Friday, January 31, 2014

learning! a guide to online education


There are loads of places to get an education for free online - Edupunk has a complete guide for you here!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

inspiration! patrick stewart


This glorious image did a lot of circulating back in the day, but it still makes me happy. One, because Patrick Stewart provides a powerful image of shame for those who might be violent against women. Two, because from what I understand, he was actually just walking home from the grocery store, came across this protest, and agreed to be photographed with them.

He tells his story of domestic violence here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

on lena dunham, vogue, and boxes


Let's talk about Lena Dunham, Vogue, and boxes.  No, not sexy lady boxes.  I'm talking about the boxes that people use to categorize and understand each other, specifically, the "you are not allowed to care about how you look because you're a feminist symbol of a 'real body'" box people keep putting Lena Dunham in.

A few days ago on the CBC there was a panel discussing Lena Dunham and her Vogue cover, and specifically Jezebel's backlash to the images.  The discussion was good, but I was eternally frustrated that it even needed to happen in the first place.  I don't blame the CBC for jumping on this, they are smart to bring a sexy current issue to the air, and Anna Maria Tremanti was awesome for assembling such a smart array of women to discuss it.

The debate that's raging, from Jezebel to the CBC to, I don't know, probably a lot of other peoples' blogs, can essentially be phrased "should we expect this one woman to do the exact same thing all the time?"

Answer: no.  No, we shouldn't.  Just because Lena Dunham has a TV show where she shows off her un-Hollywood body doesn't mean she can't want to look hot in Vogue.  She does not owe us anything, certainly not always presenting herself in one particular way.

The background issue is cognitive: our brains are full of boxes where we put all the things and people we encounter.  When we meet someone new, our brains quickly and subconsciously file away a set of expectations about them based on how they've presented themselves to us.  We put them into the boxes that seem appropriate for them based on their gender, culture, age, style, and even how they talk.  These boxes come with some expectations - meet a middle-aged outspoken Italian man who dresses well and you make a few assumptions about things he might do, want, or care about.

This level of categorizing and stereotyping people I don't have a problem with.  It's how our brains work, an efficient cognitive system that frees up mental bandwidth for more pressing issues.  What does cause problems is when we then hold that individual person to those generalized expectations that came from the boxes we put them in.

People are nuanced, boxes are not.  People hold razor-thin distinctions between concepts and actions that are acceptable or not depending on a whole host of factors that range from noble to selfish.  People present themselves differently in different situations.  People are creatures of context with conflicting desires that come out in different ways.

Basically, just like we learned that everyone's a little bit racist from Avenue Q, we also need to remember that everyone is a little bit hypocritical.  Take this Louis CK bit:


He goes on to share some of his beliefs vs. actual life contradictions that, in true Louis CK fashion, implicate us all in his hypocrisy.  For example, he shares a commonly-held belief that slavery is a terrible, awful thing. We can all agree with that, right? Then he points out that every single human achievement has basically been on the backs of slaves, from the pyramids to smart phones.  This, we're less comfortable with, and so we find ways to justify and explain it away.  The truth is, however, that we're lying to ourselves.  If you are reading this on a computer screen, you have benefitted from someone else working in slave-like conditions.  Yet, we are all against slavery.

Conflict!  Contradiction!  Hypocrisy!

Next, take the 90's alt-folk star Meredith Brook:


"Bitch" didn't just reach the top of the charts because it's got a controversial title.  At least in part, it's because girls loved singing along with a song that embraced all the different sides of their little hearts.

I was too young to notice at the time, and too busy turning the volume down on the radio every time she said "bitch" so my parents wouldn't hear what I was listening to, but I wouldn't be surprised if this song was lauded by feminists of the day for embracing a complex, three-dimensional woman.  A woman who inhabits contradictions.  Who isn't a madonna or a whore - she's both, and more.

Then consider any character we consider well-written in books, films, or plays. They are always complex. They have beliefs or traits that don't let them sit snugly in any one box. They are innocent dames with sharp wits and tongues like fire. They are nerdy, painfully shy boys who are secret internet rock stars. Their bodies house contradictions and we LOVE them for it.

Yet we can't stand for it in our real-life celebrities. If you ask me, this is especially apparent with women. Look at every young pop princess' transformation from madonna to whore. Once they are sexually mature and don't want to be one-dimensional innocents anymore, they have no choice but to become one-dimensional fiery-eyed vixens.  We can handle the switch (with the necessary backlash, of course) so long as they stay consistent with their new image.

So here we are, living in a society that already places women under severe scrutiny with truly unrealistic standards, forcing them into boxes, and then what do we feminists do?  Hold each other to an even higher, more rigid standard.

Lena Dunham became a lightning rod of young feminism by refusing to give any cares about showing the world her body, both on-screen and in real life. She made a name for herself displaying "real" women on her show (a sampling that is, of course, still very select - all her characters on Girls are middle-to-upper class white women who enjoy bountiful sex and are somewhat artsy - not exactly representative).  She is also fiercely, unapologetically ambitious in a world that's still surprised by ambitious women. Great, great, great.

Why does all this mean that she's not allowed to house some contradictions?  Yes, she made a great statement by showing her body on Girls, but that statement is only undermined by her Vogue cover if you want it to be.

All this panic makes me wonder what would happen if she ever just straight up went on a diet.  What if she decided one day that she would feel healthier and better about herself if she lost weight or started dressing in more traditionally flattering clothes?  What then?  Would she still be allowed to to be a cool feminist who gives the finger to conventionality?

Maybe instead of holding her to a ridiculous standard based on the "feminist with a 'real body' who doesn't care what she looks like" box she's currently stuck in in, we could let her be an actual complex character.  A human woman who holds some contradictory desires and wants to try them out.  I'm pretty sure that "telling women what to do and how to think about themselves" would not make the Top 10 List of Goals for the Feminist Movement, so let's just all move on, shall we?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

singalong! asleep on a sunbeam by belle & sebastian

After last week's Cute! post Asleep on a Sunbeam, I can't quite get the Belle and Sebastian song out of my head. I never really knew the words, but now that I've looked them up, they are so cute and worth singing along to.


Asleep on a Sunbeam
BELLE & SEBASTIAN

When the half light makes for a clearer view
Sleep a little more if you want to
But restlessness has seized me now, it’s true
I could watch the dreams flicker in your eyes
Lying here asleep on a sunbeam
I wonder if you realise you fascinate me so

Think about a new destination
If you think you need inspiration
Roll out the map and mark it with a pin
I will follow every direction
Just lace up your shoes while I’m fetching a sleeping bag, a tent...
Another summer’s passing by
All I need is somewhere I feel the grass beneath my feet
A walk on sand, a fire I can warm my hands
My joy will be complete

I thought about a new destination
I’m never short of new inspiration
Roll out the map and mark it with a pin
Made my plans to conquer the country
I’m waiting for you to get out of your situation
With your job and with your life

All I need is somewhere I feel the grass beneath my feet
A walk on sand
A fire, I can warm my hands
My joy will be complete

Friday, January 24, 2014

learning! insects are less randy in the rain

The subject line says it all.  Read the original article with all the science here.

Photo by KentonForshee

Thursday, January 23, 2014

possibly the best ok cupid profile ever

This made me laugh.


Apparently I am an 82% match with "gutlessxvx" who would like me to "Go away" - I admire his knowledge of when to use a capital, but am disheartened by his lack of punctuation.  Perhaps that is why we are 13% enemy?



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

why i will probably never leave Facebook (unless something the same but better comes along) - in three pictures


I know, I know.  Facebook is fraught with problems.  Privacy violations, misogyny, turning relationships into weak social interactions and destroying our attention spans…  But there are also some very very good things that happen when you gather everyone you know all in one place.  Yes, it can be used for self-promotion, image-crafting, and general showing off, but it can also be used for GOOD!  Yes, good.  It is a crowd, and you know what you can do with a crowd?  Source things.

Examples, with names made blurry for privacy.  Except for mine, just my last name so you can at least track the conversation:

1) Emotional support!


The other night I couldn't find a very precious ring.  Now this would fall, by most peoples' standards, into the "nobody cares about your ____" file, because, really?  Did my 650 Facebook friends need to know about this?  No, they didn't.  But I was feeling at a loss and I live by myself so I didn't have anyone to talk to about it.  I needed a crowd to cheer me on and give me ideas so I wouldn't give up looking.  I could have texted a few friends, but this way I got to crowd source a lot more people, and also felt a lot more like I had to keep looking so I could report back that it was found.  And it worked, I found it!

2) Insults!


Sometimes you just need a clever insult and it isn't coming.  Luckily, you have a whole lot of people who can chime in and help you settle a score.

3) Rides!


I live in Vancouver and don't have a car.  My family lives in Abbotsford.  That means that unless my travels match up with another family member, I'm in Hoopsville.  Or I would be, if not for Facebook and its magical power to crowd source rides!  And here's the thing: the two people I wound up catching rides with aren't people I ever would have thought to ask.  They are friends, sure, but not "part of my everyday life"-type friends.  We know each other well enough that we hang out once and a while, but it wouldn't occur to me to call them up for a ride.  In fact, it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask any of the people who replied for a ride, because I'm only really comfortable directly asking a favour like that to really close friends.  This was different - they offered their services! It was a beautiful moment.

This is why I think Facebook is never going away.  Instagram is awesome for sharing pictures.  Twitter is fun for mini-conversations and articles.  Facebook is where the entire group connects.  I read somewhere years ago that the connections that bring people "upward" in their mobility (jobs, roommates, places to live, etc.) come not from close friends, but from acquaintances.  I can't think of how many times I've posted on Facebook a question or request and almost immediately received multiple answers, and of course, I've been able to do the same.

So, yes, there are many problems with this social network that has eaten our brains.  But this is not one of them.  Thank you, Facebook, for giving us the power to source our crowds!

(PS: I feel kind of icky ending a post on such a ridiculously upbeat statement about Facebook, so now I'm going to talk about something else.  Like… your mom.  I hear she's nice!)

Monday, January 20, 2014

cute! asleep on a sunbeam

In the dark days of January, sometimes you need to see a cat sleeping in the sun to remind you that there will be light in the world once again.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

declaring wednesday evenings SCREEN-FREE!


In yet another of my constant personal challenges (the No Sugar/No Alcohol November being the most recent), I have decided to restrict my use of screens one night a week.

Honestly, this is probably better described as a "decision" than a "challenge", because while there will be some habit-breaking, it's not going to kill me.  But challenge just sounds better.  So.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Some background logic: I don't think screen-related activities are bad in and of themselves, but they have become a default activity, which I don't like.  I don't fetishize life in the 90's when my family shared one computer, nor do I reject social media or modern technology, I simply want to remind myself that my devices are primarily utilitarian in function and don't need to be default distractions for any moment my mind isn't otherwise occupied.  Evenings where I talk to friends, read, and/or listen to music, I simply feel happier, healthier, and sleep better.

Plus, my eyesight has rapidly deteriorated since getting a smart phone, so I am fantasizing that it will magically improve when I restrict access one night a week.

I would restrict it even more, say a whole weekend day or several evenings a week, but I do a lot of writing in my off-time, and so I need to keep that option opening.  Maybe after a while I'll expand the restricted days, but allow a caveat for writing.  For now, one evening a week is the testing ground.

Thus, Wednesday evenings have been officially declared as Screen-Free, from the time I leave the office to the time I wake up the next morning.

The reality of what this means:

Definitely no TV or laptop use, whatsoever.

On the phone I am permitted to talk (communication in real-time is good) and use the phone for utilitarian functions.  This means:

  • Texts to confirm plans that night are okay, rambling text conversations can wait.
  • Looking up where I am on a map because I'm lost again, or confirming the details of an event I'm going to in an email or Facebook event is okay, but otherwise checking emails, browsing Facebook, or other open-ended viewing is not okay.  
  • No use of apps designed purely for fun, distraction, or non-specific socializing.  
  • Using the camera is only okay if I actually need a picture for something (which will only likely happen if I'm at an event I'll be writing about).
  • Other utilitarian apps (the flashlight, for example) are allowed, if needed.
When it comes to large screens, as in a movie theatre, I'm going to allow it because I go see movies with people, so that's social.  Oh!  And the screen of my e-reader is allowed, because using it means I'm reading (which is desirable) and it's not a backlit screen nor does it lend itself to any other distractions. 

What do I hope to do more of:
  • Cat-dancing.
  • Reading.
  • Talking.
  • Walking.
  • Yoga.
  • Writing. (On paper!  By hand!)
  • Playing music.
  • Whatever the heck I feel like.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

singalong! weekend: careless whisper by george michael

One of the best saxophone solos of all time.  The lyrics "guilty feet have got no rhythm".  Passion.  Loss.  Hearbreak.  The absolute need to clench your fist in front of your heart in a drawn-out downward motion.  This song is guaranteed to add drama to any moment.  Proof: I was just listening to it while playing with my cat, and watching her attempt in vein to capture the little light from my laser pointer to this song suddenly took on the weight of a tragic slow-motion metaphor for lost love.


CARELESS WHISPER
George Michael

Time can never mend the careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind, ignorance is kind
There's no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you'll find

Should've known better

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor
As the music dies, something in your eyes
Calls to mind the silver screen

And all its sad good-byes

I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

Should've known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I've been given
So I'm never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
There's no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you'll find

I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

Should've known better than to cheat a friend
And waste this chance that I've been given
So I'm never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Never without your love

Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
Maybe it's better this way
We'd hurt each other with the things we'd want to say

We could have been so good together
We could have lived this dance forever
But no one's gonna dance with me
Please stay

And I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

Should've known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I've been given
So I'm never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

(Now that you're gone) Now that you're gone
(Now that you're gone) What I did's so wrong
That you had to leave me alone

Friday, January 17, 2014

learning! acupressure 101

Since doing my yoga teacher training I have been more certain than ever that everything in our bodies is connected.  Here's one way: all our muscles are wrapped and bundled with fascia, which is basically like saran wrap for our insides, and one section of fascia can weave its way across our entire bodies, connecting two seemingly unrelated parts of our bodies.  Then there's the nerve pathways, and so much more that we're just beginning to understand!  Our bodies are amazingly intertwined!

Because of this I've wanted for ages to learn more about acupressure and reflexology.  Luckily, the marvellous Secret Yumiverse has shared a basic Acupressure 101.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

why being erica is quality

I just started watching the Canadian comedy (dramedy?  I think it's supposed to be a drama but it's quite witty) Being Erica, and bless my soul, this is an excellent show!  First of all, thank you, CBC for creating a quality, clever TV show.  Set in Canada without feeling "too Canadian", strong writing, good acting, et cetera!  It's just fun to watch.

Sure, it's got a lot of cheesy voice overs, but so did Sex and the City and so does Modern Family.  I'm okay with it.

I was, however, sold on the show before I'd seen a lick of action.  I mean,  I was still prepared to think it was lame, but I was sold on the people who made it and their brains.  Why?  It was Erica's opening monologue:

"My name is Erica Strange.  I'm 32.  Still working a dead-end job.  Still sleeping with my cat.  I know people wonder why the cute girl with the great education and great friends can't get it together.  There's a simple answer: bad decisions."
This might strike you as just another Gen Y complaining about her lot in life.  I see something more.  I see a divergence from one of the most annoying story tropes when it comes to the Young Girl Down on her Luck - the fact that she is always supposed to be unattractive.

Observe these women who are described as "plain", "ugly", "hopeless", or "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me."  (That last one is Pride and Prejudice, if you didn't guess.)







In fact, it often seems the only time a woman in a movie or TV show refers to herself as attractive, it's either an overblown brag for comic effect, or couched in a hopeless rant and the insidious qualifier "enough" (the "I'm smart and cute enough, right?  Why doesn't anyone love me?")

So colour me pink to see our dear friend Erica, who is, indeed, cute.  And she knows it!  She comes out and says it right in the opening monologue for the show, and it's not a joke, nor is it qualified with the words "enough" or "I think" so that she doesn't seem too braggy.  Nope, she straight up acknowledges that people will look at her and think that she's too cute and smart to have such a lame life.  Then she takes responsibility for her crappy situation - it's not the universe out to get her or the fact that her parents didn't teach her manners or birth her with more beauty points.  It's her bad decisions.  That's it.

Now I'm on Erica's team.  I am rooting for this clever girl to figure out her issues, gain a new perspective, and make better decisions.  Go Erica, go!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

inspiration! ada lovelace on science and religion


Ada Lovelace was one heck of a gal.  The first computer programmer of all time, she also sits among the great minds who see a connection between faith and science.  I have always been disheartened by those who set the two worlds against each other, and so I love reading about people like her.  Carl Sagan is another one who writes beautifully about science and belief.  Read Varieties of the Scientific Experience for more from him.  Read more about Ms. Lovelace and her musings on faith on Brain Pickings here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

me & ryan gosling visiting friends

The next in my series of photos revealing the long-lasting relationship I have shared with sexy superstar Ryan Gosling. Here he joined me visiting a friend, but looked away at the moment the photos was taken. Oh, Ryan!


*In no way are any of these photos altered. Obviously this is totally real.

Monday, January 13, 2014

cute! couples who met online

This is the cutest!  Photographer Jena Cumbo grabbed portraits of couples in NYC who met online.  I love that they all met on different sites - from Grindr to Craigslist's "Free Stuff" section to a dating site for people with tattoos.  Varieties of domestic bliss ensue.


Found via Feature Shoot.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

singalong! so what cha want by the beastie boys

The Beastie Boys!  They are great, but very difficult to sing along to.  So it's time to practice so you can blow all your friends away with your mad rappin' the next time you do karaoke.


"So What'cha Want"
THE BEASTIE BOYS

Just plug me in just like I was eddie harris
You're eating crazy cheese like you'd think I'm from paris
You know I get fly you think I get high
You know that I'm gone and I'm a tell you all why
So tell me who are you dissing maybe I'm missing
The reason that you're smiling or wilding
So listen in my head I just want to take 'em down
Imagination set loose and I'm gonna shake 'em down
Let it flow like a mud slide
When I get on I like to ride and glide
I've got depth of perception in my text y'all
I get props at my mention 'cause I vex y'all
So what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
I get so funny with the money that you flaunt
I said where'd you get your information from huh?
You think that you can front when revelation comes

Yeah, you can't front on that

Well they call me mike d the ever loving man
I'm like spoonie gee well I'm the metropolitician
You scream and you holler about my chevy impala
But the sweat is getting wet around the ring around your collar
But like a dream I'm flowing without no stopping
Sweeter than a cherry pie with ready whip topping
Goin' from mic to mic kickin' it wall to wall
Well I'll be calling out you people like a casting call
Well it's wack when you're jacked in the back of a ride
With your know with your flow when you're out getting by
Believe me what you see is what you get
And you see me I'm coming off as you can bet
Well I think I'm losing my mind this time
This time I'm losing my mind
That's right, said I think I'm losing my mind this time
This time I'm losing my mind

Yeah, you can't front on that

But little do you know about something that I talk about
I'm tired of driving it's due time that I walk about
But in the meantime, I'm wise to the demise
I've got eyes in the back of my head so I realize
Well I'm dr. spock I'm here to rock y'all
I want you off the wall if you're playing the wall
I said what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
I said what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
Y'all suckers write me checks and then they bounce
So I reach into my pocket for the fresh amount
See I'm the long leaner vincent the cleaner
I'm the illest motherfucker from here to gardena
Well I'm as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce
You've got the rhyme and reason but no cause
Well if you're hot to trot you think you're slicker than grease
I've got news for you crews you'll be sucking like a leech

You can't front on that
So what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
So what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
I said what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
I said what'cha what'cha what'cha want what'cha want
So what'cha want

Friday, January 10, 2014

learning! the first deep fryer

This week's learning is about deep frying. The other day at work we were chatting about historic snack foods. At first we all assumed that whatever people snacked on back in the day must have been super healthy because they didn't have all the food-shaped high fructose corn syrup, flavoured with extra salt and death that we currently snack on. Then we realized that we as humans have probably been deep frying for some time, which is not super healthy, and that got me curious: how long have we been deep frying for? Answer: a long time.


It's kind of difficult to actually nail this down, because we've been frying food basically ever since we figured out how to make things hot. And of course, we put some kind of oil on the frying surface pretty quickly because of the stickiness and the flavour. So where do you draw the line and say that something was deep fried vs. fried in a lot of oil?

Well, I drew the line by googling it and then finding the source that dated back the furthest, which was this page called All About the History and Evolution of Fried Dough. Apparently the first known instance of putting dough into hot oil is scriblita from 2nd Century (BC) Rome.

Just one more way the Romans saved/ruined the human race, all at the same time.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

wrong laforge

I just got followed by "Dr. LaForge" on Twitter and got REALLY EXCITED thinking maybe it was Jordi LaForge from Star Trek.







It wasn't.

8 things your single friends don't need to hear right now


With the risk of sounding like a cynical version of Bridget Jones, I would like to share some not-that-helpful phrases that people in relationships say to people who are single kind of way too often.  Yes, it's another round of "what not to say to your single friends", edition 5,134,320.2 on the internet.

At the end of this list, you might feel like you aren't allowed to say ANYTHING to your single friends about their relationship status.  Not true!  You can ask them how it's going, express an interest, be encouraging about how awesome they are, and even give advice on a specific scenario, if they ask for it.  Just remember that your perspective is now shifted.  What worked for you may not work for them.  And let's keep the platitudes at bay, shall we?

1) You'll find it when you're not looking.

This is actually the worst thing you could say, for two reasons:

One: it's a lie!  Most people are in some stage of "looking for someone" when they meet their partner, because hardly anyone is actually not looking.  Otherwise, no one would meet anyone through online dating, set ups, going to a party they don't really want to but there might be some new faces there, or any of the other things people who are "looking" do that can, actually, work.

Two: what you've essentially just told your friend is that if they stop being such a desperate, needy, sucky baby their life might actually work out and they'll meet someone.  Unless they actually are being a desperate, needy, sucky baby and need to be snapped into shape, don't say this.  And if they are, there is a much clearer and more helpful way to communicate the issue with them.

Here is the tiny grain of truth in this statement: you don't know when or how you're going to meet your next love.  The actual times I met the people I've fallen in love with, I was not expecting to meet them at that specific moment.  But that doesn't mean that in my heartiest of hearts I wasn't looking for someone to love.  It just means that when your roommate has friends over, you don't expect one of them to be the primary force of love and pain in your life for the next two years.

It also implies that there is some kind of formula, which there is NOT.

2) We met [this way], so why don't you try that?

If you're going to say anything to do with meeting through friends or being "best friends" first, let's take this offramp at Questionville and check in on a couple things.  Is this your lead up to telling me about an amazing eligible you've been hiding away in the wings for me?  Is this your lead up to pointing out the best friend who I didn't realize I was attracted to until just now?  If the answer is not yes to one those, then stop here.  And if you're going to say online dating, save it.  Every single person has either tried online dating or serious mulled over the question and decided it wasn't for them.  They may change their mind, but that won't be because their friends who are already in amazing relationships think they should.

And again, with the formula and there not being one.

3) I didn't think they were right for you.

Okay, this one has a foot in two camps.  One one hand, it is helpful post break-up to know that you haven't "let one get away" and that you can and should move on because that love was not the right love for you.  On the other hand, it also can make "freshly-single me" feel a bit like "foolish, doesn't know how to pick 'em me", and even if that's true, now is probably not the time to point that out.  Plus, chances are good that you said you liked the person while we were dating, so now I'm just confused.  One of these times you were lying, which was it?  Because I want to be able to believe you next time you say you like someone I'm dating.

4) Don't you get lonely?

Um, yes.  Don't you?

5) Why don't you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Chances are that the main reason is this: do you know anyone I should be dating?  Exactly, me neither. If I am not close enough with you to have already been more honest about whatever inner struggles might actually be preventing me from being in a relationship, then just scoop that question back into your mouth and swallow it, please.

6) You don't know how hard it is to be in a relationship.  Sometimes I wish I were single.

Now you're just being condescending.  First of all, just because your friend isn't married doesn't mean they are blissfully unaware of the difficulties of being in a relationship.  Mostly, though, if you actually wished you were single you would be heart-wrenchingly confiding that you are thinking about breaking up with your partner.

We both know that having someone to love and be loved by and share life with is better than being able to make travel plans exactly the way you want to or leave dishes in the sink for a day or two.  If it wasn't, people would stop attaching themselves to these vacation-scheduling, dish commandos.

7) I was single before I met [person I spend all my time with now], so I know what it's like.

If you've been in a solid, loving relationship for more than a year then, sorry sister (or brother), you no longer know what it's like.  First of all, you may still remember your experience of having been single, but now it's all coloured as a part of "your story" of "how you met".  It's got an ending.  

Besides, my experience of singleness throughout my life changes all the time - with age, with each ended relationship, and with other random circumstances, a new perspective arrives on my lap and in my heart.  Sometimes it's worse and sometimes it's better, but it's always different.  So chances are really good that you don't know what it's like for me to be single right now and you shouldn't pretend you do.

BONUS!  (This one comes from the already-single to the newly-single): Welcome to the singles club!  Woo hoo!  High five!

I get it, you're trying to paint singlehood in a positive light and make me feel good about the transition.  But really, you're saying that you're happy my relationship ended, and that feels crummy.

UPDATE: A few friends have asked me, since posting this, who it was directed to/what the anger's all about.  Just to clarify: this is not a passive-aggressive message to anyone in particular, nor am I angry at anyone in particular.  These are just things I've heard throughout my various single times in life, and I thought it would be entertaining to write about them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

inspiration! 5 reasons not to meditate, or, carving your own path


This week's inspiration comes from the article 5 Reasons Not to Meditate by JC Peters.  It's one of those clever ones that gives you 5 reasons not to do something that are really reasons why you should do something, but they bring out why it's hard to do.  
"In conclusion, don't meditate. It could change your life"
-JC Peters
It's well written and I like it, but what struck me most was the method of meditation Peters describes doing: lying on her back, breathing, and feeling her feelings.  The five reasons to not meditate (that are really reasons to meditate) are great and true, but it was this meditation technique that grabbed me.

See, I'm all into the world of yoga and meditation.  Well, I'm all into yoga and working on the meditation thing.  I've taken my yoga teacher training, gone on a meditation retreat, and tried lots of different meditation techniques on my own, and always butted up against the philosophy of classical yoga that meditation is all about leaving this physical prison behind and transcending to a higher plane.  I'm all for transcending, but I don't see physical life as a horrid prison, and I don't want to.  I think life is a gift (not kidding here, I actually do), and that we should be appreciating it, not trying to wriggle out of its shackles.  Sitting cross-legged for a long time is also pretty physically demanding, and while I get that there's a stamina to be created there, it's dang hard for me.

Plus, kinda boring.

So I sort of inadvertently (or "advertently") created my own form of meditative prayer.  Usually lying down in some sort of restorative or yin yoga pose, I like to read a verse from some kind of scripture or say a brief prayer or mantra, let the words nestle into my brain/heart/breath, and then just sort of …. be.  Breathe.  Try to be open.  Allow myself to feel what I'm feeling, physically and emotionally (because pretending I'm not feeling all my unhappy emotions is sort of a default for me).  Listen.

Sometimes I use visualizations from various meditation classes I've taken.  One of my favourites is imagining my skull is totally empty.  Most people hate it, it's kind of macabre, but it feels fresh and open to me, like a breeze blowing through my brain.  Another one I like is imagining that my body is slowly burning and disintegrating, from the toe up (painlessly, of course, it's sort of metaphorical.)

I like it.  It's still hard.  My mind still wanders, I still wind up clinging to a thought or feeling for too long.  I forget I'm breathing.  I leave the moment behind and live in another one.  But not forever.  Not as much as with other techniques.  I also feel like it connects me more with myself/my source/God/life more than other techniques.

Monday, January 6, 2014

cute! becca stadtlander cards

Becca Stadtlander's card designs are just the CUTEST!  Who can resist this?  Or, should I say, who could resist sending this to me?  (Answer: apparently everyone.)


Originally discovered through this Design*Sponge post.  See Becca's Etsy shop here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

vancouvering: cool things happening in january

There are things happening in Vancouver!  Here's a few I think sound cool:

The Human Library | Normally I wouldn't put something theatre-related in here because, well, conflict of interest, much?  But The Human Library represents everything I love about theatre: people sharing a space and seeing themselves reflected in someone else.  Experiencing the world through someone else's eyes.  And it's participatory!  Beaut.

Luminescence at The Vancouver Aquarium | Jellyfish are beautiful.  A group of them is called a "smack".  Enjoy.

Yoga and Writing Workshop | East Side Yoga hosts a lot of cool workshops, but this one strikes me as especially awesome.  The connection between creativity and our bodies is so strong.  Learn how to tap into it!

Westcoast Geeks vs. Nerds | A debate-style comedy show that has geeks and nerds in the title.  Sweet.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

singalong! i'm good i'm gone by lykke li

This is the song (and video) that first introduced me to Lykke Li, the Swedish singer with a name that English-speakers get thoroughly terrified to attempt to pronounce.  It was brought to my attention by my super stylish and in-tune with all things European, Bradley, and it immediately captured my heart.  The video itself is awesome - a bunch of the best Nordic musicians jamming together with acoustic instruments, but the song is truly where it's at.  It's quite simply one of the best "say what you want, I'm going to do this and you're going to watch and if you don't believe in me then check these shoe prints walking past your negativity."


"I'm Good, I'm Gone"
LYKKE LI

Working in the corner, peaking over shoulders, waiting for my time to come.
Working in the corner, one day to the other, butter for my piece of bun.

Stepping a stone and I'm all gone.
Give me the tone and I'm all gone
Yes I'm walking by the line,
Not here but in my mind.
Working a sweat but it's all good.
Breaking my back but it's all good.
Cause I know I'll get it back,
I know your hands will clap.

I'm working
I'm working
To make butter for my piece of bun.

And if you say I'm not okay
With miles to go.
If you say there ain't no way that I could know.
If you say I aim too high from down below,
Well say it now cause when I'm gone,
You'll be calling but I won't be at the phone.

And I'm hanging around until it's all done,
You can't keep me back once I had some.
Wasting time to get it right,
And you will see what I'm about.
Cause I'm working a sweat but it's all good,
I'm breaking my back but it's all good.
Cause I know I'll get it back, I know your hands will clap.

And if you say I'm not okay with miles to go.
If you say there ain't no way that I could know.
If you say I aim too high from down below,
Well say it now cause when I'm gone,
You'll be calling but I won't be at the phone.

Friday, January 3, 2014

learning! the brain is mightier than the camera

Technology skeptics, raise your fists with me in a triumphant huzzah! And then read the rest of the study and shrug your shoulders.

Photo by Andreas Solberg.

Taking a picture of a work of art does not help you remember it. However, take a detail shot of an up-close part of the picture and you remember it just as well.

So basically, when we stand back and take a picture instead of just appreciating the beauty before us, we tell our brains not to bother remembering it because the camera did, but if you take an up-close shot your brain knows that only a portion is saved and remembers the overall picture. So if you're going to be trigger happy with your phone camera, recording every piece of art or concert or whatever else you experience in life, take the time to frame a nice detail shot. You'll probably get a more interesting photo, and you'll remember it!

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

new series! me & ryan gosling

New year, new series.  In case you didn't know, Ryan Gosling has a new gal in his life - me, for our entire lives.  It's been a secret relationship, and I thank all the Hollywood starlets who acted as his girlfriends to help me keep my privacy.  My 2014 resolution, however, is to hide NO MORE!  I will release these secret photos of me and Ryan Gosling, that in no way involved me photoshopping him into pictures from my past, every once and a while.  Here is the first, from my trip to Zambia in 2007.  It was so sweet of him to come along.


inspiration! how to rock at life for 100 years

Photo by Vladmir Byazrov.

Happy New Year!  In this glorious time of reflection and making promises to yourself, it's good to consider past this year and to the many years ahead.  Like how long you want to live and how well you want to live those years.

There have been a few studies through the years asking people who cross the triple-digit mark how they think they managed to stay alive, and there are some common themes to what they all say (generally something like work hard, have fun, don't worry about everything, and be happy).  Here's a great compilation of 100 Pieces of Advice from 100-Year-Olds, assembled by Mental Floss.

My favourite bits of advice are probably actually useless because they're things you have very little (or no) control over like "choose the right parents" and "don't die too young." Then there are the generic good ideas revolving around having a positive frame of mind and exercising lots, things I've always been in favour of. There are, however, plenty of nuggets to live by, and these are the ones I'll be considering in the early days of 2014 (original numbering preserved):

6. “Fall in love, get married. Sex is to be encouraged.”

7. “Even if you feel hatred, keep it to yourself. Don’t hurt other people for any reason.”

13. “If you are embarrassed to be dating someone, you should not be dating them.”

18. “Most time things will figure themselves out.”

20. “Have a pet. Life gets lonely sometimes. Pets are reminders of how we’re all living things.”

21. “I’m not saying you have to practice one religion or another, or not practice one religion or another… I’m just saying that you should figure out what you believe in and live it completely.”

38. “You can involve yourself in local problems. There are all sorts of things that have to be tended to in the world.”

39. “Have lots of people in the house and lots of different kinds of people—young, old, black, white, people from all over the world. People have always energized me.”

46. “There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65.”

79. “Do something interesting every day; otherwise you disintegrate.”

88. “Mind your own business, and don’t eat junk food.”

93. “Never run out of responsibility; if you don’t have one, find one. Find a cause and knock yourself out for it. It will enhance your brainpower, interest in life, and keep you alive longer. I’m alert because I work. Virtue is its own reward.”