28 June 2011

The Jealousy In Me

Someone from our church was recently in an accident.
She's the associate pastor's wife and a very sweet person, but for some reason I'm jealous.
Everyone in the church has sent out emails and posted on Facebook to pray for her.
Last year I was in a very serious accident. My life (or at least the use of my legs) was spared by five inches.
Aside from four cliché comments on my status requesting prayer for the baby in the other vehicle, nobody gave a crap about it.  'Oh did you hear Kate was in an accident?' 'No. How is she?' 'Fine.' 'Hmph. Figures.'
I realise this person is a lot more popular with the general congregation (not to mention more widely known), but this bothers me. Why does everyone fret about her and not me? All I got was a couple of half-baked 'oh yeah sure, glad you're okay' from everyone who heard about it (save one close friend who actually was concerned) and this person gets dozens of people sending out petitions through various mediums to pray for her plus people saying 'Oh no! I'm so glad you're okay! We love you -- take it easy!' and similar sentiments.
You know, when I was in my accident, I was basically fine -- the standard whiplash and some recurring breathing problems but nothing too serious really. But was it too much to ask for a little sympathy? How would these people feel if I had died that day -- ripped out of the world at such a young age?
Apparently they wouldn't have missed me.
I know it's ridiculous to suddenly get all offended about it nearly a year later, but would it really have been too much to ask to get an 'I love you' or a hug along with one of those 'glad you're ok' clichés? Was the only reason they were glad I was okay because since I was okay they wouldn't need to feel guilty about wishing me dead and then having it come true?
If I bring so much to the world as they say, why then were they so blasé about it? Certainly, this person in the church is lucky to be alive, just as I was, and I really am glad she's all right, but... how come everyone loves her and not me? Have I alienated that many people already? Have I hurt so many by careless words (the last of which were spoken almost three years ago, prior to this being brought to my attention and the subsequent efforts I've made to curb my tongue)? Have I ruined the lives of so many by simply existing? Is my perfectionism (which I'm openly trying to tone down) that intimidating that people would find it a relief to have me wiped off the planet?
Perhaps I should have died in that accident, because apparently nobody needs me here no matter how much they say they do.

25 June 2011

The Rest Of My Life

The other day a thought suddenly struck me.
Life is a lot more finite than we think.
Oh sure, everyone says life is short. Even the Bible says it's like a mist or a vapour. I knew in my head that I didn't have forever but it never really hit me until Thursday.
Given my current age and the average lifespan of my relatives, I have sixty, maybe seventy or eighty years left.
And sixty years isn't that long when you think about it. Most sixty-year-olds are still pretty spry and still love life (or maybe it's just the sixty-year-olds I know). When you think about it they're still pretty young.
Sixty years ago it was 1951. World War II had been over for more than five years already. I think when most people think 'sixty years ago' they automatically think Depression or World War II prior to doing the math.
Sixty years isn't that long.
And that's assuming I die of 'natural causes' on the young side of 'old.' What if I'm killed or severely injured or contract a heinous disease within the next year? Then what?
The people at my funeral would say "She was nice... I guess... but she was bullheaded and tactless and a master of the guilt trip. Always needed to keep things exactly the way they were and never entertained the thought of change. And she spent way too much time doing nothing on Facebook."
Real awe-inspiring.
For years I've wanted to form a dance troupe and tour around and if that isn't feasible I'd like to be a singer. On Thursday I realised it really is never going to happen if I sit on Facebook all day. I have to work on choreography every spare moment of the day if I'm going to get it off the ground when I'm still young enough to dance.
And that's only one aspect of my life.
What about the God who created me? I claim to love and serve Him, but do I? Probably not, at least not as well as I should. My conscience has been nagging at me for a while to read the Bible and pray more but I kept putting it off... tomorrow, tomorrow.
But my life -- even if I can make my dreams of dancing and/or singing a reality -- will be empty if it isn't to the glory of God. To know how best to glorify God, I must know God. And to know God, I must spend time with Him reading the Bible and praying and actually looking for Him instead of just doing it out of routine.
Maybe this is the wake-up call I've been praying halfheartedly for for so long. And hopefully this time I won't let it fade.

David Meece -- The Rest Of My Life
(from Learning To Trust; Star Song, 1989)

24 June 2011

Music Day

My sister and I loved this song when it hit the radio and in fact we loved it so much that we were actually saddened as it faded off the playlist (usually I'm glad to see the latest radio 'hit' get the heck off the station because I was sick of it within the first week of its appearance).
We had these toy Barbie telephones, sort of like the tin-can concept only slightly more sophisticated (and pink) and whenever I heard this song come on the radio late at night when we were supposed to be sleeping I would knock on the wall separating my room from hers -- the unofficial 'pick up your phone' signal -- and hold my receiver up to the radio speaker, turning up the stereo as loud as I dared (since our parents' room was directly above me and the ceiling/floor wasn't insulated).

Title: Soldiers
Artist: Out Of Eden
Album: Love, Peace & Happiness
Year: 2004
Label: Gotee Records
iTunes here, YouTube here.

19 June 2011

Our Script

My father and I have this little script we like to rehearse every two weeks or so. We could probably do it in our sleep.
It goes something like this:

KATE sits in her MINIVAN on the side of the road, holding a phone to her ear. After three rings, the party on the other end answers.

                         KATE'S DAD

                    Hi Dad. It's Kate.

                         KATE'S DAD

                    Um, there's something wrong with the van.

                         KATE'S DAD
                    What do you mean?

                    (gives brief explanation of problem and unsuccessful measures taken to solve it)

                         KATE'S DAD
                     Did you try (such-and-such)?

                     Yes. It didn't help.

                         KATE'S DAD
                     What about (this)?

                     No, not yet. Just a minute.

Kate attempts remedy her father suggested. The problem remains unsolved.

                     That didn't work either.

                         KATE'S DAD
                     (resigned sigh)
                     Where you at?

                     (describes location twenty minutes drive away)

                         KATE'S DAD
                     All right. I just have to finish this up here and I'll probably be out there in half an hour or so.

Thank you Dad for continuing to come to my rescue on the side of the road without complaining. I love you.

18 June 2011

Justice, Sweet Justice

Do you remember the party I mentioned the other day?
The primary reason nobody responded (I found out later) was because of the annual paintball tournament put on by the church. I had completely forgotten it was this weekend until I'd already sent out invitations to my party.
Oh well, I thought. Even if they come late, they can still come.
So I changed the information in the Facebook event (and made it known to those who aren't on Facebook) to make it clear that if you had to come late, it would be perfectly all right.
Still no one responded, except the youth pastor heading up the paintball event. He and his wife would most definitely be there, he said, but they would be a bit late.
While I appreciated that, it frustrated me quite a bit to know that the youth pastor was willing to take the time to attend, but no one else was. They were going on the same paintball excursion; they would be arriving home on the same bus; for the most part they all live within the same town; yet the youth pastor was willing to come and they weren't.
They didn't say they weren't willing, of course. Those who I asked point-blank said something along the lines of 'I'm so sorry, I really wanted to come but I can't because paintball day is a big tradition for us so yeah...'
No, you don't really want to come. You aren't sorry at all. If you were, you'd come out for at least the second half of the party.
So I simmered, although the sudden availability of two close friends who had previously been unable to come eased the pain a little.
But now, today -- paintball day and party day -- it's raining, twelve degrees (Celsius), windy, and muddy. Less than an hour ago, paintball day was officially canceled.
And all those who thought paintball was more important than one they call their friend (and who even went so far as to lie to that friend) will now spend their afternoon sitting at home refreshing Facebook and/or mindlessly watching crap on YouTube while my real friends and I laugh together and enjoy steak and crisps in my house.
Sweet, sweet justice.

17 June 2011

Music Day

Sincere apologies for the haphazard post but I completely forgot today was Music Day...
I don't actually own this song (yet), but it's on my wish list. I'd forgotten about it until I heard it on the radio earlier this week and then my friend sang it for a presentation yesterday. Like my friend said as she introduced it, maybe it has something to do with the rainy weather lately...

Title: Flood
Artist: Jars Of Clay
Album: Jars Of Clay
Year: 1995
Label: Essential Records
Here's a copy on iTunes and you can watch it on YouTube here.

Note that I'm not certain of the album, year, and record label (I don't trust Wikipedia quite that much and I haven't time to do any further research at the moment), so if you have any corrections, let me know and I'll look into them.

12 June 2011

Welcome, Successor To The Zombie's Throne

Yesterday I welcomed a new addition into the family of technological devices that are quickly taking over my house (not to mention my life).
Yes, I am now the proud owner of a 13" MacBook Pro.
Four gigabytes of RAM, a 2.3 GHz processor, and three hundred and twenty sweet gigabytes of space for my music, photos, and writing. Portability so I can work on my writing whenever I want, not whenever I manage to wrestle the desktop PC from my sister. And (obviously) it has a battery so if the stupid power decides to go out for sixteen straight hours I can still get things done.
And... I can now sync the iPod touch! (Well, I can as soon as I email myself all the notes I've written on it to back them up.)
Only one more thing remains to be done... to get a wireless Internet connection of some kind in the house so I can officially blog from it. Blogging on a PC just doesn't have that same... allure. (That's why this post seems so scattered.)

It's still rather surreal. When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no idea that it would be the day. I'd thought about the possibility of buying it the night before, but I thought 'Yeah, right. Not for a while yet.' I knew I had nearly enough money, but I didn't think I had enough.
Regardless, Saturday morning I counted my money (there was slightly more than I thought) and went to the Apple Store and asked the staff a few fairly minor questions I still had. (Shout-out to Jenna at the South Common Future Shop if you ever happen to stumble across this -- you were a great help! Thank you so much!)
I was still fairly certain I wouldn't be getting a MacBook that day, but then she mentioned that the Macs were actually on sale until the 17th of June.
It wasn't much, just a hundred dollars or so (not much when you're talking about a $1300 computer), but as she pointed out, it's a big deal when anything with an Apple logo is on sale. She also offered me a twenty dollar discount on iWork, which I was also planning to buy whenever I bought the MacBook.
Then she gave me a few minutes to think about it.
I had no idea what to think. Suddenly I wasn't sure exactly how much money I had on me, I couldn't remember, but I would almost certainly be able to make it work.
So I could actually get my dream computer today?
The thought was so radically different after months, nearly a year, of telling myself 'Eventually, eventually, sometime you will get this MacBook. But first you have to wait.' I couldn't process the idea of the eventuality actually becoming true -- today.
She returned and asked if I'd come to a decision yet. The truth was, my brain had frozen. I hadn't expected to actually be considering the idea of purchasing one that very day and therefore my brain had refused to entertain the idea even though it was now within my reach.
I took a breath. I still had no idea what to say.
I heard my voice say, "I think... I'll take it."
She smiled.
"That's great! I'm so excited for you!"
She got me a MacBook and a copy of iWork. I paid for it and brought it home.
I spent most of this afternoon adding music and photos to it and it still doesn't quite seem real -- that this MacBook is mine, all mine. That I can customise and play to my heart's content because I'm not just drooling over someone else's MacBook -- it's actually mine.

10 June 2011

Music Day

You know how every album has the hit singles and the not-radio-single really good tracks and (in some cases) the lame filler tracks and then there's one song that never gets any recognition, it's just another track for the album, but for whatever reason it's amazing?
This is that song on this album. It's catchy but not annoying and it almost requires that you dance to it (or perhaps that's just me).
And it's the perfect beat to kick-start your weekend! (Or to continue it, depending what side of the world you're on.)

Title: Secret Kingdom
Artist: Newsboys
Album: Go
Year: 2006
Label: Inpop Records
Here it is on iTunes, here on YouTube.

09 June 2011

Another Rant

For the past two summers I have attempted to throw parties for varying reasons. Not a lot, usually only one per year. But a party nonetheless.
When I plan a party, it's all about the people. The more the merrier, even though I suffer from a hopeless case of social awkwardness. I love getting people together and listening to them talk and watching how they bounce off each other. Perhaps it's the writer in me, the people-watcher.
Since the object of the party is to get lots of people to congregate in the same general area, I tend to invite everyone who lives within an hour's drive of my house that I have any connection at all with. And I will use any means of communication that I can get my hands on that will get the message to them. If I had the self-confidence to do it, I would buy myself a megaphone and run through the streets at three am when people don't expect noise and are therefore more likely to hear it, yelling 'Barbecue party at Kate's on Saturday! One in the afternoon to eleven pm!' or whatever details are necessary.
But because I don't have the panache to pull that off, I use everything else that's available to me -- Facebook, email, cell phone, home phone, handwritten invitations, you name it, if I have their information for it I'll use it if needed.
Generally I start out with a Facebook event. Those who aren't on Facebook get an email. Those who don't have an email address (yes, those people do still exist) get a handwritten invitation with multiple ways of contacting me dropped by my own hand into their personal mailbox, or, in some cases, given directly to them. This is usually done at least a month and a half before the event is slated to take place, if not a month and a half before the RSVP deadline.
But guess what? It turns out everyone gets an email address, than a Facebook, Twitter, and Skype so they can stay in contact with friends and family (and of course to stalk every available redhead they meet who isn't me).
And then they never check the bloody things!
Do you see how stupid this is? Having a Facebook does nothing for if you don't check it at least once a week. Same goes for your email. And your cell phone. And your answering machine at home. I should not have to come personally to your house, sit you down in front of your calendar at gunpoint and demand to know whether or not you can or will come to the party. That's all I want -- a yes or a no.
I don't care if you say no. I might be a bit disappointed, but at least you had the decency to tell me you wouldn't be able to come instead of never saying anything and making me have to guess.
Because you know what?
It gets darn frustrating when every single person you invite has that exact same reaction. I can't plan to have a good amount of food (which is basically mandatory to all parties) if I have thirty-five freaking wildcards.
If you're not going to check your Facebook or your email and you're not going to reply to texts, voicemails, or handwritten invitations, you might as well go live in a cave because you're too important and self-fulfilled to need any other contact with any other humans and no, you're not allowed to bring your laptop with you because you obviously don't use it anyway no matter how much you say your life is wrapped up in it. If it was, I would have gotten a reply to my email/Facebook invite within a week of my sending it out.

06 June 2011

The Acrobatic Mouse

NOTE: If you really, really, really can't stand the thought of mice or are phobic (or if you're anti-animal cruelty), you should maybe stop reading this post right now. It's just that I have mice in my head because the place I work right now is completely overridden with the ghastly things (yes, I'm looking for a different job) and it reminded me of this...

When I was a kid, our family lived in a trailer in the middle of what used to be my grandfather's hay field. Not only are trailers good for up-close-and-personal tornado-watching, they are also invaluable if you want to start a mouse farm.
So mice were a fairly common occurrence at our place. Somehow I never actually saw any of them -- my mother always had the misfortune of seeing them scamper across the kitchen (except once, when that honour fell to the most mouse-phobic member of our in-home Bible study group).
One time, my mother, sister and I were eating dinner (our father would normally have been there too, but he had gotten away from work late), when suddenly Mom got up and rushed over to the stove. She grabbed a wooden spoon and stared at the stove in a fighting stance.
My sister and I thought she'd lost her mind.
"What are you doing?"
She didn't answer straight away. Instead, she backed away to the counter, still brandishing the wooden spoon, picked up the phone, and dialed a number.
"Who are you calling?"
"Why?" we asked, but at that moment, he picked up.
"How soon are you home?" Mom asked.
My sister and I had stopped eating, feeling that something was seriously wrong. Then she continued.
"Oh. Well, er, there's a mouse in here. It was standing on top of the stove and now it just went into that gap at the back."
My sister and I looked at the stove as she spoke but of course there was nothing to see now.
"No it's not on now, but it's probably still hot... Okay. See you in a few minutes then."
She hung up the phone and sat down, but kept her eye on the stove.
When Dad arrived home a few minutes later, they poked down the back of the stove with the wooden spoon and other sticklike objects, but no sign of the mouse. Finally they shrugged and gave up.
A few days went by. Some way or another they discovered that the mouse had come out of the stove's innards and was making use of the ledge at the back of the counter that prevented us from blocking off the 'mouse highway' with appliances such as the toaster.
So my dad concocted a plan.
He set up a mouse trap on the ledge, just before the stove, and blocked off the side of the ledge with various appliances and things. Therefore, the mouse would have the wall on one side, a barricade on the other, and a mousetrap in front of him. Presumably he's running, therefore he has no time to turn around and sprint back the way he came once he realises his situation.
I personally have no recollection of this because I'm a late riser, but my parents have told the story so often that I can picture it.
At six o'clock the next morning, my mother heard the trap spring. She woke my dad -- "The mouse! We caught the mouse!" -- and my dad dragged himself out of bed to go check.
As my mother waited for him to return, she suddenly heard all sorts of banging and crashing noises, like he was attacking something.
Finally he returned and said, "Stupid thing was caught by the toenail."
Apparently the mouse had attempted to jump over the trap and had been caught literally by the toenail. When my dad got there, it was very much alive and trying to escape. My dad had to beat it to death with the broom.

My mother still tells this story whenever the conversation turns to mice.

04 June 2011

The Alumni's Verdict

Last Sunday I went to the year-end show of the dance school I formerly attended.
I had no idea what to expect. The reason I originally left the school was because of how sleazy the choreography was becoming (that and I was completely burnt out). I attended two shows after I left, and then it was simply too disgusting to watch. So I had stopped going.
However, my cousin now dances at that school. Her family had originally invited some other people to come watch but they couldn't make it, so they offered me a ticket.
I accepted, albeit with some trepidation. Was it just going to be some kind of organised mosh pit of eroticism?
I was pleasantly surprised. While it wasn't completely clean, it was far better than I expected; indeed, far better than the last show I'd attended four years ago. There was, in the second act, a bit more booty-shaking that I would have liked to see (and of course the standard booty-shorts that accompany such movements), but as a whole it was most definitely a step in the right direction compared to previous years.
As usual, the technical aspect of the dancing was excellent, nearly perfect, as is expected of anyone who dances at that school (I still bear the scars).
I'm not a fan of hip-hop dancing (in fact, as far as I'm concerned it's purely recreational, hardly any performance worth in it whatsoever), but there was one class that actually got a decent workout rather than just running around all over the stage as the other classes did.
However, the technical aspect of the presentation as a whole was severly lacking. This school is quite widely renowned for their polished performances, including lights, music, costumes, and of course the choreography itself. However, while they typically run through the dances almost without stopping, this time there was at least forty-five seconds of dead space in between every single dance. Most of the time they weren't even doing anything -- no setting up props, no one getting into position, nothing. Just -- dead space. The show could have been over a good half hour sooner if they had moved the dances through at their typical pace.

That said, I had a few more 'huh?' moments.
1. What was with the bench? There were multiple dances for which they wasted twenty seconds of our lives to bring on this wicker bench -- which never got used. It just sat there in the corner. The dances would finish and they would waste another twenty seconds of our lives dragging the stupid thing off. What was the point? Did someone pay them to put their stupid bench on the stage, somewhere, anywhere, regardless of whether it actually got used or even noticed by the performers?
Also, if you must include the bench, can't the performers be getting into position while you're dragging the bench into place rather than waiting until the bench was on and had sat there for a while and then coming onstage?

2. Is there a leather shortage that I'm unaware of? No? Then why were all the ballet dancers barefoot? If you're going barefoot, that's modern. Ballet is when you wear either those leather technique shoes or pointe shoes. It's an aesthetic thing, but dance (especially ballet) by nature is aesthetic and laden with unwritten rules. Abide by them.

3. Who was the idiot doing the music splicing? Maybe my passion for music has made me too much of an audiophile, but seriously, there is no possible way you can tack the ending to a completely different song onto the end of 'A Spoonful Of Sugar' and expect people not to notice. Everyone knows that song. Everyone. At least vaguely. And even if they hadn't, everyone would have noticed the splice anyway... 'A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down; In the most delightful way' HACK JOB *ending flourish from a completely different piece*.
Also, what was the point of splicing out the pauses within the song that were only one beat long which not only took out the pauses that were barely noticeable but clipped off the start of the next note? It's a ballet dance to a classical piece. It's supposed to flow. Chopping off the beginning of most of the notes is seizure-inducing, not 'flowy.'
Oh, and if you want to dub in lyrics from a song over a different instrumental piece, make sure you remove the analog noise from the lyric track. That was SO obvious. And really, if you have the skills/know-how/computer software to separate the lyrics from the original song and dub it over another, you have the skills/know-how/computer software to remove the noise from the lyric track. The splices would have been next to imperceptible, even for me.

4. Why why why why why were there freaking speeches in the freaking middle of the freaking act? That's what intermission and the end are for. Not right in the middle. If you need time for the students to change costumes, put that dance that features half the school either at the end of the first act (so they can change during intermission) or the end of the second act. Not right in the middle right before the dance that half of them are in that requires a full hair/costume change. You wouldn't need to fill up the space with a speech that basically is a reading of the program.

5. You could have gotten anyone to play the part of the invalid in the wheelchair. Who was the bonehead who decided that the person who was in the dance directly prior needed to be that patient? I have a news flash for you: the full costume change for that kid took nearly three minutes. We sat in almost pitch darkness for three minutes. I almost walked out at that point. You've been doing this for thirty-five years. You should know better than that.

Aside from those annoyances, it was a fairly decent show, and aside from four or five of the dances, I would have recommended it to anyone if they did repeat performances.

03 June 2011

Music Day

This song was acquired through what could only be a miracle in the radio industry.
A few months ago I had turned on the radio for some odd reason and they were playing one of these weekend countdown shows (which I usually don't listen to because really, who in their right mind wants to listen to Chris August's already mediocre Starry Night for the 4,786,978,492nd time since you decided you hated it with every bone in your body?).
But the song sounded different, unlike anything I'd ever heard before on a Christian station. Try as I might, I couldn't pick out the words (my usual method of locating songs -- Google the lyrics and hopefully be led to the title and artist). But it sounded like a fun song so I kept listening.
And then it happened. A miracle to end all miracles (well, almost). It will never happen again to anyone.
They gave the song title and band name.
I know. It shocked me too. But I somehow had the presence of mind to repeat the information to myself over and over as I rushed for a notepad and wrote it down.
And I'm glad I did. I have never heard this song anywhere else ever again and, in fact, I haven't heard anything of this band anywhere before or since.

Title: Music
Artist: Manic Drive
Album: Blue
Year: 2009
Label: Whiplash Records
It's on iTunes here and YouTube here.

And as I'm looking it up on YouTube I just totally found out they're Canadian! Finally a potentially decent Canadian band!