Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reading habits as of late.

I've been quite bookish so far this year.  Sometimes, life will get ahead of me, and I'll go a few weeks without finishing a book.  However, thanks to a bit of down time during March Break and my current obsession with getting ebooks from the Toronto Public library, I've been reading quite a lot lately following a dry spell in late February/early March.

This year, I've seemed to solely read fiction with a focus on mystery/thrillers for the most part. During the school year, I crave escapism in my literary adventures, and I've found that my favourite escape these days is in a good mystery/thriller that also has an interesting theme and/or plot twist.

I've also noticed that as I have all of my life, I read a majority of books written by women.  I can go on and on about sexism in the literary world.  I closely follow writer Jennifer Weiner on Twitter because I like her books and her super hilarious tweets about The Bachelor.  However, I'm come to appreciate her also for being vocal about how books written by men are reviewed much more frequently than books written by women.  Books written by male authors, such as Jonathan Franzen and Jeffery Eugenides, that are about "women-centric" subjects like relationships and family are widely praised and reviewed, whereas similar books written by women are often belittled as "chick-lit".  Lori Lansens wrote an excellent novel called "The Girls" which is a fascinating story of the lives of conjoined twins.  I was dismayed when the paperback edition of this novel was slapped with a bright pink flowered covered that would scare off most men from reading this worthy story.  Of course, the fact that the colour pink is feared by men is another way in which the feminine is looked down upon in our society but that's another rant.

Anyhow, the point of this is that with entrenched sexism in literature, I don't really feel that bad about my very skewed reading habits.  However, I read an article somewhere earlier in the year (probably on Buzzfeed, I'm sure) about how a great new year's resolution would be to read more books by diverse authors since it's important to read stories about people who are underrepresented like women of colour, other ethnicities, and authors from the LGBTQ community; not to mention how important it is to support these authors so that there is more diversity in what gets published.

Anyhow, I have read a couple of amazing books in the past few months that are notable.  I love Roxane Gay's collection of essays "Bad Feminist" and her novel "An Untamed State" was excellent although brutal and graphic (not a light read). Celeste Ng's "Everything I Never Told You" because not only is it a fascinating look at an Asian American family and the prejudice faced by this community (which is entirely underrepresented in all forms of media), it's kind of a murder mystery!

This year I also want to read novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Helen Oyeyemi.  Are there any other books/authors that you'd recommend that would help me in my goal about increasing the diversity in my reading?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I, I do it all the time.

Today as I was marking with a friend/colleague in my local Starbucks I said "You know, I'm more on top of this marking stuff than I was last year.  That's good news."

It's true, I am.  I am teaching the same course that I did exactly a year ago, and it provides a good benchmark for me.  For example, a lab report that I was frantically marking on the plane back from France for March Break last year, was marked way before March Break this year.

Then I paused to think.  "However, I am completely losing the work/life balance battle this year, so I guess I'm not that good."

Last year I was in tip top physical condition, and training for a half marathon.  Today's exercise was walking to Starbucks to mark.  I had a backpack on though, so extra weight, ha-ha!

Basically, I think I can win one or the other: life or work.  Last year I was winning life, but I know I was more stressed with work.  This year I'm winning work, but I'm way more stressed about life.

HOW CAN I WIN BOTH?

That's the million dollar question that I'm going to be trying to crack ASAP.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Decade.

It's March 23rd, 2015.  This means that I've had this blog for a decade.  Ten entire years.  Holy shit. (I've even set the date and time of this posted so it posts EXACTLY ten years from my first post. Details, that's how I roll.)

I've been composing this post in my head for quite awhile, since one of my many good blog friends reminded me that my decade blogoversary was approaching.  (FYI a traditional ten-year anniversary gift, according to Hallmark, is tin or aluminum.)

I started this blog on a complete whim.  2005, as all of my longtime blog friends will attest, because they most likely started their blogs in that year too, was the golden age of blogging.  I spent a lot of time reading musician Matthew Good's blog back then, and when he started linking to fans' blogs on his, I decided I should start a blog, and when it got good, I would send him the link.  He stopped that linking practice long before I ever would have considered sending him the link to this blog.

Heck, I never even came up with a title for this thing.  That's what "Permanent Title Currently Under Construction" means.  When I had a to fill in a blog title, I blanked, typed that in, with the good intention of thinking of something clever that describes the content of this blog, whatever that would be.

Ten years later, I can comfortably say that the content of this blog is me.

I don't think I ever thought anything would really become of this blog.  Sure, there are some bloggers that have found internet fame, or even book deals from their blogs, but that's the equivalent of a Little Leaguer making it to the big leagues.  However, I can honestly say that this blog did change the course of my life.

I know that if I'd never started this blog there are so many people I would not have met, trips that I would never have taken, friendships never forged, connections never made, bridal squads that would have been minus their token Canadian member, concerts not attended, postcards never sent, and memories never made.

I have friendships that have almost lasted just as long as this blog.  My blog friends live across the country, in other countries, and across oceans but some of those friendships are concrete as anything in my own city.  Heck, it really helps because if a girl can't sleep because she's going through a nasty breakup, she's got friends in all timezones to hear about her heartbreak and make her feel better.

I've got travel buddies who will host me in their city, come visit me in my city, or we'll just meet up in some other random city.

Most of my blogging friends stopped their blogs long ago.  Some of us hang on, and usually for the same reason, and the very reason why I keep hanging on.  I've never been able to keep a journal, or any sort of record of my life, but for some reason I've been able to use this medium to write about me for ten whole years.

After all this time, I have a cool journal, and I've met people that have become my dear friends.  I am so thankful for this.

I'm going to end this post with a picture of me.  Back in 2005, I was adamant that I would never post a picture of myself on this blog because what if someone came across it and knew it was mine?  I used to send early blog buddies emails with pictures if they wondered what I looked like.  Anyway, here's a recent selfie (hah! a word that didn't exist in 2005) that I like.  I'm in my classroom, in front of the chalkboard, wearing my green cat hoodie.  The lighting is good and I liked how it turned out, so here I am.



Decade #1 out.  Here's to decade #2.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Nowhere We Cannot Go


This is my favourite song these days.  I'm very excited for the new Hayden album to come out next week.  I enjoy when I see an artist live a few times before an album's release.  It means I already know a few songs and have some special memories linked to them.

My Vancouver March Break trip definitely created some new memories for me, as well as evoked lots of fun memories from the past.  This was my third trip to Vancouver.  I saw some new places (The Art Gallery, Main Street, new restaurants, Becca T's new hood in Kits), but also revisited old places with the people with whom I'd first discovered them.

 I really enjoyed then Art Gallery, especially the exhibit on Chinese contemporary art, which had an amazing piece by Ai Wei Wei.  Another trip high light was a visit to a Hammam spa with Becca.  It was incredibly relaxing.  I enjoyed all of the shopping, walking, drinking, and chatting that I got to do with friends too.  I definitely feel relaxed upon return, even if my internal clock isn't quite back to Eastern time.

Yesterday was my first day back in Toronto.  I was lazy for the most part, but went for a lovely dinner, walk, and browse around the Eaton Centre with my pal Elaine.

I was on the hunt for the new Joel Plaskett album on vinyl, which I didn't find because it isn't on vinyl.  Too bad.  I got it when I came home, and also finally got the new Dan Mangan + Blacksmith album which I enjoy more now that I've seen it live a couple of times.

Today I'm going to pick up Rilo from my parents' house.  That truly does mean the end of the vacation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

West Coast

It's been a busy but relaxing trip so far.  I can't believe that I'm on my last day in Vancouver.

The first two days were super busy.  My flight here was really early in the morning, which meant that I had a super full day with only four hours' sleep and jet lag.  Probably the highlight of my first, busy day, other than seeing and catching up with friends, was the Hayden/Dan Mangan show at the Vogue Theatre.  It was definitely a show worth seeing in two cities.

Sunday morning was an early start to catch the ferry over to Victoria.  It was a lovely day of shopping in the rain despite the fact that I was exhausted.

This week I've had lots of lazy mornings, and time exploring the city.  I'm feeling relaxed and refreshed but not ready to go back that's for sure.  When I get home late tomorrow night it'll mean my break is almost over and it'll be back to the grind so soon.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Thankful

Today I realized how incredibly lucky I am.

I am pretty much booked solid for two weeks. I've made the effort to schedule in dinners with friends that I haven't seen in awhile, new friends, and I leave for Vancouver shortly.

At least one nice thing happens to me every day.  I think I'm up to four today.

I can maintain friendships that have started in the most random way possible (blogging) for spans of time that are approaching a decade.

I've traveled.  I'll travel some more.  Always with the travel.

I like my job.

I challenge my brain.

I read a lot.

I have a soundtrack for my life.

I love my little family and have a really nice cat.

I feel down sometimes, and I forget about all this stuff, but it's really nice when somehow my brain turns its spotlight on and I see it all.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Lent

My mother would always make me give up something for Lent.  I have memories of being a kid diligently abstaining from chocolate, pop, or French fries.  It was always a huge challenge, but I'd feel proud at the end when I got to eat whatever it was I gave up on Easter Sunday.  I remember the year that I gave up fries and my mom took me to McDonald's for Easter lunch.

A challenge of willpower is usually a good thing, I think.  I've often tried to give something up for Lent as an adult for the heck of it.  One year I gave up celebrity gossip, which was super challenging and good for my brain.  However, I usually do give up something edible, and since March Break falls during Lent, I haven't attempted to give anything up for a few years.

This year, I've so far given up fries, potato chips, and beer.  I've been drinking a lot of wine as a result! Haha.  Anyhow, I think beer's not going to last on the list much longer.  I have a couple of outings where I'm meeting new people, and beer's the perfect drink for such occasions.  Sugary cocktails upset my stomach, I ruined white wine for myself a long time ago, and I love red wine but I hate how it stains my teeth, tongue, and lips.  I need beer to deal with new people!

So perhaps I have given up beer with old friends for Lent.

ps So far I've made it with the fries. I guess I'll have to hit up the drive-thru on Easter Sunday for old time's sake.

I had an accident with a potato chip where a colleague had a bag open on her desk and I reached over, grabbed one, ate it, and then exclaimed "oh shit! I ate a chip! I gave those up for Lent!"

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Random list of things I love these days.

1) Broadchurch - binged on series one last weekend, series two this weekend.  Now what, life?  I have a hard time transitioning from one TV show/book to the next.

2) Hayden - saw the man live last night and can't wait for his new album to come out at the end of March

3) Birthday parties at lunch - my group of friends at work have a lot of birthdays in February, which means that we actually make time to celebrate at lunch and eat cake

4) Reality TV shame night on Mondays - a guilty pleasure is a good way to start the week.

5) Longer days - the sun sets at a noticeable later time.

6) Lemonade - so refreshing!