"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh The Horror!

I turn the knob, stomach filled with dread. The door swings open in front of me, almost as though it has a mind of its own. I cover my nose at the putrid stench, gagging in dismay. I don't even know how to enter, the floor is a maze of shin-banging, foot-piercing mayhem. It is ... my office.

Yes, like most people I have that one room in my house where all the clutter seems to accumulate, and that room is the office. It's become the dumping ground for all things without a home and an utterly unuseable mess.

Don't want the dog to get into the garbage? Put it in the office. Have useless old furniture you're not ready to get rid of? Put it in the office. Have no idea what to do with this random object? Office. Important looking papers? Office. Recycling? Office. Art supplies? Office. Sanity? Definitely not in the office. This is no place for sanity, just pure dreariness.

When we first moved in I had such high hopes for that grotesque horror of a second bedroom. It was supposed to be my writing retreat, my fortress of solitude. (Superman reference. Solid). I had visions of a distinguished desk and library, complete with rich burgundy/red walls. Unfortunately, with only one window the burgundy/red makes it less of a fortress of solitude and more like the bat cave (that's right, I went there), by which I mean cold, dark and musty. The desk is overruled by papers badly in need of filing and an ancient desktop computer so unwieldy that any attempt to use the internet results in total shut down. The whole room is a disaster.

But not anymore. I've decided to challenge the beast. I will clean my office, paint it and turn it into the writing retreat I've always dreamed of. Because I'm awesome.

This will not be an easy task. That room has been the bane of my existence since we moved in over three years ago. But I am determined. And strong. And awesome. I will keep you posted on my progress, possibly even posting some before and after pictures if I'm feeling brave enough. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bride of New France - A Book Review

I'm happy to report that I spent this weekend exactly as I wanted to. I caught up on laundry, cleaned the house, slept like a bear and read a great book.

I started BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE on Friday, and couldn't put it down until this afternoon when I finished it. BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE, by Suzanne Desrochers is about a girl named Laure living in Paris in the 1600s. Taken from her parents at the age of eight, Laure is brought to the Salpetriere, an infirmary for downtrodden women and girls. It is actually more of a prison, brought on by King Louis XIV's promise to rid the streets of Paris of beggars, children and prostitutes. She grows up there, learning to make lace with her only friend Madeleine, dreaming of a day when maybe she can become a seamstress. Unfortunately these dreams are dashed when she is chosen to be sent to Canada to become a wife for one of the settlers there. It is a fate some believe to be worse than death. And although she survives the journey to the new world, she realizes it is nothing like she expected and that it brings all new challenges that will threaten her survival.

Not hard to believe that I couldn't put it down, am I right? BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE is such a rich book, filled with terror, excitement and tribulation. It was such a welcome change to the last book I read, which was rather dry and boring. It took me almost a month to read the last one, and I devoured BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE in a weekend. What a difference. Part of what made this book so good (aside from the excellent writing and story telling) was Laure herself. She was such a perfect character. She was full of dreams and hope, but realistic enough to realize the truth of her situation. She was flawed, scarred by the experiences of her troubled life, but had a deep seated will to survive. It was fantastic.

So, if you're looking for a good book to devour next weekend, I suggest you give BRIDE OF NEW FRANCE a try. I found it to be the perfect weekend read.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Possible I Might Be A Little Stressed

I've never been more ready for the weekend. This week, although short due to the previous long weekend, was still too long. And the funny thing is, I had no idea how stressed I've been all week until this morning.

Last night I went to bed especially early, hoping to get a good night's sleep. Alas, sleep alluded me and I woke up several times throughout the night. This morning I found myself running late as I tried to get ready and didn't make it out the door until I was already five minutes late. If that wasn't bad enough, even though I'd let my car run for a good fifteen minutes while I was getting ready, it still refused to shift out of park when I got inside. I sat there in the car, getting more and more irritated as I watched the minutes tick by. Soon I was ten minutes, then I was fifteen minutes late. It was around this point that I'd had enough. I'm ashamed to admit I had a full on hissy fit in the car, beating the dashboard with my fists as I howled in frustration. I even sobbed a little. A few minutes passed and I was finally allowed to escape my parking spot. It didn't matter that my bosses are away and they wouldn't have minded anyway that I was a few minutes late. I was just so frustrated that I couldn't take it anymore. And if you'd asked me when I got up that morning if I thought I might break down into a hissy fit today, I would have told you that you were crazy.

I was in a foul mood when I got to work, to say the least. And as I sat at my desk, quietly waiting for my frustration and fury to recede into a more pleasant demeanor, I couldn't help but admit I needed this weekend. Last weekend - the long weekend - was supposed to be my restorative weekend. The one where I got my house cleaned, my laundry done and took care of all things me. Unfortunately, I caught a hideous cold and spent the entire weekend in abject misery and returned to work on Tuesday more tired than before.

So, I have big plans for this weekend. And they all revolve around me. It may be selfish, but as my coworkers will attest, it's necessary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keep Literature Sacred

There are authors I admire, both for their talent and their business prowess. It's not easy to get published, and it's even harder for that published material to become a success. I will admit to looking at their glossy book covers with just a twinge of envy, hopeful that one day it will be my turn. And then, there are those other books. The ones that make you want scream and pull your hair out.

I'm talking about bestsellers written by celebrities. And not worthwhile celebrities who have a lifetime of unique experiences to share. I'm talking about those trashy autobiographies by celebrities whose only claim to fame is that they're famous. Like Snooki or the Kardashians. Whenever I ask people why they're famous, no one has any idea. And yet they've climbed to the height of fame and are deemed somehow worthy of something that fantastic and evocative writers may never see. And that just pisses me off.

What really irritated me today was when I heard that Justin Bieber will be releasing a second book. Really? A SECOND book? I highly doubt there was enough material to fill the first. He's a child singer with a mushroom cut. What's to know? And yet, it sold millions of copies. And now there will be a sequel. It's enough to make you hang your head and cry.

We live in a society that idolizes celebrity. I know that. But please, I'm begging you, don't let trashy, shallow vessels of fame and fortune pollute something as precious as literature. Becoming a successful author is a long and difficult road, and that's a good thing. It builds character and crafts skill. Handing a contract to trashy celebrities spits in the face of everything books represent. Enough is enough. They can have our television but not our books!

Monday, February 20, 2012

You Golf, I Sit

Today turned out to be a really great day. Today was Family Day (at least in Canada anyway), so we did just that. My husband and I joined the rest of my family at a golf simulator and played a virtual round of golf. It was a blast. The weather was great, there were no mosquitos, and there were no long walks from hole to hole. In fact, between shots we lounged and chatted in big comfy club chairs. Yep, if I have to play golf, that's the way I like to play.

I think what I enjoyed most was how different it was. We got out of the house, did something fairly active and it was an entirely new experience for me. Not only have I never played virtual golf, I've never played real golf. What a refreshing way to spend the day. If I'd stayed home, my day would have been a marathon of TV watching that left me with a headache and a feeling of regret. Instead, I went out, spent time with the family, and tried something new.

And I learned one thing: I suck at golf. Seriously, it was pathetic. I will admit to having a few semi-decent shots here and there, but overall I was terrible. Which was fine. I've never been especially athletic and I'm okay with that. I'm not a competitive person (usually), so I don't mind being the hopeless one in the group. Unfortunately, my family - being the group of thoughtful, sweethearts that they are - were worried I was feeling rather defeated. So they decided to cheer me on and try to make me feel better every time I made a bad shot. Which was a lot. Now, don't get me wrong. I appreciate that they care whether or not I'm having a good time. But the more they attempted to cheer me up, the more pathetic I felt. Because they must have thought I was doing pretty terrible to try so hard to cheer me up.

My husband was the worst. Not only did he try the hardest to cheer me up, at one point he started rubbing my shoulders and trying to get me to 'relax'. Eventually I had to shoo him away, telling him to shut up before we had a care bear moment. I was worried that at any moment he'd drop down on one knee and start explaining that everyone is good at something and we're all special in our own way.

In conclusion, I had a great time. Despite how bad I am at golfing, I enjoyed giving it a try. But next time, I think I'll spend more time lounging in a nice comfy club chair and less time swinging repeatedly at a golf ball without ever actually hitting it. Although on the plus side, I did relieve a lot of stress.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feeling Maternal, Or Should I Say Bunny-ternal

You hear a lot about women and their biological clock. How many times have you heard someone make the remark that their biological clock is ticking? When I include TV, movies and friends, the number is pretty high. And even if you don't consider the biological clock, there are women who are just meant to be mothers. Women who hear a baby cry and start lactating (perhaps not literally, but close). Whereas there's me. When I hear a baby cry, there's just a cloud of dust following behind as I run frantically in the other direction.

Some women can't wait to have children. They count down the days until they can start popping out babies and raising a family. And God forbid the two of us cross paths. These women also seem hell bent on convincing those of that aren't maternally inclined to forgo our instincts and procreate. But I'm just not that kind of girl. I don't want kids. Never have. But recently I have been feeling a certain kind of maternal longing. No, not for children. For bunnies.

As some of you may recall, my rabbit of nearly five years, George, passed away on Christmas Day. And since she's (yes, she was a girl) been gone, there's been a hole I just can't fill. I miss my fuzzy little angel. Recently I joined pinterest and have been pinning up a storm. A lot of it is beautiful home decor, exotic and beautiful locations and of course, pictures that inspire me creatively. But there is another board that I've started. I've called it my adorable animal picture board, and although it includes all species of animal cuteness (except babies, they do nothing for my cute-o-meter), I can't help but pin every available cute rabbit picture I can find. I can't get enough of them. And every time I look at them, I feel a pull inside that hasn't gone away. Even before George passed away, I'd been thinking about getting another rabbit to keep her company and also because I wanted another one. I miss having a bunny around, and I think soon I might have to give in and get another one.

I won't be able to get another one right now, my husband is still opposed to the idea (a minor obstacle, but still) and I want to wait a little longer out of respect to my dear, departed George. I don't want a new rabbit companion to be her replacement. I was thinking I might wait until after Easter. A lot of people buy their kids rabbits as an Easter present and then realize that they take way more care than a child is capable of (not to mention the stupid kids get bored with them) and they drop them off at the SPCA. This is unpardonable in my eyes. Not only is it incredibly irresponsible, but it's heartless. So, I might take it upon myself to rescue some rabbits this spring. Just as soon as I can convince my husband.

Still need convincing of the cuteness of bunnies? Check these pictures out. (Warning: if your heart doesn't melt, you just might be a robot)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Hate You, Grocery Store

I hate the grocery store. It's dumb, but I do. First of all, I hate the crowds. Putting a bunch of strangers in a building, each with unwieldy carts, each with a list of necessities, most of which they can't seem to find anywhere, is just a recipe for disaster. No matter how good my mood is when I enter, it's an unholy state of foul when I leave.

I do my best to compensate. I try to only go for groceries at odd hours, like really early on a Sunday morning or late on a Friday night. But even with my precautions, I can't seem to get through a grocery trip without turning into a man-eating hobgoblin. The last time I went, it was quiet. There were very few people about, and most of the time they were spaced out enough that they didn't get in my way too much. (Those of you that park your cart directly across from someone else, barring any movement past you: you've been warned). And there weren't too many of those dreaded family carts. I will never understand the need for some families to all go for groceries together. Why does mom and dad and the three children under eight all have to be in the grocery store? Isn't that why there are two of you? So one of you can stay home with the kids?

No, I actually held it together pretty good... that is until it came time to go through the checkout. The checkout is an especially trying time in any shopping experience. At this point, everyone ahead of and behind you are in a bad mood, as is the cashier for obvious reasons. The woman ahead of me was - to put it politely - a moron. She kept questioning prices and forgetting to mention discounts and when it came time to pay she could not figure out the incredibly simple debit machine. The woman behind me was just plain rude. She started loading her groceries onto the conveyor belt before I'd even finished with mine. I resisted the urge to turn around and tear her head off, despite my desire to ask how she thought that would speed things up, and to demand that she wait for her own damn turn. And of course, the cashier did what every cashier does. I don't care when they're cold, or rude, I get it, their life sucks and they're utterly miserable. Who wouldn't be? No, what drives me crazy is when they sling my easily damaged groceries around as though they're boxes of cereal. Stop dropping my oranges. Do not hurl my bread down the conveyor belt like it's a softball, and stop man handling my vegetables! I took great care in picking out the best you had to offer in the picked over selection that results from shopping at the end of the day and now it may as well have been from the bottom of the pile. Stop bruising my produce!

By the time I'd bagged my groceries and loaded them into the car I was in a mood fit to scare serial killers. I had to talk myself down before shifting into drive so I wouldn't bring my rage with me onto the road. And sadly, it's like that every time. So, if you ever come over and notice that the cupboards are particularly bare, just remember, I'm doing it for the safety of others and my own mental health. Because going any more than is absolutely necessary is a very bad idea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all! I've never celebrated it myself, but I enjoy the frivolity of sending thoughtful notes, giving out candy and flowers, and telling those you love how much you care. My day was not one of frivolity, instead I went into work early so I could leave for a funeral. It was sad, but sweet. It's nice to hear someone's life celebrated, see how they touched the lives of others, in ways they probably never even knew about. In a way, it was the perfect Valentine's. I was part of a community of people gathering around loved ones in a time of need. Valentine's Day is a day to show that you care, and that's what I did for a good friend of mine.

But that doesn't mean that the rest of you should be down. I hope you all took the time to spread a little love today. Whether it was at the office with some cute valentines and candy, or if it was with a special someone, or if it was with yourself; taking the time to show how much you love and appreciate yourself with a good bottle of wine, maybe some shopping, or a relaxing massage. It's all good. No matter how you decided to spend today, I hope it made you smile. And to keep the smiles coming, I've taken the liberty of writing you all a fun little Valentine's limerick. Enjoy! (You've been warned: The following is corny and silly).

There once was a valentine that had too much candy
At first she was good, but then not too dandy.
She ate and she ate
and gained too much weight
And now her lover's not feeling too randy.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Questions of Mortality

I'm not someone that often ponders the bigger questions in life. I don't like it when things get deep, or spiritual. But every once in a while, I - like all people - am struck by my own mortality. Something will happen to remind me that I'm mortal, as are all those I love, and one day we will all die.

Generally, when these questions arise, I do all I can to push them away. Denial, denial, denial. That's my way. Why? Because there are no answers to those big questions. Where do we go? What happens to us when we die? There is no definitive way of knowing what happens until our own time comes, and I'd rather not think about it. I don't want to think about the possibilities, or the lack thereof. It's depressing, terrifying and sometimes rather nauseating. I like to think that I'll see all my loved ones again, that we'll meet again on the other side. Is it wishful thinking? Yes, and possibly no. I don't know.

Recent events have reminded me of all these questions, questions I'd rather shove to the bottom of a pit inside me. There are those that say death makes them feel more alive, but for me I only become intensely aware of my own mortality, and the mortality of those I love. I don't ever want to lose those closest to me, and yet I know that some day I will. It's a hard realization to swallow, despite my having known it all along.

I guess that's why they say you should live each day as though it were your last, never take the people and time you have for granted. This is very true, and I try to take it to heart, but I'd rather enjoy my loved ones without the morbid cloud of doom. And so, I return to my favourite coping mechanism. Denial. Denial. Denial. Perhaps it's not the best method, but it's mine.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Truth About Friendship

If they gave awards for extreme awesomeness in the field of friendship, my best friend would win them all. She'd have trophy rooms full to bursting, walls lined with shelves upon shelves of shiny plaques and giant trophies, drawers heavy with ridiculously ornate medals trumpeting her awesomeness as a friend. Between the two of us, the truth is clear: she is a far better friend.

I've never been able to keep up with her in the field of friendship. I'm the selfish one, always busy and slightly neglectful. I don't call as regularly, don't do thoughtful gestures anywhere near as often.

She's the type to show up in a heartbeat. If you need her, she's there. No matter how inconvenient, no matter what else she has going on. She's the type to drive an hour and a half in from out of town when you're in the hospital with possible appendicitis. The kind of friend that's always on your side, always there when you need a shoulder to cry on.

Not only is she the world's greatest friend, she's also the most fun. She's gorgeous, stylish and classy. She's creative and unique. She's funny and thoughtful, a trendsetter in every way. She is an individual, never afraid to be herself. She is my hero.

And so, the time has come when she needs me. And goddammit I'm going to rise to the occassion. A friend like this - nay, a person like this - comes along once in a lifetime. I may not be (and probably never will be) as good of a friend as she is, but for her I'm going to try.

The truth is, I'm glad she sets the bar so high on what it means to be a good friend. Striving to attain her level of loyalty and compassion makes me a better person. And I'm eternally grateful.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feelin' Burnt Out

I'd hoped I was adapting to my new, regular work schedule but it appears I'm not quite there yet. I'm in my 3rd week at my new job (which I still love - make no mistake about that!) and I'm still exhausted at the end of the day.

Everything seems to fall by the wayside in the wake of my excessive tiredness. I've been lazy with the dishes and walking the dog (poor Maddie!) and I haven't been writing as much. I've been feeling the crush on my creative juices as well. I'm less inclined to create new stories, I feel as though I have fewer ideas.

Part of me thinks I should just give myself a kick in the butt, tired or not, and I should just force myself to get up, clean the house and walk the dog. Chances are, if I just got up and did the work, got out in the fresh air, I'd feel better and more energized.

The other half of me - the tired half - thinks I need to just give in. That if I just spent a few days with my brain shut off, catching up on sleep, resting, reading a good book, then I'll feel better. Renewed.

The problem is that the two sides are in battle with each other. I don't have the time to listen to my tired side, and my tired side is making it hard for me to listen to my butt-kicking side. Overall, I'd really like to just inject caffeine directly into my brain. I suppose it would help if I drank coffee. Too bad I can't stand the stuff.
In the meantime, I'm just going to keep plodding along until one side is declared the winner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You're Too Helpful

Sorry for posting a little late this time. I meant to blog last night but I was just too exhausted when I got home from work. I don't know how many of you have ever started at a new job, only to find that someone you work with feels the need to give you constant advice. It happened to me at retail and it's happening now at my office job. And I'm not talking about the person responsible for training you, I'm talking about another random employee that feels the need to divulge their 'bountiful' wisdom.

It's frustrating. It doesn't usually come from a bad place, instead from a desire to help, or in some cases a need to feel important. The hard part is being the new guy and trying to navigate the many pitfalls of turning down that help. Yesterday, for instance, the receptionist at my job kept trying to get me to start on payroll. I don't know how to do payroll (at least at the time I didn't - now I'm prostar!), and I really didn't want her training me on it. She doesn't know it very well, and I knew the way she did it wouldn't be the way my boss wanted me to do it. Not to mention, my boss is a MUCH better teacher. So, I wanted to wait for her. It was crazy hard trying to tell her to step off, especially since she's always so nice and helpful.

After payroll was done, and my boss had once again stepped out of the office, she kept inserting herself into my work, trying to correct my mistakes or make me more efficient. It was positively irritating!! A lot of the corrections she'd insisted on were, of course, wrong, and at this stage I wasn't concerned about efficiency. I was concerned about being thorough and getting it right.

In my experience, the best way to handle it is with patience (although that was difficult yesterday, I was SO grumpy). If you just smile, nod and go to your happy place, they'll usually leave you alone and you can go back and redo your work in the way you'd rather do it. But, you will come home exhausted and unwilling to do anything but sleep, eat and watch TV.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Weekend has Arrived

So far, my weekend is off to a great start. I've already done two loads of laundry, I slept in this morning and I've gotten started on some writing and it's not even noon yet. I suppose most people wouldn't find that very exciting, or possibly not even that great. But enjoying myself this weekend, catching up on sleep and getting some work done are all I really want out of a weekend, and besides, it's bound to be better than last weekend.

Last weekend was the first actual weekend I've had in a very, very long time. Having been a massage therapist and worked at two different retail stores, I've never really got weekends before. I always worked Saturday, and usually Sunday too. I didn't mind it though. In fact, I liked it. I hate going out on weekends. I always try to get all my running around done on weekdays while everyone else is at work. I hate crowds of any sort. And having to go into a grocery store or mall on a Saturday is a big No-No on my list.

Anyway, with the start of my new Monday-Friday job, last weekend was my first regular person weekend. And I hated it. Even though I managed to stay away from crowds by doing errands at obscene hours (I went grocery shopping at 7:00 in the morning), I just couldn't stop being grumpy all weekend long. Both Saturday and Sunday, random things would just set me off and no matter how hard I tried to shake it, I was a pill to be around. At first, I couldn't understand it. I'd avoided the crowds, so there was no reason for me to be annoyed. And then it hit me. I'd spent the last six years working on weekends, and at jobs I didn't like. I'd been conditioned to be miserable on weekends! It didn't matter that I wasn't at work, my brain still thought I was supposed to be pissy. It made me laugh, and all week I've been preparing myself to be in a good mood for this weekend. And so far? Success! I feel great. Granted, I have yet to emerge from my house and face the outside world, but I'm confident I can remain happy and relaxed. And hey, who says I have to go out at all? It's my weekend. (Smug patting of my own shoulder). What are your plans for this weekend?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Like My Musicals Dark and Twisted

On Tuesday night I went with my sister to see the musical, Beauty and the Beast. It was a last minute thing, her original date having fallen ill the night before. In general, I don't usually go for musicals, whether they be on screen or stage, but why let a free ticket go to waste?

Overall, the production was very well done. The set and costumes were spectacular and several of the musical numbers were brilliantly choreographed and performed. But in between those numbers I found myself a little bored. It was a Disney production, made for children (as it should be), so it was very juvenile. There was a lot of slapstick comedy and necessary overacting. And I realized something. It wasn't just how child-friendly the production was, it was also too bright and cheery. I guess I was looking for something a little darker, a deeper look into the horror of being transformed into a hideous beast, the terror of becoming the beast's prisoner. The anguish, the torment, which is then conquered by love. Obviously, you're not going to get that in a Disney production. (Although I still maintain that Beauty and the Beast was one of Disney's least sexist productions. Think about it. It's about a girl that's considered odd by the rest of the village because she reads and has a mind of her own. She's not deceived by the shallow charms of the gorgeous Gaston, like the other girls, and instead finds the inner beauty in an ugly beast. Positive messages all around. Read books, be an individual, don't be shallow and use your brain!)

When I think back to previous musicals that I've liked, one stands above the others. It was in October at the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon. It was a musical based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe and it was phenomenal. It was incredibly dark and twisted, unexpected and surprisingly whimsical (in a dark and twisted way). The music was thrilling and the production was great. It was the kind of production that draws hidden feelings and imaginings up from your subconscious. And I loved it.

Therefore, I think I need to revise my previous belief that I don't care for musicals. Apparently, I do. They just need to be dark and twisted.