Refuse to be Passive

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

In Life in General on January 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm

The days are beginning to run into one another. One ends almost before it’s begun. The only time that doesn’t seem to be flying these days is that of my theory class. The slowness of those four hours more than make up for the speed of the rest of the day. Sadly, when I’m in class, I must focus on class, meaning that other things I could be getting done are falling by the wayside. Now, if class were interesting and helpful, that might be a different story, but we’ve just finished covering our textbook and the rest of the week will be spent working on our term projects. The thing about that is that each student in the class would prefer to work on their projects at home, rather than in class. Some of them literally just sit there and talk until we’re told we can go. This is relatively annoying, as they then also try to talk to those of us who are trying to focus on our work. And even if their not talking directly to me, a couple of those people have very loud and distracting voices. The fact that one of them swears frequently and seems to have no problem with being uncouth or using racial slurs doesn’t help. If I were a cruel person, I can imagine cutting his tongue out with a spoon, similar to the sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Why not choose a sword or a knife? Why a spoon? “Because it’s dull you twit, it’ll hurt more!” No, I’m not actually calling you a twit, but I do rather love that line. I couldn’t give up the opportunity to quote it. Alan Rickman was fabulous in that movie. Anyway, back from the sidebar.

I’ve ramped up my out of house activities just in time to realize I only have three months left in Toronto and should have been doing more much sooner. I’ve taken up swimming three mornings a week once again. I’ve got a weekly bible study I now attend, as well as a new, and much better Weight Watcher’s meeting. I’ve started going out for coffee with acquaintances/ almost friends. I’m discovering great local shops where I can get fresh fare at a fair price– or in the case of Chinatown, a downright cheap price — forty-seven cents a pound for bananas! But then there is Cheese World in Kensington where I picked up a lovely Shropshire cheddar blue cheese for a pittance at only $1.49/ 100g. It was lovely in the crust of my pork and apple pie with Shropshire blue cheese and sage crust. I’ve even got a weekly occurance on Sunday evenings now, watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations with my friend Kim. I’m getting around my “no TV” bit by claiming it as social time and homework in one. The first episode I saw was about a week and a bit ago when doing research for my project on Singapore, and now I’m hooked! The language can be a bit foul, but compared to what I hear day in and day out, it’s actually pretty mild (remember Mr. Uncouth who is in my class?) And then this past Monday night I walked the two kilometers through a lovely, lightly falling snow, to try the drop-in volleyball at the local rec center. Not too shabby. Not excellent, but when it’s drop-in ball, you can’t expect a lot. It was fun, and good to play again after six months off. I don’t know yet if it will become a weekly occurrence. It happens to fall on the same night that I cook, which makes for one busy evening! I basically came home and fell into bed. And soon, it will be that time again. Time to fall into bed and wake up seemingly moments later only to start all over again.

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Opinions and Perplexity

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm

The precipitation falling from the grey sky couldn’t decide whether it was snow or rain. The wind whipped against me and my sight became blurred as droplets formed on the lenses of my glasses. My toes felt numb and I decided that I was definitely taking public transit home, even though I had earlier thought I might walk. Toronto has had such a grey winter that I’d imagine it’s similar to that of a UK winter across the pond. And, similar to my time in the UK, I’m often cold as the insulation in this old house rivals in insulation in many of the old cottages and churches in England.

I sip my hot tea as I write. I’ve been home for more than an hour and I’m still thawing out. I skipped going to the gym today after getting a bit frantic on being behind on my reading for school. After all, my test is tomorrow. However, one day of skipping my exercise is enough and tomorrow morning I’ll be in the pool bright and early.

I’ve made a deal for myself. On days when I have time to kill between lane swimming and school, I’ll treat myself to an Americano at Dark Horse along with a biscotti. This is offered under the provision that I walk both ways to school and so my savings in transit fare will more than cover my warm drink and crunchy snack. On days I’m not feeling that I need to delve into my textbook, I’ll pick up the newspaper and catch up on what’s going on in the world around me. Often when I hear people discussing what’s going on in the world these days I feel a little clueless. It seems that my current knowledge all surrounds food and beverage cost controls.
I was chatting with someone in my class today and he has opinions on everything and expresses them vehemently. Usually it makes him come across as a jerk and today was no different. He would spout bitter diatribes or have disproportionate reactions to topics on which he had no clue. Or even if he knew a bit about the topic, he would mock others who stated opinions that were different than the ones he held. This just made me want to punch him, which I didn’t. What it did make me aware of is that I could be better informed on many topics before proclaiming an opinion on them. So a bit of time with the newspaper in the morning wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

The thawing process seems to be complete. Homework and studying, here I come.

Dim Sum and an English Winter

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2012 at 7:42 am

It’s the middle of January, it’s 3 degrees outside, and the birds are chirpping. What little snow was on the ground is quickly melting away, and occasional drops of water are falling from the sky. After two days of sunshine we’re back to the overcast, but I’m not complaining. Granted, overcast weather tends to make one a little blue, but a great pick me up is knowing that back home they his a low of -43C. The winter here is more like an English winter. The lack of cold and snow makes up for the lack of sunlight– at least for a few days.

And then there is the fact that yesterday I had Dim Sum for the first time! What a fun experience, especially when there are eight of you crowded around a table. And while many of the items I had eaten before, there were a few new things for me to try. I did two personal firsts– chicken feet and gingered beef tripe. I’d been telling people I wanted to experiment with tripe, so when an opportunity arose for me to eat it, then I figured, I can’t be a hypocrite, now can I? The tripe was not bad, but not something I’d probably eat on a regular basis, and the chicken feet were gristley.

Be It Re-Resolved

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

Dear Friend,

How I’ve missed you! Actually, how I’ve missed friendship in general. It’s not that I’m never around people. I’ve got my community memebers—the kids are currently in the living room with me and they’re making loads of noise. There was a games night last night and instead of opting to go, which I should have, I stayed home for the evening. In some ways it as a productive evening—sweeping the living room, washing dishes, and things of that sort, however there was also a good number of hours where I took my resolutions, snubbed them, and caught up with some TV episodes online and ate copious amounts of sugary food. It started out nice and ended out…not nice. Overeating is such a habit for me in the evenings and I’m still working on breaking that habit. Over Christmas I fell back into it hardcore, but now that Christmas is over, it’s time to get back to the lifestyle I want. As I am the queen of planning and intentions, I already know how I want to implement it. The key is actually doing it.

I’m reading the book, Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I don’t know if I’ve written about this already, but he states clearly that our purpose in life is to glorify God and that God desires us to be utterly joyful through glorifying him. The two concepts—faith and joy are made to complement one another. Right. So how will I live that out in my life? Each morning I will strive to wake up and think, “What is God’s purpose for me in this day” rather than, “What do I have to do today?” If the two don’t match up, there needs to be some serious reflection on my priorities. Part of not wasting my life is to embrace community and a healthy living regime—from food consumption, to social life, to exercising, to school work—my relationship with God must be an umbrella over them all.

But, back to the fact that I’m a planner. First of all, I think that maybe I should making planning into a business. It’s possible, which is crazy, but kind of cool. Then I could let other people implement the plans I make. I was thinking about that fact that I’m much better at making plans than executing them when I passed a sandwich board the other day that said, “A field is never plowed by going over it in your mind.” Well isn’t that the truth! The other truth is that just because resolutions are broken, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be repaired or restated. Do you have a New Year’s resolution that you’ve broken already? Think through the steps you’ll need to take to get yourself back on track. Right now I’m toying with the idea of going to the gym, but it’s –14 outside and I’m afraid I’m running short on time before my aunt and uncle come to pick me up for the family Christmas.

Re-resolutions for me include:

I resolve to choose people over TV—God created humans to be social, so social I will be!

I resolve to eat more at meals and eliminate night time snacking—this is a bit of a head thing, and I’m still not sure how it will work out, aside from the fact that I’ll have to keep myself busy or go to bed! I may also need to find a place outside the home to do my studying. Snacks and such are too readily available within my home. Sadly, my favourite local coffee shop closes at 8pm. How is that helpful? Time to find a new coffee shop!

I resolve to spend money on experiences, not things.

I resolve to choose to look for the silver lining. I resolve to be positive even in the negative.

Goodness, what a large order on that last resolve! No more complining?! Isn’t that what most conversations are primarily made of? Not anymore! Oie. And I’m going to a family reunion. Hmm…interesting concept.

But this is the close of my letter to you. I need to move along the laundry and put away the curried pumpkin soup on the stove. And then, maybe I’ll take a shower. It would be good not to smell when seeing the extended family.

First Day

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm

The reading material reminded me of my aunt’s pot roast. Dry, tough, and lots to chew on. And that was only the first chapter. I slogged through the text. The instructor hadn’t been lying when he’d warned us that material wouldn’t be easy to get through. I did my fair share of procrastinating throughout the evening– getting drinks, making popcorn, checking e-mail, writing blog posts (ahem). There are about twenty different ways of calculating costs when running a restaurant. Fixed, variable, per server, per hour, per unit, per cover, average cheque, average sale, total sales by category, total sales by server, cost percentage, historical costs, planned costs, controllable costs, uncontrollable costs, and the list goes on.

My intent to read four chapters tonight is quickly becoming a dream. It’s 10:16 pm and I’m nearly done the first chapter. It doesn’t help that dinner took twice as long as was necessary, and I was on dish detail. The pad thai was delicious though.

As I type this post I notice that my lips and hands are becoming dry. The fact that I have a space heater running is probably not helping, but dry skin is preferable to a cold room. It just means it’s time to smooth on the chapstick and lather up with lotion. And come to think of it, I should refill my water bottle as well.

One week. I aim to have this textbook read in one week. It may be painful, but I am determined. At least, I’m determined when I’m not procrastinating. I’ll stay up until midnight and see how much I can’t wade through. Then it’s off to lullaby land only to start all over tomorrow again.

Back At It

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Holidays are nice, but so is getting back into a routine. Today my uncle drove me to the train station and an hour later I lugged my bag through the front door or my home. The first voice that greeted me was the eight-year-old girl who lives in my house. She heard me talking to the dog downstairs and yelled, “Hi Maria!” from the tub upstairs. I greeted her, and then headed up to my room. Upon entering my room, the first thing that I noticed was that, while not dirty, it certainly wasn’t clean. As I glanced around at the things I had left laying out, I recognized what a bad head space I was in before I left for holidays. Coming home, the house was a mess, but it didn’t phase me. I did not make a beeline for the fridge for something to eat. I was thirsty, not hungry, so I grabbed a drink. Looking at my room I saw evidence of a frazzled brain– garbage tucked into the corner. Shoes laying around. My pillow had no pillowcase on it. My dresser had a pile of miscellaneous bits on top of it. That is not how my room looks when I’m in a good mental space. I thought back to two and a half weeks earlier, and the person I saw was miserable. I’m so thankful for the break that I had and that it enabled me to get back into a good mental space, to reset my priorities, and to recognize that the little things that bothered me day-to-day were not really all that important in the grand scheme of things.

The first thing I did was tackle my room. I cleaned up papers, put a pillowcase on my pillow, sorted through the junk on top of my dresser, and came up with a better system for housing my clothes. I started a garbage bag, a recycling bag, and a bag for goodwill. I also started a pile to take from my room and pack into an empty suitcase so that my room wouldn’t feel so cluttered. My room is nearly clean now, but tomorrow I’m going to Home Hardware and am picking up a real broom– not one with straw bristles, so that I can do a good cleaning on my floor. It needs to be washed as well. And dusted. Well, at least I got a good start on it today!

Classes start again tomorrow. I’m excited to get my new textbook. New textbooks are always fun for the first few days. Then the real work starts. Good thing I enjoy learning!

A quick update

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2012 at 8:22 am

My internet access has been intermitant at best these past couple of weeks. As such, my posts have been few and far between, although if I’m honest with myself, even when I have regular internet access my posts are often few and far between.

It’s 8:36am and I’ve stayed over at my cousin’s house for the night, as my aunt and uncle have their hands full having two of their other children and their families staying for the weekend for the family Christmas. As I knew that house would be chaos, I thought it might be wise to suggest some alternate sleeping arrangements for myself. This has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as for the first time in a week, my feet haven’t been cold at night, and I’ve been toasty warm under the blankets without overheating. How I overheat at my aunt and uncles and still wind up with freezing feet I’m not certain, but apparently it’s possible.

Today is going to be a very social day, and I’m going to need to go for a long walk by myself this morning before heading over to my aunt and uncles in order to offset the enslaught of human interaction that will be coming my way for the rest of the day. I don’t know how far the mall is from here, but maybe I’ll head that way as there are a few things I want from the bulk store and I need to pick up a gift card for my aunt to give to one of the grandkids. She has no idea what to buy a seventeen year old girl, and so she has left it in my somewhat capable hands.

As she feeds the kids breakfast, I look outside and give thanks that for the first time in days the sun is shining and the tree boughs are calm. The wind has been blowing with a vengence the past couple days, and it’s nice to see goo weather making a comeback. The weather hasn’t been terrible cold, but as soon as you add in the wind, the outdoors became rather inhospitible.

My next post will undoubtedly come in a few days, once I am back in Toronto and life has gotten back to a semblence of normalcy. Wishing you all the best going into this lovely weekend.

A Nearly New Year’s Post

In Life in General on January 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

January 1st 2012 was a bright and sunny morning. The air was brisk, but the day held promise. As I got ready for church, I decided that I would go for a walk after the service. Sadly, it was not to be. When we left church, rain was streaming from the sky. I’d attended my cousin’s church that morning– a rather conservative congregation. After being a part of a more liberal congregation for the past number of months, it was lovely to see men wearing suits and ties. It was equally lovely to see them dashing through the rain to get the vehicles for their lady folk who were waiting at the church doors. Chivalry. Often it seems to belong to the conservatives, and it’s something I miss. On days like yesterday, I am more than happy to defer to traditional gender rolls. The rain continued much of the afternoon to be followed by a shrieking wind in the evening. The entire day had turned overcast and the gray sky remained until it was hid by the darkness of night.

This morning I woke up to an overcast sky, but decided that in the afternoon I would wander down to the library. The mercury ready -3, not too shabby all things considering. I sat down with my book after having lunch, and when I next looked up there was a blizzard outside. Maybe I wouldn’t walk to the library. That was okay with me though, as I was comfortable in my chair and thoroughly enjoying my novel. The next time I looked up the snow had stopped and the sun was peaking through clouds. Goodness! Can the weather please make up it’s mind! No sooner had the sun glimpsed through the clouds, then it was hidden again. My plan to walk to the library was back on, or was it? The freak weather made me a little uncomfortable to be walking along the shoulder of the highway towards the library. Even if I wore clothing that provided for good visibility, a snow storm can obscure a good many things. I could get hit by a vehicle, or freeze in the swirling snow. As such, I opted to drive to the library. While I didn’t need any books, the lack of internet was starting to make me jumpy. Staying at my aunt’s house in the middle of the country is relaxing right up until you get bored. Their dial-up internet and computer from 1997 ensure that checking my e-mail takes roughly half and hour. Absurd. So off to the local library I drove. Thankfully I had access to my aunt’s pick-up today. There was also some photocopying she requested I do for her.

When I pulled out of the driveway, the sun was once again shinning, but even as I drove the clouds moved in again. I’ve now been at the library for 45 minutes and twice the snow has started with a vengeance, only to stop just as quickly. Sadly, I forgot my USB stick, and so muchof my intended work will not be happening today. Ah well.

I’m also struggling with whether I reach out of my cousins and offer to visit them. We don’t really have anything in common, and goodness knows that they never contact me to visit, but that being said, my family is one of the few families in my extended family that actually gets along with them. My cousins value my father and so my family by relation. My cousin has two kids who she lives for, and a lifestyle that is so different from mine I wouldn’t know where to start a conversation. Hmm…decisions decisions. It feels like it would be a sacrifice, but some sacrifices should be made. But with how many family members there are out here, how do I choose who to visit? Maybe I can manage a get-together and kill a few birds with one stone. There’s an extended family Christmas in two weeks, but as I’m uncertain as to whether I’ll be able to make it out, and I’m certain that at least one set of my cousins will opt not to come, I do feel I should at least give them all call. Sadly, I always wait to do this until near the end of my time in the area. One of these days I’ll learn.

 

Well, this post started as a well written piece and has dissolved into rambling. It’s time to sign off for now I think. It may be a while before I post again, but I have not forgotten!

 

To my readers– family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers– I wish you a New Year filled with rich blessings from God, and a willingness to embrace this year and whatever comes with it in light of his grace.