Thursday, November 29, 2012

The best gift we can give is our time

Sage (who I got to know through Sweet and Sage back when she did outfit posts but now blogs at sagegreyson.com as a life coach) posted a video a few weeks back about "the smart advice that really pisses me off". It went something like: "we make time for what's important"

Sage, I apologize, I never made it past that phrase. I don't generally watch videos online. Animated gifs... especially of furry creates... those are a whole other story.

Anyway, as my life feels like its moving at rapid speed towards Christmas (15 more working days!!), I've been thinking a lot about what is taking up my time, especially since blogging has hit the back burner

- creating Christmas presents
- snuggling nieces and nephews
- texting family
- staying up too late talking in bed
- driving halfway across the city - twice - to have supper with an out of town friend (note to self: check the date on the calendar before leaving the house... I like to be early but 24 hours early is just dumb!)

While there has been some aimless internet wandering, even that has been decreased or at least directed towards a more productive goal (currently: researching new cars).

If we make time for what's important, then I think these days, I've got my priorities in line!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Adding some interest

Apparently I was a little purple today, or at least so my colleagues told me (tentatively raises hand and waves at K and A). I do love purple, or at least so I assume, given the mass amounts of it in my wardrobe. But it all started with a scarf.


I love this scarf. I bought it to wear with my white dress for my wedding shower / rehearsal dinner and as a wrap for my hair while driving in our convertible to our wedding.

Since then, it's been my experimenting scarf. I wore is as a flower belt once before. Today, it was as a braid.


It's remarkably easy - check it out from the pin! It's the "Round: Fancy Braid" option.

Source: scarves.net via Cara on Pinterest

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flumageddon

Last week, I booked this Monday off of work, so I could "recover from the weekend". It was a busy weekend - visitors, gatherings, birthdays. I had originally saved one day to do my Christmas shopping, but since I'm a rock star, I had it done long before my first opportunity to book off time came.

As a classic "be careful what you wish for" scenario, my recovery extended for most of the week as Sunday night, I wound up keeled over in pain on the bathroom floor.

Myself and let's say a dozen family members contracted what I can only call Flumageddon. Three days off of work, and I still have co-workers urging me to take another day... plus take that day off I wanted Monday. While I like to think they're worried about my health, I know they just don't want to get this flu.

As always, long periods of time alone lead to some introspection.

1. Purging your entire digestive system, followed by three days of ingesting nearly nothing results in unbelievable dizziness... and the inability to properly exercise portion control. My lunch for work tomorrow? A toddler would consider it a snack.

2. Season 1 of Community is by far the best. Season 3 is dark and hard to get through when sick. Season 2? I think I slept through it.

3. Never try to knit during the 20 minute reprieve your body gives you between, er, expulsions of the upper digestive system. You will have to frog it all when you're finally feeling well enough to see clearly.

4. While my mother has the uncanny ability to prevent herself from having upper digestive system distress if the bathroom available to her is not cleaned to her liking, I can stave off doing so long enough for Scott to finish what feels like, at the time, a long, meandering and pointless tale of Super Mario Bros. conquests.

5. I have a very limited idea of what I deem "important" in my job when it means having someone else do it. And yes, I did spend the three days monitoring my inbox from home, cherry picking what I passed along to my back up -- not because she isn't capable, but because I'm a control freak.

6. Paul Rudd is a marvelous man... but is in some weird movies. How Do You Know and I Could Never Be Your Woman? Bizarre.

7. I'm now off to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  For those of you south of the border, have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bye Bye Boys Club

When two out of three peer reviews (as in my peer's reviews, and not actual scholarly reviews) came crying out against the misogyny in James Bond, my inner feminist got confused.

You see, I love James Bond. Golden Eye hooked me, but years later, I have a soft spot for riding cellos down mountains, and creepy Christopher Walken villains. But we knew the schmultz had to go. Pierce Brosnan was both the saviour of the franchise, in 1995, but also saw one of its darkest moments at the helm with Die Another Day.

But I do blame Quantum of Solace not just for ruining my image of James Bond films, but also for setting Scott's and my second year of our relationship off to a rocky start. Minor food poisoning and a bad film just make for a terrible anniversary date!

Between the misogyny claims and the utter disappointment from the last movie, I went into Skyfall with some anxiety. While I could easily love a misogynistic Bond from the 1960s, would they take it too far in their attempt to reboot the franchise?

Simply put, no.

Perhaps I was looking too hard for the classic misogynistic trends of the Bond movies -- witty names reducing females to solely sexual objects, the sacrifice of the sexual interest as a body shield etc -- but when I came out of the theatre, I did have to ask Scott where the misogyny lay. Once he pointed out to me, I could see the argument, but I also feel that it discounts 50 years of film history, the mandate of the franchise and the character of James Bond.

Please note this review will contain spoilers, so do not read any further if you don't want me to ruin it. 

1. The Shot Glass Girl
It's true -- she functions as nameless piece of eye candy for Bond, and he uses her as an excuse to get to the villain. However, we are not given enough information to make any judgements as to her current predicament. She is the helpless female; however, there seems to be no more romantic or sexual interest between her and Silva than Silva and Bond (which is a whole other story -- I do appreciate that we have reached a point in society that we can make reference to the homoerotic overtones of James Bond, with him even alluding to the potential for bisexuality. However, having it primarily be at the hands of the villain made me a little worried that homoerotic was going to become homophobic). Does she die because of her involvement with Bond? I would actually note her death as a sign that Bond has grown from his sexist ways.  Silva's strategy for winning the game is vaguely reminiscent of the attitude the older Bonds had towards females. Bond doesn't go for the kill and the win.

2. The Loss of M and the return of the Old Boys Club
Judi Dench is a treasure, and I still remember the shock and wonder I felt when I saw her first step onto the screen in Golden Eye.  The idea of a female being at the head of a major "Boys Club," as it always had been, was revolutionary. In 2012, not so much. While there are certainly still glass ceilings, we have certainly reached much more equality in many areas in the last 17 years. And yes, you read that right. It's been 17 years with Dench at the helm of MI6. She has appeared in 7 Bond films - the same number as both Roger Moore and Sean Connery have starred as James Bond himself. The only longer running actor would be Desmond Llewellyn, the infamous Q, who appeared in 20 Bond films. It was inevitable that, like Q, the matriarch would have to pass the roll onto someone else. It also shows a movement away from the cliched franchise as it was through until the end of Brosnan's era. Any weakness seen in the character of M should be attributed to her age (mentioned many times throughout the early portion of the movie), and not her gender. In fact, the one thing that is frequently pointed out as her supposed weakness through the movie -- her attachment to her spies -- is perhaps the strength of the her character, her gender and necessary to the plot. The female M is as much Mother England as the country itself is. Were it not for Bond's affinity for M, he could have remained off the map for the rest of his life.

3. Moneypenny's subjugation to the role of receptionist
Moneypenny can certainly be seen as the stereotypical weak Bond girl. She doesn't have the guts to ram the Jeep into the escaping villains car with any serious force. She is relegated to desk duty quite early on. Oh ya, and she is a bad shot and spends the rest of the movie being bugged for shooting Bond. However, she seems perfectly aware of the implications of sleeping with Bond - we highly doubt she expects a phone call, and there is little negative tension between the two at each reunion (with the exception of the one following that time she almost killed him, but you'd be awkward in that situation, too).  I think that her early weakness shouldn't so much be a conversation on gender dynamics, but on the dynamics between agents. James Bond likes to be in control. Male or female, he would have grabbed the wheel from anyone to do what needed to be done. While taking an active agent who happens to be female and having her admit she doesn't have what it takes to remain active is a very tough line to cross, it was an important move for the franchise, and you can see that in the final scene. She is literally on equal level with Bond when saying she has taken a desk job. They descend, together, to the office, where they finally formally get acquainted. What makes this scene most remarkable is not simply setting up the missing character of Moneypenny, but the act of naming is important. We do not get a female name in the movie up until that point. In past Bond movies, as I have mentioned, the names were double entendres that reduced females to sexual objects. By ending the movie with a clear enunciation of identity, the franchise seems to be moving in a direction which will place females on more equal footing with males...

... just not on the same footing as Bond.

At the end of the day, Bond will stand above everyone else, male or female. Part of this is the 50 years of film history behind him. As Scott phrases it, Skyfall casually speaks the language of misogyny. But I also see the potential for growth in the ideals of female equality within this franchise that I don't see in others, like The Avengers, for example. With Colbie Smulders being a waste of screen time and Scarlett Johansson's super power being... her boobs?  Skyfall is no more misogynistic than any other movie within the Action Film genre. To single it out simply because of its cliched sexual dynamics in the past negates the strides that have been made over the 50 years, both within gender discussions in movies, and within these discussions in society.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What an odd day

Have you ever woken up at 1:00 in the morning to hear your husband taking to someone in your home? It is a little more reassuring when you recognize the voice as your brother-in-law that you expected to be crashing for the night, but still kind of disturbing when you hear another voice you don't recognize.

But that's ok, you knew he might bring always-present friend along.

But discovering a third person sleeping on your couch when you get up to go to work the next morning?

Only thing that can make that worse is when your husband shrugs: "I don't know" when you ask who that is.

Or maybe when you come home to discover your brother-in-law failed to lock the door on his way out.

Sigh... I know once upon a time I was the youngest sibling crashing at my older sibling's house, and her spouse probably had a thing or two to say about me when I left, so I will say only one more thing.

He better get me a damn good Christmas present.  


And ShyBiker? This pics for you! I know you love my shoeless posts!

And hopefully dedicating this pic to you will distract the rest of the ootd bloggers out there from learning the dark and dirty truth. Despite having loathed working in a shoe-less job, (though that wasn't just because of the lack of shoes, but it did get me off on the wrong foot -ha ha), I haven't been using my shoe wardrobe to its full extent lately. My dirty little secret? Since the snow hit, I've been wearing winter boots to work... and changing into my "meh, in case of emergency" black maryjanes at work. That's right. Same pair of shoes. Four days in a row. The shame.

Monday, November 12, 2012

On Snow

Heading into this weekend, we knew we were going to be getting snow - and likely the type of snow that tends to stick around for, oh, about 5 months. While the Colorado low didn't quite give us the 40 cm we had been told to watch for (nor did it start Friday afternoon, again, as we were so warned), it went from "Fall" to "Winter" pretty much overnight.

Every year, I feel that I'm preparing myself for the on coming snow. I unpack my mitts, toque and scarf. I dust off my winter boots. This year, we even did a mad dash through the stores Thursday night to get all of our Christmas shopping done so we didn't have to fight the weather on top of the traffic, the parking and the crowds.

Every year, when I wake up to snow caking the ground, the beauty of it only resonates for a few seconds before I find myself adding another blanket to the nest I'll be reluctant to leave until spring.

How do you react when you realize you've left fall and enter winter?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Rudeness

I've heard that what we hate in others reveals what we really hate in ourselves. 

I stopped off at a bank on my way home from work to pick up some quarters for laundry. I was feeling pretty bad for how I had treated Scott the other morning when we were fighting over laundry. I didn't know we only had enough quarters for one load, and so was incensed that he had only washed the dark load - containing his underwear - and none of the light load - containing mine. (Yes world, you can now visualize our underwear!!). The kicker of it all was that I had enough quarters in my purse that if I'd known, we could have avoided the fight all together. But at the end of the day, I knew I was at fault, as I tend to do very little in the way of sorting and switching loads, letting Scott do more work than he need to. All in all, I was hoping getting quarters would be a nice gesture, especially if paired with sorting out the clothes before he got home from work (which isn't happening, because I'm typing this!). That's the most redeeming characteristic of our humanity - being able to see where our faults lie and be willing to fix them.

My bank isn't open late on Wednesdays, so I had stopped at a bank which I'd never been in before. I was getting the lay of the land, with the conversation of the lone teller and the couple at the counter wafting through the air.

It was a pleasant enough conversation from the outset, until she had difficulty locating the right account in the system. Even the questions she was asking seemed reasonable and ones that certainly weren't near as invasive as I would hope my bank is should I not have the appropriate inforamtion with me.

But he launched into her, accusing her of accusing him of forgery, of being a common criminal, of being rude. Every sentence he punctuated with spitting out her name (which I've changed). "Sherry, you're a bitch. You are being so rude, Sherry".  Those of us in line were feeling uncomfortable. His wife, after attempting to calm him, was so embarassed she walked out. The teller was in tears when she counted out his money.

"Why are you crying Sherry? I don't want you to take it personally, Sherry, but you are being a bitch".

With that, he walked out. Sherry called me up to the counter, and I could tell she was barely holding it together. Her voice cracked as she began to ask how she could help me. I told her it was ok if she needed a minute; it seemed like that was a rough transaction.  She nodded, took a breath, and then broke down. She rushed to the back. Seconds later, another teller came to help out, confused and completely unaware of why she was being sent up front by a coworker in tears. I tried to come up with a succinct explanation of what had happened without being rude myself, but there was little I could say besides: "What a piece of work that man was" The new teller sighed, and said: "it's been that kind of day". As I walked through the darkening streets home, I kept thinking about this exchange.

I couldn't believe how rude this man was being while accusing someone else of being rude (who clearly wasn't). Everyone in line could see he was the one being rude. Even his wife could see. How could he really believe that he was the victim in this situation?

I've heard that what we hate in others reveals what we really hate in ourselves, but I guess some are just too blind. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm in a hurry, and don't know why... or how I set myself up for Nanowrimo failure

For the longest time, Alabama was just a band who sang that song about being in a hurry and not knowing why. Eventually, I recognized Alabama was also a state. And with time, I came to learn that Alabama is along the Gulf coast and NOT, as I had always suspected, up around Nebraska and Kansas. Mock me all you want, dear American readers, but until you can place New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on a map, you're only mocking yourself :D

My knowledge of geography is improving greatly, but Alabama will always come to mind first as the band who sang that song about being in a hurry and not knowing why. I've been listening to it a lot (mostly in my head, given my low tolerance level for country music) over these last few days as I mull through my problem writing my November Novel. Really, it all comes down to the fact that I rush and rush until writing's no fun.

  • I know you have to train your way into shape for a marathon when running. I failed to recognize the same idea when writing. Having not had the luxury of time to do creative, personal writing, for years, I thought Nanowrimo would be an excellent way to kick my butt into gear. Going from 0 to 50,000 words in 30 days would only prove how out of writing shape I am. 
  • My plan was to let November kick me into shape in a hard core, boot camp writing work out. Other than outlining the plot, I did no research, no intense planning. As a result, I didn't have a single name picked out. I hadn't done an ounce of research, despite the fact that I quickly realized how much research should have been done.
  • I thought I was aware of how I should pace myself - 1500 to 2000 words a day. However, the last creative writing I did was playwriting. Prior to that, it was short fiction. The longest piece I had written was a screenplay during the Christmas break of Grade 12. I flew quickly through it, basing it on the exploits of my friends. To try to write my first novel during a competition didn't account for the fact that while I may have been able to pace my words, but that I also had to pace the plot line. 
  • I didn't have a back-up plan. I found myself hating my protagonist in the first chapter. The nature of NaNoWriMo focuses more quantity than quality, so re-writes and revisions should be kept to the minimum. I couldn't come up with an idea to restructure to add some more compassion but I also didn't have the time or desire to do so. 
With that said, I don't think it's a surprise that I will setting aside the novel. Instead, I'll be reworking my NaNoWriMo plans. I took the weekend off (because writing for part of a week was so hard :D) and will instead make sure I am writing something on a daily basis. The hope will be that it will be creative writing or reflecting on creative writing, but I'll be flexible on that, as well. I won't focus on the word count. Instead, I'll focus on getting into proper writing shape. I might even go back and read some of my old writing, just to remind myself I can do it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nanowrimo

After years of excuses (some legitimate, some not), I have finally cleared my calendar for the month of November, aiming to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. Over the course of 30 days, I plan to write 50,000 words. According to the website, that's about 175 pages.

And the best part? Realizing those germs of novels that were planted over the last few years may not have grown very big, but the small vines they sprouted have entwined around each other and what were once simple and undeveloped tales may now work together into a richer fiction.

Are you writing along too?