Friday, June 29, 2007

A rejuvenated neighborhood

I love the neighbourhood around my office. It's like an anachronistic small town plopped in the centre of a modern, vibrant city. It's full of renovated heritage homes, mature trees and luscious gardens. Each home different and unique. It's a neighborhood that actually feels like a neighborhood -- the antithesis of the cookie-cutter homes found in suburban subdivisions.

It wasn't always like this. Not too many years ago, the homes around here were run down and seedy. The older generation had moved on, moved out or died.

Homes once lovingly cared for were left to die a slow death to the wrecking ball or condo development.

Luckily, and just in the nick of time, people came to their senses and realized the importance of preserving something of the past. I love that these old beauties have been restored.

A new generation of young families are gradually moving in. There is evidence of babies, toddlers and the clutter of strollers and squeak toys.

Sometimes, progress and modernization isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes, it's good to step back and revel in the beauty of the past.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A change of heart

Not that long ago, I questioned how well we can actually know the people we read on the internet; whether it's from discussion forums, blogs or comments in response to posts. I was wary of believing that people are truly as they present themselves online.

In this post, I even went so far as saying,

We all make assumptions about people based on what they present to the outside world, and in the case of the interweb, how they write and respond in discussion forums, blogs, and comments. I start wondering if they'd be people I'd really like to meet face to face, whether I'd like them, whether they'd like me. The more I think about it the more I believe there aren't that many I'd want to meet in person. That's not to say I don't like or am not interested in the people I've met online; it's just that I'm not sure meeting them in reality would mesh with my assumptions, if that makes sense. Although, it might make for some interesting experiences.

I had mixed feelings.

Since then, I've been mulling it over in my mind and come to a couple of realizations: One is that people who post exclusively on message boards and discussion forums are hard to get to "know"; and second, bloggers are different; it seems like I personally know the bloggers I read regularly.

Recently, I came across a couple of blog posts that helped clarify my thinking.

One is Ronni Bennet's article about meeting a blogging friend.
As I mentioned last week, meeting online friends in person always feels like seeing an old friend. And so it was with Millie on Friday. There is no getting-to-know-you time because we already know each other better than non-bloggers would probably understand.

We spoke about how we spend more time with our online friends than with our local friends (whom we might see only occasionally) through reading one another’s blogs, discussing what we’ve written in comments, exchanging email and sometimes talking on the phone. There is fodder here, I think, for someone’s doctoral thesis one day. This is a new kind of relationship that transcends the pen pals of our childhood probably because of the immediacy we did not have with snailmail and the camaraderie that develops among those bloggers who hang out in the same blogs.

It's a different kind of friendship – but a friendship just the same.

There are some bloggers with whom I feel a great affinity. They are, by and large, those who aren't afraid to put everything out there, the good and the bad. They allow readers to see and feel through their eyes and hearts, and they express their opinions without the ever-present self-censoring that occurs in face to face encounters.

The other article is from Marty of TravelinOma's Library. It gave me a eureka moment. She said precisely how I'd been feeling lately, but unable to articulate.

In her post, Looking In, she contends that when you read someone's writing, you get to know the inner person first. Whereas normally, we get to know people from judging the outside first, sometimes never getting to know the real inner person.
I get to know an author from the inside out. I make friends in real life from the outside in. When I read what someone has written, I feel like I'm inside their head. If I connect with their descriptions, characters, humor or wit, they become some of my best friends. I've often been surprised to see a photo, or interview and find out what these friends look like. To know them so well, and then discover that they're old, or bald, or in a wheelchair, or whatever, is somehow sweet to me. I think, "So this is what the outside of you looks like."

Both Marty and Ronni made me realize that, in many respects, I know the bloggers I read regularly more intimately than many of my day to day friends. Conversely, readers of my blogs probably know me better than some of my everyday friends.

There's a freedom in writing that lends itself to openness and candor. There are things I've written on the pomegranate tiger that I wouldn't discuss with my friends, simply because I don't think they'd be interested. Yet they're things that are important to me. In doing so, I've found other like-minded folks or at least people who have an opinion on what I think from time to time.

So, I guess I've had a change of heart and wouldn't be so averse to meeting someone I know from the internet.

Friday, June 22, 2007

300 words

Procrastination is the bane of all would-be writers. My procrastination takes many forms. One of my favourite ways of avoiding work of any kind is by sitting in front of my computer screen and deciding that I simply must check on a favourite message board for new posts. This is followed by checking for new email; and by-golly, the Inbox is getting mighty full and needs some deleting; and surely someone has posted something new on Forum xyz.

Eventually, I open up a game of Spider Solitaire. Spider Solitaire must be the spawn of some evil-minded hater of writers and workers everywhere. Anyone who works in front of a computer screen and has Spider Solitaire installed on their desktop is a victim waiting to happen.

It's just too easy to open up -- for just one or two quick games. Two hours later, bleary-eyed and half-asleep, you vow to yourself, just one more game. Come to think of it, I think I'm addicted. Having an addictive personality certainly doesn't help, but having an addictive, procrastinating personality is even worse.

I'm procrastinating as I type this. Although having just finished re-reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions On Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, I'm not really procrastinating, I'm just doing my 300 words a day. Never mind that it may end up nothing but tripe. She says it's perfectly okay, so long as I write something. So why not procrastinate by writing about procrastination, which really isn't procrastinating because I'm actually doing something. How about that for circular logic? The other thing I can get away with is that this is what Lamott calls a "shitty first draft" and can include almost anything as long as it's coming out and onto the page. Kind of like stream of consciousness, but maybe more like diarrhoea of the typing fingers.

One of these days what I write or let flow, if you will, is actually going to make sense and have some coherence. She (Lamott) claims that writers don't really know how they do it so much as they produce something by just doing it. I think it's true. Sometimes, as now, I just type whatever comes into my head and let the thoughts flow and the words somehow come too.

Now, it may be that after I'm done today's writing, and I re-read this, I'm going to think I need a brain transplant. On the other hand, (where is the first hand – but I digress) I think it's the feeling that thoughts do lead to words that can be set down on paper. It doesn't have to make sense right away, but when you write, at least it allows your mind to free-flow somewhere it wouldn't have gone had you been more intentional.

I used to have a little game I played when I was younger. I'd think of something interesting or for me, what I thought was profound, then wonder how I got there. Silly, but I can't think of an example off the top of my head, but one'll come to me. Anyways, I'd start tracing backwards, each thought, emotion or idea that led to where I was at the present. I was usually shocked at how my mind traveled in such circuitous routes to end up wherever it was I ended up. I think writing is kind of like that. You have to let your mind just carry you along and let your fingers follow on the keyboard. It might be tripe, but occasionally you come up with something worthwhile. And the journey to get there is sometimes just as interesting as the end result.

So here I've done more than my 300 words of a shitty first draft. Who knows if something else will come out of this. Thank you, Anne Lamott for inspiring me to at least put words on paper.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I have a compulsion to watch the movie, "Jaws", before I go on beach vacations. Eccentric or just plain weird? Perhaps there's some horrible psychological, even pathological, meaning to this little quirk of mine. You decide.

I'm not quite sure how it all started.

I loved Jaws when it first came out in 1975 -- the best movie of that summer.

I remember it scared the bejeebers out of me. I remember watching in horror and fascination as the first victim was tugged this way and that by the unseen shark; screaming at the part when Hooper is in the water at night examining Ben Gardner's chewed-up boat and the head pops out of the hull; and watching right to the end credits when Hooper and Chief Brody drag themselves onto the beach after paddling to shore on the detritus that was The Orca.

When it came out on video, I first rented it, then bought it on VHS tape. Later, I bought the Special Edition VHS. Now, I have it on DVD with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the actors.

I can't remember how many times I've watched it. At least enough times that I know most of the dialogue - even the obscure lines like, "That's not funny. I'm sorry, I don't think it's funny." If you know who said that, you get a special Snoopy sticker. What can I say, I liked the movie.

Somewhere along the line I found myself watching it while packing for a trip to Hawaii. Not all that unusual – right? Who doesn't put on some music or the TV or a movie while doing a chore? One day, I realized that before every single trip to Hawaii (which was yearly at that point), I watched Jaws.

It didn't occur to me that it was that odd until one of my sons asked, "Why do you watch Jaws before going to the beach? Isn't it a bit creepy?" To which I had to admit, "I suppose . . .."

The problem now is that I can't stop. It's become part of my packing and getting ready ritual (there's that obsessive-compulsive nature of mine again).

Maybe it's just a subconscious protective mechanism to remind me not to venture out too far in the ocean. Maybe it means I have a subconscious desire to be bitten. Maybe it's a means to assuage pc guilt for all the shark-fin soup I've had in the past. Maybe it's simply a case of me being a creature of habit. Maybe I'm just eccentric.

From a Sunday Scribblings prompt: "admit any eccentricities you have"
More Eccentricity

An unexpected find

I don't normally link YouTube videos, but when I came across this one, I just had to put it here.

Even if you're not a fan of reality shows or talent shows, please watch.

This brought me to tears -- and not just a few welling-of-the-eyes tears.

His name is Paul Potts and he's made it to the semi-finals of a talent show in the UK. He says he was bullied in school and lacked confidence, but has always wanted to pursue a career in music.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Of trophy wives and silicone

Something from my old site, circa 2001

Aaaah, finally on a dream vacation to Mexico. There I was, under a beach umbrella, comfortable on a chaise lounge, reading a fat historical novel -- when right next to me I heard, "Babe, I hate to tell you this, but I think they're REAL. Come here, take a look."

Intrigued, I peered over my book to look at the Neanderthal who called his significant other "babe" in public (don't babes belong on the arm of some mob boss in an old time gangster flick). Sure enough, there was this big, buffed-up, twenty-something guy, looking like a football linebacker, standing with a male friend on a small retaining wall that overlooked the beach. He was motioning to his girlfriend to climb onto the wall. This was followed by some giggling and "Babe" getting another girlfriend to join her.

"There, in the purple," points Neanderthal Man. The two women reply, "No way. No way they're real." The four of them stood on the wall for several more minutes discussing how to tell the difference between real and fake. They were anything but discreet.

The subject of their debate was a young woman who had been causing whiplash at our resort for days. She seemed, to put it delicately, very well-endowed. The foursome were obviously discussing the composition of her breasts -- real or man-made.

Several thoughts came to mind while observing this little scene. First of all, I wanted to kick Neanderthal Man in the balls. It's one thing to look at other women while with your wife or girlfriend - it's quite another to make a point of telling her what you're ogling. In essence, it seemed he was really saying, "Hey, babe, I'm looking at breasts. Wow, look at the size of those!" Didn't it occur to him that Babe might think he was making comparisons? And if he took such joy at looking at other women's breasts, that she might feel a tad under-developed for his tastes? This guy was definitely not Mr. Sensitive. (Babe, by the way, was very pretty). Then I thought, what female in her right mind would hang around a guy like this? Not only be with him, but participate in his salivating voyeurism?

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about this incident. It kept playing over in my mind as I observed the same guy and his friend doing double-takes at every female under the age of forty. Then I started taking a closer look at the women on the beach. Was it my imagination or were there an inordinate number of D-cups out there? No, it wasn't my imagination. There really were a lot of enhanced breasts out there. -- and, yes guys, most women can tell the difference even if you can't. Here were all these beautiful women with toned, slender bodies who felt it necessary to augment their breasts to look like Pamela Anderson clones. More often than not, they accompanied older, paunchy men with lots of jewellery. It's the first time I've seriously thought about the term "trophy wife". You know, the gorgeous, perfectly-turned-out women seen on the arms of VIPs, execs, sports celebs, and other up-and-coming young men. You hardly hear anything about who these women are or what they do, but they sure look good in photo ops and social soirees. Could it be that this is what young women are aspiring to become? Breast augmentation certainly ain't for their health.

I felt myself getting angry. I wanted to shout, "What's the matter with you? Haven't you heard about all the women who've had implants removed because of complications? Have you thought of how ridiculous you'll look at age 65 when gravity takes it's toll, your butt sags, your neck gets crepe-y, and your upper arms jiggle, but your breasts remain perfectly firm, symmetrical and perky? Where's your sense of self-respect?"

I have visions of archaeologists, millennia from now, unearthing 21st century coffins and wondering what bizarre ritual required leaving plastic pouches of silicone on the chests of female bodies. Then I thought how sad and pathetic that these women might actually need breast implants for their self-esteem, or think that it's the only way to remain attractive.

And it was with this mixture of sadness and anger that I considered the main reason women undergo major surgery to get breast implants. They want to attract men. They want to please the men in their lives. And Western men are obsessed with breasts. Large breasts. Men don't seem to care whether the breasts are real or synthetic, as long as they're large. What's with that? First of all, they are essentially lusting after mammary glands, meant for nourishing the young of the species. Second, they are lusting after inanimate pouches of silicone, saline, or whatever else scientists come up with to fill the pouches. I obviously don't get it - but I'm not a man.

As a woman, it's distressing to see intelligent women (they can't all be bimbos) choosing this and other cosmetic procedures in increasing numbers. Plastic surgeons report that despite the potential risks, more and more women are choosing breast augmentation. Teenaged girls are getting breast implants as graduation presents for gawdsakes! It's like the women's movement never happened. Remember how women fought to be viewed as individuals, not just sex objects? How they wanted to be more than just adjuncts of a man or a trophy wife? It seems appearance over substance has won out after all.

I guess that's what I'm really upset about - the thought that the women's movement of the 60s and 70s has come to naught.

Which brings me back to Neanderthal Man and Babe. My guess is that Babe went home and made an appointment with a plastic surgeon and had some serious discussions with her girlfriends about the merits of a D-cup versus a double C. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am.

An Addendum: Not directly related, but along the same lines as the above; I recently had a conversation with my youngest son about a variety of things to do with young adults and their attitudes about sexist behaviour. In his opinion, he thinks sexism in young people is prevalent and, if not getting worse, not getting any better either. His girlfriend has a job working among a fair number of men and it's anything but a comfortable environment. Taunting, accidental bumping and sexual innuendo disguised as jokes is still alive and well.

I don't think I'll ever understand it. Don't these men have wives, mothers, sisters and girlfriends? Would they want their own loved ones treated with such disrespect? I remain saddened and dismayed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Couldn't have said it better . . .

Sometimes other people capture what I think and feel better and more eloquently than I ever could in my own convoluted words.

So, to borrow from others:

The Paris Hilton fiasco:
- From Waiter Rant; We'll Always Have Paris

Importance of the internet and blogs:
- From Time Goes By; Your Little First Amendment Machine

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Endless vacation

Someone commented recently that we (me and hubby) always seem to be planning one, getting ready for one, or going on one –- vacation, that is. I'm sure it seems that way; and to a certain extent, it's true.

In the last few years, we've been going on vacation several times a year -- sometimes just short little get-aways, sometimes two or three week trips. You'd think we were retired - but we're not. You might even think we have oodles of money – but we don't. It's all about the priorities we've set for ourselves at this stage in our lives.

We'd like to retire. Really. So why don't we? We have friends our age who've already retired and we've certainly thought about it. Sometimes, after a particularly stressful day, I just want to walk out the office door and never look back.

We're self-employed and don't have the luxury of a company pension, so retirement money will come from Canada Pension, Old Age Security, and anything we manage to save ourselves. In truth, we could retire now. It's not like we're destitute or living paycheque to paycheque. We'd have a nice home and comfortable lifestyle. We're lucky to be in this situation and don't ever take it for granted, but we wouldn't have the luxury and freedom to do all the things we'd like to do - notably, travel.

So, on the one hand, we're hanging on a few more years to build a $$ cushion in case of unexpected life pitfalls and some emergency rainy-day money for our kids (shh, don't tell them, and yes, we're of a generation that worries about these things). On the other hand, we don't want to wait until after retirement to do the things we enjoy, lest we're in no shape to enjoy it. We've seen too many friends and relatives who saved and saved, waiting for retirement – but never got there.

As a result, we've come to this happy (well, not always happy) medium of spending some of our would-be savings on vacations, now, and having to work a few more years before 'actual' retirement. We revel in our vacation planning and take our 'now' trips guilt-free sandwiched between have-to-work days. I think it's a good trade-off.

Of course, we could win a big lottery. Then, baby, retirement here we come!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The 100 Book meme

Here's a book meme that I've run into a few times, but never bothered to do until I saw it on Wenda's Daring to Write.

A list of 100 books: You're supposed to bold the ones you've read; italicize those you'd like to read; cross out those you don't want to read (I've put an X next to them); and asterisk ** those you've never heard of. Wenda added 10 more of her own which I've also included. And true to my obsessive-compulsive nature, I've included a key and tallied up my individual totals at the end.

I'm not sure what this all achieves, but it was fun to do and reminded me of a few titles I'd forgotten.

Bold = read
Italics = would like to read
X = don't care to read
** = never heard of

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) X
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) X
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) X
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay ) X
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) X
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) X
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) X
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) X
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) X
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) X
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) X
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares) X
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) X
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) X
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) X
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) **
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) **
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) X
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch) X
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford) X
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

My totals:
Bold = read (61)
Italics = would like to read; (19)
X = don't want to read; (18)
** = never heard of (2)

and here are Wenda's extras:

101. Pilgrim (Timothy Findley)
102. The Englishman's Boy (Guy Vanderhaeghe)
103. Clara Callan (Richard B. Wright)
104. Cereus Blooms at Night (Shana Mootoo) **
105. Larry's Party (Carol Shields)
106. Suite Française (Irène Némirovsky)**
107. Divisadero (Michael Ondaatje)
108. Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell)
109. Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
110. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Roddy Doyle)**

Random Numbers

One of the blogs I've discovered over the last couple of years is The Millions (A Blog About Books). It's well-written, interesting and about, well, books.

I hadn't visited in awhile, so when I went back, I decided to read some earlier Notable Posts (yes, there's an actual section called "Notable Posts"). The title, The Reading Queue Revisited, caught my eye. Like most avid readers, the owner of the blog (C. Max Magee), has a large stash of books on his shelves that he hasn't read and needed a way to get through, hopefully, in his lifetime.

I can relate. Just look at the four books I purchased a couple of blogs ago. They've now arrived and join the dozens of unread books already on my shelves and nightstand. This compulsion to accumulate books is somewhat akin to my aunt's post-Depression Era habit of picking up and saving every bit of string, paper and bag – just in case. Heaven forbid I'd be without reading material if some catastrophe struck and the computer and TV were unavailable. Never mind that maybe – just maybe – there'd be other things to worry about. It's kind of like a security blanket, I guess.

Aside from having a lot of books gathering dust, the other major problem with having so many unread books is deciding which book to read next. Each and every book on my shelves was either given to me or hand-picked by me for a reason -- the reasons for some being rather obscure now. So how to choose the next read from my growing To-Be-Read shelf? My usual method is to choose a few books at a time and start reading them concurrently. At some point, a favourite emerges and gets finished before the others. The by-product of this method is that I end up with books that are only partially finished and have lost their allure. They go back on the TBR shelf or languish in a pile on the nightstand or on the floor by my bed.

Anyways, back to C. Max Magee and his Reading Queue. He sorted his unread books and came up with a list of books that he'd like to eventually read. From this list, he vowed to randomly select each new and subsequent book to be read. Well, I could see, and he soon discovered, a problem with this "random" system. The problem being that the randomness factor tends to fall by the wayside when new, interesting titles come along and nudge out the old dust-gathering ones.

He's come up with an ingenious solution. He lists his books alphabetically and numbers them; then he uses a random number generator to choose his next book. I guess it's working because he's been using it since June 2005. Although it might be worthy to note that his original queue had thirty-one books before the random numbers system; and his current queue has fifty-one books.

Still, it might be worth a try.

Take a look at The Reading Queue Revisited to read the full article.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A New Look

As Joy, of Joy's Updates, noticed, I've changed the look of this site over the weekend. I'm trying out Blogger's new, supposedly improved, "updated" template.

I like the ease of changing things around without having to dissect the html, but it seems to be having trouble loading my blogroll.

I'm not sure if it's a problem with Blogger or with Blogrolling (my blog links manager). Sometimes the links are there, sometimes they're not. I'll give it a few more days and see how it goes. (I miss having my favourite links close at hand.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Resurrected bloggy thoughts

It's an odd thing, this blogging world.

I started the pomegranate tiger thinking that it was only going to be about me posting my own thoughts, my own opinions; me writing about what's important to me - in isolation - like the journals I've always kept, but in a public forum. Me, me, me.

What I didn't realize was that I'd discover such a wealth of ideas, information and creativity amongst fellow bloggers. So much so, that I now realize most of what I feel compelled to write about originates from things I've read on other blogs. It's become an unexpected education of sorts. The other by-product is that I have dozens of blogs started, but not finished; or finished, but not posted because I didn't think they were relevant or timely anymore.

So, I was rummaging around some of these unfinished, partly-finished, finished-but-not-posted files and decided to resurrect some of them. No guarantees that they make a whole lot of sense anymore, but I must have thought they did at the time.

So, from early May:

Love - Pt III

There’s an interesting discussion at TCK the Blog about “On Love” (Pt I and II). I was tempted to post a comment there, but realized I couldn’t express my feelings in a few short sentences.

My current notion of love and relationships is a far cry from the airy-fairy romanticized ideas I had in my youth. Being in love or lust – and in youth, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate – was a constant roller coaster state. “Real” love was dramatic - full of yearning, pain, with a hint of the tragic to make it all the more bittersweet; or it was euphoric – gleeful, laughter-in-the-rain /walking-hand-in-hand, and picnics in the park. I was obviously a victim of too many Jane Austen novels and Top Twenty radio.

When TCK’s White Smurf posited that some people mistake habit, comfort and security for love, I had to stop and think about it. I can see where an outsider might mistake a couple’s routine and comfort with each other as merely habit; and, admittedly, this might be all that’s left in some relationships. However, the reality for me (and I assume others) is that the security and comfort of the familiar is only a small part of what makes a lasting and loving relationship.

Sure, it’s nice to know he likes the right side of the bed when we go travelling, or that he takes cream/no sugar in his coffee, takes milk (skim only) in his tea, prefers red wine to white except for sipping in the summer, and takes my hand when certain songs play. I know that when I cook dinner, he’ll clean up. He’ll take out the garbage on trash day, and I’ll take the returnables to the recycling depot. Yup, we’ve got our habits and routines. We’ve achieved a certain comfort level with each other that’s reassuring. But it’s mostly housekeeping – a means to make things runs more smoothly. The really important stuff that constitutes the ‘love’ in our relationship isn’t readily apparent to the casual observer.

For a relationship to last, it’s got to go deeper than the first flush of romantic love and lust. Not that romance and physical attraction go by the wayside. But let’s face it, how many people can maintain the same physical appearance of youth (botox and liposuction notwithstanding) and continue the wining, dining, flowers and moonlit walks (or whatever it is that now passes as modern courtship rituals) indefinitely.

Other factors come into play. A few of my thoughts:

Affection: Passion with no affection doesn’t make for a long or meaningful relationship. If there’s no genuine warmth and “liking” of the other person, how can there be love? Some people call it love, but I call it in lust.

Friendship, humour and trust: People often say their significant other is also their best friend. A truism? Maybe. To me, a best friend implies someone you trust implicitly, someone you can confide in unreservedly and trust that it won’t be used against you in a war of words or one-upmanship. A best friend is someone who loves and accepts you despite your shortcomings. Without humour and the ability to laugh at oneself and with each other, how the heck can you survive everything life throws at you.

Commitment: When I talk about commitment, it isn’t the kind that comes because you make vows or sign a license. I don’t think people should stay together for the sake of a piece of paper. I don’t believe in abuse of any kind. I believe that people can change so much over the course of time and be so irreconcilably different that they no longer have anything in common.

I do, however, think a loving relationship requires an emotional commitment - a commitment to care and a willingness to work through the messy times as well as accept the inevitable changes that occur in each other. Part of the challenge is allowing each other to grow and change – sometimes in different directions - but still remain close and loving.

I think relationships, like individuals, evolve over time. It’s not the same in year thirty-six as it was in year one, but it’s still love.

Re-reading what I’ve just written, I realize it must sound a bit Pollyanna-ish to some. Not my intent. The truth is that a long-lasting relationship is seldom easy. If you take the time to scratch beneath the surface of any couple you think looks like they’ve sailed along effortlessly in wedded bliss, you’ll find it was anything but easy.