The Year in a Nutshell

Goooooooodbye 2011. Sitting here, trying to think of what to write that could sum up 2011 in one short cleverly written phrase, I’m stumped. It seems as though so much had happened this past year, but somehow I end the year basically in the same spot I was in when I’d started the year. Does that make for a failed year? Not really. Does it make for a successful year? Guess it depends on your half full half empty philosophical stance.

I’d met some intruiging people in 2011. Some who’d showed me amazing things I’d never knew existed, who let me into their lives and  shared with me their experiences. An unknown quotist once quoted ‘Some people enter our lives and leave almost instantly. Others stay and forge such an impression in our heart and soul, that we are forever changed.’ This year had both kinds of people and I’m grateful for all of them. There were some friends who I’d gotten closer with this year, and others who had distanced. Some who moved back home for good, some to just visit. How, exactly, I have been forever changed is still unknown. I’m old enough to know that nothing is ever finite, that what is today, might not be tomorrow. I’m also old enough to know that who I am today, makes me into who I will be tomorrow, that if you want change, it has to come from within. It’s always a choice. I’m thankful that I’m also young enough to not have experienced everything yet, that theres so much more to look forward to.. or not look forward to. Good with the bad, right?

Professionally, I’ve almost taken the entire year off. Not to say I haven’t worked hard, just not as hard and focused as I know I’m capable of. Truth be told, I’m suffering from the worst ailment that can strike a professional. Contentment. What I should do vs. What I want to do. If we never want to be more than who we are exactly today, exactly right now, do nothing. Learn nothing, read nothing, challenge nothing. Ouch, that was what I did in 2011. But I know it won’t be this way in 2012.

I’m not sure what kind of year I’ll have in 2012, just as I’m sure you have no idea about yours. I’m excited for it though, and I’ll take the bad with the good. I’ll take the people, the lessons and experiences and whatever else comes my way. It’s what makes it worth living.

“Life is simple and life is not. Life is simply what we make of it ourselves.”

Happy New Years Everyone!

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Book of the Moment – The Hunger Games

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years everyone. Glad you made it through the year and are still alive. 2011 was a bit of a weird year. I had an amazing time from start to finish but it felt like I was standing still. We had a great summer, albeit a late one that didn’t really start until August and ended in mid-October. Mr. Sunshine pressed snooze 3 times too many and slept in. He needs one of those natural-light-sunrise alarms. Have you seen those?? There’s a light on it that gradually increases in brightness to replicate the natural circadian sleep awakening instead of the BREEEP BREEEP BREEEP BREEEP that jolts my heart awake every fucking morning and makes me feel like my bed and I have been air dropped into a war zone. Anyway, (rambling, sorry, short attention span; the gift to our generation by marketing executives) they said this winter was supposed to be a really cold one in Vancouver, but so far it’s just rained a lot. Tamara Taggerts job must be pretty easy 9 months of the year. This past weekend, I went home to my parents place in Coquitlam. Every Christmas, I trek home for dinner and to spend a night in my old room. It’s a lot smaller than I always remembered it to be. At home (my place in Vancouver), I have a plethora of toys to keep me entertained til..forever, but in Coquitlam there wasn’t much to do past 11pm. Luckily, my sister lent me her books, and one of them was The Hunger Games, the first book of a trilogy. I read this book in less than 24 hours and I seriously couldn’t put it down. My PVR’d episodes of Big Bang, Family Guy, and 2 Broke Girls could wait. Xbox and Skyrim was on hold. Breaking Bad was a tough one to keep at bay, but I could always stream Netflix tomorrow. The Hunger Games wouldn’t let me out of its grasp like a vengeful stalking ex-girlfriend.

A Synopsis I didn’t write:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV.

One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor to his or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games.

But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life.

Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

My 2 cents:

The best part is that the movie is coming out in March. The story is current and entertaining and mixes reality tv and a fight for literal survival. Literally. You think the contestants on Survivor has it bad? These kids have to kill each other in a huge arena for the entertainment of the viewers, constantly battling thirst, hunger, fire, wild animals, and 23 other teens for survival. They make friends and lose friends and had one of the most enthralling plots of any book I’d ever read. It drives the story in a simple forward moving arc but the environment and futuristic post-apocalyptical world created by Suzanne Collins is impressive. I particularily liked how she switched from the glamourous world of Panem to the brutality and violence in the Games. It makes you realize that if humainty continues to move forward with so much war, fighting, entertainment, games and the constant need for more more more, our rambling attention defecit disordered society might one day come full circle back to the Gladiator era with death as entertainment and be numb to the morality of it all.

My 10 thumb rating: 8.5/10

Book of the Moment – The Hangman’s Daughter

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I’ve had a lot to express, but just got derailed into getting it out there. All of 2011 I’ve written one post, in the middle of the year. I’m going to make it a habit now, writing again. Even though I know there’s like 2 of you reading this (hi mom)…ok 3.

Another thing I’m going to make a habit again is reading. I’ve taken a year long hiatus from words, and I tell ya, it feels good to pick up a book again. I had to start light; couldn’t jump right into Tolstoy, so I picked a fiction. I knew if I started with something inspirational-ly or improvement like, I’d read up to chapter 3 and it’d sit there, collecting dust while I mashed away at Skyrim. I needed something that I couldn’t put down and was excited to read whenever I had spare 5-10 minutes, so I picked up The Hangman’s Daughter.

I was at Chapters last week looking for a Christmas present for my sister, Allie. She’s an english lit masters and a teacher and has always recommended great fictions to me. I’ve yet to find her a good book she hasn’t read yet, but I keep trying. I was walking by an aisle and the cover of the book drew me to it. Just a simple dark cover, with red shoes hanging. I think it was the font of the title that snared me, so I bought it for her. Covers DO sell books. (I hope she isn’t one of the 2 other people who read my blog. If so… Merry Christmas Bowl! You’re getting a book! Woo!)

…and yes, I read it before I wrapped it. I leafed through it super-extra-careful…and never brought it into the bathroom with me. Maybe twice.

A Synopsis I did not write

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Putzch “A historical thriller set in Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead—marked by the same tattoo—the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.
Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in [his town]. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.”

My 2 cents

I liked it. A who-dun-it murder mystery set in old true history. It showed me a whole new world. A new fantastic point of view… Usually everybody watches movies about medieval kings and gods (300, Immortals, LOTR) yes, ok well, usually I watch movies about medieval kings and gods, but this story was told from the POV of dirt, suffering and dying from things we new world folk take for granted. In an era where people died from the flu, mothers regularily died from childbirth and most children don’t survive past 3 years old becuase of the plague, malnourishment… a simple infected cut. It’s crazy, to think people lived like that. (That some still do.) Easy read and great story. I couldn’t put it down and I was glad the cover font was so cool. Worth the easy read and great after a 1 year absence.

My 10 thumb rating: 6.72/10

Rest In Peace. A sad day for Canadians.

I don’t pay as much attention to Canadian politics as much as I do to our neighbors down the street. Maybe because American politics affect my business as 100% of my income is directly correlated with the American corporate economy (that’s what I tell people). But really, they are just so much more dramatic, with almost a Hollywood movie style scripture to it. There seems to always be a protagonist in fight for the mighty good versus the bad guy who threatens the peace of the innocent. Whether it’s because a minority race and sex were up for vote or because there was always a war to win and people to rally, US politics had an easy, simple story to follow. I guess that’s what captures the minds of the American masses.  

 This past year though, one Canadian politician managed to make me listen to what he had to say with his charm and charisma (that’s what I tell people), but mainly because his goodness and care for Canadians showed through his words and his actions. He genuinely cared for his country and it’s a shame that cancer had to take him at such a pinnacle stage of his life and for all the Canadians that he would have positively affected in the years to come. I guess with this story, there was a good guy and a bad guy too.

While his actions are no longer with us, his words we can still learn from. This was from an excerpt from Layton’s last letter to Canadians:

             ~And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the worlds environment. We can restore our good name in the world….

..Consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. 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.

– Jack Layton 1950-2011

The Truth (as i see it)

Have you ever played the whisper game? You sit in a circle and whisper something in the ear to the person beside you. By the time it gets back to you, your original sentence of “I scored a hat trick and threw my gloves up in the air last night” has been mangled into “I nailed a fat chick and puked all over her hair last night.”

(LOL)

The truth is, that Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder. You hear all the time, that are 2 sides to every story, but really, there are 3. Your truth, My truth, and the real Truth.

When I was younger, I’d try hard to change the minds of people around me to My Truth because that was what I believed to be true, and if I was right, then you were wrong and that was that. Through my bullishness and constant barrage of ‘facts’ or ‘hear-says’, I would eventually convince my counterpart to concede. Wow, how stubborn I was, because even though they conceded to my ideals or thoughts, they didn’t truly believe or respect My Truth so nothing was gained. We see this everyday from the small and insignificant (what flavor a jellybean really is) to world issues (North Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, USA, USSR and every other war that has happened…in ALL of time). The issue is when one side has created a truth in their minds which they believe to be true and are too stubborn to see any other truth. I’m sure Kim Jong Il is a great conversationalist until you disagree on something.  (Maybe he’s ronery) What I’ve learned is that there is actually only One Truth. What used to be My Truth and your truth is simply just my opinion and your opinion with Truth skittering on edge.

With opinion, people go on to lay thick the eloquence on their convictions and beliefs on everything from politics to morality…and usually, they are very adamant about those views, saying them like they are actually the truth, not just “for me,” but truth, period.  Can you really blame a person though? The natural and first instinct of any living creature is self preservation whether it be life or pride, happiness or ego. If ones truth (opinion) threatens your happiness or your life, you will do all you can to fight against it, deny it and create your own story, gain followers and make that your truth to save yourself. How wars are started. (Even Star Wars)

Your best friend or your worst enemy won’t stand a chance against ‘The Truth’ that you believe.

Sadly this is the same with rumors, which are simply the skewed opinions and ‘truths’ that stemmed from people in between you and I. Like the whisper game, did I really sleep with a portly princess last night or was what I said somehow transformed before it got to your ear?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that changing minds about truths and opinions does nothing. A person might not share the same Truth as you, but you still see it as your Truth so the least they can do is try to understand why you see it that way. Who knows, you might be right, you might be wrong, but in the end, we are the only ones that can change our mind of what we believe.

Chapters of Life

There’s no chapters in Life. No time to put the book down to reflect what just happened. No clear start and finish other than birth and death, and even then sometimes the lines seem blurred. Life just goes on, from one chapter to the next with no indication that a chapter is over. Sure when you graduate, get hired, get married, etc those are clearer starts to something that you could possibly define as new, but usually we won’t know that a chapter in your life is over until way well into the next one, when things are so different already that you finally notice a change in the color of your mood ring.

A lot of people, myself included, often make the mistake of waiting for the next chapter to begin, or waiting til this one is over. One of my friends knew he was going to get laid off a while back, perhaps even a year ago, that his position was going to become obsolete. Now he’s 2 months away and he’s still waiting for the axe to drop. His response? “I’ll figure it out.” I’m sure he will, but in the meantime he’s letting external factors control his life. Stop waiting and go do something. Change will happen whether you do something or not, but if you’re proactive, you can at least control the cange instead of being a victim of change. Think about all the different chapters in your lives. When you were in school. When you were dating your first boyfriend/girlfriend. When you were playing in the backyard as a child. Even last year, when you were single and now you’re not. When did you first notice that things weren’t the way they were? This will continue throughout your life until you die. I’ve been saying WTF at every turn of realization…

WTF…I actually graduated?! What happened in the past 4 years?! WTF…I’m doing this as a career?! I thought it’d be something else. WTF…I’m in a relationship?! How’d that happen, we were just hanging out everyday. WTF…I’m 30, single and no kids?! I thought I’d be 2 wives in and 5 kids by now. WTF…I have 3 kids?! I remember getting a dog, how did I end up with a family?!? WTF…I’m retiring? Wow, never thought this day would come. WTF…life is over?! what happened? Where did time go?

All those things you’re waiting for to happen probably won’t ever turn out as you thought. Tolle says “This too, shall pass.” that this moment, no matter how perfect or imperfect it is, won’t last. Don’t wait for the next chapter to start or end, because it’ll come and you won’t even know it, because it’ll come in a fashion that is completely different than what you’d expected. And why should it happen the way you want, when you’ve done nothing to help it along that path? Write your next chapter yourself, MAKE the start you want to see, MAKE the end you want to happen and be the author of your own life.

Alcoholic or Workoholic? Can I be both?!

Wow it’s been a busy month! It’s been a while since I posted so my apologies to all the blog readers who come expecting to see something. It’s disappointing I bet. Like going to the theatres expecting to watch a movie that you were waiting all week to go see and then having it be sold out. Then you have to figure out what to do now because you expected to spend the next 2 hours nomming on popcorn and spacing out watching some medieval guy cut up goblins (or watching some middle aged ladies try to recapture their youth by spending lots of money, sleeping with every guy under 30 and complaining about why they’re single. I mean, come on. It’s kind of obvious why you’re single. But in that case, maybe missing the movie is a good thing…) Either way! Sorry it’s been a while since my last posting. (maybe you don’t even care. you’re like…”wth, who’s this dude think he is comparing his blog to one of the best chick flicks ever…”)

I wish I could tell you that I travelled to the Bahamas and sipped on coconut juice while lounging on a hammock by the crystal blue and green ocean this past month. But I can’t, cuz I didn’t. I’ve eaten out alot this past month…is that worth mentioning? I love trying new restaurants; the ambiance, the food and service of somewhere new almost makes it like a mini-vacation in your own city as you’re experiencing something new. Other than eat out alot I havn’t really done much summery stuff. Alas, what I have to report as my reason of non-posting blog neglectance is that…*drum roll*… I’ve been working alot.

YAY…

Sad really, summers almost over and I havn’t done half of the things I wanted to do. But work hard and play hard I guess! (I’m just kidding…I don’t work or play hard…)

Enjoy the rest of your summer!