Recent exploits.

I am now a badass new god re: snowboarding. Yesterday I conquered all of my childhood demons associated with double black diamond runs from when I was growing up here and went down the ones that scared me the most. And I OWNED it. I was even taking jumps (and subsequently falling spectacularly, giving myself a touch of the whiplash BUT IT WAS ALL WORTHH IT.) I regret nothing. I had the best time yesterday and I am excited that we are finally getting fresh, regular dumps of snow to keep the hill getting better and better and helping me to feel like a HERO.

My health seems to either be deteriorating very slowly or I am just now existing in a state of being constantly just a little bit out of it. I don’t know what to attribute this to. I know my skin is super dry and I’m finding it difficult to stay hydrated. I think perhaps I am a little bit iron deficient? It’s the only thing I can think of. I am going to try to find an iron supplement to experiment.  Either that or my body is just adapting poorly to being in a dry climate again.

My obsession with Beyoncé continues with no end in sight.

I found a new game on my 3DS that I think I might like even more than Pokemon (stress on the might.) FIRE EMBLEM: AWAKENING. MERLIN’S BEARD, you guys. You can have your characters FALL IN LOVE and get MARRIED and have BABIES and then you can use those babies to help you save the WORLD. The plot has already had me crying in several places.  I’m about halfway through and I am obsessed with leveling up all of my babies and honing their skillsets and wowowow, I need to take a break from it probably.

My progress with learning that requires a computer to do it is going at a snail’s pace right now, mostly because the sound of my ageing computer fan is driving me bananas.  I even went so far as to order a new one from the good people at eBay, but when it arrived in the mail and I had disassembled my entire MacBook and managed to remove the fan without severing any wires, I tried placing the new one in and realized it was slightly too big.  ALAS FOR ME.  So I am now in the process of hunting another one down, but my computer was created in the bizarre void between the late 2006 models and the 2008 models, so mine falls under the category of ‘mid-2007′ instead of ‘late 2006/2007′ and it is all very complicated.

Today is a day that I begin my fitness journey ANEW.  I have acquired P90X 3 and I am going to attack the Lean schedule on it, because I don’t yet have resistance bands as they are traveling to me in the post and I shall probably be getting them just in time for week seven when I actually need them.  I don’t care what anybody says, I love Tony Horton. Maybe I’m genetically predisposed to because my dad shares this love, and sometimes we just text back and forth for periods of time discussing his many merits and quoting the hilarious things he says during the videos.  It’s the reason why I don’t do any other at-home fitness regimes. None of the other trainers are Tony.  Also I am far more likely to commit to a 3 month shindig if it’s only for half an hour a day.  I know I can commit to it because I did a month of P90x (which was all I wanted to do at the time,) and then the 30 Day Shred with my girl Jillian a few years later, so it’s time to just step up and do 3 months.  I am going to be the most agile ninja cat of life.  That is my goal for my fitness: Agile ninja cat.

I have this pen and notebook sitting beside me right now because I just have this unshakeable urge to take notes on something.  It’s the one thing that hasn’t left me since I graduated. I love note-taking.  I wish my computer didn’t sound like an angry lawnmower so that I could just watch a lecture about SOMETHING, ANYTHING, just so I could take notes.

Maybe I will go and do some computer fan research now so that I can help that particular goal along.

Yoncé all in this blog like ichor.

I have never been much of a Beyoncé fan.  I mean, sure I learned every move to the Single Ladies video, but I have always been a sucker for a good music video.  I learned most of the dance moves from JBieb’s Somebody to Love, too, so that’s about how selective I am..which is not saying much.  Ahem.

DrunkInLoveMoving on! December 13th pretty much changed the whole music world.  I mean, maybe not, but it did for me, because I decidedly became a Beyoncé fan who like, cares about her life and stuff now.  I have just never found her to be incredibly relatable.  But that was Beyfore.  I like to think of myself as someone who cares about music and somewhat pays attention to the direction popular music is heading, where people get their influences from, producers who I admire, etc., and so when I found out that Beyoncé had released an album that she managed to keep secret, and not only that but she had seventeen music videos coming out alongside it that nobody ever found out about, I was more or less astonished.  I gave all of the fucks. ALL OF THEM.

So I acquired it and I’ve now watched the entire thing sequentially something like thricefold now and I vaguely suspect that listening to it while snowboarding has upped my riding sass something like 92%.  I went down a run that normally scares the crap out of me but I was like “Uh-uh babay, Bey and I got this,” complete with finger-wagging motions and me telling the mountain to respect that, bow down.  You know how it goes. BeyonceMine01

What I love so much about this album is the fact that it’s such an involved experience where you can totally immerse yourself in the album and experience it the way that she meant for us to.  Sure, all of the songs are great on their own, but with pop music these days I find that there is such little cohesiveness to an album.  This is like an epic story of growth and love and sex and loss and motherhood and just everything that makes up a woman going through an enormous transition period.  The album is an emotional journey and the fact that the music videos shot in public (like XO and No Angel) they are just so candid and, for lack of a better word, real.  You can see her fantasies, her realities, her insecurities, all laid bare for her fans.  She’s never done anything like that before, and I think that by reminding us that she is a human who undergoes human things she has made her music so much more accessible.  I love that she’s made the meaning of each song so apparent and available to the viewer.  And I love the concept of the visual album for all of those reasons.  I really think that pop artists could learn a thing or two from this.  I hope that this spurs on a new way of revealing and sharing music, when it’s not all about the single and the stand-alone songs, but more of an involved experience for artist and fan alike.  I humbly bow down to Queen Bey.  (If I did have to pick a favourite song, though, I think it would be Mine.  I am absolutely in love with the video for reasons I can’t fully explain.  I think I’ve watched it close to seventeen times now.)BeyonceBowDownBitches

 

What happens when you move back to your hometown in your twenties.

First thing’s first: you know what the world doesn’t have enough of anymore? Epistolary novels. Why is that?  Are they just not an acceptable thing in this modern and technological era? Unacceptable! So, recently I moved back to my hometown (see also: The Old Country)  in the interior of British Columbia because I wanted to spend a wholesome winter away from the city and surrounded by places I love and people who smile and strike up a conversation with me just because it would be weird not to.  Even though I said I was through with all things housekeeping-related, I’ve found myself working in that job again simply because it provides me with free and unlimited access to the ski hill.  Oh yes, snowboarding is another reason why I’m back.  Snowboarding through pristine, fluffy powder that doesn’t weigh you down because it isn’t the heavy and wet snow of the coast.  Also, the most you have to wait in line at the chair lifts is something like one minute.  And that is a busy, busy day if you have to wait that long. Red Mountain, B.C.’s best-kept secret.  Actually, I suppose it’s no longer much of a secret, but it’s just so much of a faf to get out here for people who don’t live in the area that most people don’t bother.  No matter, moar snow for me! Things I’ve learned since returning to the Old Country after having left when I was a mere fifteen-year-old:

  • People remember me, I’m recognized even by the post office proprietor who remembered my family’s post office box number from years past.
  • You actually speak to the people waiting at bus stops with you instead of idling around and pretending like they don’t exist.
  • My skin hates it here; creature hands are back in full effect, my lips are chapped and cracked, and I generally feel like a neglected plant.  I have been trying to down as much water as I can handle per day to combat this new and dry climate I have thrown myself into, I’ve taken to blaming any and all ailments “on the altitude,” which I am not even sure is a thing, and I don’t leave the house without intensive care lip balm and also hand cream.  I am using hand cream meant for COW UDDERS. That is how dire my situation is.
  • Nothing is open after 9pm or on Sundays.  This is probably what holds the most novelty to me, because I have been a city dweller for so long now that I can’t fathom not being able to consume something the minute I think to acquire it.  Now I actually have to wait, sometimes a whole day.  It’s basically unheard of.

Lately I’ve been feeling some sort of arbitrary pressure to have my life sorted.  I’m not sure if it’s the aftermath of the holidays where I end up spending pointless hours defending my Arts degree to my parents’ friends.  I think the fact that I’m working another housekeeping job when I told myself I was over it is contributing.  About a week ago I watched a TED talk (one of the first I’ve ever watched,) and Alain de Botton addressed the common perception of what it means to be “successful,” and offered up an alternative.  It really struck a chord with me, especially after returning to the suburbs for a few weeks and spending time around people who only seem to want to talk about the Things They Have or the Things They Are Going to Get or What They Bought For Their Kids.  So many of these metropolitan adult gatherings end up being a huge discussion about all the material possessions they’ve acquired due to their career success, and how success is so often measured by the material things you have to show for it. It is fascinating for me, having grown up in this small town where my parents were pretty well-respected and successful because of my dad’s career, only to move to the city where people who didn’t work as hard or go to school for as long are making ten times the amount my dad does, often times because they knew the right people at the right time.  And that’s just life, but this TED talk resonated with me because I often feel like I have to defend my choice to get a liberal arts degree because how on earth would an arts degree get me a good, well-paying job that would define my worth as a person? How will I acquire the things I need to show that I am a successful person if I don’t have that well-paying job?  I basically have a well-rehearsed homily that I deliver on-demand.  I talk about how it’s not about the content, how it’s about the critical-thinking and communication skills you learn during the four years you apply to something you care about.  How you show that you can see a long, often arduous process through until the end and have something to show for it afterwards.  I think there have been thousands of articles ad nauseam written on Baby Boomers vs. Generation X vs. my own Generation Y and how we’re all a bunch of self-entitled whiners who refuse to work hard for anything or think practically about careers, so I’m not going to go down that particular rabbit hole. I digress!  What I really took away from Alain de Botton’s lecture was that in order to live my best life, being successful is important, but according to my own definition of success.  Moving away from a metropolitan area is one of the best experiences I have given myself in my adult life, whether it’s returning to a small town or going so far as to leave civilization completely and work in the Wilderness.  I feel more in touch with my own values when I’m not constantly being bombarded by the Things I Can Have and I feel less pressure to have a high paying job that I can brag about to my peers right away.  Sure, I still aspire to these things, but in my own time and in a field I’m sure that I want to participate in.  For me, right now, so long as I am making ends meet, doing activities that make me feel fulfilled, and spending time with people I love and care about, I feel like a pretty successful person INDEED. On that note (GOOD LORD THIS IS A HUGE POST,) I want to briefly check in with That List that I’m working on to develop skills that I would like to have when I do enter the Career World.  Naturally I chose the thing that would be the most fun to learn first, and that is GIF MAKIN’.  Next up is Excel.  I bought Gif Brewery from the app store and went to town on my copy of Beyoncé’s visual album.  Speaking of which, I have a whole tributary post in the works for Queen Bey, so I will just leave you with this:

*bows down*

*bows down*

..and be on my merry way.

I hereby allow BuzzFeed to dictate my life for the next year.

I just read this article on BuzzFeed and I am now positively humming with excitement over the kinds of things I want to learn this year.  So long as I don’t murder my computer.  I have a seven year old MacBook of the plastic and also white variety and in all my years of operating computers I have never heard sounds like the ones mine is currently producing.  I know it’s because the fan is just shot to hell, but I am determined to stick it out until the spring when the government decides that I’m poor enough to receive money back from them and put it towards acquiring a beauteous piece of majestic Apple craftsmanship.

Anyways, I don’t even know which order I want to learn all these skills in.  I have a few things that I already know how to do on this list, like knitting (sort of,) and I’ve taken a few psych courses in my day, but I really really find this entire list of things to be so valuable.  I think learning how to code would be an excellent goal for me because I used to love dabbling in HTML back in my Neopian days of making pet pages for my virtual online pets (that I kept until I was something like..well, 24, let’s be real they are still there I just checked on them a few weeks ago.)  I think that over the course of this year I will keep checking in with this list of things I’m working on in order to make myself more accountable for the things I want to learn.  So why not start with the list:

1. Become awesome at excel

2. Learn how to code

3. Make a dynamic website

4. Learn how to make a mobile game

5. Start reading faster

6. Learn a language

7. Pickle your own vegetables

8. Improve your public speaking skills 

9. Get a basic handle of statistics

10. Understand basic psychology

11. Make your own music

12. Learn to negotiate

13. Stop hating math

14. Start drawing

15. Make your own animated GIF

16. Appreciate jazz

17. Write well (can you ever really cross this off a list? I feel like I will always be working to achieve this.)

 18. Get better at using Photoshop

19. Take decent pictures

20. Learn to knit

21. Get started with investing in stocks

22. Clean your house in a short amount of time

23. Start practicing yoga

24. Tie your shoelaces more efficiently (winning.)

Okay so I feel really excited about this but I can’t tell if it’s because I’m actually excited or because I’ve had so much coffee this morning.  I think a good way for me to feel motivated about writing in this space would be to follow my journey through the next year over these skills that I want to learn.  Maybe I’ll do weekly check-ins or something, that’s a nice thought.  WELL HERE WE GO 2014 LET’S LEARN SOME FREE COMPUTER SKILLZ.

Literary Adventures: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

HAPPY NEW YEAR, WORLD OF MINE.  Yes, how presumptuous I must be, calling the world my own, but in fact I do have my own world that currently consists of me, this window with snow falling outside, and the coffee running through my veins just like Johnny Burns in Deadwood when he’s trying to cheer up the recently-assbeat Dan by pretending like he’s had too much coffee anyways and that his feet are all jittery like there is some banjo music playing and he’s stomping to it.  Love those two. Love Deadwood.

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Seriously, I mean, the book is rather soap opera-esque anyways but does it have to reflect so obviously in the cover?!

So 2014 is my year to write more book reviews, I’ve just decided.  I’m never going to get anywhere with this writing thing that I love to do so much if I don’t write anything.  I also challenged myself to read 35 books on Goodreads this year, and am thusly prepared to receive constant reprimand from this website as I undoubtedly fall behind.  However! I read something like 28 this year, much to Goodreads’ chagrin, and so I think 35 is just perfectly manageable.  Especially now that I have fallen tremendously in love with my Kindle.  It only took about eight months.  I think the main argument people have against getting an e-reader is this belief that once they acquire one they will NEVER GET TO READ ANOTHER REAL BOOK AGAIN.  As if you have to choose FOREVER that this is the way you want to experience reading.  Ludicrous! I say.  What I particularly love about my Kindle is that I can read YAF anywhere I want without worrying about what the people around me are thinking when they witness book covers like this:

That being said, I absolutely LOVE this stupid series and I can’t explain it so I won’t.

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Ugh, all of my heartstrings.

Okay, so the book I actually want to talk about right now is The Fault in Our Stars by one of my internet crushes, John Green.  I actually had no idea that he was an author, I had only ever known him from my religious fangirling of Crash Course: World History and I was positively tickled to find out he was also the creator of literary adventures.  I’ll be real, I LOVED this book.  I read it in something like two days, and 71% of the way through I was already crying and only paused when I was laughing at John Green’s quirky and adorable narrative.  I often find male authors have a tricky time capturing the voice of a teenage girl, but John Green (I have to say his whole name I just can’t call him one of them I JUST CAN’T) did an incredibly adequate job.

I loved Hazel and Augustus’ quirky not-romance that became a romance.  I loved that the word ‘condomy’ was a thing, I love the way he capitalizes Things of Importance (because I do the same thing,) and I loved the way Augustus spoke and Hazel thought.  I found the overall plot line to be kind of predictable, but I didn’t care because sometimes I just want to pick a book that I know will give me a good cry which will lead to an overall sense of catharsis.  I loved everything that involved Peter Van Houten, I thought that although the book dealt with some serious and heartbreaking themes, it wasn’t overly melodramatic (especially because the book I read before this one is pictured above..the contrast was quite stark.)

This is not an objective book review, I am so biased because I have such immense soul-shattering love for John Green that I just can’t find any fault in it whatsoever.  I bought this book for my twelve year old sister for Christmas and I sure hope she likes it as much as I did.  I feel like if I read this when I was ten years younger it would have had a years-long effect on me.

My next book is an epic fantasy novel by Master of Flowerfire, Guy Gavriel Kay.  Tigana, here I come.

Social Experiments in the Middle of the Woods

Well, I’ve been working more or less alone for the better part of a month now.  The thing about seasonal jobs is that when you are here for the longest amount of time, people leave and then you find yourself seeing less and less people each day around a once-bustling property.  Yesterday I didn’t see a living soul until 5 o’clock, and when I did I was startled beyond reason.  I’ve been spending my time cleaning empty, cold cabins by delving into the psyches of French Montana and Miley Cyrus via their recent musical releases.  Fascinating, really.

Part of my duties as the lone housekeeper around this now-ghost town is waging all-out war against mice.  I am the Lord Commander of the Laundry Room and everything beyond the safe threshold of my door is a land infested with those vermin. The other day when I was cleaning a guest cottage I went to pour out some tea that had been left in a teapot, only to be met with the cold, dead eyes of one that had drowned when it was simply looking for a nice spot of tea to warm its mousey heart. I thought to myself ‘My, aren’t there a lot of tea bags in this tea–OH MY GOD.’  Yuckers. Also, the lid was on, meaning it would’ve had to go through an extraordinary amount of effort to scale the porcelain sides and crawl in through the spout. Poor dear.

Whenever I do catch a mouse in a trap I go through an enormous amount of ceremony to give it an epic send-off into the Afterlife. Usually this includes playing the Circle of Life rather loudly, and choreographing a series of movements in order to retrieve the trap, gingerly carry it outside, and then release the body with a sweeping arc of my arm just as the chorus is bellowing majestically into the Nature and the mouse goes flying off, forever free.

Unfortunately, when your movements are so calculated and the presence of dead mice in your mouse trap is so frequent, this can result in a pile of mouse corpses a few feet from your front door, as I later learned.

Because there is no one around to cause me to censor any of my behaviour ever, I’ve taken to prancing around in my down jacket that matches my bright blue spandex pants and yelling rap lyrics as loud as I can manage in every building imaginable.  I’ve made every staircase my personal stage, I’ve listened to ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Do What U Want’ more times than I care to admit, and when I’m alone in the laundry room I journey to 20th century England and keep up with my good friends the Crawleys.  Downton, captivator of my heart.

Today is my final day of work here, and it is insane to think that eight months have already gone by. I will be returning to the Old Country this winter, back to the land of the ice and snow, and it will be decidedly epic.

Besotted with History: Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus ie. The Batman of the Black Sea

I have had my fair share of crushes on historical figures, and having attraction towards someone who died thousands of years ago makes me feel almost as strange as the crush I used to have on the fox that played Robin Hood in the animated Disney movie.  That being said, two of these figures who you’ve probably never heard about are Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus, and Alcibiades, and they are two of the masters of my heart.  Today I’m going to start with Mithridates VI.  He was basically the Batman of the ancient world.

This veritable lord of bad-assery was born in 134 BCE under the most auspicious sign of a comet blazing forth from the heavens, signalling that he had decided to grace the universe with his majestic presence and become the prophetic saviour king of the East.  When he was a baby his cradle was supposedly struck by lightning, forever leaving a scar in the shape of a diadem on this paradox of baby-ness and power’s forehead.  He was Harry Potter thousands of years before Harry Potter (and Rome was Voldemort.)

In his family’s court in Sinope, Mithridates quickly learned that assassination by poisoning was not an uncommon method of monarchical succession, and in his mind the only way to defeat the odds was to defeat poison itself.  He decided, because he was Mithridates and he could, that he would just become immune to every poison ever.  And he basically achieved this, because over his lifetime there were several attempts to assassinate him using this method and he lived through them all.  You remember how in the Princess Bride the Dread Pirate Roberts uses iocane powder in order to defeat Vizzini in their battle of wits?  Mithridates was like that, except for all of the poisons.

BatmanMithridates

“Bitches ain’t stuntin’ in the cold like me.” – Mithridates VI

It became imperative to him to create a self-image that he was virtually indestructible so that Rome would quake with fear any time they pictured his exotic and handsome face.  It probably looked something like this representation I have provided for your convenience.

After his mother tried to kill him, Mithridates peaced out into the wilderness for seven years wherein he acquired a sort of Spartan-inspired outdoor education.  You know, dancing around in circles with wolves, snacking on poisonous hemlock, the like.  He also decided to make the most out of his time as an exile by creating a universal antidote to all poisons, which became known as Mithridatium.  There is evidence of this antidote being used all the way up to Elizabethan times; it was essentially the ancestor to the world’s first multivitamin.  Unfortunately, this king of poison and toxicology’s recipe for immortality was lost to the mists of time but is said to have included 54 ingredients containing everything from honey and cardamom to curdled milk and beaver testicle musk. Yum.

He proved to be one of the most resilient and elusive foes Rome ever encountered, and out-witted them at every turn for the better part of his life.   In 88 BCE, in the Asiatic Vespers Incident, he somehow orchestrated a massive slaughter of Roman and Italian citizens throughout Anatolia.  It remains uncertain to this day how he managed to have that kind of widespread communication and ability to plan the massacre almost down to the minute, virtually wiping out the Roman presence around the Black Sea.  Mystery! Intrigue!  Mithridates had it all.

He thwarted Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey throughout three Mithridatic Wars, acquiring babes and money at every turn.  He had six wives over the course of his long life, and the last was the concubine-turned-Queen Hypsicratea.   She was basically like one of the mythological leopard onesie-wearing Amazons come to life.  She was rumoured to be a polyglot like Mithridates (who could speak all twenty-two languages of the colonies he governed,) skilled in the deadly arts of killing bitches from atop a horse, and an all-around babe.  Meowza.

One time, this chump sucka Manius Aquilius decided to mess with our main man and told him to back outta Cappadocia.  Mithridates, who wasn’t quite ready to bust out the big guns on Rome at this point, peacefully agrees and withdraws his army.  Aquilius proceeds to tamper with Mithridates’ Black Sea Kingdom, and in a vengeance act that would prelude Khal Drogo’s treatment of Viserys Targaryen, melts down a cauldron of his vast riches in a public ceremony and pours the molten gold down Aquilius’ throat.  REAL TALK.  That’s what Mithridates calls honeymoon entertainment, as he was in the process of celebrating his marriage to one of the many babes he acquired during his lifetime, Monime.

Alas, despite all of his attempts to remain immortal and in power, Rome eventually did what Rome does when it assembles its war machine: destroy everything in sight.  Mithridates, sold out by his son to the Romans, tried to kill himself with the most lethal dose of poison he had in order to avoid being humiliated and paraded around like a show pony to the Roman people in another Triumph.  Unfortunately, his lifelong goal of becoming immune to every poison ever worked a little too well, and the suicide pact he made with this two daughters was successful for them, but there was not enough poison left to kill our hero.  He eventually had to turn to his faithful guard Bituitus to do the honours, because he was too weak to stab himself.   Bituitus, too floored by his sire’s “majestic countenance,” couldn’t do it at first, but eventually did the king in.  In a way, his final act was another great big UP YOURS to the Romans, as he denied Pompey the joys of dragging him back to Rome in chains.   Instead, he got to ride into the night lands and wait for his beloved concubine warrior queen to join him years later.

 

Sources:

Appian. The Mithridatic Wars. 

Duggan, Alfred. 1959. King of Pontus: The Life of Mithridates Eupator. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc.

Mayor, Adrienne. 2010. The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithridates. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

McGing, B.G. 1986. The Foreign Policy of Mithridates VI Eupator King of Pontus. Leiden: E.J Brill.