Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can't Prove it By the Poppies

Here it is, mid-November, but my front garden is seemingly unaware of the fact. These pictures were taken about a half-hour ago.





This is my first year growing poppies and I am utterly charmed by how fragile they appear, yet how hardy they actually are. Every night I sit out on the front stoop for a bit, taking in the air and clearing my head before turning in for the night. There have been nights when the grass was crispy and a cautious poke at the poppy petals revealed them to be frozen solid; as delicate (I would imagine) as a glass potato chip. However, the morning dawns and they raise their cheery little heads and sing once more.

Thank you, God, for poppies. I hope to grow up to be one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Love Thy Neighbor

My friend Arzu wrote a really interesting post today. My post is in response to her musings... you should go over and read it, otherwise this post will seem pretty random.

I'm not Christian... I used to be but there were too many loose ends that didn't make sense to me. I don't really know what I am at the moment; I believe God exists in one form or another but I really don't think It cares about us on a personal level.

This being said, I don't think that lessens our calling to care for one another. In the end, God is intangible; we are all we have. I think our highest purposes are found in helping others, in doing what we can to ameliorate someone else's pain.

I also know that I fall short of that standard. A friend, a neighbor recently suffered a death in the family. I found out immediately but could not bring myself to cross the street to console her or to offer my apologies. I was awkward and helpless when it came to facing death in my own family when my father died a couple of years back; I was awkward and helpless when it came to dealing with her loss. Even though I loved her and knew that my silence was hurting her, I could not go over.

I'd like to think that I'd be there if a friend needed me, but in reality, I'd probably be "too busy", or help out but feel put-upon and inconvenienced at the same time. How to reach the selfless spirit that Arzu's friend S demonstrated when the neighbor he barely knew requested his help?

I also know that if the shoe were on the other foot, I would suffer alone and in silence rather than ask anyone for help, thereby inconveniencing them.

I love the idea, the ideal, of community... where we all take care of each other. It seems like such an impossible goal, though. How do we get there from here?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In My Brother's Shadow

As a child, I lived under different rules than my older brother. Jim was allowed freedoms I never enjoyed; stayed out late with his friends, went places I wasn't allowed to go, did things I wasn't allowed to do. At the time, I chalked it up to my parents learning from their mistakes; my brother was permitted much and was a constant social, legal and academic disaster; the way I saw it, they would never allow me the latitude to make the same mistakes. I thought it rather unfair, as I was a very different person than my brother, but of course completely at the mercy of my parents until I moved out from under their control at 17.

I developed into a strongly responsible and motivated woman, while my brother smoked dope with his friends and lived at home with my parents until his early 30's. I managed a store and joined the Army while he worked as a seasonal labourer in silvaculture and drew unemployment all winter. He has been, until very recently, purposeless and without ambition.

It was within the last decade that I realized that I was, and would always be, second best. No matter what I did, he would always come first to them. My victories, my medals, my awards, my commendations would be politely applauded and then put underneath the scanty pile of his achievements. Every success I have, every mountain I climb, I call up my mother, excited to tell her, thinking that maybe at last I will have won her affections. I tell her and she makes the appropriate happy noises, and then tells me that she has to go because she's expecting my brother to come by. She sees him every day but his visits always trump our phone calls.

I know that there's absolutely nothing I can do to change the dynamics in this relationship but it pisses me off and breaks my heart every time I get shelved for him. It probably always will.

9 Weeks Down, 6 To Go

I'm closer now to the end of the semester than the beginning. It's been a rough go; two profs are giving us massive assignments on the assumption that a) we know more than we do; and b) we have all the time in the world to work on them. Either one of those assignments was enough to make me weep, and trying to excel at both at the same time had me considering dropping a course. All I can say is that I'm glad the Student Success Specialist took the week off that she did, because I'd be down a course right now.

Both of the assignments are finished, one to perfection, the other a bit short of that mark, and breathing room has been gained. I think I can make it to the end now with a full course-load intact.

I also get the sneaking suspicion that this is like the punchline from that old adage "if you're not scared you're not paying attention." There's another (group) assignment on the go now, which I think will get quite nasty towards due date. We'll see.

I accepted an offer for my first co-op work term. I had originally thought that working for RIM might be my optimal co-op job, until I saw the other placement. As sexy and cool and hip as RIM is, I think this tops it (inasmuch as it is possible for a Federal Government department to be sexy, cool and hip.) I applied on Monday, was told on Tuesday that I had an interview on Thursday at 1330, and I had been offered and accepted the job by 1600 Thurs. These people waste no time.

It will be a challenging job, no doubt;I'll be doing largely UNIX based coding, which I am good at but by no means an expert. I feel that it will benefit my career arc as a whole to sharpen these skills, so I'm up for the challenge. I'm really quite excited about working there for my first term, and I think I have something else interesting nailed down for the second work term.

I usually have a lab on Wednesdays, but it's in Web Programming, and our Prof has switched to electronic assignments rather than checking them in lab. This means that I essentially have the day off... okay, not off, exactly. It means that I can do schoolwork at home in my PJ's. (yay!)

Off to make a pot of tea and plow through a few hours of coding goodness. I hope November's treating you well thus far.