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hula1i just got back from hawaii. jealous? of course you are. but please temper your jealous rage with the fact that it was a hard won vacation. first i had to:

complete a draft of my dissertation (which also explains why i haven’t blogged in about a billion light years)
mark a billion papers
and turn thirty

well the turning thirty thing was actually the impetus for going to the islands. t-bone, in all of his magnificence, surprised me with the trip on my birthday. yes. my 30 birthday. not a spring chicken any more folks. nope. i’m practically a cougar. speaking of cougars – here are some of my hawaiian thoughts. as in, i had these thoughts on my hawaiian vacation. and no. none of them actually have anything to do with cougars. but a segue is a segue folks. deal with it.

thought #1: are japanese people from japan MUCH cooler than white north americans? the answer my friends is yes. so very, very much cooler. AND more stylish. poor us.

thought #2: why is visiting the united states of america the equivalent of a food assault? the restaurant nearest to us (a twenty-four hour diner) served so much food to us that i almost started crying. i saved my tears however for the food pounding i got at red lobster. i am still not sure if it was because of how much my distended stomach hurt or because the pina colada sauce they serve with the coconut shrimp will bring you to f-ing tears.

thought #3: why wasn’t i born on one of the polynesian islands? huh? i was BORN to fast hip shake dance (i actually think i patented that on the dance floors of o-town in my youth), hula dance, and eat coconut. f-ing BORN for it.

thought #4: is buying and wearing 4 spf sunscreen bad?

thought #5: i am AWESOME at surfing. why the f do i live in canada?

thought #6: mai tais are like a meal. booze. cherry. pineapple. booze. i will have one a day from now on. forever.

thought #7: mai tais make me wanna take mai top off.

thought #8: t-bone is really cute. especially with his hawt tan. how do i get him to take his top off? i know! another round of mai tais!

thought #9: my ty is the best kind of mai tai.

thought #10: how long have i been in the sun with top off? why is my glass empty? where the f is t-bone?

and basically it just deteriorated from there.

i f-ing love hawaii and i can’t wait to go back next year. hear that t-bone? i will be turning thirty again. and again. and again…

(p.s. i didn’t see dog. or leland. but not for lack of trying).

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big-white-09-0511hi – it’s me! your favoritest blogger returned from the land of big white and mini skis (pictured left).  so i haven’t blogged in a while, so what? you also don’t do stuff your supposed to so get off my back. okay – i might be a little bitter because i am still getting over fuzzybrain that plagued me at the extact same time as it did last year. creepy? yes. methinks so. (please suggest possible reasons for this recurring cottonbrain conundrum in the comments section. especially if you are a doctor specializing in hypochondria and/or germaphobia. many thanks). anyhoo – a couple of days – in the deepest depths of my fuzzybrainness – i was going to regale you with all the minutiae of my life but then i began to have interesting conversations about a particular topic that kept coming up. and no, it wasn’t because of what t-bone suggests – that i have to tell the same story over and over again in his presence just to test the limits of his capacity for unconditional love and tolerance (okay the latter half of that was my inclusion but the first part – that i endlessly tell the same stories is all his – just ask him about it – he’ll rant for a good hour). i am going to call this topic ‘failure,’ although as we’ll see, this kind of failure is the new fantasticness. stay with me.

so i am turning 30 this year (and this will be one of my repetitive stories so brace yourselves and don’t bring it up to t-bone or he might have an aneurysm. oh – if your the doctor that is diagnosing my hypochondria could you tell me what an aneurysm is because i use it all the time and have no idea. many thanks.) and it has made me realize that if 40 is the new 30, then 30 is the new 20. by this i mean that myself and many of my friends are currently experiencing the thirties as a renewed moment of indecision, not unlike that moment you had just out of high school (pre-20s) when you begged your parents to let you live free and die young. or any other approximation of not-going-to-university. or was that just me? anyway, the thirties seem like this moment – when we have enough education, maybe have made enough money, and are perhaps pre- or post-marriage but definitely pre-children – were we step back and say wtf? what do we want out of life and how are we going to get it. it is like realizing anything is possible which we didn’t when we were begging our parents for travel funds to europe or a year off to ‘find ourselves’ (i.e., working at denny’s and then running for the nearest educational institution). see, we were dumb in our twenties. we figured everything would work out and that life wasn’t something to be worked at. instead it would just happen to us just like everything else had happened to us since birth. and it was gonna be good times.

so some of my friends have been working in interesting and challenging careers since before i started grad school. and while i kinda hate them for making the wise decision to start making money light years before me, i empathize with their concerns about if what they are doing is what they always want to be doing. their questioning about if this is ‘it’. since i am the cusp of finishing something that has kept me busy since 2001 when i started my m.a., i am asking the same questions – what do i want out of life, what is possible, what isn’t, what do i deserve out of life, what do i never, ever want? an interesting aspect of this questioning and decision-making is the diversity of what constitutes both achievements and failures for those of us making these decisions. over some sausage and eggs recently, my friend N. and i discussed our visions of the ‘failures’ of so-called social achievement. we questioned the social pressure to marry and procreate as ‘whose’ values – our own or more appropriately classified under the rubric of ‘social expectation?’ we wondered where social expectation ends and our own desires begin while trying to acknowledge the impossibility of somehow ‘living outside’ such expectation (and its inevitable impact on the shaping of our desires).

after too much coffee and a walk to air out the nauseating diner smell, i continued to think about how one person’s achievement is another person’s personal failure and how different valuations of values can result in both feelings of inadequacy and superiority. and i wondered if it wasn’t the people who engage in the flouting and touting of their so-called social achievements who really suffer. the ones who measure their worth against the perceived ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ of others that perpetuate the expected outcomes of social expectation. this is not meant to be self-righteous, but rather a consideration of the multitudes of valuation that exist but are ignored. that persist but are disrespected. deciding that marriage and children as ‘success’ is not only the privileged domain of a heteronormative value system (by and large) but it is necessarily exclusionary and intolerant. however, even those who live in difference need to heed the value systems of others as equal as long as they are not oppressive. my point – if i have one – is to suggest that we must acknowledge that our lives are a culmination of the values we privilege. and what is most interesting about those values is that, despite the notion or appearance that they are universal and uniform, are easily in/subverted by desires that move outside the realm of the expected. suburban dreams as failures. and achievement measured by how comfortably you can live in your skin and accept others regardless of how closely they fit what we were all once told to want.

so besides finding out that posts about boobs means lotsa blog traffic (oh, that den of sin called the internets!) and forgetting to demand that you all go see doubt (go. now. i command you!) because of my love/crush/obsession with weepy streepy – i mean comeon! just look at these faces:

meryl_streep

i have to update you on another important matter. that is: showing my ass atop grouse mountain today while skiing. okay, i exaggerate. but here is what unfolded. i have decided to use the sage voice of t-bone for this because i imagine that skiing with me is equivalent to a root canal and so this is a tribute to his patience, love, and misguided attempts to turn me into a skier. poor t-bone.

here goes (remember we are inside the wise and courageous mind of my husband – these thoughts cannot be attributed to the thoughtful spaz – moi- because they are simply too logical. and guy-y):

10:30am – if i have to show her one more time how to properly carry her skis, i might injure myself. however, if i have to wait any longer for her, i might kill her. what he actually says: “comin’?”

10:31am – flip! just put them together like i told you! hehe. i just said flip like bret does on flight of the conchords. i’m funny.

10:35am – alright. she managed to get her spastic ass into the gondola. we might actually ski/snowboard today. just smile. then busy myself with my phone. she usually gets bored of that pretty quick.

10:43am – “let’s take this run, k?” now i have to wait a century until she gets her skis on. “ready?”

10:47am – she still doesn’t have them on. now she’s complaining. maybe next time i’ll come alone. i remember that being fun. before i was married…

10: 49am – she’s still complaining – “what? no you didn’t. really. i’m sure you didn’t split your pants. it just sounded that way. they’re fine. ski ahead and i’ll check”

10:50am – oh yeah. those are split. hehe. that’s funny. no laughing, she already wants to go home. i can see it. damage control. damage control! god. i hope she doesn’t cry.

10:51am – “you can’t even see it. really. the insulatey material is the same colour. really. now let’s go. wait – your boot is open – close it”

10:52am – oh shit. she just split them more. maybe she didn’t hear that.  *holds breath*

so anyhoo. two hours later we get down to the bottom (after i fell about a million times on my newly exposed ass because apparently “fresh powder” means jacks falls on said ass. a lot) and i realize that yes, my ass was hanging out and it was a lot worse than t-bone told me. bless his heart though. cause he helped. and cause i didn’t cry. and i only made everything his fault for about 45 minutes.

so alls well that ends well.

i guess.

bigsisterlast year at this time i was doing about the same thing – thinking through what i hoped a new year could/would bring. in a microcosmic example of history repeating itself, i want to talk about the same thing again. i waxed on about how adding something to my life, rather than making the usual i need to change/fix/remake myself resolutions, had really changed my life for the better. had given me something shiny and new. and in a way that getting “fitter” or not eating chocolate could never do. two years after i made the resolution to volunteer i am sitting in the same excited state. waiting to see what will come. what kind of newness and joy awaits me on the other side of tomorrow.

for a year and a half after i made the resolution the first time to volunteer with big sisters of BC lower mainland i spent quality time with a young woman who became my little sister about five months after i wrote the post linked above. i got to know her creative spirit, her joking manner, the way she knew i was a spaz and giggled when i recounted my geriatric falling in the shower episode (and dragging the curtain and curtain rod down with me when i managed to wedged myself between the toilet and the tub upon landing). she brought a lot to my life. and most importantly, stuff i didn’t even know was missing. we were matched for more than the required time commitment (one year) and recently decided to opt for a more informal friendship as our recent attempts to get together formally (the time commitment per week being 2-4 hours), with her now in high school and me writing a dissertation, were failing more often than not.

being part of C.’s life was an opportunity that gave me a lot of happiness. i thought i would never find the “right” volunteering opportunity. never quite meet the requirements or be driven enough to fulfill all the hoops volunteering agencies rightly put people through to demonstrate their commitment. but i did it. and i am still a bit in awe. not only of the drive i felt after i went to the first orientation meeting or the determination i felt getting my criminal record check and the honesty that kinda poured out in my meetings with the big sister’s counselor that matched us. big sisters itself is an amazing organization and the counselors are fantastic – always making you feel supported and appreciated. i am also in awe of the many women (and men) that do this kind of volunteering and make lasting differences in the lives of youth. and all the children and parents out there who are equally committed to having their children benefit from someone else in their lives.

anyhoo – before this sounds like any more of a commercial – i just want to let you in on why i am so excited this new year. i am sitting on this side of another little sister in my future. another little girl who is excited about having someone spend quality time with them. to make them feel important. special. and cared for. while i do have other personal goals this new year, the one i am proudest of, and most excited for, is the new little girl who will enter my life in 2009 and help me realize that we all have more to offer than we think. are better than we know. and have more to learn from little women than we could ever imagine possible.

as an epilogue to this post i want to say that if anyone is thinking about becoming a big sister i would *love* to talk more about my experiences or answer any questions. i know i had a lot of questions about whether or not i could make the time, what the matching process was like, what kind of stuff we would do together, and the list goes on. i know there are lots of little girls out there who need big sisters and i know that the women i know are fabulous so let me try to convince you to do it if you are interested!

also, tell me your resolutions. now.

okay, so here is my attempt at playing catch-up. i’ve been busy, okay. lay off. i have to go all the way back to easter cause it is my favourite holiday, after xmas and halloween (since i was born on a good friday and apparently that means, in folklore no one knows nor believes, i will be a millionaire by my 39th birthday. sweetass), so i have to prioritize and correctly and chronologically relay the minutiae of my everyday life. so here’s a little ditty about me almost dying in the woods. it’ll be good times. swears.

so i like to hike. so what? it doesn’t make me “outdoorsy.” or “one with nature.” it keeps me active and able to stuff large quantities in my pie-hole without consecutive coronaries or other suchlike adverse effects. plus, it allows for one to still be somewhat lazy but give the appearance of activity (that is, as opposed to running which i disagree with as a practice akin to torture). so anyhoo – i’m hiking – at buntzen lake to be exact which is a pretty place. with a lake. and a trail. perhaps my favourite hiking place of. all. time. ‘cept that i almost died there. at easter. like i said.

so the dying part comes in when me and my loved one decide to be troopers and pass our usual turnaround point which is somewhere around a dock and a little suspension bridge that no one EVER goes further than because it requires you to circumnavigate the entire lake. which ends up being about 10km. which is well past jacks’ comfort-zone for exercise-that-approximates-exercise-without-being-too-exercise-y. first, beyond the cute little suspension bridge, there was a significant uphill section. i am adamantly and vehemently opposed to ANY kind of uphill. uphill = the devil. second, we think we are lost when we reach a gravel road which we decide to follow (we are lost at this point but in serious denial). third, we are running out of trail mix (which i despise but was nonetheless filling my previously-mentioned pie-hole with). t-bone (aka loved one), locates us on his phone which has gps and we are somewhere between death and the end of the trail. when i realize i am starving i begin to consider eating all of the trailmix cause i figure we might not survive until the morning. apparently i thought t-bone could eat me once the trailmix was gone and i inevitably perished (due to lack of trailmix and the couple of hours i had been without food. this no food for like two hours and death is an assumption i make pretty regularly).

fourth and finally, the floating bridge that promised to be our saving grace because it was to take us directly to the parking lot (directly equalling in 1.5km) was blocked off and barricaded due to the fact that it was decrepit and “unstable” (and in the end, incomplete) or some such silliness. i say silliness because the barricade was instead telling us to go another 3km along the “safer” road route. see, silliness. more hiking? methinks no. okay so of course we chose the bridge. i mean, it was an alive-like situation out there (the movie version where ethan hawke eats everybody. or does he? i can’t remember if he finds it morally reprehensible or if he chows down. ah, cannibalism). the trailmix was almost gone, people. we had to take the bridge. so after jumping over the orange fencing and over the half-sunken portion of the floating bridge’s beginnings, we were well on our way.

i could tell you we made a good decision. i could tell you that this story doesn’t end with us in the water. but that would be lies. despite not falling in, we did make the brave decision to enter the freezing depths of the lake that is buntzen when the floating bridge prematurely ended roughly 20 feet from land. being brave lazy souls we rolled up our lululemon pants (an impulse buy/mistake made soon after moving to vancity), took off our shoes and socks, and waded into the thigh-high icy depths of oh-my-god-what-a-bad-decision-land. i think i almost had a panic attack and was shaking for about an hour afterward due to the shock and the adventure of it all.

and that, my blog friends, is how i survived the easter hike that almost killed me.