Posts Tagged "moment"

Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on in our lives. Our children invoke often unexpected memories. November is a strangely nostalgic month for me. It’s the stillness between Halloween and Christmas, and that’s why I like to wait until December first to even start thinking about holiday preparation. This time of year, I’m obsessed with the smell of smoke, and anything that tastes smokey. I love woodsmoke smells and the tastes of smoky coffee, beer, cheese, and Lapsang Souchong tea. It’s a comforting smell during the colder months, but I think a big part of it is the nostalgic reflection I subconsciously feel when I smell it. At our home in Alma, we had a wood stove that Dad would light to keep us warm in the winter. Smelling wood smoke brings me back to cold days at home as a...

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The Gods of Social Anxiety

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

I linger outside the classroom for a few minutes before making my way inside. I haven’t seen my professor yet, so I don’t know if she’s in there or not. I’m apprehensive that I’m going to walk in on someone else’s class, and I’m going to get looked at. Better just to wait. I see another student go in through the opposite door, and I feel instantly vindicated. In I go. Much to my desperate relief, no one looks at me. No one even so much as glances at me–not even the prof. Just the way I like it. I find a seat on the end, so I don’t have to climb over anyone else in case I need to leave, and I sit down. I must be in a class full of keeners, because I’m one of the last to arrive, and there are more than five minutes before the class begins. I take a moment to look over the professor. She’s young–probably no more than five years older than I am–and it strikes me that I am almost certainly the oldest student in class. I likely have more in common with the professor than with my fellow students. Her hair is black, and she has neat bangs in the front. The back of her head is home to a sleek ponytail. At first, she seems almost unfriendly–she doesn’t look at the class and doesn’t smile. Until, that is, she starts to talk about the course and its material. She welcomes us to the class, and suddenly she can’t stop smiling. She almost certainly loves linguistics–the course she’s there to teach. After a few minutes, she introduces herself. She is French, like most of the professors here, and has a beautiful French name to accompany it. I remember thinking that of my Spanish teacher five years prior. Katie Cooper Butland seems clunky and large in comparison. It doesn’t even roll off the tongue when you say it. It gets stuck, like when you try to swallow an almond you haven’t chewed enough. It suddenly hits me that we may have to introduce ourselves, and I’m full of apprehension. I move my hand across the desk, made of shiny plastic resembling plywood, and notice a streak of sweat left from my palm. My heart is racing. Please don’t make us introduce ourselves. What will I say? “I’m Katie. I’m technically a fourth-year student but I’ve actually been in university since fall of 2004. I major in English. I am English first language. This is a French university. What the hell am I even doing? I’m twenty-eight, by the way. I’m married. I’m a home owner. I gave up a full time management position to finish the degree I was supposed to get 5 years ago.” If we’re going to introduce ourselves, can we just say our name and that’s it? Pretty please? The Gods of Social Anxiety have smiled upon me. The prof goes down our names, and then hands out the syllabus. She isn’t going to make us introduce ourselves.  My heart stops racing and I get comfortable in my seat. No one will look at me. I mean, other than for the fact I have blue hair. A cursory glance at the syllabus tells me that we have three exams total and no projects. Perfect. That means I won’t need to work in a group. About halfway through class, I feel that familiar nagging urge. I have to pee. Why now? Come on. I peed before I left the house. I’ve only had a cup of coffee and a glass of juice today. I haven’t even touched the tea in my travel mug. What if I have to leave class? That would be so embarrassing. Leave on the first class? No way. I would look so rude–I bet you anything the professor would remember me as That Girl who Left Class on the First Day. She wouldn’t remember me for my bright blue hair, my orange coat, or my plaid top. Not at all. Hazarding a glance...

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Creating These Random Memories (Anticipation Part 2)

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

This evening, after I was done work, two of my friends picked me up and we got into their car to listen to the much anticipated Random Access Memories, as referenced in the previous post. I looked at them and I said “Guys, this is the last time we will listen to this album for the first time”. The sunroof down and wind whipping past accompanied the warm, late May air. The sky boasted clouds of all different shapes and textures, hanging in the sky against a perfectly sunny backdrop. The bass thumped at a reasonable level behind us as the the album revealed its beautiful secrets to us. I remember the entire journey as we drove and listened. When the final track played, the sun was low in the sky, but not yet to setting. A dull gold-orange glow cascaded through the modest urban forest we passed by, light peeking through the trees and creating long shadows behind. At one point, during the album, the sun had gone behind a cloud, and just as the song reached a pivotal point, it came back out, right through the sunroof. As is common with a group of people who are familiar with each other, we cracked our fair share of jokes (such as when my friend Sally thought the song Fragments of Time was called Fragments of Tim–I laughed for an uncomfortably long time at that). As we listened, the three of us crafted a memory together. We’ll always remember cruising through town, visiting random locations while Random Access Memories played as our soundtrack. From what I’ve heard from the interviews that Daft Punk gave, I can’t help but wonder if that crafting of memories is one of the things that they were hoping to achieve with this...

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Anticipation

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Life in Writing | 1 comment

Anticipation

As I sit here writing, I have the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories, staring back at me from my phone. It is complete and waiting for me to listen to it, but because of a promise made to a good friend, that will wait for now. Instead, I’m thinking about how incredible an album it’s going to be. Even the one song I’ve heard from the album is a whole two minutes longer than its radio edit, so really, it will be almost entirely material I’ve never heard. Have you ever taken a moment, while just about to read the last page of a book or about to watch the last half hour of a film, to think about how amazing that moment you’re about to experience is? Something you didn’t know five minutes ago will be something you know, and always will know, in the moments to come. You will never be able to re-live that moment. You will forever be trying to re-imagine that sense of wonder you feel in the moments leading up to your experience. This is exactly how I feel about Random Access Memories right now. Daft Punk’s Discovery album came at a pivotal time to me: my late teenage years. 12 years ago, Discovery became a very important part of my life, as far as musical influence goes. And now, I get the feeling that Random Access Memories is about to become the same. My friends and I plan on listening to the album in their car tomorrow after I’m done work, cruising with the album playing at full blast. Interestingly enough, interviews with contributors to the album reveal that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo did much the same during the process of putting the album together. I’ll prolong the anticipation for now. At 4 PM tomorrow, I’ll be ready. I have a challenge for you. At the last few pages, or even the last chapter, of whatever book you’re reading now, stop. Think about the journey you’ve taken so far, and what loose ends are left to be tied up. Reflect on the fact that you’re about to learn something new that you’ll never re-experience, and take a moment to recognize how remarkable that feeling is. Then, turn the...

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Stargazing

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

Here we are again. It’s not the ideal stargazing spot, to be honest. Streetlights dot the side of the parking lot and lead into a nearby highway. Even if there were no lights, it’s a busy enough highway that even at this time of night, there are enough cars to brighten the road and distract us from the stars. But where can you go in a city when it’s below freezing in April? So, we sit in the car, staring up at the sky with the faintest hope we might see just one falling meteor. I’m not really sure I care. I look over at you, fiddling with your phone, and you catch me and smile. I could spend my life like this. I don’t care what we’re doing. Even visiting a parking lot at 2 AM feels like an adventure. We move to another location with hope that we will be able to see some falling meteors there, but have no success. It’s just as well-lit there, meaning that even if there were falling meteors, we likely would miss them. We decide to head back home, our adventure short-lived by the lack of unlit places. To some, this might be a failure. We didn’t see any meteors. I didn’t think of it that way, though. On our way back, I start to drift to sleep, lulled by the motion of the car. I nod awake long enough to see you’re giving me that look–the one that you always give me when I randomly fall asleep (this happens more often than I’d like to let on). I’d like nothing more than to freeze time and keep this moment...

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