Saturday, January 30, 2010

Me, Generic?

We chose to be so many things in life. A student. Successful. An artist. A lawyer. A lover. Why can't we simply choose to be happy? Why is this the most difficult thing of all? It's question I've been grappling with for a couple of days. It seems that happiness should be intrinsic in most of my life pursuits, but it seems to be difficult to find these days. I'm beginning to believe that it's because obstacles often pop up - especially ourselves. We are usually our harshest critics and I don't think it's always fair. Sure, having some degree of self-reflection is great. It can often motive us to get the job done. But there comes a point when this can be unproductive. We get so hung up on the things we're not, that we lose sight of what is fabulous and wonderful in our lives.

Last week in my drawing class we worked on self portraiture using ink and brush. Mind you I'm the greatest at drawing facial features, and I'm even worse when I have to use ink. I was taking my time, going slowly and just trying to the best I could. I always get really nervous during the studio time because for 3 hours it's dead silence and our prof walks around arbitrarily staring over everyone's shoulders but not saying a word. Judgment fills the air. It's very tense.

At the end of the studio session, we put up the ink drawing and the water colour portraits around the room and had a brief discussion. Our prof was talking about another girl's which was particularly unique and full of character, "as opposed to this one which is quite generic." This one was mine. Ouch. I don't think he realizes that his job is to teach and encourage, neither one he is doing particularly well. But for the past few days the word 'generic' has been seared in my brain, chasing me down like a bad habit I can't shake. I got me so down on Thursday and Friday, that I found myself making up little pep talks in my mind just to keep afloat. But today as I worked through my drawings, my faith in myself was restored. I was surprised at what I could produce. It's far from generic. I am far from generic.

Thinking back over January, I return to this notion of happiness. Lots of things have lingered on from last year, but that doesn't mean that I have to be trapped in the past. It's easy to let ourselves and unnecessary distractions stand in our way. I've come to realize that happiness maybe the holy grail of life goals for humanity, but it must always be defined in a personal way in order for it to be meaningful. Letting go of my professor's comment, I am planting my feet in the ground. Today I am declaring that I choose to be happy, because I enjoy drawing and I'm good at it.

"Fortune favors the fighters."

{photo here}

Friday, January 29, 2010

Burst of Inspriation

I have been struggling to corral my ideas for the self portrait project for my drawing class. But I finally got it just right! I was practicing drawing my legs, mostly because I'm not great at foreshortening, when I started thinking about my shoes. I thought, how great would it be to do a series of 4 drawings using my shoes? The first will be my bare feet dangling of the couch. The second, in my runners in motion. The third will be my fav high heels with my legs crossed like a proper lady. Finally a pair of flats, standing totally straight. Ha! I'm so happy that I've figured out this thing. What a relief!

A wish list

A weekend with no plans and no homework. Actually, I would love to permanently break up with my planner forever, but I'd be lost without it.

Knee high socks for my winter boots. Mine are showing signs of overuse.

A fainting sofa - perhaps a velvet one.

Leggings. I am in desperate need of a new pair.

More hours in the day. I have over extended myself as usual, and just can't seem to do everything I want.

A sewing machine.

Green eyeshadow

Polka dot tights from Urban Outfitters.

But most of all, I want another golf date. I am pleased to report back that my golf date today went very well! In fact, I said that we golf again and A. said, "Are you free this weekend?" Oh, and he has such a beautiful smile. It's so very refreshing to be in a good place - certainly the first time I can say that in while.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend friends!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fragments from Nightwood

I just got my copy for Nightwood back from Gina. Oh how I love this book! I get chills just thinking about it. I opened it to one of my favorite quotes, which I reread over and over again.

Oh for God's sweet sake, couldn't you stand not learning your lesson? Because the lesson we learn is always by giving death and a sword to our lover. You are full to the brim with pride, but I am an empty pot going forward, saying my prayers in a dark place; because I know no one love, I, least of all, and that no one loves me, that's what makes most people so passionate and bright, because they want to love and be loved, when there is only a bit of lying in the ear to make the ear forget what time is compiling. So I, Dr. O'Connor, say, creep by, softly, softly and don't learn anything because it's always learned of another person's body; take action in your heart and be careful whom you love - for a lover who dies, no matter how forgotten, will take somewhat of you to the grave. Be humble like the dust, as God intended. (155)

I think if I could only read one book for the rest of my life, it would be a toss up between Nightwood and The Sun Also Rises. Nightwood holds a particular place in my heart. The beginning is slightly challenging, but it is certainly the most rewarding book I've read in the last 5 years. It is tragic yes. Robyn manages to tear apart the lives 3 people who love her very much. But there is a sense of hope, that rebirth is possible.

This my other favorite quote.

Suddenly, she began to cry, holding her hands. "Matthew, she said, "have you ever loved someone and it became yourself?"
For a moment he did not answer. Taking up the decanter, he held it to the light.
"Robin can go anywhere, do anything," Nora continued, "because she forgets, and I nowhere because I remember." She cam towards him. "Matthew," she said, "you think I have always been like this. Once I was remorseless, but this is another love - it goes everywhere; there is no place for it to stop - it rots me away." (161)

On a small aside, be sure to check out Liz's blog giveaways this week!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A short rant on the evils of Capitalism

This is a post I've been wanting to write for a while now. Try as I might to leave academics out of my blog, it's seeped in. One of my interests is in critical theory. I'm fascinated by the evolution from Marx's false consciousness to Walter Benjamin's dream world of materialism and to the contemporary moment where we living a state of lack of awareness. My interpretation of this is that it's been a multi-century long project of capitalism and it's efforts to submerge the human into a form of slavery. Let me quickly frame these theories before I go off on a tangent.

1. Marx's theories introduced the concept of the enslavement of the worker. With the rise of Industrialization, man power became a necessity. Someone has to operate the machines. The workers entered a state where they believed that they are in control, when in fact they are enslaved to the machines. Hence false consciousness.

2. Now that there is production and revenue, there is money to be spent. The Parisian Arcades are built during the 19th C as a mecca of commerce. Visual appeal, seduction by sales associates, and spending, spending, spending. Benjamin believed that places of commerce, like the Arcades, created a dream world. People could escape through materialism. Everything
can be perfect.

3. In the present time there are a lot ideas about where this path of trajectory has landed. The one I'm inclined to believe is Foucault's. Government has evolved to a system of management. Documentation of every kind is used to track us, understand spending patterns and manipulate our wants and needs. Costco cards, credit cards, passports, and all the records about us. The gist of his theory is that we might think we have more freedom nowadays, but in fact we are more enslaved than ever.

I know, long ramble. So how is this relevant to you? I happened to read an article in a Canadian magazine called Common Ground entitled "Shaping the body: The crisis in our closest relationship" and at first it seemed to be just another article about how we need to learn to love ourselves more and over come the stereotypes of the visual world. But I surprised to find out that it played into ideas about controlling the body.
"We have become so implicated in variants of body preoccupation ourselves, and girls and women in particular so colonised by it, that the preoccupation has become second nature - almost "natural" and invisible" (7).
The word 'invisible' struck me. We are so unaware of all the manipulation we are subject to in a daily basis. From advertising, television, social networking and pop culture in general. The author, Susie Orbach, goes on to say that the value we place out our bodies has been fundamentally altered by the changes in the economy and job market.
"Where once the body of the manual worker could be easily identified through brawn and muscle, now it is the middle-class body that must show evidence of being worked on at the gym, through yoga or any number of body practices, which aim to display what the individual has achieved through diligent exercise" (7).

Office jobs are highly valued, have high salaries and are the ones that require the least amount of physical exercise. What an interesting concept. But I think this runs deeper than just jobs. We are now obligated to prove ourselves in the social arena through our bodies. As if we weren't under enough pressure before?! The point of all this, is that it is a product of capitalism. We want to be thin in order to look good in the clothes we buy from the sleezy ads we see on TV, and in order to do that we have to go to the gym or hire a trainer. And there needs to be workers to create the machines we work out on. On every level, business profits. Of course the challenge of all this is to transcend the system even though we are so deep implicated in it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Peace out landlords

After nearly 5 months of stress and fretting, the legal dispute case is now crossed off my to do list. And what an interesting experience it was. A 2 hour phone call to settle the matter of damaged property and an outstanding security deposit from my slimy and capricious ex-landlord. A quick backdrop to this story . . . .

I was living in the place from May until the end of July. It amounted to the worst 4 months of my life! If only I could get all of my rent money back I would. It was supposed to be wonderful. Gina, Sarah, Karoline and I all living together in a brand new apartment on the edge of campus. We all had out own ensuite bathrooms. On paper it sounded great. And (unfortunately) when we initially saw it, it was still under construction. We made the grave mistake of trusting what total strangers told us would be the outcome of this project. Lesson 1: Always see what you're getting before you sign your name to anything. However when we moved in, there were lots of things that weren't finished that were included in our rent and were receiving no discount. After a month of this nonsense and unfulfilled promises, Gina and I marched across the street with a 2 page list of things that were incomplete and in need of repair. The landlords got more than they bargained for when they rented to us. Ha! Although they gave us many new completion dates, problems persisted. Lesson 2: Contracts are no good if both parties are upholding their end.

Soon after this, I also began to be suspicious that there was even an final inspection on this place. And there wasn't. Many building code violations and health code violations later, our sanity seemed to be worth more than $600 a month. Karoline and I started looking for new places to live. Lesson 3: There is no such thing as a good deal in real estate or rentals. There was a mold outbreak just after we left, sky high utility bills, and angry phone calls and emails from the cowardly landlords. Especially after I told them we would sue for all of our rent money back. Then we tried to get our security deposit back and they said, "We'll let someone else decided how much we owe you." Two can play that game. They filed against us. We filed against them. Lesson 4: Cowardly bullies who scrounge for money also bluff. Those people had the audacity to call us last week asking to settle before the court date. No way! They started this mess and we're going to bring them into broad daylight and expose them for who they really are.

Today during the call it became evident very quickly that the landlords never took us seriously. Months of fantastic documentation on our part built up a great case and left them high and dry. My favorite moments of this call were when the arbitrator got very cross with the landlords for not taking this seriously and they're magical accounting skills. Yes, take that! Lesson 5: The law always catches up with those who try to foil it. So feeling semi-triumphant after putting up quite the fight, I can attest to the fact that the honest fight is always the right fight, even if it is difficult.

- - - - - - - -

On a more excellent note, I am Europe bound as of April 20th!!!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Silent response

January has really kick started my year. Lots of good and bad things have happened. But more importantly, I feel like I've finally learned a few lessons that I've repeated. The most significant pertains to relationships. As you might have read before, I've been grappling with the transatlantic move of my best friend/ex-boyfriend. It has been nothing less than a fiasco as of late. Many inarticulate emails (on my part) and a long, rambling voicemail message that got me no where. Although the caring, passive side of myself is telling me that I've lost sight of what's important - maintaining the friendship - my newly acquired spinal cord says, "It's not the time to settle. You deserve better." And maybe this is true.

I've tried now on several occasions to say goodbye, to speak my peace and close this chapter for now, which is something I also don't normally do. My gut is telling me that it's time to let go, but with each muddied email reply I receive, I just don't know how to. It's probably because I have so much invested in our relationship. But I also think that I am in an awkward position of adjusting to this long distance friendship and no longer having a romantic relationship with him. Ultimately, it's this odd intersection that is responsible for a lot of my bipolar actions. I need space, and I know that. But how do I walk away from 3 and 1/2 years of history?

Usually when I'm about to undertake a project but am a bit hesitant, I say to myself, "Vanessa, all you can do is just get started. Do something. Anything." I feel a bit helpless at the moment. But what's more odd to me, is that my "do something" approach is telling me to be silent. To not respond. And maybe that's how I start to walk away.

What I do know is that with everyday I don't do something, this problem dwindles inside of me. Over the last few weeks, I've uncovered a new bit of myself. One that is stronger than I thought, and is my own best advocate. This piece of me is taking a step in a different direction and I'm not sure where I'm headed. I know that by leaving this situation, I venture into a state of uncertainty and that scares me a bit. But I think that being scared might be better than being beat down. There are times when we need to bow out of a situation. This is one of them for me, and I am proud of myself for seeing that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

About dinner last night

For once, I have nothing but good news to report from last night! Much to my surprise, the UNO cards never came out of their box. Dinner at Habi's is always a pleasure. She made loads of delicious food including berry cobblers with pecan topping. Mmmm. Naturally, my contribution was vino. As usual, we had some of the funniest conversations. Habi's boyfriend, Alex, was telling us about the trials and tribulations of teaching music lessons to children, especially the hyperactive ones. I just sat there imagining JM as a child taking piano lessons, flailing around and eventually dancing out his anger on top of the piano.

But on to the more important details of the night. Andrew is the guy that Habi has been going on about for nearly 2 years now. I was a bit nervous about last night because the last time that I saw Andrew, we were all at a club and, well, I'm a bit fuzz on the details. My past impressions of him have been that he's pretty quiet. But I get that, I'm not always really talkative around people I don't know well. JM told me to just be patient, but aggressive. I'm still not entirely sure how those two things work together. Last night things were much better. He is really good looking and so nice. And has the most gorgeous blue eyes! Anyways seeing as how we weren't the only ones at dinner, we didn't talk all that much directly to one another. He did however walk me home, and it was very reassuring to know that we could carry a conversation on our own as I tend to get panicky in situations where the conversation is non-existent. We talked for a few minutes outside my door, and he asked if I wanted to go golfing soon. Hopefully that will be happening next week. Time to dust off my clubs.

Also, I wanted to give a special thank you to the girls at BonBon Rose. I was lucky enough to be a winner in their giveaway last week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New prospect

Although I've been rather self involved as of late, I have been making somewhat of an effort to spend time with my fabulous friends. Last Saturday was Habi's 22nd birthday and a big group of us went out for Ethiopian food. So delicious! I know some of her friends. In fact, one in particular I know because Habi and co have tried to suggest/set me up with him. Last time she tried this was nearly 2 years ago. A lot has happened and back then I wasn't in a good place. However, this past Saturday I actually had a good conversation with him and began to look again.

I mentioned something in passing to Jm. Well, actually I asked if this boy is seeing anyone. A myriad of questions followed and he and Habi squealed with glee. Oh what have I gotten myself into? Tonight I am having dinner with them and this boy. And JM has instructed me to bring UNO cards in case the conversation dies.

Updates to follow. . . . plus details about this boy.

Holiday Recap - Bahamas

Another stop on my holiday was is Nassau. Now, I was mostly excited to go here because a) it's the Bahamas and b) Daniel Craig emerged out of the ocean on some beach on this island during Casino Royale. {Photo}

I was holding out that this spectacle would magically appear for me as I tanned on the beach at The Atlantis Resort. But this is how my trip actually was.

Once I passed through customs, Mom, Ryan and I found ourselves in the middle of a chaotic tourist hub. Many local tour guides, taxi drivers and vendors shouting and following us trying to get a sale. I'm not a huge fan of crowds to begin with, but this was making me really nervous. We walked on to the main street of town, which was filled with a gazillion jewelry stores and designer boutiques. My brother kept saying Gucci in his perfect Italian accent, and it never got any less amusing. I bought a really cute pair of gold and pearl chandelier earrings.

After this quick stroll we went over The Atlantis Resort.
It was an impressive sight. Imposing hotel towers, more designer shops, a casino decked out with Dale Chihuly's glass work, and plenty of water activities. We opted for the aquarium first. It was a bit on the disappointing side. Not only was it $35 per person, it lacked all of the colourful, tropical fish I expected to see in the Caribbean. There were plenty of sharks in outdoor pools, with signs littering the edges. "Sharks are not shy creatures." "Take a photo. It will last longer than if you jump in." At least someone on the legal team has a sense of humour. I'm not sure I'd want to go back here again, but a scenery is definitely worth a breeze through some photos.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Holiday Recap - Key West

I know, I know I'm late on my holiday blogging. Key West was one of the stops on my holiday tour. It was so beautiful! Lush green trees and soft, white house paint the landscape of this island. When we arrived, we walked on to the main street of town, Duval St. Then strolled onto Whitehead Street. A quaint little street where Ernest Hemingway's home lies. The literary sanctuary that I've longed to visit. As we approached, I soaked up the warm sun and all the scenery. And it seemed like the 14 blocks were an eternity of walking. But then we arrived at Hemingway's house.

Such a beautiful home. It was filled with first additions copies of his books and all his cats. Originally there were 8, but now there are 46! Holy mackerel! And they are all named after movie stars. My favorite - Clark Gable. To exemplify my literary nerdiness, I bought new copies of my fav Hemingway's from his home because they have official seals.

After my very religious experience at Hemingway's we headed back into town to have lunch at his local bar - Sloppy Joe's.

Fantastic place! Noise, gritty and live music. Duval street is definitely the place to be in this town. 100+ bars, people everywhere, life happens here. Can't wait for another trip to Key West!

oh and ps - the Hemingway house does weddings! guess where mine's happening . . .

The joy and heartbreak of family

Today my heart goes out to Karoline and her family, who have suffered a great loss. It was so sad waking up this morning to the sound of her crying. Somehow I knew what had happened. But that does not change how extremely sad it is.

I starting thinking about my own family. I'm extremely lucky to have not suffered the loss of a family member, though it is inevitable. My family, well my mum's side, is very close knit. We all live within 20 minutes of each other. Usually there is at least one family dinner per week. My brother and I are the only grandchildren so we had many sets of parents growing up. Now that I live in Vancouver, I miss out on so much that happens, and often times I worry that my desire to strike out on my own will result in a rift in the family. (I realize that sounds a bit selfish)

Last night I was at a friend's farewell party and I had a chance to catch up with many friends I haven't seen in while. Bee and I were talking about living far away from home. She said that she's often sad that she misses out on so much that happens at home. For example, she said many of her cousins she barely recognizes nowadays. Her words resonated with me. It's something that I often think about. Last year I was only in California for 7 days! And while I talk to my family regularly, I can't help but feel a bit sad that I'm not always there to be a part of their lives.

But at the same time, I've had the most incredible experiences in Canada that have truly shaped me. Although I would be love to be in closer proximity to my family, I think the distance was what I needed. My life was in need a lot of changes that I was in denial about. But a change in environment gave me what I needed to become my own person. Someone who is still very much a part of of the Chase/Verbaere clan, but who has been able to see what is beyond the boundaries of family. And today, I'm remembering that while my new found identity is wonderful, my family are the roots of my being. My Aunt once told me that once you leave home, it ceases to be 'home,' but family will always be there.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

European Holiday Plans

As you might know, it is my final semester of uni. Hurray! Last Christmas my parents bought me a plane ticket to any where I wanted. I had grand plans to head out on an adventure last summer but it didn't happen because of school. Luckily the summer of hard work paid off because this term I don't have finals and I'm heading to Europe on April 19th! Being the literary nerd that I am, my travels are organized around visiting writer's homes. Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Chaucer, and Hemingway (again). I'm going to be touring England via train. In my mind there is something so nostalgic and romantic about train travel. And Paris! Need I say more. I've been dreaming of my long-awaited trip to Paris, and now it is finally here.

Mostly I am looking forward to this trip because it is the start of a new, exciting part of my life. A (temporary) time without school, which I think will be crucial as I try to negotiate the rest of my identity.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My umbrella is not waterproof

Such a functional object, especially in rainy Vancouver. But does it have a purpose if it can't do it's job? It was pour buckets and buckets over this town today. I left the pottery studio to do a bit of grocery shopping before I headed home. It was about a 1 k walk to the store. I was stubborn enough to want to get in some extra exercise that I insisted on walking! Terrible idea. I was a soaking wet mess. So, right before I was about to get to the store I pushed my hair back only to find that the top of my head was soaked!

Fabulous. Now not only were my clothes all soggy, but I also had mad hair. And I kind of assumed that my makeup
had to be messed up by this point. Sodding umbrella! It's from Coach, a gift from my nana. I can't believe it was leaking. All I kept thinking was, "Who makes such an object, with such an especially important purpose, that doesn't work?!" Clearly good intentions don't count for anything in this case. Then again, there are very few instances when intentions can redeem ourselves.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hey Soul Sister

Kind of obsessed with this song.

Tuna Fish Spill

So many things have not gone according to plan in the last week, that all I can do is laugh in order to keep my sanity. Work has been a bit of a nightmare. Scheduling conflicts and a general inability to decide on a date for our staff meeting have consumed me. The number of emails I've got from my co-workers has been absurd. School has also been very busy. Nothing has going horribly wrong, but I seem to have acquired a kind of tunnel vision. Totally blind to everything else that is going on in the world. (Don't worry, I did hear about the earth quake in Haiti).

The icing on the cake? My tuna sandwich came undone in my bag on Monday. My new moleskin planner now smells like tuna! Gross! Now the smell of a disaster is following me around. Does anyone know how to get rid of a smell that has ingrained itself in paper? I've yet to come up with a solution yet. Not that my planner is near my nose very often.

Anyways, it made me think about how too often we carry around the bad parts of the past like they are in fashion. Sometimes I think it's difficult to let go of things that didn't go according to plan because they dwell on us like the smell of that tuna. How do you get rid of something so repulsive? With time of course, it fades away. New smells are acquired and more recent memories take over. But I wonder, how can we make sure that it's the good things, the better smells, that come forth?

At the moment I think it's a matter of our frame of mind. Sure there was plenty that went wrong leading up to the Tuna spill, but there was plenty that went right. I know that in my life, tragedies and drama stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe this is a new point for me. Reconstructing my memory and history. That means that the smell of tuna will now be synonymous with my change in mindset. So odd. . . .

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A new poet to love

Another fond memory from the conference I attended yesterday, was the opening performer: Shane Koyczan. He is a Canadian spoken word poet and, apparently, well known (who knew?). He performed "Visiting Hours," which particularly resonated with me. There was a line in the poem that mentioned how we're meant to believe that we subsist individually, without help from others, without interaction. His poetic reply was that this is simply not true. We are meant to be close to others. And right now, I seriously wish I had a manuscript copy of the poem. I think to really get a good feel you have to watch/listen to his poems. You can find visiting hours here. This just got me to thinking about modern dating and relationships, and how whole-heartedly retarded they are. My generation believes that non-commitment is the way to go. That it's better to be distant. That we must suppress our feelings because god forbid we over share and speak something true. All this does is complicate our lives. I don't think anything needs to be more complicated than it is.

I thought I would end this mini-rant with a quote from Bridget Jones's Diary

"That's how it works, when people really love each other," Mum whispered on the way out in the Debenhams lift, as if she was confessing some hideous and embarrassing secret. "But, the thing is, darling, it doesn't happen to ones who have sharp edges, or break if they get dropped, or ones made of silly synthetic stuff that doesn't last. You have to be brave and let the other person know who you are and what you feel."

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Discomfort of University. What?

Today I attended the Student Leadership Conference, and for once, the opening commentaries were actually interesting. I was quite pleased about this since I was at school on a Saturday at 8:30 am, yuck. I have a suspicion that my interest is quite egocentric because they very closely related to what I wrote about yesterday. UBC President Stephen Toope gave an opening speech that highlighted the endless opportunities available to us during our university careers (That's something I have been hearing for the last 3 years). He said that this not time to settle into a comfortable place. Instead, we should explore the "discomfort" that university can offer us. Now to President Toope, discomfort is about going beyond the boundaries of what we accept, such as in cultural interactions and (of course) leadership. I however wanted to think about discomfort in relation challenging my mind, my abilities and my being.

In many ways, my university career has certainly done this for me. I cannot fathom there being another point in my life where I experience such drastic and amazing changes. There have been several courses that I thought would be particularly difficult, but I passed with flying colours. Visuals arts continuously challenges my technical skills as well as my ability to express myself, just as English constantly tests my critical thinking. I have also become a much healthier person, though I don't think UBC is solely to be credited for that one. These are all good things, but I'm unsure if they qualify for discomfort. When have I actually taken on something that is truly out of character?

Off the top of my head, my position at work this year has been discomforting. It's been challenging being in charge of people. I've been forced to stand up and be assertive. Something that is truly not a part of my persona. I also think that many of my courses have challenged my core beliefs and values to the point that I have re-evaluated them quite a bit. This has allowed me to develop as an independent young women, apart from familial and national culture. Perhaps this has surprised me the most. Knowing that such fundamental change can occur even after 18 years in one mind set. I think that that gives me hope that, as people, we are able to evolve, grow, learn and change, despite what mainstream culture and media has us believe. "We are set in our ways." I beg to differ. I would challenge you to be truly persistent in you pursuits and you just might surprise yourself. The reward of suffering(?) discomfort is well worth it, trust me on this one.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Drawing lesson

The first week of my last term is over. Classes are seem good so far. But of course I'm trying my best not to have my traditional early term panic attack due to the amount of work I have. This term my panic is mostly rooted in the drawing course I'm taking. I always worry about visual arts classes, despite the fact that this is my major and I should be technically good at it. Perhaps it's odd that I'm so anxious about this. Or maybe even a little resistant to taking this course in the first place. So I wonder, why do we do things that scare us or that we don't want to do in the first place? I mean, if I stress out about drawing so much, why do it at all?

On the first day of my drawing class, my teacher emphasized that the class is all about a slough of practice and assignments - hard work. 4 mini drawings a week, a sketch book, and 3 major projects. AHHH! I couldn't help to hearken back to my drawing class in first year, which I still have nightmares about. My oddly eccentric and outwardly slack professor drove me crazy, and she was also a tough marker. The haunting memory of this sent me off into a bit of a mental frenzy. Failure on the horizon. Oh no! When the class was over, I found myself trying to calm my mind. I'm uncertain if I was actually talking to myself out loud as I walked down West Mall (Side note: If I was, and you saw me, now you have an explanation. Don't judge).

In spite of all this madness, the next morning I got back from the gym and sat down to complete my first mini drawing. I sat in the total silence at my kitchen table with a cup of tea and a photograph of vintage suitcases I was going to replicate. After an hour and a half, I got up to stretch. I felt so at peace. My mind was quiet and I was (*shock*) relaxed. It came back to me then. This is why I like drawing.

Today I was reflecting on my panic attack, or rather the questions I posed earlier. Thinking more generally about my life, I often do plenty of things that I would rather not do. Not only at school, but also at work. At the end of the day however, they all serve the purpose of enriching my life in some way. In the case of work, I have learned a great deal of patience. But drawing is about something else, which occurred to me earlier today. I'm not taking this course because I'm already great at drawing. I'm taking it because I want to learn. I am not afraid to improve. Epiphany? Most likely. I suddenly know what it is to look my fears in the face and say, "I am afraid, but that's not going to stop me." This is the kind of mind set I've been after for years! And folks it's this experience, from doing things I might be hesitant about, that is going to take me places this semester, and throughout the year. And possibly carry me through life.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


So after reading the following, I'm think that my word for 2010 is going to be FEARLESS. But possibly still PROGRESSIVE.

To me, "fearless" is not the absence of fear. It's not being completely unafraid. To me, fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. Fearless is falling madly in love again, even though you've been hurt before. Fearless is walking into your freshman year of high school at fifteen. Fearless is getting back up and fighting for what you want over and over again . . . even though every time you've tried before, you've lost. It's fearless to have faith that someday things will change. Fearless is having the courage to say goodbye to someone who only hurts you, even if your can't breathe without them. I think it's fearless to stop believing in them. It's fearless to say "you're not sorry," and walk away. I think loving someone despite what people think is fearless. I think allowing yourself to cry on the bathroom floor is fearless. Letting go is fearless. Then, moving on and being alright . . . that's fearless too.
Taylor Swift

What does fearless mean to you?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ms. Non-Spontaneity

It was an enlightening day at work. It was a pretty slow day at the store because a) it's early in the week and b) we're all paying off credit cards from Christmas indulgences. Regardless of that, we seem to always have strangely interesting conversations. Today's topics included dating, and all that goes with it. Scott and I were talking about personality types and I mentioned how I really don't like abruptness or randomness. It just doesn't jive with me, though I've been trying to change that. Scott proceeded to explain to me that spontaneity is the most natural part of life.

Why you might ask . . . just as I did . . .

Aside from whatever beliefs you have about how the earth came to be, at some point, a spontaneous creation, combustion, explosion, etc occurred. Without this spontaneous event, life would not come to be. Mind you, Scott is relatively religious so it was slightly ironic hearing that God's actions were "spontaneous." Progress, evolution, etc is contingent on spontaneous action.

Interesting. This point of view had never occurred to me before. So am I simply fighting a natural aspect of life? At this point, I'm not sure. Perhaps my efforts to dodge what I consider chaos have actually been a hindrance. Then again, there is also a tendency to associate the word spontaneous with more outlandish, large scale, eccentric things. This may be a problem. There are plenty of unaccounted for events in my day. But I think were I start to get uncomfortable is when people around me start acting unpredictably. Yes, I know what you're thinking. "What a control freak!" If only I knew what to do solve this absurd problem of mine!

I think the reverse of all this is also true. That on some level, everyone likes having some control. I think the conflict between all of us is that we seek control in different areas of our lives, just as we seek spontaneity in unique ways. I wish there was so easy way to figure out where we all overlap. That place of harmony, of unity, I would think, is where everything becomes comfortable and we accept all that is out of our control and simply live.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

J'ai retourner.

Home at last! Well, to my parents' home that is. Holiday was fab, and I have planned lots of posts about all of my escapades. I cannot say with pure certainty that I have a tan. In fact, at the moment, I have a sun burn!

It's been a whirl wind holiday, and it's not over yet. By the time I reach Vancouver on Monday I will have taken an unprecedented 2 flights in 13 days! Holy Mackerel!

Off to bed for now . . . the time diff is killing me.