Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Getting Blogged Down

I believe I’ve written before about my blogging woes. Not the ‘howcome I can’t spend my whole life blogging?’ woes, but the ‘ack, people I actually know might be/could be/are reading this,’ ‘might be/could be/are ridiculing my dorky/lack of discretion/boring/lack of ingenuity’ woes. I’ve worried about school people, family people, hypothetical people. Coming in a close second are the ‘this could have consequences in my personal and professional life’ woes. They aren’t much better.

This is part of a blogger’s struggle. I realize. Once again, I don’t feel as though I’m being very creative here. I have friends who have written much more eloquently about this than I ever could. [Two that stand out in my mind this minute are Dana’s A Visit from the Overshare Fairy and Kathy’s Muted No More: How Memoir Complicates the Notion of Privacy.] So while I won’t say this well, or uniquely, I’d like to get the troubling thoughts off my chest.

It has always been difficult for me to write or act in most circumstances without wondering what others could think, which is both a blessing and surprisingly inconvenient. On the one hand, this makes me a born communicator. I have my audience in mind. I can anticipate communication gaps or difference in style. I write and behave according to the situation at hand. This probably also helped my acting abilities back in the day. On the other hand, I unconsciously, and sometimes more consciously, self-censor pretty extensively. Though it is very habitual and not a thing I set out to do everyday, it can be very frustrating in hindsight, and exhausting. I have a very hard time with more explosive people. My mind runs a marathon every minute thinking about how to avoid nuclear war. At worst, I worry that this “flexibility” makes me a shape shifter – a fakey-fakerson that just “acts” depending on who she’s around. Only upon reflection do I worry. But I digress. The point is I’m very conscious of others. This can make me sensitive but can also make me silent or different than I would otherwise be.

I’m slowly coming to sense that part of my reticence can be attributed to my, er, upbringin’. I come from a family that is and was about as publicly or politically active as a cotton ball. I can think of only one publicly vocal member of my family – an actual card carrying party member. This family of mine is the opposite of radical or staunchly ___ or anything that you could point a finger at and name. It would be fun to blame it on my parents’ growing up in an era of dictatorship and repression. In reality, I think it comes down to humble people living their lives and keeping their heads down. I don’t know that anyone else would see it that way. However, like my family, I am not prone to public displays, conflicts, or embarrassment of myself or others.

As it turns out anything I say or do can display, conflict with or embarrass someone, me included. I don’t kid myself. I know that I’ve probably cheesed off a good number of people in my day, both on and off the blog. But I like to keep that sort of thing to a minimum. These concerns have for the longest time kept me from intentionally expanding my readership. I have been quite comfortable limiting the readers who know where I live to a couple of friends that I might cheese off occasionally but that I suspect will accept me anyway. Only very recently have I highlighted blog posts on Facebook, though in passive fashion I’ve listed my blog as my website from Day 1.

My most recent bout of anxiety came when two of my school friends, Jess and Racquel (hi, ladies!) subscribed to my blog. While I was in no way concerned about these particular superstars of telling it like it is following along, their appearance served as a stark reminder that people I know in life might also read my desperate attempts at whatever this is. It was scary.

And thus I marvel at those of you in blog-land who dish it out, take it, talk about your families, spank your friends or otherwise deal with life. I know some of you sweat it more than others. Some of you have very difficult and painful reasons for sharing, or not sharing. For others it’s merely a practical matter. Many of you rage at censorship in all its forms. Some would perhaps tell me to strap on a pair and start living.

Admittedly, some of my boundaries are imposed by others. Some I’ve assumed on behalf of people who know nothing about this “secret” of mine. I haven’t really sorted this out much. Nor am I facing a particular dilemma. Frankly, I think it’s hard to blog the way I’d really like to without being self-employed and completely orphaned – for me. I’m not prepared to deal with the consequences. I imagine there are creative solutions I haven’t yet grasped.

In the meantime, a friend recently wrote to me that she enjoyed blog intimacy, referring to mine to some extent. I was stunned. In the vast expanse of all that I haven’t written, I’ve managed to evoke intimacy in one valued person’s opinion? I’ll take it for now.

Happy Friday the 13th – I promise it’s still the 13th here. You’ll be pleased or disgruntled to know there are three F – the – 13s this year!


January 14, 2012 Posted by | Community, Self-reflection, Writing | , , , , , , | 17 Comments

7 Ways to Leave Your Lover Wondering What You’ve Been Doing with Your Time

Way back in 2011, just as the days could get no shorter and the music at the mall could get no more annoying in my corner of the world, Dana from zona pellucida found enough light in her day to nominate me for the Seven Links Blog Award. While it is inevitable to be occasionally slapped with blog love of some kind or another, this particular honour excites me because, aside from the fact that I think Dana is awesome and her reading my blog still blows my mind occasionally, it motivates me to really look back at my blog and my best posts.

I have a whopping 80 something blog posts to my name and yet this task of mine is stunningly difficult. What posts do I want to highlight? Which of my mangled moments are my favourite? How can I possibly find controversy and helpfulness in such a quiet blog? But I’m working on doing things despite being unable to -also why you’ll find way more than seven links- so here I go:

1. Most Beautiful

A most beautiful post? Yikes. I don’t generally go for beautiful, nor am I mega-comfortable calling what I do beautiful. But if I must, *batting eyelashes*, my Thanksgiving weekend post Meandering through life keeping fed and watered, about higher education and reuniting with Calgary after 7 years takes the prize. Woman Recovers in Vegas from Assault by Arizona Desert, about my near-death experience,  and Not quite speechless, about finishing school, come in a close second.

2. Most Popular

I’ve written about this before. My post, Words (and other things resembling words) that warm my cockles: #6, about anemones – really the word anemone – is far and away my most popular. This kills me since the post is not exactly a piece of brilliance. It has almost no personal significance. However, it also serves as a reminder that what sells most isn’t always what’s best. Sometimes, people are just confused about sea creatures. Happy to help.

My second and third most popular posts, are Grad School: Deep and Delicious and A Considerate Person’s Guide to Riding the Bus, or Don’t be an Ass, respectively. The first I would find just as perplexing except that consumer products seem to win the google hunt every time and the second makes sense because it had the one-two-three punch of humour, lists, and being the only post I’ve ever put up on Facebook.

3. Most Controversial

While statements I’ve made against James Bond and Malcolm Gladwell could be seen as controversial if anyone had cared/commented I hazard a guess that my most controversial post may be the one in which I question our western, self-affirming, just believe and you will have everything you’ve ever wanted perspective. In Anything I set my mind to – Part 1 I wrote about whether we can get there just because our mommy or mentor said that we could.

4. Most Helpful

It occurs to me that the most helpful post on my blog should be one that gives others something: information, inspiration, perspiration… something. Unfortunately, such posts are few and far between. Vindication for Foot Sufferers Everywhere may prove helpful to those with evil, evil feet and Just Overshoot Me, which tries to explore and explain the issue of ecological overshoot, may provide solace to those who feel alone in a world where we’re constantly striving to use bigger, better, more.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful

As I’ve said, I remain astonished by my top post. But looking a little further along the list, I am most pleasantly surprised that I Prefer My “Maiden” Name and You Can Too (or Not) has achieved relative success in views and comments. It is exactly the sort of post of mine that doesn’t usually receive much attention. It was very fun to write and I’m still excited about the name change. I must admit that I’m pleased this one struck a chord.

6.Most Underrated

Underrated posts are often “underrated” for reasons that have nothing to do with the  posts themselves. It’s a holiday weekend. You published it at two in the morning. Everyone and their dog posted in that period and people are simply fatigued. But sometimes, the post just isn’t that great, or just doesn’t evoke any particular interest are reaction at the time its published. Either way, the flops can be frustrating. Especially the flops you like the most. My first flop, It’s Not Me, It’s Him, was also my very first post, so no big surprise there. It was about a (purely fictional – ha) loss of a developing friendship. This loss may have occurred for any number of reasons but I’ve decided to blame hypothetical people. The second flop I’ve chosen to highlight is my rant about language and generalizations, Warning! Lecture Zone: Generalize at your own risk. I am persnickety about language at the best of times but when it’s hurtful I really get going. I didn’t manage to get many others going with this post.

7. Most Worthy of Pride

Finally, as proof that things really can come full circle, my proudest post is a response my first blog award, also from Dana, where she gave me the once in a lifetime chance to reject an award: Who me? Well if you insist. No, thanks. That post was incredibly fun to write. The fact that it occurred to Dana to fulfill my dream was absolutely priceless!

Once again, this post has meant much more to me than it could to someone else. But I’m grateful for this time down memory lane and the wonderful bloggers that have encouraged and inspired me. For some of my favourite bloggers, cruise my very limited blog roll. [Hi, blog world. I’m trying to keep myself under control. It’s tough. Forgive me.]

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Community, Hypotheticals, Self-reflection, Waste, Writing | , , , | 6 Comments

A Considerate Person’s Guide to Riding the Bus, or Don’t be an Ass

Dear Bus riders:

Thank you for riding buses. They are not always the most convenient option, sometimes they smell or they’re slow or fellow riders make less than surreptitious noises or engage you in conversations too deep for morning commuting. You’ve made sacrifices and you want them recognized. I understand. I too have been coughed on, driven past, glared at, or almost run over. But today I plead with you, ask not what your bus ride can do for you, but what you can do for your bus ride.

Just because you’re angry you don’t have a car to drive to work when it’s completely unnecessary or to go to your friend’s house to do things other than empower the homeless or combat the AIDS epidemic (in which cases a car would be needed for the pamphlets, bullhorns and information in your brain), does not mean you have to be a bus nincompoop. Don’t take your bus ride frustrations out on your fellow riders!

In case you’re unsure whether you’re a bus nincompoop, I’ve assembled this Considerate Person’s Guide to Riding the Bus, alternatively titled “Don’t be an Ass”:

  1. Be polite to the bus driver. Heck, say “hello” “good morning” or “thank you for putting up with my ilk”.
  2. Your purse does not need a seat. Neither do your backpack, pocket dog, feet, and chia pet.
  3. Before you step on the bus put your sense of personal space in the roof-top storage bin – there’s no place for it on that bus (my apologies to the Queen Mum).
  4. Unless you’re Rosa Parks, move to the back of the bus.
  5. Don’t stand needlessly in that hallowed spot by the midway door/release hatch. You will block people getting out, block people getting to the back (see #s 4, 6,and 8), and block people’s ability to remain non-homicidal. You are not Superman. You do not need to be able to leap out at every stop in a single bound.
  6. For the aforementioned make-a-better-concrete-block-than-a-pathway sort of reason, do NOT move to the midway door/release hatch until the bus leaves your penultimate stop. If it’s not going to take you a week and a half to get to the door and you’re not about to upchuck, stay put.
  7. Evacuate your seat (not on your seat) for elderly people, people with children, people looking like they’re struggling, and people looking around desperately for a seat. Hidden disabilities are every bit as real as visible ones.
  8. In case you missed it before or thought it didn’t apply to you: move to the back of the bus! The guy outside freezing his, uh, whiskers off, has as much right to be on the bus as you do.
  9. Unless you are hard of hearing, turn your music down. If we wanted to go to a Taylor Swift concert on a bus, we would borrow some strangers, then rent a bus and a Taylor Swift impersonator.
  10. If you’re still struggling with that personal space thing (#3) — don’t! (…unless people have in the past or are now abusing your personal space – in which case, do what you will).
  • Consider Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life. When riding the bus, you live in a house like the Catholic house. Kids are in the cupboards, swinging from the rafters and piled on the furniture like folded laundry.  When you get off the bus, you can live in the Protestant house with a 10-feet-between-people-at-all-times-except-for-the-conceiving-of-children ethic.
  • Expect this (the first minute should suffice):
  • Not this:
  1. And finally, making room for others does not mean forming a single line down the aisle and shrugging your shoulders at the guy standing outside freezing his, uh, whiskers off. Plug the gaps, shuffle, MAKE SOME FREAKING ROOM.



November 17, 2011 Posted by | Bad TV References, Community, Irritated, Travel and intrigue | , , , , | 16 Comments

Conversational Regret

I always feel as though I have 32 things on my mind. Today is no different, but today I want to write about it, or express a bit about some of those things, big and small that are occupying brain matter. I am weighed down by thoughts, the desire to act and the inability to move. I’ve also been trying to catch up on my blog reading and realize I can’t do that AND be “practically perfect in every way” (who does Mary Poppins think she is anyway?).

  • Old great friends that I miss and new great friends that I’ve failed to make. Potential/existing great friends that I am terrible at making time for. At times I dream of a “Friends” life of codependency with roommates and neighbours making up 90% of my social circle. Breaking barriers of the spatial kind.
  • Conversations I’ve found myself in where I don’t know how to try and change people’s minds, not allow things to go on, or at least present others with arguments or thoughts it would appear they’ve never heard, such as thoughts that counselors are not just social replacements for people who are sad.
  • The line between “clinical” anxiety and feelings of being unwell, how we deal with these, how we can help with either, and how little we know and understand.
  • Feats of great accomplishment, like watching a family member finally claim her PhD, are overwhelming experiences for me. I am humbled by people’s achievements and their ability to work so doggedly at this thing called life. Meanwhile, I eat popcorn and stare at the wall.
  • Step 3 in the great homeownership push is overdue. Pictures, paint fixing, cleaning and re-arranging are very much in order. Hey Rose, let’s find the balance between staring at the wall and a full body cast.
  • Recognizing my limits and not limiting myself has proven to be a very tricky thing in life. Casting aside my past refusals to set resolutions, I suspect there will be some attainable but scary goals set for 2012.
  • Hoping to do extensive interviewing with my mom and aunt for a future writing project. The writing may not come for a while, but death, disability or moves to Mars might. There’s no time like the holiday season?! Am I pilfering my chance for rest and relaxation?
  • The conspiracy of dust gets me down some days. Other days I think, “go dust! Despite your stature and failure to garner respect, you mound and gather in remarkable ways.”
  • Finding ways to learn more about and be involved in forum theatre would be awesome. I hope to begin the search soon and in earnest. I hope to do so in some way other than my usual way, which is to find some formalized course to learn about the matter and then get carried on by life, adding it to a list of things I find interesting, like growing tomatoes and world peace.

November 12, 2011 Posted by | Bad TV References, Community, Self-reflection | , , , , , | 10 Comments

How Did I Get Here?

All in a day. There’s something to be said for breaking routine. There’s something to be said for keeping it.

Listening, absorbing radicality from people who make time worthwhile. Sensing. Finding warmth. Can I?

Family moment, cat on chest. Unwilling to budge. Warming. Being warmed. Comfortable.

How did I get here?

Cold. Stranger holding dirty cukes in a windy vessel house. Drug busts and politics. Friend nowhere to be found. Where am I?

Too early. Waiting. Me and a bouncer. Fast friends. Working to not disturb the other’s silence. Look away. No friend in sight. Be warm, be warm. Who am I?

Inside a hallway bar. 1 of 6 tables along the wall. Just me. Sesame St. t-shirt. 5 other people. No friend in sight. This is new. It’s not me. It’s fun. It’s fine. Who am I? Bartender brings me a water. What service!

How did I get here?

The payphone search reqires a multi-lateral meeting. Friend arrives before talks break down. Vans, banks, chats, and chance encounters. Speechless.

Dancing                             Dancing                          Dancing

Parked in a dark driveway. Back at the vessel. Trespassing? Friend disappears a moment. Things bad movies are made of. Unsafe? Unusual. Un-me. Uneventful.

Cold onion rings out of tupperware. Scribbling away in bed. Nausea. Onion rings? Another late night? Drinking water does not warrant the onion rings.

How did I get here?

Blessings and oddities. Oddities that may be blessings.

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Community, Self-reflection, Travel and intrigue | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Flummoxed by a Flamingo

I was flamingoed today.

This is not like being pantsed. In fact it is a modest honour. It warms my heart and makes me smile like only small but generously given moments can.

If I’ve got this right, Kana has been blogging with WordPress for about a month. With a blend of self-awareness and perspective, Kana’s Notebook has an incredible number of dedicated followers invested in what she has to say, including me. Grateful for the community she’s found, Kana decided to give a little back today surprising some of her commenters with a virtual “flamboyance of flamingos” on their cyber front lawns. I was lucky enough to be included. See:

Proof positive

I am of course, honoured to have registered at all on a busy and prolific blogger’s radar. I am even happier Kana affirmed that there is at least a little value to me procrastinating about schoolwork by losing myself in the lives and words of others.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how I can pass the love along. Will the exercise seem insincere since I don’t have many commenters to choose from, and three of four existed in my life pre-blog? Will my post be a horridly narcissistic caricature of a proper post? Do I have the energy to acknowledge this gift without sounding like an effusive ding-dong? Why can’t I just accept that I’m a ding-dong? As you can imagine, this can spiral.

But Kana gave me the flamingo to recognize and make merry, so I will do the same.

  • To Katie Chipman of Turning Another Page, who is one of my very oldest friends (i.e. pre-kindergarten), thank you for supporting me unconditionally in all my written words, “LOVE”ing everything, reminding me to breathe and always being you.
  • To Dana of zonapellucida, thank you for following through thick, thin, and crazy; for being my only subscriber for- (what felt like) ever; for paying me any attention at all once you hit the big time :); and for giving me the great honour of being nominated for an award I was ENCOURAGED to refuse.
  • To Kathy of Reinventing the  Event Horizon, you are the most dedicated commenter I’ve had since you came on board. Your comments always make me laugh, feel less alone, and drape me in warmth all at once. With stories and writing like yours, I feel pretty darn lucky you take the time to stop by, let alone comment.
  • To Cheyenne of Happiness Like Bread (still up, but not active), your comments are seldom but always considered and thought provoking. Though I can picture you appropriately rolling your eyes at most of my ridiculousness (prime example right there), you touch base anyway and always give me real food for thought. A rare gift. *post-edit: Cheyenne’s now back at The Bee Loud Glade. I am overjoyed.

There. Have I made everyone want to vomit yet? Anytime Kana wants to give me lessons in how to be heartfelt without being even mildly nauseating, I would sign myself right up. Clearly I have some distance to go.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Community | , | 12 Comments

Traffic, Aggression, Cycling and Haters

Drivers complain about drivers, pedestrians complain about drivers, drivers complain about cyclists and cyclists complain about drivers – I could go on. Complainers are always perfect and so are the recipients of the complaints.

At the risk of sounding typical, and ludicrous, can’t we all just get along? I too find myself frustrated, particularly when I’m on my bike and completely cut off by a car, my life feels a little more at risk than I’d prefer. But this post is not meant to be a complaint. It’s more of an appeal, an attempt to understand the hate. And one hater in particular.

As a driver and a cyclist, I can understand frustrations experienced by both. When driving, it often bothers me when cyclists behave as though the road is theirs, particularly darting through traffic. I’m not bothered by their self-importance so much as the sense that I’m not sure what they’re going to do. Unpredictability and erratic cycling causes accidents just like pedestrians wandering on and off the road or aggressive weaving drivers. But there’s no need to get our hate on.

Because I’m overly sensitive to drivers’ cyclist hate, I try to avoid thumbing my nose at drivers (riding through red lights, pedestrian crossings, and so forth). However, sometimes I’m a jerk: I’m running really late, I feel like it’s safer to ride through an area, it’s windy and my balance doesn’t feel awesome or I’m not paying as much attention as I should be. I admit all of that. Many cyclists are less respectful than me, many are more. Occasionally, drivers will honk, tailgate or drive around me aggressively but it’s rare. Some drivers and pedestrians seem impatient if I don’t “break the rules” and go ahead of them or avoid a complete stop (just another lesson in never making everybody happy). Sometimes a pedestrian will call out to me. What I’ve realized most recently is that it’s almost always the same guy AND he loves the f-bomb AND he lives in my neighbourhood.


  • Me: rolling stop through a clear 4-way stop. Him: “It’s a f*&^ing stop sign.”
  • Me: riding through a red light at 8am, no traffic. Him: Monster spit 2 feet in front of me on sidewalk. “You f*&^ing colour blind son of a b*(&”
  • Me: riding bike from building across street to bus stop (20 feet) with helmet in hand, dismounting on sidewalk. Him: Spit. “So we have another f%^&ing Gordon Campbell“. Me: “I don’t know what  that’s supposed to mean.” (Seriously, I don’t. Is it a reference to our [former] premier’s drunk driving charge?) Then we both wait at the bus stop. When the bus arrives he gobs again before getting on and I load my bike in fear of the man three times my size with such a penchant for anger and saliva.

Gordon Campbell ziplining an Olympics promo. This picture makes me laugh everytime. Courtesy gov.bc.ca

I have had other run-ins, or ride-bys, with this guy but apparently on those occasions I wasn’t giving him anything he could pick on so he remained dry and silent but cranky-looking. I know he smiles and laughs with others, I’ve seen evidence. The only acceptable reason I can come up with for his behaviour toward me is that he lost a child to cyclist irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been the come-back kid. I only noticed a few months ago that it’s always the same guy. My first ever response was yesterday, to tell him I didn’t know what the Gordon Campbell reference meant. I’m slow and emotional in these situations (read avoid confrontation at all costs) and don’t think there’s anything I can say that will illicit a response I’m interested in.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Community, Cycling, Irritated, Wild Animals | , , , | 4 Comments