Sunday Rambles

With all the LotSF stuff I’ve been doing the past few days, I had pretty much zero time to think of what I was going to write today. I mean, I spent the afternoon trying to come up with a suitable subject, and I did eventually settle on one that I like, but it’s a topic I want to invest a couple days’ worth of work into. So I shall save it for Wednesday’s post, and use this post to wrap up a few thoughts.

Firstly, I’m glad I did that LotSF chapter. I believe the story is an important one that I would like to continue telling, and it’s really good for me to have something like that to work on that I know I can really see progress with. I have lots of stories that I’m working hard on, but LotSF is special in that I am able to share it as I go along. It makes it feel more tangible, something I can say, “Look how much I’ve done,” and it’s great motivation to keep working hard and keep getting words on the page.

Secondly, I am so glad that spring finally seems to be arriving (knock on wood). This weekend was lovely, sunny and something resembling warmish, and it’s such a wonderful mood-booster. Despite spring signalling the start of the crazy stressful heartworm season at work, it also means that soon I’ll be able to spend more time outside without freezing my butt off. That means more LotSF inspiration and more opportunity to feel like myself.

Thirdly, I’ve been looking through old photos and drowning in happy nostalgia (more on that in my next post) and I am so grateful for the people I’ve met in my life. Especially my elementary school friends–people I’ve grown up with who are still so close to my heart. I’m very fortunate to know them and get to spend time with them, and it’s such an amazing thing to see them out there living their lives and figuring out what makes them happy.

And while I’m at it, I’m also grateful for people I’ve met through WordPress. I need to get a bit better at keeping in touch with all my digital friends, but I’m still so happy for the opportunity to have met them and gotten to know them. There are a few in particular who have influenced my life in all the best ways.

I dunno, I’m feeling so sappy tonight. I hope you guys had a good weekend.

Talk soon.

-Alex

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Infinite Imaginings

Last week, I noticed on my way home that someone in the neighbourhood has acquired their own little food truck.

I suppose it’s more of a food trailer than a food truck, seeing as how it looks like it fits on the back of a regular truck to be towed around, but still. There’s no mistaking the flashy red paint job and “BBQ & Grill” emblazoned on the side with a picture of some sort of savoury food next to it.

Normally it’s quite easy to tune out the background imagery of the neighbourhood, seeing as how I can pretty much put myself on autopilot to take the familiar drive home from work, but it’s rather hard to miss a bright red food trailer.

The few times since then I’ve driven past the trailer, I’ve been nosily trying to see who owns it and what it looks like on the inside. A couple times I’ve seen the back doors open and someone working away inside, but I’ve never really got a good glimpse of the owner or the kitchen space. Still, it’s a little point of interest to break up the monotony of the daily commute.

And it’s really fun to imagine.

Imagining the proud new owner of the food trailer making plans, babbling on about menu and locations, eagerly setting to work getting the trailer set up for business as the summer creeps closer. Imagining what the summer will be like, the very first season of this new culinary adventure, with people lined up and smoke billowing out the top and the smell of barbecued meat wafting through the hot, sunny afternoon. Imagining what sorts of stories this food trailer owner will soon be able to tell.

It almost burns, the curiosity and accompanying desire to know more, to know what’s true, to know what’s going to happen.

But it’s funny that we humans with our big, imaginative brains, seem to do that. Make stories out of the things we see, weave them into our lives.

A few days ago, as my coworker and I were just getting out of work, I was standing by the door waiting for her when I looked over towards the shipping centre next door and saw a man and woman hauling a big box into their car. The picture on the box indicated it was a child’s stroller, and a big one too. Once they got it in the car, they exchanged a high five before climbing inside.

It made me smile a bit, the little high five, and I wondered if this was their first kid. Was it still just a baby or was it a toddler now, big enough to warrant a bigger stroller? Where were they going to go with that stroller? The park, Disneyland, the zoo? Was the kid actually going to want to be in the stroller or would they at some point demand to go up on dad’s shoulders, to get a better lay of the land?

Just today, I noticed on my way to work a young man taking pictures of the back of his flame-orange pickup truck, which was obviously crumpled from some sort of collision. I only got a glimpse of him, not even enough to see the expression on his face, and I wondered how upset he was. He looked pretty young–was it his first car? Was it his first accident? Was it even an accident, or was it a hit and run in a parking lot, the kind of surprise you really don’t want to find when you get out of the store?

And what possessed him to get such a bright orange truck?

I mean, it’s amazing, but wow. Not many people go for bright orange.

I wonder if it’s his prized possession, that tropical orange truck. Maybe he’s absurdly proud of how unique that colour is, how it makes him so strikingly different from everyone else on the road.

Sometimes it really is just so much fun to wonder these things, to imagine what the answers might be, even if you’ll never find out if you’re right or not.

And I think it’s neat to notice these things, to give them the time of day. Like I said, it’s so easy to slip into the monotony of the day, of routine, and just completely block out all the familiar things around you. But once you actually start to notice things, once you actually pay attention to them and treat them as significant, it seems to fill your day with so much more colour and life.

I mean, you’ve heard me say it before: life is the greatest adventure.

And what a many-layered adventure it can be.

Because if you think about it, even though I don’t own the food trailer or the stroller or the orange pickup truck, even though I could never see any of those things again in my life, they have irretrievably become a small part of my life. They’ve been written into the daily story I’m telling, and the story I’ve chosen to share here.

In a way, they have become a part of my adventure, landmarks to celebrate particular moments along the journey.

If you wanted, you could dive into those little threads of story, you could follow the food trailer and the stroller and the orange pickup truck and you could see all the places they go, all the things they witness. You could take the small part they play in my story and expand it, dig into it like a little pocket of space in the timeline of infinity, and the overall story would become larger.

Let’s say the person with the food trailer serves food to a couple of girls with neon-dyed hair. You could then choose to follow their story, watch them fall in love and get a dog and move to Europe. You could dig into their lives, expand a new pocket of space, and make the story even larger.

You could do that an infinite number of times, opening up pockets, unravelling stories, crafting the overall narrative into something as immense and limitless as the universe itself.

You could take something as simple and linear as my life story and transform it into something massive and boundless.

Just by noticing things, just by imagining things, just by following stories.

I suppose I’ll never actually know the stories of the food trailer or the stroller or the orange pickup truck, and I’ll never get to see the universe-sized story that could be woven together from all the small individual strands, but it doesn’t change that I’m still a part of it. I’m woven into it just like everyone else.

Part of something bigger. Part of something magnificent.

Part of an adventure that’s bigger than anything I could even imagine.

It’s kind of amazing.

-Alex

Lights in the Sky

There are some people who are as radiant as the sun.

Their light is bright and warm and powerful. They illuminate every room with their imagination, brilliance, and joy. They are not easily forgotten or ignored. They are wonderful and caring and oh so happy.

But there are some people who are more like the moon.

Quiet, reserved. Their light is subtler, surrounded by a deep and awful darkness. And their light is… fragile. Easily lost, easily drowned out. It doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but it makes it much harder to hold onto. Much harder to light the way.

And while the sun rises every day without fail, the moon is much less predictable.

Sometimes it’s bright and full, light unhindered and beauty shining for all to see, but sometimes it is thin and dark and swallowed whole by the abyss.

And those days are hard for the people whose souls are like moons. Because when the darkness has swallowed you whole, what light is left to guide you?

Of course, just as the moon passes through its phases, so too does the light emerge once more from the darkness in a never-ending cycle. But unlike the people whose souls are like suns, the moon people must accept that hardship, struggle, and fear are going to cycle in and out of their lives, ebbing and flowing like ocean tides.

And they must accept, as hard as it is, that there will be winter nights that are so much longer than summer nights–nights when the darkness lingers until it is nearly unbearable.

But every night passes. Every new moon bears new life. The full moon always comes back again.

It’s hard. But it’s the way the world is.

And just because the lights are different, just because one may not be as warm or as strong as the other, doesn’t mean one is worth more.

Because I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t stand to wake up without a sun in the sky.

And a night without a moon would be excruciating.

May your light be ever cherished.

-Alex

The Easter Bunny

Hi everyone, I hope you had a happy Easter and were able to spend it with people you love :)

As promised, I’m here with a special Easter post. This story was not what I originally intended to post today, but I ended up getting a heavy dose of inspiration this morning and couldn’t help but write it out.

The characters I used here are actually from a different short story that I haven’t posted anywhere yet, but they fit this story so well, I had to use them. I’m not sure how significant this story is exactly, since there’s not a whole lot of information about the characters (that’s explored more in the other story), and I feel like there almost isn’t a point to this story. It’s just a story of a pleasant Easter morning, so take from it what you will.

Anyways, I shall speak no more. I hope you had a peaceful weekend and that this week treats you well. Take care :)

***

IMG_2777

The Easter Bunny

“Oh. You’re still awake?”

Hellen stood in the dining room doorway, surprised to see the light was on and her eldest son was working at the table. She came to stand by his chair, leaning over his shoulder to see what he was working on.

“Another commission,” Mason explained distractedly, chewing on his sweater drawstring as he worked. Hellen looked curiously at what he was drawing. It was some sort of punk kid, with dark dyed hair and edgy clothing and several piercings. The character was in a park, standing near a “No Dogs Allowed” sign with a mischievous smirk on his face.

“Is this one yours, or somebody else’s?” she asked as he fiddled with his drawing tablet and pressed a few keys on his laptop.

“Someone else’s,” he answered, spitting out the drawstring. He switched programs, pulling up a window with a reference picture of the other person’s character, and he pointed out some of the description written underneath. “The girl said he’s a demigod, from those Greek myths, and he’s basically like a dog whisperer. So she wanted me to draw him at the park next to the sign right before he summons a bunch of dogs. She said that’s how he meets another demigod, the one he falls in love with, because that demigod is related to Orpheus and can put the dogs to sleep.” He switched back to his drawing program and resumed his work, adding some shading to it. “It sounded cool actually. She said she writes stories. I might check them out when I’m done with her commission.”

Hellen nodded, not quite sure about all this demigod stuff but finding the general story interesting nonetheless. “Well don’t stay up too late,” she told Mason. “I have to hide all the chocolate and you know Sean will be waking you up early tomorrow morning. The Easter Bunny comes tonight, remember?”

He nodded and put the drawstring back in his mouth, foot tapping on his chair as he put all his focus into the drawing. Hellen left a kiss on top of his head and then went into the kitchen pantry, reaching up to the top shelf where she’d hidden the bag of Easter chocolates. She looked inside to make sure Mason hadn’t eaten any, which he fortunately hadn’t, and then set to work scattering them around the house.

She put some in obvious, easy-to-reach spots, like on tables and strewn along the hallway floors, so that Brooklyn and Sean would be able to collect them easily. Then she put others in much more difficult spots, like on top of doorframes or hidden in vases and drawers, so that she could challenge Mason and make him work for his chocolates. She couldn’t help but grin every time she tucked a chocolate egg into an especially tricky spot, one that she knew would take some thorough searching to find. It was amusing, watching her children scurry around all morning. And it was even more amusing teasing Mason when there was a chocolate nearby that she knew he couldn’t find.

Hellen made her way back to the dining room, being careful to hide Mason’s chocolates when he wasn’t looking. He was still working away at his commission, but now he was way zoomed in on it and messing around with some fine details around the face. “Are you working tomorrow?” he asked his mom, voice slightly muffled by the drawstring.

She sighed at his question. “I am. But not till two. So at least I get the morning.” Mason nodded in response and she asked in turn, “What about you?”

He took the drawstring out of his mouth and turned to face her. “Nah, hardware store’s been closed all weekend. D’you want me to take Sean and Brook to nana’s house then?”

Hellen smiled gratefully at him. “That would be much appreciated. She’ll probably have eggs to decorate or Easter cookies to make or something to keep them busy. She always does.”

Mason smirked. “At least then they won’t be bugging me.” He turned back around to keep working and Hellen took a deep, slow breath. Tomorrow wouldn’t be fun for her. It was amazing, really, how many people came to the drug store on Easter Sunday and how irritable they could be. At least her kids would be occupied.

Mason finished up with whatever he was doing and packed up the tablet and laptop for the night. Stretching out his back and shoulders, he gave his mom a small wave. “Night,” he said quietly, then made his way upstairs. Hellen paused to give him a tender smile and then continued with her chocolate distribution, making sure to hide a few extra tricky ones for Mason.

*

Sean squealed as he left his room and saw chocolate eggs scattered all around. The sound effectively woke the remaining members of the household better than any alarm clock ever could. Hellen was already technically awake, anticipating her youngest son’s early morning, and she grinned as she climbed out of bed and stepped out into the hall. Brooklyn was second to emerge from her bedroom, jumping up and down and chanting excitedly as she looked at all the sugar she could consume. Mason was much slower to come out of his bear den, and he was looking a bit groggy as he smoothed down his hair and yawned. Brooklyn and Sean charged downstairs, screaming and pushing each other and kicking chocolate eggs everywhere, and Hellen laughed with Mason as they followed at a more reasonable pace.

“The Easter Bunny came!” Brooklyn shrieked from the living room. She and Sean had found their Easter baskets sitting on the coffee table, stuffed with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans and lots of coloured Easter grass. They dug into them eagerly, Brooklyn howling like a gladiator every time she pulled out a new piece of chocolate, and emptied the candy onto the table so they could then use their baskets to collect the eggs throughout the house. Sean raced back upstairs while Brooklyn hit the main floor, and Mason just crashed on the couch with an amused snort at their excitement.

“Happy Easter,” Hellen said, handing him his own basket. There wasn’t as much in his as in the younger kids’, but she knew he liked the coconut cream eggs from the store downtown and she always got him a hollow chocolate bunny. There were some marshmallow bunnies in there too, covered in all shades of coloured sugar. It amused her how they turned his mouth different colours.

“Thanks mom, Happy Easter,” he said happily, immediately cracking into one of the marshmallow eggs while the pounding of small feet sounded through the house. He always let the kids go first, collecting whatever chocolates they could reach, and then gathered up whatever ones they left behind for him.

“Coffee?” Hellen asked, standing, and Mason nodded. She went to the kitchen to make up a pot and had to dodge Brooklyn’s frantic gathering.

“So much chocolaaaaaate!” Brooklyn screeched, showing her mom how many eggs she’d collected in her basket, and Hellen laughed.

“Looks like the Easter Bunny was good to you this year!” she said. “Santa must have said good things about you!” But Brooklyn wasn’t listening, having already moved onto the next chocolate egg. Hellen grinned with amusement. Their grandmother would be in for quite the sugar rush that afternoon.

She was just putting the grinds in the coffee maker when Sean started wailing. Concerned, she stepped out into the dining room, following the sound, and saw that Sean was standing by the china cabinet, reaching up with both hands towards a chocolate egg perched on top. It was wrapped in gold foil and it was obvious why he wanted this shiny prize.

“That one’s for Mason, honey,” Hellen said, hoping to placate him, “but there are more in the living room. I think there’s even a nice gold one in there for you.”

“But I want it!” Sean whined, standing on his toes to try to get it. He had his heart set on that little gold egg so Hellen shook her head and went over to get it for him

But as she reached out to take it down, he wailed louder. “Nooo! I want it!”

“Well, honey, I’m going to get it for you,” she explained, perplexed, but still he complained.

“Nah, he’s gotta get it himself,” Mason said, coming up behind them from the living room, having heard their debate. “He’s a big kid. He can get it himself.”

Then, like any good brother should, he hoisted Sean up on his shoulders and let him reach out and grab the egg himself. Sean then spotted another egg, on top of the door frame, and kicked his feet against Mason’s chest, pointing eagerly towards it. Mason carried him over, touring the room until Sean had collected all the chocolates in plain sight. Brooklyn saw them then and wanted a turn, so Mason dutifully took her through the living room so she could get the eggs out there.

When both kids were happy, they crashed on the big couch and started breaking into their chocolates, babbling excitedly to one another and trading eggs based on the colours of the foil wrappers. Hellen finished with the coffee as Mason went on a hunt for the more difficult eggs, and then he joined her in the kitchen as she served out two steaming mugs.

“We should start calling you the Easter Bunny,” she teased, getting the milk from the fridge.

Mason smirked. “Nah, I don’t look good with rabbit ears. Besides, that’s your job.”

Hellen stirred her coffee and smiled. “I guess so.” She took a sip, then lowered the mug. “Thanks for your help today,” she said softly, “taking the kids to nana’s and all.”

Mason shrugged. “It’s fine.” He too took a sip and then added a bit more sugar. “Do you want me to pick something up for dinner? For when you get home? I guess you’re working late…”

Hellen shook her head. “It’s appreciated, but not necessary. Knowing nana, she’ll send something home.”

“True.” They both drank some coffee, quiet for a moment.

Then Hellen put a kiss on Mason’s head. “Happy Easter, love,” she whispered, and then ventured out to the living room, where the screaming and laughter was getting just a little bit rowdier.

***

-Alex

The Christmas Slug

slug_4823[1]

One December afternoon, a family was bringing home their Christmas tree with much excitement and to-do.

Their tree was as perfect as a Christmas tree could be, with a fat, round body and thick, full branches. It was a happy looking tree for a happy looking family and they were sure it would look beautiful in their house.

They carried the tree in from outside, set it up in its stand, and stood back to admire it as the branches dropped and its full gorgeous form was revealed. As they’d expected, it was a perfect addition to their Christmas decorations and already they could imagine how much it would sparkle and shine when covered with ornaments and lights.

But as they were admiring the tree, one of the daughters noticed something funny hanging from one of the lower branches. “What is that?” she wondered aloud, and stooped to get a better look. She laughed when she realized what it was: a miniature slug, just barely the length of her smallest fingernail, dangling from the branch.

The slug was very cute, and looked rather confused that its tree was now in some strange human house, but it was after all just a slug. The family didn’t want it in their house, where it might crawl on the floors or the walls or the furniture, spreading its slimy trail all about. And so they took a moment to look at it and laugh at it, and then the daughter brought the tiny slug outside and set it free in the garden.

And so the little slug curled up in the shrubs, cold and alone.

 

Two weeks later, and the perfect little tree was covered top to trunk in Christmas ornaments galore. White lights sparkled on its branches while glass balls and homemade crafts brought colour and life to its form. The family was quite proud of this wonderful tree and liked to admire it at night when it was all lit up.

There were presents under the tree now, in anticipation for Christmas day. There were red and gold bows, curled ribbons, and patterned paper, all carefully put together to create the perfect Christmas look. And there had already been plenty of eager guessing and box-shaking.

But on Christmas Eve, when the house was quiet and lit only by the brightness of the Christmas tree, the daughter was still for a moment. After so much shopping and wrapping and baking, she was happy to think of simpler things—of how pretty the tree was, and how quiet the house could be when all were asleep. She knew Santa Claus would be coming tonight, in the most silent hours of the night, and that many houses would be lit with cheer when the morning came around. But right then, in that stillness, she couldn’t help but think of the slug.

She didn’t know why she thought of it, or what was the point of thinking of it, but she thought of it nonetheless. It had been a very cute slug, and had seemed so comical dangling from the branch like that. She wondered if it was alive. Had the cold gotten to it? For a moment, her stillness turned to sadness.

But that thought, that simple reflection, had sparked something.

The daughter went to bed after that, turning off the tree’s lights and leaving the house to darkness and silence. But out in the garden, in the earthy warmth of the shrubbery, something stirred within the tiny slug who had been abandoned there so many days ago. He knew not what the feeling was, and couldn’t have guessed that it was the feeling of being remembered. But he felt it, clear as day, and he felt a part of himself—a warm, happy part—crawl out of the garden and into the house.

And that small part of the slug crawled up onto the tree, into the branches, and nestled in the needles. There, it fell asleep.

 

The next morning, the family gathered around the tree, hearts all abuzz with excitement as they began to open presents and share their gifts for each other. There was laughter and merriment all around—the usual stock on a Christmas morning. It was no different than any other Christmas. They were just as happy, and just as grateful, and just as filled with love as they usually were.

But the warm part of the slug was hiding in their tree, taking in the revelry as the slug’s true body slumbered in the chilly garden outside. The warm part of the slug, the slug’s soul, felt at peace. And though the family didn’t even notice it, the slug’s soul felt as though it was important, because it had been remembered.

So for a while, the slug was filled with joy, and it stayed there in the branches for a very long time.

 

But soon the Christmas merriment had ended and it was time for life to return to normal. The ornaments on the tree were packed away and the slug’s soul, which had slept for so long in those branches, was forced to return to the garden. For a while, as the cold little slug experienced all the joy and peace that its soul had absorbed, he felt a touch of remorse that he hadn’t actually been there in person. He had been so wet and miserable under the shrubs while the family was so happy and warm inside.

But only a few days later, the slug’s worries were eased. For now that Christmastime was over, the family had no use for their tree. They put it out on the curb, and the slug was finally able to return to its branches.

It wasn’t the same, those prickly branches, now that the lights and ornaments were gone, but as the slug slumbered there, his soul remembered. Christmas had ended in the household, but the slug didn’t forget about it. He remembered the Christmas wishes, the loving kisses, the light-up smiles, the glowing hearts. He remembered how happy the family had been, and how warm he had felt as his soul silently observed it all. He didn’t forget, even long after the Christmas cheer had ended.

So every once in a while, for no explicable reason, the family experienced that soul-filling feeling of being remembered.

And it was like Christmas.

***

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful day and were able to spend it with loved ones.

I wish you peace and joy and all the best this holiday season. Take care, everyone, and be sure to remember.

-Alex

Catch Up With Alex: Part 2

Ready for part 2? This one has lots of gifs, so you’d best be ready for it!

Homework: The Curse of the Group Project

Oh yes. Homework. Does the word give you shivers? It should. I’ve been fighting off lots of projects and whatnots, which is why I fell behind with NaNoWriMo of course. And one of those nasty projects was a group project, which is the nastiest kind of nasty project there is.

My reaction when I found out we had to work in groups.

Especially when your group has bad communication. Argh. We had to give our presentation this morning at 11.00, and so we all hopped online a couple hours beforehand to make last-minute preparations. Now, it was 8.30 in the morning and I am not a morning person, so when one of my group mates started giving me sass, I was not having any of it.

You can take your sassy ass and leave, thanks.

Then I just about lost it on another group mate. Part of my responsibility was to put together a concept map addressing each of the aspects of the virus (we were researching the effects of Hantavirus on humans) that our group looked at. It was a pain to put together, especially because I had to whittle down everyone else’s info. So it wasn’t something I was able to make changes to at 9.30 in the morning when I needed to leave the house at 10.00. But my lovely group mate decided she would point out this one tiny word on the map she wanted me to change, which WASN’T EVEN HER PART OF THE INFORMATION. I had to grit my teeth and explain calmly to her that it wasn’t actually her part and I wasn’t going to change it, which she would’ve known if she’d actually come to group meetings.

*sigh*

I hate group work.

But I totally slayed that presentation, so yay for that!

Take that, group project!

But now that my group project is done, I have a much more pressing matter to attend to: my chemistry exam.

The Tale of the Terrible Term Tests

My chem exam is on Dec. 1st. And I’m freaking out.

The information we’re learning right now is organic chem, and this is the content we were learning in grade 12 when I got so sick I thought I was going to die. Therefore, I don’t know it very well—not as well as I should. Honestly, I don’t feel like I know any  chemistry as well as I should. And it’s making me want to cry. Every time I look at example problems, I want to cry. Because chemistry is literally terrifying me right now and I don’t think I can handle it.

I mean, if I had to describe me trying to do chemistry, I would say it looks something like these following gifs:

So I might have my cry, and freak out a bit, but then I’m just going to have to hit the books and do my damn best to learn it. Chemistry is a dragon. I am a knight. There’s a risk I’ll be burned to a crisp but I’ve got to fight, no matter what.

Oh yes, I will rise.

I will be a hot mess, but I will emerge victorious.

Haha, but calculus isn’t going that well either to be quite honest. I understand it for the most part, but sometimes a question comes along that I don’t even know how to handle. Guess I’ll be hitting those books too.

What is math?

Oi. So there’s my homework rant. I am not looking forward to exams, at all, whatsoever, except for my bio exam because I really really love bio. And what’s more? I get to take TWO bio courses next semester! Yes!

Procrastination: Strong As Ever

Of course, the more work I know I have to do, the more I want to procrastinate. These very posts are testament to that. Just think of what I could’ve done if I’d actually attempted studying rather than searching up all these gifs. Oh, the possibilities.

But I think you can agree that this is a pretty good use of my time, yeah? You all get to read these lovely posts, after all!

And there’s this small rebellious part of me that whispers “is that right?” every time my teachers tell me I should be studying.

But more seriously, I actually read something recently that said that we procrastinate because of fear or uncertainty. Considering how I feel about chem, I don’t doubt it, ugh.

And on an unrelated note, it’s officially winter here, whether we want it to be winter or not. The good news though is I’ve got snow tires so I feel like the queen of the road (not really). Bad news is I have to scrape off my car just the same as everyone else.

But I will persevere, through the studying and the snow. And I’ll get through it all somehow, won’t I?

I may need to call in the stunt double though. “How do you feel about writing a chemistry final?”

I’m sorry if I broke your computers with all the gifs. I’m not sorry if I annoyed you. I had fun. And it’s images like these that keep me sane:

Maybe sane isn’t the right word.

How’s your life, dear readers?

May you handle all the craziness in your life with the ferocity of a dragon. Or a dragon-fighter.

-Alex

P.S. I also had absolutely delicious potatoes yesterday. Jenny knows what I’m talking about ;)

Get Your Peace On

Good news–I’m back from vacation! Raise your hand if you didn’t even notice! Yeah, I scheduled some posts, took off for a week, and got back a few days ago, quiet as anything. But I’m back now, so I shall get to answering comments and posting more stories and all the like.

I would’ve posted earlier, but I needed to recover from vacationing :P Seriously, though, a couple nights ago I wasn’t sleeping very well and I was headachey and tired during the day, so blogging was the last thing I wanted to do. Fortunately, I slept wonderfully last night and have no headache right now so here I am, ready to post!

This vacation came at a really good time for me, because after getting worked up all summer long about school and writing and time slipping away,  this week was a time when my sole purpose in life was relaxation. Just kicking back, enjoying the nature and the fishing and the lack of responsibilities, and for seven days completely dropping all my worries because I can’t do anything about them whilst on vacation anyways.

And while I was vacationing and relaxing and “getting my peace on”, I had a couple things happen that really helped me spiritually.

The Harmony Balls

IMG_1126About a month ago, I was out shopping with my sister when I noticed these, Harmony Balls. I’ve wanted a set for a very long time, and I mentioned this to April in passing. A few weeks later, after she’d saved up some money, she gave me a belated graduation gift. It took me a moment to realize what it was, but I was ecstatic to see she’d given me Harmony Balls of my very own. I absolutely love them and of course brought them on vacation.

They’ve got weight to them, and they make the loveliest chiming sound when you move them in your palm. As you rotate them in both directions, your fingers have to work in sequence to keep them moving and balanced, which tenses and relaxes muscles and ultimately soothes joints. For someone like me, who cracks my knuckles obsessively and whose fingers always need to be doing something, it’s great to have a constructive and healing way to keep my hands busy. And since I write a ton and am thus more prone to wrist injuries, the exercise helps prevent that.

It is also said in traditional Chinese beliefs that using the Harmony Balls goes beyond good hand health. They help you connect with nature, as well as channel energy through your fingers and to the rest of your body, especially your vital organs. They’ve been a way for me to take time–just a couple minutes make a huge difference–to relax and bring positive energy into my body. After using them, I can feel the peace literally settle in the palms of my hands like tangible power–it feels like magic, actually–and I just feel so much better. Big, big thanks April!

The Stones

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Then, while we were driving up to the cottage where we vacationed, we stopped in a small town along the way to check out some stores. We found one that was really neat, filled with spirituality and related objects, and I enthusiastically looked at their polished stones. I love stones–even just plain old rocks you find outside–and I especially love spiritual stones. I didn’t buy anything right away, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

As it turned out, my grandma wanted to go a few days later and a trip back to town was planned. I wanted to go just so I could return to the spiritual store, but the fact that I would have to endure hours of shopping just for the sake of going to one store made me change my mind, so I asked my mom to pick me up a couple stones. The biggest problem was that I’d intended to go in person and shop around for the stones I wanted, based on their spiritual properties, but because I wasn’t going, I needed to think of something off the top of my head. I chose jade and lapis lazuli.

As fate would have it, those were excellent choices.

Jade is a stone I love for writing reasons (it’s powerfully important to one of my characters and literally keeps him alive) and because the colour green has personal significance to me (colour of my eyes, and eyes are the windows to the soul). Its spiritual meaning, as described on a little card that came with the stone, is of purity and serenity. It is related to the heart and aids in emotional release. It can also bring insightful dreams (which I’ve since determined is true, because the dreams I’ve had while it’s been under my pillow have been incredibly revealing as to what my true concerns are right now).

Lapis lazuli is a stone I love because in the Unicorns of Balinor series that I read as a kid, there was a magic staff or sceptre made of lapis lazuli, and from then on I always associated the stone with magic and unicorns. Spiritually, it is a stone that releases stress and brings in peace. It bonds relationships and, like jade, it is a stone of emotion and serves as a dream enhancer.

Both these stones together encourage peace, a positive flow of emotions, and clarity in dreams. I ended up being drawn to the very stones that I needed to help find my inner peace and relieve some of the stress I’ve been feeling. Just holding them in my palm, looking at them in the light, or wearing them in a neat coil necklace (like this) helps me relax a little bit, or at least be more conscious about relaxing.

After all the physical exertion I’ve been through worrying and stressing and just generally being upset, I’m really trying to overcome my worries through more spiritual means. In the world I write about, there is a race that believes in the spiritual power of trees. They teach that holly empowers the spiritual warrior in all of us, and the term “spiritual warrior” has always stuck with me. I feel like a spiritual warrior, an entity made of energy and the power of a soul, is much more capable of overcoming fears than a physical warrior could ever be.

So with these lovely objects to be my weapons, I look to strengthen the spiritual warrior inside of me. I know she’s in there somewhere, and I think I may need her help in days to come.

What do you do to relax?

May you ever find peace in your soul and may your spiritual warrior be ever strong.

-Alex

“Don’t Eat Dog Poo.”

“Don’t eat dog poo.”

It seems pretty self-explanatory. Dog poo is bad, full of germs and stuff that can make you sick (and it probably doesn’t taste good either). It seems like a no-brainer, not eating it, and when I gave this piece of advice to my sister April, I initially just meant it as a joke.

But then, a couple weeks later in my English class, the teacher asked us to write down our best lines of advice on slips of paper, although she wouldn’t say why. I couldn’t think of anything particularly wise (and not cliched) so I just wrote down the dog poo bit, figuring it would at least get a bit of a laugh. The teacher collected them and the next day she read out a spoken word poem she’d composed from all the pieces of advice.

When she got to the dog poo bit, she didn’t find it very amusing. She rolled her eyes and said, “Someone was trying to be funny,” with an unimpressed tone in her voice. It was hard for me not to smirk because the slips of paper had been anonymous and she never would’ve guessed that I, the quiet one in the back who always did her homework, was the someone who was trying to be funny.

Later on, though, I found myself getting a little defensive about my advice. Sure, I’d meant it as a joke, but it’s pretty good advice. If you eat dog poo, you can get sick and die. Therefore, I think it’s pretty smart of me to recommend not eating it. And believe it or not, there are millions of people every day who eat obscene amounts of dog poo and don’t even realize they’re doing it. I’m sure I’ve done it once or twice and probably will sometime in my years to come.

See, when I gave April that advice, I really meant it. I don’t want her to get sick. I don’t want her to feel like she has to swallow bitter words and filthy waste. I don’t want her to ever buy into the crap that people and society in general will tell her.

It’s really easy to believe people when they tell you obesity is ugly, or that not having a degree makes you stupid, or that some part of your identity is a sin or curse, because it’s everywhere. Cruel words and acts of hatred are at times as frequent as piles of dog poo in the park and it’s hard to avoid it. Sooner or later, you’re going to come across it and someone’s going to try to pressure you to eat it.

Please don’t eat it. When they tell you you’re ugly or stupid or worthless, don’t listen. When they try to make you doubt yourself, hate yourself, exclude yourself, don’t follow. They’re full of dog poo and you don’t have to eat it.

Because the moment you do, you’ve taken it into yourself. The germs infect you, making you sick, making you believe what they say even though it’s a load of B.S.

If half the heroes in the adventures we love fell prey to the doubters and the haters, if half the heroes decided to eat the dog poo instead of stepping around it, they wouldn’t be heroes at all. They wouldn’t have slain dragons or villains or even the town mosquito because they would’ve gotten so sick, they wouldn’t have had any spirit left with which to fight. The real heroes know better. They know it isn’t right to eat dog poo and they can resist the pressure of society.

So when I say not to eat dog poo, I mean it literally–seriously, it’s bad for you–and metaphorically. And I do mean it as a joke as well, because it’s always good to have a little reminder not to take life too seriously. My advice might have been the most obvious compared to others in the class, and perhaps the silliest too, but I feel it was the most important.

Because you’re better than that.

What’s the best (and perhaps silliest) advice you can give?

May you always bear in mind the dangers of consuming waste.

-Alex

P.S. And don’t forget to smile ;)

T.I.M.E.

Ah, time.

Four letters that surely stand for The International Manifestation of Evil.

There just never seems to be enough of it. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, eight of those dedicated to sleeping (well ideally, anyways), another eight of those easily consumed by work or school, and just eight more leftover for things like eating, chores, TV, and hobbies. And I’m sure you all know how fast an hour can go by when you’re having fun.

And so, because most of our day’s time goes to things that are less than enjoyable, and because there doesn’t seem an adequate amount of hours left to do everything you want to do, the unhappiness sets in. Stress, desperation, all-nighters, procrastination… a whole ugly slew of unpleasant matters, all thanks to time. That’s the “manifestation of evil” part.

I feel like I never have time to write blog posts anymore. Funny thing is, I used to write a blog post every other day.

I feel like I never have time to write 2000 words a day anymore. Funny thing is, I used to write 2000 words every single day.

I feel like I never have time to watch an hour of TV anymore. Funny thing is, I used to watch two episodes of Phineas and Ferb every afternoon.

As they say: if you don’t have time to do what you love, make time.

We have to stop letting T.I.M.E. be The International Manifestation of Evil, and make it into The International Measure of Enjoyment.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone,” Pablo Picasso once said, but heck, that’s easier said than done. Tons of people have bucket lists, in which they write their aspirations and goals they hope to achieve before they die. There’s no way you can do everything on your bucket list in one day, but are the things on your list things you can die without doing?

And unfortunately, we can’t choose when we die. We might each have eighty years, or we might keel over tomorrow. You simply can’t predict it. On one hand, that’s terrifying. You never know how much time you’ll have to do the things you want to. On the other hand, it’s inspiring, prompting you to go out and do what you love with the time you’ve got. Priorities must be made. We have to do with our spare time the things we need to do before we die. Sadly, we also have to do laundry every week, whether we want to or not, because society and family members demand that we wear clothes that smell at least somewhat decent.

But what are we supposed to do? It goes back to that impossible question: Why are we here? Nobody can answer that question, so we have the delightful freedom of being able to determine for ourselves our purpose for being here.

So what is my purpose? What must I do today that I couldn’t die not having done?

I would say writing a book and getting it published. If I could just do that before I died, I would be a pretty happy lady. But if I were to die, say, tomorrow, I wouldn’t have nearly enough time to publish a book. I can only depend on having the very second I’m presently experiencing. That’s the only time I have at my disposal, and I can’t predict how many consecutive seconds I’m going to have.

So if there’s one thing I have to do, one thing I know I can do before I die, it’s to be happy. Smile. Laugh. Because it takes one little second to think a good thought. To shape your face into a broad grin or push joy out of your lungs in a genuine laugh. It takes just a couple seconds to write a sentence, too, and writing makes me very happy. Reading’s a quick task as well, and whole poems can be consumed in less than a minute.

If today was my very last day to do anything, I know I wouldn’t be able to do anything spectacular, because I can’t change how many hours are in a day. But there are plenty of little things I could do to make me a little happier, and that’s what I want my purpose to be. I don’t want to put off being happy till tomorrow, ’cause I couldn’t possibly die not having done it today.

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like lately to blog, or to write, or to watch TV, or to do many of the things I’d like to do before I die. And yesterday, for the first time in several months, I was feeling a little stressed out because I realized that a disproportionate amount of my daily time was going towards things I hated doing. But yesterday I also found a few seconds to smile, to think of something good and be happy. When I pause to tie my shoes, or am brushing my teeth, I have a brief pause in which the time is all my own. I have the power to use it to be happy.

It’s not always easy, heck no. There are a lot of sucky days where you’re wading through three feet of other people’s crap and nothing goes right and you don’t know if you should cry, or scream, or just punch your fist through a wall because that might possibly make you feel better, and the very last thing you want to do is anything at all. You just want to lie down and go to sleep and be done with your crappy day.

I can’t express how great a feeling it is to go to bed looking forward to tomorrow’s smile. Maybe you know the feeling. I sincerely hope you do. But it’s so tremendously great to lie in bed at the end of a hellish day and be happy because I know that even after such an awful twenty-four hours, I can look forward to happiness tomorrow.

Because if I’m given even one second tomorrow to do something, I’m going to make sure I smile.

I can do that.

What do you do every day that makes you happy?

May you make time for the things that matter most and never waste the seconds you’re given.

-Alex

PS: And speaking of time, it’s been a whole year since I wrote my first blog post on Valourbörn! Happy birthday little bloggy :)

The Christmas Visitor

Hi everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas, hopefully with lots of rest amidst that rush, and I hope you survived Boxing Day unscathed, if you live in a country that recognizes it. I myself have had a great Christmas. I’ve been in lazy-loungey mode for the past few days, but am looking forward to using the energy I’ve gathered to start getting things done.

But before I get back into work mode, I wanted to talk a little bit about Santa Claus.

We don’t know each other very well, but I’m familiar with his work and have great respect for all that he does. In a sleigh pulled by reindeer and laden with toys, he delivers gifts to every single house in the whole entire world, in a single night, by flying through the air and dropping down the chimney. Well, if you believe the stories.

I don’t think he gets to every house, unfortunately. I get the sense, from what I know of him and what I’ve been able to guess, that he’s afraid of places which are dark, and desolate, and are filled up with fear and dread. I don’t think Santa likes to go to those homes–maybe he physically can’t bring himself to go there–and so sadly there are so many houses that are missed on Christmas Eve.

I have great respect for Santa Claus, of course, because he can do such amazing things, travelling across the world and slipping down chimneys (when he allegedly has quite a large girth). But I have even greater respect for him because of the things he doesn’t do–well, didn’t mean to do.

That Santa Claus guy became a legend. He became a man of myth and wonder, delighting children with his presents and care, and the stories probably escalated beyond anything he could have dreamed. But I’m so glad they did.

Because of Santa Claus, children all over the world are given a reason to believe, to whole-heartedly, faithfully believe in magic.

Even if it’s only for a few years, at least there was a little bit of belief. At least they had the chance to live enchanted lives, to see beautiful days, to believe that impossible things can happen. Some kids forget to believe in magic after a while. They forget that it’s real, that it’s more than just card tricks and illusions. Some kids are lucky enough to remember, to hold it with them all their lives through.

But for many of us, we discover in later years that even though we’ve forgotten about magic, we can still learn how to believe again. We can still open up our hearts and let in that blind faith.

Santa came to my house on Christmas Eve. He didn’t drop off any presents–my sister and I have outgrown toys–but I heard him for just a moment. He paused on the roof, I think. Just stopped there, probably to stretch out his back, maybe rub his hands together to warm them up. I could hear the bells on his reindeer’s harnesses, jingling ever so quietly. They’re hard to hear, unless you’re listening. And I was. I knew he’d be around.

The thing is, Santa never forgets a house. He’s been running the same route for years and he knows every single stop along the way. But he’s maybe not as brave as the stories say. He’s a little shy, I think, and loses his nerve when he comes to a house where people are unhappy, or fighting, or don’t believe in magic anymore. Sometimes he can gather enough courage to go in anyways, but not always. It’s sad. I wish I could help him, to give him that extra boost of strength so he could give his presents to the kids who need them most.

I admire Santa Claus, and I hope that his career lasts long into the future, and that he’s always there to help kids all over the world. Because even though he’s afraid of despair, he’s sometimes the cure for it.

I hope you all had a great Christmas, and spent it with family and friends if you could. I hope that Santa was also able to visit your home. I hope you still believe.

How were your holidays?

May Santa never pass over your house at Christmastime.

-Alex