Tuesday, March 31, 2009

of all things visible and invisible...

I've been thinking lately about "naming" and how the ability to NAME something has so much power behind it. This isn't really a new idea for me as most of my women's and colonial literature training has touched on this topic many many times, but lately its been coming back to me. A few weeks ago Karen, Bethany and I were talking about marriage in light of Melisa's upcoming wedding. The three of us got into an interesting discussion of the purpose of marriage outside of a traditional or religious viewpoint. I immediately, instinctually came up with the fact that, for me, the major importance is the ability to name the relationship you have with that person. And yes, I understand how people who buckle under or feel uncomfortable with the expectations and connotation that go along with the traditional and religious views of marriage have a hard time reconciling themselves to agree to be in a relationship that borrows the language of these institutions and traditions, but when it comes down to it, we live in a cultural context in which it is essential to be able to name that important relationship in a way that others can understand and relate to. Does that make sense? Maybe, maybe not. It does to me.
Anyway, marriage is not the only area that this idea of naming has been popping up in. I've been thinking a lot about how 'naming' is such a powerful action; how it can be both empowering and oppressive, liberating and restrictive. I think I need to do some more work in English Lit on this idea because I've been trying to publish this post for the past three days and just keep coming up with fragments of ideas that need to be followed through and worked out.

However, I do want to leave you with this excerpt from a book I finished recently. It wasn't an amazing, blow you away book to be honest. I've read better from Paulo, but I liked this paragraph and this idea...

Many many years before on a night like this, Jacob has not allowed God to leave without blessing him. It was then that the Lord had asked:"What is thy name?"
The essential point was this: to have a name. When Jacob had answered, God had baptized him Israel. Each one has a name from birth but must learn to baptize his life with the word he has chosen to give meaning to that life.

- from Paulo Coelho's "Fifth Mountain"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

they don't love you like I love you...

I've decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I like what they stand for and I like doing work with my hands. So the two seem to have potential to be beautiful together. Plus there are hints of spring in the air and I am daydreaming about being out in the fresh air getting dirty and tanned and strong and scraped up. I'm a pretty big wimp for the cold, but as soon as it hits that 0 degree mark, I'm itching to be outside. I think Habitat for Humanity will be a good thing for me. I realized that I am involved in very few volunteer things lately. I used to spend a LOT of time doing work that could only be classified as "volunteer" but in the past year, not a whole lot comes to mind. Now, I know a lot of people who do good work that I could get involved in...half of the staff at The Mustard Seed are good friends or at least acquaintances of mine, King's is always running projects that need volunteers on a local or even international level, our Lendrum community league is constantly looking for volunteers for their events, and the list could go on. I chose Habitat for Humanity though for a few different reasons. First of all, I don't really know anyone involved in it and getting out of your social circle is sometimes a very healthy and important thing to do. Secondly, the housing crisis is severe and the need for stable, good quality, affordable housing is desperate. Working landscaping in ritzy new subdivisions all day long for a few summers hits that home pretty powerfully. Thirdly, I really like building and fixing things. Especially things that are made out of wood or drywall. I really enjoy the act of construction. I need more building in my life.

I feel as though this will ramble on into monotony if I don't stop it here because I'm really more interested in the sunny blue skies outside my windows than writing this at the moment. Happy Weekend everyone.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust...

I try not to read/watch/listen to much news. I know, that makes me sound ignorant. I used to pay a lot of attention to current events and I do like knowing what is going on in the city/country/world I am living in. For the past few years though, I've tried to insulate myself a little. I'm not what many people would classify as an overly sensitive person, but the news really gets to me. Today I watched a few top stories on CTV and CBC and I hate how it all makes me feel. Germany: a young man goes on a shooting rampage and kills 16 (mostly high school students)...including himself. Beijing: the ongoing trial of a 19 year old man who stabbed a 22 year old canadian model to death last year. Darfur, Sudan: a montreal based nurse and an italian doctor working with Doctors without Borders get kidnapped from the compound they were authorized to be working in. Alabama: in a small town of 2000 people a local man writes a "hit list" and kills 10 people before killing himself. Brisbane: a Hong Kong tanker loses tons of oil which devastates 60km of beach. Afghanistan: more canadian soldiers die after being hit by a roadside bomb. Red Deer: a man posing as a police officer abducts and assaults a 16 year old girl. Bangladesh: 72 officers murdered by their men in a mutiny over wage.
And that's just a sample of the overtly horrifying events. This comes nowhere near touching on the political, economic and religious decisions and declarations being made which will act as the root causes of future violence in our communities, to our environment, to the world as a whole.
All of these stories make me afraid. Afraid that I will be caught in gang violence when I walk across the street to have lunch with Patrick. Afraid that I will be abducted while getting into my car in the dark, quiet parking lot after work. Afraid I will be hit by a tired truck driver on highway two on my way home to visit family. Afraid an engine in the plane I'm riding in will malfunction and cause a fatal crash. When I watch/read the news, I am terrified of the world I live in. The problem is, the life I try to and intend to lead requires a significant amount of empowerment, requires a significant amount of faith in humanity, requires a significant amount of courage. And so I walk that careful line of awareness and acknowledgement of all that is frightening in this world, at this moment in time, without being overwhelmed by it.

The Cinematic Orchestra and Sigur Ros help.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the kids on the corner playing ghetto games...

I find living in alberta to be kind of ridiculous at times. Like this week's weather - yesterday we experienced a record low for march of -42.7... tomorrow we'll be back up to +1. Honestly. A 50 degree difference in temperature in two days. Its a wonder our bodies can stand up to such things. I tried to find some interesting facts about what happens to other living things and inanimate objects in a 50 degree temperature change, but alas, I'm not an excellent Googler.

Something else of note...I was asked by a customer today if I was over the age of 30. Apparently I look JUST like this customer's niece who was over 30. This guy wasn't that old..maybe early 50's...and after I politely responded that, "nope, I am under 30" he said "well, I guess everyone has their twin." At that moment I wanted to say "you know, now that you say it, you look just like my 92 year old neighbour". Though I am not one to get sensitive about my age, asking a 24 year old if they're over 30 is slightly offensive. And who poses that question? Even if you were inclined to, isn't the more flattering way to say "are you UNDER 30"? Really.

Other than that, today has been uneventful so far as I watch the clock tick towards closing time.

ps. Something to watch if you're a little bored...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ASzJyyvg3I

Saturday, March 7, 2009

send for you now to tend to me now...

I don't usually write a lot of personal information in my blog...well, in some ways. I write a lot of really deeply personal ideas and thoughts and plans that run through my mind, but I don't divulge very many specifics about my day-to-day personal life. Caylie (click on her name to the right to check out her blog because I'm too lazy right now to attach the link right here in my post). Anyway, my friend Caylie tends to have the opposite approach and I am often quite entertained by her writing so I thought maybe I'd take a page from her book today. This is also a post for Karen who told me earlier this week she checks my blog everyday and I do not write nearly enough for that kind of dedication. Plus, I feel kind of disconnected from her at the moment in terms of day to day life...for the past 2.5 years karen and i have gone in cycles of 4 or 5 months of seeing and working and socializing with each other every day and then 7-8 months of visiting here and there or being altogether in separate countries. This marks month 7 of catching up when we can. That being said, I'm writing this day-to-day personal life post for many reasons.

I went to Luke Doucet last night with Beth and Joel and Tash on a last minute ticket invite from Beth. It was fantastic. I like Luke. I'd only ever seen him at Folk Fest before and though, I'd have to say I do prefer listening to him with the August sun on my face, laying in the grass with a cold beer in my hands, I really enjoyed myself last night.
After that, I went home and organized my laundry...sorted through a good portion of my wardrobe which of course was laying in piles on my floor and signed the photos I am donating to Jordyn's art auction for one of CRWRC's AIDS relief projects - all while watching my latest addiction: Prison Break.
Then I iChat video chatted with Patrick who was still up at 1:30 in the morning working on ... well, if I really understood what it is he does, I could be able to tell you but I think it has something to do with a website for the up and coming rapper, "Cloud". I have a cold so I've been taking neocitron before bed and it has knocked me out pretty good the past few nights so I don't really remember falling asleep, but when I woke up the world had been transformed by a crazy amount of snow.... (oh, I'm feeling the urge to deviate from this structure...)

These past two winters I've spent out of school have been strange. Last winter I was unemployed, spending all my savings on a photo show at Remedy and living most of my days at home drinking tea and watching the snow fall in my back yard. Though it was a beautiful time of life...to be able to have that time to think and write and read and photograph and walk and wander, I often felt like I was sort of just paused. I want to say it felt like I was in transition, but it really didn't. It felt like I was in limbo. And even though I spent the summer busy with work, it still felt like I was on hold.

Iceland felt like the moment before everything lets go. Like the meniscus on a full glass catching drips from a leaky faucet. You know, where it just reaches the top and holds that tiny little curve above the lip before that next drop makes it slide down the edges. There was so much beauty and awe and so many insane, incredibly unique experiences going on, but it was still on pause...holding out for that next moment, for that next thing that would change that delicate balance that was keeping everything as it was. And though I felt it coming, I never let myself imagine what shape it would take or when or how my life would look when it happened. I think we live a lot of these events in our lifetime...some more significant than others, but each still irreversibly disrupting the careful balance of our lives to that point. I've lived some myself and watched my friends and family live them as well: moving away from home, career decisions, university, marriage, children, travel, death...etc. Actually, I want to change that list. Those are all events...but I don't think it's the events themselves that create the change as much as the emotions and experience that go along with them....fear, independence, responsibility, love, knowledge, wisdom, grief, joy, etc. All these things, when experienced deeply, can transform a worldview, change a person, alter the course of a life. They're the kind of things that you can never go back from, you can never forget and you can never return to being the person you were before.

For me, that last drop fell the night I flew in from Reykjavik, stepped off that plane in Toronto and found Patrick waiting at the gate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kiss you goodbye and walk right through that doorway...

I tried to write a new post all day. Instead, I've just come up with a list of things I want to do, but don't know how or when. It is as follows:

- spend a year learning carpentry
- travel to Borneo
- spend a weekend photographing the Alberta Oil Sands in Ft. Mac
- write for Air Canada's En Route magazine
- present another photography show...but a more focused, more cohesive set
- get my MA in English Lit
- build an ice sculpture (I once saw this guy on Sesame Street fill balloons with water and freeze them into perfect ice spheres...its stuck with me)
- see Ayers Rock
- attend an outdoor Sigur Ros (and/or Xavier Rudd) concert
- photograph the Queen Charlotte Islands
- write a children's book
- oh so many other things, but work is done and I'm headed home to dream some more...