Tuesday, November 30, 2010

pardon the rant

does anyone feel like doing me a favour?

could you please read nicholas kristof's column A Woman.  A Prostitute.  A Slave. and tell me what the hell it is about??

he seems to be drawing attention to the fact that sexual exploitation happens in the us.  he also wants to warn those men buying sex that not all women choose to sell sex.  then he goes on to describe a situation where someone consenting to entering the states illegally, but was then exploited (a classic case of trafficking that baffles law enforcement and border services, true), but then he quickly segues into a warning that this is also happening to americans, especially those pesky runaways.

and that is about all he says.  as though it is new information.  as if he has somehow uncovered this otherwise underground and unknown story.  and what is going on with that horrible title?  he could have taken the opportunity to really dig into the issue about the debate around the consensual sex trade vs sexual exploitation or how those who pay for sex can be the eyes and ears on the ground to identifying cases of forced sex.

but no, just some bland, latent column building the kristof's image as someone who CARES and is MAKING A DIFFERENCE.  blah.  not what i wanted to read today.  of all weeks, i am a little frustrated and sick of the whole field of difference makers and compassionate citizenry and, the worst of them all, social justice.

all those words are thrown around as though they mean something, as though they translate into meaninful action.  people attend film festivals or a speaking engagement or tell someone how much they care about the people of darfur/women being raped in the congo/the earthquake victims in haiti and there you have it, they've done something.

but here is a great ted talk by esther duflo, if you want a better perspective of how and what actually does make a difference.  and how complicated the whole arena of socioeconomic development is.

my apologies for the rant, but man, i have felt irritated about issues like these lately and this column sent me over the top.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

cringe ready

i am mildly dreading the series premier of abc's new show Off The Map.  i anticipate it being full of assumptions about americans living abroad doing meaningful, heartwarming, humanitarian work in a "third world country," as their trailer describes.

its claim is to be about a group of young, dynamic doctors who set up a clinic in a non-descript, generic south american jungle village where they are going to practice medicine in a resource constrained environment.

i will watch it, but i expect to be cringing a lot.  at the anticipated flippant remarks about development and aid and the stereotypes of the heroic foreigners swooping in to solve the problems that locals have had for years, but were hopeless and helpless to do anything for themselves (obviously).

but maybe, just maybe i will be proven wrong and the show will dive deep into the complexities of an expat's life, why american doctors choose to follow that career path, and the moral and ethical dilemmas that the doctors will encounter.

or maybe it will be some more bubble gum for the brain where a bunch of doctors, played by attractive actors in an ensemble cast, all date one another incestuous season after incestuous season.

then again, i shouldn't expect too much from abc, the network that just sent arizona to "africa" to save the tiny (and no doubt, poor and dirty) humans.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

it gets better

this video breaks my heart, but gives me more hope than anything.

if you haven't already, watch the video that went viral and began the movement called the it gets better project.

what an inspiring message - it does get better and it's up to all us to make sure that it does.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'tis the season of red cups, party dresses, baking days, and the peanuts christmas special

so what's going on with me lately?

i seem to have my life under control.  i was seriously debating hosting a christmas (or non-denominational seasonally festive, if you prefer) party, but have decided against it because i am just now feeling as though i am on top of my life for the first time in a few months.  it feels good.

instead, i think i will host myself a birthday party.  because i am turning 30 in february and they tell me that this is one of those milestone birthdays and i haven't had one of those in awhile.

work (x2) is going surprisingly well.  i thought i would be drowning in tasks and to do lists, but i am keeping my head above water, if only just.  the energy and recognition i have received since the avenue top 40 under 40 was released has kept me motivated and moving forward and i am hoping i can ride that momentum out as much as possible.

my volunteers are no longer zapping me of all my spirit and i am finding the language to flip their assumptions and misconceptions on their heads without being offensive.  i am asked to host, present, and attend various events and i am now picking and choosing which ones i attend rather than just saying yes.

for instance, i get to have lunch with calgary's new mayor tomorrow!  well, me and a bunch of other people, but i am still looking forward to it.  but i haven't figured out what i will wear.  and this seems like a rather important decision to make.

overall, my attitude is positive, my outlook is optimistic, and i am looking forward to some exciting things to celebrate the holiday season: the annual girls' christmas baking day, family traditions, an invitation to a christmas party where i can wear betsey again, and hopefully some downtime at the cabin.

amongst all this good stuff, i am trying not to feel as though i am not doing enough (whatever enough is), not to stress about what my next steps are, or about the seeming lack of any available, interesting, and intriguing men in my path!  but that is a post and line of thinking for another post and another day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

read it

the guardian has done a good job explaining why you and her and me shouldn't go to africa to volunteer.

clear, concise, and straight to the point.

now, maybe i can reference this when i decide to bring up my opinions on voluntourism to orphanages at breakfast parties and am met with blinking eyes and cold stares.

Monday, November 08, 2010

just another monday

reasons why today was great:

  • it was housekeeper day (formally called maid day)
  • my book club book arrived!  now i have to hurry up and get reading When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin
  • a pvr'ed episode of Weeds
  • a new recipe, that i only chose because of the photo that accompanied it as it is not something i would normally pick:
noodles and peanut sauce salad bowl
    • 8 oz uncooked whole wheat linguine, broken in half
    • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
    • 1 cup julienne carrots (mine were more like slices)
    • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces (mine were more like slices)
    • 2 tbsp water
    • 2 tsp canola oil (except i used sesame oil0
    • 1/4 cup peanut butter
    • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce 
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (but i misread this and put in more than 2 tsp of freshly grated ginger, which likely increased the deliciousness)
    • 1/8 ground red pepper
    • 3 medium green onions, chopped
    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 - cook linguine, adding broccoli, carrots and bell pepper during last minute of cooking (but i added mine about halfway through the cooking); drain.  rinse with cool water.
    •  2 - in small bowl, gradually beat water and oil into peanut butter with sire whisk until smooth.  beat in vinegar, soy sauce, and ground red pepper.
    • 3 - in large serving bowl, stir together pasta mixture, peanut sauce, onions, and cilantro until well mixed.

Friday, November 05, 2010


i just realised that i hadn't updated my goals for october, so here they are!

1 - conquer my anxiety, or at least win a few battles against it.  i had a little anxiety around social engagements last week, especially to go to events where i was the focus of the attention, but i feel on top of things this week and rather optimistic about the future, which is great.  and wards off the anxiety.  but i do miss those wild dreams on anti-anxiety meds!

2 - be more thoughtful of others, especially around special occasions.  texts, cards, calls.  just need to work on the gifts, especially as it is coming up to christmas season and i want to make sure that i am not scrambling to pick stuff up for the people on my list.  i am hoping to think of some good ideas.

3 - continue making visiting family and friends a priority.  i don't have any plans for trips to see anyone after my whirlwind trip of visiting in south africa.  but i do have a lot of fun events coming up with friends and family.  birthday dinners, birthday drinks, ladies christmas pot-luck, baking day, wine tasting with the girls, bridal showers and stagettes, family christmas traditions to look forward to, and the icing on the cake will be a close friend's wedding in banff.  i think it will be a pretty fantastic holiday season and i am going to get things started early (which i figure is completely acceptable because starbucks has released the red cups, marking the official beginning of the holiday season!  well, sort of).

4 - nail down some sort of short-term career goals.  this is connected to #1.  i feel good about what is to come.  it has been wonderful to get credit for a job well done in my current positions and for my managers and high ups to congratulate me on my accomplishments.  my company advertised in the same magazine that i was featured in and in the ad they said that i was compassionate, committed, and deserving of the accolade.  my past 9 months have been taken over with thoughts of 'what next?' and 'where to?' and not feeling as though i am doing what i should be.  i am still not sure what the answers to those questions are, but i am content with where i am professionally and that is the best i have felt about #4 all year.

5 - lay a nest egg to accompany my nest.  i'm laying off the international travel for awhile.  that should help in the savings department.  and so will looking forward to the next tax season, eesh.  working so much is keeping my expenses down as i rarely have time to go out and buy frivolous things.  oh, except for my betsey dress.  but that was a deal!  and for an event!

6 - eat more balanced, regular meals.  this one gets a big, old fail.  i have only been for groceries since returning from south africa a few weeks ago (and once for a single celery stalk that cost $0.31) and have little to make a meal out of in my house.  so instead, i grab something on my way home from work.  this week i have had a vietnamese sub, souvlaki, won ton soup, left over pizza, and a frozen pizza i scrounged out of my freezer.  and this evening my snack was a can of mushrooms, which i know disgust some people, but they are one of my secret guilty food pleasures!

7 - sleep an appropriate amount.  this waxes and wanes.  some mornings i wake up feeling peppy and ready for the day and others, i feel like i could just scrunch down further under my duvet and turn my alarm off.  i spent most of sunday catching up on sleep/feeling rather hung over, but the larger problem is working 12 hours in a day and not having enough time at the end of it to unwind.  i have found that a few glasses of wine help!

8 - maintain my priorities.  although i am not exactly sure what my priorities are, i feel as though they are in check.  or at the least, they are not out of balance at the moment.  leaving calgary and canada behind always helps me to do this and being in south africa certainly did.  maybe the first step to really achieving this is to establish my priorities...

9 - keep asking for what i want.  well, soon i will be asking for the removal of support of an organisation that i don't agree with at work and that sort of counts.  i have been given a number wonderful things lately and i feel like right now, i don't need to ask for a thing.  instead, i feel like i have a lot to give.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

leading the charge

this week has been another busy one for me, but one i have really enjoyed.  i am not sure what happened in the last week, but i have newfound motivation, inspiration, and excitement about my work.  it might have come with the recognition i received from the avenue magazine, but where ever it came from, i have run with it this week.

one of the new things that i have added to my plate, sort of inadvertently, is to lead the charge to get the company i work for to stop supporting the operation christmas child programme of samaritan's purse.  it bugged me last year and it bugged me again this year.  i found out that there were a few others at work who are also concerned about this, so i have a meeting next week and i just have to remember not to step on anyone's toes and have my ducks in a row before i go in there.

so, here are my ducks.

we state that we will not financially support religious organisations and this is not only a faith based organisations, but is an organisation that openly and proudly evangelizes and proselytizes.  the campaign consists of filling shoeboxes with small gifts of books, toys, candy, and hygiene products, which the organisation claims are needed.  essentially, we fill boxes with crap and send it overseas.  and in the process, we enlarge our environmental footprint, flood a local market with stuff that could likely be locally sourced (and thereby, stimulate the economy), and export our values and perspective of mass consumerism during the holidays.

it is the typical and useless, quite likely harmful, practice of giving gifts-in-kind in a method that is complete donor driven and riddled with our own wishes rather than the wishes and expressed needs of the people we are intending to "help."

how does that sound?

there is more information on a website that has been developed to draw attention to these issues: www.pursestrings.ca

and alternatively, i need to come up with a few other options of how people can get involved in both domestic and international projects at christmas.  ideas??

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

feeling like kind of a big deal!

the cat's outta the bag.  i can finally tell people about this incredible honour that i received recently.  one of avenue magazine's top 40 under 40 in calgary.

and well, i am posting it here because sometimes i suppose it is ok when private and professional lives collide.  and i feel pretty fantastic about it, especially having met some of the other recipients who were wonderfully inspiring.

i had to have the online article revised with a word change because apparently i was one who felt the need to overcome 'diversity!'  i know i was nervous when they interviewed me, but i am pretty sure that it was adversity that i think is essential to overcome in order to grow!

my lovely sister was the one who nominated me and i found out back in july that i was going to be recognised and i had to keep quiet until last week when the magazine was released.  there was a lovely event to announce the 40 and it was pretty fantastic to spend it with my sister, brother in law, and one of my best friends.  and i wore this.  and you can't go wrong when you wear betsey.

and i am surprised to see who has come out of the facebook woodwork to express their congratulations and well wishes.  i am not complaining in the slightest, but it has been slightly overwhelming, but very reassuring that there are a lot of people behind me even if i don't talk to them regularly.  and of course there are those people i do talk to regularly.  and they are pretty damn awesome.  including my youngest brother who told me that i sounded intelligent.  and well, there are very few reassurances stronger than that.

so, there you have it.  part of the reason for my silence lately.