Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 in Review

Ever since Christmas day the newspapers have been running all these 'year in review' articles - everything from disasters of the year to viral videos of the year and everything in between. For the most part I've been skipping over them since I find them tedious and annoying. Do we really need to know which celebrities had the worst scandals of the year? I do not want to read my celebrity trash in my national newspaper. If I want celebrity fluff I check out dlisted, not my Canadian paper.

That being said it made me think over a few things from the past year as I changed out my old calendar for my new one. I usually write on my calendar when I've been to the gym and done what so that I can keep track and use it as motivation. This year has been rather sparse in the gym as evidenced by my ever-expanding waistline (much to my discomfort). I decided to tally up the hours.

16 hours on a spin bike
9 hours on a yoga mat

There was some other miscellaneous stuff in there, but the most significant time put in was yoga and spin.

In other areas of my life some of the 'big' things to happen in 2009 were:

- The birth of my nephew to brother #3 and his wife on January 1st

- The marriage of brother #4, the World Traveler, on February 10th.
This was a hard one since none of the family was invited and it happened spontaneously in front of a Justice of the Peace on a random Tuesday in February. We had been struggling with his wedding announcement since he had been dating his wife for only a few months when he told us, and we had only met her once. We are still struggling with this one as she came with two little boys with some interesting issues.

- In May, Quiet Confidence and I shared our one-year anniversary together and promptly celebrated by not going to Montreal like we had originally planned.

- The graduation of my 'son', brother #6 and the baby of the family, from University in June.

- The engagement of brother #2 in mid-December to a wonderful girl that he has been seeing for the past year. The whole family is excited for their upcoming summer wedding.

I can't be certain what 2010 holds for me, or my family. I can only hope it won't be such a roller coaster of a year, but it's so hard to tell at the moment. Either way it will definitely be a year of transition as Quiet Confidence looks for work, having recently completed his Bachelor's degree. I have my comprehensive exams in spring, which are monumental and signal the shift from reading and writing to research and writing for my thesis- a completely different and altogether scary prospect.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Germ Warfare

Call me crazy, but this year I just don't want to get sick. I do not want an extra cold or the flu or any other malady this winter if I can help it. It's not just the H1N1 pandemic, it is any illness that my students drag into the classroom. Many of them live in University residences which can be a hotbed of strange infectious diseases. Others live in high density housing with anywhere from 2-6 students per house. University students can be just as bad as small elementary school-age children for spreading germs and illness.

With this in mind I've taken the unconventional step of putting my students midterms in the freezer overnight (double wrapped in plastic to avoid moisture) to kill any wayward viruses and bugs. I'm not 100% convinced it will get everything, but whatever I can do to slightly decrease my chances of getting sick is welcomed. This is not something I've ever done before and I may not do it again. I'm just taking some precautions considering how much I'll be touching these midterms over the next week or so while I'm marking them. I heard about this technique through the academic grapevine. I'm not sure if it's more the stuff of urban campus legend, or scientifically proven. Either way, it won't hurt their exams.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Company's Coming

I know I missed the past two days of blogging for NaBloPoMo. I had a bit of a school related crisis that made me implode for a bit. I may or may not write about it in the next few days. Lets just say that I may decide that striving for a Ph.d is not something I want to pursue anymore.

Instead of talking about that, I've decided to talk about what I like to do in preparation for a visit from Quiet Confidence. These are some things I like to do before his arrival, in no particular order:

- Clean the bathroom. I like the smell and look of a freshly scrubbed bathroom. It's also a bit of courtesy for me to neatly put away all the toiletries and things that litter my bathroom counter during the week. It's a small space and if we're sharing it for a couple of days it means there's no counter space for his things unless I tidy up.

- Catch up on all my laundry, which includes making sure there are fresh towels in the bathroom for both of us and the sheets on my bed are new. Nothing beats sleeping in clean sheets that first night.

- Wash my dishes and clean up the kitchen.

- Buy all the groceries I need for the weekend, included drink items like coke that I never use but he likes, a bottle of wine if we're feeling decadent, or some other treat. This is when I would normally plan ahead for dinners I plan to make and potentially bake a dessert for us, or a little snack of something tasty. Baking cookies also helps to make my place smell great.

- The obligatory shave, pluck, wax and general maintenance that needs to be done. If it's summer I'll probably repaint my toenails. In winter things slide a bit more.

- I straighten all the paperwork, books and files in my office area so it has some semblance of organization. Otherwise it looks like a file cabinet vomited all over my office - the hazards of still being a student. I'm a little jealous of QC because 90% or more of his work is on computer files that are all neatly out of sight and always well organized.

- A general once over of the rest of my apartment to pick up stray books, put away all the shoes that stack up next to the door during the week, and put things in order in general.

- I may also download a couple of movies for us to watch if we choose to spend a lazy evening at home, but that's not always a given.

The list looks a little like a 1950's housewife manual, but I like having things looking clean and presentable before I have company. I also don't like wasting my precious weekend time with QC running errands for grocery items I've forgotten when I want to make something in particular for dinner. I think it's my mother's influence. Saturday's were always spent cleaning up the house, catching up on laundry and generally getting things in order for the coming week. Since I don't want to spend my Saturday with QC doing that I'll make sure it's all done the Thursday or Friday before, depending on which day he comes over.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NaBloPoMo, Day 4

I've been a bit busy today trying to prepare myself for a meeting tomorrow with one of my supervisors. I'm not feeling particularly creative, so in order to fulfill my requirements for NaBloPoMo I will post a couple things I am thankful for today. (I can't believe I'm already treating it like a task that needs to be completed instead of a creative exercise, but oh well).

1. I'm thankful that I didn't have to go to school today because it rained and snowed off and on all day.

2. I'm thankful for the wireless network that just popped up and I can use, even though it's not mine.

3. I'm thankful for the leftovers that Quiet Confidence sent home with me after the weekend, because it meant I had a decent dinner tonight without having to do much work to get it.

4. I'm thankful I had kleenex in the house, courtesy of my Mother, because my nose wouldn't stop running today. I either have the start of a cold or something is bothering my allergies.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Freedom (from the internet)

I found an application called Freedom through a roundabout way and it looked interesting. Freedom promised to help my productivity by disabling networking on Apple computers for up to 8 hours. This way even if I wanted to go online to surf randomness I couldn't. Forcing myself to concentrate on my own work for a preset time sounded like the perfect solution to my issue. The only way to circumvent the timer on Freedom meant rebooting my computer - which seemed cumbersome enough that I won't do it lightly. Unfortunately I couldn't get it to work on my computer and I couldn't figure out why not from their support page.

If you're an academic or just can't break yourself of constantly checking email or webpage updates, instead of keeping your focus on the task at hand, this seems like a very handy application. It did get a lot of good press and reviews.

Monday, November 02, 2009


It's National Blog Posting Month again. I'm going to give it a shot and hope for the best. Last year I crashed and burned in a matter of days. Let's hope I have something to say for the next 29 days and actually remember to post it.

I suspect that weekends when Quiet Confidence is here, or I'm at his place will be the hardest.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

An Odd Observation

The other morning I was in the shower when something odd dawned on me. I live alone, however I have five different shampoo's in the shower, and two different types of conditioner. I never realized I had accumulated such a collection by accident. I never did this when I lived with house mates. I wonder what other weird things I've bought multiples of without realizing it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Memories of a Happier Day

One day in July, Quiet Confidence and I took a drive out to one of the Great Lakes to spend some time at the beach. On our way out there, driving on a random country road, we spotted a row of windmills that stretched far into the distance. It was a fascinating and beautiful sight as the propellers slowly moved, quietly and almost in sync, to the imperceptible summer breeze.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Past Never Stays in the Past

The weather is cooling off and the students are returning to campus and my thoughts turn not to the fall term, but rather to my failures and shortcomings. Instead of feeling the optimism of a new term and the possibilities inherent in a new school year I feel the weight of the previous terms. I cast back to that fall four years ago now, where a middle-aged man I worked with in my hometown accelerated his obsession and began stalking me in my University town. It was a situation that I have come to learn is not all that uncommon, even though I feel it should be. It escalated until one night I was raped and held against my will for over four hours until I convinced him that I had to get home and couldn’t stay with him in his car all night. After that he really came undone. It all ended with a confrontation with the police one afternoon when he showed up unannounced and uninvited to my apartment building.

I think women are taught to be nice, even when perhaps it’s not in their best interests. I know that fear for my summer job, and thinking I could reason with a person completely out of touch with reality is what led me so deep into the situation. I was trying to be nice, letting him down easy- trying to redirect his attention away from me without angering him. I was completely unfit to handle the situation. I also wanted to keep it quiet from my family and friends, thinking I could get it all to go away without having it public knowledge. I tolerated behaviour and actions at work that escalated the problem because I didn’t know who to trust or who I could go to. I was also trying to be nice when I shouldn’t have tolerated any of it for a second. I was na├»ve. I assumed that when I left my position for the school year that the problem would go away. I was horribly wrong and have had to live with consequences of that ignorance ever since. Even after the police became involved I stayed quiet on the most horrific aspects of the case because I was thinking of his children. I also didn’t want to deal with a trial situation and having my life aired out in public. It was very much a he-said, she-said situation and I couldn’t handle the possibility that I might lose. I also thought that if he lost his job because of me that it would give him more reason to be obsessed with me, so I kept my mouth shut.

I wish I could say I’m over it and well on the road to recovery, but my past does not stay in the past. At times I’m angry that I didn’t get any kind of justice or retribution. As far as I know he went on his merry way and life did not change all that much for him, while my life changed dramatically. I still have the occasional nightmare or flashback- fall seems to have a huge amount of triggers that put me back in that place. Talking about it or even thinking about what happened during those couple of months brings me to tears or I break out in a cold sweat. I struggle with focus and motivation as well as extreme fear that has no basis in reality. I feel like I have been unable to reclaim my life, but am stuck in some kind of limbo or purgatory where I exhibit victim behaviour and can’t completely move past it all.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Difference in Perspectives

While Quiet Confidence and I share a lot of common interests and sensibilities there is one fundamental characteristic in which we are polar opposites of each other. It is a very stark contrast and something both of us have puzzled over in private and together, not quite able to understand how the other person can be this way or how it functions.

Quiet Confidence possesses an unending optimism and positive outlook on life. It is not however, the galling kind wherein the optimism is a “Susie Sunshine” naivety in the face of incontrovertible facts to the opposite. I on the other hand seem to naturally favour a more pragmatic outlook, something I see as a starkly realistic approach to life. Sometimes it slides into pessimism on the negative side, but that I believe has more to do with the depression and happens only on my lowest days.

QC described it to me as a choice you can make, so why not choose to take the positive approach? He sees it as a “why not?” proposition- I don’t understand his choice and puzzle over how he can instinctively reach for that side of the coin. His outlook certainly isn’t because he has lived a charmed and sheltered life free from struggle or tragedy. Quite the opposite really, which is what puzzles me all the more about his mindset. Given everything he has experienced, how can he still remain so unfailingly positive?

There is something in my brain chemistry or make-up that prevents me from grabbing onto the positives in any situation as a first instinct. While I also try to make the best of any situation facing me, I chose not to put on a happy face about it, but rather to approach it with steely determination, with my eyes wide open to what I face. I would rather know exactly what kinds of highs and lows I can expect than to assume everything is positive and will be fine because life really doesn’t work that way. QC completely does not understand this about me. He doesn’t understand at all how I naturally gravitate towards the darker side of things.

This light versus dark outlook is something I know will continually mystify and intrigue each of us. Neither one of us will ever completely understand the other, but I don’t think you can ever really truly know someone and everything about him or her. Then again, that’s my pessimistic side showing itself. It has already made it difficult at times for me to explain my depression to QC because it is a phenomena that is completely foreign and new to him. He has never been exposed to it, where as this is something I have been dealing with for years now. There are plenty of times that I have struggled to find the words to describe or explain it for him adequately. I don’t think you can completely understand depression without having experienced it personally, but I will continue to help him in trying to understand it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Persistent Feeling

It’s like a persistent rainy day. A soft grey drizzle, more like a mist than a full-blown downpour. It’s there with me when I wake up and follows me around all day. I’m not really sure how to shake it off anymore. A low level, chronic depression has been following me around for months now and I can’t seem to find the root of it or figure a way out of it. There are moments when the clouds lift and I forget all about the depression, however after a few hours or a few days it comes creeping back in. It’s not the deeper kind of depression where I just want to sleep all the time, constantly think about suicide and enter into an almost catatonic state of emotion where I’m unable to feel or connect with others. Mostly it just saps my energy, my motivation to accomplish things and my ability to focus on a task at hand.

I’m in the process of finding a new birth control pill so I don’t want to start anti-depressants in case this is related to the switch in hormones. Part of me is hoping that with the right pill that my depression will lift, however the rational, nagging part of my brain is telling me it’s more than just birth control. There is something else pulling me down. Something else is sapping my motivation and making it difficult to concentrate, focus and realize the goals I make for myself every day.

These are the days I feel like the biggest fuck-up and nothing I do is ever good enough. Quiet Confidence say’s I should go easier on myself, but it’s almost impossible to shut off that negative voice in my head. It’s a constant litany of self-abuse in my head. It’s unrelenting and just part of the depression I’ve kind of grown accustomed to. This in and of itself is kind of sad.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rose of Sharon Progress, II

Mirabilia's Rose of Sharon

Since early 2006 (Rose of Sharon in 2006) I have been working sporadically on a cross-stitch pattern for my mother. I'll go at it for a bit and then work or depression causes me to put it down for months. With the stress of my comprehensive readings upon me I've taken it up again. I hadn't stitched on it for 6 months prior to that, but I need something relaxing and slightly mindless in the evenings to help me unwind and forget about my comps. I've made a lot of progress since my last update (Rose of Sharon in 2007). Despite all of the progress I still have a lot of stitching to go before it's done and I can move on to another project. With lots of effort I could maybe finish it for Christmas this year, but a more conservative and realistic estimate would be early Spring in time for my Mom's birthday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Disordered Life

This morning after I opened up my laptop I realized that I had downloaded a bunch of files that were cluttering up my desktop. The problem being that it was research and not easily slotted into my half-hazard filing system. My computer is a mess. Parts of it are very organized and clean, while others resemble my hall closet (which honestly, lets not go there).

If I could have just one wish today it would be that I would wake up tomorrow and my computer would have magically cleaned itself up and organized itself in a logical, simplistic manner without my help. Quiet Confidence has offered before to "help" me clean up my computer and create some order around here. After seeing how neat and tidy his computer files are I'm quite aware that he knows how to organize a computer- he is after all a computer scientist. I wish I could just give it to him to do and he could magically see inside my head and understand my files, their seemingly random descriptors and how I want my computer to look when cleaned up. Alas, I am the only one who can adequately do this job and it makes me want to just delete every single thing on my computer and start over. Except I have 6 years of research on here that I need. I would cry if I lost that much work.

Friday, July 03, 2009

An Observation of a Sort

I've been visiting a bunch of blogs this morning that are on my bookmarks list, but that I haven't been to in months. I took a break from everything for a while and it seems like a lot of other people are doing the same thing. There are an overwhelming number of my old reads that have decided to either quit or take a hiatus- for some it's coming up on 3-6 months already. I don't know if it's the uncertain economic times that have caused people to refocus their priorities, or if the medium of blogging has lost some of its lustre.

In my case I feel like I've lost my voice a bit. I've also been able to share a lot of the things I previously would have written about with my partner, Quiet Confidence. A little over a year ago we started seeing each other and I finally found someone so completely supportive and non-judgemental that I could open up to. I fully opened myself up to this man and gave myself over to the experience of being with someone who fully deserved my attention and love and who gives just as much as he receives. In the process I've found a measure of balance and harmony that I have never been able to achieve with drugs or therapy. He has become that cord of steel that I can cling to when I'm spiraling out of control. I am still an imperfect person and I still have my demons to fight. I still have my down days and weeks. I still rely on medication when things become too difficult to face on my own.

For the past year I've given myself over to the process of laying a foundation for a lasting relationship. I've neglected some educational pursuits, the blog, and a couple of high-maintenance friends while I straightened my head out a bit and refocused my priorities. I needed the time off to figure out what is important to me and how to proceed from here on in. Since my birthday I've been trying to take small steps towards putting my education back on track as well as my life/career aspirations. It can be overwhelming at times given the mountain of work I have to complete as well as proving myself after my monumental fall down with the Post-Traumatic Stress. It affected my work, my completion of courses and my outlook on how I viewed myself as a scholar. Lets just say I don't think very highly of myself as a competent academic at the best of times.

Since my birthday in May I have been operating under the maxim that a healthy body creates a healthy mind. To this end I've been making small changes towards achieving that, setting micro-goals to help me towards completing a much bigger goal: namely the degree. One of the small changes I have tried to implement this week is writing for 15 minutes a day, even if its just on my blog or in my journal. I want to make writing a daily habit for me in the hopes that it will help with my career- academics labour under the notion that it is a "publish or perish" world in the University system. I'm beginning to believe this. In order to publish you have to write; something I have been unable to do for almost a year. It is my hope that by writing for 15 minutes a day it will end up not only coming easier to me, but also stretch well past 15 minutes. To keep myself in the writing habit will benefit my papers and research in the future. Writing shouldn't be a chore if I'm going to make it my primary career.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Old Hurts

There are some memories of my past that never fail to bring tears to my eyes, regardless of how long ago the event in question happened. I seem to have a rich past of trauma that still stings even though some of these memories are from as long ago as when I was 4, 8 and 10. It seems almost strange to me that talking about these memories with someone will make me well up with instant tears. Very rarely can I talk or even think about these memories without tears.

Some of these painful memories seem to be the key to some sort of intrinsic part of my personality like my overwhelming abandonment issues that crop up occasionally, or my preoccupation with food and dislike bordering on anxiety about eating in front of strangers or in groups. I have wanted to write about my history of trauma for a while, but fear and anxiety has put a stopper on those stories and emotions. There are days when I can barely hold it together and I fear swimming into the deep end of these memories and problems. It was one thing to agonize over Mr. Intellectual and my sordid relationships as they related to my depression and its a whole other level when I start to unravel the rest of the trauma.

This is part of the reason why I've allowed the blog to languish into almost irrelevance in the last year or so. I had exorcised a big demon in my life and wasn't ready to move onto other mental exercises, but I think the time is right. I have a very supportive man in my life and I feel like I'm starting to get myself back on track for the degree. I'm happier and more content with things now than I have been in years. I still have my down days and weeks, but on the whole I feel like I'm on an upswing. Now to push past the fear and actually press "publish" on some of the more troubling things I've been sitting on.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Spring on the Farm

I've escaped the city for a few days. I decided to spend the weekend and my birthday out on the Farm. It's my favourite time of year here and I didn't want to miss the blooming cherry trees. There is nothing more beautiful than hundreds of trees in full bloom. Unfortunately it was an overcast day, so the pictures aren't as great as I had hoped they would be.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A Conversation Between Two Old Friends

"You're stronger than you think."

"You've said that before, but I remain as unconvinced now as I was then. "

I'm really not sure what my friend sees in me that I don't, but I know how I feel on the inside right now. I'm hurting again. In the last few days I've slid into a dangerous depression. I'm struggling to find purpose in my life. I want to reach out for help, but there is always something holding me back- I don't see myself as important enough for some reason, or I don't know what it is I need to help me. Right now I just feel emotionally, mentally and physically fragile.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Post-Exam Recap

My students wrote their final exam this week. The subject matter is Canadian history from pre-contact to the present era, so a survey course of the entirety of Canadian history. History can get complicated, long and involved. Sometimes it's hard to boil down an event or person into a short definitive answer.

The first section of our exam was comprised of Identification and Significance questions. This is pretty standard for History exams. You get a bunch of terms, pick out the required number and then describe in 3-5 lines (or more if you're taking the shotgun approach to answers or suffer from verbal diarrhea) what/who/when/where the term was/is and how/why it is important to the overall scope of Canadian history. Simple, right? Sometimes it's anything but.

Sometimes you get some amazingly bizarre answers and you just have to wonder how their brain functions and what lecture they attended or what textbook they were reading. I had a couple of answers like that this exam. My favourite is one I'll share. I don't know what the legalities of this are, but there are no names for the guilty party.

The ID question was the Quiet Revolution. For those of you who are not versed in Canadian history, the Quiet Revolution occurred between 1960-66 in Quebec. It was a time of rapid, but nonviolent change, whereby Quebec underwent drastic evolutions in its political, social, economic and cultural structures led by Liberal Premier Jean Lesage. The Roman Catholic church's influence rapidly waned and a growing number of Quebeckers became sovereigntists, which gave rise to the separatist movements.

This particular student however, has a very different interpretation of what the Quiet Revolution meant in Canadian History:

"The Quiet Revolution is a staple of Canada's pacifistic history. When the Canadian government is mad at another country instead of outlining the problems like educated government officials they will not speak to you. If you call they will breath heavily on the phone but not utter a word. In essence a quiet revolt."

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Exam Day

This afternoon my students write their final exam. It's a three hour exam that encompasses all of Canadian history from contact to the present, or at least the 1990's. While I have a sense of relief that it's all coming to an end once I finish marking later this week, I also have an impending sense of dread. It means that yet another school year is drawing to a close and I am no further along in my goal than I was last year at this time.

There's also this giant vacuum left in my week since most of my work and thoughts have been focused around my tutorial prep and other concerns related to my students. My work kind of gets scheduled in around their needs, or shunted off to the side for big marking stints or problems in the classroom. Now that this impediment is removed I have to find something else around which to organize my week. I'm thinking that some time in the gym is more than necessary since I've gotten quite lumpy this past winter.

There are some students that I'll be happy to say good-bye to since they were a pain in my ass from day one. However, there is also a small group of students that I will miss. They are the ones who brought a sense of humour to my classroom. The ones who taught me something about myself, or brought a fresh perspective to the material under examination- some angle that I had never considered before. The students who helped me refine my teaching skills and develop my teaching philosophy. They are the students that I worked for, that I crafted my material for and helped along where ever I could. They are the students that I won't forget and that I'll wish well in their future endeavours. They are the students that remind me why I chose to enter the Ph.D program with the hope of teaching in a University one day. The ones who remind me why I love what I do, particularly on those bleak and hopeless days.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with a website: Rate Your Students. Billed as "an oasis in the academic desert" (among other things), RYS is a place where academics from around the globe, but mainly it seems from the States, can post about their job in a frank and open manner. It started in reaction against the "Rate My Professors" website, where students can post anonymous comments and reviews of professors and their courses. Those in academia wanted a similar forum to unload on students, their jobs and the problems inherent in the system- and do they ever.

RYS looks beyond the Ivory Tower and gives a grittier, more realistic portrait of academia. At times it can be instructive and gives me hope, but the vast majority of it makes me depressed that I ever chose academia. It also makes me fearful of my future job prospects and ability to flourish in such an environment. Some days reading RYS can leave my stomach in knots of anxiety and ramp up those feelings of being unprepared, an abysmal failure and completely unsuited for graduate school, let alone teaching.

I only read RYS sparingly because of the negative reaction it gives me. I'll usually check in once or twice a month at most and read a bunch of pages in a row until I sicken myself and leave. Every once in a while I'll find something worth holding on to and remembering for later, which is what keeps me coming back. I know there are a lot of things wrong with post-secondary education, and I don't particularly see things changing in the near future. I think it would be healthier for me if I could just quit that site, but I keep getting drawn back in.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

King's Quest 4- The Perils of Rosella

I'm not the biggest video game player. In fact I'd go so far as to say that I don't play video games. However, as a child my parents bought a Tandy 1000 back in the mid-80's and occasionally I would play games. This of course was dependent on whether or not one of my brother's was playing the computer or not. If they were on the computer I wasn't getting any game time, which meant that I would be sitting there watching them play on the off chance that they might let me take the occasional turn. The only games I really remember playing were Larry Bird vs. Dr. J basketball, Wheel of Fortune and Jump Man. What I do remember watching a lot of was the Sierra King's Quest series of games.

Opening Screen Shot

I remember King's Quest 4- The Perils of Rosella the most. Maybe it was because the graphics were becoming more advance at that point, or I was getting older and more interested in the logical, problem solving aspects of the Sierra series, but mostly I think it's because the lead character was a female. This was an entirely new concept in the gaming world and I loved that she was the one to go on the adventure this time, not her brother. Recently I discovered that someone at Sierra had reconfigured the old KQ series to work on modern machines and released the whole thing on CD. While that point made me excited again, I was thrilled when I learned that I could actually play the games on my Mac with the help of the DOSBox program!

The two screens I remember the most from back in 1988- the Seven Dwarves Cottage and the Fishermans wharf.

I quickly found a torrent with the whole 7 game series and downloaded it. While I was looking I also found a torrent that had a bunch of the other popular Sierra games, like the Police Quest and Space Quest franchises, which I also snagged. I went straight to KQ4 and have been playing it off and on for the past couple of weeks. It is every bit as cheesy and awesome as I remember as a child, only better because this time I was the one playing every second of it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Infamous Apple Muffins

For Christmas my oldest brother's wife gave me a recipe box filled with her favourite recipes. It was the perfect gift since I have been trying harder to make decent food for myself and expand on my kitchen skills. In the box was my 4 year old nephews favourite apple muffins- something he can't get enough of when she bakes them for breakfast for the kids.

I finally decided to try out the recipe last week. It has been on my list of things to try for weeks and I had even bought all the necessary ingredients a long time ago. I made the mistake of saying I was making apple muffins on my Facebook page, where all my brothers could read.

This created quite the furor as my youngest brother started trying to weasel some fresh muffins out of me- it was his birthday after all that day. Soon a couple more of my brother's were jumping in, along with their friends and some of my own friends. It was creating quite the facebook sensation, something I never could have anticipated. Everyone wanted the apple muffins.

My youngest brother is very persuasive. So, the next day I agreed to drive on down to the old University town where he is finishing up his final year to bring him fresh muffins and have lunch together for his birthday. I was easily persuaded since it is the last time I can do something like that with him. He's graduating this summer and moving back home to get a job. It is the end of an era and I wanted to be there with him one last time, since I was the one who moved him into his rez in first year and we shared a lot of good times together on that campus.

Later I posted the recipe for the apple muffins on Facebook, after a couple of requests, and kicked off an apple muffin baking storm as several of my friends from all over Canada fired up their ovens to try them out. As my nephew and Quiet Confidence can attest, these are good! They're more of a dessert, but make a sinfully delicious breakfast, especially the next day when all the flavours have started to mellow together. Really, the muffin mix is just a conduit for the apples and that's what makes them so perfect.

Apple Muffins

1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped apples
1 tbsp cream (I substituted with milk since I don’t keep cream in the house and it was fine)

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add vanilla and beaten egg.
Stir together dry ingredients and add wet ingredients, stirring just to moisten.
Add apples and cream gently.

Fill greased muffin cups and bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Made to Order

A couple of days ago I was cleaning out my desk drawers and found something I had written out about 2 or 3 years ago. It was a list of all the qualities I was looking for in a partner and all the things that would be “deal breakers” to a lasting relationship. I remember that after I had finished writing out this list I had quietly folded it up and put it away in my desk because I felt like I would never be able to find a man who encapsulated all of those qualities. In order to avoid more heartache it was better if I didn’t think about it anymore, particularly since I was dating yet another Mr. All Wrong.

Deal Breakers:
  1. Smoking, in any form.
  2. Atheist (something I’m not too concerned with now, however fanatical atheism is still a deal breaker).
  3. Possessing only a High School diploma.
  4. Calling me a bitch in any context- joking or not.
  5. An inability to get along with my family.
  6. An inability to compromise.
  7. Immaturity.
  8. Lies- big or small is immaterial.
  9. Obsessive or controlling.
  1. Fiscally responsible.
  2. Educated- College or beyond (prefer University).
  3. Respectful, polite.
  4. Family is important to him- maintains a good relationship with family.
  5. Flexible, can compromise.
  6. Honest, can communicate.
  7. Reads or at least can respect books and self-improvement.
  8. Movie buff.
  9. Athletic.
  10. Common background or at least an ability to relate.
  11. Supportive of my goals and independence.
  12. Independent- can cook, clean, do laundry and generally take care of himself.
  13. Values education.
Reading this over now I was somewhat surprised to discover that Quiet Confidence has every single one of these things that I was looking for so long ago. I shouldn’t be so surprised, but at the time it felt like an impossible task. Yet today it seems so logical that I would find the person I was writing about. Subconsciously that list was always with me, I just didn’t have enough self-respect at the time to say I deserved to be with someone who checked off all the right boxes and none of the bad ones. It’s still a struggle some days to have the confidence and love for myself to say I deserve all of this, but I’m working on it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

A soft hand was slowly gliding up and down my naked back, tracing the lines of my body in the dark. His gentle fingertips followed the curve of my spine before retracing their way back towards my neck. As I basked in the overwhelming sense of love and security my body started to relax and my breath slowed.

As I felt myself drifting off to sleep he bent over me, and with warm lips brushing my ear whispered quietly,

“I am so lucky to be with you…”

“But you are so lucky to be you.”

And then he dropped a kiss on my cheek as I smiled into the darkness.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Failing to find my Strength

Today I went to one of the yoga classes at the University athletics center with a friend/colleague. I’ve been having trouble with my carpal tunnel and I know it was very helpful with that back when I did the study. I’ve also been feeling very out of sorts and unbalanced in a way I can’t quite verbalize. I was hoping this class would help both.

This class was billed as a “Yoga Stretch” class, however after things got underway it was not the relaxed stretching class we both expected. It was a power yoga class focusing more on a strength training and muscle building approach and not a peaceful, relaxed session. I left in more pain than I went in with, both physically and mentally. This was not what I expected at all.

During the warm up part where we were doing some focused breathing and eyes-closed visualization we were asked to picture something in our minds. We were supposed to find our strength, something positive about ourselves, and focus on that one thing. I couldn’t find anything. I searched in vain and nothing positive was coming to mind. There is nothing physically about my body that I’m happy about at the moment. I woke up this morning to the realization that I have allowed myself to get to an uncomfortable weight and shape, something I had promised I wouldn’t do again after I broke up with Mr. Intellectual. Academically and intellectually I’m feeling like a horrible failure and completely unfit to be here. All I am finding at the moment is a deep, abiding shame and self-loathing.

Instead of finding peace and balance for an hour I left feeling very sore and was trying desperately to hold it together. Crying during guided meditation is not a good thing, especially in front of a friend and a room full of 50 strangers. I never expected to feel so empty from something I loved so much previously.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Motivation & Failure

Shortly after I gave Quiet Confidence the link to this website he spent a lot of time reading through the past couple years of my life chronicled here. He said that it was difficult to read at times because he hates reading stories where the good guy doesn’t triumph. He had a completely different perspective on my blog than I do since he read it in huge sections where as I parceled it out in measured segments according to my days. Where as I saw the blog as more of an up and down rollercoaster of my depression, he saw it as the up and downs of my dating life and the continuous disappointments I suffered. Neither perspective is wrong, it just depends on what lens you filter the material through.

This past year has been an entirely different kind of struggle for me. I’ve been struggling with my degree and what it means to me, if I even want to be here, and feelings of failure. Yesterday I was looking at my school ring, absent-mindedly playing with it while I was thinking of other things. As I read the inscription on the inside band it struck me that my Bachelors Degree feels like the only degree where I really tried. I put my heart and soul into those 4 years. I really tried during that degree. I have yet to put that much effort, thought and time into my Ph.D. More importantly I haven’t invested my heart into this degree like I did with my undergrad. I was so emotionally invested in that degree and wanting to be on campus, regardless of how difficult it was at that time.

It may just be that I have academic burn out. That would come as no great shock since I’ve been in University for the past 8 years. Most people I know get burn out by their third or fourth year in school. It can be quite the meat grinder in academia. I can’t find the necessary desire and motivation to complete assignments and move on to the next phase of my degree. Part of me already feels like I’ve fucked up this degree from day one, that much of the past two and half years have been a huge failure. I can’t seem to move on from those feelings of failure and disappointment in my performance, which has only exacerbated the situation. This is not how I wanted my Ph.D to play out.