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Prairie girl with a west coast future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Prelude to a Recount

I've officially been back from my Mediterranean sojourn for little over a week and already my tan is only an echo of its formal burnished glory.  The damp and chilly west coast autumn has truly restored me back to my whitewashed glory.  I expected this to happen, but I thought I would at least retain enough color to last me until November.  Sadly, though, what remains of my vacation cannot be found through increased melanin, but through memories and pictures.  And, lucky for you, dear readers, I have a bounty of both!

Over the next few days and weeks, I hope to recount and recall all 18 days of my vacation.  From the breathtaking ports of call to the return flight from hell, you'll read it all.  And I have plenty of pictures to supplement my stories....possibly too many pictures.  I'll do my best to adopt some level of editorial oversight, as I fully admit going a little overboard with the camera (this comes after about 12 identical pictures of the same architectural structure....)

This post is just an introduction, so I thought I'd recount the places we traveled to before coming home to BC.

  1. Barcelona
  2. Monte Carlo
  3. Florence (and Pisa!)
  4. Rome & The Vatican
  5. Sorrento & Pompeii
  6. Mykonos
  7. Kusadasi
  8. Istanbul
  9. Athens
  10. Venice
I do have to say that I'm glad we traveled (and returned) when we did.  Seeing the stories about violent protests and clashes all over Italy and Greece in response to the austerity measures makes me very thankful that we never encountered anything of that magnitude while we were abroad.  All of our tour guides made a point of sharing their perspectives of the debt crisis situation and it was interesting to hear their thoughts, but at the time of our visit, the societal attitude was more disgruntled than outright irate.

And I firmly believe in the power of protests, as long as they stay non-violent.  Once violence starts to erupt and endanger innocent bystanders, that's when fighting for the cause turns into plain old fighting and any good is eroded by pain, fear and anger.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Words To Live By

The news of Jack Layton's passing hit me harder than I expected.  The weather which, a day ago, had been in full blue-skyed summer mode, took a turn for the dreary and stormy  - an appropriate foil for the somber news stories that detailed Jack's swift fall to cancer.

Even though I never really sided with Jack's politics, I couldn't help but admire his passion, tenacity and enduring spirit.  When his "Orange Crush" - his tidal wave of supporters carried him to an unprecedented victory in the last election, his elation was contagious.

When he last appeared in public, looking like a shadow of his former self - gaunt and strikingly skeletal, everyone knew that cancer, once again, was taking its toll.  It seemed unfair - to beat one cancer only to fall victim to another.  But still, he fought.  He promised only a brief hiatus before returning to the political forum, but the pain behind his brave words was evident.

He knew that his time on this earth was limited, but still he remained unswervingly dedicated to his people - to his Canada.  Even when cancer's shadow loomed large, he put the fear and pain and anger aside and wrote this beautiful and haunting letter

I read that letter yesterday, curled up on the couch, and I could not stop the tears.  The last few lines, now oft-quoted, truly resonated within me:

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

Those are words to live by.  Written by a man who knew that his time was running short.  The words are simple, but the idea behind them is monumental. 

In a time when sorrow and hatred and anger dominate the landscape, these words are a touchstone, a reminder and a call to arms.  Those words speak volumes and I hope that we're all ready to listen.

RIP Jack.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finders Keepers

I think the Universe is trying to tell me something. 

My blog saved me a $50 replacement fee and saved me a ton of beaurocratic hassle.

It was a case of a lost object (my work pass) and a worried owner (me) being reunited by the powers of social media.  After fussing with bags and ipods and a kindle, I inadvertently knocked my work pass off its spot on my belt loops and onto the cold, unforgiving sidewalk in downtown Vancouver.  I realized its absence only when I was on the train, zooming towards the suburbs and was gearing up for the annoying task of paying for a new one.

When I got around to opening my laptop (after dinner and some cat harassment), there was an email from a kind soul who:

1) found my work pass on the sidewalk
2) looked me up on LinkedIn
3) found my blog linked to my profile
4) found my contact information in my blog
5) sent me an email about my work pass

We're meeting at waterfront station after work today, 24 hours from when the pass first slipped from my possession.

If it wasn't for my linked in profile and my blog, it would have been a much more arduous process to get my pass back, and I might have never connected with this individual at all!

So, thank you blog, for being a Finder of Lost Things.

Maybe you can also become a Finder of Lost Words. 

Now that my mojo is back at work, I'm looking to reclaim that creativity for all of the side projects I have on the go.  From the novel I'm halfway through, to the poems that keep ratting around my brain, I'm hoping that simply by getting into the practice of writing for the sake of writing, I'll lose the fear of failure and of rejection.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hello Again...

Holy Cats.  It's been a long, long time since I've updated Stephopolis....

I have a valid excuse for the extensive gap between posts - for half of April and all of May I was stuck in, what can be affectionately termed, "Emo Sweatpants Land".  I was too buys embracing the perks of my "enforced employment sabbatical" (ie: daytime television), to think about blogging or any kind of writing that didn't start with the words "To Whom It May Concern - I am SUPER INTERESTED in working for THIS COMPANY in the position of THIS PARTICULAR JOB..."

My ennui was not helped when Adam went up north for work.  Being left to my own devices with no outside motivating factors (like a paycheque), meant that I lapsed into the comfortable existence of a hermit.  I spent a lot of time talking to my cats, but (thankfully), they never actually answered back.

And time was a funny thing.  It seemed to crawl into foreverness and the days blurred together.  With the burden of alarm clocks and work weeks no longer in consideration, it was distressingly easy to lose an entire day pouring over dubious job applications until, one blink later, the sun was down and it was evening.

In the grand scheme of things, my period of idleness was only 1.5 months.  But it left a burning, lasting impact on me that still ghosts around me, even when I'm hard at work being a productive member of society.  Sometime, when I'm focusing on the intricacies of a website page or trying to master the wording of a particularly prickly memo, a small voice will say "You can't do it.  You aren't good/smart/capable enough."

And then I crumble a little bit inside.

I'm trying to convince the voice that knows that I can do it - the voice that understands that I am creative and intelligent and respected to speak up louder and drown out that insidious other voice.

Everyone tells me that what I went through was a necessary evil - an important, but ultimately treacherous, rung on that ever important career ladder.

And I understand what they're saying.  But it doesn't make the hurt/insecurity/fear/anger disappear.  It's still there, but I can only hope that, one day, I'll truly be able to look back at that 5 month period and think about how very far I've come.

Anyway, that was a long, convoluted way of saying that I'm trying to re-enter the world of blogging, because I feel that I lost my voice and it's about time that I find it again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More writerly progress!

It appears that my brain is more than happy to indulge in some creative writing after slogging through 125 page government RFP documents.

Word Count: 2543
Total Words: 8044
Reason for Stopping: Pulled away for work editing

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Some writerly progress

Yes, the novel is still coming along.  I had some downtime at work yesterday, so I poked away at it.

Word Count: 1290
Total Words: 5501
Reason for Stopping: I had to get back to my real job

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Lupercalia!

This entry is prompted by mom (hi mom!) calling and saying "What does your facebook status mean?"

The status is question reads like this "Happy Lupercalia!"

Amid a sea of "Happy Valentine's Day" status updates, could I really be the lone person celebrating the ancient Roman festival of fertility and fecundity?

It would appear so!

It's so rare that I get to flex my Classics muscle, that I secretly revel in the opportunity to spout off about Roman festivals or Greek muses or the in's and out's (literally) of the ancient pantheons.

Surprisingly, I don't get to use this knowledge much in my day-to-day existence.  Sad, sad.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather pay homage to a frenetic fertility right consisting of half naked men, goat skin and screaming women than a Hallmark holiday.

Hmm. Overpriced chocolate or some down and dirty sacrificing? Tough choice.

If I were single and ready to mingle, I would swoon forever if a suitor came up to me and was like "You know what? Let's skip Valentine's Day this year.  Instead, let's go prance around hitting people with goat pieces".

Be still my heart.