Maybe…Maybe not?

Whoa…It’s been years.  I’m not sure if I have the energy or interest in using a blog anymore.  It is so 2000’s !?!  However,  summer is hear and I’m bored and I’m trying to get my legs underneath me again as a regular writer – so why not blog a starting point?

Things have changed significantly since my last post.  I finished my second round (or maybe third round) of post-secondary and have been gainfully employed in my new field since day one.  This has been a great comfort to my fluid bonded life partner.

My little ones have become teenagers and they are keeping me busy coaching and problem solving.  We are attempting a grand family journey in the next few weeks – no details I’m willing to share.

Okay – that’s my initial salvo.  Now to see if it has resurrected any desire to share more.

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How I Anticipate School

I’m returning to post-secondary in just over one week.  After being a stay at home dad/student for the past year I have to enrol in a “real” full-time program in order to reach my goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.

Even though I’m not “super old” – I can’t shake the feeling that I’m much more like Billy Madison than I am “Van Wilder”.  I keep saying that my years away have given me great experience, careers and a family… yet I continually slip into a semi-nostalgic haze about how I viewed “super seniors” who were at university when I first attended in the mid/late 90’s.  Sure, part of me was impressed by their courage to try something new at their age (after all…they were 30), but I mostly fell back on snide comments about grandma’s and grandpa’s who asked redundant questions and couldn’t double click.

I hope that I’ve maintained the right balance of lived wisdom and unrelenting hipness that I don’t end up crying to a homemade mix tape and scribbling in my trapper keeper binder about how nobody seemed to dig my flannel shirt and Doc Marten 18 hole boots.

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All invalid

20130217-200811.jpg

So this happened!

Absolutely not cool and super painful. I separated my tendon from my leg/ankle. No more basketball season, no more left handed layups, no more weight bearing for at least 6 weeks.

I’m still not used to the crutches yet but getting there. Hobbling around the house is starting to lose is charm and the family are not running my errands with the same pep as they started with. This is going to be a long road to recovery.

20130217-200854.jpgDeep sadness

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Morning Pages

ResolutionThis is nothing new – and I guess it technically counts as a resolution – but I think I’d like to resume doing “morning pages” on this blog.

The concept of morning pages comes from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.  The simple concept of starting each morning by writing a few morning pages as a way to stimulate your creative energy and imagination is a well used practice of many writings and creative artists.

I was recently reminded of this practice through a brief quote from Todd Babiak who commented that he wakes up “ridiculously early” to write before his family wakes up.  The Garneau BlockI’m currently reading Babiak’s “The Garneau Block” (which is quite good) so I was doing a  little author bio on the web and found this was his practice.  I’m hoping that this practice can be recovered in my life as part of my “Grand Project” (which I’ll write about more in the near future).  It shouldn’t be too difficult.  I used to wake up each morning at 5:00am to go to the gym but once my life exploded and I became “Mr. Mom” (more on that too I guess) this hasn’t been a regular practice.

So…here’s the resolution:

I will wake up each morning – ridiculously early – in order to write out some morning pages (probably on this blog) as part of a larger Grand Project for 2013.  

Whew… that sucked.

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Return to the Glenbow

Rather than try to explain a several month absence from blog writing I’ll just continue on as though I’ve been as frequent as ever.  There…

With the renewal of our Glenbow Museum membership we were able to enjoy the final days of the recent Glenbow exhibition entitled, “Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination.”  Although there were many things to explore I was flying solo with the kids and didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d like to enjoy all the pieces.  A few however did stick in my mind.

Kiki Smith RaptureThe first powerful piece was Kiki Smith’s “Rapture” (2001), a 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inch Bronze statue of Little Red Riding Hood emerge from the ruptured belly of the wolf.

This work was emphasized by my two daughters interest in the nude figure and the emergence from the wolf.  As they had never heard the original Grimm Brother’s fairy tale of Red Riding Hood – with is ferocious sexuality and misogynic message – they didn’t understand what was occurring in the Bronze.  It was rewarding to talk with them about the power of the woman to destroy the wolf herself without the axe of the woodsman.

Long awaited 1The second work to impact me was the surreal silicon sculpture, “The Long Awaited” by Patricia Piccinini.  This 92 x 152 x 80cm piece offers a hyper-realistic look at a young child comforting an aging genetic mutation of a humanoid manatee.  As I spend time with this work I couldn’t help but connect it to my aging grandmother whom I had just visited over the holiday break.  The key connecting feature was the thinning hair which revealed age spots on the manatee’s head.  My own 95 year old grandmother was my primary caregiver when I would’ve been the child’s age and now she too is unable to walk and travel (like the sculpture).  Long Awaited 3

Uncomfortable emotions occurred within me as I invested myself in this work, leaving me with a deep desire to comfort the manatee as the child was.  The climax of my viewing was when I crouched own near the foot of the manatee and looked up at its face, which revealed a slight smile, allowing me to understand the comfort that a small child can bring to a ‘grotesque’ aged figure.

This was an absolutely wonderful exhibition for the Glenbow – one that I continue to process.  I am so glad to have been able to view it before it closes this week.

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This is where we’ve been most weekends

Yep…we’ve become campers!  I never thought I’d see the day when I’d willingly give up the comforts of home in order to sleep where the bears and the mosquitos roam.

We’ve only been a tenting family until this summer.  We decided to use a bit of money to buy a used, 1976 Bonair 850 tent trailer – rather than do a short family vacation.  We’ve been out pretty much every week since the end of June.  This vintage gem is slightly held together by duct tape and bungee cords but it still sports a working propane stove, heater and all the original retro orange drapes and upholstery.

The kids are excited to talk about their “best summer ever” and we have a line up of people hoping to use our tent trailer when we’re at home.  We’ve camped in the mountains and in the prairies without any problems.  We have more than enough room for our family of 5 to sleep and do activities.  It is quite a sight to see our packed Jeep Cherokee with this aging trailer and our mountain bikes strapped to the tail gate.  I’m still trying to figure out if we can afford a canoe this summer as well!

Truthfully – the thought that went through our minds when we had our first camping weekend was… I can’t believe how many Sunday’s we’ve wasted in church when we could’ve been doing things like this with our kids.  Our priorities are becoming clearer and clearer every week!

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The MonkeySphere Reigns

I’ve never given my thoughts about the monkey sphere in any comprehensive fashion on this blog before.  I won’t do that today either.  However,  check out these articles (here and here) about the monkey sphere and to get a great overview of the concept…especially David Wong’s groundbreaking article in Cracked.

Okay…so for those who don’t read links here is a very quick summary: Monkeys have 50 people in their social group (roughly) because their brains says so.  People’s brains are 3 times larger (roughly) so we have 150 people in our social groups (roughly).  This is our monkey sphere.  We can only handle or keep track of about 150 people total.  This is why we don’t care about the garbage man or the janitor at the gym. It’s not because we’re assholes (usually) but because our monkey sphere is full of other people that we have chosen to remember and connect with (on very degrees of intimacy).

So – I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the monkey sphere as a social theory.  It makes perfect sense to me.  It’s allowed me to say “no” to potential friendships with weirdo’s because my monkey sphere was full.  It’s explained why I’ve had no interested in befriending some of my partner’s friend’s husbands.  I had a full monkey sphere in which I was in control…or so I thought.

I’ve neglected to blog something recently – part of my writing absence – but I was laid off from my job 2 1/2 months ago.  Long time readers may have known that I worked in a faith community that was fairly large.  I’ve worked in faith communities, social service non-profits and arts/culture non-profits my whole life and each of these areas of employment are all “people heavy”.  This has been a great justification for having a monkey sphere concept because there are simply too many people to really get to know.

Once I lost my job though…my monkey sphere was immediately destroyed.  I went from a full sphere to only about 50 people.   After the initial disorientation (about 1 month) I realized a few things:

  1. I had been trying to squish far more than 150 into my monkey sphere (which was part of the reason why I was so grumpy)
  2. I had way less control over my monkey sphere than I thought I did which caused resentment.
  3. I really only “lost” the people that I didn’t want in my monkey sphere to begin with
  4. I became so much MORE friendly and relaxed once I really had control of a 2/3 empty sphere.  I’ve enjoyed meeting new people again and not being such a standoffish jerk!! Even my partner has noticed how much more cheerful I’ve been.

The monkey sphere is absolutely real folks!  It’s saved my sanity when I felt over whelmed with people and has allowed me to create boundaries and cutting through bullshit “fake” friendship (I was able to completely write off having to care about people’s dead cat’s and whether they offended their great aunt Eunice with their Facebook comments).

I’ve experienced the power of the monkey sphere on both ends…it is 100% real and accurate.  I never want to have a full sphere again.  I love filling it up as I choose and having the extra emotional/psychic energy to actually engage those who have already found a home in my monkey sphere.

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