One before I go.

As you know, I am a week away from leaving on my NZ trip and therefore am elbows deep in online bookings and piles of clothes and toiletries. I am hoping to blog a few times while I am away and keep you updated on the cool things I get up to. So for this blog post I will not really bother talking about the trip. Besides, blog post about getting ready to leave on a trip seem about the most boring thing ever. “Will she pack the vest and the jacket? Or just the jacket?” Riveting stuff.

I figured I’d give you an update on my last couple months. I have talked very little about what has been going on with me the last little while on this blog.

Just under two months ago I hurt my knee at work. I’ve hardly posted anything about it because it is a WCB claim and if you have any experience dealing with the WCB system you probably know that it is always a good idea to keep claim information as private as you can. That it is not outside of WCB’s practice to investigate people making claims and use social media posts against them. This makes it sound like I had something to hide. I didn’t. It was a very open and shut “she smacked her knee at work and then it swelled up really big” type of thing. I had witnesses and same day first aid and emergency room reports and I diligently followed all of my doctor’s orders. Which meant sitting with my knee up for weeks and weeks. Very boring. Nothing out of the ordinary or questionable in any way. But still, it is good practice to keep the details between the doctor, physiotherapist, employer, and WCB case worker. You know.

I will, however, share with you this one picture of what it looked like the day I hurt it.

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Crazy, right? I did no actual damage to my knee (that we are aware of). No torn ligaments, broken bones, or damaged cartilage. But it has taken two months for this swelling to go down and it is still not all the way gone.

This has meant that for the last two months I have been on modified duties at work. No stairs, no ladders, no kneeling, and only very limited standing and walking. Which means desk work. I have been re-writing the planer mill’s JSAs (job safety analysis) and training manuals. At first it was a really great break and I felt really good about the job. It really needed to be done and I had the skill set to do it. I still feel good about it, but now it feels more like I am back in school and being forced to write papers all day.

Working all day in a quiet office got a bit boring, so I started listening to music while I worked. I pretty quickly go bored of music and moved on to podcasts. I found this new podcast that I love. It is called Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. If you don’t know, Dax Shepard is Kristen Bell’s husband. He has guests come and he has very real and genuine conversations with them. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do.

I realized I should save up some episodes so that I had something I loved listening to while I was sitting in airports and riding on buses on my trip. He does one episode a week that is around two hours long. So about a month ago I stopped listening to them and now have about four saved up for my trip.

So then I was again without something to listen to. But the podcast made me realize that I really liked listening to people telling stories about their lives. So I made the understandable jump to autobiographical audiobooks.

I should take a quick time out to talk about my position on audiobooks. I am NOT against audiobooks. I think they are great. But I have never been able to listen to them. I can’t. I have tried and it is too different. I feel like I am cheating somehow by not actually reading? Even though I know that I am not and I don’t think that about other people when they listen to audiobooks. And that is not really even the problem, its more that it feels different. It feels like I am experiencing the story in an entirely different way and I don’t like it. Apparently I am very attached to my own inner voice and having someone else read it changes the entire experience for me in a way that prevents me from enjoying the story at all. I once found this quote which maybe sort of explains it:

“I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say, its a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes.” (Robin Sloan, Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore)

I have, of course, not read the actual book that comes from, just the quote. But it felt true when I read it and maybe explains the difference between reading and listening and why I like one and dislike the other.

BUT. I found that listening to an author read a book they wrote about their own life felt more like listening to a podcast. So I was totally okay with it.

So over the last few weeks I have been ripping through audiobooks. Here are the ones I have listened to.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

I’ve been sort of kind of meaning to read this one for a while. It was good! I must say I sit slight more on the Amy Poehler side of this friendship, but I love them both and this book was enjoyable and Tina is badass and awesome.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I have this book and have read it before but it was wonderful to have Amy read it to me. Amy is amazing and Leslie Knope is maybe the greatest character there has ever been on TV.

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I did not really know anything about Anna Kendrick except that she was in Pitch Perfect. Did you know she started out on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony when she was 12? I did not. This book was really good and I really enjoyed it.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I have read Mindy’s books before. But just like with Amy’s book, it is great to have the author read it to you. It feels like a podcast. Mindy is great. This book was written before The Mindy Project began and is focused more on her time in college and writing for The Office.

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Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

It just seemed right to follow it up with this one. This one is more about her time working on The Mindy Project. She is still great.

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I am almost done this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I do have to say I did not love this one as much as some of the others. I guess I just didn’t like the style of the reading as much. I did find it to be very relatable at some points. It was also kind of depressing at other points. I have a hold on Wishful Drinking at the library.

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One More Thing by BJ Novak

I am part way through this one. So the jury’s still out on my conclusion. I LOVED the first story. Some of the others have been a bit meh. We’ll see how it finishes.

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I mostly just went to the library website and tried to find as many of these types of audiobooks as I could. It turns out that I am a lot more interested in autobiographies written by females. I did try to listen to Rob Lowe’s autobiography. But I got a couple chapters in and was bored. Turns out it was going to be mostly about his childhood, family, and his time on the show The West Wing. I wanted it to be an entire book about playing Chris Traeger on Parks and Rec. I did’t really give it too much of a shot.

I have a couple on hold I am waiting to listen to (Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking and Tiffany Hadish’s The Last Black Unicorn). But if you have a recommendation within this narrow niche of audiobooks, let me know.

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So that’s it. My last few months have almost entirely been either sitting in an office writing manuals or sitting at home with an ice pack tensored on my knee. Luckily, however, my knee has progressed enough that it should not interfere with my trip and everyone involved in my claim has given me the a-okay to go.

I hope you are excited to see NZ blog posts and hella photos. I will be posting a LOT on my Instagram and I will try to get a few posts up here too.

How to never take a compliment, a crash course.

Step 1: care very much about what people think about you. This step is not necessary, but will really help to enforce the idea that you need the compliment, which will make it so much worse when you are never able to accept it. If possible, have one of your love languages be ‘words of affirmation.’ That way you can simultaneous crave the affirmation of people in your life while also ensuring you never receive it.

Step 2: disregard any compliments given to a group you are a part of. They were obviously not meant for you. They were for the other more talented and/or prettier members of the group. They just addressed it to the group because it would be very awkward for everyone if they didn’t. If they really meant it they would have come talk to you away from the group and addressed their compliments to you specifically.

Step 3: any nice words spoken to you at a time when it is normal or expected to compliment someone also don’t count. They are obviously only saying that nice thing because it is the convention and social politeness dictates they do. You’re supposed to tell girls they look pretty at weddings. You’re supposed to tell someone they’re great when they’re having a bad day. Therefore you must assume all nice things said to you in those situations are only said because it would be more awkward to not say them.

Step 4: if someone says a nice thing in response to something you asked them, you were fishing for a compliment and it doesn’t count either. What were they supposed to do? Tell you that the dress looks terrible? Tell you your idea is terrible? You put them in an awkward position and they said the nice thing to try and make you feel better. It is insincere and you brought it upon yourself. If they really liked the dress, they would have told you without you asking.

Step 5: did someone compliment you after a performance, presentation, or some other public appearance? They could be sincere, but make sure you remember how when you were a kid at camp people would clap louder for the terrible acts in the talent show so as to not make the child feel bad. It is probably safe to assume they are doing this to you. The more enthusiastically they congratulate you, the more sure you can be they don’t mean it. And if they offer a generic, unenthusiastic compliment, they don’t mean it either since a public performance of any kind clearly falls into the category of ‘time when you are expected to compliment’ (see step 3).

Step 6: is the compliment you received generic? If so, throw that out too. Things like “you look nice” have no meaning anymore. They are the generic platitudes that have been repeated so many times they have lost their meaning entirely. Like when someone asks how you are and you reply with, “I’m good, how are you?” without even thinking. They come out of people’s mouths without even thinking and serve as no more than generic niceties and conversation filler. If they really thought something about you looked nice, they would have been more specific.

Step 7: was someone earnest and forceful in their compliments? If so, see the “people clap louder for the bad acts out of pity” part of step 5.

Step 8: if someone offers you a unexpected, specific, relaxed compliment at time when no social convention dictates they should, and with no prompting, assume they have read this post and are just giving it to prove they can. You can safely assume they don’t mean it either.

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I think that about covers it. There should now be no situation in which a compliment will strike you as sincere and you can live your life in the quiet misery of knowing that no matter how hard others try to make themselves seem sincere and like they admire you, you can see through it. You’re welcome.

2018.

I have high hopes for 2018. There is potential for some big changes to take place, but I am not going to publicly broadcast them at this time. I have learned my lesson on that front. When final decisions are made and plans are officially set, then I will happily share them. But there is one particularly exciting thing that is already confirmed, so I am very happy to announce it here and now.

It has kind of been a weirdly, sort of kept but not really, secret for the last month or two. What I mean by that is that I have not posted anything about it or contacted anyone to tell the about it. The only way you would know is if you have seen me or talked to me recently in person. It also involves time off from work, and my work is an insane gossip factory, so pretty much everyone I work with knows about it. Which is a bit weird when a lot of my friends don’t know.

ANYWAYS! The news: I AM GOING TO NEW ZEALAND!

I am going in April, for three weeks. Three weeks is the maximum amount of vacation I am allowed for this year, so I booked all three weeks back to back and then I will not get anymore time off for the rest of the year. But it will be worth it!

I am going by myself because all of my friends are in school or can’t justify paying the flight fees for just a few weeks. I really only asked a couple people to come, and they couldn’t so I’m doing my best to embrace the idea of going solo. I’m actually pretty alright with it and I think it will be good for me.

I have a vague outline of the trip:

I am flying in to Queenstown. I will, over the course of approximately two weeks, work my way from Queenstown up to Picton. I am hoping to definitely hit/spend a few days in Wanaka, Tekapo, and Kaikoura. I would love to spend a day at Castle Hill (our time there last time was cut pretty short). But exactly how it will all work out depends on the transportation mode I choose. I am kind of leaning towards busing at this point because rental cars are stupid expensive when you are by yourself. But busing probably removes the option to go to Castle Hill. So I haven’t fully decided yet. Then I will ferry across to Wellington and spend an entire glorious week in my favourite city of all time before flying home.

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I am very excited. I also probably need to really sit down and do some planning. I have my plane tickets booked, but that is all. I feel like solo travel requires a bit more preparation ahead of time. But I am still stuck in the “its still a long way away, I don’t have to worry yet” stage. And I know this month is going to fly by and it will come so quickly.

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If you, or anyone who might be reading this, has any solo travel tips, any NZ travel tips, or any must see places along my general route, hit me up! I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to see, but it is mostly based on going back to the places I saw and loved last time. So it would be super awesome to mix some new things in.

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I have been trying again to make it all the way through editing my photos from my last trip. This time I am actually doing it systematically and thoroughly. Not just jumping from place to place and photo to photo whimsically. It is making me more excited and reminding me of things that we did and places we went last time. I feel like a a thread of freshly edited NZ photos is a good way to end this post.

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BOOKS

It is with great sadness that I announce that my reading list for 2017 is abysmal. I finished only five books. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was charming and a quick read. Dracula was fantastic as long as you overlook a few small “the lady is too weak hearted to fight vampires and would probably faint even though she has spent the whole book proving she is smarter, braver, and more level-headed than most of the men” parts.

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Part of the reason I didn’t read too much this year is just that I tend to go through highs and lulls in my reading volume and in 2016 I read a lot of books. But I think another reason is that I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and I needed some time to recover.

It was a long book and it was an absolute emotional punch to the gut. Like it punched you in the gut until you collapsed and then it started kicking you while you were down and somehow instead of PUTTING THE BOOK DOWN you kept reading it and it kept kicking you. It deals with some heavy subject matter; one of the characters has a outrageously traumatic and abusive childhood that you slowly learn about over the course of the book.

It also has some extremely beautiful characters and relationships. I read this book almost a full year ago but I can still remember the way that I felt about the characters and I can still see them and feel them in my head. I also read this book at work and I cried at work about it at least twice. I think that the horror you feel at the bad parts of the book makes the beauty in the good parts so much more vivid. And it seemed to go back and forth between the two often enough that you were never really sure if it would end happily or tragically. It is beautifully written. It is uncommon for a story to stick with me in such a visceral way. While I can’t remember anymore all the small details of the plot, when I think about the characters I can still actually feel the feelings I felt about them. Not in like a “oh I remember that I liked that part” way, but in a visceral “I can physically still feel how beautiful it was in the pit of my stomach” way. If that makes sense. It makes you feel a lot about what is fair and what is unfair and how our upbringing affects the way that we view our future and the things that we think we deserve. It was intense and I don’t know your tolerance so I’m not sure I can recommend it or suggest you read it, but I think I’m glad I read it.

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MOVIES

I also did not see a lot of movies this year. I can think of maybe four movies that I saw in theatres this year. There was maybe a couple more, but I just can’t really remember. So obviously they weren’t that impactful. Here are the ones I liked.

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Wonder Woman.

I am 100% over superhero movies. I would not have seen this one in theatres had it not been for your bachelorette party. You wrote a whole post on this movie so I don’t think I need to say much about it other than it was a very beautiful thing to see a female superhero who was not made a superhero by being made into a one dimensional character who displays stereotypical male qualities. It was weirdly overwhelming and beautiful to feel like I was seeing an actual woman in a role like this. I guess that is what you get when the majority of superhero movies are written and directed by men. It was still a superhero movie and parts of it were pretty cheesy. But I liked more than I’ve liked most superhero movies. I’m pretty sure the No Man’s Land scene will always make me cry.

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Beauty and the Beast.

Emma Watson is pretty much Belle in real life in my mind so when I heard she was going to play Belle I was very excited and also very nervous. What if they screwed it all up? What if it was one of those terrible remakes? But my fears were not realized. It was very good. Emma Watson came on screen and started singing the first song and I started crying. Now I did see this during my couple months of night shift last winter, so that may have had something to do with it, but I basically cried every time she did anything Belle-like. So the whole movie pretty much. Emma is such a good person and a strong and outspoken woman who stands up for what she believes in. She is the perfect person to play Belle and I was so happy she did.

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Blade Runner 2049.

I did not cry in this movie! It was directed by the Denis Villeneuve, the same guy who directed Arrival, and we all know how much I loved that movie. I can say a lot of the same things I said about Arrival: the colours! the lighting! the cinematography! It is all so beautiful. I appreciated the subtle ways it tied back to the original movie. The way some of the scenes were filmed and the little details. The story was beautiful. It felt profoundly human in a profoundly unhuman way.

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MUSIC

This was also not a big year for me in terms of new music. But here are a few things I found and enjoyed:

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Stranger in the Alps – Phoebe Bridgers

This album is beautiful and I love the whole thing. There are maybe one or two songs I might skip sometimes, but really I usually just listen to it front to back. Her voice is beautiful and her songwriting is amazing. I particularly like Smoke Signals, Funeral, and Would You Rather.

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Melodrama – Lorde

I wasn’t really on the Lorde train before this year. I think it is because I didn’t really care for Royals and that was the only song that ever seemed to get played from her first album. But I love this album. Again, it’s good all the way through. I particularly love Liability, Sober II (Melodrama), and Green Light.

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White Noise – Noah Gundersen

This album was very different from his other albums. I like it in a different way than I like his older stuff. This album I find that there are a few songs I feel pretty meh about and a few that I absolutely love. So it is the same amount of love I usually have for a Noah G album, just distributed differently. Instead of being spread evenly over the whole thing like it was for Carry the Ghost it is slightly more concentrated on certain tracks. My absolute favourites are SEND THE RAIN (TO EVERYONE) and HEAVY METALS. But I also really like BAD ACTORS, THE SOUND, NEW RELIGION, and WAKE ME UP, I’M DROWING.

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One More Light – Linkin Park

This album is not on my list because Chester died. I genuinely love it. It is a very different sound for Linkin Park. Now I love classic old school Linkin Park. I grew up on it. This was the first band I ever loved and the first cds I ever bought. I used to listen to Hybrid Theory and Meteora exclusively and on repeat while I delivered newspapers for the bulk of my childhood/teenage years. But I have to say that I might like their new sound even better. My favourites are One More Light, Invisible, Good Goodbye, and Heavy.

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TELEVISION

I watched A LOT of tv this year. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. But I haven’t been reading much or watching very many movies, so it makes sense. I also tend to watch tv while I’m knitting and I’ve been knitting a bunch this fall. So here’s my (long) list of tv I watched this year.

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Survivor: Game Changers (season 34)

Of course I watched this season. Returning players! Ozzy! Malcolm! Cirie! Sandra! JT! Andrea! Aubry! Did I say Ozzy already?!

I knew Ozzy wouldn’t win. He didn’t. Cirie came pretty darn close AGAIN. And Malcolm went out early in an absolute freak tribal council. It was a good season, even if the winner was not someone I was rooting for. It was also an absolute crazy season. There were a lot of game twists and blindsides (i.e. the insane tribal where Malcolm went home) and then there was the tribal council where Jeff Varner outed Zeke as transgender. It was insane. Zeke handled it with incredible grace and composure. He wrote this article which was published right after the episode aired.

In general, seasons like this are almost always a bit of a let down. They bring back all of these amazing people, and most of them get voted out right away. So you end up spending most of the season watching the people you really weren’t that excited about and you kind assume are sort of filler because you can’t really figure out how they were a “game changer” in their past seasons. But that’s the way the game goes. At least Ozzy was there for a while so that they could break up the insane game tension with peaceful spear fishing interludes.

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The OA (season 1)

I had no idea what to expect from this. It was extremely original. Sometimes it was very heavy, sometimes it felt a touch silly, mostly it was serious. I had no idea what was going to happen AT ALL. I like it even more now that I know Brit Marling wrote it as well as starred in it; she is fantastic. I will definitely watch the second season when it comes.

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No Tomorrow (season 1)

I have not heard a single person talk about this show. I found it on Netflix. It was good! It is the classic “type A perfectionist lady meets free-spirited, ‘live life to the fullest’ man” story. Only you quickly find out that this free-spirited man is seizing the day because he is convinced the world is going to end because a meteor is heading towards the earth. He claims to know this for certain. It is super cute and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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Girlboss (season 1)

This show had a lot of hype. I loved the best friend character. But honestly, I found the main character so profoundly unlikeable that I struggled to make it through the season. I actually gave up on it for a while but ended up coming back to finish the season. Netflix cancelled the show; I wasn’t upset.

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The Good Place (season 1)

I have only seen one season so far because that is all that is on Netflix. But it is charming and funny and Kristen Bell is a delight as always. Love it.

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Master of None (season 1/2)

The first time I tried to watch this show I watched maybe the first five minutes of the first episode, got bored, and shut it off. But I kept hearing good things so I went back to it. I liked it. It felt like a very real show. Kind of like an independent movie, stuff happens but the plot doesn’t feel contrived or over the top. I know there is some controversy around this now due to the whole Aziz Ansari #metoo story. I’m not going to get into that except to say that I have read good and bad arguments and read some poorly written articles on both sides. Because of all this, however, I did find out that apparently Aziz wrote the Chef Jeff character in a way that you were supposed to think he as a great guy and then be surprised to find out he was a sexual harasser. Which is absolutely bonkers. But he says it in an interview, you can read it for yourself.

I thought you were supposed to know from the first moment you met him that something was off. Like crazy foreshadowing. I was surprised it didn’t come out sooner. And it wasn’t just like a “oh wow, I wasn’t expecting that but now that you say it yeah I guess I see how it was coming.” I had clearly formed the full thought in my head already, “this guy is a total creep and he is going to do something inappropriate.” I thought he was going to make a pass at Francesca or something much earlier. So to hear that that was Aziz’s portrayal of an awesome dude is a little troubling. This is his actual quote from the interview: “Okay, what if this is one of those types of guys and we just get the audience to love him? And then pull the rug out from under them at the end and reveal that he’s actually not a good dude?” I did not love that character. From the moment he came onscreen he made me uncomfortable and I strongly disliked him. I was annoyed at Dev for not seeing what a douche he was from the start.

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Orange is the New Black (seasons 1-5)

I watched all five seasons this year. It is a good show. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it is full of diverse, well-written female characters. I love that even though the show starts out fairly centred on Piper, it widens significantly to the point where her story is just one of many. Also the way the characters are developed is fantastic. There were multiple times during the series where I found myself rooting for a character I hated two seasons ago, or discovering I was completely wrong about who a character really was. The writers do a good job of allowing you to make assumptions about characters and then slowly revealing their backstories.

There was one season that I thought was a bit boring in regards to the overall season story, but the characters were still great so I stayed. And I certainly did not love every character (Piper in particular is pretty annoying actually), but there are some absolute gems that I felt made it worthwhile. Poussey is easily my favourite character. And one of my favourite characters from any show, not just OITNB. She is fantastic and Samira Wiley is amazing. Also Danielle Brooks! I couldn’t watch her in Master of None without picturing that character as Taystee, like she got out of prison, became an agent, and then started representing Dev.

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That 70’s Show

I started watching this because I wanted a fluffy sitcom to put on in the background while I knitted my sweater. It is on the same level as Friends, or How I Met Your Mother, or Big Bang Theory. Not that good, but somehow you keep watching it cause its a bit funny and it requires no emotional investment. I didn’t make it all the way through. The Danny Masterton rape allegations kind of killed it for me. Steven was my favourite character and the Jackie/Steven relationship was the only one I liked. So when I found out that the actor playing Steven was (allegedly) raping people and having the church of Scientology protect him it kind of made it hard to keep watching.

Here are some other reasons I probably should have stopped watching sooner:

(1) Eric is the classic “nice guy” in a sitcom who is kind of an entitled jerk but we’re supposed to root for him because he’s “nice.” Just think Ross Gellar or Ted Mosby. Same character. You’re not being friend zoned, thats not a thing. Shut up.

(2) Kelso consistently cheats on his Jackie to the point where he is straight up dating another girl on the side. Everyone in the friend group knows and no one tells Jackie. This goes on for more than a full season. What is it with tv shows and the whole, “I know he’s cheating on my other friend, but I’ve been friends with him longer so I won’t tell her cause that would be a betrayal.” It is garbage. Especially when:

(3) Jackie kisses another boy while dating Kelso and Eric finds out. He blackmails her into doing things for him to keep him from telling. He ends up forcing her into telling Kelso herself within one episode of finding out. Kelso throws a fit when he finds out.

(4) There is a very real idea that it is normal for guys to cheat because “boys will be boys” and they can’t help it. But they get outraged if a girl cheats. It is absolute bananas.

(5) Eric’s mom goes through menopause and it is used as comic relief. I’m assuming all the writers are men who think that menopause turns you into a wildly crazy and emotional train wreck and they thought continually make her look unhinged would be good for laughs.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine (season 4/5)

This show is amazing and if you aren’t already watching it you should be. It is very funny while also being diverse, inclusive, and tackling real issues (race, gender, sexuality, etc) in a sensitive and positive way. It is a slam dunk of a show and everyone should be watching it.

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Sherlock (season 4)

I’m a bit late on this one. But I finally got around to watching the newest season. It is darker and different from the older ones. Maybe it is just that I really miss Andrew Scott’s Moriarty and am sad he is gone. He makes a few little cameos in this season, just enough to remind you of how great he was and make you sad he’s gone. The Christmas special they did between season 3 and 4, The Abominable Bride, is fantastic. I watched it for the first time way back when it came out, but I watched it again before I got into season 4 and was reminded of how good it was.

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Outlander (season 1/2)

I am not quite done this one yet. I’m about half way through season two. There are only two seasons on Netflix right now, but I believe the third season came out in the fall. I avoided this show for a long time because I had heard it was based on a romance novel and I wasn’t into that. But I finally gave it a shot after hearing a lot of good stuff. I actually just looked it up, and I don’t even know that it was based on a romance novel at all, so I don’t know where I heard that. It is based on a novel though. Anyways. Some parts of the show feel a bit romance novel-y, but it is a really good story with interesting characters and original ideas. I have also learned a reasonable amount about Scottish, British, and French history (assuming of course it is mostly accurate in its portrayal of the countries and times it takes place).

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Big Little Lies

This show is absolutely fantastic. I managed to watch it without seeing any spoilers and it was crazy. They introduce that someone has been murdered at the very start of the first episode and then flash back and show how it all happened. I had no idea who died or who killed them until it actually happened in the finale. The acting is fantastic. The story is layered and well written. The cinematography is amazing, it is an absolutely beautiful show. At times it is unsettling and hard to watch, but the story feels important and worth watching. The acting is also amazing. Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard are winning award after award for their roles. It definitely one of the best shows I have seen all year and I highly recommend it.

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So there you have it. It is another marathon post, I know. But once I got going it just kept going. You were interested in hearing about every tv show I watched this year, right?

 

2017 in review.

This was an interesting year. When you first suggested doing end of year review posts like we did last year I was hesitant. Mostly because it felt like I had done nothing and accomplished nothing this year and my post would just say “I worked at the mill” while yours would talk about how you were finishing your masters degree, getting married, buying a house. You know, real actual life accomplishments.

Also I feel like I have spent the majority of this year angry. Not like rage anger, more like disappointment anger. Like something inside of me is constantly rolling itself into knots. Things are not fair, things are not just, and it infuriates me that its all being allowed to happen. The president is a racist, hate-filled, selfish narcissist who has the emotional maturity of a spoiled child. I don’t live in his country yet somehow he is managing to have a large impact on me and on everyone else in Canada and around the world. And to make it worse, millions of people are pandering to him and stoking is already grossly inflated ego in order increase their own wealth and power. Their motives are so unbelievably transparent; they blatantly display their greed and hypocrisy and it makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t even look at the president without feeling full on rage. It used to be that hearing him speak brought on the rage, but as the year has gone on it has progressed and now just a photo will do it. And don’t even get me started on the sexual harassment stuff. I have written about that a bit already and will probably do so more in the future.

I didn’t know it was possible to be this angry for this long. It has kind of turned into a sort of despair. Sometimes I can be a bit of a know-it-all and when I am convinced that I am right about something and someone else is clearly wrong, I have an almost compulsion to prove that I am right and have people agree with me. This is not a great quality I know. I’m working on it. But this year has been an absolute nightmare. I don’t understand how so many people are able to shut off their empathy and put their own wealth ahead of the well-being of others. I don’t understand how christians can be against immigration, health care, and welfare. I don’t understand how rich white people can’t see the advantages they were born into. I saw a tweet that described the president as “born on third but convinced he hit a triple.” I think that applies to a lot of white people right now. I don’t even know how to have a conversation with them because I can’t understand how they can’t see and understand that they did nothing to earn the privilege they were born with. Can they not see what a colossal stroke of luck it was for them to be born rich and white in north america? How can they look down on others, dismiss them, and even condemn them to death because they had the bad luck to be born into poverty? And how can they call themselves followers of Christ and do this? Have they really convinced themselves that Christ is on their side in this? That the bible backs up them up? That God loves them more than he loves poor people? It baffles and infuriates me.

But this is not supposed to be a rant so I’m going to try and get back on track. This was a difficult year in a lot of ways. I have had to figure out how to process all this anger and disappointment and not let it consume me. I have had to figure out how to merge the insanity and fear of international news with the relative quiet and monotony of my day to day life.

There have also been some positive things come out of this anger. I have become a lot more invested and outspoken about politics. I see all the more clearly how important it is for me to raise my voice and speak out when something is wrong. I used to care a lot more about keeping peace and having people like me/think I’m nice. I think I have reached the point where I am so fed up that I just don’t care anymore. Or at least I care a lot less. I am still a lot braver inside my head than I am in real life, but like anything, it takes practice and I am doing my best to take steps forward.

Okay, now on to some less heavy and more specific ups and downs of the year.

THE BAD

(it makes more sense to get the bad over with first. I am not really interested in dwelling on the bad things that happened, or sitting here racking my brain to try and remember them. So if it doesn’t come to me in the moment that I am writing this section, I just won’t include it. I’m also not going to talk anymore about politics as I think I’ve already spent enough time on that)

♦ My grandpa passed away.

♦ My dad was in a mountain biking accident the day before my grandpa passed away. He broke five ribs, punctured his lung and spent a week in the ICU with a chest tube. (He is almost completely recovered now)

♦ My province was on fire for most of the summer.

♦ Chester Bennington died. I wrote a post about it. He was an incredibly influential voice of my youth and I don’t really have anything new to add except to say that I am still sad and to reiterate that being killed by mental illness is not a sign of weakness.

♦I got a kind of terrible haircut. I was bored of my hair and decided I wanted an undercut. Which in itself is not a decision that I regret. However, through some miscommunication, some bad luck, and just an all around bad haircut I ended up with an outrageously large undercut and was not at all what I wanted. I knew instantly that it was a disaster but I tried for a couple months to convince myself that it was okay and that I liked it. I could never actually bring myself to get someone to take a good picture of it and show it to me because I think I knew that as soon as I actually saw it straight on I wouldn’t be able to pretend to be okay with it. Eventually I admitted it and am slowly waiting for it to grow out.

♦ I spent months fighting with my union local about a harassment case that I believed they handled poorly and in direct opposition to the bullying/harassment policies they claim to stand behind. This involved multiple emails back and forth as well as in person meetings. I was also in contact with the USW Wood Council Chairperson; I emailed back and forth with him and met with him in person as well. I knew when I chose to begin engaging with the union that it would almost for sure be a fruitless endeavour but I felt that it was important for me to speak up anyways. It was frustrating and drawn out and kind of brought on the same muted rage that the news has been bringing this year. I won’t turn this into a rant about the union and how they treated me and the ways that I am completely convinced that they are outdated and wrong. If anyone reading this is actually interested in union dynamics or my fight with them, it doesn’t take too much to get me going. Next time you see me just bring it up casually and I’m sure you will get an earful.

While it was a frustrating endeavour, it was not all bad. I learned a lot more about how unions work and benefits/drawbacks of them. I spent a lot of time talking with a really great union guy from my mill who continuously went out of his way to help me, affirm me, and explain union complexities to me. And even though I got no tangible results from the encounter, it felt good to be direct, honest, and in loud opposition to something that I truly believe was wrong.

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THE GOOD.

(these moments were chosen from memory/from scrolling through the photos on my phone and seeing what I photographed over the course of the year)

♦ It snowed like three feet one night in February and I literally couldn’t get out of the driveway to go to work so I had to call in and Haley came and picked me up and we spent the day snowboarding in waist deep powder.

(I just feel like I should add that I have had this jacket for at least 5 years and I still love it as much as I did the day I got it. Maybe more. Even just seeing a photo of myself wearing it brings me joy.)

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♦ I went to a Fred Penner/Shred Kelly show with Jocelyn and we danced and had a really really really good time.

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♦ I found a bakery in Kimberly that is peanut-free. The baker is more allergic to peanuts than I am so I can eat everything that they make. I have been up to my ears in croissants and I finally understand what non-allergic people feel like in every coffee shop/bakery. I can go in and look at the display case and just choose something that looks good without having to read ingredient lists or look it up online or actually just say I’m not hungry because it would be impossible to actually read an ingredient list for a cookie in a display case in a coffee shop. (I wrote in an earlier blog post about my first trip there).

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♦ I put pink in my hair. What I really wanted was like a coral, which it faded to and was really nice for the few weeks before it faded out entirely. This photo is right after it was put in so it looks more on the hot pink side.

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♦ I went to Ty and Jenn’s wedding with Sami and Seth and we went to Kangaroo Creek and I spent the afternoon petting wallabies, taking selfies with emus, and mostly just being completely and totally happy. I did a whole post about it.

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♦ Laura came over from Tasmania and I got to spend a day with her climbing through a creek and swimming in a waterfall.

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♦ I photographed more weddings as a second shooter. Sally Ann randomly reached out to me a little over a year ago and asked if I would be interested in second shooting for her. I think I wrote about it in my review last year. This year I shot a few more weddings with her. She is wonderful and I love working with her. I am getting a bit better at taking photos of people and at editing my photos. This year I got a new camera and I am beyond excited about it still.

I really have only put significant effort into editing one of the weddings. Here are some photos from that one. The other wedding I did in the summer was the week before yours, so those photos are still sitting on the card waiting for me. I’m not sure I will ever get around to them. But I really should, I’m pretty sure there are some good ones.

Sally Ann is super fun to work with. We take lots of selfies. Also yes, that is a mirror selfie taken in a trailer bathroom. I had just gotten that shirt and my look was FINE and needed to be documented.

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♦ You got married. I was in a wedding party for the first time, wore fake eyelashes, gave a speech, and didn’t have a single public breakdown about the fact that I was literally the only non-married person involved in any capacity with the wedding. It was a wonderful day and you and Josh were both beautiful and happy and I was so happy for you. Also everyone laughed at my speech jokes and that made me feel very good. I pulled some photos from your online gallery, sorry but they are only ones that I am in. You looked amazing in like every photo and I know the day was all about you and Josh, but this is my blog post so I’m allowed to make it all about me.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate how many photos there are of me speech giving in your gallery. THESE AREN’T EVEN ALL OF THEM. Which I am taking to mean, “you were funny and even the photographers loved your speech so much that they took tons of photos of you talking” and not “you talked for a long time.” But for reals, I had been writing this speech in my head since long before you asked me to give it. I’m pretty sure I had a rough outline floating around in my brain before you guys were even engaged. I got nervous in the couple days leading up to the wedding and my brain was doing that thing where it tries to convince you something you know is good might be bad. And a part of me wanted to cut out parts and change it to make it less vulnerable or less like I was trying to be funny or just shorter. But I knew that I wanted to say all those words so I did what anyone would do: cut nothing out, drank a few glasses of wine, and just went for it.

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People thought it was way funnier than I thought they would. Which was nice, but I knew that you would find it funny and that was all that mattered. When I looked up to see this I knew that it was a success. (If you want to read my actual speech, I posted it here)

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Also this photo. This photo is amazing and maybe my favourite. It is my favourite not because it is a good photo of us (which it totally is) but because of what was happening at the time. It looks like we are just sharing a little joke or are just really happy about how you are getting married or something like that. But I remember very clearly that I was trying to get your hair right and IT WAS NOT COOPERATING. I kept pinning it and it would fall out, or I would curl it and it would fall and hang funny and finally I leaned in really close and said “Glynis, f*ck this hair.” We both burst out laughing and in the background I heard a camera shutter go off. I’m very glad they captured this moment.

And finally here are a couple more photos of me at your wedding.

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♦ Alex came for your wedding. I got a new camera (as mentioned earlier) and Alex came and spent a day with me taking photos before he went back to Tasmania.

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♦ I got a new tattoo. It was done by the same artist who did my tree. His name is Craig and he works at Blackbird Electric in Calgary and he is funny and kind and amazing at what he does. I came to him with a vague idea of what I wanted and he drew something that was exactly what I wanted. I love it so much.

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♦ My dad and I went to Vancouver to watch the Maori All Blacks play. I wrote a whole post about it so I won’t go into a ton of detail except to say it was amazing and the All Blacks absolutely demolished Canada and I loved every minute of it.

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♦ I knit a sweater. Okay, technically I am not quite done so I didn’t finish it in 2017. But I only have a couple rows left and I did the bulk of it in 2017 so it counts. I just have to finish off the neckband and it is DONE.

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♦ I consistently ran all through the spring, summer, and fall. Most weeks I went for at least two runs, sometimes three. I did take a couple weeks off when I got sick for a few weeks in the summer, and it was hard to run a lot when we were in that crazy heat wave, but by the end of summer a quick, short run was no less than 5km and I could do it easily and without needing much recovery time. I switched from Fitbit run tracking to Strava part way through the summer so unfortunately I can’t give you stats for the year (for the record, I love Strava infinitely more than Fitbit). But I can tell you that between July 20 and Nov 14 I went on 19 runs and ran 111 kms.

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♦ I started going to hot yoga again. This was right at the end of the year, but still in 2017. I haven’t gone to yoga since I lived in Lethbridge. It has been a good way for me to feel like I am doing something during the winter while it is too cold to run.

This year has been a really good year for me in terms of fitness. I have been making consistent choices to be active and eat well. I know that I have never really been overweight or grossly unhealthy, but the last five years or so I have just felt terrible about how I looked and my fitness level. I knew that the simply solution was to start exercising, but I just couldn’t make myself care enough to do it. It feels so amazing to finally be doing something about it. I have never really been a fan of my legs and have always felt like they were much too big. However, I decided that I could settle on having my legs be bigger than I want them to be if they were toned and strong instead of chunky. Running has been good for this and honestly I feel better about my body than I have in YEARS, maybe better than I have ever felt about it.

.♦ I wrote this post. I had been feeling like I should write it for MONTHS. But same-sex marriage can be a polarizing topic in the christian community and although this blog is not written specifically for the christian community, I know that there are people who read it who come from that background. I also have a lot of friends who live in Australia who I hoped would read it. I was nervous about putting my thoughts in writing because I was afraid I might not do a good enough job explaining them and then people would judge me or be upset. But it just sat in the back of my head for months nagging to be written. I realized that it was important for me to speak up and say what I believe is right. That it was worth the chance that I might lose a friend or have an acquaintance judge me or write me off. I finally wrote it and was content with how it turned out. I felt like the tone was calm and I said what I believed in an honest but un-confrontational way. It has the most views of any post I have written, but remarkably few comments or interactions. I was kind of expecting some angry/earnest comments,  or questions, or some sort of agreement or disagreement. But I got nothing. It was weird but I still feel good about having written it.

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Okay, that’s probably enough. I will tackle media and the coming year in another post. A hearty congratulations if you actually made it the whole way through this marathon of a post.

2017 Year in Review

It’s 2018! We’re going to look back on 2017 in the next few posts, and here’s a few of the topics we’ll be thinking and writing about.

  • Media (books, movies, music, etc) that was important, influential, or especially enjoyable;
  • Events that were impactful, positively or negatively; and,
  • Some goals or intentions for making 2018 a good year.

I feel it coming.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sexual harassment. Of course I have. Who hasn’t. It seems I cannot open twitter or look at the news without seeing a new name. A new face falling into the growing heap of powerful white men who have been using their power for years to harass and assault women. I am glad that it seems women finally have a voice and are being believed and listened to. I am happy that these men are falling. I hope that they go to jail. I hope that there is more to pay for their crimes than a few days of public shaming and a shitty typed out apology that isn’t actually an apology because it never uses the words “I’m sorry” or “what I did was wrong.”

While I’m happy this is happening, I also have had this sort of sinking feeling in the back of my mind. An uneasy feeling like the other shoe is about to drop. Then I was reading an article ( Your Reckoning. And Mine. As stories about abuse, assault, and complicity come flooding out, how do we think about the culprits in our lives? Including, sometimes, ourselves ). It is a bit long but is very good and I would highly recommend reading it. At the end of the article there is a frighteningly good take. I hadn’t quite put it into words yet, but it is exactly what I was afraid of and is the other shoe I know will drop soon enough.

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“Letting all this out is undeniably exciting. Its power, to some extent, comes from the fact that it is almost terrifyingly out of control. Anything is possible, good or bad. And yes, there is satisfaction that for a month or so, it’s like we’ve been living in the last ten minutes of an M. Night Shyamalan movie where the big twist is that women have been telling the truth all along.

Yet you can feel the backlash brewing. All it will take is one particularly lame allegation — and given the increasing depravity of the charges, the milder stuff looks lamer and lamer, no matter how awful the experience — to turn the tide from deep umbrage on behalf of women to pity for the poor, bullied men. Or one false accusation could do it. One man unfairly fired over a misinterpreted bump in the elevator could transform all of us women into the marauding aggressors, the men our hapless victims.

MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle, himself once having been returned to power after a plagiarism scandal, has mourned publicly for the injury done to his friend and former colleague Mark Halperin, who got canned after being accused of pushing his penis against younger female subordinates: “He deserves to have what he did deplored,” Barnicle declared. “But does he deserve to die? How many times can you kill a guy?”

A powerful white man losing a job is a death, and don’t be surprised if women wind up punished for the spate of killings.

Many men will absorb the lessons of late 2017 to be not about the threat they’ve posed to women but about the threat that women pose to them. So there will be more — perhaps unconscious — hesitancy about hiring women, less eagerness to invite them to lunch, or send them on work trips with men; men will be warier of mentoring women.”

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Many men will absorb the lessons of late 2017 to be not about the threat they’ve posed to women but about the threat that women pose to them. So there will be more — perhaps unconscious — hesitancy about hiring women, less eagerness to invite them to lunch, or send them on work trips with men; men will be warier of mentoring women.

A few weekends ago I attended a USW safety conference. I was invited to attend by my local union reps even though I am not involved as a job steward or a member of the safety committee at my mill. But I figured it would be a good opportunity to be involved and learn so I said yes. I believe there were six women in attendance, but I was the only woman in my session (my session was on return to work accommodations). It was mostly fine. There was one ridiculous video shown for a walking dolly which the instructor apologized profusely for (the general message was, “this dolly makes the work so easy a woman can do it” and then a shot of a woman in heels using the dolly to take a machine up the stairs), it was the only video they could get of the dolly and they needed to show how it worked. Honestly, it was fine. There was also a guy who kind of went on a bit of a rant about the lady at his workplace who couldn’t lift the 50lb bags so he got pulled off his job to help her. We get it dude, you’re stronger than the lady at your work, stop talking about it. Yes, we get it. You lifted the bags and she just cut them open. You’re so strong, now shut up.

But the thing that got me happened after the session. I was talking with a tradesman from another mill. We were talking about what it is like for me to work in such a male dominated environment and he was asking questions and being understanding and I was like, “wow, this guy is pretty great.” And then he dropped this bomb, I don’t remember his words exactly, but it was something pretty close to “I actually prefer to never work with women, I ask my supervisor to never put women with me as maintenance help ” and then went on to explain how it makes things more complicated and sometimes you talk differently around men than you do around women and when there are women around you never know when something you say to men you’re working with might get taken the wrong way by the woman who is there and end up as a harassment claim.

sigh.

From the way that he explained it, this was a long standing policy of his. Not at all prompted by recent events. If men already feel this way, I can’t see how recent events will do anything but make it worse. Note: this is NOT me saying that this in any way makes it a bad thing to be airing sexual harassment allegations and taking down harassers. That is a VERY GOOD THING. However, an unfortunate outcome of this good thing is that more men are probably going to start feeling this way.

He kind of stunned me when he said it. I tried really hard to justify it on his behalf. He seemed like a decent, level-headed dude, surely there was a way to see that this opinion wasn’t sexist and discriminatory. As a woman in male-dominated work environment (and just a woman in general), this is what I have been trained to do. To rationalize and assure men that their opinions and ideas are acceptable and good, even when they are not. But alas, I could not find a way make it okay, because it is not. But I still didn’t want to offend him (ha!) cause he seemed reasonable and open-minded in everything else we spoke about. Again, something I have been conditioned into doing, making sure I don’t offend men or tell them that they are wrong. Because then I would be seen as bossy, a bitch, too loud, etc and they might not like me.

I kind of gave him a weird look and he explained that “of course he wasn’t trying to say that I was that type of woman.” I think he meant I wasn’t the type who would file a false harassment claim over something a male co-worker said. Sidenote: Why do men think that telling me that I am different from other girls is a thing I want to hear? Here’s the thing. Pitting me against another woman and telling me I’m better than her may sometimes appeal to my ego and competitive nature, but at its core it is divisive, unkind, and it shows a lack of respect for women as a whole. Also, it is untrue. I mean, like if we are married, or seriously dating, feel free to tell me that you like me better than other women. But if I am just meeting you and you feel the need to put down other women as a technique for showing your interest in me. No thanks.

A good tweet:

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Anyways, after much reassurance that he was NOT talking about ME specifically but that he still would prefer to never work with women and continued blank and quizzical looks from me I was given the chance to respond. I managed a rather meager, “but can’t you see how that, when taken too far, is itself a problem.” To which he said, “of course” and we continued our conversation.

I have been thinking about this for weeks and wishing I had been more honest about how I felt and direct in telling him so. Here is what I wish I had said. I would have started by asking him outright if his concern was that a woman would fabricate a harassment claim or just that his usual ‘work talk’ is in fact harassment when spoken in front of a woman. Then I would point out that it sounded more from how he explained it that his normal work talk with men would be inappropriate and offensive if there was a woman around. So it wouldn’t be a fabricated harassment claim, but a completely valid claim that just simply wouldn’t have been brought up by a man. So first of all, if false claims are off the table, how am I not that type of woman? I am not the type who would report harassment, but the type that would think it is funny and laugh along? Umm, no.

And second, I would ask him why he thought the best solution to his own (self-admitted) potential harassment is not to change his own behaviour, but to remove anyone who might be offended or call him on it. I would ask him why he couldn’t see that this is blatantly sexist and discriminatory. And that even if he means it from a good place – a good place might be a stretch, so lets say instead a place of not wanting to offend a woman – that does not make it any less discriminatory or sexist. Discrimination is not a trade off for harassment. Saying, “I don’t want to harass a woman, so I will discriminate against her instead” is NOT BETTER. A sawmill is already a hard place to be a woman. It is already a boys club where a woman feels perpetually out of place. To then, on top of that, have co-workers request you never work with them simply because of your gender? That is garbage. I wish I had told him to his face that it was complete shit.

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In conclusion, (1) men please stop doing this, (2) next time I will be more prepared and will try my best to do better in the moment, and (3) we are all going to have to deal with this in the future, so practice up.

All Blacks Game (or I heart NZ, pt 2).

Last weekend I went to Vancouver with my dad to go to the All Blacks game. It was fantastic and wonderful and I would do it again in a minute. I uploaded a bunch of the photos from my phone that day and have put them in order with captions. So more of a visual story than a written one this time.

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This is the weather we woke up to on Friday. It was cold and gross and I was a little bit worried it might affect our flights. But it did not!
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Our flight was delayed by 15 minutes though, so preflight snacks were in order.
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Most of the flight was spent either looking at views like this, or listening to our hilarious flight attendant tell us stories about her crazy Australian aunt who takes her on crazy adventures whenever she visits. Whitewater rafting, scuba diving, zorbing. It was amazing.
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We made it to the SkyTrain.
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We are excited.
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We really had no plans until the game. Basically just go down to the waterfront and see what there is to do. We decided to hang out in Gastown.
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Gastown. (Every time I type Gastown, my computer tries to autocorrect it to Gaston)
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Gastown waterfront.
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My favourite photo we took. He was very interested in what was going on down on the waterfront and very unaware that I was taking photos of him.
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We pretty much just walked around and looked at pretty things.
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He is freezing. He thought he would be fine without his jacket, so he left it at the hotel. Bad move.
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I wish we had cedars where I live. I like cedar trees. (The tree on the left is a cedar).
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We were pretty cold by the time we hit this side of the stadium, but you always gotta take time for Terry. Also, one of those skateboarders had a pretty great wipeout (he was fine though).
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I think this is the only photo my dad took with me in it. I stole it from his phone after we got home.
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All of this cold weather and walking required some warming up (and we still had a full hour until the gates opened). Good news everyone, Joy tea is back at Starbucks.
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Then it was time. Time to put on my jersey in the middle of Starbucks and then head to the stadium.
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Our tickets were General Admission and we got there early, so we pretty much had our pick of seats. They weren’t selling any All Blacks merch, just Canadian Rugby stuff. Which is crazy. They had this one scarf for the match that was half Canada, half All Blacks. It was the only things they sold with the All Blacks name. They sold out in like 10 minutes. My dad got one of the very last ones. He was pretty pumped. I’m pretty sure I saw more people in All Blacks jerseys than in Canada ones.
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Warm ups.
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We were kind of hoping they would be facing the other way for the Haka. It was still pretty cool though.

If you are interested, you can watch the Haka for yourself.

 Also, here are the highlights!

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The long story short is that they destroyed Canada. 51-9. I was so excited. I would have actually been a bit upset if Canada had won. Not that they could have. But anyways, I came to watch New Zealand wipe the floor with Canada, and that is what I got. It is maybe the only time I have ever actively rooted against Canada, but I don’t care. I love me some NZ and I’m proud of it. I really need to go back there. 
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It was a full and wonderful day. Here is a photo of my dad all tuckered out on the train ride back to the hotel. 

So there is our trip. I have always wanted to see an All Blacks game and it was even better than I thought it would be. Turns out I quite enjoy rugby. Yesterday I live streamed that Maori All Blacks game against the French Barbarians. Yeah, apparently I am an actual rugby fan now. Weird. Anyways, my dad and I had a lovely weekend and now I am once again full of NZ longing. Maybe I should just move there already.

If I lived in Australia, I would have voted yes.

I have been thinking about writing this post for months. I kept not writing it because it seemed too controversial and it wasn’t my country. I also worried that maybe I wouldn’t be able to explain myself well enough and people would not fully understand my perspective and jump to conclusions about my beliefs or about me. But it has been months and it is still nagging in the back of my mind. Also every time I see a friend on Facebook post about voting ‘no’ it hurts my heart. So I guess I’m going to write it.

(Also, while this is sort of prompted by the vote in Australia and I write it in a sort of response to that, it is by no means directed only at Australians who voted ‘no’. I would direct it at an christians who hold the belief that gay marriage should be illegal, I know that there are plenty of them here in Canada too.)

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If I lived in Australia I would have voted yes in the plebiscite. Here’s why.

First off, to me this is a civil liberties issue, not a religious preference issue. This is a vote to decide whether or not the government will recognize and allow same-sex marriage, not a vote to decide whether or not the church will allow and recognize same-sex marriage. The church and the state are separate.

In my mind, this is a significant distinction. It is not a question of whether or not the church thinks that a person can be in a same-sex relationship and be christian in good standing. It is a question of whether or not LGBT people in a secular society deserve the same civil rights and liberties as straight people.

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I have seen quite a few Facebook posts and videos and other such things with the “It’s okay to vote no” slogan. I have watched a few of those videos and read a few of those posts and the resounding message that seemed to be being shared was “I’m voting no because Jesus loves you.” I’m having a hard time believing that is true.

Please bear in mind that we have already established that this is not a church-condoning vote, but a secular state-condoning vote. I would like to first bring to your attention 1 Corinthians 5. I would encourage you to read the whole chapter. It was written by Paul and in this chapter he is addressing sexual immorality in the Corinthian church. I am most interested in verses 9-12. Specifically verse 12, which says  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” If you read the whole chapter he sets a very clear distinction between how you are supposed to treat those outside the church as opposed to those inside the church. If someone is not a christian, why are you trying to hold them to your christian standards? This is the “you can’t have a doughnut because I am on a diet” argument at its worst. 

Secondly, I would like to bring up the issue of laws themselves. The bible makes it clear that following rules is not what saves us or makes us holy (Galatians 3:11 “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”). Instead, the law shows us that we are sinful (Romans 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” / Romans 7:7 “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.'”). But we are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”).

You know who got caught up in making rules and made their religion into a legalistic mass of laws people had to follow to be saved? The Pharisees.

Let me share a small personal anecdote. A few years ago I was working at a christian summer camp. That summer we were specifically trying to deal with an ongoing modesty issue we had. And by modest issue, I mean that there was a widely held assumption that the women were responsible for preventing men from stumbling and an unwritten expectation that they would wear t-shirts at all times over their bathing suits. We recognized that this was an issue. That, first of all, we were making a man’s issue (lust) into a woman’s problem. Also that there was this perpetuated t-shirt rule. “How can we fix this?” we thought. “I know,” someone suggested, “why don’t we just make everyone wear t-shirts over their bathing suits?” Then everyone would be under the rule and it wouldn’t be unequally targeting women. I can’t remember for sure if the someone who suggested it was me, I think it was, but I might have just jumped right up on board with someone else’s suggestion. I can’t remember for sure. All I know is that I legitimately thought it would solve the problem. And guess what, it didn’t. Not at all.

The rule, while made from a good intentions and a real intent to address the issue of the modesty double standard, just made things worse. People, men especially, revolted. We were called legalistic and really took a thrashing over it. Here’s what I learned. Rules don’t address motives, they only address action. Guess what Jesus said over and over in the Sermon on the Mount, “I don’t care about actions, I care about motives.” Okay, that’s a paraphrase, but I think it is accurate. So many of the statements follow the same structure, ‘You have heard this rule, but I tell you that what is going on in your heart matters more.’ It is not about whether or not you murder, it is about whether or not you hate. It is not about whether or not you cheat on your wife, it is about whether you lust.

Addressing the motive is much harder. It means you actually have to talk to people, you have to ask them what they are thinking and feeling and why they chose to act the way they did. It means that you have to take time to understand where they are coming from and how they are interpreting the bible verses you are talking about. To start actually fixing the modesty problem we had to scrap the rule that addressed the action and start dealing with the motive. We had to start talking about lust, about rape culture, and about how this problem has been perpetuated. We had to deal with problems on a case-by-case basis and be willing to take the time to have conversations with people when problems came up. It is much harder than simply implementing a rule. But these interactions now addressed the heart. These kinds of interactions forced discussion and a real examination of motives. Real change could actually take place because both sides were involved in the discussion and worked together to find a solution.

So guess what, forcing people to follow a “no gay marriage” rule will not make them holy. It addresses only an action. Not a motive. Change has to come from inside. It has to be a choice. Submitting your actions to a rule means nothing. You do not have to believe a rule is right to follow it. Also, as I learned from the t-shirt fiasco, even if you make a rule from a good place with good intentions to accomplish something good, as soon as you force someone to follow it, all the good is gone. And on top of that, the people you are forcing to follow your rule will only end up resenting it and you. From my experience they will be even less likely to arrive at the place you intended when you made the rule.

The thing that makes the gospel stand apart and matter is the choice. You cannot demand that someone be holy. It does not work that way.

I understand that many of the people who voted no interpret and believe that homosexuality is a sin. But it being a sin does not give you the right to take away someone’s choice. Also, somehow the church has decided that it is a sin above other sins. Why is no one lobbying the government to have adultery made illegal? What about lying? What about pride? I seem to remember the bible having a lot more to say about pride than about homosexuality. Part of being a christian, and just being a human, is choice. We are given the free will to choose how we think, and act, and believe. Yes, things get more complicated when our choices and actions harm others. That is where our secular laws come in. I have a very hard time seeing how being LGBT harms others and more than dishonesty, and pride, and hatred, and selfishness does. But the church seems much less concerned with those things. Which again, does not line up with the bible I have read.

I will respond to some of the arguments that I have heard and that I imagine people might bring to this. Please lets just pretend that the “same-sex marriage devalues marriage for the rest of us” argument doesn’t exist. Because obviously if you are a christian who is married, you marriage is sacred because it is a convenant before God and if the government issuing a piece of paper to a same-sex couple can devalue that, you clearly have much bigger problems. Lets also not do the thing where we say that it will corrupt our children because I see lust, pride, dishonesty, and selfishness harming and corrupting just as many children and, again, no one is lining up to make those things illegal or expel those people from the church. If you really want to protect the children from sin, lets really address sin, not just pick out the few sins we deem as the worst.

The only decent argument I can think of is that someone could make the case that if same-sex marriage is legalized there could come a time when a church or pastor could be faced with discrimination charges for refusing to marry a same-sex couple. I can see where you are coming from if this is your concern. But I do not think that is a valid reason to vote no. You would deny someone their basic civil rights because there is a chance in the future you might be faced with some persecution? I get that this could put someone in the position where they may have to take a stand for their faith. Where they might have to decide whether to perform the marriage or to face the discrimination charges. But that is the issue, not the government recognizing same-sex marriage. Voting ‘no’ now so that no one is put in that position later is a decision based on fear. From my perspective that is not standing up for your faith. That is denying someone else their freedom so that you might not have to stand up for your faith later. Meanwhile, real people are being denied things that you take for granted as a straight person. Things like medical benefits, pensions, and even the right to hospital visitation and ability to make medical decisions for their partner.

I cannot see how refusing these basic rights to a couple because their relationship doesn’t line up with your religion is a loving act. And I cannot see how you can think that forcing a rule on people will show them God’s love.

I know it’s easier to just make a rule now so that you don’t have to be uncomfortable in the future. And free will is hard. It means that people have to be allowed to choose good or evil. If you are struggling with this issue, or even if you are sure you have it figured out, I would encourage you to ask yourself some questions. Are you really loving people? Are you really following what the bible says? Are you trying to solve a problem with a rule? Is your decision based on fear? Are you making your decision because it is what you feel like you are supposed to decided as a christian? Or have you taken the time to really decide for yourself what you believe?

I obviously can’t answer these questions for you. That is up to you. I just wanted to present my thoughts to (1) perhaps show a side you have not heard before and (2) show people who might share my beliefs that they are not alone. You are more than entitled to your own free will and your right to make your own choice. I just know that in my head I have a hard time logically reasoning a ‘no’ vote and in my heart I struggle to see how it shows the love of Christ.

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(I have tried to write this in a respectful “I am just presenting my beliefs and not attacking yours” way. Is there a chance I got something wrong? Of course. But if you try to fight with me in the comments I probably just won’t answer. If you want to ask questions or try to further understand where I am coming from or respectfully point out something I may have overlooked, feel free.)

Smoke.

We are starting to get consistently late in posting. I had intentions of getting my post out on the weekend, but I frankly just couldn’t find the ambition to care whether or not I did it on time. This is because last week was maybe one of the worst weeks I have had since I can remember. It was a mixture of night shift and a never-ending headache so consuming that I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of a dense and blinding fog of apathy.

But my update should really start about three weeks ago.

There was a wedding I was supposed to go to on the last weekend of August. August had been ferociously busy for me and by the time the wedding was a week away the thought of having to drive eight hours each way to attend my sixth wedding of the summer (I’m including the ones I photographed) was too exhausting to entertain. So with a heart full of guilt for missing a very dear friends wedding, I bailed at the last minute.

Turns out that it would have been even worse than I thought had I decided to attend. So much more than just the exhaustion that would have come from driving that far in such a short time.

On Saturday my mom and I were out of cell phone reception for a few hours in the afternoon. When we got back into range we received a barrage of texts and voicemails from my brother and my dad saying things like “call me as soon as you get this!” Never a good message to get. I called my brother and he answered with, “how much do you know?” Also a terrible thing to hear. Turns out my dad had been in a pretty serious mountain biking accident at the Fernie ski hill. At that point he was in the Fernie hospital and they were saying he had multiple broken ribs and a suspected pneumothorax. He was waiting for an ambulance transfer to Cranbrook so that he could get a CT scan.

While it was a very stressful few minutes, we were fairly quickly assured that while he was badly hurt, he was definitely okay. He was transferred to Cranbrook later that evening. He had a CT scan and we found out that he had five broken ribs, all acute fractures (broken all the way through), one broken in two places, and two ribs displaced. He also did have a punctured lung and had blood in his lung and air in his chest cavity. There were going to keep him in the hospital and see if he needed a chest tube.

Then we went to bed.

In the morning I woke up to my mom bursting into my room. She told me that my grandma had called and my grandpa had just died and she was on her way over there and could I call my siblings and let them know.

I should interject here that my grandpa had cancer. He had it for about four years and just recently had reached the point where they decided to stop treating him. It was a mixture of running out of different drugs that would work against that cancer and just the fact that his health was declining and chemo is rough on the body. He had just spent a few weeks in the hospital before they made the decision but he was supposed to continue to recover at home and have a few months. No one was expecting it to come this fast. I think it was something like ten days after he came home. So while it was not a completely unexpected thing for him to pass, it was still a shock and no one was ready.

A bit later than morning, my dad’s doctor came and told him that he was going to need a chest tube right away and that they would be moving him to the ICU.

The next week was basically split between my grandma’s house and the ICU. I took two days off work to be around and spend time with my mom, grandma, and dad. Then I went back to work and fit in visits to the ICU and my grandma’s around my work schedule.

My dad slowly got better and a week after the crash he came home and things quieted down. This was also the time I got switched on to night shift for a couple weeks and the forest fires got really bad.

The first week of night shift was not so bad. It was really smokey, but I was coping alright. The second week however, was a whole new story. This was last week. Early Tuesday morning the smoke rolled in a whole new kind of thick. It was insane. By the end of the shift I had a headache and as you know from the first paragraph of this post, it was to last a loooong time. By Thursday I was a complete mess. There were four of us on night shift (two of us on clean up and two millwrights) and we would sort of joke about who looked the most like shit each night. I’m pretty sure I won every single night that week. And I was in such a fog of smoke and pain that all I could do was weakly agree that I did, in fact, look like complete shit.

I thought that maybe getting off night shift would clear the headache. A caffeine pill gave me a very brief reprieve on Friday and I foolishly thought that perhaps I finally beaten the headache. Nope. It came back Saturday morning with a vengeance and I still could not manage to think straight. It felt like someone was forcefully and consistently stabbing me in the eyes.

I was supposed to be on night shift again this week. But thankfully something changed and on Friday afternoon I got a call saying I had been changed to afternoon shift. However, the headache persisted and I was beginning to think I either had a brain bleed, meningitis, or a brain tumour and on all accounts was on my way out of this world in a whirl of smoke and pain.

BUT! I did not die. I can’t remember which day (because it is all a smokey blur), but it rained and cleared a lot of the smoke out of the air. Then it got cold and kept raining and I could see the mountains again. When I came back to work on Monday I still had a headache, but I the mill yard was clear. One of the millwrights who had been on night shift with me the week before told me I looked 100% better than I had on night shift. I told him I still had a headache and he told me that the smoke had given him a headache too. (He said that he had a constant headache before his two week vacation to California. Once he got out of the smoke he said it took a full week for the headache to go away. When he came back into the smoke he said it within two days the headache was back).

About halfway through my shift on Tuesday it was like a light switch turned on inside my head. My headache wasn’t completely gone, but I felt the light come back on behind my eyes. It was like a fever breaking; the heavy fog I had been in just suddenly lifted. On Wednesday I woke up without a headache for the first time in over a week. Over the rest of this week I have slowly been feeling better and better. I think I went the whole day yesterday without feeling like anyone was stabbing my in the eyes.

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So there is my update. I have had a kind of terrible month, but things have sort of calmed down and I have a bit of hope that they are (slowly) on their way up.

Here are some fun before and after photos of the mill yard:

 

ALSO. I did an interview/guest post on another blog about working in a sawmill and being one of the only women in a male-dominated work environment. You could read it if you want to here.