Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm Back

Well, I mad it to PEI. I promise to get my blogging up and going again ASAP. It just got too crazy what with all the packing and visiting and whatnot that I had to do before I left Montreal. But now I'm GONE!! YAY!!! Updates to come.

But first I have to go enjoy the fact that I can sit on the porch or sleep with my window open and not listen to traffic. Not a bit. Not ever. =D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Random Collection of Thoughts

I have not updated in 3 days. I am so very, very lazy.

Not much to report, really. My worldly belongings are slowly being sucked into a vortex in my living room, which now contains more stuff than my bedroom, which I guess is a good thing because it means that I'm more than halfway done. Yay!

Now I'm going to go cook a massive amount of chili and store it in washed-out yogurt containers, so that I can pack up all of my kitchen stuff. I forgot that, today being Tuesday, that means that tomorrow is Wednesday, and therefore my brother will be arriving the day after in order to take many of my things away, including all the kitchen stuff that isn't yet packed.

And as a closing story, I had a classic Kathryn moment today. I went to judo and was having a super hard time. I didn't feel tired in general, but I was doing the warmups and kept having to stop because I felt like I wasn't getting enough oxygen. So I took my inhaler even though it didn't feel like asthma, and went back to the mat, and just continued pooping out and only completing about 40% of the workout. Things got a little better as the class went on, but I kept having to rest. Mr. Cute Mexican and Mr. Tough French Guy Sensei were both there, and kept asking me if I was alright and wanted to take a break. Of course, besides stroking my own ego, the whole reason I wanted to do well today was to impress both of those dudes, too. Major backfire, when it results in my falling all over the mat, dropping from exhaustion and having to work out with one of the old guys because I can't otherwise keep up.

Well, on my way to the metro after class, it suddenly occurred to me that the reason I was so tired and lacking in oxygen is because I had donated blood just 24 hours earlier, and I was therefore running at only 92% capacity. Der.

But I do dumb stuff like this all the time. One of these days, I'll get used to it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scaling New Heights

One of the hardest parts about packing is having to go through everything you own and decide what you will keep and what you will get rid of. In my particular case, I have to decide what can go (don't need), what must come to Ireland with me (immediate need), what needs to be sent to PEI with my parents (will need it when I get back), and what can be sent down to Boston to be stored at my grandparents' house (may not need it in the coming year but will need it in the future).

One thing that has been giving me great pause has been my rock climbing gear. It's just a basic set of harness, shoes, chalk bag, and belaying equipment. I started climbing in January 2007 and was going quite regularly (once or twice a week) for about a year and a half, which then became much more sporadic as my health deteriorated, and finally dropped off altogether. I haven't been on a wall in over a year, I think, and it's something that I miss doing. My equipment should still be good; harnesses ought to be changed only every five years even if you don't use it that often. So I was toying with the idea of selling my stuff online so I would have one less thing to deal with. After all, I haven't used it in ages.

But I couldn't seem to make myself do it. I just really want to get back into climbing, and I don't want to have to buy all new equipment when that time comes. I won't be bringing it to Ireland, certainly, and a quick Google check tells me that there are no rock gyms in PEI. But there is one in Des Moines (as well as a couple of judo clubs in the area), and if I can find a climbing partner and my schedule works out, I'd like to get back into it again. So I think I'll file this under "stuff that can go back to Boston for a while" and then see what happens.

People will say to me, "Wow rock climbing! That sounds so cool, but I'm scared of heights." Guess what: I am too. That's why I started climbing in the first place. I can be kind of bull-headed in terms of attacking problems head-on, but it's partly due to my being a rather indecisive person. Taking the direct route gives you less of a chance to fumble and skirt the problem and back down. My first time on a wall I got about 10 feet up and I froze and started to panic. But I knew that if I went down then, I would probably never try it again. So I kept going, made it to the top, rappelled down slowly, and practically died from nerves once I hot solid ground again. But I did it. And I kept doing it.

The thing with climbing is, while I really like it, it is not something you can just show up to a class to do, like judo. You need your own partner, someone whom you trust, but also someone who you work well with, who doesn't mind the pace at which you climb, and whose schedule matches yours so that you are both free and energetic to climb at the same time. My good friend Steve, whom I introduced to this fine sport, is a very high-energy guy who likes to go climbing at 9am on Saturdays when the gym is empty and who will climb 2 walls in the time it takes me to rest. I like to do slow, easy walls, taking lots of breaks on my way up, and not hitting the gym until the afternoon so my body has time to wake up. I also couldn't go in the evenings because I was always dog-tired after work, and the bus schedules at night meant that I wouldn't get home until 10 or later on a school night. Steve and I, while good friends, were not good climbing partners. A lack of a steady partner was one reason why I dropped off after a while.

But like I said, I would like to get back into it. Judo this year has helped me be able to push my body to the limit while still recognizing that it has limits, and they are different from what they were before. So hopefully I won't be so quick to drop out when I go through a physical rough patch. I will be saving my climbing gear. Maybe this time next year will find me on a wall again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Photo Show

My mom and I were talking today about a show that she will be hanging in September, up in PEI where they all now live. She does art quilting, which basically means she makes "paintings" out of various kinds of fabric. We're not talking your traditional grandmother's quilt here, we're talking fanciful designs in cloth. This tiny picture is a quilt that she worked on with her studio in Lowell, MA a little before the family moved. It's actually a huge quilt, something like 6 feet long by 4 feet high. I couldn't find a bigger picture of it. It's pretty striking.

Mom has, for the last few years, been making quilts that feature nuns and saints. Right now she's working on a replacement Saint Michael, after the original was "lost" by the entity to whom she had given it as a gift, as well as a Saint George and the Dragon. All in all, by the time her show rolls around, she should have ten pieces to exhibit. Not too shabby, considering how much work goes into each one!

Now back to me. I'm going to be in PEI for two weeks before I head to Ireland, and I'm pretty good at photography. Yes, those two statements are related. Because on my Bucket List (which I made about ten years before they were called that) appears the entry "Hang a photo show and sell a photo". Most of my photos were taken in PEI, mainly because it's the most beautiful place on God's green earth. So I'm going to make a bunch of prints, get some dollar store frames, and piggyback on my mom's show.

She's going to call it "Here and the Hereafter". Pretty clever, no?

I'm kind of excited about this. I suppose I should be more excited about going to Ireland, but that involves too much work right now, what with packing and transporting boxes and all that. Hanging a photo show is at least something that I can wrap my brain around and isn't too overwhelming. Too bad I can't be there for my artist's debut. But it will be a nice start, and maybe if I can get a few good shots in Ireland, I can hang an independent show somewhere later on.

One day, I'll write a post about how I see photos. It won't be helpful to you budding photographers in the slightest, but for anyone with an interest in neuro-optical stuff, it should prove worth the read.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Service People

Every Wednesday and Friday, I take the same late-night bus home from the metro station, because it's a lot quicker than going another stop and taking my regular bus. Most of this year the driver has been the same lady, who is quite nice and greets everyone with a smile, and will chat with the old people who always seem to like to chat with people they don't know on public transportation.

Well, for the last few weeks, there have been other bus drivers taking this route. It was kind of sad. They were more surly, more tired, didn't smile, and couldn't care less if your bus pass didn't work because they didn't know you from Adam and so they certainly didn't know that it had worked every other night this month and you did, in fact, pay your monthly fare. I just kind of assumed our regular driver got switched to another route. They do that about every 9 months or so I think.

Well, tonight, she was back! And not only was I happy to see her, but just about everyone who got on the bus was a regular and was also very happy to see her. In fact, I was surprised at how happy I was to see her. I hadn't really noticed how much I had missed her. It's odd - it's not like we're friends or anything, but the "homecoming" greetings she was getting from people at every stop was as if she was a close friend or family member who had been away and left a hole in our lives.

It was just really nice. Who knew that being a good bus driver could make so many people so happy. Small things, people, small things.

Mother Theresa said that it's not the greatness of the things that you do that counts, but how much love you put in the doing. I saw that tonight, reflected in the smile of a bus driver and the joy of the people who greeted her like a good friend that they were happy to see again.

We should all be so fortunate to make such a difference to others.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rain, Packing, and Rain, and Packing

Well I've taped off an area in my living room that approximates the size of the inside of my parents' car. It's ... small.

I've packed away most of my books, started taking things off the wall, and laid out on the big table what things I will try to sell. I have a hard time believing that everything that I want to sell can fit on one large table (besides the furniture, obviously, which is just about gone anyway). It's mainly smaller things, and things that are easily replaceable, like my blender, a teapot, placemats that I never use, etc. I'm debating whether I should have a "garage" sale for such a small amount of stuff. I probably won't. But hopefully I get enough people to come take it away because my Yankee self absolutely cannot abide by putting anything in the trash that could be even remotely useable again someday in the distant future.

CraigsList is a great tool in the sense that people can connect directly. But you also get weirdos, people who don't show up so you spend a perfectly good day waiting around for them, people who don't seem to understand that you're already selling everything for way cheaper than you got it so no, you won't take $75 when you're asking $150. And it's sad to see my stuff go. My brown chair and blue chair are both now gone. I loved that brown chair. It was my favorite piece of furniture besides the couch, and it got me through many exams.

I think what bothers me most is the hungry, searching look that people get when they walk into my apartment. They don't know that not every stuck of furniture is for sale, since most of what remains belongs to my roommate. They just want to get the best deal at my expense. Each of us is looking to take advantage of the other as much as we can. I want to scream and push them out the door, and say Get out! You're a stranger! Don't take my things away from me! But of course, I have invited them in for just that purpose, and so I have to smile and take the money they offer, and try to think about what nice chairs I can get when I have my own place once again. I'm a very territorial person. This is a very difficult exercise for me to do over and over again.

So tonight: roll coins, finish packing books and movies, and perhaps pack clothes that I won't be taking with me. Or maybe that can wait. I have to do laundry, certainly, and I'm not sure how it is that my room is such a ginormous mess when I feel like I've made such headway into packing and sorting.

I suppose I should pack what's under the bed, at least. Yikes.

Or, perhaps I will make popcorn and hot chocolate and watch one of my roommate's nauseatingly girlie movies. Because I'm alone in the apartment, and I can do stuff like that. Packing can always be done tomorrow.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A List

1) My favorite movie of all time is Little Women, the 1992 version with Winona Rider. I watch it when I get homesick, sometimes.

2) I like period movies that are so well-done that you can't tell when they were made. Sense and Sensibility, for instance, would qualify as well.

3) My roommate is gone for the next two weeks, which is making my packing/planning/destroying the apartment process much easier, since I can leave my stuff all over every room and there's no one around to be bothered by it.

4) I will be leaving Montreal, essentially for good, in 3 weeks. I will have to return several times I'm sure for things like research, presentations, and doctor's appointments, but I never plan to really live here full-time again.

5) That's a really scary and overwhelming thought, so I'm going to stop thinking about it.

6) When I move to Des Moines next year, I would like to audition for the opera company.

7) I went to the Highland Games today and discovered, among other things, that there is a Civil War reenactment group in Montreal, and that Stanton, the last name of my great-grandmother Mary who immigrated to Bangor, Maine in 1916 from Ireland, is actually of Scottish origin.

8) I'm totally craving sushi right now but I have no one to go eat it with.

9) I'm glad we're having early-fall weather instead of raging-humid-heatwave weather.

10) I have no idea how I'm going to fit everything that I want to bring with me to Ireland into my luggage. No idea.