Archive for May, 2007

Independently Faulty?

shellonbeach.jpg  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about independence. Mine in particular. I am 27, currently living alone, and I make all my own decisions rarely consulting others before I do so.

I’m not going to lie, I like it… A LOT

Lately i’ve been wondering if there is any such thing as being “too independent,” and if so do I fall in that category?

I guess at this point it doesn’t matter much. I mean, the truth is I like living my life the way I want and there is no part of me that is desperate to have it any other way. I know people who always need to be in a relationship, as if they are scared to hang out with themselves. This fear drives them from one relationship to the next and in the end all they want is to be with someone at any cost. I think that if I truly, deeply didn’t want to be alone, I wouldn’t be. I would have found someone at some point and just settled into “normal” life by now (don’t even get me started on how angry it makes me that having a family is the “norm” and the only end to every means).

That is how I used to think and now I don’t know anymore. I know that my thinking on a lot of subjects has drastically changed recently. 2 years ago I was planning exactly how many children I wanted, when I wanted them, and what I wanted to name them. Now? I cringe at the thought of having to give up my late mornings for screaming babies.

I think it is causing me a bit of an identity crisis. I’m happy which is all that should matter right? But that nagging social Christian “norm” is pestering me to wonder if I SHOULD be happy. “You’re TOO independent.” It says. “That’s not normal.”  A friend of mine said, “Independent girls are sexy.“…but that was after he said it was a sure sign of being a lesbian (I assure you i’m not!) and was trying to with draw the foot out of his mouth. 

I like people and I am very much an extrovert. But at the same time I don’t pursue relationships because I like being alone just as much. I forget that people expect me to call and visit and do things together. Recently I heard a speaker at a conference say (directed towards single people), “whatever you do, do it with someone else–whether it is going to the grocery store, for a walk, or watching a movie.” In principle I agree because I am very pro-community; however, the thought of giving up THAT much of my time, privacy and energy causes me to panic. I LIKE going to the grocery store alone. I LIKE sleeping in my bed ALONE.  I LIKE walking by myself at night (gasp).

Have I been raised wrong or is it just who I am? Do I need to break the box I have created, or accept that this how God made me? I DON’T KNOW!!! It is very confusing.

Recently my mom  jokingly said she regretted raising my sister and I so independently. It means we are always off on our own adventures and far from home. I understand what she means and as much as I would never ever give up my experiences I have to wonder if she has a point. I am used to doing life on my own and I’m not sure I even know how to begin to let someone else into it.

This picture of me (above) was taken by a great photographer, Chris  Seto(http://www.myspace.com/topherproductions) .  Lately the picture has been speaking volumes to me about my life. That’s how I feel…like I’m walking toward a very great, very wide horizon–and I’m walking alone. But i’m not sad because look at how many different ways I can go! It’s an adventure–sometimes lonely, sometimes freeing, but always an adventure.

So…here is my confession. Everyone is constantly trying to hook me up with someone because they “don’t want someone so great to be alone”…but the truth is…

I’m perfectly happy just as I am.

Maybe I’ll meet a guy who likes my independence as much as I do and then maybe i’ll renegotiate, but until then (just so everyone knows), I’m o.k. this way.

Smile America!

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Let me tell you about my three friends: Zach, Brie, and Jim. Last weekend they left on road trip. They started at my apartment in St. Stephen and are driving to Zach’s house in Kelowna, BC through the United States. With their little red car “Roadkill” they are “making America smile one state at a time.”…Hence the name of their trip “Smile America.”  Here are the lyrics to their theme song:

America you’ve been lookin’ hurt
Hard times and oil machines have got you lookin’ down

 I know it’s hard to be on top
When your king of the castle you’re all you’ve got
Its damn lonely, we’re here to make it right
’cause its smile smile smile America
Smile America!
Yeah it’s smile smile smile America
Makin’ you happy, one state at a time.

Big ole George he’s got you pinned down
But its not ‘Nam you can turn it around
With a little help from a friend,
Maybe three: jim, zach and brie
We’re not what you expect
Winnipeg, Maine, and Vancouverette
We’ll make it right, one state at a time
’cause it’s Smile Smile Smile America
Smile America!
Yeah it’s Smile Smile Smile America
Makin’ you happy, one state at a time.

Check out their road trip blog (Smile America) that’s linked under my “blogroll” to the right.  Some call this a mission trip, others a desperate attempt to save a sinking ship, but either way….there’s hope for America yet!!

Good luck guys!

My Trip to Deer Island

deer island

I’m not sure if you know this, but it just so happens that I live in a very beautiful province. I know most people don’t normally associated the words “New Brunswick” and “beautiful” but those are the people who have never lived here. The Bay of Fundy, which I live very near, happens to be spectacular. This past weekend I went exploring with some friends.

5 very funny and good-looking friends decided to have a get-a-way for the long weekend. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided not to allow us the luxery of fine camping weather, and after a discouraging forcast we changed from Plan A (explore the coast of Maine) to Plan B (stick close to home). Saturday morning we decide to begin our adventure with the exploration of Deer Island.  There are many many islands in the Bay of Fundy, some of them populated, and all of them beautiful. Deer Island is the closest, just a 40 minute drive and a 20 minute ferry ride. None of us had ever been there before so it seemed like a great idea. 

The ferry ride from Back Bay (just past St. George) to the Island had us passing what seemed like hundreds of little islands (all just sitting there unoccupied!). I found myself wondering if the creators of Survivor know about this little haven (see if you can survive the black flies! ha ha ha).

We all jumped out of the car to watch the ocean and hoped to see a whale (which we did not). Once on the island we drove around the entire thing (just a 30 minute drive) and explored all kinds of craft shops that are run out of the porch of people’s houses. Deer Island is a fishing village and, like most of Charlotte County, is full of old, historic homes that are falling a part. The community is quaint and everyone waves to one another. There is a school (grades 1-8), 2 convenient stores, 2 restaurants/bar/coffee shops, a post office (set in a small house with a roof that is slowly caving in), and of course some motels.  We had successfully explored it all in about 2 hours. Then, just before leaving, we found a sign for ”Sunset Beach”.

We thought (so stupidly) that this was a beach. However, we soon discovered it was the garden of Eden–a beautiful little tourist spot with chalets and cottages. Just a few. No one was renting and the grounds were gorgeous. So, we checked it out and discovered that the price was just right. Just $70 a night! So, of course, we booked it for the following night vowing to return to our Narnia. 

It turned out all of us were desperate for some sort of mini-vacation and Sunset gave us exactly what we needed: right on the ocean with an outdoor hot tub, pool, a BBQ and a beautiful chalet with a queen size bed, a pull out couch, and a cot, plus a kitchen, bathroom, and closet (just enough room for 5).  The one rule we made was NO TECHNOLOGY ALLOWED. I found this the hardest with my addiction to communication and all, but i survived the 24 hours.

I can’t remember how long it has been since i’ve really rested for the sake of resting. We had nothing to do and it was so wonderful. We read, we napped, we barbequed, we sat in the hot tub for hours, we walked on the beach…and we talked. 5 long-time friends who needed an excuse to be together.

I think it’s necessary every so often to escape to a place where you can’t be busy even if you wanted. The only regret I have is that we didn’t book two nights. So please let me recommend Sunset Beach Suites and Cottage on Deer Island to anyone who needs an easy get-away to a beautiful Fundy island.

Top 5’s

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One of my best friends, Kristi, and I used to spend time during classes thinking up funny things to write to each other: poems, songs, quizzes, etc.  That was in our first year of university (yeah, we learned a lot that year). Many of these traditions have carried on through email as she and I travelled and worked thousands of miles a part and so I have hundreds of hysterical emails and letters. I think it’s time to let others in on our utter coolness so I will share with you some of my favorite work that we have produced (it’s copywrited so don’t even THINK about stealing them).  One tradition we have carried on is “TOP 5s”. Thanks to Brian and his blog “Cracked Virtue” (check out the link on the side), I was reminded of these and thought i’d share some.

Kristi’s Top 5 Favorite Sports:

1) Tether ball
2) Chasing wolverines
3) Applying chap stick
4) Shooting cows
5) Riding my BMX over some sweet jumps

Shelley’s Top 5 best things about Kristi:

1. She’s truly the “Dancing Queen” prophesied by Abba.
2. She can quote the following movies: Napolean Dynamite, Bridget Jones, When Harry Met Sally, Austin Powers 3, and Zoolander in everyday conversation
3. She’s got a gift of encouragement that could persuade the world to love Americans (if she were to bend her powers that way).
4. HOT HOT HOT with a keen sense of fashion
5. When you go to work she will decorate your room for you

Kristi & Shelley’s Top 5 Role Models:

1) Babe (The pig)–Herding sheep is not as easy as it looks.
2) Anne (of Green Gables)–the silent “E” makes her strong
3) Sheryl Crow–A rock star that knows what she wants! Lance wasn’t strong enough to be her man!
4) Bridget Jones–because she makes the rest of us look good
5) Charlize Theron–because she’s so @%$&*& pretty but still played that role in Monster

Kristi & Shelley’s Top 5 Desserts (my favorite catagory)

1)Sex in a bucket (because if you can’t get it in a bed you may as well have it in a bucket!)
2)Cherry Cheesecake (Kristi’s NOT shelley’s)
3)Colin Firth, with a side of whip cream
4)Wine
5)Chocolate ice cream on a chocolate brownie topped with chocolate sauce, chocolate chunks and chocolate-covered strawberries

Don’t worry, there will be more Top 5s to come…stay tuned.

A BBQ Parade in the Ghetto

todd-hall.jpgI live in an apartment building with 8 units . It’s an old home (picture above), called “Todd Hall”, that looks a lot like the Adam’s family house. Basically it’s falling a part. I call it the “heritage ghetto” look. I absolutely love it.  Currently there are about 15 people living in my building and I know them all by first name. It is, I think, community at its best. The following is a recount of events that happened yesterday, May 10th. Hopefully you will also see why I love this place.

 5:30 p.m.–cleaning my house when I receive a phone call from E.J. (a friend who lives 1/2 a block away). He’s bored, would I like to do something? After a few minute of conversing we decide to have a BBQ. My upstairs neighbours, Matt and Jaclyn, have a barbeque on the side porch of our building that they have generously allowed all residents to use. I call a couple of people to see if they would also like to join our spontaneous BBQ.

6:00–Zach (my temporary, cool, vegetarian roommate) comes home (temporarily my roommate, not temporarily cool, just to be clear). He’s in. My next door neighbour, Jasmine, hears us talking and recognizes E.J.’s voice. She drops by and we invite her to our BBQ. 

6:30–Superstore run. Our simple BBQ has grown to 7 people. Some want steak, others chicken, some salmon, etc. It’s going to be a feast. I have a lot of potatoes so I start cutting.

7:00–BBQ underway. I almost catch the building on fire trying to light the darn thing (I TOLD everyone not to let me near it). Party has grown to 10 people.  Matt is on the grill and cooks the best steaks ever! Seriously, I would marry him on his steak grilling skills alone…that is if he wasn’t already married.

8:00–We feast! Everyone contributes something and we eat on a few small tables that belong to apt. #2 on the porch. A few others join us just to hang out.

8:15–E.J. proposes (two beer and this is what happens…). Apparently my potatoes are a hit, but unfortunately even I know that’s not what marriages are built upon. I say I will consider it on the condition that it’s an open relationship and I get a big ring–after all he is going to be a lawyer. 

8:30–Don arrives with his F150 and lo and behold there is a full piano strapped to the bed of the truck! They are moving it and need some extra help. A few of us, recognizing an opportunity when we see one, hop on back and begin to play. Don agrees to drive us around and suddenly the BBQ has turned into a parade! Most of the guys leave to help move the thing and the rest of us sit out on the porch laughing, talking, and eating. Steph grabs some tunes and we sing along to the ones we know.  Zoe breaks out a few of her classic dance moves, Ingo and Gisela tell us about some of the differences between Canadian and German customs, Jaclyn gets some blankets, and before long the guys are back (sadly without the piano).

10:00p.m.–I look around and think “this is what makes it all worth it.” What started as two people making supper plans has turned into a full blown community extravaganza! We laugh and talk as the sun goes down and slowly people drift back to their own homes. Without ever trying, we are community. We are all so different, but we all love food and that’s all the commonality we need. I retire to my apartment feeling happier than I have in a long time.

I can’t imagine a better night.

The Underground Spelling Conspiracy (USC)

alphebet.gif I guess you could say this is my first official blog on wordpress.com (the other ones don’t count as they were copied and pasted). It’s kind of intimidating actually. I mean there are a lot of great blogs out there…interesting ones even. I guess that is the great thing about technology these days–everyone has a platform. It’s freedom of speech to the the extreme.  This revolution in communication has me wondering lately how fast culture is evolving through these new mediums (Blogs, Facebook, Myspace, MSN, YouTube, etc.).

Recently I got a text message from a teenage girl that took me ages to dicipher. First of all, it takes me forever to text someone in the first place and I hear that 13 year old girls are faster at text messaging than stenographers are at typing (I had to take a “typing” class in high school to learn how to do this, now babies learn it as they walk and talk). Secondly, there is an entire language associated with it that I don’t know and I feel like I have to learn in order to keep hip.  The problem is that this new lingo goes against everything in me that was programmed in proper English writing (sorry Mr. Arsenault, it’s a losing battle): spelling bees, grammar drills, and countless hours stressing over whether or not the previous statement was an independent clause or not.

I wonder if in 25 years our language will have morphed into “MSN” English.  Words like “why” will be replaced by the letter “Y”, and no one will say “Be right back” any longer but instead simply “brb”…and when someone makes a lame joke, everyone will say “l.o.l.” and we will write “C Ya” at the end of all our business memos.  Truly there is an underground spelling conspiracy among us (USC).

Working at a university I already see this happening in some ways. Lots of incredibly smart students have no idea how to spell. We have spell check so who needs to spell anyway? And let’s be honest, that’s a valid point.  In fact, I have a sinking suspicion that the US government is paying pop stars to teach kids to spell. Perhaps they took a poll and realized 75% of teenagers couldn’t spell “banana” so they paid Gwen Stefani to make spelling it cool…then moved on to “delicious” with Fergi, and so on (seriously though, it’s eerie how many pop stars spell a word as their catchy chorus). Or maybe it is just the stars’ attempts to convince the world that they are talented AND smart.

So then what will happen when this generation and the next are in charge of the world I wonder? I predict that the American dictionary will see more evolution in the next 20 years than it has in all of history…but those are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a confused girl stuck between Mr. Arsenault’s English Writing class and her dependence on MSN and Facebook.  The language of the common people is rapidly changing; sorry Eugene Peterson, time to start again.

Thanks for reading my free speech platform.

TTYL…

On Life Without Boys, Make-up, or Jeans…

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More from myspace. This one was posted October, 2006

*** 

I took a day trip from Boston to Rhode Island today to visit a good friend of mine who, at age 25, is a consecrated Catholic sister. For those of you not familiar with the whole Catholic nun-like lifestyle, that means she is, for all intense and purposes, a nun but doesn’t have to wear the whole get-up or belong to a cloistered order.

It was incredibly surreal to me to hang out in the convent with 100 or so other young girls training to do the same thing. What would it be like to take a vow of chastity, poverty, charity, etc? Her life is not her own in many ways. She goes where they place her (generally for two years at a time), she has only 7 outfits (none of which include a pair of jeans), no make-up, no possessions of any kind, she rarely sees her family or friends, and she spends all day everyday with just females. The idea is so counter cultural…  

...and yet there is something kind of intriguing about it all.   

Don’t get me wrong, I am not ready to trade in boys, make-up, or my earthly possessions, but I think there is something to be said for a passion that is greater than everything the world is offering. A passion so strong it causes you to leave behind everything that makes you comfortable.  I don’t doubt that my friend has days where she wonders why she has given up so much. I also don’t doubt that she is very happy. Part of me longs for such conviction and such passion. Part of me sees that although she has sacrificed much, she has gained much; she is wise and peaceful and focused, and all the things I still am not.   

I have a sinking suspicion that when we give up the things that mean the most to us for the sake of Love, we gain something that can’t be measured by any outsider. Aye, there’s the rub! To receive we have to first give; but the giving-up part is never easy as we hold so tightly to the things that were never really ours in the first place. I think that most of us go through life never experiencing the blessing that comes along with giving. We’re scared of what we will have to give up in order to become passionate people and so we settle for mediocrity instead–never fully experiencing privation but never fully experiencing abundance either.  

So I’m left pondering all of this. I resist the idea that someone could be so happy voluntarily living without all of the things I deem so incredibly important–marriage, kids, a home, a job, etc. I know my stubborn resistance is my own fear that perhaps I (and most of the Western world) have it all wrong: that happiness is found not in getting exactly what you want, but rather is found when you get nothing of what you thought you wanted at all. 


Good Advice

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things"

Currently reading…

"'Tis" by Frank McCourt

a

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