Friday, 30 September 2016

The Canadian book haul

Full disclosure: This post is 100% me talking about the books I bought while on vacation, because I like talking about my books. Fair warning. 

I don't usually buy many books (gasp) because books are really expensive and I don't have money that I'm willing to spend. (Who has $25 to buy that new hardcover that you're not sure you'll love? No one, that's who. NO ONE.) (Although I did go to the second-hand store and buy a bunch of books for a dollar or two each because I "needed" new books. Sue me.)


Anywho, when I was in Canada we went shopping with some friends in Vancouver and the mall had a Chapters. (In case you weren't aware, Chapters is basically the best store in the entire universe and I love it so much because it's a whole store just for books. And it smells amazing in there! All paper and glue and ink and unread adventures.) 

The books were so cheap! I got a ton of brand-new books for under $20 each (The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo was $9 and I almost cried because it was so beautiful (both the price and the book)), totally blew my budget and came home happy. 

I also got this copy of Alice in Wonderland, which was super exciting because a) it's a hardcover, b) it's enormous, c) it's illustrated, d) it's in full colour and e) the paper is beautiful and feels expensive and awesome. The illustrations are beautiful and I like to pull it out and just look at it's beautifulness (and use the word "beautiful" too many times in one sentence). 


We also stopped at a Christian bookstore, and they had a second-hand section which was amazing. I got these beautiful old hardcover books (the oldest was from 1941) and a couple from this century. (I only had $25 in my wallet, and had to restrain myself so I could purchase a meal.) 

Have you ever had to chose between a book or a meal? How often do you buy books? Do you have any old books? What's your favourite book store? 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

After

After she steps off the plane, the Girl runs up to me and starts crying because she thought we would miss each other because of our conflicting schedules. She doesn't let go of me, and her mom takes a picture of us. We drive back to their house on an acreage, and the Girl puts on a movie, Iron Man, to entertain her Brothers during the long trip. I enjoy, thrilled to be watching a Marvel movie. 



When we arrive, the Girl has to unpack from her trip to New York so I collapse on her comfy bed while she spews the contents of her suitcase across the carpet of her bedroom floor. She blasts some music, and I close my eyes. Before I know it, I've managed to fall asleep despite the lights and the music and the excitement of being able to see my childhood friend again. 

Once she wakes me up, we run outside into the rain to search for her newest batch of kittens. She always seems to have new kittens when I'm over, but I'm hardly complaining. Their mother has hidden them outside in one of the sheds, and we catch one and bring him back inside into the safety of the house. I can hold him comfortably in my hands, and he's tame and quiet unlike her other feral cats. She calls him Tony (and his brother Stark) after I point out her somewhat creepy tendency to name her cats after food, such as Marshmallow or Skittles. 

We leave Tony to slink around the house and eat supper while the Dads swap war stories and remember whens. The Girl has a volleyball meeting, so I take Tony to the living room and we fall asleep on the couch together, me careful to not squish his tiny figure. 

When I wake up, I find the Brothers are outside, jumping from hay bale to hay bale and I run out to join them. When the Girl returns, we play hay bale tag, even though it's a bit difficult because there are only three hay bales lined up in a row and there are five of us. The Brothers don't seem to mind, even though the Girl and I discuss their confusing ways in whispered tones. 

One of the Brothers is spitting everywhere as if trying to get rid of a bad taste in his mouth, and he accidentally spits in my hair. We both look at each other for a long moment, then I put him in a brief headlock. The Girl and I jump on the trampoline with wet knees and souls while the youngest Brother trains to go on American Ninja Warrior, and I have to admit that he's good despite being twelve years old. 

That night, when the Girl and I crawl into bed, we chat about life and school and whatever else we could possibly think of and even though it's almost five years later, even though so much has changed, in that moment I don't think anything has changed and I've never been more grateful. 

Friday, 23 September 2016

Appreciate an Artist Week 2016

If you weren't around about this time last year, then allow me to explain. I've recently created a week-long holiday (yes, shy and introverted me has gone ahead and created a week-long holiday) to celebrate how awesome artists of all kinds are. 


These artists are writers and bloggers and painters and photographers and musicians and digital designers and website creators and actors and poets and screenwriters and sculpture-ers and visual effects artists and directors and whatever else you can think of. There are some artists who create this awesome art without getting paid for it and others who pay the rent with it, and others who make it just because they love it. 

I as a person consume a lot of art. Like, a lot a lot. I read blogs and books and watch TV shows and movies and look at pretty art and photos on Pinterest but despite all this art I consume, I rarely say thanks to the person who created it. That is not cool. Hence this holiday. 

Appreciate an Artist Week is a week when you take the time to tell an artist that you enjoy their work, and that your day was a little bit brighter because of them. You can write a letter or an email or tell it to them personally (if you're lucky enough to know them), but the point is to spread the love, share the joy and just basically be awesome. (The holiday is a week long because I usually have to work up the nerve to tell someone I appreciate them, so I get a week to build up the courage.)

This year, I'm writing to a new favourite author of mine, Patrick Ness. I first got into his with with the Chaos Walking trilogy, and from there I've slowly begun to collect his books and read them with a feverish excitement. His books are heart-wrenching, beautiful and I can usually read his 500+ page books in a day or two, thanks to the incredible pacing. He had a lot of awesome stuff to say on friendship and mental illness and being careful about who you become, and I cannot praise his work enough. I've grown so much as a writer from reading his books, and will be sending him a letter to tell him (as soon as I can work up the nerve). 

I'd like to encourage you to tell an artist that you appreciate them this week, because I can guarantee you that they'll appreciate you right back.

Who are you writing to this year? Have you ever read any of Patrick Ness' books? 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

That awkward post in which I talk about mental illness

Ok, so I wasn't going to post this, but then I was praying a lot and thinking and stuff and now I'm going to. I want to be honest with you guys, and I want to be honest with myself. (Let's ignore the fact that this is weird because I have friends and family who read my blog and I don't talk about this stuff in real life, because writing is easier than talking.) Alright, let's do this. (*hides*)

When I was in sixth grade I suffered from anorexia. 

When I was eleven years old, I starved myself so I could be pretty. 

Not actually my quote, but my picture. 

There is literally no other way to say it, and saying it is awful and makes me wonder how that ever happened. How does an eleven-year-old hate herself so much that she won't eat? Won't pack a lunch? I went from having banana bread with butter and a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast (it wasn't healthy, I know, don't judge) to having banana bread with hot chocolate, to having hot chocolate, to having a glass of tea. In case you weren't aware, tea is water flavoured with dead leaves. Then oops! I forgot to pack a lunch. To be honest, I'm not sure I've ever fully recovered from it, and I'm not even sure what started it off in the first place. I think I might have been more aware of what was beautiful and what wasn't, because before then I didn't really notice. But once I started noticing that what everyone else was saying was beautiful didn't line up with what I looked like, things started to go downhill.

So I got over it. My parents and family were amazing, although none of my friends knew of course so they weren't much help. It wasn't like I was going to tell them, anyways. I started eating three square meals a day, stopped obsessing over my weight.

Then we moved.

This time, things went downhill in the opposite direction. Did you know that willpower acts like a muscle? The more you use it, the more tired it gets. Now lets take a look at what I was like when I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. (And still am, now at seventeen.) I was shy. I wasn't good with talking with people. Then I was tossed in a situation where I had to talk with people, had to make new friends because I didn't have anyone else beyond my family. I had also skipped a grade and a half, and I had to work for it. Between talking with people and working extremely hard to catch up on the educational side of things, I didn't have much energy or willpower left to watch what I ate or to make myself do some exercise. Add the stress of taking as many difficult subjects as you could do. Imagine how that went, if you will.

It wasn't very good. I gained quite a bit of weight, and that didn't help my already drowning worries and fears and body image issues. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror somedays, still can't. Yeah, I went from anorexic to overweight. *high-fives self*

Things have gotten better in the last eight-ish months thanks to my gap year. I've lost some weight, watch what I eat more and have been able to do more exercise than before, which makes me feel better about myself.

Of course, the self-hate still hasn't gone away.

The frustrating thing is that it bounces back and forth, like a tennis match that I can never quite win. The ball is in the other court! Yay! I'm curvy and proud of it, because I'm just who God made me to be! Then the ball bounces back. I hate myself. Chubby cheeks. Look at that stomach hanging out, gross. And you wanted to take care of yourself? Oh great, yet another pair of pants that don't fit anymore, you idiot. Slap! Goes the racket, and oh, look, I'm exercising and eating well! Don't worry about your weight! Slap! You don't deserve to be loved. Slap! I wouldn't change a thing about myself. Slap! Guess who's not eating lunch today?

Welcome to my life.

Look at that, a quote I actually made up.

And it's hard for me to walk the line between being obsessive about nothing and trying to be healthier. But am I? Is it just my stupid brain talking, or do I actually need to make some health changes? It depends on the day, and I don't want to mistake health issues for a psychological issue or vice versa.

I'll be fine for weeks, then one picture of myself will send me spiraling down a smoky haze of sticky guilt and shards of loathing. Some days I feel like I'm the most beautiful girl in the world, and other days I have to force myself to go outside. I've been like this for years, and I'm not sure it's something I'll ever be able to get over. I want to. I really, really want to. Hating yourself isn't something I'd wish on anyone, and it annoys me beyond reason that I'm so stuck on my image that I can't see myself for all the good things I am. I believe with everything in me that you are more than what you see in the mirror, but why can't I always apply it to myself? And I'm so

so

so

tired of it. 

And honestly, I don't know how to deal with it. I'm going to keep exercising and trying to eat well because it makes me feel good, and I enjoy being active. I enjoy going for jogs and going to jiu jitsu and exercising with my friends so, so much. I just don't want it to turn into an obsession.

But I think it's a little too late for that.

So how do I deal with self-hate? I mostly ignore it. Not very healthy, I know. But if I can't see it, then it can't see me. What a terrible way to live my life. Once again, I wish I could give some kind of advice as someone standing from the other side of the battle, I wish I could hand out wisdom and guidance for other people who are struggling with these issues, but I can't, not really. I can't because I'm still in the thick of things, killing orcs and aliens and crazy assassins left and right and sometimes being stabbed myself.

If I had any advice, I'd say that this is a battle you have to fight everyday, all day, and you have to win it. I'd say pray, because God's got your back even when it doesn't feel like it. I feel like I've been struggling with this by myself, especially since He's been so obviously involved in almost every other aspect of my life. Maybe I'm not seeing His hand yet, maybe I need to just get on my knees and pray more.

I'd say love yourself, but I know that's easier said than done.

Well, that was more serious than usual. Does anyone else struggle with body image? 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Gertie's epic journey

When we were in Canada a few weeks ago, my grandma was kind enough to lend us her car. This saved quite a bit of money on rentals, however, it was a unique sort of car and the roughly 40 hours of driving in it will forever go down in my memory as a one-of-a-kind experience. 


After driving her to visit some friends in Vancouver, we were discussing this incredible car in all its bright teal splendour. Naturally, because I liked naming stuff, we were throwing around names and Gertrude (Gertie for short) came up. Thus, Gertie was christened. 

We drove her on the 14 hour trip from Victoria to Grande Prairie (and back), a journey filled with the Okanogan desert (one of the hottest places in Canada), one hyperactive little brother and one junk-food eating dad (which was a problem because [insert very long and unnecessary backstory here]). There was no air-conditioning, and when you rolled down the windows they didn't always roll back up. 


(This got us into significant trouble when we were on the ferry. Dad rolled down the window to pay, then parked in line to wait to board. He went to roll his window back up, but it didn't budge and we sure didn't want to wait in the car for the entire hour and 45 minute trip so that no one would break in through the open window and take our stuff. He ended up shutting her off, turning her back on then rolling the window up a centimetre. Turn off, turn on, up another centimetre. Wash, rinse, repeat.) Oh yeah, and there was a cassette player. An actual cassette player

Because the Okanogan was so hot (30-35C) and we didn't have air-con, I got heat exhaustion on the first day. Once I realized that I was indeed sick and not merely carsick, I spent the rest of the day with the window rolled down, hugging/drinking a cold bottle of water as we sped down the highway at 110km/hr. Thankfully, I learned my lesson after that. 


At every house we rolled up to, people commented on Gertie's splendid bright teal colouring and the fact that she would be considered an antique in a few years. We also sort of got laughed at. 

But despite the lack of air-conditioning, the interesting colour and sheer age, Gertie got us through. She didn't break down once, and she pulled along faithfully and got us where we needed to go. Thanks, Grandma, and thanks Gertie. 

Have you ever driven in an interesting car for a long road trip? What was your first car like? Have you ever broken down somewhere? 

Friday, 16 September 2016

And the survey says... (a million years later)

So roughly a million years later I had a blogoversary and lots of you lovely people took a survey that I'd created, and I thought you might like the know the results, because why not, right? (And thank you to everyone who took the survey!)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Oh, The Places You'll Go: That time we ran away to Whistler

It was our second-last day in Canada, and we were preparing for the drive from Vancouver to Victoria. Then, Dad and my friend's mom disappeared into the computer corner and started making nefarious plans to ditch everything and go to Whistler (because obviously that's what you do when you have a schedule to keep). She canceled appointments, we checked out the weather and off we all went within an hour of making the plans.



I went with my friends in their car instead of Grandma's (the car which we had borrowed (we'll get to that next week)) so I was beyond thrilled to a) get to spend more time with my friends and b) not have to spend more time in Grandma's car. 

We didn't spend a lot of time in Whistler, and mostly just went on the Peak 2 Peak gondola ride. My friend was scared of heights, and when the gondola stopped for some reason I almost had to headlock my brother to stop him from freaking her out even more. (I also taught her how to put someone in a choke, which I don't think her mom approved of but it was a good distraction. You win some, you lose some.) Other than that, though, the ride was incredible, with the most amazing views. 


The majestic Canadian flag at the halfway point. *cues O Canada*

I was really enjoying the final leg of the journey, where we actually travelled between two mountain peaks in these enormous red gondolas. There was a French couple in ours, but I didn't have the courage to strike up a conversation, something which I regret. 

It was so amazing to be traveling on nothing but these cables, lost in the mist with these random strangers from all over the world. I mostly just stared out the window the entire time, amazed that I can call this beautiful country home. 


After we came back down (there wasn't a lot to do at the top, although the boys bought candy), we wandered around the bottom and bought presents and posed in front of the Olympic rings. (We also got Menchies which was absolutely divine. Frozen yogurt is a gift from God, jabberwockies.) I also took a sip of my friend's London Fog while she wasn't watching (shhh). 


While Whistler was absolutely beautiful and I'd 100% recommend it to anyone who was thinking of going, I'd say that my favourite part of running away to Whistler was spending more time with my friends. We always seem to be too far apart, and for a few hours we weren't. 

Have you ever been to Whistler? Do you like to ski? Do you have friends who you live far away from? 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Movies I watched on the plane and what I thought of them

I'm quite enjoying being able to use that title (I used it once before), probably because I just enjoy being verbose. Anyways, I'm back, jabberwockies! I'll be visiting your lovely blogs shortly, once I catch up on my sleep, and you'll hear more about my trip to Canada in the coming weeks (I've already posted two posts regarding my trip, here and here). 

Onto the reviews!

Our Little Sister - After their father's funeral, three sisters invite their half-sister to come live with them. It's Japanese, so seeing how I don't know any Japanese I just watched the subtitles (which was totally fine, by the way). It was pretty boring, being like two hours long and a contemporary movie, which I don't usually watch. However, it was great to see something about modern Japan with awesome female leads and sisterly relationships. The pacing and lack of real conflict was the only real issue I had with it. (Actually, pacing and conflict are pretty big issues, but I enjoyed it anyways.)


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Civil War - I JUST LOVE THIS MOVIE, OK? I couldn't stop smiling the entire time, it was just so awesome. (Read my full review here.) Once again, Spider-Man just stole the show.

The Little Prince - I think this was originally in French, but I watched the English version. Anyways, this little girl (who is pressured like crazy to perform well in school) meets her elderly neighbour, and he tells her stories of The Little Prince (who lived on an asteroid and loved a rose, obviously). I loved this movie. I loved everything about it, from the animation to the characters to the colours and the way I was totally not crying. It wasn't sad. No way. Pinky swear. *runs off and sobs* (I hate sad movies on the airplane, because there's not privacy to go cry somewhere.) The themes and storytelling and everything was just so beautiful. Go watch this. Immediately. 


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Lilo & Stitch - How have I never seen Lilo & Stitch? HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED? Anyways (goodness, I'm getting off track today), this was a pretty amazing movie and it totally would have been one of my favourites if I was still a kid. (And can we just applaud the fact that Nani is built like an actual human, not like a Disney Princess?) Basically, sci-fi  and aliens and sisters and family and Hawaii. So basically YES.

Eddie the Eagle - Eddie is one of my new favourite characters (yeah, he's an actual person, but whatever) because he wanted to get to the Olympics, and darn it, you just try to stop him. You've got to admire him for trying and being so passionate about ski jumping, and I couldn't stop cheering for him. The plot was a little slow, but that may be the lack of explosions. 


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Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - This is just one of those gems that don't get enough attention. This was just beautiful, all about death and life and how you need to just have fun and believe in magic and just dude, I loved this movie. I haven't seen it in years, so it was good to rewatch it. 

Have you seen any of these? Do you watch many movies while you fly? What was the last movie you watched?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

When

When they open the door it feels like it was just yesterday we said goodbye, not almost two years. Hugs and amazement at The Brother's and The Girl's growth, cries of how are you and I've missed you so much. The Man and I strike up a conversation, and he cooks us a steak and I get Cattle Boys steak sauce, then I eat all the vegetables I can because I've been deprived while traveling. It's amazing. The Girl shows me her newly painted room and we make all sorts of plans to go do this and that and spend time here and there, to do facials and paint nails and jump on trampolines and be kids.



I'm so full I can barely walk, but we grab The Dogs and head to the old park across the road from my old house. The new owners have put in a flower garden, but the plants The Mom broke her back over have withered and shriveled, and the fence needs painting. From the other side of the fence, I can see the apple trees have sprouted up and the pine tree I brought home in a paper bag back in second grade is taller than I am now. Things have changed, but that's alright. So have I.

The Brother, The Boy and The Girl and I all run to the playground that had graced a younger version of me with calluses across my palms and start playing a game of Grounders, and we bravely fight off mosquitos while trying to not touch the ground for fear of being It. I clamber over the monkey bars like I'm seven years old again. After that, we race through the field, chasing The Parents and The Dogs and Each Other, dancing the funky chicken dance as we attempt to avoid being eaten alive by the blood-sucking monsters that whine in our ears.

When we return, The Boy drives us to get a slushy, and on the way he tries to show off while simultaneously not show off his new car. He pulls it off pretty well. The slushy is like a truckload of sugar being dumped on my face, and I want another. The Brother is kind enough to share his with me.

I do The Girl's hair and hope that my fears will never come true, that she'll never grow up and forget me, walk past me and not recognize my face. The Woman cuddles The Dog and asks me to teach her how to do The Girl's hair, then we lay down and watch The Girl swing on her gymnastics bar like she was born on it while The Brother attempts to do the same. He doesn't quite make it.

Already I'm dreading the inevitable goodbye, the moment when we have to close the door behind us but then I'm reminded of the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, and somehow everything seems a little easier.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Bucket list libraries

I love libraries. You probably love libraries too. (If you don't, what's even wrong with you?) I've been going crazy on Pinterest lately, just looking at all these beautiful pictures of the most amazing places in the entire world and now I kind of need someone to share them with. So now, in no particular order, my bucket list libraries.