Friday, December 18, 2009

my bags are packed...

well, not quite.  and i am afraid of the packing challenge that lies ahead of me.  one of my flights has a weight restriction of 15kg for checked baggage and i am not quite sure how i am going to manage this one.  i am not one who is known for their ability to pack lightly, no matter how i try.  but i am going to do my best to be economical with my space and weight and not overpack.  the key is going to be neutrals, laundry, and key pieces of clothing rather than 'options.'

almost all of our accommodations have been booked in ireland so far and i am really very much looking forward to spending christmas at the fitzwilliam hotel in dublin.  our other hotels/bed and breakfasts include:
it seems that as the irish are serious about eating breakfast, that will be the most important meal of the day and if we play our cards right, we won't need to eat again until dinner!  i am sure that pints of guinness will keep us full too!  at least once we park our little rented mobile at each location and head out to the pubs to enjoy the local flavour of each place.

my concern is that we will be driving A LOT and not have the chance to spend as much time in each place as we would like.  but this is typically me and i am not terribly surprised at the way i have planned it.  but i will take as many photos as is possible so i can remember my favourite spots in case i ever want to return.

i am sad to be leaving my fam for the holidays, but i am very lucky to have a dear friend awaiting me at the airport in manchester.  we have years to catch up on as well as a wedding to attend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a miserable pattern

it is becoming a trend that whenever i am planning on taking a trip that involves a plane, i get some sort of cold or flu the week before.  and this morning i woke up with a cough and a running nose that turned into a pressure headache and me sleeping for most of the daylight hours today.

blech.  but i stocked up on sinus medication, am going to head to bed shortly, and should be in tip top shape in a few days' time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

i miss rsa!

and the reason that i am missing life in south africa is because i saw Invictus last night (with dreamboat Matt Damon and the ever impressive Morgan Freeman) and the images of the minibuses, the shots of cape town with robbin island in the distance and table mountain peering over the city bowl, the rhythmic african music, and the enthusiasm for democracy that i had the privilege of participating in in the form of the 10 year celebration of democracy in 2004.

it is a good movie, a great movie even.  maybe not a top ten movie, but surely worth the time to see how Nelson Mandela (madiba!) worked with the captain of the South African Springboks, Francois Pienaar to win the 1995 World Cup of rugby on their home turf.  it is still talked about in south africa as a time when the tides changed and i have been in numerous pubs where photos of Pienaar are on the walls and the green and gold jerseys are framed on the walls.

i always love a story where the place features as a character and especially when i feel as though i know this place.  i think anyone with an interest in south african history will appreciate this movie.  and even if you don't, it is still worth seeing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

pay our teachers more!

yesterday, i taught two classes of grade nines at a school where my friend is a teacher and after two hours, i was exhausted!  i was a little nervous going into it and i wasn't sure how detailed to make my presentations, but i focused on human rights in africa and jammed my presentations with photos to keep their attention.  it fit within their unit on the canadian charter of rights and freedoms that is in the social studies curriculum (which, coincidentally, was my favourite subject!).

i think it worked and they had me thinking on my toes with some of their questions.  and i had a hard time convincing some of the kids that having aids is not 'gross' and you cannot get hiv from being bitten by a monkey, but overall they were attentive and interested in learning more about africa.  next time i will brush up my kiswahili so i can at least speak a sentence to them rather than just random words that came to my mind.

but man alive, i could not do that everyday and i think i have even more appreciation for our teachers than before.  they work tirelessly to educate kids, manage parents, and do it all in schools that really could use a little sprucing up.

one of the pieces of information i left the students with was that if they want to get involved, go to spreadthenet.org and buy a mosquito net for $10.  i just did.  the campaign is only 75,000 nets away from their goal of 500,000 nets to people in rwanda and liberia, so head on over there and spread some christmas cheer all the way to africa.

i hope i inspired at least a few of the kids to stay interested in international events and human rights in africa.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

oversized thoughts

my trip to windsor and toronto, ontario was an interesting one.  at the same time that i was attempting to wrap my head around the challenges of protecting victims of human trafficking within canada's system, the first charges of human trafficking were laid in calgary, making me the woman of the hour in terms of media interviews.  radio, print, and television, i did them all.  and loved it.

after all that thinking, articulating, and networking, i was ready for a rest and some excitement of a different kind in toronto.

but i was in a strange headspace the entire time i was there.  i am sure trying unsuccessfully to make a scheduled dinner happen didn't help, but i felt as though i didn't belong in toronto.  and yet, when i thought about where i am in calgary, i haven't been sure that this is where i belong either.  i feel in some ways like i have more to offer the world than what it is getting from me right now. 

sitting around and talking policy, human rights, and international conventions felt more right than what i do at my desk monday-friday.  and yet, i don't think i have it in me for another bug change at the moment or the near future.  i think all this back and forth and this and that was exhausting so when i arrived in toronto, my head was full of thoughts that still have no answer and i had visiting to do.  which is tiring itself.

it was a good trip and i am not complaining in the slightest, but it filled my heads with lots of thoughts that will take some time to think through.  good thing i have some long-haul flights in my near future!

the most wonderful time of the year...

an update, because it has just been too long, but i will keep up my regular posting after this short hiatus.
  • there was no date in toronto.  there were text messages.  there were telephone calls.  but there was no date, which was a shame, because i looked dazzling.
  • i have been off my arse busy after the first charges of human trafficking were laid in calgary!
  • i am watching Julie & Julia at the moment (from my home office, aka, my couch) and am loving it.  just what i needed.
  • this saturday, at a christmas party, i will be sporting this frock.  but a question for you, internet, how do you make it appear as though you have cleavage when you cannot wear a bra?
  • i am overwhelmed with all i have to do before leaving for england in 9 days!  hotels.  rental cars.  visits with friends here and there.  packing, ew, packing.  christmas shopping.  house cleaning.  work.  and then some more work.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

when fantasy and reality collide

my trips to windsor and toronto are all booked up.  already, my schedule is full.  a meeting with colleagues.  a 2 day forum on trafficking.  a christmas party.  a date.  a brunch.  a lot of talking, no doubt.  yay. 

yay in a way that i still cannot comprehend and now it seems weird to say too much because where i used to make jokes about things that i never thought would happen, they have all of a sudden become my personal life.  and the personal life of someone else, which was always my policy not to blog about.  read between the lines, if you like.

and i realised that i never did update you on the status of my trip this christmas.  i'm currently in the stages of preparing for a 12 day roadtrip around ireland with a girlfriend.  i am most looking forward to staying in a posh hotel for christmas eve, the christmas lunch, drinking guinness, and meeting irish people (including a former coworker who has invited us to stay with her in cork!).  the part that i am not so looking forward to is the dent this is going to be putting in my pocketbook.  and learning how to drive standard on the other side of the road!

Friday, November 27, 2009

flying colours

well, i passed my allergy test and i am officially allergy free.  so what causes my constant congestion and ickiness?  dust, dryness, the environment.  none of which i can get rid of.  the allergist suggested that i move to hawaii.  hmpf.  as positive as this is, i really did want an answer to my congestion, but i suppose not having a problem is good news.  and it means that sinus rinses are the way forward.

he also checked my lungs for asthma and i scored 100% on all three measures that they test for.  he said that that rarely happens, which is music to a type a personality's ears.  all that running, never smoking a cigarette in my life, and not being overweight are sure paying off!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i list

shamelessly stolen from k.

I Am – blessed.  which is really not a word i used very often, but i was thinking the other day that i really am blessed.

I Want – to understand how to help others without being condescending or patronising.

I Have – rather big feet for my stature.

I Wish – i could do more.

I Hate – very few things.  and try not to use the word 'hate' in my daily life after i once said i 'hated' a song and my friend called me on it and said that was a lot of negative energy to put in the world.  i agreed.

I Fear – loosing control, having surgery, blood tests, and birds when they flap their wings when they are taking off.

I Hear – the din of my cubicle farm.

I Search – for comfortable socks and underwear.  and myself on google.

I Wonder – where i will be in 2 years', 5 years', and 10 years' time.

I Regret – nothing.  there is a lot i wish never happened, but i don't regret it.  if that makes sense.

I Love – my family.  they are the funniest people i know.

I Ache – when i eat chocolate or ice cream.

I Always – use q tips to clean my ears.

I Usually – do not get enough sleep.

I Am Not – sure what i want to be when i grow up.

I Dance – like a white girl.

I Sing – at home when i am alone and wonder if anyone can hear me.

I Never – wear mismatched socks.

I Rarely – just have one glass of red wine.

I Cry – when i am really happy.

I Am Not Always – punctual, even though i wish i was.

I Lose – my cool when i feel as though i am being manipulated or forced to do something against my will.

I’m Confused – about climate change.  and carbon capture.  and if we are really doomed no matter what we do or don't do.

I Need – to have my hair coloured.

I Should – eat more regular and balanced meals.

I Dreamin bollywood, sometimes.

I Hope – that my trip to toronto is lots of excitement and fun.

I Feel – a bit useless today.

I Appreciate – my family more now than ever before.

keeping it safe

i took an internet and social networking security workshop yesterday at my office and i learned a few things that i thought i would share in case they are useful to anyone else.
  • do not post status updates about your whereabouts, especially if you are going to be out of town.  in fact, the police will now ask you if you posted online if you would be away when they investigate break and enters.
  • never use third party application in facebook, they do not have to follow any rules set by facebook and can have harmful effects on your computer or system.
  • make sure you have anti-virus software installed AND that it is turned on.
  • banks have decreased their liability for covering fraudulent charges with the new chip and pin cards, so you should be exceptionally protective of your pin (unlike i was today during a visa purchase when i had to look up my pin and was obtuse about making obvious what i was doing).
  • have other manners of communicating with your contacts so that if you social networking site is hacked into and someone claims to be you, you can clarify it immediately before money is sent or your reputation is damaged.
  • set up a google alert for your name so you will be notified if anything new is posted on the internet about you.  this goes along with googling yourself to see what is out there (especially important to those of us dating or looking for a job, because you know they are doing it too!)
  • you do not own any of the material posted on facebook (and most other social networking sites), including wall posts, photos, and videos.
  • if you would like something removed from facebook or youtube because it has you in it, just email the company and they will likely have it removed rather than have to deal with lawsuits.
  • canada's privacy laws are making it difficult for facebook as they have to change some of their practices to be in compliance with our systems and laws.
some of it seems pretty simple, but a few of them i had never thought of before.  if you get the chance to take such a workshop, i do recommend it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

give it to the universe

it turns out that i am going to do better than i thought with my eight for twenty eight goals that i set earlier this year.  the one that i wasn't going to do as well as i had hoped was # 7 - visit friends who live in other places.

but it turns out that i get to experience more success with this goal than i previously expected because when i go to the conference on human trafficking in windsor, ontario next week, i have to fly through toronto and it just makes sense to stick around after the conference and visit with three of my favourite people who happen to live there.  one is a friend from high school (although we weren't actually friends in high school), one is her lovely boyfriend, and the other is my former boss who has since become a sort of mentor.  it promises to be a fantastic visit, no matter what we do.

this does mean that i will have to miss out on some fun back here in calgary, but i think it will be worth it to spend some additional time in the t dot.  and i am giving this one to the universe and i am confident that there is a reason i am going, even if i won't find out until later.

and if a certain someone decides to reply to my email then there might also be a rendezvouz of sorts in the big city.  that would be grand, just grand.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

looking into the crystal ball

my girls and i had our monthly ladies' night last night and this time, to make it a little more interesting, we invited a psychic to join us and to do readings while we enjoyed our wine and tarts.  here is what she said:
  • i should be a teacher or be teaching people, that is what i am here to do
  • i will be moving to toronto in march or april and it will be for a job
  • i try to be a master of whatever i choose to do
  • i will likely go back to school to do a phd and this will be somewhere in eastern canada
  • i might not have children because my life will revolve around my career and my husband
  • my future is very positive
  • my life will have many recurring patterns, a number of endings and beginnings
  • my emotional health is good now and to keep it good, i should always exercise
  • whoever i am meant to marry is in toronto and i am supposed to meet him next fall and it might be someone from my past, someone i have met a few years ago
  • my brothers are going to be aok, even though one will experience various challenges, but he will just need us to let him know we care
and what do i think about all this stuff?  that much of what i heard made a lot of sense and makes me happy and excited about the future.  i think that i would like to have a family one day so i am doubtful that i would focus only on my career and not have children.  and i am not too sure what was going on with me marrying someone i already know because i really cannot think of someone i already know (unless of course we are talking about a certain someone that i met last week!) and the flip side of that is that i will meet someone next fall, but that just feels so far away!

going back to uni, getting a phd, and becoming a professor though?  absolutely!  i would love to and i think that being a form of a teacher or sharer of wisdom sounds like a good life plan for me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

never forget

'never forget:
justice is what love looks like in public'
~ dr cornel west

i had the opportunity to see the film call + response last night and it is such a well crafted piece of advocacy on human trafficking as well as a few hours of solid entertainment.

if you love music, demand social justice, and want to support worthy causes, see this movie and then buy the soundtrack on itunes.


Friday, November 20, 2009

i think this deserves an 'omg'

i can't even begin to tell the internet how fantastic and amazing last night's event was.

and how even more fantastic and amazing the email i received this morning is!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

still asking for what i want

over a month ago, i found a conference in canada on human trafficking that i thought looked interesting and i brought it to the attention of my supervisors at my part-time position.  she said our organisation would not be represented, but i was free to go on my own accord.

this morning, i got an email from the organiser of the conference saying that i had been recommended by my supervisor to attend the conference as there had been additional funding received from the federal government to have more organisations represented and they could now pay for me to go.

i am excited to go to the conferece, excited to do some more of that networking thing, but not so excited to go to windsor, ontario!  i know a lot of people all over the country, but none that i can think of in windsor!  i don't even know where the city is or what it has (apart form some ancient auto factories, i would assume), but i feel pretty lucky to be going and see it as another great opportunity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

god love him

all my pleas for the federal government to hire steve a stylist could not even have prevented this embarassing piece of canadian history:

Monday, November 16, 2009

oh snuffy!

my sister sent me this link that shows the 101 muppets of sesame street and it made me smile on a monday morning.

snuffleupagus was my favourite (but i thought it was spelled snuffalupugus), who was yours?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a full two days

please forgive the cryptic list, but i had a fantastic weekend and included the following things, in no particular order and sometimes concurrently:
  • a date at the farmer's market
  • a drink with my parents and a catch up with their friends
  • an exboyfriend siting
  • a rip around town in a gorgeous bmw
  • late night bottle of wine with a newer friend who i know will be a long time friend
  • celebrating one of my oldest friend's birthday
  • running into an old high school friend and it wasn't even awkward
  • a massage that hurt it was so good
  • chilling out with my bros
  • brunch with 3 lovely ladies and delicious huevos rancheros made by hand from scratch
  • covert actions to determine the source of missed calls
  • a job application for a research position
  • helping someone tame their crazy
  • a gift of a small christmas tree and gorgeous roses
  • confirmation that i have a table for 10 to fill for stephen lewis and jian ghomeshi
  • text messages from former gentleman suitors

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

that's curious

not sure how that post got to sneak up the line to say that it was posted today, november 11th.  it wasn't.  it is old.  and was posted a few years back.  strange.

it’s been awhile...

(march 16, 2008)

i have been working in mombasa, which is not a bad place to work if you don’t mind the excruciating heat and humidity and love the beach. my hotel had cnn and al jazeera so i am well informed of the news. go tibetans. sleezy senators (or governors?). poor new yorkers. cold and snowy canadians.

i got some beach time in, achieved a touch of the sun burn, bought some more kanga, and drove around in tuk tuks. i also had to face a moral dilemma whereby the participants in my workshop were lying to me to get more money. now tell me something, in countries like the uk, canada, or the us (i ask you because i know people in all these countries visit me here regularly), do you provide money to those who attend your workshops/conferences/trainings to cover their transportation to and from the venue (if they live in the city or nearby areas) as well as a stipend to cover accommodation for those travelling from out of town?

if you found out that those coming from out of town were actually going back home to sleep and then returning in the morning, do you think they are still eligible for this accommodation stipend? my answer is no. my participants’ answers were yes.

when i outright asked them if they were staying in town that night, all but 2 said they were. i have good reason to believe none of them actually stayed and pocketed the money instead. even the priests and pastors were amongst the dishonest, nice. go jesus.

i made the executive decision not to give them money on the second day. it may cause some concern when i get back to work tomorrow because i did not stick to our budget and our donor may wonder why we planned so inaccurately (answer: the government told me to and i have to listen to them as per my organisation’s mandate and membership), but i frankly do not care.
sure, sure, more principled action, but it felt wrong to spend taxpayers’ money in such a way just because it is the ‘done thing.’

it probably did not help the liars that i was reading We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. if you are at all interested in the rwandan genocide and even if you are not, i recommend you read this book. i recommend, in fact, that all grade 12 students read this book. it is so good. and instead of just telling you that it is just so good, i will tell you why.

often, the rwandan genocide is broken down simply into a ‘tribal conflict’ or ‘ethnic hatred’ and although these we certainly elements of the 1994 genocide, this book explains clearly and in non-academic language the how’s and what’s and even attempts to look into the why’s of the events leading up to the genocide and immediately following it. if you read it and look at the situation i was in above, you may understand why i was so adamant not to be a part of the ‘problem of aid.’ and yet, i know i have in so many ways.

this book has sat on my shelf since a nice (clean shaven!) gentleman remembered that i mentioned that i had wanted to read it for years and popped into a bookshop in downtown nairobi and surprised me with it. and it made sense to me to read it before i go to rwanda (on thursday, yay), but it was timely for many other reasons as it spells out exactly how humanitarian aid can (and does) make things worse. and how an african leader like Paul Kagame can be largely disregarded by the international community even though he was the one that brought peace to his country when no other country in the world, rich or poor, northern or southern, african or not, did anything significant to stop the systematic murders.

and remember when that country that is now known as the democratic republic of the congo (not to be confused with the republic of the congo right next door) used to be called zaire and be led by that crazy man who had the fantastically egocentric and self-declared name of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (translated according to Gourvetich’s book as ‘the all-powerful warrior, who by his endurance and will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake’ and ‘the cock who leaves no hen alone’ – i kid you not. this man, in charge of a country full of riches and leading millions of people for decades.)? well, rwanda helped Laurent Kabila, the current president, to get rid of that megalomaniac through directly opposing international (read: western) opinion to not invade or support rebel troops, which it did and now that crazy man is outta there (and also dead), but no one talks about this. about how a small african state that was trying to overcome the imaginable, mass killings that are comparable only to the Holocaust in modern memory, helped get rid of a dictator who was stealing from everyone in his own country and was known as ‘the dinosaur’ he had been around so long.

(let me just say now that i am not so familiar on the drc nor on how Kabila has done since overtaking the crazy man and running things for himself. me thinks there are a lot of criticisms directed towards him because his country isn’t exactly peaceful nor moving up in the ranks of poor, despotic, african countries, but i leave that for another post and for more reading that i surely will do once i find an excuse to get myself to the drc...)

i could go on and on, but i really loved this book. and at times when i am not so sure that i love my job or the moral conflicts that come with it, it is the kind of book i need on my shelf.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

about time for a goal check in

1 - get enough sleep.  well, i have had some lie ins in my new nest and have loved every minute of them.  not sure that i have figured this out because i tend to get a lot of sleep on the weekends and not enough during the week, but at least i have come to understand the value of a good night's rest and what happens to me if i don't get this regularly.

2 - buy a home.  i love it.  love, love, love it.  my nest is so nesty.  and mine.  and sometimes dirty.  and sometimes spotless.  and often times the location of entertaining my friends (although i need to invite my fam over more often in the future, but that would entail securing a few more chairs!).  check!

3 - reduce my level of anxiety.  i still have bad days, but most of my days are good days and i can identify the anxiety before it hits me over the head and am slowly improving in my capacity to deal with it.  i have reduced my daily medication levels by one step and am just going to hang out here for awhile before making the next step.  but things in the anxiety department are good and i think i am getting better at acknowleding my anxiety, my triggers, and what to do to prevent it from blowing up.

4 - take better photos.  photography is technical stuff!  but i am nearly through the introductory course in photography at mount royal college (sorry, university).  i like it, i need more practice, but i think i am starting to understand equivalent exposures, f stops, and the diamond of taking good photos.  green idiot box, no more!

5 - become financially confident.  i wouldn't exactly say that i am confident, but i am doing ok.  with the current upheaval in my work and the recent home purchase, i am a little nervous, but confident that it will be ok.  i have yet to deal with my gst for the past year and am not great at keeping my books for my accountant, but we can file that under 29, can't we?

6 - be happy where i am.  this continues to go really, really well.  i never thought i woud be so content in calgary, but i am.  and am in no hurry to change that.  i did have a titch of concern that i was not utilising the summer months to their full capacity, but there were a number of other factors at work there and i will work on that one (see goal #8).

7 - visit friends who live in other places.  i have failed pretty miserably at this goal (and with only 2.5 months left of 28, there is little chance that things will turn around), but i am going to england in december for a very dear friend's wedding and am then carrying on to ireland where i will meet up with a friend from home to go on a great irish roadtrip, yippee!  beer, irishmen, and the isle of green, what more could a canadian girl ask for?!

8 - make the best dating decisions for me (the goal formally known as sort out my relationship).  i'm still dating.  blah.  i have had a great time, but i am getting a little exasperated with the whole process and after a few hopeful episodes, i am still as single as ever.  i suppose as the goal is to make good decisions, i have done that.  but in doing that, the results have not exactly borne the fruits that i had hoped they would by now.  another blah.  but i will just keep soldiering on (but with fewer soldiers and more civilians).

things could get interesting around here

the past few weeks, i have been rather bored at my job.  it could be because at the end of the day i don't have much energy left and it feels as though i spend so many hours there each week, but haven't been feeling inspired by what i do, by what those around me do, or by what i see in my future at this company.  it doesn't help that there is a lot of talk of restructuring and business decisions that make all of our jobs tenuous at the moment.

normally, this would be inciting the typical anxious response from deep within me, but i am not that worried.  maybe i should be.  or maybe i am beginning to put more faith in the universe and the adage that you get back from the universe what you give to it. 

and proof of this is the fact that i have been shortlisted for an international, short-term consultancy, for which i will interview tomorrow morning (whilst remembering, of course).  it seems like it would be a great opportunity for me to utilise my expertise and demonstrate my ability to coordinate a rapid assessment from start to finish.  although i am concerned that my availability might stand in the way from being offered this job, somehow i think the universe will do what is best.

i wouldn't mind you sending me your positive job interview thoughts about 8am my time tomorrow though!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

do you...?

do you want to learn more about human trafficking?

do you need something to do on the evening of november 20th that is free?

do you want to support a local film festival that features films with meaning?

come out to the marda loop justice film festival on november 20th at 7:00pm when they will be screening the film call + response, which promises to be entertaining and informative.

ask for what you want

if you are my friend on the facebook (and if you aren't, feel free to add me, i like friends!) you would notice that my status right now is Lara thinks you need to ask for what you want.  and because you are my privileged blog readers, you get the whole story.

you might recall that i was hopeful that i would get to go to an event where stephen lewis is the keynote speaker.  i was even willing be the bathroom attendant to listen to him and for the chance to meet jian ghomeshi, of cbc fame.  well, last week i sent a little email to my company's community investment manager and asked if we would be sponsoring a table and if we were, was it at all possible that i could have one of those seats?

lo and behold, she wrote me back and said that no, they hadn't sponsored a table, but if i could find 10 people to fill the seats, they would buy the tickets.  i wrote her back in my most eloquent email speak without being pretentious and said i was confident i could find 10 people to fill those seats and she immediately replied saying she would purchase the table and forward me all 10 of the tickets as soon as they arrived!  this not only saves me from having to pay $200 for my own seat, but it gives me the opportunity to invite 9 people to fill the $2000 table!

now you will be able to find me learning and laughing and networking at the aspen full circle event!

additionally, this morning i called visa to inquire about the $100+ interest charge on my bill and when they looked into it the simple response, 'you moron, you paid your bill late last month and therefore we charged you interest and that is why that charge is on your account!'  but they said it a little more nicely than that.  so i asked if they could reverse the charges.  and they said yes.  just like that.

a few weeks ago i took a two day training course on conducting social impact assessments.  it cost a lot of dollars as well.  i found the course, thought it was interesting, found a policy at my company that said we commit to doing these things, then sent an email to my boss that explained the training, why i thought it would be beneficial for me to take it, then asked if the company could pay.

my boss talked to some corporate bigwigs on my behalf and a few days later, provided me with a budget line to charge the course to and a few weeks later, i found myself learning all about how you can do research into the socioeconomic impacts of a industrial development or an international development project as well as meeting people in the industry and being asked to join a board of a local ngo.

i am hoping that this strategy continues to work because this morning i made a phone call to confirm that i do indeed have a dinner date tonight.  i left the breeziest message (which is not normally my strong suit, so this is quite something) and asked this fellow to call me back to let me know if we were still on for dinner.  because i want to know.  and i want to go out for dinner.  and i want to wear my new dress!

Monday, November 02, 2009

live vicariously through me, please

where to go?  where to go?

i am heading to england on december 19th for a friend's wedding that will take place on december 23rd and i am most excited for the whole event and to be back in the uk.  but i want to take a trip somewhere after the wedding, somewhere that is relatively easy to get to from england so i can hop on a cheap flight.  but there seem to be so many options!  and the weather is not particularly grand anywhere at that time of year so i am having trouble deciding where i want to go.

have you travelled in europe, north africa, or the middle east in december?  where would you recommend going at this time of the year?  any places that you would go to in a heart beat, regardless of the time of year, if given the opportunity?

help me find a place to travel!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

who would i be but without a book?

i have not posted about the books that i have finished lately and i think it is about high time i did so, don't you?

first, we have Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo.  and i give this book two enthusiastic thumbs up.  Moyo's arguments against providing more foreign aid to africa are concise, easy for the non economist to read, and make a hell of a lot of sense to me.  we all know (and by we, i mean those of you who have either read my beefs with international development here or who i have had the conversation with) how i struggle to understand how such well meaning intentions can go so disastrously wrong and end up making people either poorer than they were previously, or do a whole lot of nothing.  if you want to read a more eloquent and educated view on this same dilemma, read this book.

next up, we have The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, a native liberian who has spent the majority of her life in the us.  i was first turned on to this book when i moved into the new nest and didn't have tv so i watched a few podcasts from itunes u (a great source of FREE and informative podcasts on tonnes of topics, if you ever find yourself in a similar position as i did) and saw her interviewed about her memoir of life in liberia just before the civil war.  it is a relatively easy read and sheds a lot of light on the situation between the colonists and the native liberians and how that affected the break out of violence.  for anyone that thinks that all conflicts in africa are simply between two ethnic groups should read this book.  and if you have any interest in the colonies of freed north american slaves in the 1800s, this is also an interesting read.

and last, but certainly not least, is Ignorance by Milan Kundera.  it was lent to me by a friend from work and it is a short novel about two emigrants who return to the czech republic after the fall of communism.  i loved the way the author juxtaposed their experience to that of odysseus of The Odyssey fame (which i never thought i would be grateful for having had to read in grade 10 advanced placement english...).  as someone who has left and returned to a country (although not nearly under the circumstances that the main characters do or for nearly as long), the theme of the novel struck a chord with me and perhaps even more so as i have now been to the czech republic and experience prague in capitalist times.  the book really felt like a piece of literature that i need to revisit and rethink one day.  when i turned the final page, though, i felt an incredible sadness for the characters in the story, but i think that that is what a good piece of writing can do to you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

this, too, is a true story

here are some things that happened to me yesterday:
  • i tamed my crazy and it worked out for the best
  • well, this
  • i met a really nice, really handsome police officer and felt a bit like a voyeur seeing his badge
  • i ate a cheeseburger at the hockey game and man, was it ever delicious
  • i was sort of asked to join another board, but this time because of the way i am always dressed so nicely and they thought that that might encourage men to join the board as well... i think it was mostly a joke
  • i got another package in the mail from california from a lovely etsy seller.  and it is double exciting because it is going to be a gift!
  • i managed to answer a lot of tough questions from a tough crowd at a workshop i facilitated

the story of a date

boy 'meets' girl and asks girl out to a nhl game.  girl suggests that they grab a drink beforehand (in case he is crazy and she needs an out so as not to have to sit next to the boy for 3 hours in public trying to make conversation).  boy agrees and they meet and ask the usual questions that you do when you first meet someone over a pint of beer.  boy suggests they take a taxi to the game and girl figures that he is harmless and nice enough and will be good company for an evening.  boy lets girl walk in front of him through doors and up stairs and is quite a gentleman. 

as the girl is walking up the many stairs to their seats, she begins to think it looks rather familiar and somewhat like the same area where her family has seasons' tickets.  and then she looks up and straight in the eyes of her step father and their good family friend and realises that not only is she going to spend the next 3 hours sitting next to someone she only just met, she is going to be sitting in front of someone she only just met directly in front of one of her parents for the entire 3 periods of the hockey game!

and that, my internet friends, is a true story.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

tired

the past two weekends have been great, the first i had my girlfriends over for wine and cheese and i was furiously running around getting all my pictures hung, bringing a rather large bench up two flights of stairs, tidying, and preparing my nest to welcome its first official guests.

then this past weekend i threw a housewarming party and i think it went really well.  again, i tidied, made my bed, hid my messes in closets, dusted, arranged my 'stuff,' and got the nest ready to welcome about 40 people on saturday night.  things are still not entirely back to normal around here, but i finally got through the dishes last night.  and man, do i miss my housekeeper in kenya!  (we used to have her come over the day of a party to do all the tidying and then the next day to deal with the aftermath when we were still sleeping it off).

in addition to attempting to be a good host, i have also been overwhelmed with work lately.  i was down in brooks, medicine hat, and lethbridge to facilitate workshops and although i love doing that type of work, the driving was rather tiresome (even though i listened to my first audiobook, Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, which made me smile with memories of life in nairobi and although that story might not make others smile the same way, i still recommend the book as its short stories do a decent job to describe life in african cities without all the usual pity and condescension). 

i am not leaving calgary anytime soon and am ecstatic about relaxing, enjoying all the nesting i have been doing, and just resting.  once i catch up on sleep and feel a bit stronger, i need to get outside and back running because nobody likes an indicator pant!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

surefire ways to ensure you do not get a second date

  • tell me dan brown wrote your favourite book
  • ask me, 'what was africa like?'
  • wear pleated pants (ok, this one hasn't actually happened, but i do fear that it will and i will have to deal with it)
  • tell me that you want to volunteer in africa one day
  • you don't drink

q: what makes a good day?

a: dinner with my family, who are funnier than anyone i know.  really.

a: praise and recognition from not one, but two, of my bosses.

a: two of my orders from etsy arrived in the mail today.

a: my mama's roast beef dinner.

a: so you think you can dance AND glee on tv in the same night (and i didn't even need to pvr them!).

a: a cheque arrived in the mail.  and who doesn't love cheques arriving?

a: two requests for dates.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

what i do well

the term 'networking' used to make me break out into a rash, but i have learned over the years that i am good at it and can make connections that benefit me and others rather effortlessly.  which is even more impressive when you consider that most of my anxiety is brought on by new social situations.

today was another one of those opportunities that i managed to walk myself into.  i have spent the last two days at a course at the university and met a lot of interesting people from various sides of the same industry.  there were a lot of opportunities to participate in discussions and as they related not only to my current jobs, but to my previous jobs abroad as well, i offered a lot of examples and asked a number of questions.

at the end of the day (and after we had a mini 'graduation'), the convener of the training approached me and invited me to become more involved in his local organisation that consults on international development projects and mentioned that he needs a new board member, hinting that i could potentially be it.  i am not sure exactly what that would entail or if i would be a suitable candidate, but i am definitely going to look into it.  i always thought board members were old people with grey hair and lengthy cv's, not 28 year olds who just like to talk!

Monday, October 19, 2009

it will revolutionize your life

what will revolutionize your life, you ask? the PVR, i tell you!

the ability to save television programmes for later viewing with the push of a button is really fantastic and is totally changing the way i live. really. and for the better. instead of watching more tv, like some people suggested, i tend to watch the stuff that i actually want to watch rather than the crap that is on when i feel like sitting on the couch and relaxing.

for instance, i caught up on So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Oprah on sunday when i felt like doing little else than napping on the couch under a warm blanket.

and with the beauty of the PVR, i can now watch my newest television crush, Mike Rowe and his Dirty Jobs. he is hilarious and i love his off the cuff humour along with his honest reactions to doing some of the grossest things i can imagine!

it also makes it a lot easier to watch Grey's Anatomy. not that i am too thrilled with this season... i knew they would get rid of Izzie, but this newest plot twist of her taking off on Karev just seems way too easy and i don't buy it. i am not buying many of the storylines apart from Callie and Arizona right now, come to think of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

food for thought... or not

i liked this as i have often wondered why the flight attendants tell you there is a floatation device under your chair because how on earth would you ever get it if you needed it and get out of a plane that was crashing into the ocean??

Welcome aboard
Sep 7th 2006
From The Economist print edition
In-flight announcements are not entirely truthful. What might an honest one sound like?
Thinkstock

"GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft. Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don't want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft's navigation systems. At least, that's what you've always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn't sound quite so good. On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Veritas fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages—a word that sounds so much better than just saying ‘drinks’, don't you think? The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Veritas, a member of an incomprehensible alliance of obscure foreign outfits, most of which you have never heard of. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: ‘Doors to automatic and cross-check’. Thank you for flying Veritas."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

telling africa's stories

she is no burt, but i love the way that Chimamanda Adichie articulates and speaks. she is the author of one of my favourite books, Half of a Yellow Sun, and here she speaks on the danger of hearing a single perspective of a different culture, a different country, or a different group.

The Danger of a Single Story.

if you have 18 minutes to spare, it is my recommendation that you watch and listen to this. i doubt you will be disappointed.

Friday, October 09, 2009

i want a burt

i have had a rather melancholy week. it could be due to the grey, miserable weather. it could be because of poor drug compliance. or it could be blamed on that awful dream i had earlier this week.

i do know that a large part of my mood has been related to a bit of loneliness. and not because i moved out of my family's house or that i now live alone, but more that i wish i had someone with who i could share my sunday afternoons or to negotiate thanksgiving dinners with. all other parts of my life are pretty fantastic and i just feel like i have more to offer.

and friday evenings at walmart would be a lot more enjoyable if i had a partner in crime, surely.

i was running around nesting again this evening (i spend all my free time putting together furniture, shopping, and rearranging things lately) and came home and felt like a movie. luckily, there was something i had wanted to see on shaw on demand and i ordered Away We Go, cracked open a bottle of wine, and got my tool box out to assemble an end table.

i loved this movie. loved. i am not surprised when you consider that Sam Mendes directed it, Dave Eggers wrote it, Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski star in it, Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels make appearances in it, or that Alexi Murdoch sings in it. and perhaps i loved it even more because it was just what i needed after this past week, a story of regular love that, although punctuated with some sadness, was essentially positive.

if you haven't seen it already, i would suggest that you do. i loved the way that the couple in the film treated one another, spoke to one another, and were in it together, even if they were still trying to figure out what 'it' was. they felt like a team and i loved the dry humour that poked you in the nose every now and again as well as how they dismissed much of the images of perfect families or of the self righteous who seem to know not only what 'it' is, but how exactly to go about 'it.'

the music is great too and i am now listening to the soundtrack that i've also downloaded. now all that is missing is my very own burt.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

just go away already!

i had the worst, neverending dream last night. i even woke up at one point and went back to sleep and the damn bad dreams continued.

it all came down to having to relive the experience of having someone choose to go and fight in a war thousands of miles away rather than proceed with the plans of life that we had made. but this time, i was there and then had to go and live alone in germany, where i just did not want to be.

it just makes me wonder when this whole ugly experience will stop rearing its ugly head and just let me get on with my life. blech. one, big, gross blech that took me hours to overcome today. just put a damper on my day and i had a hard time shaking it.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

what a week

sunday
ramen noodles and new almodovar movie screened at the calgary film festival

monday
first day of a week of early mornings for the united way campaign
coffee with the mounties

tuesday
meetings upon meetings
dinner with my ma and bro
mild concern about the security of my job

wednesday
chaos at our volunteer worksite
an afternoon with the dalai lama and his wicked glasses

thursday
concern about my job security alleviated
child trafficking bill makes it through 3rd debate and heads to the senate
first photography class. pixels! sensors! green idiot box!
grey's anatomy (medium, at best)

friday
painting on 3 storey scaffolding for 8 hours
very tired arm
framing of some of my photos
a much needed glass of vino to celebrate a successful 2 week painting project

saturday
invitations to my housewarming party sent out
the return of saturday projects
pickled beets and homemade salsa!
celebratory red wine and beer and a hockey game
lots of laughter

sunday
laundry and tidying
a trip to the farmer's market (blackberries, fresh herbs, and wax beans, oh my!)
napolitan pizza
one tired, tired lady

Monday, September 28, 2009

pure ignorance

today, i am exhausted. like 3 lattes and a sugary sweet pastry to try and wake up tired. so tired, in fact, that i couldn't even muster the strength to argue (i mean, discuss) with a coworker today who told me that they do not vote and never will because they think anyone who runs for office is selfish. or their party is selfish.

but honestly, i might not have had the energy to tell this person they were wrong on a number of levels, but i sure do now and man, are they ever wrong!

it irritates me to no end when people paint all 'politicians' with the same brush and write them off as being liars, selfish, arrogant, ignorant, or altogether useless. the problem with that thinking (and there are many) is that while some of them quite possible are, it all comes down to just being an excuse for not getting off your own duff and casting a vote. or getting off your arse and reading a newspaper to figure out which party is which and who stands for what.

and as someone who has participated in the democratic system on a few different levels, i want to smack these people who cast off all those involved in politics in the forehead and tell them that like politicans or not, they still make the rules and still get a vote in parliament/legislature and those are rules that you and i have to live by, whether we like them or not. so you might as well put your ballot in the box and do that small part to participate in our democracy.

and don't even get me started on those who would die (and do) to live in a democracy like ours!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

a ghost in my nest

i have a ghost. or my house has a ghost. either way, there is an apparition lurking around my living space. and you know what? i really don't mind much. my ghost seems relatively harmless and might even be good company now and again.

i had come home a few times to feel that someone else had been in my space, which was naturally a little disconcerting, but i figured it had something to do with the upheaval of my life and not knowing my own nest just yet. then i had a friend over for dinner and when i realised the tap in the bathroom was running, i just assumed either he or i had left it on after washing our hands.

but then one time, when i was all alone i found the bathroom tap on as high as it could go and as hot as it could go so i knew that even if i had left it on, i would never have had it at full blast such as it was.

and then last night, i was having a chat with my sister on the phone and noticed that my upstairs light was on and i had distinctly remembered turning it off earlier when i was surprised that it was on, so i think my ghost was at it again.

harmless, i am sure, but i hope that it knows that i recognise it is there so it can stop turning things on that i need to run around after!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

all i can muster - another dang list

oh, what a day. it is nearly 1am and i am just finally unwinding. it would not be a bad idea for me to schedule in unwinding time regularly...

but hot damn, am i thrilled with the current weather in calgary! i am not typically one to talk a lot about the weather, but +30 degree forecasts for september 23rd? yes, please!

i feel like i have so much to say and i am doing all that i can to start typing a list of (somewhat) interesting points, because it just seems to be happening rather often around this here blog. but in the interest of me getting up and making it to work by at least 10 tomorrow morning, i present you with... a list.
  • i was interviewed today by a local television network. and they are going to translate it into mandarin, which is sort of neat.
  • i am going to be taking a 2 day course on social impact assessments courtesy of my job, which is fantastic and i am really looking forward to it as it is something that i feel will be most beneficial if i ever decide to return to the world of non-profits or international development
  • my nest is getting nestier by the day. and thanks to my step-dad and brother, all my furniture has been brought up the stairs and into my space without any issues. i am also having 2 more pieces of furniture delivered tomorrow (which is my lucky lady deal of free delivery) and then the painting decisions will begin
  • still no run in's with my next door neighbour so no opportunity to drop something to see if he picks it up (as i am sure you were all eagerly awaiting that update)
  • grey's anatomy starts this week and although this isn't exactly my own update, you will soon stop having to read my musings on whether or not george dies (i am sure he dies) and whether or not izzy is going to live (she will, but her condition and quality of life will be questionable)
  • i made my first 2 purchases from etsy.com the other day and am eagerly awaiting their arrival in the mail. i have found some pretty adorable stuff and some pretty awesome blogs from my time spent perusing etsy's delights and will be sharing them shortly
  • i found out that stephen lewis is going to be the keynote speaker at an event here in november and i will do anything that i can to get myself in there, even if it means volunteering as the bathroom attendant. and to boot, jian ghomeshi will be the master of cermonies and i am pretty sure he would love me if he met me.
  • i just realised that it is only tuesday (and not wednesday like i thought for most of today), which is great because i was really beginning to feel behind on the week there for awhile
and now that i have finished my well-deserved beer this evening, i am going to head to bed. and hopefully not dream about all that has to be done this week (repaint the exterior of a 3 story building, coordinate 80 volunteers, write and distribute meeting notes, kick someone out of a committee that is technically open to anyone, watch grey's anatomy, buy an extension cord so my tv can be plugged in to watch grey's anatomy, put together 2 more chairs, clean and iron and fold and sweep and dust and tidy and organise, etc - or as they say in kenya, ee tee cee, ee tee cee)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

proudly supporting my little (big) bro

my little bro is going to go to tanzania at the end of this school year on a grade 12 trip and part of his responsibility before he leaves is to do some socially responsible activities in his own community. so he and my step dad have decided to do the AIDS walk this year here in calgary.

if you would like to support a 17 year old to get more involved in his community (and he is a pretty cool 17 year old, if my opinion counts), support the awareness raising efforts of organisations on HIV/AIDS, support organisations that assist those living with AIDS, or if you just want to donate money to a worthwhile cause, take a look here!

Friday, September 18, 2009

modesty withheld

you know all my bitching and complaining that international development doesn't work? well, maybe it does.* or maybe the projects that i worked on actually did make a difference to someone. here is why:
  • the unhcr made a landmark decision to grant refugee status to victims of trafficking based on the fact that they cannot return home because they were trafficked (and i was one of the people who provided them with assistance). it only took 3 years...
  • the first charges of human trafficking were laid in western canada last week (on a case that i am familiar with and that is about all i can say about that)
  • my company is winning an award for their involvement in a local non-profit organisation, partly because of the work i have put in to plan this year's united way campaign (that kicks off next week, so get your wallets out people)

* but it doesn't on the grand scheme, i am just having a moment here

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a mid autumn night's update

i have wanted to post all week, but somehow life kept getting in the way. i promise a post that does not include bullet points will be forthcoming.

here are things that are new since we last spoke:
  • i have put together more furniture and loved the problem solving of it
  • i rid myself of a boyfriend that i had managed to acquire these past few months
  • during and after the Break Up, i felt absolutely ok about it all. my life did not crumble. my spirit did not take a hit. i was a little disappointed so i took a nap.
  • then i scheduled 3 dates for this week. because i can. 2 down, 1 to go.
  • i went to a luncheon where $60,000 was raised to open a shelter for victims of human trafficking (but none of that was my money as i didn't like their world vision-y style of fundraising)
  • i made a delicious dinner for my first dinner guest at the nest - salmon with caramelised leeks was the centrepiece and i invented a berry crumble for dessert
  • my company is a major sponsor of the honen's piano competition and i had the pleasure of spending over an hour today listening to a previous winner play a grand piano at my office (and i love the design of this year's programme so go over and take a look)
  • i was given tickets to tonight's flames game, but couldn't find anyone i wanted to spend a few hours with who wasn't already busy so i gave them away to a summer student who then asked me if i wanted to go with him. the guy's got guts!
  • one of my closest friends invited me to her wedding. it will be in england. in december. i hope i can wear a hat!
  • i obtained a lucky lady deal from the shop where i bought my bookshelves and i will now have them delivered for free. yay for not having to find someone to carry them up the stairs to my front door!
  • speaking of that front door. it happens to be right beside the front door of a rather dapper young gentleman. i know nothing about him, but my friend did suggest that i look at his mail and see if i can find out his name and then i could google him. because that is totally not crazy at all!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

shiny samsung

for the first time in my life, i own a tv. a nice tv. a tv that was on sale, which makes it even a better tv, as far as i am concerned.

and what have i watched so far? the ctv news, a sunday in kigali (in french. do i speak french? no, but i read the book and pieced things together between the images, the bits of french i can read, and captions), a cbc show where mp peter mckay trains with the canadian military for a few days, and the last epidsode of grey's anatomy from last season.

did izzy die? did george die? do meredith and mcdreamy ever get married? will bailey and her husband really get a divorce?

but more importantly, do you think that izzy or george died???

what the future holds

(september 5, 2009)

i recently went to see a psychic. or maybe she calls herself a medium. or a spiritual counsellor. but whatever she calls herself, it was rather interesting...

a brief synopsis of what she suspects is in my future:
  • i will be married in a few years and i am walking towards this, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment
  • i will have two job opportunities that are incredibly interesting and great fits for me fall into my lap in about 8 months’ time
  • these jobs will take me to the eastern part of canada, either toronto or ottawa and will be in the area of law, lobbying, politics, or government
  • i will eventually do a phd, but not until sometime in my 30’s and not until after i finish the internal debate between a phd or going to law school
  • my anxiety will also even itself out in my mid 30’s and this will have a lot to do with the person i marry and how steady and dependable he apparently will be
  • my new nest will be tonnes of fun for me and my door will constantly revolve with all the entertaining i will do, but ultimately, i will love the silence of living alone
  • my job right now pays the bills and that is about all, which is fine and necessary for this stage in my life
  • no matter what job i do, i will stand in front of people and deliver information and presentations, eventually leading to a career as a professor and a consultant for international organisations
  • i have been in transition for over a year and i am preparing for the next big change, even though i do not realise it
it was a very positive experience to listen to someone else tell me everything will be ok and even when things do not make sense or feel as though they are on the right path, they are. i am. and it was pretty cool to hear someone else’s perspective on your own life, recent changes, and what is to come. i have no idea how she manages to ‘see’ these things or how i feel about the idea that some things are meant to be or are predetermined, but it was an interesting exercise for me.
it looks like everything is coming up roses. or whatever that saying is!

Friday, September 11, 2009

i wish mr lamontagne would write a song for me

winter birds
it's the widow now that owns that angry plow,
the spartan mule and the crippled cow
the fallow field that will yield no more,
as the fox lay sleeping beneath her kitchen floor

the stream can't contain such the withering rain,
and from the pasture the fence it is leaning away
the clouds crack and growl
like some great cat on the prowl
crying out, "i am, i am" over and over again

the days grow short
as the nights grow long
the kettle sings its tortured song
as many petalled kiss i place upon her brow,
oh, my lady, lady i am loving you now

the winter birds have come back again,
here the sprightly chickadee
gone now is the willow wren
in passing greet each other as if old, old friends
and to the voiceless trees
it is their own they will lend

the days grow short
as the nights grow long
the kettle sings its tortured song
as many petalled kiss i place upon her brow,
oh, my lady, lady i am loving you now

and though all these things will change,
the memories will remain
as green to gold, and gold to brown
the leaves will fall to feed the ground
and in their falling, make no sound

oh my lady,
lady i am loving you now

i've gathered all my money and i'm goin' to town,
to buy my lady a long and flowing gown
'cause come tomorrow morning
we're off to the county fair
i'll find a yellow flower
and i will lace it in her hair

Thursday, September 10, 2009

small battles win the war

if you are interested in learning about human trafficking in canada, check out the story about today's historic charges laid against two in edmonton. the first ever in western canada.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

autumn is here

and how do i know?
  • blustery winds
  • my skin is drying out
  • my congestion is getting worse
  • the morning air is crisp
  • there are taber corn signs everywhere
  • i need to carry a hoodie or a jacket with me when i go out

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

poor dieter

first, back on august long weekend, someone in sicamose with much too much anger inside of them decided it would be a great idea in the middle of a sweltering afternoon outside of a grocery store to put their lit cigarette out on dieter's hood. not the metal part of the hood, but the plastic bit where the windshield wipers come out, leaving a small burn hole and their nasty cigarette butt.

then, when i was nearly back in town after a weekend trip to edmonton, a rock caught the corner of dieter's windshield, leaving a small crack that i quickly had repaired by the lovely people at speedy auto glass. they warned me that in about 10% of cases, the crack will spread after they repair it, essentially making a small problem worse and it was just dieter's luck that this is precisely what happened to him. so now there is a crack that sweeps around to the edge of the windshield, but at least it is outside of my line of vision when i drive.

and then (and then!) last night after driving back from a weekend at the cabin (in a dieter that has never been dirtier thanks to a rain shower and extremely dusty roads), i noticed that someone has taken a key to his passenger side! i am not sure exactly how you repair a key scratch, of if you can (any ideas or suggestions?!), but what is wrong with people who would do that to someone else's property? that is all i can think of. and, of course, how i feel badly for not taking proper care of dieter, although i suppose there isn't much that i could have done and i have been driving him around town a lot lately to carry out my nesting.

Friday, September 04, 2009

madly, deeply in love

i have fallen madly and deeply in love with my new nest. you might think that this is an impossibility (to be so in love with an inanimate object), but you would be wrong and here are the reasons why:
  • i have a dishwasher! this probably does not come as a surprise to anyone in north america, but in any of the places i have ever lived on my own i have never had a dishwasher. and that is a lot of dishes to do by hand. here, i get excited when i have used up enough dishes to necessitate a wash (and it doesn't happen with only little ol me here)
  • living by myself is amazing and i had forgotten how wonderful it really is. i can sleep with my door wide open, wander around in the nude looking for my dental floss, listen to music or talk on the phone as loudly as i like, and when i want it, the silence is just grand.
  • i can see a grocery store, a liquor store, and 2 starbucks from my front door. really.
  • although incredibly expensive, buying furniture for my nest is fun.
  • having people over for meals is one of my favourite things. especially when they cook everything, bring it all over, defrost crave cupcakes for the occassion, drag along picnic blankets to sit on, and give me housewarming gifts that have my name written all over them. my friends are great.
  • my fam helped me move my stuff in, wash all my new dishes, and christen my home by cheers-ing with ice-cold beer. my family is awesome.
  • my to do list has grow exponentially. i love lists. and i love checking things off to do lists.
  • baths on sunday mornings because you don't have a shower curtain yet are fine, just fine.
  • i now live 5km away from my office. and my own home office is pretty swell too.
  • spending a whack load of money on fine, german flatware is sort of like a big 'eat this!' to the universe. i love a substantial spoon. and i love that i can afford to buy own.

Friday, August 28, 2009

floating

why oh why can blogger not remedy their photo uploading issues so i can post this nicely formatted with photos prettily placed throughout the text?

moving on...

hot air ballooning is amazing. i had been once before (when i was in egypt and all hyped up on generic egyptian anti-malarial drugs to treat the malaria that i contracted on the coast of kenya) and had thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of floating weightlessly in the winds.

this time was no different. i woke up at 5am (which is about 5 hours earlier than i normally do. just kidding! sort of) and made myself some coffee in my go mug to drink while i waited for the pilot in a random parking lot in east calgary. (i feel it is important to mention this because somehow, someway my mini bladder did not scream at me as i was stuck in a basket with 7 other adults).

after meeting up with our pilot and fellow air ballooners, we got to 'help' set up the giant size balloon (7 stories high!) and watch science at work as it inflated with warm air. after jumping in the basket and releasing the rope tying us to the truck on the ground, we quickly ascended, leaving the streets of calgary behind to see the city with a bird's eye view.

we had taken off (do air balloons really 'take off'?) from a field in west hillhurst and the day couldn't have been more perfect for a morning of floating in alberta - there was not a cloud in the sky, the sun was bright and shiny, and there was the slight crispness of autumn in the air.

apparently, they said we were very lucky in that we had a great flightpath. the thing with floating above the city is that you really are at the mercy of the winds and you can only move in the direction that the winds take you (although you can move up and down to enter different zones of wind to change your direction). we got to fly past downtown, over mount royal, above the river, across the industrial area, over rush hour traffic, and residential neighbourhoods and golf courses.

the best part of a hot air balloon is how peaceful everything seems at that altitude. and the perspective that you see things at cannot be beat (except for perhaps if you were in a helicopter, but i honestly don't think there would be another way). it puts a different spin on existential ideas like privacy and space and it was nice to be lost in my thoughts with that view on a thursday morning.

and to think, this was for work! i still think someone better pinch me, because it just shouldn't be this easy!

view from above





Tuesday, August 25, 2009

getting some thoughts unstuck

i've been lost in my own thoughts lately and haven't been able to clearly articulate things to myself or others, but i am trying to get back on top of it. and with that, a post.

i signed the legal documents for my new nest and although it was sort of scary to think that i now have this responsibility to pay to live every month after living for free for nearly a year, i was very excited and even took a trip round the nest this weekend and reconfirmed that i will be living in one of the best neighbourhoods of this city.

yesterday i had a meeting with my bosses and it seems that although i had tucked a project away for a hiatus this summer, i still need to revisit it as much as i had hoped it would be forgotten. but the feedback i received from them in general was glowing and that put a spring in my step.

AND, in other work-related news, i have been offered a colleague's spot on a hot air balloon this week! i have been hot air ballooning once before and it ranks up there with riding in a helicopter of one of my favourite things so i am really hoping that the weather this thursday cooperates however weather must cooperate to allow for safe and happy air ballooning. and i'd also like to think that this opportunity is a result of the relationships that i have developed outside of my immediate working group and common ground found with a variety of different people around my office. so, yay me.

after a week off from running, i went back at it with a vengeance and had a great run last night. my knee feels fine today and although my hip now has a twinge, i am going to happily stay active and be thankful my knee pain didn't turn into anything more detrimental.

here is a very theoretical question i would like to put out to the universe: where is the line drawn between compromise and sacrifice? i fear that i no longer have the ability to judge this best for myself and that while i used to feel i knew, i am now wondering what fits into which category. and when does a compromise becomes a sacrifice that breeds resentment and ill feelings? i'd love a little food for thought on this one as i remain stuck in my head for at least a few more days. and because i am not exactly the world's best compromiser or sacrificer.

and, while i am at it, another question for the universe: how, if at all, do you uninvite someone to a committee that is technically open to the public?? i am struggling with this in one of my jobs and i keep coming to the ethical dilemma of whether or not it is within my role to cut someone out of a group who i feel misguides and misdirects conversations towards topics that we are not set up to address. a very cryptic description, and i realise that you probably have no clue what i am even on about here, but i am really curious with this one and i've been rolling it around in my head with all the other thoughts stuck up there, with no obvious resolution.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

paraphrased, slightly

me: i really need to start putting a full 40 hours of work in each week.

friend with great sensibility: oh no! all you must do is figure out what output people at work expect from a 40 hour work week.

me: oh yes, then do just that.

fwgs: no, you just slightly exceed that amount of work and everyone is wildly impressed, it is about outputs, not inputs!

me: of course!

a steal of a (yoga/running) deal!

one of the things that irritates me about running (and yoga, for that matter) is the ridiculously priced clothing that comes along with it. i am not sure why a simple sports bra made of a synthetic fiber costs up to $75 or why a pair of shorts can easily be over $50.

today i stumbled upon the shop called Yoga Gateway on 33rd avenue sw in calgary (near globefish sushi - delicious!) and it seems they are having a sale of all their merchandise. and it seemed that i needed a new pair of chocolate brown yoga capris with fuscia roll down waist (as if that wasn't clear from the outset of this post) so i picked up a pair for $25 and noticed that ALL their shorts are on sale for $19. i love a deal so i might just head back to pick up a few other things to go along with my intentions to get back into yoga.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

muffin top prevention

the indicator pants are back!

and they are not indicating as i wish they would. it is not really a problem because i had to purchase all new pants last year when i lost (too much) weight. and not on purpose.

but now (now!) i am not feeling too comfortable with the tautness of my denim and i am really adverse to the idea of buying new pants as soon as the autumn returns in full force (or when it dips down under 10 degrees in august!! which is totally normal.... seriously, canada).

i have picked up my running again and can safely and (relatively) comfortably head out for a 8km without concern, but this past week i felt a twinge in my knee. and anyone who runs knows that a twinge in the knee is the last thing you want to feel. and it has continued to get worse and after an examination by a certified medical professional, it seems that i need to strengthen the muscles around my joints and do a lot more stretching. having to stay away from the running has meant that i have taken my bike out and will need to diversify my fitness activities.

as i have always believed that september long weekend is the true new year, i am planning on starting (or revisiting, as it were) some other activities that will do well to keep me healthy and with any luck, prevent me from having to go out and buy new jeans...

i am prepared to find and start attending a yoga class in my new neighbourhood and have the number of a trainer that i will call with my inquiries about how it all works, including how much motivation costs. gyms have never really been my thing, but maybe i can still get those killer arms that i have always wanted with a little support from the professionals.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

found out?

i am working from home today and i am giving my laptop a run for her money, but i am happy to report that she is performing splendidly (even though her battery doesn't last nearly as long as it used to).

and in my productivity, i keep having the thought that one day i will be found out that my job isn't supposed to be this good, my supervisors aren't supposed to be this flexible, and the people i work with aren't supposed to be this awesome.

the nice thing about being at home is that i have not only made a dent in my professional to do list, but my personal to do list as well. i have put my name on a waiting list for a photography class, called my dad and left him a message so he does not think i have forgotten him, caught up on a lot of cbc podcasts, made dinner reservations for saturday night, and reorganised my running playlist. and all this while also staying abrest of my work commitments!

i think i should work from home at least once a week!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

some of my current favs

i have been meaning to write product reviews of a few items i have found and been using recently.

the first is clinique's full potential lip gloss. i have it in sugarplump and i first found out about it when a trial size was included in the spring clinique bonus set. i am not one to spend a lot of money on make-up, but i loved the way this gloss made my lips look shiny and more full than normal, so i went back and bought the full size version. love it.

when i was in thailand, travelling with my japanese canadian friend, he introduced me to gatsby oil clear sheets, thin blue sheets that come in a handy little paper case that can be used to remove the oil from your face after long days at the office, shopping in bangkok, or just the general grease and oil your face produces when you wish it wouldn't. i have yet to find them in canada (but haven't searched much, to be fair) and i have heard that there are some north american brands that do the same thing, but i bet you won't find them for the same price point as i did in thailand...

i love to floss my teeth (and have been known to do it at my desk if i don't think anyone will be looking) and crest glide comfort plus floss. the unflavoured stuff is my favourite and i feel that it gets my teeth clean, doesn't shred, and doesn't make my gums bleed like some others.

i have been encouraging my hair to curl this summer (because it is easier than straightening it and it is beginning to get long enough that it could potentially look cute with some controlled body) and i picked up a new hair care product in thailand and was happy to find it here at the drug store the other day. l'oreal's studio line extreme dirty clean paste helps my hair look less flighty and feathery the first day after i wash it, weighing down my mop top and helping it to form chunks that curl(ish).

Monday, August 10, 2009

juggling the balls

not those kind of balls, you pervert!

the kind that represent all the people that i have in my life, including a lot of friends, old and new.

i am never sure what the best way is to manage a busy social schedule and although i am not complaining, i wish knew what to say yes to, what to say no to, and how to best prioritise my time. do i set aside time for running and being active and then set aside specific time for socialising, meeting in coffee shops, going to dinner, and just catching up with friends? i fear if i were to do that, i would not be able to fit them all in. but on the other hand, if i don't start doing that, i am not sure how i will fit in all the things that i need to do for myself. and moving into the new nest might even complicate matters when grocery shopping, ironing, and more cleaning need to be done!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

from mypod to the stage

have you given Greg Laswell a listen? i have had him in my pod all afternoon at work today and i am really, really enjoying him. i have his cds Through Toledo and Three Flights from Alto Nido and i must recommend them if you enjoy other artists like Ray LaMontagne or Joshua Radin, as i do.

and another thing, do you or anyone you know have 2 tickets to the Kings of Leon show in calgary next thursday that you want to get rid of? i would be interested in taking those off your hands for a reasonable price. and maybe even a copy of one of the cds mentioned above!

time to grow up

after a wild weekend of houseboating with 17 other women in various states of career, relationship, and sobriety i feel ready to do a little growing up and put my recent past of dating, drinking, and debauchery behind me while i switch my focus to nesting, operation get fit (phase iii!), and other forms of maturity.

a year ago i was in a very similar place, but for a very different reason and it has been a rather hectic, tumultuous, and exciting year to get back here. i know you are supposed to say that you learn so much by overcoming challenges and that you are better for it, and i do believe this wholeheartedly, but if you had said that to me before last february, i would have supressed every urge to kick you right in the shins.

the truth is, i have made it here and that having a little fun along the way would not have made it nearly as enjoyable or as rewarding. and i am not about to turn into 'no fun lu' but i do think that this last kick at the can of an august long weekend might be the turning point towards heading back to where i thought i wanted to be a year ago.

maybe the universe was just telling me that i had a little more i needed to get out of my system.

and you just never do know, there might be more left in me in the future.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

can't argue with this

i received this in an email from a friend the other day and instead of forwarding it, i am posting it here. it made me smile from the inside, which i think is the best way to smile.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone...

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret,you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.