Serendipitous mistakes

(Listen to this Lief Vollebekk song while you read the post by clicking here, it’ll open in a separate tab)

I missed my stop on the bus this evening in downtown Sydney and had to walk a couple blocks back to the main station to catch the next bus home. I had my headphones in because there had been some punk kids listening to rap music in the seat behind me and it was annoying (…get off my lawn!). I played Leif Vollebekk (linked above), a new-found favourite of mine. While I walked with this as my soundtrack, I was kind of overwhelmed.

I gazed up at the tall honeycomb buildings. I glimpsed snatches of soundless conversations across dining tables through ambient-lit restaurant windows. I noticed the refreshing lack of pervasive advertisements throughout the city, and how there is both water, and palm trees, all around. I met eyes with a stranger and smiled, and felt happy that neither of us had been staring at our feet or our phones. It was around 7pm. Dark but still well-lit downtown. The clouds that made it cooler during the day were now keeping the air insulated by night and it didn’t feel as cold as the previous few evenings (I think I’ve finally come to terms with the “winter” weather, which is really more like a late Niagara spring). A white cockatoo flew overhead. I watched some city workers nearly soak a guy walking by as they washed the ground of Martin Place square. I thought about the speeches from the faculty members earlier, at the Law meet and greet, and how I’m actually… in Law School – at the 12th ranked law school in the world, no less. I guess it all just finally hit me. I knew there would be a delay in my brain catching up with what was really happening, but, you just don’t know when it will all sink in. I’m in Australia now? Whew.

I realise this honeymoon stage won’t last forever, but until [next week, when] the workload starts to compress my soul, and analysing cases overtakes composing blog posts in my head, I will keep soaking it in, taking mental snapshots of the wonder around and trying to create a picture of it with words… and trying to remember just how blessed I am.

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In the days before teletransportation…

I am currently sitting in the morning sunshine in Allambie Heights, Sydney. It is absolutely lovely outside, I’ve showered, and I even have a coffee in front of me. Although 36 hours of transit is a very long time, and the customs queue at Sydney International was incredibly long, I feel good. All is well! The following is a blog post I wrote in the air between Vancouver and Shanghai, that I couldn’t post using the free wifi in Shanghai because of all the Chinese firewalls.

****

I think I can say that, comparatively speaking, I have travelled a fair amount in my 27 years on the planet. Not nearly as much as some, but more than lots. I’ve spent time in South America, countless trips to the Southern States (Florida, namely), I’ve driven far north, driven far south, driven far east, flown far west, lived in France, travelled to six countries in Europe, lived in Hawaii, spent time in Fiji and Vanuatu, and even popped in to Auckland on a long layover. I’ve run to catch many planes, trains and busses in my life. I’ve been that girl with so much luggage she can hardly stand. I’ve paid my share in extra or overweight bags. That being said, I knew this trip to Australia was going to be a long one, but in all my travels I don’t think I have had as rocky of a departure as I did today (yesterday? Or was it the day before? Who am I?). This one was one for the record books.

You know that moment in Home Alone (the original, of course)… you know it. The quintessential moment. The family is halfway across the Atlantic Ocean en route to France when Kevin’s mom suddenly realises what it is that she couldn’t put her finger on of having forgotten.

“KEVIN!”

It dawns on her like a bout of really explosive diarrhoea realised too late. The blood drains from her face and the following hour and a half of movie is spent watching her desperately figure out a way back home to her unintentionally abandoned child. The needy one you sort of wish you could do without but of course can’t and you don’t really mean that. Do you see where I’m going? Am I being too melodramatic about just a bunch of dumb possessions? I don’t seriously mean to compare my having left two of my bags at home with leaving a child at home, but, you at least now have a feel for how I was feeling when I opened the trunk at Pearson International in Toronto and realised there was only one suitcase (of three) in the back.

Leaving at 4am isn’t good for anyone. Four people leaving (Aaron came with us too) means that it’s easier to assume everything necessary got done without performing the usual checks. It was dark. We were tired and distracted. And we were making good time. Yet somehow, fatefully, I arrived with only half the things I meant to take with me as I moved across the planet, and although it isn’t my usual method of getting my way (anymore), I discovered that bursting out crying in front of the WestJet check-in employee was one sure way to make sure she didn’t question your one (remembered) bag that was slightly over the weight limit.

In fact, I was more upset that I might not get to spend my last hour in the Northern Hemisphere with my parents or even say goodbye to them properly. They took off immediately to attempt to go home to get my stuff. Fifteen minutes later they were back, realising the futility of getting home and back to the airport in under two hours, and me still having any chance of making my flight. We called Uncle Larry to the rescue and he rushed to salvage my departure by picking up my bags and driving them to the airport, but alas, despite unequalled hope and optimism, I had to be rushed through security before he arrived and had to run, once again, to my gate to catch my plane. Fate was not on my side again, because they’d already closed the gate but my tears must have swayed them as they reluctantly reopened it to let me board. If they hadn’t, if I’d been a minute later (if I hadn’t decided to run), I would have missed it, would have had to catch the next flight out an hour later, would have had my bags and would have saved the cost my parents are now looking at to mail me my things.

All in all, an eventful morning?

I hate eventful mornings.

Needless to say, the WestJet employees were stellar and the hug I got from the attendant who met me when I ran on to the plane with eyes still glistening was a special touch. The messages of encouragement and phone calls and texts from loved ones helped me realise what I already knew but couldn’t quite grasp in that moment (and maybe still can’t quite) – it’s just stuff. It can all be replaced and it isn’t the end of the world. And, most importantly, I have the essentials and I’m going to frickin Australia for crying out loud. Will I feel unprepared to begin school on Monday? Probably a little. But I guess the adventure began before I thought it would and caught me off guard.

Now, if only this 12 hour leg to Shanghai had the luxury of seatback TVs, or even plug outlets (or wifi but that’s asking a lot I suppose), I’d be set. I was gunning for an upgrade to business class but there’s no way the universe was going to be that redemptive for me today. I’ll settle for the hours to pass quickly and thank my stars that I’m sitting beside a lovely, quiet Chinese woman (and that the Korean guy on my earlier flight still thought I looked pretty even though I’d spent the entire morning in a stunned deer/headlights state and couldn’t find it in me to be very pleasant). Oh, and that my computer currently says I have 19 hours of use still. Amazing.

One day I will look back on this trip and laugh. Not today. I hope you have a bit though, even if it is at my expense.

Let it go, Robyn. Let it go. Deep breaths. Shake it out. Onward and upward.

Will post this from the other side.

Spring Redemption

If you have never experienced the transition from winter into spring in a place whose climate knows the extremes of the solstices, do your soul a favour and move somewhere – anywhere – where you can do so. It is not enough to just be in a place in the spring, to witness the rebirth of nature; you must know the depth of cold, barren branches, the wonder of early morning hoarfrost, and the brightness and inaccessible warmth of sunlight when the ground is frozen solid and the snow crunches beneath your feet. Only then can you understand the glory of 10 degrees Celsius, of budbreak in the vineyards, of baby maple leaves and open windows, of leaving your jacket behind and plots of land transformed into seas of pink blossoms for only three days out of the entire year.

Even then the enormity of the redemption of spring cannot truly be fully grasped.

*******

In Niagara, spring reaches its full potential with spectacular verdure. Then all at once the migration from the sunshine of the front porch to the shade and breeze of the back balcony occurs over the course of one day on a long weekend. Suddenly, socks are a burden and rosé a necessity. (Good thing I live in wine country!)

This particular post has been a long time coming. It’s been ‘percolating’ (as Heather would say) in my head for days… weeks, even. Just like the seasons, much has changed since my last post… and then changed again, and then changed back. So many things that I assumed to be steadfast have proven not to be, which can be pretty rattling and provoke some serious soul-searching. Maybe I’m being a laughably typical 20-something, to talk about this crazy time of my life where the day-to-day is an unending rollercoaster ride. The reality of it, however, is that underneath an attempted facade of having it all together is a whole lot of self-doubt and sometimes crippling indecision.

In fact, sometime around this time last year I was riding literal roller coasters at the local amusement park, having a minor crisis of identity trying to decide what to do with my future. Namely, whether to go to law school in Australia or not. I eventually decided I wasn’t going to – it took me nearly an entire year to come back to the decision and reverse it. But it terrifies me, and as exciting and promising as this path for me may be, I wrestle daily with doubt and worry over the risks.

Does this mean I’m getting old? This newfound hesitation to uproot again, to seek out the next adventure? Or maybe it’s just that this time is farther away and for longer than any time before. Or maybe it’s because I am on the knife-edge of two incredibly different options for my life, and the decision for one side or the other cannot be (easily or cheaply) rescinded once made. My friends nearly all have settled down, with families and houses and careers. They may have undertaken large amounts of debt, too, but for mortgages–tangible, sheltering, shining models of utility–not for a piece of paper that may or may not guarantee said shelters, families or careers. I envy them. I admire them. But I am not them, nor they, me, so I must keep walking my own path and trusting that the God above has my life in His hands and under control and that He is bigger than my doubt and my inabilities and what I think my desires are or ought to be.


One thing I continually remind myeslf of to keep my sanity in this, is that there is not necessarily only one “right” path to take. Every choice alters the trajectory, whether microscopically or massively. Every option has its own set of hurdles, joys, challenges, mistakes and successes. There are entirely different groups of people to meet and new connections to make along each way. 


My problem, is that I want it all.

But you can’t have it all, can you? And if you sit around too long wondering which choice is the best while remaining cautious in the interim, you may wind up realising, with alarm and dismay, that you’ve spent your life dreaming of a future you no longer have the time to ceate or enjoy. Maybe it is not so harsh as that – I wouldn’t chance it though, would you? 

So mark your calendars for July 14th, bring some bocce balls and lawn chairs and come on over for my last BBQ as a 27 year old, bachelor-degree-holding bank teller and Niagara resident, because I’m taking the plunge and I’m not looking back. The winter subdued but the spring has revived and it’s time to build some wings. 

(…I hope.)


Escapism and fairy tales

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately. Day and night. The nighttime ones are full of riddles and oddities; recurrences, water, sea monsters that turn out to be friendly, storms that turn out to be good for surfing, friends, family, and strangers (or perhaps people I just don’t know yet?). The daytime ones are full of travel, change, home design, cooking, travel, moving, school, and more home design. I have so much on my mind, I find myself constantly escaping to my dreamworld. Which, unfortunately, does not help me get done some things that need doing for any of these day or night dreams to come to fruition…
There is meaning to the dreams; themes that need to be explored… but I haven’t figured it all out yet. Where is Kahlin when I need her dream encyclopedias? Alas. For now I will have to settle with a bit more uncertainty in my life. That, at least, is a theme with which I cannot currently contend.
Speaking of dreams, Amelia Earhart has popped up in my nighttime reveries once or twice. Actually, *I* was Amelia, late for my own flying race, running through various scenes, post shower (in a towel, yelling “I’m Amelia Earhart!!”), in order to make sure I arrived at the race in time to fly. This dream has inspired somewhat of a mild obsession with the heroine, who, interestingly, spent some of her early adulthood in Toronto. She also jumped around from university program to university program a couple times and took time off school before deciding on a career in aviation – a fledgling idea she had formed years earlier but not acted on.

What I find encouraging about the fascinating (albeit far too short) life of Ms. Earhart is that she became successful and renowned by a very winding and sputtering road. It took her some time and a few different career choices before she settled on the one that would one day make her famous. I sometimes feel that I am running on an invisible ticking clock. That if I don’t have a ‘real job’ and some RRSPs comfortably accumulating by the time I’m 28 or 30 or whatever I’m doomed to a life of drudgery, anonymity, and relative financial stress. But this, as evidenced by Amelia and many others before and after her, cannot possibly be inevitable, and even more certainly not when one has drive and motivation to avoid such a fate.

The problem is that I worry. I try not to, but it happens, you know? I work on it, reminding myself that even the worst case scenario usually isn’t so bad, but it’s a nagging sort of creeper, this worry. I worry that I’ve taken things into my own hands so often that God has just decided to leave me to my own devices and that Grace – so undeserved in the first place – has run out for me. Soon, I think, I will float myself up shit creek and the paddle will break. Fortunately for me (and us all), Grace doesn’t work like that. Plus, I fancy myself blessed with at least enough wherewithal to MacGyver a solution to a broken paddle, should I find myself in that predicament – and I know where to ask for help if it comes to that.

Without getting in to too much detail as to what pipedreams I’m wavering on lately, I will say that more change is on the horizon. It usually is, I suppose. Yet if there is one thing I’ve learned from five years working at a Credit Union with a large geriatric membership, embracing change is the only way to evade a crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeonly comportment. Capiche? Sorry, ha, but really. I’ve moved from William Street back home, temporarily, and am sketching out how I will be spreading my wings for the next little while. Hopefully, this blog will even turn back into the travel blog whence it began.

Because why ever not??

Hallow’s Eve. It had to be done, for obvious reasons (not least being
 that mom’s fox fur leather jacket from the 70s has hung in the closet for far too long…)

Oh, PS, I went to Halifax, Nova Scotia! Drove out there with a vagabond guy I met on the street (pictured somewheres below) at the beginning of October and had a really, really great time. The east coast has not seen the last of me. Here are some photos!

Contemplating the ocean in Peggy’s Cove, NS
Peggy’s Cove lighthouse
A pretty vista (one of many)
lovely B&B for sale (!!) in Peggy’s Cove
Hello, you
Dalhousie University (please accept me??)

You might as well.

Firewood, by Regina Spektor
The piano is not firewood yet
They try to remember but still they forget
That the heart beats in threes
Just like a waltz
And nothing can stop you from dancing

Rise from your cold hospital bed
You’re not dying
Everyone knows you’re going to live
So you might as well start trying

The piano is not firewood yet
But the cold does get cold
So it soon might be that
I’ll take it apart, call up my friends
And we’ll warm up our hands by the fire

Don’t look so shocked
Don’t judge so harsh
You don’t know
You are only spying
Everyone knows it’s going to hurt
But at least we’ll get hurt trying

The piano is not firewood yet
But a heart can’t be helped
And it gathers regret
Someday you’ll wake up and feel a great pain
And you’ll miss every toy you ever owned

You’ll want to go back
You’ll wish you were small
Nothing can slow the crying
You’ll take the clock off of your wall
And you’ll wish it was lying

Love what you have and you’ll have more love
You’re not dying
Everyone knows you’re going to love
Though there’s still no cure for crying

*****
Although I always thought the last line actually went: “So there’s still, a cure, for crying” (I like my version better…), this song has been in tune (pun intended!) with a lot of my thought streams lately. 
Don’t end up wishing, in your later years, that you could take the clock off of your wall and rewind it… 

Cusp

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

— Alan Cohen

Thank you to my great and super amazingly cool friend Leah for introducing this to me.

Big ideas and small revelations

My view from behind the bar

I had a good laugh to myself while driving in my car last night. I often have conversations with myself in my car, but this was more a laugh with God and the conspiring forces that brought me to that exact moment in time. Like an “Oh You! Always one step ahead of me!” kind of moment when you can’t stop yourself from grinning and feeling, at least for a moment, like everything in the world might just be alright in the end (and all those typically “Robyn” melodramatic moments of despair were, as per usual, completely unnecessary…).

It started, sort of, with a craving for oysters. Now, this is a pretty common issue with me, but when I arrived home from one of those dreadfully slow days at work to an empty apartment and about six rejection texts from friends to join me for a bevvie, I said, “To heck with it, I am an independent woman! I can go to a restaurant by myself and not feel amiss!” So off I went by myself, to feel surrounded by people. Perry, the “slightly unhinged” owner and host-extraordinaire of Rest (where Kahlin, my croommate[cousin+roommate], works) greeted me with a kiss, but a glance around the tiny, bustling, darkly-lit and all-consumingly enchanting dining room told me that there was not a single seat where I could sit. No matter! Perry told me to hang around behind the bar and mingle. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I was dressed in black and looked like I could have been employed to stand awkwardly behind the bar, instagramming and imbibing bubbly whilst on the job. I quickly felt compelled to make myself useful and began polishing glassware until a spot at the bar opened up. When it did, I first finished the tray of glasses and started a new load in the washer before joining one of their “preferred guests” at the bar for the rest of the evening.

John, an anarchist in his earlier life, was an entire bottle of wine in in his present, and a pretty cool 63-year old in general. We had a lovely chat and he shared his frites with me. He told me that, being much older than me, he had learned something fundamental in his many years of living: life is too short to judge people; instead, we should embrace everyone as they are, flawed and complex. After all, most judgements we bestow on people are simply because they’re actually mirrors. It was an interesting follow up to a small revelation I had just earlier that day. A regular member had come in to the Credit Union, a bit of an odd duck at the best of times but very friendly, and I found out that he had recently shaved his entire head, eyebrows included, for no reason at all. My first inclination was to think, “Oh heavens boy, you are just SO weird…” but this thought was suddenly replaced with a slightly bemused, “What the hell, why not?”

Conformity is more than just unoriginal and boring, it’s easy. Too easy. Trite, even. This is the last thing I ever want used as a description of me and, much more importantly, it is the last state that could possibly effect lasting and fatally necessary change in our world. I’m not saying anarchy is the answer (though it might be part of it), but there have been too many signs in my life lately, too many indicators that tell me that life is too short to walk with trepidation, to plan to follow my real dreams when I retire and finally have the money to do so. Not only this, but I’m learning not to treat the times when I feel like I am not living my dreams or accomplishing something tangibly meaningful as a waste of time. This requires a perspective change, one which I am working on even as I type this.

I recently met a beautiful creature. A philosopher of sorts. It felt a little bit like, for three short days, all the stars aligned and a crack in the heavens opened up, showing me a glimpse of an alternate reality. In the heat-induced haze of unprecedented temperatures, I allowed myself to imagine what it might be like to kick down the slowly forming wall of bricks I’d been mortaring together for some time now without realising. Now, it’s as if my brain, as a hive of dozy bees awaiting the imminent and inevitable arrival of spring and its life-sustaining pollen, has just been violently shaken. Suddenly the arrival of spring is not so certain, and within the colony of bees, questioning spring’s meaning and their role in it all, murmurs of rebellion stir and gain momentum…

But I digress. It was a catalytic experience, to say the least, and one that has since engendered a heightened curiosity of what it means to live and work and love, and why we do what we do, truly.

And so, though no decisions have been officially made, I am looking at different courses for my life. Law is not off the roster (and I am still waiting on one last pesky school to accept or reject me to make my choice), but it is potentially on the back burner for the time being. Although I would more than love to be in Australia in March, the amount of debt I would have to go in to be there is just too daunting right now. And let’s be honest, could any of you imagine me pulling 80 hour work weeks to make the kind of money required to pay that off? No. Me either. I still do feel like it is something that I am meant to pursue in some way, but in the meanwhile, I am sketching out some ideas that include applying to do a masters next fall, applying to some jobs in my “field” (whatever that means), moving, perhaps, and what it would take to follow my dreams properly. 

If you’ve followed this post all the way here and are still wondering why I was laughing to myself in my car last night, part of it was that, after all these years of trying to get a coveted spot working at Rest, I may at last have secured a foot in the door, and all because I decided to go there last night, by myself, for some oysters. The restaurant industry isn’t for everyone, and it is not what I will be doing for the rest of my life, but I do love it and it serves me well, and I may just be around this ol’ town for another year (maybe…). So this little bit of serendipity made me quite elated. Combined with recent revelations, new and smile-invoking connections with intriguing people, and a new-found hope and spirit for where life is taking me, my optimism was uncontainable. 

Dare I end this post on a cliché? “The world is my oyster” or something equally colloquial to tie it all together? I won’t (or maybe I just did) but I will say that tearing down walls is a deeply uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience, but it may just be the most rewarding thing one can do. Life is too short to live in a box.

Back to basics

I just browsed through all the photos taken on my iPhone since I got it, which was in June of 2010 (pretty good that it’s nearly two years old and still running pretty well, electronics these days don’t often hold up through three new models. And no screen cracks either! Anyway…). It’s been a heck of a two years. I suppose being a twenty-something means, inherently, constant change. That’s okay. I feel like I’m getting better and better at being alright with that, making peace with the past and looking ahead with cautious anticipation.


Life, as it is right now, today, in this moment, is pretty fantastic. As I type, I’m sitting at my parents’ place in Boynton Beach, Florida, listening to music, drinking wine, and smelling lamb chops cooking on the BBQ. I already have new freckles since my arrival very early this morning, and when I get back home after this quick week down south, I have one more class of my undergraduate career. One! Then I graduate university. Guys! Five years in the making, I will have an honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. And the question I get asked on nearly a daily basis… what will I do with that? More school, of course… I’ve been accepted to the University of New South Wales in Sydney for a Juris Doctor in Law(!!), and I’m still waiting on the Canadian schools that I applied to. Lord willing, I’ll be neck-deep in law by this time next year. Woah.

But life as it is in general, is also great. I’m loving living on my own with Kahlin, working more and being more social than living out in Vineland typically allowed for. Living downtown helps with that. I’m also loving my foray into the world of sourdough baking. My starter, let’s call her Melva, for now (though I haven’t settled on it), has already spilt over on top of the fridge a couple times, and I’ve ruined two loaves of bread forgetting to turn the oven off while heating it up slightly to rise the dough, but the successful loaves have been delicious. There’s something incredibly satisfying about hand-making something so fundamental and requisite as bread, and something tells me the mistakes will turn into wisdom. Kneading, as any bread baker will tell you, is also very therapeutic. Fortunately for my figure, I’ve signed up for Ultimate Frisbee this spring and am in a running club with a bunch of friends.

Speaking of, the community I’ve found here with a select group of friends has been soul sustaining. They’re fun, encouraging, diverse, motivating, and make me feel a lot cooler than I really am. Someone is usually just a text away from hanging out, and with this unbelievable (and unsettling) warm weather we’ve been getting, I feel like hangouts and patio times and parties and dinner-making kind of all the time right now. In all, I’m really looking forward to the next few months.

I feel like me, and I like it.

With that, some photos!

Signing the lease!
My bedroom before

Kitchen nook before


Fridge/stove area before


Sink area before

My two brothers helping me move 🙂


Tricky getting the boxframe in!!
My bedroom after!

Shelf installation by me

First morning in the apartment!


Kitchen shelf installation – also by me


First breakfast in the apartment! Thanks Kay, crèpe master.
Fridge area and pantry, after.

Kitchen nook and cutting area, after

Sink/stove area, after. Thanks, Ikea.


Living room with shelf unit separator creating an office space for us
Living room with TV installation à la Kahlin and Robyn

Living room – currently it’s even more put together, photo on the wall etc.


We relocated the cupboard unit to a more practical position. We’re so handy!


Bathroom birch tree theme

Coffee in bed, rainy day outside. Love it.
Feed starter, mix dough, dough proof, loaf proof, bake… it’s a process.

My first attempt!

Cheese and onion sourdough – this turned out SO well!

“Sometimes, happiness feels so fragile…So what do we do about it?…Live. Forget that it’s fragile. Live like it isn’t”
― Marisa de los Santos (thanks for sharing, Carianne)

Quarter Life Calamity

Where do you begin again when it feels like nearly 100% of your life has changed or is changing presently (or will be changing soon)? When you find yourself at 25 (going quickly on 26) tired of school, yet applying for another three sure-to-be-excruciatingly-difficult years of it; single again after what seemed to be a sure-to-be-happy-ending; out of money yet moving out of a wonderful, warm, free house (did I mention paying for three more years of [professional]school?); wishing to find a new job; even considering dying my hair blonde? Sounds like a quarter life crisis to me. And if feels a bit like one, though how would I know, really?

It’s times like these, times like now, when I really come to a startlingly deep-souled appreciation for my family and friends who love me. And not only love me, but think I’m pretty great and will both get through the tough times and be so much better for it (and they’re usually praying me all the way through it, too). Truthfully, the more I hang out with and get to know my friends, the more I am convinced that they all have far too high an opinion of me (my family, at least, holds a more sober account). How am I friends with such great people who actually think I’m in their league? To them I say, “I’m not, guys! I’ve pulled the wool over your eyes somehow, but I’m super grateful that you think I’m cool enough to hang out/be seen with anyway.” (I’m not fishing here, so stop right now if you were going to contradict me vociferously in a comment. I’m serious!). I can only hope and pray and strive to be as good a friend and advocate as has been exemplified to me.
So what do you do when things happen that seem to turn your worldview on its end? When people surprise you, but not in the good way? When you watch your once-hoped-for future plans erase themselves only to sketch out a dim and blurry, half-hatched, new plan? What does an idealist, like me, do, when they find themselves suddenly jumping to cynical, bitter conclusions about life and love? Is this what they call “growing up”? Because dangit, if it is, I’m going to find a way to Never-Neverland and Never come back (cue awkward MJ joke? Come on, guys, I’m going for Peter Pan here. The Disney version).
I’m asking more questions than I’m addressing. I realise this. It’s not intentional, but sometimes I feel more like running away than figuring out how to take these lemons and make a delicious beverage. I’m also dramatising a little, it certainly hasn’t been all lemons! And every once in awhile I get a breath of fresh air from outside of this small town that reminds me there is a big world out there to discover and find adventure in. Par exemple, in the last six months, I’ve been to Virginia, South Dakota (and Minnesota, kind of), and New York City . I’ve seen friends from YWAM Honolulu in each place, and friends from France in the latter. And I both rediscovered and have become more aware of great friends here at home (Toronto included), too. I’ve experienced entirely new-to-me things, like seeing a ballet (The NYCB’s Nutcracker!), driving myself to the airport and back (how novel!), seeing one of my favourite bands in a 20,000-seat venue (sold out, too), and signing my very first apartment lease!
I wrote in my last post, ages ago now, that I had some massive decisions coming up. I certainly did, and still do. I have also finished The Lacuna and all seven Harry Potters as I mentioned (and yes, the final movie WAS epic), and a few other good reads as well. I’ve nearly finished yet another semester of school (though I *won’t* finish this semester if I never get this essay I’m currently avoiding done…ugh), and I’m looking forward to the first Christmas in something like seven years spent in Niagara – with everyone. I smelled cut pine trees at a place selling them in New York last week and it honestly just made me feel good (that, and it was like, 18 degrees and sunny outside). I’m pretty excited.
But back to my question(s) – I think I may have answered them, a bit. Where do you begin again? What do you do? I’m certainly no expert, and I do not profess to offer novel suggestions, as most of these come from the examples set by wonderful people in my life, but here are a few: You look for the sun above the clouds. You soak up the love in time with friends and family, you trust in and lean on God. You pray, you eat good food, you go on that trip, you stop worrying about getting all your readings done and go out for coffee instead. You take time to pet the kittens on your way out the door, you assume that the bad eggs are anomalies. You take one day, one moment at a time and find pleasure in the little things, in dreaming up new plans. You go back to those things you knew to be true at one point and rest in the knowledge that they are still true. Most importantly, you do not become destructive or remain stagnant or bitter – you grow and change, accepting the challenge to learn and become better.
I’m still working on it, so don’t appraise me too harshly just yet.
“Things are looking up, Holmes. This little island’s still on the map!”
(photos of recent trips forthcoming)

Musings for a long weekend

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of work, and life, and making money and all that. Nothing newsworthy, I don’t think, certainly nothing groundbreaking… but a couple things have brought this on. The first, and most important, is that my grandma having a stroke really put some things into perspective for me. Like, how important family is… and how quickly things change. From an energetic, sharp, immensely talented 87 year old, to hospital/rehab centre confinement and difficulty forming words, forming sentences, and certainly a long, and probably incomplete recovery. Sigh. On one of the worst days she had, I told myself “Screw my essay, losing marks and not doing my readings. I’m going to see my grandmother.” I can’t remember another time where I had so little thought for school work… not even when I was cruising around Europe and eating bacon and eggs on a terrace in the Greek Isles (about a year ago today, actually….*sob!*). Typically the idea of getting poorer grades than I think I am capable of sets me into a fit of histrionics and melodrama… as well as hermit-ing myself in front of my computer and pounding the redbull (okay that’s not totally true, I hate redbull and only use it in the most dire situations requiring an all-nighter when I’m already tired of the taste of coffee… but still). It really was a reality check, though. I wish with all my heart and soul that it hadn’t happened the way it did, but I’ll leave that in the hands of the Lord and just be thankful that it wasn’t worse, and that I have, in fact, learned from it.

And for the record, stroke-addled or not, my grandmother is still the most amazing woman.

Another impetus for the philosophical edge these days is my new schedule, which involves nearly full-time hours at Meridian Credit Union. Now don’t get all sarcastic “poor you” on me, I’m a student! A regular schedule is new territory that takes time to get used to! Fortunately for me, it’s not the nine-to-five. Well, it’s 8:45-to-5:15 usually, but I get a weekday off thrown in here and there to instead work a shorter Saturday shift, and sometimes a later shift on Thursdays or Fridays when we’re open late. Regardless, it’s a full schedule, and I spend my days with a bunch of bankers (who, granted, I really like), who DO work nine-to-five. What that means, really, is that they actually likely spend more of their waking hours at work than they do off work doing things they enjoy. In my opinion, you damn well better enjoy what you do for work if you’re going to spend most of your life doing it. Again – not a groundbreaking conclusion… but I think this is something a lot of people haven’t, or refuse to, grasp. As I prepare to write my LSATs and then apply to different law schools, I struggle with the likelihood that I will spend the three years of law school (provided I get in anywhere, of course) plus at least a few after with little-to-no life while I do articling and pay off my (certain to balloon) student loans. I mean, I already have trouble handling a regular, 4th-year university course load. What the heck will I do in law school?? And just for the degree?? I don’t even want to be a lawyer! (80 hour work weeks? Um, yeah, no thanks).

I’m not taking this path for the money, in fact, I’m terrified of making lots of money. Of losing perspective. Of becoming (more) selfish. Of forgetting what really matters (loving others in the name of Christ). Of making bad decisions…. or worse, making a good, but wrong decision. Of passing up opportunities that will never come by again. And for what? Money… to buy… stuff? Don’t get me wrong, I like shoes and eating out and vacations and stylish furniture and cool electronics and all that nonsense, but really? I want to enjoy what I do every day, regardless of salary, and I want to enjoy it before my body inevitably degenerates to a level where I become physically limited. And that may come sooner than I think. Or not, but why take that chance? (And why didn’t I take the time to have my grandma teach me how to make her peppermint cookies or zwieback buns before she no longer could?)

I know people who would argue for the money-making option. For at least a measure of comfortableness. That is valid, I think. But… I could also become a nun in an orphanage in, let’s say, China, and there would undoubtedly be immense joy in that. Extreme example, perhaps, but first-world privileged life is also undeniably meaningless at times. In the grand scheme of things, party politics is meaningless. And look at how worked up we get about it! (don’t tell my polisci profs I said that). Sorry. I don’t mean to get all Jeremiah in Lamentations on you. Just been thinking about this a lot. And how there had better be more meaning behind the whys of my career choice and life decisions than stuff and things and whatever. My desire to go to law school and whatever happens beyond stems from a feeling that this is what I am supposed to do. For now at least, this is enough motivation and meaning to do it (and hopefully also to enjoy it along the way).

While I sit with my bedroom window open a bit (FINALLY!), listening to crickets, frogs, distant fireworks – Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria? – and smelling some lingering smoke from a small bonfire dad set earlier, it’s easy to write this all and not really worry too much about some of the rather massive decisions I have coming up in my life. Tomorrow’s a holiday, after all, and I have a full belly. The LSAT is not for two weeks (@#(*&$^!!!!!), and after that I can finally get around to finishing Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna and maybe another run-through of all seven Harry Potters before the sure-to-be epic final movie in July. But the fact remains that time moves ever on and on and there’s not a lot of time for the wasting or settling. Maybe I should make decisions and let the chips fall where they may. I know I should at least stop worrying so much.

That’s a good start I suppose. For tonight.