Monday, December 1, 2014

A final update

Hello, hello!

I've been mainly silent on this blog for the past month or so, but there's been a reason for that. I've been working hard, alongside Lucky Crow Art and Design, to launch my new website, and it is officially here!

That said, this blog will no longer be updated, as all posts have been moved to my new website. This blog will remain online, and thisindiegameblog will remain its own entity.

I have new projects I'm gradually working on and announcing, so please keep an eye on my website for all updates.

My website is over at Please let me know what you think, and I hope to see you there!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

To every thing there is a season.

It seems that most of my posts of late are posts dedicated to someone or other. This isn't something I intended to do, but the series of events that have unfolded lately have led to this point. I've had a number of funerals, weddings, and life changes in the past year, and my life has been affected by a lot of important people.

This is another one of those posts.

My Nana, known better as Dr. Stella Muriel Cooper (or just "Muriel" to her friends and family), passed on just a little over three weeks ago, and though the funeral has come and gone, I have still found myself saying goodbye every day since--sometimes in ways that surprise me.

In the days leading up to her death, I went in to visit her several times. One night, my mother decided to start reading her some of her own poetry. She wrote a beautiful book of poems called the Music of Memory, and I found a poem in there entitled "Spring". I had remembered hearing it read years ago, but it struck me more than ever on this day. This poem was about me.

"Spring" by Muriel Cooper
At sunrise,
the mourning doves
cooed outside my bedroom window.
I could almost hear the daffodils
pushing their green higher
through the dark bark mulch.
One small patch of snow
outside on the balcony has refused
for days to melt more than a few drops.
* * *
Musing, I hear light footsteps
moving nearer
from down the hall.
A small blonde head
around the half-open door.
"Nana," she says,
"I just had
a bad dream!"
She holds me close
pulls back the covers and
climbs in beside me.
For just a few minutes all is quiet.
I doze, grateful that I have
a granddaughter eight years old.
Questions, questions
time passes too quickly
slow down.      Then
one ear buried in my pillow
I hear her whisper, "Can we go down now and
make the oatmeal porridge?"

How could I forget our morning oatmeal ritual? Nana hadn't been living at home for fourteen years, but before that, when I was young, we would make oatmeal together every morning that I stayed with her. It was plain oatmeal, but she would sprinkle brown sugar on top and pour cold milk over while the porridge was still hot. Years of eating pre-packaged garbage--flavoured instant oats full of unnecessary sugar and sodium--made me forget how perfect plain oatmeal could be. In the days after I read that poem, I would make myself oatmeal for breakfast. I've continued to do this most mornings, now, and I always try to reflect on memories I shared with Nana as I was growing up.

One of my favourite memories happened one time while Nana came to visit me. It was winter, and she and I were alone in the house. Snow was coming down steadily, and it was that coveted packy snow that made perfect snowballs and snowmen. I challenged Nana to a snowball fight, and she accepted. The two of us went outside together and started lobbing snow balls at each other. She successfully hit me more times than I hit her, and not only was her aim true, but she hit me in the face--twice!--with a snowball. I remembered laughing incredulously as she struggled to withhold her own laughter and stammered out an apology. She also went with me many years ago on my first day of kindergarten.

A picture of me and my Nana on the day she obtained her
doctorate from Dalhousie University.
Nana was an incredibly intelligent woman, and on top of that, she had an extensive career and impressive curriculum vitae. I didn't know that side of her well, but have gotten to know it better since her death. I hadn't realized, growing up, how accomplished she was, or how her accomplishments would come to inspire me later on. At the age of 70, for instance, she received her doctorate from Dalhousie University--the oldest student, at the time, to receive it. I was three.

Though I don't have the same level of dedication to my studies as she did, she emphasized the importance that I receive an excellent education nevertheless. She has been an inspiration to me all through my university life--she even put some money aside for me when I was very young to ensure my ability to pursue my education. Though I took a five-year break between my studies, I am finally finishing my degree this fall. I dedicate this degree, in part, to her, for giving me an opportunity that so many people cannot have and wish they could. I'll always be grateful to her for contributing so vitally to my ability.

This particular quote from the Bible was read at both my Nana's and my Uncle Gordon's funerals, and it's fitting, given the last two months. In fact, at Uncle Gordon's funeral, I read from his Bible. When I was looking at the verse, I noticed that he had actually ticked it off with a pen. We had chosen this verse without looking into Uncle Gordon's own personal Bible, and as I opened it up to read from it at his funeral, I had noticed that he had placed little check marks next to the verses. An interesting coincidence, at the very least.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I'd been re-listening to Nightwish's Imaginaerum album of late, particularly around the time of Nana's passing, and this song in particular stuck with me. The lyrics should reveal why.

This fall has certainly been the season of good-byes, between Nana and Uncle Gordon. I'm grateful to have had both of them in my life for so long.

*Footnote: if you're interested in purchasing a copy of my Nana's poetry book, please send me an e-mail and I will happily discuss the details with you.

**"Spring" has been shared with the publisher's permission.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Aunt Doris and Uncle Gordon

Many years ago, on a previous blog, I wrote a poem for my Great Aunt Doris, who had Alzheimer's. She and my Great Uncle Gordon were very special people in my life, and I learned a lot from both of
Aunt Doris. Photo from the Albert County
Funeral Home's website.
them. Aunt Doris passed away in April of 2008, and Uncle Gordon left us just two weeks ago. Rather than making this a sad post, I'm going to reflect on some fond memories I have of them. There are a lot.

I was lucky to have loving grandparents growing up, but I also had some very special great aunts and uncles. Aunt Doris, my Nana's younger sister, would visit with Uncle Gordon to stay in the cabin in our lower lot--a cabin Aunt Doris's parents used to rent out to tourists many years prior. Due to the frequency of their visits, and the time we would spend together, they became like a third set of grandparents to me. Their care and love was so strong.

They were also very generous with their time. They never had any children of their own, thus having no grandchildren, so they always treated me like the granddaughter they didn't have. They took me on drives in the park, and, with my parents, we would all go on hikes together to enjoy the natural beauty of Fundy National Park. They told me that when they were visiting, I could come over anytime. Once, I took this entirely too literally. I was invited to come and see them for breakfast one morning. I combined the two offers and decided to show up to visit for breakfast--at seven AM.

A much older picture of Uncle
I was still in my pyjamas and I was excited. I went down to the lower lot and knocked on the cabin door. Uncle Gordon greeted me in his own pyjamas, his hair dishevelled--obviously they hadn't been expecting me so early. But he didn't turn me away. He greeted me with his booming "hello!" and welcomed me indoors, and I had breakfast with him and Aunt Doris.

Aunt Doris made these beautiful little shortbread cookies, and she would feed them to me with milk every time I visited them. These shortbreads were always topped with colourful rainbow sprinkles, and I would dip them in the milk to let the colours run. We would eat them together while playing dominos. She was a fantastic cook, and I would join them for suppers and lunches on a regular basis, as well. Both of them were very patient with me. When I couldn't figure out how to tie my shoes, Uncle Gordon, knowing I learned things a little differently than other kids, showed me the "bunny ears" method. To this day, I still use that method.

I'll end this with a poem I wrote in the years that Aunt Doris's Alzheimer's got to the point she didn't recognise most of us. I've edited it recently.

A decorated tin filled with
White shortbread cookies topped by
Round rainbow sprinkles that make the
Milk turn colour 

Sits on the
Kitchen table.
A fold-out table made of tin with
Sturdy aluminum legs and the scene of a
Forest brook in autumn, surrounded by sepia foliage and
The glimpse of a deer is set up before the
Couch, with a
Small box of dominoes spilled over: a
Game to be played.
I can't quite tie my
Shoes yet, but he helps me.
Two bunny ears. Tuck under. Pull. Now it's a

An overstuffed yellow armchair sits by the
Dusty screen door, and beyond that, the
Porch, where the
June bugs used to collect at night and buzz in our ears.
Strawberries grow here too, hidden in the
Tufts of grass.
She has me gather them in a
Porcelain dish. I pick them and
She washes them for me.
We eat them together.

This is what I remember, and though
You cannot, I will keep remembering
For both of us.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I'm glad I took a break from university.

Throughout high school and university, I was always a bit of a laissez-faire student. Didn't pass that math test? Meh, there's always another--final mark be damned. Slept through my 8:30 AM class because I was up all night gaming? Wouldn't be the first time. I was that one cringe-worthy student that no one wanted to be paired up with for a project--unless, of course, it was one of the rare projects I was actually interested in doing.

I graduated high school and made a beeline for Université de Moncton in 2004, not really knowing what to expect. I stumbled through a few years of skipping classes, dropping out of classes and, occasionally, failing classes. It may not be a time I'm proud of, but it was an immensely important learning experience for me. I'm the type of person who, sometimes, has to learn the hard way.

In 2007, I finally finished my required English courses, minus one. Since I was an English major, this took all the fun out of university. Suddenly, I had to take a number of required courses that weren't at all related to English. This was my own fault. I didn't pace myself over the years, and I got all the fun courses out of the way early because of that. That fall, I failed a linguistics class, resulting in a panic attack--something I'd never really experienced before.

I went back to university in the winter, and I wasn't looking forward to it. I signed up for a full course load of five. Within the first few weeks, I had dropped two courses that gave me so much anxiety I couldn't stand to even attend class. One of them--oddly enough a drama class--had me breaking out in hives. Another class I took, a three-hour long ethics class with a lot of homework, forced us to read our answers out in front of the class. I left half-way through the class one day, tears rolling down my cheeks at the mere thought of it.

I also had enrolled in one English class, and it was one that I had failed in the past--the only English class I've ever failed, and my very last requirement for my major. When I got my midterm back and saw that, despite my best efforts, I had failed it, I lost myself. I handed the exam back and ran from the administration building to the arts building, right up to my mother's office. She saw the look on my face and I'm sure she must have known what was coming next. "I'm leaving university," I blurted between my sobs. "I can't do this anymore". She looked at me for a long moment, then nodded, and said "okay". I went to my doctor in the days that followed and asked him to write me a note so I could get out of university without suffering failures in all of my enrolled courses.

I didn't really know what I was going to do. Brad and I were living together at the time, and I hated our apartment. I would be going back home for the summer in a few short months, so I couldn't get a job. I visited my Nana in the hospital; I drew; I sewed; I wrote. When summer came, I went back home to work at the general store. I told people I was taking a break from university, and they advised me not to take too long a break. Some people told me I'd never go back. But my closest friends, my mom and dad, and Brad, all knew better. They were always supportive.

Brad and I moved to Moncton permanently in late summer, 2008. We got a new apartment--coincidentally on Alma Street--and got a cat. I spent the next five years working a few different jobs: waitressing at a Tex-Mex restaurant (I lasted four months), being a barista at a Second Cup kiosk in the mall (a year and nine months), and going from regular employee to assistant manager to store manager at DAVIDsTEA (three whole years).

While managing DAVIDsTEA, in winter of 2012, I found out that I could take the English course I had failed previously, and I decided to get it done. I went back and shocked myself by achieving an A overall in the course. I wasn't just pleased, I was ecstatic. I had overcome a hurdle that had been in my way for years. I wouldn't take another university course for a year and a half, but it was an event that put the option of going back to university back on my radar.

In the summer of 2013, I enrolled for an evening course for the coming fall. The course was with a prof I had in my second year and really liked. I started to realise that I was getting a little too close to the ten year mark. I was 27--inching ever closer to thirty--and wasn't really sure where my life was going. My job was taking up most of my time, and while I liked it, it wasn't what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. It was time to make a decision, and my choices were: 1. to spend the next few years taking one or two evening courses while continuing to work full time, 2. to let my credits expire and never finish my degree, or 3. to take a leave from my full-time job and go back to school. Option 3 ended up being the one I wanted the most, but after looking into it, I discovered that it wasn't an option for me at all: my workplace would only provide one month of study leave, but I really wanted to finish things off. If option 3 was really what I wanted, I would have to step down from my position, and drop to part-time. So, with that big risk in place, I did, and I went back to school full-time in January 2014.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. I worked so hard from January to April that there wasn't much in my life that wasn't school-related, except my part-time job. I re-took the ethics course that I had dropped five years before, and while it was still a stressful course, I found that I got far more out of it the second time around than I had the first time. When the winter semester was done, I felt so much relief. That was the last time I would ever have to take a full-time semester. I had two intersession courses lined up--one spring and one summer--but they would be nothing compared to the insanity the winter brought.

Near the end of the winter semester, I attended the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference--something I probably wouldn't have even considered doing when I was in university before. I was more of a shut-in during my previous years, and I wouldn't even spend time with people on campus. This semester, I was hanging out in the English Department's Reading Room, making friends and studying with others.

In May, during my spring course, I discovered I was pregnant. At first, I was terrified! What if I didn't get my degree finished on time? Then, after calculating my due date, I discovered that the timing was actually perfect. My exams for my two fall courses would end in December, and the baby is due in January. This fall, I am taking my two final classes while pregnant, and so far it's not a whole lot different.

Do I recommend breaks for everyone? Absolutely not. Some people really don't go back--which is fine, too, as long as that's what you want. I'll always be glad for that five years away from university, though, and I will never regret it. I learned so much during that time, and it prepared me for going back. In a big way, I actually feel that those five years away from university were for me to figure out why I wanted to finish my degree, and to give me the skills I needed to complete it. When February 2015 arrives, I will have a baby in one hand, and a completed bachelor's degree in the other. I always have done things a little differently, so I guess with university I have just taken a bit of a detour on the way. My life story isn't linear, but I like it that way.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crystal Palace closed yesterday.

Crystal Palace was a magical indoor amusement park that I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy while growing up. It was a place I went to with family and young friends: a place for March Breaks and birthday parties. I had my first actual date with a boy in grade 6 at Crystal Palace, too--we went on a bunch of rides, won a purple plush bulldog and saw a movie together, back in the days that the theatre and park were connected. The connection was only removed in the last few years, and I remember experiencing a wave of nostalgia every time I would leave the movie theatre, met by the sounds of excited children screaming on the roller coaster.  I'll always have fond memories of getting my face painted and riding on the giant swing set to be propelled through the air across the park. I felt like I was flying. And, of course, I'll always remember challenging friends to the Laser Runner laser tag game.

One last shot of the Crystal Palace sign.
Animaritime, a convention I've been staffing at off and on since 2008, took place in the convention centre in Crystal Palace for their 2007 event. That year, I played mini-golf while dressed like a comic book character, made some incredible friends, and got to experience the ridiculous fun of being at a convention in an indoor amusement park. It was a perfect location, but sadly the convention centre wasn't big enough to house the growing convention.

Recently, my husband Brad and I stopped in at Chapters to browse around.  We decided we'd take a walk through Crystal Palace. We have a little one on the way, after all, and we talked about how much we were looking forward to bringing the child there when he or she is old enough. A few weeks later, we heard the sad news that Crystal Palace would be closing at the end of the day on September 1st, so this was never going to happen. We decided we would bring the baby there anyway--so to speak--before the place closed, for one last night of fun and fond memories.

So, the night of Friday, August 29th, we went. We spent the evening playing games and trying to win a prize for the little one, since I couldn't go on any rides. We had discovered the day before that we are to have a little girl, and we were going to try and win her a stuffed dragon. At one point in the night, as we took a break between games, a young girl came up to us and handed us several tickets, saying "you can have these". I looked at her parents, who were with her, and asked if she was sure she wouldn't rather have them for herself. She insisted, and her mother smiled at me and said "we know you're trying to win something for your baby". Brad and I accepted the tickets gratefully, and noticed that they included a slip for over 300 tickets. I tried keep myself together as I put the slip with our other winnings, and the two of us took a break to grab a snack at Pretzelmaker. As we sat with our snack, we watched a a young boy and his father riding the Jumpin' Star together. The look of joy on the little boy's face was unmistakable. A lot of people are going to miss this place, I thought.

We went to cash in our tickets at the end of the night, and the man behind the counter informed us that they would be honouring all tickets in double from Saturday until the park's closure on Monday evening. We decided to come back the following morning, get a few more tickets, and get our baby girl an even better prize--prolonging our goodbye just a little longer. Before we left, a janitor stopped to chat with us, asking us if either of us remembered the bumper boats from the nineties. Since I did, he brought out a little bag and gave me one of the admission tickets, which hadn't been used in years. It had the old logo on it and everything.

Our spoils of the day: a blue squishy kitty, a yellow Furby-like
creature, a plastic purple flute, a Red Wings hat keychain, and
a small glow-in-the-dark ring.
We spent Saturday morning throwing skee balls up ramps, hitting inanimate objects with hammers, and shooting a few basketball hoops until we had enough tickets for the dragon. As I waited in line, though, the last dragon was claimed by another prize-goer. The lines were so long that weekend that this wasn't a surprise, so instead we walked away with a plush cat dressed in blue, as well as a few other smaller prizes that we'll be able to give our little girl through the various stages of her life.

As one does, we took one last look at the park before we left. I watched the beautiful swing set, which had been my favourite ride growing up, and thought to myself that our little girl would grow up in a Moncton with no Crystal Palace. Maybe this seems like unnecessary sentimentality, but we were far from the only ones to come and say goodbye. On Monday afternoon, a group of our friends went to have one last hurrah with the rides and games. They then showed up at our doorstep with their own present for our baby: they had pooled all their tickets together to get her an adorable plush panda. This is another special final memory for the park--one I wasn't even present for.

I'm frustrated that yet more local businesses are being cleared out to make room for big box retailers. Perhaps the numbers of attendees have dwindled over the years for Crystal Palace, but the fact remains that over 150 people are losing their jobs, and a place full of fond memories is going to close down after almost 25 years of business. Crystal Palace was one of the Greater Moncton Area's biggest tourist attractions. Change is usually good, but the change from a family-friendly venue to an enormous hunting and fishing shop is going to take some getting used to. I remain hopeful, as Magic Mountain has stated that they will expand their park to make room for some of the rides, and may open a smaller-scale indoor facility. At the very least, it will be a fun place to go in the summer, but it won't be the same, and it may not be year-round. At least the memories will remain.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Further public embarrassment for the parties this is dedicated to.

I'm not the greatest friend. I'll be the first person to admit that, even if it pains me to do it.  From the early years of my life up until university, I've had a few poisonous friendships that benefited neither party. We would argue incessantly over petty things, fight over significant others, and, whether we were conscious of it or not, silently compete with each
Sally on the left, and me on the right, at her and
Danny's wedding reception on August 9th, 2014.
other's accomplishments. I would never try to blame these things on a specific one of us--we were equally to blame for the shortcomings of our friendships. Regardless, this trained me to become a pretty crappy friend.

It was in my fourth year of university that my view of friendship was about to change. I was going through a pretty difficult time--I hated my classes and was even failing a few of them. I was developing an anxiety problem that brought on sudden anxiety attacks and was experiencing depression as a result. I couldn't see an end in sight, despite being nearly finished my degree. Through all this, I met a girl named Sally in one of my classes.

To say we hit it off pretty much immediately is an understatement. The next thing I knew, she was telling me all about her boyfriend Danny and saying I should introduce Brad to him. Before long, the four of us were inseparable.

While I did have a few really good friendships early on--Brad being one of them--I never had to work through any glaring friendship problems because the friendships were rarely important enough for me to be worth it. It's a sad reality that I talk to few of those friends these days, often because our friendships, to me, just weren't worth working on. I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth. It's not always the case, of course: I do still talk to a few friends from early on, but they are the minority. Sally and I supported each other through good and bad throughout the years, and she was one of the people, along with Brad and my parents, who supported and agreed with my decision to temporarily leave university when the anxiety got to be too much. Of course, we had our differences as well, but we worked through everything in honest, open communication, and our friendship is that much stronger for it, even if I resisted it at first.

The long and short is this: over the years, I have been more than willing to work through and openly discuss any problems Brad and I may be having, and the same goes for my parents and any family members, but I haven't always been that willing to work through problems openly and honestly with friends. Sally has changed that in me, and she has inspired that change in my other friendships, as well. I haven't always cared whether friendships lasted or not. To be honest, when I was very young, I was often separated with anyone I considered a best friend, due to distance. I can confidently say that even if Sally and Danny were to move away, we'd still be in contact. I like to think that the same is the case with a number of my friendships now.

I can't write all this about Sally without saying anything about Danny, of course. Though I've had more opportunities to really bond with Sally, I feel just as comfortable with Danny, and have hung out with him readily if Sally's busy. This guy is one of the sweetest and most caring friends I've known. He'll give you the shirt off his back and do anything for a friend. I'm not exaggerating. If you're a friend in need, he will help you out. If he can't immediately help, he will find a way and look for a solution as creatively as he needs to, often enlisting other friends as well. The phrase "he has a big heart" is a little cliché and overused, but in Danny's instance, it makes perfect sense.

Why am I writing all of this about these people? Well, Sally and Danny got married on August 9th. Brad and I had gone up to Bathurst several days earlier to stay with Sally's parents for the week. I cooked meals for all six of us and helped out when I could to make preparations go more smoothly. When the wedding day finally arrived, we greeted it eagerly. What a privilege for both Brad and I to be in the wedding party, standing next to our closest friends as they pledged themselves formally to one another. Both of them were a part of our wedding party years before, as well, making our reciprocation feel that much more awesome.

This isn't a picture of just the wedding party, but of a big group of our
friends. That should tell you how much friendship means to
these guys. Sally and Danny are in the front. Photo by Kate

Part of the reason I'm writing this in the first place is because I ended up giving a speech that night. I hadn't planned on it. Sally and Danny had decided that their kissing game would revolve around friends and family telling stories about one or both of them. My speech had started off as the story of my first time meeting Sally, but the more I thought about it, the more I added. I started adding things about our friendship, things about Danny, and wishing them the best. I knew this would have to be a speech.

I have a story, but it kind of evolved into a speech, so here I am now.
Sally and I met in a third year philo course at Université de Moncton. We already kind of knew of each other, but as I sat next to her that day, I took note of a tiny Pokémon keychain on her bag. I immediately knew: I can talk to this girl. What started as in-class acquaintance bloomed into a fast friendship. The next thing I knew, I was bringing my now-husband Brad over to her house and introducing him to Danny.
Never before have Brad and I clicked so well with a couple. In the months that followed, the four of us ran the Pokémon League together for little kids. And now here we are, seven years later.
If there's one thing I can say about this couple, it is this: these two are the best friends anyone can have. They will do anything for their friends and they have so much love to give. If you count these two among your circle of friends, you have something rare and special.
Sally and Danny, you are both wonderful people, and I wish you all the happiness--though I know you'll have many happy years to come. Brad and I are so thankful to be a part of your lives.

To be honest, there was a lot more I wanted to say, but I don't think I could have gotten it out without crying--my voice cracked during this version! I didn't want to get too long, or too sappy. So, that's what's happening here. My blog has plenty of room for lengthy sappitude. Sappitude is a word I just invented.

So, this was a bit of a public embarrassment for Sally and Danny. Isn't that what friends are for? I owe a lot to these two, though, and like a couple of other recent blog posts I've made, this is just my own way of expressing my gratitude. I've grown and changed a lot as a person over the years, and the people around me have always been an influence on how that growth has manifested. I know this: my life would be a lot different if I hadn't taken note of that little Pachirisu keychain on Sally's bag that day in class. I like to think that the way my life has evolved to this point is better for that event.

I love the crap outta you guys, Sally and Danny. Congratulations on your new beginning, for the 38452th time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A life in flux

Why do I seem to go through periods of my life that are incredibly busy, only to come out the other side to an almost complete stillness? Why am I okay with having the answer to the "how have you been?" question be "BUSY!"? What makes me enjoy this intense process of having no free time, and then suddenly being met with an abundance of it?

I know the answer to all of these, but sometimes I will ask myself these questions anyway. I'll start to feel my sanity slowly slip away as my busy-ness consumes my life and reduces it to a schedule of "go to work, do the thing, sleep, repeat". Why do I love to torture myself?

It's actually a pretty simple response. Those intense, busy periods make for better writing. And when they're finally over, there's nothing like the week after, when free time exists again. The first day off is absolute bliss. The next thing I know, I'm out for hours-long walks and contemplating what project I'm going to work on next.

Sometimes I think I'd like to live a life that's wholly quiet, but I'd probably get bored. Instead, I'd rather enjoy the quiet moments that come while being otherwise occupied, and the ebb and flow of 3 months busy, 1 month not busy. Maybe I'll, eventually, get to take and appreciate more quiet time, but it certainly won't be anytime soon. Having a number of interests, hobbies and extracurricular activities makes for a hectic life, but it's a fulfilling one, at least.

Things are calming down a bit for me right now. I've been taking courses all through the past year and I have a full month away from them until I go back in September. Since May, I've been working on the annual Shakespeare in the Park with a group of wonderful people. We put on our final performance of the tragedy of Julius Caesar on Saturday night. That's now over, too, and while I feel satisfied, I'm also sad to be parting with these people. Every summer there seems to be this sense of camaraderie--we all become friends and go on outings together while the play is going. Then, at the end of the play, there's a dissolution. It's always bittersweet, because we rarely see each other all at once after closing night. But then, in plays to come, we'll have the inside jokes and the other little reminders. It's a brief flame, but it burns brightly.

My first day of vacation from work is today, too, and I've been spending it by finishing my final project for my class and getting ready for a small trip. What this means is that the three things really eating my time are, temporarily, done, and while they have all been utterly worth my while, I'll get to enjoy the fleeting quiet that comes from having no urgent projects or deadlines. Two of my best friends are getting married this weekend, and while I'll be busy--being in the wedding party--I plan on enjoying every minute of it, and finding any available quiet within. I've never been to Bathurst before, and my husband Brad and I plan on enjoying the trip over.

My life is about to get more hectic-- in a few ways, too, even though I'm entering a brief period of quiet. Brad and I found out back in May that we're expecting our first child, to arrive in January. I have a bit of a looming deadline: finish my degree before the baby comes. That means I'm hitting the books as hard as ever once again in September, but I'll only have two courses to complete because I worked so hard during the spring and summer. Between classes and work, I'll still be plenty busy, but there should be enough downtime in there to keep me happy. Though, auditions for the Mousetrap are in September...

What's keeping me calm lately? A few small, specific things. Slow, quiet mornings, car rides, sitting in the grass, this songMountain, and... cleaning. A messy house stresses me out, but when my life is filled with so many things, cleaning gets put on the backburner. There's nothing like taking the extra time to tidy and get rid of clutter. Though I'll only really be working in the next month, I have a lot planned for my free time. Writing is definitely one of those many things...