• Category Archives Nostalgia
  • A Birthday and a Time Capsule

    Ten years ago, a 16-year-old me decided to put together a time capsule.

    Time Capsule

    I held on to it all this time, through five moves, and never lost or got rid of it. For ten years, I never opened it, though the stickers sealing it closed had peeled away from the box within the first year, clinging only to the lid. It was important to 16-year-old me, so I did as I promised her: I neither lost it nor peeked at it.

    Today, 26-year-old me opened the box, and this is what came out:

    Time Capsule: Opened!

    It was incredible to see what I’d thought was important enough to put away, and to realize that the one thing I thought I remembered putting in there wasn’t in there at all. (Apparently I’d changed my mind about the Teepee-shaped clay incense burner.)

    There were, of course, a few trinkets:


    I’ve had that ‘E’ for as long as I can remember. When I put it in that box, it stood for ‘Emily’. Now, of course, it stands for ‘Eric’, though I couldn’t have known that then.

    All I really remember about that elephant is that it was very important to me. As for where it came from or who gave it to me, I have no idea any more.

    I made the little beaded sandal and ball, which means this was after I’d left Girl Guides for Junior Achievement.

    My love of pens and ink even then should have been an indication that I would become a writer, but I was still convinced that I would be an Artist; painting, drawing, or something visual were the only options I saw for myself back then.

    In fact, I’d left a small sketch book of mine to prove it:

    Two Houses and a Tree
    An Animated Still Life
    A Celtic Knot Griffin

    There were several more, of course, but that would have been far too many for one post. I’d wondered where some of these had gotten to, actually. I knew I had drawn more Celtic knot pictures than I could find in my portfolios!

    A few other creations of mine made it into the time capsule:

    Tissue Paper Flowers and Calligraphy

    Again, how did I not know I was a writer? The ‘E’, of course, stood for myself. I’m not sure if the ‘A’ was just because it was the first letter of the alphabet, or if it stood for someone else… and I’m hesitant to speculate as that could embarrass a few people.

    I’d actually forgotten that I used to make tissue-paper flowers, which is a bit impressive since I used to make a lot of them.

    And finally, I’d included a picture of myself:


    I had a hard time deciding how to title this one, actually. I was still her, in a way, but there’s a good reason a lot of these reflections include the words: ‘I’d forgotten’ or ‘I don’t remember’. I was 16. That’s a hard age for anyone, but I had the extra confusion of suspecting that puberty wasn’t going the way I expected, but having no idea why that was or how to express that feeling. I checked out a bit, emotionally. I dealt with it by not dealing with it–or much of anything else.

    In the end though, if I were to go back ten years and ask myself my name, I would have responded, “Emily.” As such, this is, in fact, a picture of her.

    After looking back, it’s time for me to look forward. I will make another time capsule (but this time I’ll include a letter so I know what I was thinking) and look ahead at the next ten years. Here’s to the 36-year-old me, whoever he may be!

  • Work-Life Balance and the Holidays

    Wow, but it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, hasn’t it? Apparently I haven’t been doing so well on the work-life balance thing lately, but I’m back, and ready to rock this cyber party! And what better way to do this than to celebrate the various joys and challenges of family visits over the Christmas holidays.

    Since my parents split up and my Dad moved to Ottawa oh, twelve years ago, I’ve spent most Christmases with my Mom and her side of the family at my Grandma’s house in Edmonton. These were usually squeezed in around my school or retail schedule, with many a drive up from Calgary in the dark on Christmas Eve. This year however, I decided to do something different. I decided that it was high time I visit my Dad.

    Between a far more flexible work schedule in construction and a desire to make the most of my trip across the country, I figured two weeks would be ideal. Not only that, but I could keep working on my writing and graphics work at the same time, so there was no reason for that part of my life to slow down, right?

    Apparently visiting people actually takes time out of the day. If I actually want to talk to people, catch up on everything and enjoy each other’s company, I can’t go straight from my bed to my computer, work for a few hours and emerge some time in the early afternoon like I can at home. Who knew?

    On the other hand, it turns out there’s only so long I can ignore my work before going completely batty. As much as I want to visit and do and explore, two weeks solid would be too much. Even running at about half the pace my Step-Mom has tried to set in terms of hikes, ski-trips and museums, at a week and a half I’m ready to crawl into the computer and hide from direct human contact for a while. It’s been good, every minute has been a joy, but I’m exhausted. I need some work time so I can recover from my vacation.

    On the whole however, I think the balance has been pretty good. I had to shift some priorities, but I got my visiting in, my critiques done for my critique group and even managed to meet up with said group over Skype, I got some mock-ups sent to a graphic design client, and made some tourist-y excursions in the area to round it all out. When I fly back home, I expect it will be with a mix of relief at returning to a familiar setting and routine, and sadness at leaving loved ones behind once more.

    I’m excited to get the momentum going on my work again, to put plans and ideas that have been gestating these past few months into action. I’m ready to face the New Year with verve and vigour, to make 2012 The Year Where Things Happen. I’m ready to make my dreams a reality.

    I’m ready to go home, but I’m glad for the chance to visit and to reconnect with family.

    And now, because it wouldn’t be a proper holiday greeting without pictures no one else is interested in, here are some obligatory family photos:

    At the abandoned carbide factory in Gatineau Park.
    Dad and Step-Mom, Shawna, on Christmas Eve.
    Step-Sister, Collette, decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.
    Sasha, Collette's university room mate, putting the finishing touch on the tree.
    Collette, Shawna, and Sasha with Irish coffees on Christmas morning.
    Obligatory while-taking-a-photo photo.

  • Life, The Universe, and Douglas Adams

    Long before I discovered Neil Gaiman, before Ray Bradbury even, there was Douglas Adams.

    I remember when I was a child, my mom would take us to the library. I remember the brightly coloured covers, the way four books could be combined, like a puzzle, to complete the pictures. I remember sitting with her as she read to me from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    I also remember at one point looking up at her and saying that when I grew up, I wanted to be drunk like Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox, but what did I know? He made it sound really fun. My mom of course, claims not to remember me saying this at all.

    The point is, I grew up with Douglas Adams as a huge influence in my life. Not only did I read the whole five part trilogy and try my hand at the computer game, my dad taped the BBC mini-series for me (this was in the days before PVR’s, people. Before DVD’s, even!) Between the questionable quality of the cassette tape and the pathetic budget at the BBC at the time, it was grainy and the picture wavered at times, but it was magic to me. Looking back, I think that was part of its charm.

    I also read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and later, The Salmon of Doubt. The last is always a bitter-sweet book for me since before reading it, I don’t think I even knew he had died.

    Is it possible to mourn a man you’ve never met? Absolutely. Through his books, the commentaries, prefaces and posthumous rememberings within, I feel that I know him. I know his humour, and something of his insecurities. I know his process, something he talked about at length in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts. I know how much he’s missed out on these last ten years.

    How much would he have loved the iPhone, the iPad, and all the rest that Apple has put out? He was a devout Mac person, and the fact that he missed the launch of the iPod by less than a year is tragic. In 1999 he talked about the future of the internet and information technologies. How wonderful would it have been from him to see it today? Can you imagine him on Twitter? I can only think that he would have been in heaven.

    He was a man made for this era, a man who would understand and appreciate the way the internet has shaped the world. In his time, he got to see the first glimmers of dawn, and it saddens me that he could not walk with us into the morning. I admire him, and while he left us many wonders, I miss him.

    Douglas Adams, wherever you are, may you always know where your towel is.

  • A Picture is Worth…

    I found an old picture of us the other day. You and I are sitting together on top of the picnic table, Dragon standing beside me, Smudge sitting on the bench in front of you. Green pines on green hills stand behind us. Look at us! Smiling coyly, I’m doing all I can to seem cute and feminine, while you’re still trying to hide that part of you, even if only a little.

    I remember that day down by the river, a day out with friends. They threaten to dunk us in the cold water, and we laugh even as we protest. Do they succeed? That I don’t remember. I just remember the friendship, the fun, and an undertone of desperation. This is the last summer the four of us will spend together. You and I will last a little longer, though not by much. We are young and uncertain, you and I more so than most at this age. Some of who you will be you know already, but I’m still lost. I’m still trying hard not to know myself.

    You’re wearing the ring I gave you. Simple, delicate, and set with a diamond, it’s a misguided pledge to love you forever, whoever you may be. In the fevered ache of first love, I forget that I will change, too. I forget that I may not be who you need, and trying to be that person will rip a hole in me. I say I forget, because I know that even as I gave you the ring I realized my mistake. I’m not ready to take back the pledge. I won’t make you give back the ring.

    I love you. Now, by the river with our friends, and now, years later as I remember. I love you even though you were no good for me in the end, and I would be even worse for you now. I love you and I miss you, my sweetest memory.