Fictional dreamboat

In British Columbia, there is currently political turmoil in the form of a public school’s teacher’s strike – a long time coming, that arrived at last, 2 weeks before the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

While teachers are taking action for improved employment and work terms (I think rightfully so), parents all over the province were and are still, this week, looking for ways to manage having the kids at home a couple of weeks before expected.

While le mari took on the little one last week for a few days, I finally took a vacation day to spend a day looking after le petit, and come on, it’s June at the start of summer. It gave le mari a break, and me, a day of happiness engaging with the little one.

We dropped by my office, had a Chinese food lunch date, shared a meal with good friends who are moving to another province, and most notably, went to the movie theatre together. Not only did we sneak in gummy worms and jelly snacks, we got to watch the long-awaited How to Train Your Dragon 2 . We only get to the theatre maybe 3 or 4 times a year, so the whole 3D, big-screen experience was a blast, for both le petit and for me.

Something else that was utterly enjoyable about the film?

If I were: 1) single  2) fictional  3) 20 years younger (maybe 25?) and  4) animated, Hiccup, the central character in the film, would totally be at the top of my potential future squeeze candidate list. (Other than the fact that he’s not, er, actually single in his storyline.)

hiccup

He’s a heroic, clever, still slightly awkward (from the first film) but endearing young man, who can have romance without being cloying, and who is depicted in this installment as working through identity issues to discover what he wants to do and how to find the strength to do so.

It’s been a while since I so thoroughly enjoyed an animated film, but voila, we heartily recommend this one.

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A maiden voyage to India

It’s already mid-June and I’m catching up to post about the previous month. May was a wild month, which included a couple of unexpected events, the most prominent of which was an unscheduled trip for work.

It was my first trip to Asia since 2003 and my first visit ever to India.

india sikh

Brief background: In my first year of university, I had a year-long immersion into Indian literature and culture, including an in-depth study of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the Mahabharata and parts of the Bhagavad-Gita, a sacred Hindu text. There was also an Indian drama in which I was required to act, and a lot of poetry, examinations of film and group discussions. While I received a thorough cultural, scholarly introduction to the subject, the country and its people seemed to be too…too everything: too bright, too intense, too sensually rich to the extent that reading about it made me feel overwhelmed, too violent, too passionate. It put me off to ever visiting India. I was just not interested.

Four things since that university introduction eventually changed my thinking about visiting India:

  1. During the first month or so of our acquaintance, the man who eventually became my partner expressed that the country that he MOST wants to travel to and experience is India. Huh.
  2. During the past 12 years or so, there has been a revival of interest and media coverage of western (meaning North American and European) Indian writers: Rohinton Mistry, Kiran Desai, Jumpa Lahiri, just to name a few, whose works I read and completely fell in love with.
  3. I came across William Darymple‘s travelogue/history books about India : City of Djinns, Nine Lives, The Last Mughal among them. His stories and his telling of various events in the history of India, plus his obvious passion for the country and its people lit some kind of interest in me, to see for myself the places and people that moved him so much that 6 or 7 books later, he was still writing about it.
  4. Bhangra. Indian students at my work introduced me to it and we just completely love it at our house.

So, when I was asked to go to India, I was happy to do so and it was everything I’ve ever read about it. A month later, I’m still processing some of the experiences I had, and I may share it in a later post one day. But the thing that stood out, clearly and notably, was the kindness and genuine interest and drive of the people that I met.

Practicing flight

It’s been an overwhelmingly wonderful, fast and exhausting two months. I clearly recall moments of joy, success and productivity, but I also remember a kind of stasis, lethargy and a sense of just SO much going on that it made me want to cry.

Some of the lows:

  • Le Mari got the mumps. Yes, MUMPS. As if any grown person who has already received the vaccine in this new century in the western world would get that. Well apparently there are some cases in Canada and it looks like he was one, according to all the symptoms. Fortunately, like chicken pox, he just had to ride it out and after 5 days of being quarantined, it passed and he was fine, and we in the household were all fine.  But it threw a week off its normal track and made for serious discomfort and misshapen-ness around the house.
  • Projects at the office sometimes just…stalled. I think I felt discouraged because the obstacles seemed bureaucratic, unnecessarily existing because of practices implemented 25 years ago that CLEARLY need updating for the current day. Yeah, there were a couple of moments like this in the recent weeks.
  • Oh, the state of the house. Enough said.
  • Oh, the state of my thesis. I was on a roll, on a roll, then hit a bump, wrestled a bit, then a while, then opened that darn Archive of Our Own fanfiction Avengers Marvel universe fandom, and then got sucked in and…KAPUT. Days of engaging in an incredibly articulated fictional world of  superheroes, alternative plots and some very great writing.
  • The actual, dumb struggle of feeling like a suck in not being the kind of mom that engages her son in the activities that 5-year old boys are clearly supposed to be doing, if a glance around me was any indication – i.e. ALL of le Petit’s peers in soccer or baseball – and I, being so caught up in our tasks and daily life completely MISSED ALL DEADLINES for the entire year for these team activities. I never thought I’d see the day that I would rue NOT being a soccer mom, but I felt like I had missed out on providing him with something very key for his age group and development.

Some of the highs:

  • Got over the soccer mom struggle fairly quick. A second glance around me showed that families could choose to put their kids in the kind of activities that engage their sons and daughters in healthy, socially encouraging and developmental play – like team sports. Yes, I would LOVE le Petit to play. Yes, I would love him to learn to engage in team activities. But at the same time, WE were and are not ready for the commitment that sports leagues in Kamloops, and everywhere else in North American suburbia I imagine, requires – practice + games twice, sometimes thrice weekly, special events, weekends devoted to league activities, and if your child is good, away games, not to mention the equipment, the drives, the fundraisers and the precise scheduling that is needed to manage this lifestyle. Well, GREAT for people who can manage this, but at this time, we cannot. When I realized this, my sense of not quite achieving what I thought I should be doing as a mom vanished. (We decided to encourage le Petit to try out karate next month).
  • SPRING. At looooong last.
  • Some, if very sparse, practice with the Sony NEX camera (I remembered my promise to Le Mari)
  • A beautiful Easter choir and performance of A Tale of Three Trees by 15 or so children, ages 5-12, at Summit Drive Church, in which le Petit took part. One dedicated, super-loving lady took on this project out of love of music and teaching, and she lead, encouraged, and spurred these kids on to bravery and performance in a musical that had a wonderful message.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Need I say more?
  • Serious progress on my thesis: the section on mobility and the research method has been fleshed out, the literature been covered. Very happy to cover these sections, and also IMPRESSED with the scholars and the research happening in the cross-disciplinary field of mobility.

Well, last night, I went for a quick after dinner walk with le Petit in our neighbourhood. Ironically, we went for a walk in a field that was beside school ground where 2 soccer teams were practicing. It was a gorgeous evening, my first one out with just a short-sleeve T, though I brought as sweater. I didn’t need it in the warm evening air, but oh, did we make good use of it.

Le Petit took my sweater and ran with it. Then he flew. And soared. And then landed back to earth. What a GLORIOUS reminder of how things are.

vsco instant vscocam instant vscocam flight play instant vscocam flight instant Processed with VSCOcam with p2 preset vscocam flight play vscocam flight playvscocam flight vscocam flight

A beginning hobbyist’s camera, at long last

Oh I am SO stoked. And yet so screwed.

Stoked because I got my first true beginner’s mirrorless micro 4/3 camera, the lauded Sony NEX-3N just recently, on sale from Costco, of all places. It’s not the best nor the latest of the NEX line (now dubbed Alpha, dropping the NEX moniker) – that belongs to the incredibly decked out Sony Alpha 7R. But for someone who has never had to work with F-stops and manual aperture and shutter controls before, this little gadget with its automatic AND some manual settings sounds like it will be just perfect.

Screwed because I made a promise to Le Mari that I wouldn’t engage all my interest/time/practice on this long-shelved desire UNTIL my graduate thesis is done, and I intend to keep this promise. But it’s hard, it’s really hard to restrain myself, as the little-but-powerful-image-capture device beckons.

In the meantime, here are two shots from my ONE day of practice and testing it out:

vsco mytru

NEX (1 of 1)-7Oh, I can’t wait to try my hand at snapping shots with something other than an iPhone.

If anyone in the community has tried out or currently shoots with the NEX-3N, I’d love to hear about your experience with this camera.

A wonderful break and reminder

walk Kamloops winter nature bcbeautifulThis past weekend, between Sunday service at our place of worship, a run to the supermarket, picking up le Mari from the pool and reviewing four articles for my studies, le Petit and I put on our winter layers and took a quick walk, about 15 minutes from our home.

It was glorious. Why, oh why, haven’t we been doing this more, this winter? We trace this path a lot in the warmer months but recent snow, illness and priorities have kept us, have kept me, away from a pastime that I actually LOVE: walking around our city trails with le Petit.

Our impromptu Sunday walk was a strong reminder of how important it is to take breaks from the “daily grind” (and a grind it has been lately, between day shifts and night shifts, sickness, buses to catch, volunteer responsibilities, appointments, and books to review) and to lay down all media and distractions and just be, in place, in quiet.

I was also reminded that if we take more of these breathing breaks, then we are much less likely to feel that life is a grind and likelier to gain perspective and space regarding the things we deem important. It’s like this walk reset my current orientation on things. The word “refreshing” comes to mind.

We’ll definitely be doing this again soon.

Writing things down

moleskine goals resolutions

Some people say that making goals at the start of every year is a futile exercise, that everyone knows the burst of energy that compels us towards fresh intentions and plans will peter off in a month or two, only to leave us disheartened and glum at our own inabilities.

Bah to the naysayers, I say. And I’m apparently in good company, because many of the bloggers and writers whose words have inspired over the years seem to put great stock in the exercise of making new year goals. Putting things down on paper or to the screen, in a file, in a notebook, with deliberate intention and the discipline to conduct regular review of those jotted-down plans HELPS, I think.

I have a list for family goals, work goals, and a notebook full of personal goals. I’ll be revisiting and taking stock of them from time to time during the upcoming year. I look forward to it!

Discovering Night Panther

Music is so intensely personal and completely a matter of preference.

Once in a while there is a moment when a track or tracks of an album totally grabs you, at that particular time at that particular place. Tonight, I had such a moment. My Rdio new releases play later queue was randomly streaming and suddenly, the tune of Fever by Night Panther started playing through my headphones.

music, rdio, nightpanther

Night Panther

The album is their debut, I guess, Night Panther by Night Panther.

I cannot describe music in general – that is an exercise for another day. The band’s Soundcloud tag is “sex pop” which provides zero clarification as to the kind of music it is. The best I can do is synth-pop-indie-singersongwriter, not that my description is any clearer.

The album is just fun and rich in harmony and musical instruments. You can hear the track, and the rest of the album for yourself here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Good morning!”

20131005-075236.jpg

When I want so darn much to sleep in and our little wakes me at 6am (again), I am supremely grateful for the smell and sound of coffee brewing, then the sensation of that first hot sip in my mouth.

Then I’m ready to engage in the (endless) commentary, questions and exclamations that come with any day off with le Petit.

Good morning, weekend!

Learning to give things up

I looked at the calendar this morning and was flabbergasted to realize that it was the LAST DAY of September. The LAST! Where did this month fly?

I had just gotten into a great routine, what with the little one starting school, getting to work earlier, which meant getting home earlier, which meant time to make better (read healthier, more varied) dinners for the first time in ages, sleeping earlier, feeling better all around, too.

Then WHAM: what happens to all kids in the public school system, happened to mine. He got sick. Pink-eye, cough, minor fever. And he’s not a sick kid. Very healthy, very active but suddenly physically very afflicted.

So then, the morning routine flew out the window, I went back to getting to work late, and sometimes later (thank God for a flexible department/manager). Plus night conference Skype sessions with India for work. In this week, of all weeks. So there was NO more routine, with late nights, PLUS the fact that Downton Abbey resumed (that’s for me) and Breaking Bad was ending (that’s for Le Mari) and a colleague of mine informed me of the new season of Sons of Anarchy and I just couldn’t resist checking out the guy who got the role of Christian Grey…

Time basically got away. And with that, I  realized that I did not hit my loosely-held goals for the month, not at all. Goals which included: invite so-and-so family over for dinner, finish that chapter of my thesis, create that photo album for that friend, keep up my blog (this one I had great hopes for since I had Kickstarter app Pressgram, which is supposed to make sharing photos on WordPress much more seamless).

I’m not fanatic about goals, but it made me sad that I didn’t keep up with my fall targets. Also sadder that I absolutely didn’t keep up with my 2013 daily photo project. I was stressed about it sitting on the backburner online, where, God forbid, people might come across it and realize that it hasn’t been updated for MONTHS. I was bummed out about it for a day, but then BAM: it struck me that I could just LET IT GO. Let it GO. Release that defunct blog and wipe the slate clean. Like all things when it comes to letting go, it isn’t, it wasn’t easy, but doing so, I feel a lot better and feel motivated to start anew, next time with terms that leave me room to NOT be so exacting, to be more flexible with time.

So, RIP, Theo did this. Here was its burning start, and this post now is its swan song. No regrets, just letting it down softly.

Inspired by lots of awesome blogs and Flickr projects, I’ve re-started a 365 photo project for the year, having skipped 2012.

I originally started adding the snapshots to my own blog but didn’t want to necessarily post everyday here. So I started posting pics for this project here: Theo did this.

If anyone else is doing a 365-type photo blog for the year, I’d love to hear about it.

T getting clean

Ah, the first day

Every year, every September, in every Canadian city I’ve ever lived in, there is a recurring event. The preparation: crowded Superstores and Walmarts, “back-to-school” events everywhere, salons and eye doctors busy with personal prep prior to the main event, and then the Day: streets jammed up with more traffic than usual, public transportation filled to the gills with hoards of students, and even sidewalks suddenly busy with thousands more bodies marching and scurrying on to new classes and the new semester.

As I work in a university, I love the buzz of the new school year upon us. As someone who looks after international student partnerships, it’s especially exciting to see new students come to our BC university from all corners of the globe.

But this year is especially moving as it is the first year for our little one to attend school. Kindergarten begins, and so also is it a new phase in le Petit’s and in our lives.

running to school

This is how he was on his first day: running towards it, eager and open.

Oh, how I wish that he retains this attitude towards learning and the major institution that is “school” for his whole life. Corresponding to that: I wish we will be wise enough to help foster the love of learning and provide him with guidance through the sometimes tricky, sometimes hurtful social aspect to school life.

I’m very pleased, and we are all so looking forward to the adventures to come!