Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Notebook

In case you haven't noticed, I've been doing a lot of writing lately. Whether it’s company-related, the odd note on facebook, blogging or just changing my FB status, the verbal diarhea is running rampant. I can never spell that word..diarhhea? no...wait, let me check Google. D-I-A-R-R-H-E-A. Just in case you needed the spelling for this awful word. And of course now you have the visual too and are thanking me.

I love publishing Notes on Facebook the most because, depending on the topic, I always get wonderful feedback from fellow "friends". The best part is, I get to hear everyone's story. Another great part, I won't lie, is getting encouragement from friends to "write a column/an article/a novel". That just brings some pink to my white freckly cheeks. I never thought about doing it, the writing thing that is, for anything other than work or self-expression to be honest. And I only write when I have something I feel compelled to say, something I'm passionate about like oh, potty training woes or getting ID'd at the liquor store or most recently, the sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. Or the idiot who engineered the Swedish shopping cart (that post is coming)!

So really, my writing coincides with my ADHD (which my Mom has, in all her great wisdom, diagnosed). How does anyone expect me to write something as complex, time-consuming and focus-demanding as a novel? And you also need imagination for that. I write about my life. I'm all about non-fiction, but in passionate, short outbursts. And then, I move on.

Now my husband, to his credit, has humoured me and my writing fetish. He reads what I write, offers suggestions but generally takes a backseat. He stays "mum" on the issue. Until yesterday when his actions spoke louder than my words ever could.

Yesterday he went to London to have tea and strumpets with the Queen and to discuss the state of the monarchy. No he didn't. He did go to London with a box of kanelbulle (Swedish cinnamon buns) for a meeting with a big company, whose biz dev guy has a love affair with kanelbulle from a specific bakery in Stockholm. So, of course, my charming husband brings the guy a box. It was a fly-in-and-out-the-same-day mission. I waited up. He walked in bearing gifts, mainly for the little man, who was extremely disappointed when he realized the nicely decorated box of kanelbulle we took with us in the car to the airport was NOT for him.

After going through a sweet assortment of toys and shirts, he then presented me with a sturdy baby blue gift bag adorned simply with the words "Smythson of Bond Street Est 1887" in an understated, old-fashioned font. And directly above, four emblems representing the highest offices of the monarchy, “By appointment of his/her majesty...”

The bag, tied together with a black ribbon, was impressive enough. Then a matching blue thick cardboard box inside. And inside THAT, a soft blue cloth bag nestled delicately in tissue paper. And inside that?

A fushia leather bound notebook filled with empty pale blue lined pages. It is gorgeous. It took my breath away.

On the back page of the notebook is The Story of Smythson Featherweight Paper and Bindings. It details the severe craftsmanship that goes into the manufacture of this brand of notebook, including its copyrighted floppy leather exterior (that apparently can be rolled up and squashed and will improve with age) and handmade “stitched spines and gilt-edged pages” (say THAT five times fast). And then there’s the extreme difficulty in creating a watermark on paper this thin. Who knew?

“Smythson Featherweight Books are internationally popular with many distinguished writers, journalists, travellers and explorers. Used by ‘the great and the good’ over many generations, they have been called a ‘secret social passport’. “

They have been used by Queen Victoria, Diana, Princess of Wales, Sigmund Freud and Grace Kelly to name a few.

And now, I have one.

What will fill its pages? I don’t know. I didn’t realize the impact of this notebook until I began to write about it. This gift is so precious. I both fear and revere it. So many thoughts running through my brain. Like, "Crap, I need to work on my penmanship. What if I make a mistake? white-out vs. scribble out. Should I use it for story outlines or the real deal? Where should I put it? Does this mean I'm a 'writer'? Am I worthy of owning such a coveted treasure?

One day I will open it and put pen to paper (yes, he got me two graceful pink pens too). I don’t know when this D-day will come. But what I do know is that I love my husband for this incredible symbol of his faith in me.

With this gesture, he has given me my very own, but not-so-secret, passport. "Permission to officially enter the wonderful world of prose?" "Granted."

And so begins a new chapter, in life and in love.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Me Mondays

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

This will be my first ever Not Me Monday post. This weekend I did not stay up late Friday, Saturday and Sunday night with my husband to catchup on the last season of Big Love. We certainly did not watch three episodes each night. We have better things to do with our time than sit through some mindless television show centered around the lives of a polygamist family. Nope, not us.

There is no way I would make a trip to our local IKEA and pick up 5x what was on my original shopping list. The list I had promised myself I would not, under any circumstances, deviate from. And even if I did, I would most certainly blame IKEA for the overspending. All the fun stuff for kids to do, the perfect setup and display of must-have items. A shopping conspiracy. The Swedish Mob. Damn IKEA.

I did not book tickets for my 3-year old son to go see Walking with Dinosaurs that cost well over $250 for three tickets, just because he loves dinosaurs and I wanted to see the look on his face. I know in my heart of hearts that he would be absolutely petrified and would never understand that the lifelike dinosaurs were not real. I am smart enough to realize the odds of tears vs. cheers are heavily stacked under the tears column and would never take such a stupid risk. And then I most certainly did not discuss the matter with my husband, who did not proceed to reason that our son got scared of a shark he drew with bathtub crayons in the bathtub. And then I did not spend 20 minutes on hold just to cancel the tickets I never should have purchased in the first place. None of it happened because I'm smart and know all about age-appropriate material.

Not me. Not ever.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The faith of religion

I am baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic. Both of my parents can be classified as "devout". I guess I can be classified as "non-practicing". Though Going-to-Church growing up was a cherished part of my life, all of this country hopping and well, general busy-ness, has given me the convenient excuse of missing Sunday morning mass for years. Though whenever I find myself home at the folks’, I look forward to accompanying them to our family church and sharing this special part of my faith with my son.

Recent and not-so-recent events have made me question The Roman Catholic Church, not my religion. Not my faith. The latter, my friends, is unwavering. Whether we're Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant or Catholic, we all believe in a higher being, an afterlife and the promise of a heaven should we choose to live our lives in accordance with a fundamental set of rules. It's only these rules that distinguish one religion from another. I won't go into the wars raged over religious supremacy, the innocent lives lost, etc. All seemingly a product of, "My religion trumps yours".

I think religion helps us feel a sense of belonging. It forms communities centered around these common principles and gives us a network of support, channelling our universal faith.

We look to our religious leaders for guidance, understanding and knowledge where our faith is concerned. We trust them, we bow to them, we honour them as holier than ourselves. They set themselves apart as examples of what a true INSERT RELIGION follower should be.

And what, my dear faithful friends, happens when these leaders fall from their thrones, prove themselves to be sinners (and worse so) than the flocks they claim to shepherd? What if instead of protecting their lambs, they prey on them and victimize them? What then becomes of our faith in being a Roman Catholic or INSERT RELIGION?

Well when I read the news today, again, of yet another Catholic priest accused of pedophilia, I could no longer ignore the impact it has on MY religion. Because this particular priest was a Bishop (a high post in the Catholic Church) and one who worked tirelessly to bring fellow priests to justice for their crimes. He was an authority on the subject, an advocate and it turns out, a likely wolf in sheep's clothing. Caught at a border crossing with child pornography on his laptop.

There is research out there that suggests this is no more prevalent in the Catholic church than in other religions..the abuse of power by church officials in such a horrible way. But with all the media focused in on "my" church, it certainly casts doubt on the research, for me anyway. Does the celibacy required by Catholic priests breed this kind of behaviour? Some argue it does. More research suggests it doesn't. One also has to wonder if the Catholic church is a safe haven, a breeding ground and/or a hideout for the lowest forms of life that walk among us, the pedophiles.

Would relaxing the celibacy law prevent these monsters from penetrating our institution? Is that the answer? Sure you could say that the few bad seeds taint the entire population. And yes, I'm positive there are some wonderful priests ministering. But the increasing number of bad seeds sprouting is killing the garden.

I know fellow Catholics who have stopped going to church, stopped supporting their churches with financial contributions and because of this widespread disease have fled to other religions.

Where does that leave me? I really don't know. But what I do know is that my church is not doing enough. Their reputation for sweeping cases under the rug, providing counselling to these molesters and simply transferring them to other institutions and/or forcing them into retirement as opposed to bringing them to justice is dumbfounding, disappointing and disheartening.

My trust in my church has been broken and it would take a miracle to re-establish the bond. We believe in miracles. We believe Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross and was resurrected. I'm waiting for a miracle. And in the meantime, I'll continue to believe in Him, pray with my child and worship with my family.

In the end, I believe we all answer to “God” and as for the Catholic Church, well they have an awful lot to answer for.