Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Scratch

Most of us start our adult lives with little to nothing. We find our selves in an empty apartment with a few basics from our old room and maybe given items from our parents and friends. We work to build it all up, buying the big items as we can afford them. Eventually your bare white walled apartment becomes a little more like you. Your personality is starting to come through instead of just the hand-me-downs.

I've done this more then a few times. I moved out when I was 18 to a tiny bachelor suite in a heritage building next to a homeless shelter and behind a casino. The place had character but it was definitely lacking in curb appeal. But I didn't care much, I was saving to move to the states. My futon, my sewing machine table, my meters of pink and gold indian sari's used as curtains, the sage green satin back crepe quilt I made and my pea soup green rug filled this empty little place up quickly with colour and my style. I was happy when I got home, despite the neighborhood, because it was my little place.

When I moved to Colorado I only brought the blanket, some pillows and some pictures to decorate with. Here was another place to add too. This cabin style furnished bachelor style condo conspired against me. I took down the paintings of horses and cowboys. I put scarves over the generic cast iron bedside lamps to soften them. I slowly filled it up with used store pieces that pleased me but the country cabin furniture overpowered it.

Then, suddenly, I was back in Edmonton. I was back in a white walled apartment all alone.

I had a few items still stored with various family members and began the task of collecting hand-me-down pieces of furniture and buying my own. It was boring, bare and bland.

This time, at least, I had hard wood floors and walls I could paint.

I was getting use to these small places, they were easier to fill, easier to be at home in. A coat of paint, a few peices of furniture and accessories and suddenly I had a home...again, for the third time.

But eventually it becomes stifling trying to live in a place that offers no room to go. I couldn't fit a wing back chair in there, let alone a couch. I loved my little apartment but I wanted so badly to have a living room and a place to dine.

So I upgraded. I got a 1 bedroom in the same building and enjoyed it in a lot of ways. I painted again (an aubergine bedroom, a half finished green living room). I had enough furniture to fill this place though I wasn't quite happy with the awkward lay out. I was not use to have a living room and a bedroom. I had only ever had a living space that had to pose as every room. This time around, I wasn't alone either. My boyfriend moved in with me and we played house.

The El Mirador, my bachelor was the second set of windows, ground level from the left. My 1 bedroom was within the courtyard with my own front door and back door.

I had plans for every room. What colour they were going to be, style, wall paper (bought and paid, just not applied) until I found out that area of the building was infested with bed bugs. That feeling of disgust you just felt overtook me like a wave. I complained to the landlord, but a solution was never enacted, despite health codes. We ended up sleeping (if you can call it that) in the living room on an air mattress. I had gotten use to having a bedroom and now I didn't even use it. All my furniture became repulsive to me. I couldn't sit anywhere that was upholstered without feeling like running out. Which is exactly what we did. We spent as many hours a day away from the house. Visiting my sister, going out to dinner, going to movies and working. And when we came home to sleep, it was the minimum amount that we needed. We took the first apartment we viewed and moved in half way through the month.

My heart broke as I threw out all the furniture I had collected. A new couch, a bed, a new head board, a wing back chair...most everything that I knew would most likely carry the problem to our new place, was thrown out.

And again...starting from scratch. We've been in our place now for 9 months and again I take on the role of the furniture phoenix. Rising up from the bare walls and the empty rooms and filling them with each piece. And as I was doing the dishes the other night, putting away the forks I thought to myself, "Dear god, I hope I don't have to buy another set of you again." It was a fleeting thought but it left an impression. I'm completely over starting from nothing. I think I've done it more then enough for my lifetime. I can appreciate the excitement of a bare canvas but to have your hard work destroyed each time you start a painting is more then I can handle.

This current place I've hardly decorated as we can't paint the walls (which is frustrating for me). I love that it has the conveniences of a new place (dishwasher, in-suite laundry) but, in a way, I miss my creaky wood floors and imperfect colourful rooms. I'm trying to find a middle ground. But it is hard to find a new building with the charm and heritage of a 70 year old one.

I suppose, like most things, apartment hunting is a thing of compromise.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Living for the Weekend

It's a long life living for the weekend. Though the week goes by in a fast enough sort of way, and each month I find myself shocked that a new month is upon us.

But my weekends make up for the dreary office life, which I don't think I was made for. I was browsing jobs yesterday and saw two interesting jobs. Travel Agent and Assistant at a Veternary Clinic. Both appeal to me. I'm not one for high pressure sales, but helping people plan trips, offer advice and help them out really appeals to me as well as having to get more travelling experience under my belt. Then working with animals, monitorings, keeping them and their kennel clean and just being there for animals when they need it would be such a rewarding feeling. Of course, I'm a bit sensitive and know it would hurt if any animal's died but that's part and parcel when working in a vet's office.

I'm not planning on applying for either, atleast not yet, but it was fun to entertain the thought and to know other jobs are out there. I like to check every couple months to get a feel for the current job market and also to ensure I'm not missing any amazing oppratunities.

This weekend! Oh this weekend is going to be fun. Dave and I are going to see "Avatar". A few trusted sources have told me it's great and I am curious myself to see how it turns out. Sci-fi isn't usually my area of interest but I like the message in the movie and hope it's strongly portrayed (that message being respect nature and indigenous communities). I hate James Cameron's "Titanic" but hopefully this script is better written and with fewer cliches.

Then on Saturday I work. Whatever. Doesn't even matter because after work I get to go over to Erin and Ran's place where we will be having our own Turkey Dinner. I am so excited to have a celebration with my friends for the holidays and not just a family dinner (especially since Dave and I have to go to our own family dinners on the same night and will not be spending most of Christmas eve together). My sister and Erin will be doing most of the cooking. I have plans to bring a little something something over though. The gift I'm planning isn't something I will partake in myself, but if I choose correctly, hopefully everybody will enjoy it. I know it's going to be fun especially if we play some Zap! (card game).

Then Sunday, Chantelle and I are going out with my mom for some more Christmas shopping and planning. I've only bought one of Dave's gifts and need some help picking out the others. Mostly I need help getting to the stores where they are, cause it's not a mall. I don't want to say what they are, on the off chance that he secretly reads my blog (doubt it). He deserves great gifts...I feel like I can never give him enough. He is so kind, loving, patient and sweet to me while I am so cantankerous, impatient and cranky half the time. This is why opposites attract, to balance one another out.

We are alike in the things that matter to us. We both like to travel and dream of living in other countries and travelling the world. I'm so happy to have a future partner in my adventures. We're both very laid back, despite my habit of going on rants. We're both avid readers, though I stick to the classics and he is more of a information/science kind of guy (I love him for it). We both love watching movies.

I want this Christmas to be amazing for him. I know I didn't decorate. I'm not into Christmas trees in such a small apartment. I'm definitely not baking any cookies and I've only listened to one Christmas song. But he's given me so many random gifts this year. He bought me a beautiful red corset with 16 peices of boning. He has bought me more then a few bouquets of flowers (almost always lilies, my favourite) and has just been exactly what I needed at the end of each day. While I was in school, he made sure dinner was ready each night. When I am tired and cranky, he is ready to soothe me and make me laugh, even if it means being goofy and annoying. I feel like he is the refuge in each day.

Yes, this weekend will be great. Spending it with friends and family. And finding the right gifts to show my man that I can be the thoughtful caring girlfriend he deserves.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ice and Frost

Here in Edmonton we've gone through some cold days. To any Americans who read this, temperatures have been well below -6 F. Over the weekend we were the second coldest place on early with a frigid record low of -46.1 C and -58.4 C with the windchill. That's -73.12 F with windchill, people!

There's a weird sense of pride when you go through winters like this. Even though I'm in my warm office or my warm apartment, I still feel pretty bad ass when temperatures are so insanely cold and I'm walking from the train with my jacket, scarf and touque, feelin' like survivor man for making it the three whole blocks. Sad, on my behalf, but awesome in general.

Then suddenly your body adjusts and you feel fine after a couple of days and when the temperature goes back to something sane like -20 C, it feels warm and you don't button your jacket up.

It also makes me think about when my sister and I would go swimming at the local recreation centre a few blocks from our blue house, near Whyte ave. Every Sunday we'd walk home after the free swim with our hair soaking and after half a block, our hair would jingle as we shook it. The strands turning into icicles resembling dreadlocks and we'd wonder aloud if they'd snap. They never did, as we'd bend the frozen chunks of hair but I'm unsure how we'd react if they actually had.

In these freezing temperature, although I complain loudly when my nose is cold, my nostrils freeze or my feet are wet from snow melting in my shoes, there are still things I love.

Crunching ice beneath my feet. White eye lashes from frozen breath. How bright everything is, even at night. How sidewalks and streets stop existing and people just drive and walk where they think the division is and when things melt you find that everyone was off by a couple feet.

I am looking forward to our (Chantelle, Erin and I) annual photo session at the Legislative Grounds. It started two years ago on an extremely cold night in January, I believe, where we were bored and decided a trip to the grounds for some photos in the -35 C weather seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Despite the cold temperatures, we had so much fun and have decided to pick what we deem the coldest night to do it every year. There's something appealing about making traditions of your own, not just with family, but with friends and continuing them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Need for Action and Altruism

Lately I've been dismayed by humanity or the lack thereof. I am not normally a pessimistic person, so much as I have high expectations of them and continue hoping that I will be proven right for having such expectations.

When a Edmonton bus driver was recently attacked with brutal violence from an angry but unjustified patron, I was shocked. I understand that the bus was mostly filled with younger student from an all-girls school but I also know that there were older people, both male and female, who were healthy and capable of helping. To read more about the attack, please read the following article:

I know it is easy to judge and easy to say that somehow if we were in that situation, we would've reacted. But it's important to think to yourself if you really would? I have been in that situation, a witness to violence of strangers, and I have reacted on multiple occasions. I want men and women to know that it is better to try to dispel violence and openly risk getting hurt, then to sit by and watch someone bare the brunt of it due to your inactivity.

This reminded me of an essay I wrote 4-6 months ago in reaction to reading Night by Elie Wiesel, as well as his Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech. For those of you who may not be familiar with Wiesel, he was in the holocaust as a 16 year old boy with his father and wrote a book accounting the atrocities that he faced and witnessed years later.

To read his acceptance speech or learn more about him please visit the following link:

Here is my essay in reaction to the speech and novel.

In Elie Wiesel's acceptance speech after he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, we are presented with an often difficult but necessary question. When we are witness to a wrong doing, to an offence against humanity, when is it our obligation to react? This question applies not only to the atrocities of war but also in day to day life.

The overwhelming sense of abandonment that Elie masterfully implies throughout his speech and his book "Night" establishes this idea of non-reaction from the outside world. It is interesting to note that "Night" was originally going to be titled, in Yiddish, "And the World Remained Silent" and that this theme is carried not only throughout the book but also in Wiesel's acceptance speech when he says, " naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent."

I feel that when we are witness to a crime, a bystander to a transgression on freedom, a spectator to the corruption of human nature, it is out responsibility and duty to listen to those who cry out, to support those who falter under the oppression of another and to speak for those who can no longer attest for the cruelty they suffer. As Elie Wiesel said, "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim." It is too convenient and easy to turn away from those need of our assistance when we can justify to ourselves that our life is more precious than theirs and therefore not worth sacrificing. Why put ourselves on the line and risk joining them in their suffering? I can even understand the fear and how, when it comes down to it, sometimes flight triumphs over fight.

But human life is not a matter of brute destruction and survival. We have evolved to mass and complicated societies. We should no longer leave the weakest to die but instead evaluate a community's worth not on how strong they are but how they protect the weak and feeble. We are beyond the petty struggle for survival and can no longer expect those who are unable to fend for themselves to forgive us for thriving while we ignore their plight.

This struggle with obligation to others and obligation to self is apparent when Elie's father is of dysentery on the concentration camp and Elie is told by the blockalteste that, "Each of us lives and dies alone." Elie grapples with this idea and the guilt that such a singular thought and way to live conveys, especially in times of need. He admits, "He was right, I thought deep down, not daring to admit it to myself...It was only a fraction of a second, but it left me feeling guilty." It is these moments when we must first overcome out self-serving tendencies and then work to overcome the situations that make us resort to such thoughts.

True altruism beings when we risk ourselves in order to protect another. When our silence becomes deadly, it is with compulsion that we must speak out. When those, like Elie Wiesel, survive and address the horrors that they lived with, it is our duty to listen and ensure that never again does someone have to bear witness to atrocities while we turn a blind eye to it, whether it is across the room, across the street or across the world.

-Shannon Lambert

Friday, December 4, 2009


The Plan: Finish my one 30 class at Norquest in May-Aug semester and then go to the U of A into the Bachelor of Arts program for one year and then transition in the Bachelor of Education as an English teacher and possibly an Art teacher as well. This is a plan that I feel 60% sure about. I'm still trying to decide if it's the path I want to take, but the good thing is, if I change my mind, a lot of the programs/degree I am interested in all start with a BA anyways.

The Dilemma: I hate being poor. I grew up poor with plenty of used clothes and kraft dinner. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not above either of those things (still love thrifting) but I enjoy my life. I enjoy going on trips and going to concerts. Me and Dave want to move in to a new apartment for March 1st and I'm thinking Grand Central Manor (what a superfluous name for a building) because it allows pets, has hardwood floors, is downtown and has a 24 hour gym. But I am a bit concerned about the cost. I can afford it right now, working a salaried position, but I know once I start school, I'm going to be working part time. Waitressing, Love Boutique, Barista...who knows! I just fear I'll sign a lease and it will interfere with my plans. Then again, I can delay going to University until the next semester and work everything out by then.

Hmmmm....decisions. Either decision and I'm still happy with my life. I've got a well paying job working in my own office. I have a lovely boyfriend who is absolutely supportive, as I am of him. He's so great. Awesome family. Weirdest cat ever. And a bunch of clothes. Plus I got hit on last night while on the train home haha. Always fun to be reminded that you look good.

I suppose the issue is trying to figure out when and what to sacrifice. Right now, my health is paramount. I've made a mental commitment to improve this and that might mean taking a break between upgrading and University to improve myself first. That's partly why I am willing to pay more for a apartment (oh blissful bliss, a two bedroom apartment) with a 24 hour gym, because with my life and my schedule, 24 hours is necessary. Bonus is that this new building is literally 1 block away from my current school and still right by the train.

I'm sure whatever decision I come to I will be happy with. It's only a matter of weighing my options and considering all the variables in the equation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Defense of Goodness

I am trying to understand why people do the terrible things they do.

A few people have gone out of their way to hurt my sister, and by proxy, hurt me. They betrayed the trust she gave so freely and willingly.

I'm tired of trying to understand it. I'm tired of thinking of ways their life should rust, decay and fade away. There is this great feeling of anger and sorrow rising up in me and venting it just isn't working. I've said what I wanted and yet, here I am...still upset. My hatred only begets more hatred.

I just want to think of all the sweetness, goodness and loveliness in this world and banish the thought of the terrible actions people have taken against the only person in the whole world who will know me like my she does.

I'm not religious. I believe bad things happen to good people and bad people are sometimes rewarded for their questionable actions. But, no matter how hard I try, I can't bring it upon myself to deliver justice that is so rightly hers. I can not feign to understand the rottenness in others, nor can I comprehend the apathy they hold to their own evil.

I can only Hope that one day they realize that they can be so much better then they are. There is reason to believe that they can change, improve themselves. That their selfishness and despicable behavior will soon be a distant memory to my sister.

Should we go through life expecting the worst? Should we be paranoid and question every action, every word, every look. Should I tell my sister to abolish all faith in people's actions?

I simply cannot. Perhaps it is naive. Perhaps only the good can expect the good from others. And we'll be forced to live with the temporary shock and dismay when we find that people are dishonest, disgusting and dishonorable. But better to live life in search of Goodness where only decay resides.

Better to see the fertile soil where others only see dirt. Perhaps we should not invest in the possibility of goodness before it has come of age and come to fruition. It is too hard to tell what path a person may take. Whether they will decide to live rightly and justly or if they will be weak and give into the darkness and in the shadows in themselves.

Perhaps it is a flaw of mine to hold people up the expectations few could reach. I am not looking for purity and flawlessness. Only the strength to be true to themselves and those around them. The brute courage it takes to admit your weakness and deny yourself the chance to give in to it. A person of substance and fortitude.

All I ask is that people give the goodness in them a chance before they find themselves on "a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind."*

*Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne