Monday, November 29, 2004

Deck the Halls (and the trees)

When I was still living at home (before I came to Redeemer), every weekend that was closest to Dec 5th my dad and I (and who ever else wanted to join) would go out find a Christmas tree for our living room. Granted, it wasn't the 'picturesque' traditional version of getting a tree. Instead of driving out into the country to a tree farm, we would visit various tree lots in the parkinglots of Food City, the Quinte Mall, Canadian Tire, and where ever else we had seen them set up in the week previous. After we found 'our' tree, rather than getting out the saw and making the kill, we'd point out the tree to the sales man and he'd grab the trunk with his thick leather glove, pound it down onto the ground a few times to rid it of the excess snow, and we'd put it in the car and bungee the trunk shut.
After the tree sat in our basement for a few hours, drying out and filling out its branches, a few hours of setting up the tree would ensue with mixed emotions and exclamations. Like clockwork, my mom would gripe and pronounce that this was the last year that we were getting a real tree! I knew that these afternoons were extremely stressful for her, but from my end of things, there was nothing in the world that I would rather be doing than getting pricked in the fingers by the needles as I helped to straighten the tree. Before any decorations were allowed to adorn the tree, one pivitol step remained: securing the tree to two walls with fishing line. We learned, after several years of waking up to our tree on the ground, to use this as a preventative measure rather than a cure after the mishap.
It was always a race to place the first ornament onto the tree. We all have ornaments that belong to us, so the idea was that we each wanted ours to be the first one on. My favourite first ornament was always a little red sleigh made out of painted popsicle sticks, a Christmas present from many many years ago. Lights, garlands, beads, ornaments and tinsel.
It never looked like a tree from a magazine. I wouldn't have wanted it to. They look so fake, so unloved. Each ornament on our tree has a different story behind it, and has a reason for being on our tree.
When I was still small enough, I would lie under the tree looking up into the needles and lights, smelling the fresh sap and pine. I imagined myself into so many different places when I was under that tree.
I don't think that I could count all of the times that I would wait for everyone to go to bed, or even just get up at five in the morning, go into the living room and plug in the tree. I have rarely known moments as peaceful as those were, as I sat hugging my knees to my chest, the curtains open, watching the dim walls reflect the constant light of some strands on the tree and the uneven pulsing of others. Sometimes it would be snowing and I would sit infront of the open window, inhaling the frost bitten air into the deepest part of my lungs. These were my moments, the moments that God made for Jenn.

I was disappointed when my mom finally followed through with her statement three years ago and we got a fake tree. Somehow, they're just not the same. They don't have the same feeling behind them, they don't give you the hassle of going to find a tree and fitting it into a trunk and screwing the stand into it and scratching and poking you like real trees do. That's exactly the point, a lot of people will probably respond, that's why a fake tree is better. But just because it's less hassle doesn't make it the better choice. Some things in this world are worth the effort, and to me, Christmas trees are some of them. Mind you, I don't refuse the fake tree. In the end, the same ornaments are placed on it with the same sentiments behind, and last year I still got up in the middle of the night and turned on the tree and hugged my knees and just watched. There isn't an object in my house throughout the rest of the year that embodies as much love and history as our Christmas Tree.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Green like Percy

I have been introduced to a whole new world of comparisons. At least with colours. For example, Christmas trees are green like Percy. My sweater is blue like Thomas. Laura's clock is red like James. If anyone (outside my family) actually knows right now what these references are to, I don't know whether to applaud you or block TVO and PBS from your chanel rotation.
I spent this past weekend with my whole family, which includes now the six of us (as it has for the past 21 years), two in-laws and a niece and a nephew. Reuben, my two year old nephew, has developed an obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. Whereas most two year olds need a blankie and a teddy before going "night-night," my nephew needs his blankie and his two train engines, Thomas and Percy. He can even tell the difference between them in the dark because Thomas has three wheels on each side and Percy only has two. Smart boy.
We all learned quite a bit about Thomas and his friends this weekend, it's really amazing what a two year old can teach a room full of adults about trains! At one point, Reuben decided (while he was eating a cookie) that Percy had to sleep in Auntie Jenn's bed for a little bit. It was no surprise then (or at least, it shouldn't have been) that when Auntie Jenn went to bed, she found cookie crumbs on her bedspread, on her pillow, and under her pillow and under her sheets. Ah the joys.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A little disclaimer: I didn't mean for this poem to turn out sounding so depressive: I just wanted to play with words a little... Cook said that "and" didn't deserve to have a line of its own in a poem, so I gave "and" a poem of its own.

[the space between]


is nothing
is an empty word


you [and] me


you [empty] me

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Oh the weather outside is ...frightful...?

Cousin John had a calendar in First year that gave him advice every day. One day, the advice read, "Never fall in love with someone who doesn't get excited by the first snowfall." If people went by that rule, I don't think that there would be too many people falling in love.
It seems to me that I don't know many people who could qualify as "typical" Canadians. What's the greatest stereotype of Canadians? That we all live in Igloos and love winter and all things snowy. Funny. I have very few friends who love (or even remotely like) winter, and less who tolerate snow past the first snowfall. What is it about winter that people despise so much?
I will be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of summer, but I will concede that it has benefits. For example, going swimming and waterskiing, playing beach volleyball, rollerblading by the bay, having barbeques and bonfires, going camping, and the list could go on. I don't like the stifling 30degree heat with humidity rising at 98%, I feel as if I could suffocate in that kind of weather. However, I don't think that I would like to do away with the season all together. Why do so many want to do away with winter all together?
Granted, cold temperatures and snow are not the best for car owners. This time of year requires many to plug in their cars overnight and go out early in the morning to remove snow from the driveway and the surface of their cars. But does *no one* else enjoy shovelling snow?! I can't be all alone in this aspect.
Think about the simple pleasures of winter. It's a warm (-2degrees) January night and it's not dark out because there is so much snow floating down that a blue-ish orange-ish light is reflected everywhich way. The flakes are clumped together and as they float they grow in size, collecting other clumps of snow. As they land on the branches of trees, they make soft noises of settling down. If you take a step or two, you can hear the freash snow squeak and crunch under your boots. There are snow drifts just the right size to fall back into; it's a surprisingly soft and gentle landing. If you look up into the sky, you can get the feeling of being in a snow globe. The flakes create a mezmorising and random sight; it is so quiet that the only noise heard is the tinkling of the snow. It lands softly on your cheeks, nose and lips and melts within seconds. The only thought going through your mind seems to be: "what I wouldn't give to be on the beach right now, in 30 degree weather!"
Insanity. That's what I label it as. I'm sorry, I've tried to understand the position of those who dislike winter, but I've not yet been sucessful. How can you not be excited about the first snow fall? Or the second or the third? How can you write off winter without even attempting to acknowledge the magnificent creation of snow and the way that it changes the world?
And please: if you don't like snow, don't be too quick to rain on the snowmen of those of us who like it: while we don't live in igloos, we do live in a country that is prone to recieving large amounts of snow in the winter. I'd rather be living in a state of excitement about snow and winter than live in a state of depression due to the dreary cold weather for four months. If it's too cold for you, go put on an extra sweater.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Countries of Existence

Six months and fifteen days ago, I was in Oxford, Endland, preparing to come back to Canada. I was horribly home sick. Right now, I would love to go back to England. I'm horribly home sick. I was going through someone's England blogs this afternoon, and I found this post:

What I will miss about England: crooked middle lines in the road, scaring sheep, british comedy at my fingertips, quaint cosy villages miles from anywhere, the impossibility of feeling dutch saturation, no one here hates me and I don't hate anyone here, the trees possess more personality than some people I know, so do the clouds, french tourist girls asking the way to Christ Church College, oxford swag, temperate weather, cheap wine, cheap cider, cheap beer, traffic circles, centuries-old wood panelling, plethora of Travis music videos, Blackadder, Bertie and Jeeves, the love of books, castles, lush green grass everywhere, Evensong.

What I won't miss: diesel engines, cellphones twittering every 3.7 seconds from any and all directions, suicidal currency exchange, 2 reoccuring weather patterns: a hanging 4 o'clock sun or overcast, every meat is mystery meat, prawn flavored chips, single-pane windows, train delays, the smell of wet dog in the kitchen, Jenn flicking me in the back of the head everytime she walks past, mud, BBC2.

With the exception of the french tourist girls, the Travis music videos and the suicidal currency exchange, I actually miss everything on both of those lists. Oh, and I guess the whole "Jenn flicking me in the back of the head everytime she walks past," as I can't say that I've ever actually done that to myself in the first place.

Someday I'll go back.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Can you hear it? The crooning voice from the eighties accompanied by drums, a guitar, a synthesizer and back up singers. His voice is powerful and a little rough, yet touching. The girls fall left and right for him and his sensitive lyrics.
Admittedly, Bryan Adams can sing well, and he deserves the attention that his voice gets. But I was talking about Michael W Smith. I'm not sure how easy it is to confuse the two, but a friend of mine disagreed the other day. He said something to the effect of, "I think I could easily confuse Michael dub-ya with Bryan Adams. Actually, I think I have confused them before." Interesting.
Listening to the old-school Michael really brings me back to nights of doing dishes back home in Belleville, having towel whipping fights and massacring such hits as "Rocketown" and "Cross of Gold," back in my glory days of 5th grade. Sigh. Those were the days.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It only takes a spark...

Have you ever noticed how much heat candles can produce? In the centre of our floor right now are nine canldes of various shapes and sizes. The aesthetic affect is actually quite beautiful, it looks rather artistic. However, with the house that we live in, the artistic look is the last reason that we're lighting these candles. Picture a Redeemer Dorm, one of the townhouses. Sitting at your desk, feeling a draft come through the wall... A furnace that is turned on, but not really emitting anything other than slightly-warmer-than-outside-but-still-colder-than-the-house air. Now, to the credit of our house, it has beautiful hardwood flooring. However when your house is in the condition that I have just described, the flooring really does only make it feel colder, if not actually make it colder in here. Not really wanting to fork out the cash for extrememly high gas bills, Kenny and I discovered the warmth of candles. Mind you, we do seem to be going through them quite quickly. (Donations are being accepted)
So here I sit, with the glow of the computer screen and nine candles lighting the room. As Kenny said, it's a good thing we know Jesus; otherwise we might be taken for being in a cult or having a seance.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Oh the inexplicable excitement of connecting two disciplines in a paper! We have entered the stage of Christian Philosophy that deals with the Postmodern and the like. Strangely enough, I am almost finding myself at home with the readings that we are required to do. I say almost because, as I have stated before, I will never be "at home" with the terms used in academic articles, and I will never pull a very complete understanding and meaning from the articles. However. I realized last week (though in actuality, I should have realized this last year first semester) that English and Philosophy currently overlap to a large extent.
I know the terms that we are discussing, and what is more, I can apply them to what I have read and studied. For instance, in Philosophy this past week we read about Derrida's deconstructionalism, the moving from metanarratives to mistrust of all narratives, the death of the author, and much more. These are all ideas and theories that I've already studied! I've read Fish, Hutcheon, Derrida, Foucault and more. The concepts of time and narrative can be exemplified in novels that I studied with Dr Bowen. I'm not in any literary criticism course, nor have I taken one, but Dr Bowen is fond of presenting these ideas and theories to her students in upper level courses, and I'm extremely fond of her for doing so! I'm no longer drowning, and it feels great to have a life preserve.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Oy Vay

It's that time of year again. The leaves have almost all fallen (except for the stubborn leaves on our Oak tree, they've been dead now for two weeks and refuse to let go), the temperature is dropping , slippers are becoming a necessity, and lo and behold, it's Paper Season. Every semester at this time, I create a list of all of the papers that I have to write, what class they're for, when they're due and when I aim to have them finished. And every semester at this time, I tend to ignore the little schedual that I have made for myself.
The more papers I have to write, the more intimidated I am to write them, and the more I procrastinate. However, the more I procrastinate, the less time I have to write more papers. The less time I have to write the papers, the more I become stressed out and intimidated, and the less I write the papers. It really is a vicious circle.
To top it off, since first year I have become progressively inspired to to the best that I can do on each assignment, which always leaves me in a bit of a bind because when it comes down to it, I can't do the best that I can do when I write the paper the night before it is due. What a quandry.
I rush around, I stress out, I complain about how much I have to do, and yet--when I have a free day, I can't even write a quarter of a paper. I've been writing a ten page paper now for the past six days, and I've got three or four pages completed. This presents quite a problem when I have so much else to do but don't do it because I feel as if I should finish one thing before moving on to the next. Sometimes I feel as if (to quote a wise Brit by the name of Allistar Dutton), I'm wallowing in the quagmire of stupidity.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A year ago this past weekend, I was passed out on the couch in Dorm 26, high on drugs and oblivious to the four bleeding crevises in my mouth. Some might have said that I resembled a chipmunk, others might have said that they had never seen me give such dirty looks when they tried to tickle or tease me: "you're *not allowed* to do that to me when I'm sick!!" Thankfully, all four of my wisdom teeth are out, so it's a procedure that I will not have to go through again. It's crazy, looking back at last year, how many things are so different now than they were then.