A Star Trek World

When I first heard about electronic book readers (commonly known around these here parts as eReaders), my mind was officially blown.  Over the years, my transient lifestyle did not lend itself to collecting things.  I was never someone with boxes or shelves with keepsakes and mementos of trips or parties or special events.  But I did collect books.  Hundreds and hundreds of books over the years.  To say I have always been an avid reader would be putting it mildly.  I grew up with my nose in books, and it that never changed.

The problem, of course, was the constant moving.  I would have two boxes of trinkets and things, and 20 boxes of books every move.  Earlier this year, I really started to purge my books.  There was no hope for a book I hadn’t touched in a year, with one row of exceptions.  In one go, I got rid of 12 bankers boxes of books.  During the second purge, I got rid of another six boxes.  This left me with one full shelf (plus some I keep at my folks place that as far as I’m concerned can just stay there ’cause hey, they’re not hurting for space).

One shelf of books is fine at home.  But what to do when you travel?  What if I’m on the subway and I feel like reading The Prophet?  What if I’m on a train and I feel like reading Eat, Pray, Love?  What if I’m on a beach and I feel like reading The Beach?  I solved this last problem by taking no less than 10 books with me the last time I went on a beach vacation.  One week, 10 books.  I had more books than bathing suits.

This brings me back to the eReader.  You mean to tell me that I carry hundreds of books with me, everywhere I go, in something that is 4×6 inches and weighs less than a pound?  It didn’t take long for me to get enrolled in that idea.  I do love the romance of a book, with pages and a spine and all lined up on a shelf.  But dude.  Hundreds of books with me everywhere.  I couldn’t get over it.  This is Star Trek shit we’re talking about.

There have been eReaders on the market for a couple of years now, but they all seemed too fancy.  Too much.  I just want to read.  I don’t need to take notes on my electronic device.  I don’t need to surf the web while reading Anna Karenina.  I just want to read.  Plain and simple.  And then I heard about the Kobo.  Clearly, this was the eReader for me.  Plain, functional, and with what I think is the most cleaver design feature – a soft, quilted back.  Standing on the subway and holding this thing vertical, it won’t be slipping out of my hands.  And the cherry on the cake was finding out that the Kobo is compatible with the Toronto Public Library website.  Library books, downloaded to my eReader.  Perfect.

I bought my Kobo back in July.  I tried downloading a library book once, couldn’t figure it out, and put the device aside for four months. I thought it would be so easy, and I admit, I got really scared really fast when all of a sudden it wasn’t all sparkles and magic the way I thought it would be.  Today I picked it up, tried again, and lo and behold, with very little discomfort, managed to buy a book and upload it to my eReader.  Downloading library books will be tomorrow’s exercise, but for today, I’m going to relish in this small victory, hug my Kobo tight, and wrap my head around this Star Trek world I now live in.

I Have A Few Of Those

I read a book a while back titled “The Friend Who Got Away”. It is a collection of essays written by women, who for a myriad of reasons, lost or ended friendships with other women.

The breaking up of a friendship between two women is the hardest break-up I can imagine. Having lost both female friends, male friends and male lovers, it was the loss of a few female friends that more than any man, hurt the most.  And those scars run deep.

It’s an interesting dynamic that I hadn’t considered much until I read this book. But when I think about it, it makes sense. The women are the ones who get it. The women are the ones who are there to help pick up the pieces when the men are gone. The women understand about the shoes and the ice cream and the up and down and yes and no and back and forth. Because they’ve been there too. They don’t judge, because they are you on a different day, at a different time. We’re all in this together. Sisters, supporting each other, laughing through it all over ice cream and sushi and Dirty Dancing DVD’s.

On the flip side, women are the competition.  We vie for jobs, men, nicer apartments, better shoes, better lives.  I’ve seen it so many times: I’ll support you, until I feel that you have surpassed me in some way.  And then I cut you down.  Or cut you out.  Because you have what I want.  Women can be rocks for each other, but they can also be sad and petty and downright cruel in unexplainable ways.

Though I’ve had many friends come and go over the years. I really only have a very small number of friends at any one time, so the loss of one is often felt quite sharply.  And it lingers long after it looks like it’s gone.

Chaos…order…order…chaos…

It is no secret that for most of my life, I have had the feeling that a tornado was spinning inside me.  For a long time, my mind ran frantic (and sometimes still does) in a million directions, unable to slow down, stop worrying, and just be, leading to a list of pretty typical maladies from such a state, including but not limited to, sleep disturbances and heart palpitations*.

While my insides were a mess and a half, it was very important for me to keep my outsides as neat and orderly as possible, almost (well, more like “sometimes”) to the point of obsessiveness.  Clothes were never left on the floor.  The bed was always made – and I admit, there were times when the bed was made while someone else was still in it.  There were never dirty dishes in the sink and the remote control was always in the same spot on the coffee table.

And then, slowly, over the past year, things inside started to calm down.  The tornado became a tropical storm, which became a thunder-storm, which has calmed down to a light rain for most of the time.  It’s always there lurking, but it’s not that often that it spins out of control.

I realized recently that as my insides have started to become a little more orderly, my outsides have started to become a little more chaotic.  Right now, I’m looking around the room where I’m typing these very words, and there are blankets and pillows askew on the couch, bags and shoes on the floor at my feet, papers strewn about the desk that have been here for several days (okay, weeks) and will probably be here for a couple more.  As recently as 18 months ago, this would never have happened.  I’ve also noticed that in the times that the rain starts to become a storm, I take to cleaning and purging and organizing as if my life depends on it.  It seems like a clear link to me – chaos on the inside leads to order on the outside.  Chaos on the outside leads to order on the inside.  Given this almost certain connection, I really am thankful for a little messiness in my life.

*As an aside, it was a trip to the doctor and subsequent chest x-ray to determine that these heart palpitations were totally benign that I also learned that I have a systolic heart murmur.  My mom and brother have the same condition, which is asymptomatic and will likely never be a problem in my life.  But you can imagine how a melancholy 17-year-old with a frantic mind and heart palpitations heard this news:  “Great.  I have a permanently broken heart.”

A little morning magic

I love magic tricks.

I love love love magic tricks.  Especially card tricks.  I can be entertained for hours by the simplest card tricks.  Intellectually, I know it’s all slight of hand and illusion this and behind your back that and blah blah.  But I don’t care about all that.  To me, it’s just magic.  One can find the solution to almost any card trick on YouTube, but I don’t even want to hear about it.  It’s all magic.

One early  morning last week, I got on the subway with a coworker.  A gentleman sat in front of us, and to be quite honest, he looked a little sketch.  But when he asked if he could show us a card trick, I was down.  I mean, this guy could have simply pulled a quarter out from behind my ear and I would have been sold.

Magic Card Trick Man proceeded to dazzle us with trick after trick, for our entire ride.  At one point I asked him if he’d seen David Blaine’s Street Magic, and MCTM told me that it was that very tv special that had inspired him, and then proceeded to do on me my  most favourite trick ever.  I highly recommend you click  this link and see David Blaine do it in Street Magic.  MCTM totally blew my mind.

I have no problem tossing someone a couple of bucks who will entertain me on the subway.  Or the bus.  Or on the street.  These people are providing a service.  In fact, everyone who was in our vicinity on that ride should have given this guy something, because all of them oh-ed and ah-ed and laughed along during the ride.  He provided a very valuable service (fun and laughter on a Friday morning).  The TTC should consider paying this guy.  It was a subway ride I’ll never forget.

Pole dancers

I take the subway to work every morning, and I love it. I like having 30 minutes each way of uninterrupted reading time.  I am lucky that I work uptown and live downtown, so I normally get a seat on the train.  I am unperturbed by the occasional disruptions in the transit system because I really do appreciate having it, and it gets me where I need to go.

As a regular user of the subway, I try be a considerate rider.  I don’t block the door, I’ll move to the empty space close to the middle of the car, and I’ll give up my seat for the old lady with 17 shopping bags.  And when I’m holding the pole in the middle of the car, I simply hold it.  I don’t lean on it, or wrap my arms around it, making it unusable for other transit riders.

This is something I see a lot of on the subway.  People use the middle pole as a prop to hold them up, or as a travelling companion who they must lean on or wrap themselves all around, so they alone command this structure.  My coworker unlovingly refers to these morons as pole dancers.  And truly, their behaviour implies that this is their pole, to hold and lean on and devour as they wish.  And it drives me batty.  ‘Cuz you know what, dudes?  It’s not your pole.  That pole belongs to everyone who paid their fair fare to ride this damn train to go places early in the morning that often times we don’t want to go to.  Three or four people could hold on to that pole, preventing them from falling into my lap when the subway jerks its way in and out of stations.  It’s so thoughtless and inconsiderate, and it makes my brain hurt.

Let’s remember the words of Jon Stewart, my subway riding peeps:  When in doubt, don’t be douchy.

So you think you can dance?

I never really fancied myself much of a dancer.  I would offer that I found my groove as I got older, but even then, I’d consider myself medicore at best.  But even through mediocrity, I’ve always loved to dance.  With time, I let go of the worry of looking good on the dance floor and just danced. But even then – I’d call myself a writer and a musician.  But I would never call myself a dancer.

Then last year, I found hoop dancing.  At camping and music festival, on a hot, lazy, summer afternoon, I stumbled upon some girls with hula hoops – a childhood toy, as far as I knew.  But what these girls were doing was beyond anything I remembered from my childhood.  Hooping at their waists and chess and around their legs and playing with the hoop off their bodies as much as on their bodies.  I tried it myself and immediately fell in love with the whole thing.  Hooping and moving and, dare I say, dancing?  Not yet.

I went home, got myself a hoop, signed up for classes, and scoured YouTube for instructional and inspirational videos.  But even then, something still held me back from really going for it.  I still couldn’t claim to be a dancer.  I knew I had a talent for the tricks, but I was never interested in just tricks.  I wanted to DANCE.

Then I happened upon a video that changed my perspective.  It really changed how I approached hooping.  And a couple of weeks ago, I summoned all my courage and signed up for a workshop I took with Spiral and Rich (hooping legends) from Hoop Technique.  It was during this workshop where I really started to see myself being good at this.  Being great at this.  Being fluid and artistic.  It was the first time I felt like I was really moving easily with the hoop.  It was the first time I called myself a dancer.

Let’s recap, shall we?

I know it’s been a while.  And yes, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it again:  I’m back, bitches.

Now that we have the usual rigmarole out of the way, let’s play a little catch up as we quickly reacquaint ourselves.  Here’s what’s been up with me since January:

  • I started a job that I really love
  • I took a course that changed my life.  Then took the next course, and the next.  I’ll be on this path for a long time.  More on that in another post.
  • I started a band with a few other people, and we’re awesome
  • I started sharing some of the music I have written over the past decade, and now some of the original music the band does is mine
  • I got engaged
  • I got married and had what was, quite frankly, the best.  wedding.  ever.
  • I started writing again.  A lot.  Just not here.  But go meander over to The Writer’s Block if you want to see just a little bit of it
  • I started hooping a lot more, and you know what – I’m pretty damn good at it
  • I wrote a song for a friend, and then performed it at her birthday party while playing the guitar
  • I went to Burning Man
  • My band is going to be recording our first demo in a few weeks
  • I saw Roger Waters’ The Wall.  For free.  ‘Cause there just happens to be horseshoe up my ass.
  • I quit my job (last day:  Dec 31)
  • On Jan 5th, we’re going to Thailand.  For six months.
  • When I come back from Thailand, I will either be a freelance magazine writer, a professional songwriter, a professional musician or I will go back to the corporate world.  No matter which it is, it will be pretty freakin’ fantastic.
  • I didn’t stretch more, I didn’t eat less sugar, I didn’t keep my promise for Taylor, I didn’t slam and I didn’t run the Mississauga Marathon in less than 2 hours
  • I lost a friend and made so many more.
  • So far, this year has been pretty damn amazing.  Last week, I told someone “my life is like a pinata that exploded, and it’s raining candy”.
  • I’m going to complete NaBloPoMo.  Dare me?