Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bittersweet Evenings

Last week Brian and I went to see a play downtown. After it was over I went to the bathroom and bumped into a homeless woman I have spoken too several times before. She has always been so sweet and I recognized her right away and asked her how she was doing. She wasn't doing well. She looked a bit sickly and told me that she had been wearing the same clothes for three weeks and she stank and how hard it was. It broke my heart. I gave her a hug and promptly emptied my wallet. She cried. I cried and wished her well and left. It was all I could do to maintain my composure until I got back to the darkness of the parking lot and our car. As Brian closed the car door behind me I started to weep. I looked at all the little families walking to their BMW's, the little girls in Christmas dresses heading home to their warm and comfortable lives. How can that woman see that every day and still keep smiling? How can she not be overcome with anger and resentment at the unfairness of it all? On the way home I talked with Brian about what I could do the next time I see her. I suggested taking her home, letting her have a long soak in the tub, a good meal and some clean clothes. But then what? Send her back into the cold? It's hard to know what to do.

I decided that every chance I get to help someone like that, I will take. And in the meantime I will do my damnedest to appreciate every moment I have, every comfort I experience and every privilege I have not really earned. Tonight I am grateful for my family, my lovely husband life. It's the least I can do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I think I have felt every emotion there is to feel in the past few days. I walk in to work and find myself face to face with a mountain of Christmas baking. I feel angry.

I eat my lunch and consider how healthy it always is, and realize that this change will be much easier for me than it would be for a lot of other people. I feel fortunate.

I measure my blood for the 12th time in 3 days and as I watch the little droplet raise above my skin I feel weak and scared.

I go running and despite everything going on I feel proud and powerful and strong.

I look at Brian and all I want is to have a baby and be a healthy little family and I feel devastated. Then I realize how lucky I am to have him at all and to have the love of my life to help me through and I feel so blessed.

I go to bed at 8:00, body tired, mind exhausted and I feel defeated.

And I wake up and start everything all over again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Long Weekend...

The idea that your life can change in an instant is a globally accepted one. It is rooted in truth but also in the intellectually abstract. Everyone knows this is true but it never really makes sense until it happens. This past week has been a crazy one for me. Full of blood tests, doctors appointments and since my family doctor is in another city, a lot of driving. And the end result? Diabetes.

Now, don't ask me to explain this. It's not type 2, the kind people usually get in adulthood. It's type 1. As far as we know. Long story short: Brian and I applied for life insurance which involved a urine sample from each of us. They came back for blood from me and then sent me an email the Wednesday before last saying that my results were abnormal and I couldn't get life insurance. Abnormal? What a horrible vague word to send, attached to a person's blood sample no less, over email! Of course I freaked, even though I tried not to and had to fight with the insurance company to fax my results to my Doc rather than send them by mail. When the doctor finally got them and saw that my blood sugar was slightly raised (8.1 mmol/L - cut off is 8.0 mmol/L) she assumed they had screwed up the test and actually referred to the insurance people as "dumbasses". She referred me for a series of tests for this past Friday.

The test she sent me for is supposed to take 2 hours. First they get your fasting blood sugar level and from there they give you a cup of glucose drink and then measure how you react to it over the following two hours. Only problem was, my fasting blood sugar was 16.6 mmol/L. Anything higher than 7.0 means Diabetes - mine was so high it wasn't even close to the line. I couldn't take the glucose tolerance test because putting more glucose in my system would have put me in a coma. The nurse was a freaked out and that made me freak out. She called my doctor right away and suddenly I was taking another day off work. I left the office in tears and felt totally overwhelmed and sideswiped. It was a very long day.

So that's that. The doc got me a blood glucose meter and I'm testing myself 4 times a day. I have an ultrasound, more tests and all kinds of doctor's visits looming throughout the Christmas holidays. And no sugar. Did I mention this is through Christmas!?! Who's ever heard of a Christmas without sugar. Ugh.

This past weekend has been a long one. I've felt sad, angry, confused, scared and tired. I feel a sense of loss greater than the individual losses I will face. I am mourning a way of life I didn't really even appreciate until now. I'm trying to figure out how at 28, in the best shape I've been in for a very long time, I could just one day, wake up with a disease like this. I don't even have any symptoms. It doesn't make sense. That's probably the hardest part is learning to accept something that doesn't make sense. I have very little control over this and it has made me feel betrayed by my own body. I have tried very hard to see the silver lining in all of this, and it is there, shimmering however faintly. I already have a very healthy lifestyle and have been eating very healthy anyway so this won't be as big a change as it might be for some people. I'm educated and informed and will have all the resources I will need to change my life. I'm not afraid of needles. I caught it early before I got too sick. It could always be worse.

So that's that. I felt horrible all day Saturday and my levels were really high. Yesterday they went down slightly and I'm feeling better. A little less vulnerable and a little stronger. Not as pissed off and more willing to approach this with patience and a positive attitude. And armed with proof positive that true to my Dad's opinion, I am definitely a Sweetie.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Finishing the Start

Tonight I went for a run under the last full moon of 2006 and it was beautiful.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm Begging Here People...

If you live in Alberta and you read my blog please do me a favour: Get a membership and vote in Saturday's 2nd ballot for the PC leadership election. This vote is probably the most important vote Alberta will see for years. Once the new premier is elected he does not have to call an election for another two years and doesn't have to actually hold one for three. This means we will have a premier with no provincial mandate - a government elected solely by the Conservative faction of the province. Some people are complaining that PC memberships are too easy to come by and are being bought up by non-conservatives. If becoming a member of the party and having a vote is what it takes to ensure I have a voice in our next government, so be it. If the newly elected premier were required to hold an election within six months of the leadership race I wouldn't feel so compelled to jump in where I may not belong. I care about this province and where it goes. I am opposed to everything that Ted Morton stands for and am terrified of the prospect of Premier Morton. You can buy a membership at the polling stations on Saturday and go here for information on where you can vote. The two top candidates are in a tight race and offer two very different futures for our province. Please, inform yourself and vote. It matters.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Read why, when and how here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just in case I forget...

Things that are bad for me:

Too many grey days in a row, inactivity, being alone, thinking too much, corn (you don’t want to know), sitting still for too long, stress, too much alcohol, too much internet, church, late nights, fighting with people I love, self-doubt.

Things that are good for me:

Being outside, running, being alone, laughing, talking with friends, a little bit of alcohol, psyllium fibre and flax, writing, reading, relaxing, picking at things (hair from brushes, grass from the cracks in pavement), massages, gardening, sex, pizza, voice mail messages, old friends, having a plan, early nights, long baths.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Welcome to the New Age

Raelians...all of them. I just knew it.

...and what's with the dirty look brother Bush is giving to Brother Harper?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Agghhh...I can't believe this. Dooce is in Calgary!! The woman I love, worship, strive to in my city! Okay, so maybe that was a bit much but I am seriously considering taking the day off tomorrow to find her. She's the keynote speaker at the convention (registration is closed - I checked) but surely she'll have to step outside at some point. Right? I would do anything to sit down with her, Jon (her husband), Brian and I for some drinks. If I could get just get Kurt Vonnegut to join us I would die a happy woman. Not that I wouldn't die happy now - just a little less happy.

My new Kenneth Cole shoes...EBay rocks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kooky Kookster

I received the following comment on my blog regarding this post last week. Wow. I don't really know what to say (thanks to Bobbi who knew exactly what to say). I wish the anonymous poster had left his name, although I'm pretty sure I know who it is.

The poster later apologized and said I could delete his previous comment. (Gee, thanks for allowing me the privilege of deleting ignorant comments from my own blog.) The thing is, I don't want to delete it. I want to frame it. If I had a cross-stitching bone in my body I would have it on my wall when you walk in the door. The comment says more about right-wing nutjobs than I ever could. The fact that this person, who doesn't even know me, gets this angry over the word "kooky" says to me that he may have built his crazy house a little too close to the edge.

Wow, a female 28 year old journalist who's left wing; gee, there's HARDLY any of THOSE around.

Look bimbo, it's pretty obvious that you were too stupid, unmotivated, useless, lazy, egotistical and self important to study anything REMOTELY challenging or useful in college so you studied journalism. That way you sit on your fat ass and write snide remarks about others get paid for doing it and pretend your famous.
Maybe you should actually catch a grip BABY and realize you're not smarter than everybody else and no matter HOW CLEVER you think you are your just another journalist loser with no actual skills or talents thinking they are really performing some valuable community service by bitching about others.

I love that I have angry fans writing me hate mail. I feel like a Beatle or something.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Carrying a Card

I am a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Can you believe it? I still feel a little dazed by my most recent political move even though it makes sense. Since Alberta is sure to elect another Conservative Premier I thought it might be a good idea to have a say in who leads the PC party. With the likes of crazy, kooky Ted Morton running around talking about how he hates the Charter, I have to make sure that I have an active role in ensuring he stays on the farm where he belongs. So, I will be voting for the new leader in the next few weeks. Someone asked me if this now means that when the actual election comes around I will vote PC. I didn’t even have to think about that one – no. I have taken great steps by accepting reality and working within it but I’m not there yet. I’m just doing my part to ensure that the right moves as far left as possible.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The World is a Pigeonhole

Last night I went to watch Brian coach his Special Olympics basketball team. One of his athletes, Carolyn, was also one of my track athletes. As soon as she saw me she came running across the gym and gave me a big hug. It was nice to feel so liked. She sat down and we chatted. At one point she leaned over to me and pointed to Mick, one of the other coaches.
“I think he’s Jewish” she said.
“Pardon me?”
“I think he’s a Jew.” (She says “Jew” like it’s a dirty word)
“Really?” I said, thinking to myself, “Oh boy, this should be good”
“Yah. Look, he has sideburns. That means he’s a Jew.”

Once again I am forced to recognize that stereotypes extend into other stereotyped groups...and why shouldn't they? My Korean students thought Japanese people had slanted eyes and that products made in China were cheap. And my mentally handicapped friend is an anti-Semite.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Boring Beaver?

On Friday night Brian and I went to the James Blunt concert. It was at the Saddledome which seats about 20,000 people, so it was pretty big. Blunt was awesome and although we didn’t have great seats I could still see a lot and of course, there is always something special about live music. There was a British couple behind us and the guy kept yelling, “Go’on Jamie Lad” – it was quite funny. Near the end of the concert Blunt asked everyone to stand up and so we did. Most of the people around us stood up as well, although reluctantly. At one point the guy behind us cheering and yelling and said, “What’s wrong with this lot?” and his girlfriend responded quite loudly, “You’re not in England anymore love…you’re in boring Canada.” Which of course, got me thinking.

While living in Korea I encountered the idea of the “boring Canadian” for the first time. Prior to that I had only heard what party animals we were. It is strange to me that each of these stereotypes can coexist but they seem to. I have found Calgary to be very conservative and at the three last concerts I have been to, unlikely to move or sway to music. This bugs me. It’s one thing at a James Blunt concert given the style and music and the size of Saddledome but the Blue October concert was exactly the same. And the music was hard and the venue was small – two things conducive to a raucous party. Instead it was sober and static.

I realized that growing up in Fort Mac was a unique experience that until recently I took for granted. People who live up there do everything at full speed. Any concert or party I went to was loud, crazy and fun. You ran the risk of being stabbed but it was a good time. People work hard and they play even harder. Growing up I took for granted that when you want out, it was balls to the wall.

I left the concert feeling a little discouraged and frustrated. Sobriety can be contagious and it took the wind out of my sails a little bit. It reaffirmed my desire to get what I can from Calgary and then get out.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Own Noobs

I sometimes complain that Calgary has no subcultures, no real diversity to speak of. Tonight I was proven wrong. My brother and I went to see the 12th episode ofPure Pwnage, an internet show that has taken (a certain demographic) by storm. We showed up, with pre-purchased tickets thanks to my brother, and there was already a huge line up. The line up consisted mostly of teenaged boys carrying original Nintendo guns and sporting trench coats. They were selling merchandise at the theatre and the crowd was going crazy! Before the show started they had the characters from the show (Pure Pwnage is filmed in Toronto but most of the cast is from Calgary) come out and they brought a bunch of fans to the front to do random things like, oh, I don’t know-spout off the entire dialogue from episode three. These fans were extremely devoted and apparently all had very good memories. Or no life. At one point during the evening I went to the bathroom and for the first time in my movie-going life I walked past the long lineup for the guys bathroom and right into an empty ladies room. Awesome.

It was a good night. The show was great and I got a glimpse into another world. A world where it is okay to wear videogame t-shirts and tight jeans, where it’s normal to pull out your DS at slow points in the film and where most people only knew each other by their Warcraft alias. I felt like I had ventured beyond the borders of Cowtown and I enjoyed the trip.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Death Insurance

There is nothing like running into your own mortality on a Wednesday afternoon. Today Brian and I went to buy life insurance. How very mature and responsible of us. Fortunately, because of Brian we are both eligible for Canadian Bar Association coverage which is very affordable. We each got enough coverage to make sure that if one of us died the other could pay for a funeral, move if necessary and maybe go on a nice trip to Mexico or something. Or if so inclined, bury the other person in the backyard free of charge, sell the house and move to Europe. Whatever helps with the grief.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Same Same Same Same Same Same

Things have been sort of crappy lately. I don't know whether I am going through some kind of quarter life crisis of if I'm just getting older but I've felt so subdued. I feel a little trapped and a little disappointed. I have a good life - I love my job, I have a husband who I love and who I love back, I have a nice house and a good family. I'm active and although I don't have many friends who live nearby I do have a handful and I certainly have some wonderful long distance friends. And all I can seem to think is, "Is this it? Is this my life?"

I'll be the first to admit that for most of my life I carried some very grand ideas of how my life would look. A famous writer, living on the intellectual cutting edge and inspiring the masses to challenge the status quo, cool. Never did I imagine a quiet, normal, blissful existence.

I find myself feeling suffocated by the sameness of it all. I live in a white-bred city where homogeneity runs rampant. I have a terrible case of the travel bug and I don't have the finances to cure it. My weekdays, from week to week, look frighteningly similar to one another. I need something, but I don't know what.

I've considered taking a vacation alone (since Brian cannot possible give up the time) but know that once again, I have too much debt to start doing that. And besides, I would prefer to travel with someone. I am trying to make new friends by participating in all sorts of activities. I meet people that I like but they already seem to have a large group of their own friends and whatever particular friend niche I might occupy, has already been filled. I run like mad to make myself feel good. I do ballet and I try to be happy...and sometimes it works.

I feel guilty for feeling this way sometimes because I know that the world is full of people who would love to have my life. The warmth, the love and the possibilities. The security.

How to I rectify the ideas, however unrealistic, with the reality? How do I bring myself to accept all that is good in my life while setting out to change what isn't? How do I make myself happy without making myself sick?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flammable but fitted...

Sure, this week has seen a nuclear test in North Korea, the loss of Habeus Corpus rights in the U and the Canadian government thumbing their collective noses at the developing world's health by refusing to support the addition of asbestos to the Rotterdam list but I've got something a little more pressing to consider.


Now, I work at an office that requires business wear and I like that. What I don't like is wearing pantyhose with waists so high that my options are to roll them down so it looks like I have a sleeping wiener dog wrapped around my waist or to tug them up so high that they actually tuck up into my bra. Pictures that for a second...exactly. Not pretty and I can assure you, definitely not comfortable. If I buy them one size shorter the crotch hangs so low that I waddle when I walk, K-Fed style. So, last week when I saw a par of low rise pantyhose I naturally grabbed them, boxed out and defended the stock from any other long-crotched ladies who might dive into my stash.

This morning I got dressed and opened up the package, narely breathing with all the possibility that existed in those flaccid nylon tubes. And? They fit like a glove. The crotch is exactly where it should be. My bra contains only what it should. All is right with the world.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Humility in a Barbie Bicycle Helmet...and Skates

I had my first Special Olympics figure skating practice today and it went really well. Well as in I didn't fall on my ass. Some of the athletes are very good and some of them are just learning to skate. I've managed to rope Brian into coaching Special Olympics as well so he starts basketball tomorrow night. I was feeling pretty lousy before I went to practice and of course, like always, Special Olympics took care of that. I left feeling uplifted and excited for the rest of the season. The thing about Special Olympics is that I spend a lot of time laughing. Not at the athletes but with them...they are so good at laughing and they never do it with any ill intent. They just genuinely find themselves funny and I am more able to laugh at myself when I'm with them. And sometimes, just sometimes, I laugh at them too...I'm only human.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Precious Visit

On Thursday we went to see Alexander McCall Smith do a reading. We have both been reading his books for the last year or so and really enjoy them. He writes a lot about Botswana, a place we have visited and are familiar with. There are so many shared interests and history between myself and Smith that I feel a sense of kinship with him. He is from Scotland (and now lives in Edinburgh) and grew up in Africa, much like my mother. He studied law (as does my husband), writes from a woman's perspective (I am a woman...okay, I'm reaching with that one) and writes children's books. To top it off, he did his reading at KNOX United Church. Weird, huh?

So I was happy - I got to hear McCall Smith and better yet I got to hear him talking to Eleanor Wachtel as the reading will be featured on CBC's Writers and Company. Life is good.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Do you remember Jump Rope for Heart? I remember when I was young we used to do it every year and every year I loved it. The t-shirt, the super cool knee-high athletic socks (which eventually were used to launch stinkbombs into the boys change room - now why couldn't I enter that in the science fair?) and those beaded-skipping ropes like muticoloured knuckle-bones nipping at your legs every time you stopped to take a breather.

Today we went to a charter school (just like a private school except it's publicly funded) for a Jump program launch. The school focuses on athletics, academics and arts...sort of like what regular schools used to focus on. The Jump program is celebrating its (wait for it...this is going to make you feel old...) 25th anniversary this year. The kids did a skipping demo and presented the Heart and Stroke Foundation with a cheque for $40,000. Wow.

The kids were really happy and excited about raising so much money. They were proud of themselves and their teacher and weren't the least bit afraid of talking to the reporters and camera men who covered the event.

Which made me wonder, at what point exactly does everything change? At what point do people get annoyed of not-for-profits asking for money? When do we become so self-aware that we would rather stay quiet than risk saying the wrong thing? When does it stop being "cool" to care? At what point in our lives did we stop skipping?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Me and the Archbishop

I'm a ballerina! Okay, so not exactly but last night was my second ballet class and I have to say that even I noticed an improvement in my pirouette. I am having such a blast and since I have never taken ballet before (as a young girl I could never have withstood the repetitiveness, the pinkness of it all and of course - the rules) but I thought I would give it a try and I'm glad. I have little pink shoes and the teacher is really great and I have sore muscles where I didn't know I even had muscles.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Live Show

Last night we went to see Blue October - it was an awesome show. Justin Furstenfeld was one of the most theatrical and engaging performers I have ever watched. Every song that came on was better than the one before it and I know this must be true because I was completely sober.

In sort of related news, my best friend's band, Keating, has just released their second album. Take a listen and if you like it, request the single "Much to Say"...most radio stations have it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jesus Camp

Despite a good seven hours of sleep I still feel as creeped out and edgy as I did last night. I saw the scariest movie I have ever seen and I think it might take some time to get over this one. The Calgary International Film Festival is on right now and so of course there are lots of great movies playing with lots of neat, funky, and mostly liberal vegetarian people watching them. I had been wanting to see Jesus Camp since I first heard about it and I wasn't disappointed. I can't even begin to explain how frightening this movie is. It's all about the far (far, far, far) right evangelical movement in the U.S. and how they are quite literally training soldiers to lay down their lives for Jesus...except that these soldiers are under the age of ten. The movie profiles several children who have been indoctrinated into the fundamentalist Christian right. The main preacher in the film is quite proud and willing to use the term "indoctrinate" and has no issues whatsoever with how she or her ministry is portrayed in the film. Abortion, Satan, Harry Potter being put to death, speaking in tongues, convulsions, rebirths, repentance, screaming, attacks on global warning, evolution and democracy were all featured and culminated in a prayer session over a cardboard cut out of the celestially appointed George W. Bush. These kids were like little robots and were vocally and proudly calling themselves soldiers of God who would lay down their lives for Christ. What stunned me was how anyone could miss the parallels between this and fundamentalist Islam but, as the preacher herself said when asked about the similarity, "Yah, but excuse me, WE have the truth."

It's easy to dismiss these radicals as just that - a fringe group. Mostly uneducated and of low socio-economic status they are not the most intellectually impressive group. But they are large and they are growing. 75% of the children home-schooled in America are evangelicals. They are being taught that evolution is wrong, that global warming doesn't exist and that their country is under attack from the left. The "us versus them" mentality has reached new heights when the world is described as having "two types of people - those who love Jesus and those who don't."

I hope everyone gets a chance to see this movie. I think we need to be aware of what is out there and the influence this group has. One of their greatest preachers meets with the President and his advisors every Monday. As a voting block they outnumber all others. They are passionate, ignorant and determined. They have nothing to lose because they truly believe the world will end soon and they will be here for the rapture. And most importantly, they are self professed soldiers for all the things they believe in and anything that stands against them is a product of the Devil. They want America back.

I left the theatre feeling sad for the children because they are being subjected to what, in my mind anyway, amounts to psychological abuse. Children of six, seven, eight years old, bawling hysterically because they believe the Devil is tempting them and that their family is under siege. Falling to their knees begging for grace for all the sins they have committed and praying to be washed in Jesus' blood. Not being allowed to have any fun because everything they do must be for the glory of God. I also left feeling afraid. Afraid because I know how much influence these people have in America and how much influence America has on the world stage. Mostly I was afraid because if this continues, I don't see any possibility for peaceful coexistence either within America or on this planet. I left feeling a bit hopeless and unsure of what, if anything, I can do to stop it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Big Time...

Brian is back into the swing of things at school and was recently given his first case for the year:

So, this guy picks up a prostitute (for a philosophical discussion he maintains) and asks her to come back to his place. She refuses, saying that it isn't safe. He refuses to pay her and she insists on $40 for her time. Instead, he steals her purse and drives away. She goes to her pimp and she hunts down the John in his trailer court. Pimp beats the shit out of him (allegedly of course) and throws something through the trailer window. John sues pimp (that's right...apparently he's horny, deep and stupid). In comes the lawyer...

My husband is a pimp defender.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bad Bad Blogger...

Vacation to the Okanagan wasn't all I had hoped it would be. Of course I loved spending time with Bri (which after all, was the point of the trip) but I made the fatal mistake of trying to recapture childhood memories. The waterslides in Penticton aren't really cool...they're scary looking. And Ogo Pogo isn't a giant dragon you can climb all over - he's a plastic toy about 4 feet tall. We had planned on stopping by Flinstone Park because really, who didn't love that as a child? It doesn't exist anymore. I kept telling Brian that all I wanted to do was jump in the lake as soon as we arrived. So, after coughing up $40 for a campsite (which doubled our trip budget on the spot) we ran into the water. As we stood there in the chest-deep lake we looked at each other and I realized, with painful clarity that the water was wet and cold and that I am nearly 30.

We stayed in Kelowna for a few days and actually has a pretty good time. We went on a great tour of the Mission Hill vineyards and winery and played mini-golf. We headed to Osoyoos for three days but ended up bailing a few hours after we arrived. The campsite we were booked into was essentially a squatter's camp and Osoyoos (my apologies to anyone who is from there) is weird. It was creepy and like much of the Okanagan had a disproportionate number of trailer parks. The entire region looked to me as though a lot of people had moved there with a dream and then run out of money before they could put siding on their home or tow the truck to the local garage. And that's where they've stayed...along with their truck.

We headed into the States (Washington, across Idaho and into Montana) which of course was an adventure. I got to listen to my fill of Jesus radio, which for some reason I absolutely love. My favourite quote? "If God is your co-pilot, you better believe that it's time to swap seats!" Pure gold. We ate at a Denny's where I was forced to order from the Senior's Menu because all the stuff from the regular menu came with a bucket of hashbrowns and your weight in pancakes. And if you ordered pancakes? Yup, they came with a side of pancakes.

So, in ten days we managed to cover two provinces, three states, every political and current event worth discussing, a few arguments, some great bumper stickers ("Orgasm Donor")and a few hours of tax-free shopping in the great state of Montana We also learned many lessons for our next trip - mainly that next time we should take our ten day budget and use it over three days.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Summer Hedonism

You thought that last week has been bad? Prepare for far worse...I'm going camping for ten days...with no access to the computer. So no blogging and no emails. There are quite a few emails that need to be written and blog comments to be posted so I've decided to take the lazy man's generic Christmas letter to a whole new level:

Justin: You're home! I can't believe it has been more than two years. Still reading your blog and still loving it - no worries. Any plans to come visit this year or will we have to wait?

Vernelle: He's home! He's home! Hope you're enjoying every minute of it.

Linda: Congrats on sounds like you're enjoying law school already. I'm interested to see how it develops and how it differs from hubby's experience here.

Stephen: When are you ever going to learn? Either bulk up our troops with foreign involvement or get out of Afghanistan. How many times have we had this discussion...they're dying over there!

Craig & Ian: I love you and I hope to see you soon.

Greg: If you're reading this...get back to work! :-)

Matt: Got your email and loved it. I wasn't trying to goad you into a debate, just thought you might miss the opportunity to have those types of conversations. Point well taken.

Bobbi: Where are you? I miss my lovely lady friend...

I think that's it for now...please don't be offended if you weren't mentioned. In fact, be relieved, be very relieved.

Off to the Okanagan to gorge myself on fruit, wine and skinny dipping.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Please watch this video...I don't know what I'm in awe of more, how articulate she is, what a wonderful feminist and atheist she is or how much I agree with what she has to say.
I'm home today with a wasp sting. I can't put any weight on my swollen stump of a foot. I hate that wasp.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pardon me, Excuse me...leper coming through...

On Saturday we went to the Korean Festival here in Calgary. We braved the rain and the possibility that we might feel like unwanted foreign invaders all for a taste of galbi and dukbogi. Now, dukbogi is a street food and not one of the Korean foods I ever thought I would encounter again, but we relished every chewy cabbage-covered bite of it.

Koreans use the word waygook to describe, well, everyone who isn't Korean. American soldiers are waygooks, so are white people, and Chinese and Japanese and probably those of Korean descent who live in other countries. The Korean ability to categorize others so easily is a perfect example of their xenophobic and insular approach to the world. Here's a better example: they were still calling us waygooks here in Calgary! The festival, advertised in English, was obviously geared for Koreans since the entire festival was in Korean (and Chinese for some reason) and the signs were in hangul. This was another thing we encountered a lot of in Korea...a map or a pamphlet with an English title or introduction and then nothing else. I can't tell you how many times we picked up an English booklet only to find the inside entirely in Korean. What a pump-fake. Anyway, we got such a kick out of the fact that they were still referring to us as "foreigners" in our home country...I guess it's all a matter of perspective and some people's perspectives never change.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Some Before and After Shots...

The living room when we first looked at the house...not our furniture...


When we were finished. New floors, new colours, new baseboards...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Heads in the Clouds

The idea of an after life has got to be the most manipulative and powerful concept ever invented by mankind. It has made poor people complacent about their status in life by promising them eternal rewards. The meek are told that they will one day inherit the earth. It's untestable promises have kept slaves in bondage in Jerusalem, in Africa, the Asias, in the Americas and across countless generations. The fear of punishment after death has led to the denial of sexual desire, repression of science, intelligence, progress and intellectual debate. It has lauded obedience above reason and mildness over justice. It has given power to those who don't deserve it and can't handle it and made sacrifices of the week, impoverished and uneducated. It has made sinners out of babies who weren't splashed with water soon enough after birth. Behind its trail it has left a wake of complacency, acceptance, fear and abuse. And today it creates an atmosphere where blowing people to smithereens is okay because you will be rewarded with virgins and martyred in the name of God. It has allowed the infestation of incivility to fester and become more than acceptable, it has mutated into righteousness. Christians can rest easy because gays will reside in Hell and perverted old men can have sex with altar boys because they yield the promise of eternal salvation as easily as they do their dicks.

What would this world look like if the concept of eternal life had never been? How would we act if we knew this is all we reward and no punishment, just the direct results of our actions. If personal accountability dictated how we treated others as opposed to their skin colour, religion or status? What if someone asked us to blow up a plane and we knew that if we did that it would be the end. No virgins, no respect, no reward - just death.

How much have we lost by allowing our humanity to reside in the clouds rather than on the earth?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shirts and Skins

I spent Monday and Tuesday out in Banff at the Telus Skins Golf Game. I was working with Making the Connection (which Heart & Stroke is a part of) and got the chance to meet a bunch of famous golfers...who I didn't actually know or recognize. I knew who Jack Nicklaus was, but only because I used to see him in the Sears catalogue as a young girl. There was also Sergio Garcia, John Daly, Greg Norman and Stephen Ames. it was nice to be treated like royalty and as VIP's we had access to all the hospitality tents etc. It was fun and I really enjoyed meeting Pat Quinn - what a nice guy. More than that I enjoyed getting paid to hang out in Banff with famous people...even if I didn't know they were famous.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Fun With Flipping Floaters

The weekend is over and for some reason I feel very tired even though I had a fairly relaxing time. On Friday I went for dinner with a friend I hadn't met yet. I am good friends with her son and she reads my blog...I had such a nice time talking with her. We had a good meal and laughed and shared stories and I felt like I had known her for a very long time. We probably wouldn't have met if it hadn't been for the internet...nice internet.

On Saturday I decided to embark on a project I shouldn't have even considered let alone embarked at. I replaced the burner on our barbecue. Sounds easy right? After battling with a can of degreaser, wrestling with rusted metal wing nuts and finally begging for compliance from a pair of metal venturi, I finished. Five hours after I started. I was covered in black grease. But the barbecue works. Then again, it worked before I started. Look what five hours of hard work will get you.

Yesterday we headed to Bowness Park to relax and read in the sun. (I am reading the most incredible book right now called "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss. It's probably some of the best writing I have read since Alistair MacLeod's "No Great Mischief" although of a different type.) We had been laying there in the hot sun for a few hours (me, basting in SPF 30 of course) when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this gale-force wind. In seconds the temperature dropped, the sky turned black and our mouths were filled with a fine grit. We, along with half the park, ran for our car, dodging falling tree branches as we went. Water Rescue trucks, with sirens blaring, headed to the water to rescue the floaters. It was like Armageddon...I kept waiting to see naked bodies floating up into the heavens (especially the family picnic to the right of our spot who prayed/sang loud enough that even the Muslims at the Islamic Centre barbecue felt shamed), but alas, it was just a summer storm.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Big People in Little Bodies...Revolt!!

One of my favourite things when I was a child was going to the public library. I bloomed under the potential of all those books and the knowledge that I would be taking at least some of them home. My Mum would often tell us we had a limit of say, five or ten items and I would spend the next hour agonizing on what books I was going to check out. Would it be too quick a read? Was it funny enough? Hard enough? Would I like it? I would read the description on the back and maybe the first few pages trying to extrapolate what the rest of the experience would feel like. Usually I ended up with five books and a list of another 50 I would have to get next time.

I still love going to the library. I still bring home too many books and end up with late fines. Just last week I returned James Gleick's Isaac Newton only half-finished. I really enjoyed it...but now I don't know what happened to Newton. I can only assume he died.

Last night I went to the library because I had a whole list of books I wanted to get and I managed to get a bunch of them. Unfortunately I stumbled across something while I was there that made me feel angry and a little sad. The library has a new "Kids Bag" program where parents can go in and grab a bag that contains five books and an audio-visual item. The bags are all lined up along one of the shelves and labeled according to gender and age. What the hell? What happened to choosing books with your child? What happened to the idea that kids are actually little people who have preferences, tastes and varying abilities? Can you imagine if I handed you a book and said "Here you go. I have no idea what this book is about but it's geared towards your generation and gender so you're bound to like it." How are you supposed to learn about yourself and develop a relationship with reading if you're just handed an arbitrarily assigned plastic bag of reading materials?

If parents don't have time to even pick out the books for their little ones I can bet they aren't reading to them either. Sometimes I wonder how we all ended up doing things so ass backwards and why nobody seems to notice.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I hope you choke on a roll...

I do not profess to know very much about the Middle East or how we're all going to solve it, but I do think I can safely say that it won't be with rockets. What a mess over there right now. What sadness and frustration to watch it all happen and know that it's very unlikely it will come to a peaceful resolution any time soon. I still can't believe to this day that the post-war Zionists and whoever enabled their little "utopia" to exist, couldn't foresee the instability it would bring to the region. I can't believe that last night on television I witnessed the President of the United States of America lean over towards Tony Blair and say, "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." What? First of all, the man obviously doesn't understand the idea of irony (put him in a room with Alanis Morissette and who knows what the hell would happen). Secondly, does he really think it's all that easy? Does he think he can just pick up the phone and tell Syria to stop Hezbollah? And why is he talking about international affairs while chewing on a bread roll? This is the man that many peoples hopes are riding on.

There will be no peace until the Israeli government realizes it is not perfect, it does not have sole claim to the Holy Land and that they have to negotiate. It won't end until Hezbollah and the Palestinians realize that launching rockets or blowing themselves up isn't getting them anywhere but dead. Both sides need to stop, take a deep breath, swallow their pride and meet in the middle. I'm afraid though that once again, as it has a thousand times throughout our history, hubris will conquer compromise.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ground Level

One of my Special Olympics Athletes, Bonnie, died last week in her sleep. I was so sad when I got the call because she was so sweet and I'm tired of people dying. I went to the service last night (the official Catholic funeral is going on right now but obviously I'm not there because I'm here writing) and I'm glad I went even though it was difficult. I had never actually been to a funeral home before and I didn't really know what to expect. The family was so sweet and very happy that I had come. I went with the intention of sharing some stories about Bonnie that maybe the family didn't know and telling them what a sweet, kind and special person she was. I left feeling like they had given me something instead. Every person in the room, despite the enormity of their loss, made a point of thanking me for working with Special Olympics. I felt a bit bad until I realized that obviously they wantedto thank me. I had given thought to what the program means to the athletes but to be honest I had never considered it from the perspective of their families. Obviously it means more to them than I realized.

Bonnie has two special needs brothers who were both there last night. I went into the viewing room and one of the brothers John came with me. As we stood there over the body of his dead sister he started to cry and said to me, "Bonnie likes puzzles. She won't be doing any more puzzles." "No, she won't." I replied. "Bonnie is never going to go bowling again." he continued. I guess that's the strange thing about death. It means something different to everyone but it never hurts any less.

Seeing her body was a weird experience for me. It was the first time I had ever really seen a dead body (except for the time I failed miserably at CPR but he was newly dead and I was too exhausted to really stop and look at him) and it was strange. I have become insanely addicted to "Six Feet Under" as of late and they do a lot of embalming on that show. It's a really strange idea I think. There was Bonnie, only it wasn't Bonnie, and she had been stuffed and sewn and glued. For what? Apparently, for a lot of people, it is psychologically healthy to be able to see the body before it is buried so they can fully understand that the person is gone. Me, I would rather keep their living image in my head than be face to face with the remnants of what is left after death. Again, it's all a very personal thing and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it.

I said all the right things when I was there, "She's in a better place." "Yes, you're right, she was an angel." "That's a good way to think of it...her father and her are together now." It made me want to bite off my own tongue because I don't believe a word of it. But who the hell am I to take away the comfort those beliefs obviously bring them? I may be an atheist but I'm not a sadist.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cowgirl Up...

Check out those boots!! Yee Haw!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Special Olympics

Last night was the wrap up party for Special Olympics. We ate pizza, laughed and talked and then played "Duck, Duck, Goose". I was put in charge of explaining to the group how the game is played. So I stood up and proceeded to teach them how to play. When I got to the running part I told them to chase the person around the circle until they sit down. Ooops. One of the other coaches quickly jumped in to explain that "Noooo, you run the opposite way of the person who tagged you." All of a sudden all the special athletes starting laughing and teasing me, "What's wrong with you? Don't you know how to play Duck Duck Goose?" "It's a baby game and you don't know it!" I felt like I was stuck in some weird Adam Sandler movie and the hilarity of it all struck me as I stood in the circle being taunted by a group of special olympians. Now that's funny. Another funny thing? If "Duck Duck Goose" ever becomes an Olympic Sport, Korea is screwed because a certain teacher taught all her kids the wrong way.

Some of my Special Friends...

Caroline and...Caroline

Monday, June 26, 2006

Brotherly Love

I wonder how the conservative "Choose Straight" advocates will explain this one away?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

One of the best things about Calgary? What's outside of it.

We went camping in Kananaskis this weekend and it was incredible. I've always loved camping but the older I get, the more I appreciate the effect it has on me. My mind is more quiet when I'm outside and I feel so much more in tune with my own thoughts and the world around me.

When we got to our tent site, (which was the nicest camping spot Brian and I have ever had) we realized that the little portable barbecue was missing a crucial component and therefore would not be cooking any of our meals. I decided to try doing all the cooking over the fire and it turned out awesome. We had fresh fish with marinated veggies, mussels in the shell and garlic butter rice for dinner and a full cooked breakfast on Sunday. I don't know what it is exactly but food made outdoors always seems to taste better. Maybe there isn't any Teflon residue to numb my taste buds?

Here are some pics from our weekend:

Our camp spot was about 100 feet from the lake...what a view in the morning!

The hand of God?

Lower Kananaskis Lake at sunset...

The view from our tent window...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Summer Solstice

In an attempt to go back to our Pagan roots, Brian and I headed out to Big Rock (the closest thing we could find to Stonehenge) for a little midnight sun worship...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Do these pants make my ass look fatwa?

I've been waiting for this for a long time. Yesterday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani ordered a fatwa barring shiite Muslims from terrorist activities. Until the Muslim community comes out, vocally, against terrorism it will not stop. I realize that Muslims are reluctant to create or maintain ties between terrorism and Islam but the fact is, most people now see them as at least related if not synonymous. The Muslim community cannot continue to sit back and wait for political leaders and police authorities to catch and stop Islamic extremists. It must come from an overflowing of Muslim frustration. Muslims must speak to their own people and urge them in the name of their religion, to stop. This recent fatwa is a step in the right direction.

Muslims are probably the most scrutinized, profiled and discriminated against people on the planet right now. (Unless of course you're a gay native who practices Falun-gong)I know many Muslims and have traveled to Muslim countries where I have visited mosques and had religious discussions with Muslims about the state of Islam in the world today. I would like to think that I know better than to be scared when I see a Muslim man in an airport. And yet...when I was flying from Calgary to London a couple of weeks ago, a man with a long beard moved to the front of the plane, near the emergency exit, and began praying. As he kneeled and bowed repeatedly, facing what I can only imagine was East, the plane became visibly nervous. I myself was getting agitated. I kept thinking "We're flying into London in an hour...freakin London where all I ever hear about are Muslim terrorist plots and now this guy is praying in front of the entire plane. Is he making his peace with God just before he brings this thing crashing down into the city centre?!" I know I wasn't the only person thinking this because the people around me were looking a little nervous too. Does this make me a bad person? Have I bought into the stereotype that much? I was angry at myself for being so afraid. The man was very nice and was obviously not setting out to kill us all. He just wanted to pray in peace and talk to his God. The only thing that alleviated my guilt was the fact that the very nervous people to my right were Muslim too.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hannah McGrath

Scotland was a blur. It was also an emotional roller coaster. Happy to see my Uncles and Aunt, sad to see Grandma so ill. Happy she was alive when I got there. Sad to think she would never make it back to her little apartment where we all camped out during our stay. Happy to get the chance to be there at all.

Grandma knew I had come to see her. Although she couldn't talk she was able to move and respond to voices. When I spoke to her and stroked her hair she struggled to talk to me. It was hard to see her so agitated and frustrated. We spent our days at the hospital, taking turns with Gran, talking to her, touching her, singing...whatever we could do to make her comfortable and let her know we were there. On my last day in Scotland I had to say good-bye. She managed to lift her head, turn and open her eyes...just enough so that I knew she knew. I cried and kissed her on her soft cheek and I walked away. She died on June 6th.

I feel so lucky that I was able to go and see her. My Grandma and I were very close and we spoke every week or two. It was always the highlight of my weekend...she always made me laugh and I was always so happy to hear her voice. Many people I have spoken to have been surprised at how close we were. I never saw Gran as an old person or called her out of a sense of duty. I saw here as a friend and a reflection of myself. She was my hero and my teacher and the most positive, funny person I have ever known.

Death is such a strange thing. As humans we have been practicing it for millions of years and yet, nobody really knows how to deal with it yet. I don't feel sad for Grandma because I know that she had a good life. Yes, I would have liked to have her around longer, heck I would have wanted her here forever but things just don't work that way. She wasn't afraid of death and she didn't suffer. When she died she died in peace with her kids holding her hand. It doesn't get much better than that. I grieve more for my own Mum and for myself because we will miss her. It's been hard not to consider the obvious consequence of this, which is an upward shift in generations. Now my Mother is the oldest generation and as I stood there watching my Mum cry over my Grandma's bed I knew that one day that would be me, and then my daughter. The circle of life just got a little smaller.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I apologize to anyone I ignore in the next week. I'm going to Scotland tomorrow night and won't be back until next weekend...maybe later. My Grandma is in hospital and I don't know if she's going to make it through this. It came as quite a surprise...I knew she had been admitted into hospital but didn't think it was very serious. Today Brian and I went to my Mum and Dad's house for breakfast and we got a phone call to tell us that things had taken a turn for the worse. It was a somber breakfast to say the least. I just hope I can get there in time...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nimirum in Rhyme

I had a long lost friend once,
he said "life is a trip"
I listened to him intently and
bit my bottom lip.

Because I knew what was coming,
what loomed far up ahead,
our lives are slowly ending,
in 100 years we'll all be dead.

Dying people shouldn't dream,
they shouldn't hope to fly,
We should be good to ourselves,
and sit and sip before we die.

Gallivanting and gyrating
will only hasten sleep,
and death will leap upon you,
while on quiet it will creep.

I pity the fools who live each day,
denying there's an end,
while I know sitting, sleeping here,
each hour is on lend

and though I have seen nothing
and count existence as a bore,
I know that when the darkness calls,
My friend will miss life more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Red or Blue or Both?

One of my friends at Special Olympics tells me, every time I see her, that she believes in God. He seems to be a large part of her life. Brian once lived with a man named Kenny who also had a very strong relationship with his faith and with God. He too had mental disabilities and this seemed to make faith a lot easier for him. Now, before anyone gets all worked up, I am not saying that people who believe in God are lacking their faculties. I'm merely saying that for some people the world is a simple place and living forever in heaven requires nothing but a little faith and some bible camp sing-a-longs.

This got me thinking. If I could just believe, if I could take some kind of pill and just believe in God and heaven and eternal life, would I take it? And if I had a child who was able to believe in those things would I be doing them a favour by encouraging it? If I were to have a little Kenny would it be kind of me to teach him all about God and how much He loves him and allow him to have a life of blissful faith? Or is it a disservice? Would I explain away a serious illness by invoking demons or "bad air"? Probably not. Brian believes that people only feel a religious void when faith is lost. If you are raised as an atheist, he doubts that you would ever long for more explanation or for religious experience. I'm not so sure about this. People created religions to fill a void which must have pre-existed religion in the first place.

Having said that, maybe it's merely having a construct to use in the world and it doesn't require a supernatural component at all. Maybe being told from day one that we are biological creatures who die but become part of the larger universe is enough to stem the human desire for more. Maybe, information will one day replace faith in that archaic brain of ours.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Foot in Mouth Disease

I wouldn't really label myself an innocent in any sense of the word, but I must admit that I seem to have missed some crucial education somewhere along the way. Every once in a while I will be caught out in saying something really bad without even realizing I've said anything. Like the time I told my professor that I was a member of the Mile High Club. I had no idea what I was talking about.

This morning, I told my friend Greg that Brian was going to grow a Dirty Sanchez. He lost it. I thought he was going to cry he was laughing so hard. I asked him what was so funny and he couldn't really even answer me. Obviously Dirty Sanchez isn't what I thought it was. Greg wouldn't enlighten me (couldn't enlighten me between gasps for air) so I called Brian. After hearing what it really is (if you don't know you'll have to do some of your own research) I realized that it is NOT the little Mexican mustache I had previously thought.

The things you learn.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Things that make me laugh...

1. Dooce
2. People who buy Volvos because they're safe and then drive them like maniacs.
3. People who apply suncreen (presumably to protect them from the sun's damaging rays) while smoking.
4. Women in high-heel shoes in airports.
5. Fancy people who don't bother to wash their hands in the bathroom.
6. Stephen Harper's hair
7. When other people laugh...especially Brian
8. The term "Beep...boop...bap." Funniest when said in a high pitched robot voice.
9. Kurt Vonnegut
10. The absurdity of it all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Butterflies...if you throw it hard enough.

So much has been going on and I've been so busy that I've neglected writing...I hate having to play catch up. So I won't...I'll just brush over the bare details. Brian finished school and I love having him back. He's at home working on the house and being bored while loving every minute of it. I'm his sugar mama.

I've been coaching Track & Field (notice how track & field automatically gets written with an ampersand instead of the word "and"? That's really weird...has it been branded and packaged that way? How did that happen?) for the Special Olympics for a few weeks now and I am loving it. It is easily the most rewarding thing I've done and I have a lot of fun.

Work is going well. The weather has been warm. I planted a cute garden with a little shrub and a mini white picket fence and I transplanted tulips from the back and put them in the front. They promptly died. Just goes to show you what an effect your environment can have on your health!

My parents came back from Europe and my brother gets back from Nepal tonight...all the Knox's back in one country...hooray!!

Hmmm...what else have I been up to? Oh, I know...I just wrote the most boring blog post ever.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Making Memories

Yesterday I packed a picnic lunch (using all the nifty picnic paraphernalia I brought back from Korea) and met Brian at the University where he had finished his fourth of six exams. The sun was shining and we set up our picnic blanket on the grass in a grove of tress near the Mormon church. No significance there except for the free parking. We had such a great time. We ate the Easter dinner leftovers and fresh cheese and bread from the deli. After lunch we laid down and let the sun warm our faces. I felt so happy I could have burst. We laughed and it felt so good to be lying on a red and white picnic blanket on a warm April day with my husband. The bright sun gave it all a kind of dreamlike quality...or like a memory sequence in a movie. Where everything gets a little fuzzy and too perfect to be accurate. But it was accurate and everything was a little fuzzy and I loved it that way.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Like the Branch Davidians miss their David, so I miss Easter...

I actually missed Church this past weekend. Not because I suddenly started believing in God again but because I missed the rituals that made up such a large part of my Catholic youth. Easter consisted of more church than any other season and truth be told, I loved it. I was fervently religious as a child and I now realize that I was trying desperately to receive some kind of sign. When I kissed that old wooden cross at the front of the church on the "day Jesus died" I imagined as hard as I could what it must have been like to die under the hot sun and above the jeering crowds. I cried for Jesus and sent him messages of love and thanks with all my little heart. When it came time to have our feet washed I tried not to feel the tickle of the old priest's gnarly hands and imagined it was Jesus himself cleansing me of my sins. On Palm Sunday I waited anxiously for the part when the Holy water would be sprinkled across my row and felt renewed and freed as soon as the tiny droplets hit my skin. Easter was the greatest day of the year as I rejoiced that Jesus had risen and given me chocolate.

I actually thought about going to Sunday mass last week, just to relive it all again. To me this does nothing but illustrate the incredible power of ritual and tradition. There is a reason the Catholic church uses so many ritualistic elements in its services and why its been around so long...if you do anything for long enough its bound to seem normal. And not so completely crazy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Life and Death and Rain

It's dark and raining this morning and it looks sort of foreboding and eerie outside. I love the means spring is coming and everything will be clean again...oh, and the smell. That fresh "good things are coming"'s enough to make me cry.

I experienced a runners high for the first time in my life last night. I've had friends who've told me about this phenomenon and claimed to have experienced it but I honestly didn't believe them. What I felt every time I went running was hot, sweaty, tired and in agony. Not exactly a high. But last night something happened. I don't know what cosmic circumstance aligned for it to happen but I know at one point I felt freed from my body like I was invincible and as light as a feather. I felt like I was floating and that I could run forever. It was awesome.

I've been thinking about death a lot lately. Now, I think about death a lot anyway but a few people I knew have died in the past several months and that has got me thinking. After millions of years of evolution you would think that humans would have come up with a way to deal with death better than we do. I find it a hard concept to get my head around. The idea that someone is there, with feelings, a smile and a history and then suddenly, they aren't. It doesn't seem to make any sense, even though I know it makes perfect sense. I heard Margaret Atwood say once that our ability to understand death is hampered by the English language. We think in a first person language that has past, present and future tenses. We struggle when we try to drop the subject or the future just doesn't work.

These thoughts of death haven't been sad so much as just considering it as my certain fate. I have always appreciated the small things in life and have made an effort to slow down and feel grateful for being alive. Lately I have been trying even harder to live life actively as opposed to by default. The TV has been put away for months now and neither Brian nor I has dragged it out. I have been running, breathing deeply and talking to friends a lot. I'm eating healthier than I ever have. I've started doing a lot of volunteering and getting involved in the community and it feels good. I feel alive. The way I figure it, if I've never really felt alive I won't be able to appreciate feeling dead.

Friday, March 31, 2006

An Invisible Praying Dragon

The idea that prayer can heal the sick has been around for a very long time. Today, the results of the world's largest study were released, and guess what? Prayer has no effect on health or on recovery. The study was done over a span of ten years and involved 1,800 patients. I'm satisfied with the results given the paradigms of the study and the number of top-notch researchers involved (some of them with a religious bias I might add). What annoys me is the response that I know will meet these results.

The same religious people who have quoted previous, less reliable research that showed prayer to be effective will dismiss this study. Others will argue that science cannot test religion and that its silly to try (Of course, had the results been positive the same people would be shouting from the rooftops, "Science proves the existence of God!") and then there will be the obvious, God knew we were testing him and withheld his amazing healing powers as an attempt to teach those silly scientists a lesson. Nice God.

When a stance, whether it be religious or otherwise, requires so much mental gymnastics that you're tied up in a knot or leads you to take all your reasoning skills and put them on a shelf, you might just want to re-examine your position.

Carl Sagan, as usual, says it best...

Thursday, March 30, 2006


I think I have some kind of attachment disorder. Usually people who aren't cuddled and loved enough as infants develop some kind of pathological aversion to deeper human relationships. I think I may have been over-cuddled because I have difficulty making a distinction between stranger and friend. I really care about people and that's not always a good thing.

I have learned the following things lately:

1. It is not normal to miss the guy who bought your car. It's not acceptable to wonder aloud how "Steve is liking the car" and "whether he's happy". Yah, apparently that's weird.

2. It's abnormal to buy things online just so you can visit people's houses and get a quick "peek at their life".

3. Hunting people down on the internet because you had a crush on them in grade two isn't "bumping into an old friend"'s creepy.

4. Talking about your friends Heather and John as though they are your next door neighbours and not people who happen to run a website is also weird. In fact, having a whole host of "web friends" who you've never met but email regularly tends to be frowned upon. But not by the people emailing me because they are emailing me maybe that's not weird?

5. Most people tend to put up big fat walls and I don't. I don't like to waste time. I am what I am and we've got so much to say and so many people are so damn worried about what others will think that they don't realize we are all dying. You have nothing to hide and everything to lose.

Anyway, the point it that I don't actually have to have MET someone to care about them. I need to feel connected to a lot of people. I like to know what other people are doing with their little slice of life and I want to hear all their stories. It makes me feel human and connected and not so alone on this big blue ball. (Big blue ball...ha...anyway...) Brian laughs at me because I am forever tracking down old friends and writing to them but you know what? They usually write me back so maybe they need it just as much as I do. Only they didn't know it yet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quarter Life Analysis

I was listening to the radio last night and they were interviewing the author of Dish, a new book about women in midlife. The author was saying just how many women feel as though they lived the first half of their lives for other people and it got me thinking. I am sure there are decisions I have made that were designed to please others, but there haven't been many. In that respect I feel very lucky. I know that women tend to struggle with saying no and feeling guilty for taking care of themselves. I find it very sad that so many women have neglected their own wants and needs in order to satisfy someone else, or even worse, social expectations. As I look at my life today I don't feel like it has been shaped much by either and that feels good. I realize that this may change in the next few years but at least I know I won't wake up at 50 and wonder who the hell I am living for.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Thousand Lives Will Do...

I wonder if I am ever going to figure out what I want to do with my life or whether I'm destined to spend my whole life looking...not that that would be a horrible thing. It would be far worse I suppose to just give up entirely or even worse to never really care at all.

I have come to the realization that despite my love for writing and other "artsy" endeavors, I am at my truest, a scientist. Nothing makes me hotter than the endocrine system, maximum velocity and cell regulation. I love the feeling I get when I know my brain is working at maximum capacity and I am really struggling to understand a concept. I haven't felt that way in awhile.

Now I need to decide whether I'm satisfied with having a relatively easy job and finding things outside of work to occupy my brain or whether I'm going to go back where I belong and make my life a lot harder. I also need to figure out who will pay the bills while I do that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bros and Books

I spent last weekend in Edmonton with my not-so-little-little brothers. I honestly can't remember the last time it was just the three of us. Boyfriends, girlfriends or parents are usually present so it was really great to just hang out with both of them. Craig leaves for Nepal on the 31st and is getting really excited for his trip. It's his first big adventure and what a place to start with!

I just finished A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews and I actually cried at the end. It was so good! It's written from the perspective of a young Mennonite girl in Manitoba (I think) and it has been resonating within my little head ever since I finished it. It was nominated for the Giller Prize so I assumed it was well written (and it was) but I never thought I would be so moved and drawn in to the lives of the characters. Awesome.

Reason for not writing much? Life is deliciously, boringly, perfect. Pain breeds literature, perfection breeds sex.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just another crazy CBC'er

Yesterday I got mugged! Okay, so it's not as melodramatic as it sounds but I was still pretty excited. The CBC Eye Opener (Calgary's morning radio show) has been going around town each week giving away CBC mugs. Every morning I drive to work listening to Angela Knight giving away her coveted mugs and yesterday morning I was shocked when I realized she was just around the corner at McMahon Stadium. I had ten minutes to make it to her before she closed up shop and drove away for the day so I gunned it. I pulled up, jumped out of my car and ran towards the CBC min-van yelling, "I've wanted one of those mugs forever!" And a slightly frightened CBC host gave me one!

So, if you happen to live in Calgary and heard me ranting and raving like a lunatic on the radio yesterday morning, what can I say? I got a wicked mug. And I finally did some contract work for Calgary CBC One. Awesome.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Where's Julia Roberts when you need her?

If I was Erin Brockovich I would have been all over Fort McMurray years ago. I always thought that we had higher than normal rates of cancer but I wasn't sure. When I left Fort Mac and met other people my own age and started talking (not that cancer was always a big subject)I began to realize that I knew WAY too many young people with cancer...all kinds of cancer. Fort McMurray had a population of about 35,000 when I grew up there. I can list dozens of people, mostly under 20, who I have known (or known of)and who have had cancer. Skin cancer, nose cancer, leukemia, stomach cancer...not to mention the number of people with weird ailments and diseases. I have been saying for years now that some day people were going to discover that the oilsands are killing people. Looks like I was right. Lucky me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cancer Questions

This story has been bouncing around the inside of my skull for days now. I'm fascinated by the topic and the possibilities it raises and impressed with Wendy Mesley's balls. To question and criticize the very organization that is securing you medical care and perhaps saving your life? That's the kind of passion for a story that journalism needs.

I was shocked to see the stats on cancer in Canada. One in two Canadians? Those are not good odds and they're far worse than I ever would have guessed. I know I tend to be a skeptic and I am particularly skeptical of big pharma, but I'm not the least surprised that they play a role in all of this. They stand to benefit from sick people, and that is never a good thing. Not for the sick people anyway.

Way to go Wendy...I just hope that the right people are listening.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Car, job and a fixed address...

I've been made the official photographer at work...does life get any better than this? Yesterday I had an interview with the most amazing young woman, I'm doing more writing than I've ever done and today I get given a fancy new camera to play with. And I'm getting paid for this.

This past weekend my parents took Brian and I out for dinner at the Keg. The food was delicious but what I appreciated most was being able to spend time with my Mum and Dad. We headed out to Okotoks after dinner and ended up staying out there all day Sunday. Might have been because Mum cooked a big breakfast and then a chicken dinner, you can't really be sure. Either way it was really fun and relaxing. Dad and Brian went for a drive in the new car and talked engines and Mum and I just chatted. I have always gotten along really well with my parents (okay, not always but for the most part) but now we are entering a new phase it seems. They will always be my parents, and they've always been my friends but now we're all grown up and on equal footing. It's good.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Error of My Ways

I can't believe I've been such an irresponsible pet owner. Shabba, things are going to change around here my little furry friend.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Don't even miss Dr. Phil...

I have a cubicle. I also have a computer, and a cork board, some filing cabinets and a really comfy desk chair. So far, so good.

I have been doing some really interesting work already and I'm feeling pretty excited about things. I have set up some interviews and worked on an ad campaign, done some web design and helped develop some creative material. I'm writing and branding and even did a SWOT analysis. I love it.

The people in my office are all really cool and nice. They're young and hip and go for drinks on Fridays. Welcome to Yuppieville...population? Whatever it was last week plus one.

Sunday, February 26, 2006



You betray me, I whisper in your ear
You ignore me, while I cry my silent tears

I spoil you and care for you when you are ill
But you forget, and once more my soul you kill

I do everything for you, I gave you my life
But your love for me is lost, overcome by strife

I know you are full of malevolence for me,
because I am not what you want me to be

Remember, if you need help I will be there
and no matter what happens, I always will care.

* Written by Me at Age 11. Was promptly referred to the counselor's Office.


Do you weep Mr. Mulroney, do you weep?
Do you cry over us in your sleep?
Do you "boo", do you "hoo" as we are waiting
in queue, for the cheques, that are supposed
to come each week?
Do you weep Mr. Mulroney, do you weep?

* Age 13...where did I get this crap?

New and improved...

I've finally succumbed to the pressure that is Flickr and posted some pictures. Feel free to browse and leave comments...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Brian eats Crow...


I hope he chokes.

On the road again...

The past couple of days have been really incredible and I'm still on a high. We bought a car yesterday!! Its a VW Passat...which makes us official Calgary yuppies. It's really nice and although the colour (white) isn't exactly what I would have chosen it's already growing on me. We bought it from a really nice Chinese lady who is heading back to China this week and needed to sell it right away. That means we got a good deal and she sold her car. I felt really bad for her because she paid way too much for it...there's a reason car dealers get such a bad rep. Anyway, I think she was happy and we are definitely happy...and mobile!

Yesterday afternoon (about two hours after we bought the car)we headed out to Canmore in a snowstorm. Luckily the roads improved once we got into the mountains and everything was fine. We pulled up to our inn and fell in love almost as soon as we saw it. A Bear and Bison Inn sits on a hill in the shadow of the mountains surrounding the town. We went up to our room and couldn't believe how nice it was. It had a big fireplace in one corner and a jacuzzi tub in another. It had a huge four-poster bed with curtains on the side and a patio facing the mountains. It was absolutely stunning. We went out for a really nice dinner and then back to the Inn where we headed to the outdoor hot tub. It was just Brian and I and the snow was falling in big fat flakes. It was so relaxing and romantic. We drank champagne, chilled in the hot tub and just enjoyed each others company. The rest of the night also went well...

Camera pans from the bed to an open crescendos...and cut.

This morning we got breakfast in bed and lazed about while the sun shone in the room. (Just so you know, I am fully aware this post sounds like a bad Harlequin - not that there are any good Harlequins- but I don't care. It's my anniversary and I can be as sappy as I like...) We walked around the town site and had a nice lunch. We also bought about $20 worth of fudge from a Dutch kid who got a real kick out of being a "professional fudge packer". Who knew a play on words could cross the language barrier so easily?

It was a perfect weekend and the perfect anniversary. On our way home we stopped at a Korean grocery store and were like two computer nerds at a Linux convention. We bought a bunch of stuff and the Koreans looked at us like we had perhaps stumbled into the wrong area of town. So we threw in some Korean and really left them baffled.

A new car, 50 lbs of fudge and a bucket of kimchi in the fridge. It's going to be a good weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Quoth the Raven

It feels good to be right. Brian and I have had bets going on lately and so far I've won them all. First we had a disagreement that centered around how to make a bed. Brian insists that the top sheet should be tucked under the pillow so that when you grab it and pull back, your pillow is launched into the atmosphere like some down filled rocket ship. I, on the other hand, being well-versed in all things Martha, know how to properly make a bed. The top sheet should be folded down so that it can be pulled back without anything flying across the room. We made a bet to take a close look at how the bed in our hotel was made and lo and behold if I'm not owed a night out at the movies.


Ravens DO TOO exist in North America. And that giant black bird tearing a large rodent to pieces on the side of the highway is NOT a crow but indeed, a raven.

Poe's Lost Verse...

First he laughed then started jeering, sure of self and never fearing
That he may find himself locked in lengthy combat once more
Nothing further did she utter, though her heart was all a flutter
In silence bread from certainty, her foot tapped on the car floor
"When will you see that I am right!?", her eyes still on the car floor
Quoth the husband, "Nevermore".

Monday, February 20, 2006

Family Pies

I have to be honest and tell you that my birthday kind of sucked. I was home alone for most of the day, with no car, little money and way too much time to think and contemplate the passing of time. Most of my birthdays in recent years have included some kind of party...some friends, some alcohol and enough of a celebration to remind me that I'll always be young at heart. This year was quiet and that made me feel a little old.

But, things did get a lot better the day after my birthday. Craig (the eldest of my two younger brothers) surprised me at my front door! I was so happy to see him and we had a great time hanging out. He completely annihilated Brian and I in Risk but otherwise it was great. We went out to stay with my parents on Saturday night and I took them for Korean food. That didn't go over so well. My Dad and brother liked it (despite my dad's remark that the noodles were like "boiled rubber bands") but my Mum didn't fancy the strange flavours and combinations. I of course loved it and it made me miss Korea all over again.

Yesterday we drove out to Bragg Creek in my Mum and Dad's new car (so nice!) to enjoy the beautiful weather. The mountains looked radiant and the sun was shining over the foothills. It was perfect. We stopped at a little bakery and had a coffee and some fresh baked pies. It was a nice little day with my family and it reminded me of why we moved back home. Pies and my family on a sunny day in the mountains. That's reason enough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My life in 15ths...

February 15, 1990

Dear Diary,

My birthday!! I'm twelve years old! I love New Kids on the Block, there (sic) rad! I'm going to keep this diary for the rest of my life. In the year 3000 I hope someone finds this. Bye!

February 15th, 1992

I am now 14!! A whole 14! This weekend we went to Edmonton and I got to go to Red Lobster for dinner and I had 30 shrimp! I love shrimp! Mom took me birthday shopping at West Ed. and I got a plaid shirt, a belt, shoes and an Abercrombie and Fitch sweatshirt! Mom and I got a model makeover was marvy. Right now there are these really cool shoes called Doc Martens and they have union jacks on the toes but they are way too expensive. So this weekend I took an old pair of black shoes and I spray painted them with union jacks (Dad helped me) and they look great!
I can't believe I am already 14. Sometimes I get scared when I think how fast everything is going and other times it feels really slow and I can't wait to get older. Sometimes I hate being a kid. One day I'm happy and the next day I want to cry. None of the guys like me...they all like Aysha. They think I am weird. Antoine told me the other day that he likes me but that I'm not pretty enough. Screw him! He likes Aysha too. I wonder if I will ever be cool or if anyone will ever get me. I always feel like I am living on another planet...people tell me that I'm too smart. Sometimes I believe them but sometimes I think it's just a nice way of saying "You're weird."

Last week in gym class Mr.Senft made us play the most sexist game!!! Get this! It was sort of like basketball but the guys and ONLY the guys had to play with one hand behind their back, also the boys only had one hoop they could score on and the girls had three! Because I resented the rules I played with one hand behind my back. The boys beat us anyway but that isn't the point! I was so mad afterwards, but some of the girls told me that I was making a big deal out of nothing. No wonder today's society is so sexist against women - the women stand for it!

Anyway, gotta go...happy birthday to me!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some introspection...

I will not be starting my 28th year as an unemployed woman. That's right folks, I got a job. And not just any old job...a great job! I have been offered the position of Communications Coordinator for the head office of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut. I'm so happy and relieved and excited. This position will be great since it combines my science background with my journalism degree and even though I'm "crossing over to the dark side" it's not really the dark's the fluffy pink side that tries to keep Canadians from dying of heart disease. And I can feel good about that.

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday and this is making me feel a little more introspective than usual. This past year has been a big one for me. I lived in Korea, did a lot of traveling and got married. Moved back to Canada, bought a new house, learned how to do electrical wiring (!!) and am now embarking on a new career. That's a lot in one year! I can only hope that 28 is as good to me as 27 was...with a bit more money thrown in. And maybe a pet pig. A girl can dream...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Howling at the Moon

Last night we went on a night hike at Station Flats in Kananaskis country. It was incredible. Brian, his brother Dave and I left at about 9:00 and didn't get home until nearly 2:00 in the morning. The hike itself was short, only about 5 km, but it was beautiful. The moon was full and it was shining through the trees. It was fairly warm out, although it was a nice break when we stopped for hot chocolate. It was so nice to be out in the cool night air, with the coyotes yipping in the otherwise dead silence. Maybe living in Calgary isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Caroline's Life - January 28th, 1991

Dear Diary,

I'm sorry I haven't written in awhile but I seriously lost you! So many things have happened since the last time I wrote. I went into junior high , got new friends, and new clothes, gone to at least 10 parties, got my hair cut short and I'm about to turn 13!! A teenager at last!! The school I switched to is Birchwood school and my favourite teacher is Mr. Jette. There are 36 kids in my class! And a lot of guys to choose from. But Mum won't let me date or let me invite boys to my party. Who ever said age 13 is a hard age was right! I wish I was cooler and people (guys) liked me but I'm too ugly for that, with my glasses and flat chest! I'm stuffing my shirt right now, 2 kleenex a day! I don't know what I'm going to do cuz next week we have a pool party! There are a lot of nice guys in the class like
(exhaustive list of practically every guy in my class) NONE of the guys will ever like me more than a friend and even that is disputable. I'm so UGLY!! And I'm too hyper and weird. Mum and Dad bought a pool table - it's fun! Got to go, bye!

Agonizing...absolutely agonizing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

What can I say? I tried to reserve judgment about this movie and was afraid that after all the hype I would leave the theatre disappointed. I didn't. I left sad and frustrated and angry at people and the way they treat other people. I was awed by the performances and humbled by the scenery. It wasn't my favourite movie of all time but it was probably one of the best I've seen. Does that make sense? My favourite movies tend to be ones I would watch over and over again. I wouldn't watch this twice but I sure am glad I saw it. I hope the people who refuse to watch this movie because they "don't want to watch two guys kissing" challenge themselves and their beliefs and go to this film. They'll be better off for it.