and during that time, I think I romanticized Laney's abilities. It didn't matter that she was 14 years old, now had over 250,000 km's under her belt and rust damage. All she needed was some clutch fluid and it'll be like she came right off the lot! It took me four days for that to wear off. Now, I'm realizing that I need to come to grips with the fact that Laney won't be with me forever. She may not even last the year. So I'm cherishing every second I get to drive around on a sunny day(after I crank the manual windows down) or cruise down the highway late at night(intermittently turning on and off the heat to reach the perfect temperature because it only works on full blast).

There have been some ups and downs in our relationship but I have loved my car from the start. And when that day comes that I have to say goodbye, I'll take solace in the fact that for a short time in my life, I was lucky enough to drive that 1997 teal Sunfire. I was livin' the dream.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Taxicab Confessions

I've been in my fair share of cabs and I know that you never know what kind of driver you're going to get. You could get a Chatty Cathy who's going to talk to you no matter what, even if you don't respond. You could get one that says hello, goodbye and nothing else. Or you could get one that insists that you are going to join in the conversation.

Today, I had a Chatty Cathy. These are my personal favorite kind of drivers. Mostly because it's usually fairly entertaining. Here's some excerpts from today's drive. When I realized he was giving me some gems, I hopped on my phone and started writing down what he was saying. Keep in mind that most of time I'm responding with customary Mm-hm's and Yup's. A few For sure!'s thrown in for good measure.

After he heard I was at a graduation of a friend, a potentially inspiring little speech takes a seemingly fatal and certainly depressing turn at the end. I didn't know what to think of this one:

'Life is like a ladder. You climb up the steps one at a time. You climb and climb and climb and then you fall down. When there's no more steps, you fall down and you don't get back up.'

Then he asked if I had watched the Royal Wedding. When I said no, he said that he had watched the highlights and apparently he had some opinions. For this part, keep in mind that he's a middle aged Middle Eastern man.

'They kept it simple. Everyone thought the dress was so fancy but no. There was nothing fancy about it, very simple. Very simple. Very beautiful. I like her style. It's like Cinderella! All that's missing is the slipper. She's just an average person. Her family is a normal family. Just imagine her mother. She gave birth to a daughter and one day she becomes queen. For her mother, it's probably the best moment of her life. It's like a cartoon story on DVD.'

He was fascinated but apparently, his wife didn't share the sentiment. :)

'I was more into it than my wife. She was like, 'Shut this off!'

My favorite line- "I like her style." He was so awesome. I hope, against all odds, I get him again sometime in my life.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Came First The Music Or The Mood?

Music has always been a big part of my life. In my adult life, especially since I've lived by myself, I find that I use music to help me articulate how I'm feeling. I don't have someone here to vent to, so I turn to music. Although I do talk to my family on the phone(and to myself, although not on the phone), there's something to be said about someone 'hearing' you in your own space. When I hear a song that perfectly expresses how I'm feeling, I feel like I've been heard. Like someone gets it. However, all the different times that music has helped me feel heard, or sort out my feelings, I sometimes fight feelings of skepticism.

It's the chicken and egg question of music and mood.

Do I listen melancholy music because I'm feeling a bit blue or mellow, or is it because I turn on that kind of music that those feelings come to the surface?

One of my favorite things in the world is listening to music that just sort of, melts over you. It's like a breath of clean air for my heart. I'm trying my best not to over think it and just be grateful that time and time again, it soothes my soul.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Fight I Didn't Know I Was In

Tonight, after working at the bookstore, I climbed into my car, turned it on and got out again to brush the light layer of snow from my windows. I got back in and dropped my snow brush on the floor behind my seat and began the journey home. As I'm pulling out of the parking lot, I look in my rear view mirror and notice that there's snow on the mirror. I think, "Where did that come from?" Then else something catches my eye, I look up onto the ceiling of my car and it's spattered with snow! I look in my backseat, snow everywhere! What looks like the point of impact of a large snowball is on the backside of the passenger's seat and I am dumbfounded. What in the world is going on?! I think back and know that I didn't throw my brush into the back seat nor was there enough snow on it to cause this display. Did someone throw a snowball into my car? Maybe I left a door open? When I parked before going into work, there were two people walking by that kept looking back at my car, as if they were annoyed that I parked there. Could they have come back seeking vengeance for whatever crime I had committed against them? Who does something like that? I am baffled as I drive home. Even more so when I notice that it's not really melting as my car warms up.

I decide to take pictures when I get home and tell my tale of being attacked for no reason. Being ambushed. Targeted. Bullied. I am incensed and by golly people are going to hear about it! I park, whip out my camera and start snapping away. I start at the ceiling, working my way back to the backseat, catching a shot of the front passenger seat which is also covered. I want to get the best shot, to really show off the destructive power strangers can have. I'm getting the real money shot when I notice something in the drink holder of the back seat.

A pop can.

A pop can that was formerly full but is now bulging with the tell-tale signs of a recent explosion. It's not snow covering the inside of my car. It's green tea ginger ale.

I am...embarrassed, that I would jump to the always logical, a-stranger-broke-into-my-car-to-throw-snow-in-it-because-they-didn't-like-where-I-parked, conclusion. I am relieved, that that didn't actually happen. I am many things. But as I shake my head at myself and have a laugh I think about another situation I'm currently in that feels very similar to this.

A new co-worker of mine has struggled to see the innumerable reasons why it's a treat to work with me every day. From the get go, it seems she's had her mind made up that I'm not to be trusted. Or talked to. I've been confused from the start, but have tried to make headway with her. We started working together and she decided she didn't like where I parked and decided to sneak a few ginger ale bombs into my work day. Sometimes I'm tempted to lob them back at her but I resist. Maybe one day I'll realize, like I did tonight, that it's not intentional. It's not meant to be malicious. She just doesn't do too well in the cold.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When I Grow Up

I was reading a dear friend's blog the other day and she mentioned that one of her New Year's Resolution's is to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. My friend is 26. I smiled as I read, simply because I've been thinking the same thing as of late-"What do I want to be when I grow up?" It's a question that we wonder about for years. We play pretend and imagine we're putting out fires or giving people needles. The possibilities are endless when you're little. You could be a doctor, a construction worker or a tiger! As you grow older, you realize you get queasy around blood, manual labor doesn't appeal to you and that life as a tiger isn't as glamorous as you once thought. Your interests begin to narrow and you start thinking about what you'd really like to do in life.

For years, I thought I destined to be a teacher. At the same time, I was interested in speech pathology, sign language and writing. In recent years, I completed my teaching degree and thought it was a pretty straightforward path from there. Get a teaching job at a great elementary school, teach for many years and retire as the greatest teacher ever. :) How wrong I was. After struggling for two years as a substitute teacher, and wondering how in world the school system works, I have begun to question what I want to be when I grow up. The 'working with kids' part has not changed-I love kids and love hanging out with them but I'm beginning to wonder what else I could do with my degree.

Over the past couple years, I have become heavily involved in the youth group at my church. I love it. Hanging out on Friday night with those teens is often the highlight of my week. I love it so much, it's made me question if I should be headed into full time youth ministry.

I have also intensely enjoyed my job at Chapters
as it has increased my love for books, children's books in particular. The idea of being a children's librarian sounds like heaven to me!

Through all of these recent developments, I still love the thought of being a teacher, specifically to deaf and hard of hearing kids!

I have so many things that I'm passionate about, it's hard to know what direction I should head in. What should I be when I grow up? I was talking with my friend who's thinking about that same question, I asked "Wouldn't it just be easier if you hated everything except for this one job which you love and just happened to be especially skilled at?"

It'd be easier, but probably a lot less fun. :)