Life, Music

five quirky, silly, somewhat dark albums from the 2000s, to put some bounce in your spring.

I was formulating this post in the car on one of my many drives back and forth from the valley to the city.  Good quality thinking, creative time in the car, that and belting out to bad singers from lofi bands.  I decided that if none of the other commuters are going to smile, I’d provide a bit of comic relief by being as dramatic as I can possibly be while I’m singing along, consider it a gift.

So, in my head I had come up with this “theory” that just like the 90s had the grunge movement, (which seemed to start from a “f-the man!” sort of attitude, then turned into a style, and then turned into a trend where it was more about looking like you didn’t care than it was about actually not caring) the 2000s had the indie rock movement that started with a few great bands making beautiful independent stuff with quirky singers, sometimes okay lyrics, and low budget music that I love listening to, but then turned into a sound, which over time became over produced.  Trying to sound indie, signed to Capitol, you know?  Then I realized this theory wasn’t based on any sort of sound evidence, and since I was born in 1990, it’s not like I can say, “you don’t understand, I was there man!” It’s a theory, based on nothing, take from it what you will…

Either way there were some great albums in the 2000s that were pretty weird. If you’re into bad singers, read on, if you’re into more polished stuff, well, give it a try but I warned you.  So here are five quirky, silly, somewhat dark (lyrically, they all seem to have these weird ironic death/major scale things going on) albums from the 2000s to put some bounce into your SPRING 2014! (If I can find a Youtube video with the whole album I’ll link that if not, just a song which will be a taste.)

1. Little Wings, Light Green Leaves

2. Danielson Famile, Ships

3. The Unicorns, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?

4. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

5. Swan Lake, Beast Moans

Get your inner indie kid on, and enjoy these.

(preferably on an old school iPod eh?)

(if you can’t understand what they’re singing, feel free to make up the words/sounds until you have internet access, then google!)

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Art, Life

Triangles.

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Life

creative endeavors.

 

I think with the accumulated craziness of last year I put most creative stuff on the back burner.  I did manage to record a few songs that I like, but still am just sitting here with, I painted a bit, wrote a bit, etc… but didn’t get much done. This is a list of the things that maybe 2014 will have in store for me creatively, who knows though…

“God only knows, and God makes his plans.  The information is unavailable to the mortal man.” – Paul Simon

  1. I want to play more music with people.  I’ve asked two people, they know who they are.  Even if our music never leaves the living room, I want to experience the magic of playing and singing together with another person.
  2. I’d like to play at a few open mics.  This requires me to buy a new instrument however, so this is sort of a goal.  My piano isn’t very portable, so I need to save money to buy a better one, that or get really good at the ukelele.
  3. I’d like to paint a bit more often… even once a season.  It’s so relaxing.
  4. I started working on a short story in December, I really enjoy the premise and find it incredibly satisfying to sit down and work on it, I wanna do that more… religiously (? bad word?).
  5. I want to see more live music, read more fiction, and allow myself to spend more time listening to music.  These things all inspire me to no end.
  6. I want to figure out how my spiritual life dances with my creative life.  Previously I’ve tried an approach where I felt like I already knew how that relationship should work and it ends up fizzling out, now I want to start at the beginning and see how the Spirit inspires.  I’ve always felt more like a vessel, maybe that’s all that it’s about? Not sure, I want to explore that more.

So that’s my list. We’ll see what comes of it.

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Life

a new home.

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It’s hard to start a new home.  When I was walking home the other day with what felt like 100 pounds of groceries draped over my shoulders in more canvas bags than I could count I thought, “I wonder if my adult home will every feel as homey as “home” felt as a child?”  I was lucky and only lived in two homes growing up, the second home feels like home, always.  When I think of “the living room” or “my bedroom” it’s in that home.  Maybe in the years to come when we start our own family, or stay in one place for more than a year I’ll begin to feel that “home” feeling again.

I’ve been conflicted recently, and really insecure.  I guess that comes with the territory of moving from a small town to a big city, from a family church, to a bunch of people you’ve never met, from a separate lane way home, to a teeny tiny apartment.  For some reason all these changes have made me feel insecure in almost every decision I make.  Usually within five minutes of making a decision, whether it has to do with decorating, or bigger more serious issues, I second guess myself.

My mom suggested I put curtains up, and it really helped a lot.  There’s something about our surroundings that either can make us feel comfortable, or not so much.  Our apartment, with the exception of our bedroom (it’s a nightmare) feels like our home, but it doesn’t quite feel like “home” yet.  Yesterday though as I walked in our neighborhood, or last week when I took my bike to Jericho beach I felt, for the first time, that Vancouver was ACTUALLY my home, where I lived with Tal.  Up until that point I’ve still felt like I was a visitor here.

A new home means a new normal, a new way of living, a new lens to view your everyday through. We’re working on it, but I’m finding it has less to do with the “working on it” part and more to do with just being here.  Each day feels a little bit more stable.  Every move before this has been within the confines of our little town, the only  thing that changes is the look of our home, and what street we use to get down to the grocery store, this move has been different on so many levels.

I can say with confidence that I am happy here now.  This is new.  I thought I would immediately love it, but dealing with all the insecurity has made it harder to jump right in.

Part of this also has to with Grandma and Grandpa being in Mission dealing with Grandpa’s recovery, it’s not as easy to just drop by and visit.  When I was in Mission and Grandpa was in New West it was shorter than the drive from where we are in Vancouver to where he is now in Mission.  I want to be there more, but I also exhaust myself (and our gasoline budget) driving in and out too much.

I’m trying to keep up a few friendships in Mission, Abbotsford, and Langley, as well as foster new ones here.  Feeling like I’m part of a community is vital.  That being said, Tal and I have grown immeasurably closer in the past month and a half.  It’s amazing to see a difference so quickly.  We rely on each other a lot more, for friendship, for conversation… etc.  We’re each others partners, for real.  We always were I guess, I just ended up relying on a lot of other friends and family as well, now it’s just my man and me.

I’m getting used to anonymity, and I like it.  For some reason not knowing anyone around when I’m at the Farmer’s Market, or the library makes me cherish my little network of friends and family more.  When I was running into people all the time it was easy to take friendships for granted and not work on them.  I feel like really carving time out of schedules to sit down and be together with people is so important.  So important I made it a goal for 2014, to grow my friendships, and to make new, strong ones, here in Vancouver.  I can’t help but wish that all my friends would just move out here though, make things easier.

In hindsight this past year has just been so crazy, it’s no wonder it took me about 7 weeks to begin to feel happy here.   I tried writing a “we’re here now!” blog like 15 times, but each time it came out sounding like, “I hate it here,” when that wasn’t really the case, it’s just that I was feeling so insecure about it all.  I feel secure now, for now.

It’s a big adventure, and I’m beginning to enjoy the freedom in that.

 

This is a scattered post, but it’s the most cohesive thoughts I’ve had recently about this move so far, so I’m going to go with it.

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Life

Still lost and still found.

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What is religion but mans vehicle to God, or window to see God?  Religion alone is nothing.  What to make then of Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism, each the “one true church?” or each a vehicle?  If each a vehicle, must I choose?  In each tradition I have found tremendous beauty, as well as people faithfully giving of themselves to Christ, however, in each of them I have also come upon deep caves of emptiness.  This affirms to me, religion, on it’s own, is worthless.

Protestantism raised me, giving me  freedom of movement and worship, but when I went to her to ask my deepest, darkest, doubtful questions, she had no answers.  Not only did she not answer, but she questioned my questioning.

I turned to the Progressives, maybe they’d adopt me?  They welcomed my questions and gave me pleasing answers but as I swam in her pools I sensed a lack of authority and was tossed in the waves.

Maybe instead, history, antiquity, Orthodoxy will accept me as daughter?  Orthodoxy calmed my mind, and answered my questions through writings of men from centuries old.  She showed me the IKONS and a new way to see humankind as light, and truly the image of God.  Then when I went to pray, however, I was not in freedom, but in repetition.  Her mysticism enchanted me, but her rigidness entrapped me.

I could say that I them scrambled into the arms of the Pope, but more honestly, I went out with Thomas Merton.  Everything he said made my eyes sparkle, but when he invited me to meet his parents (The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church), my sparkle died.

Religion on it’s own is nothing, dead end avenues.

God however, on his own, is something.  When I ran to God, exhausted and confused, heartbroken from my religious breakups, He told me to stop reading for awhile, and to climb up on His knee.  When I was searching religion I began as a daughter, but over time became a widow in need of a lover.  When I came to God I came back to being a daughter, in fact, He confirmed to me that even when I thought I was a widow, I was still His daughter.

“You are my beloved daughter,” He said to me as He sat me on His lap and began to show me the story of Himself.

Now, I am still lost and still found.

 

(I get that these are totally elementary criticisms of each church, I fully believe that each church is equally right and equally wrong, and this is okay, because on their own, they’re just man made constructs.  If you have found peace with God through the window of the church you are in, be thankful, and continue in that community, because it is one of the ways that God calls His people to live.  If you, however, like me, feel confused by all these different churches, doctrines, beliefs, etc.  take comfort with me that you are not alone, and that God is good, Christianity was created by man, but living as Christ did, is an idea given by God.  Community is vital, regardless, and I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us all into communion with others.)

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Life

the big move.

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Most people are aware of the fact that Tal and I have been wanting to make this move for a long time.  I am fickle, however, and often change my mind last minute, so it hasn’t happened yet.

We both grew up in this small town.  We know a huge percentage of the population here, we know where everything is, our families (for the most part) are out here, our church is here, we live here.  This has been our home for a long time.  We both have been spending large amounts of time in the city though.

I remember how almost every day off we had in high school was spent getting up early in the morning catching the 7:20am train and heading into Vancouver.  Vancouver was this mecca of art, culture, people, style, architecture, beauty, nature – and we were completely enthralled by it.  We’d go with my little point and shoot Kodak and take pictures all day, old neon signs, rainy windows, coffee shops, the streets, ship container yards, you name it I have it photographed.  These days were almost a fantasy.  We’d step off the train and into the station, out the doors, and all of a sudden, we lived there, in the city with everything about it that we loved.  I remember feeling confident, artistic, strong, and unusual when we were in Vancouver, and I loved it.

I haven’t always been in love with the city though.

There were times when Vancouver didn’t look so beautiful, didn’t make me feel so confident.  “Hey Vancouver, your materialism is showing!” I’d go downtown and all I could see were all these people trying to keep up with each other.  Trends, expensive hand bags, business, the daily grind, faux-originality, this eternity of space between the poor and the rich, it just seemed empty, void of value.  That feeling of “fake-ness” eventually melted into a deep seeded dislike of Vancouver, and almost a fear of the city.  Those busy streets and skytrain stations that once spoke of bustling creativity and imagination, well, they just stressed me out.  We’d go into the city trying to relive those glory days of spending the day in the city with the point and shoot, but I’d just be consumed with this fear that our car was going to get stolen or something, and we’d have to come home and hour or two later.

During those times, I’d take great comfort in the peace, tranquility, and proximity to the mountains of our hometown.  We went on many hikes, drove east on our days off, and enjoyed the familiarity of the faces we’ve always known.  Standing next to a waterfall with Tal, with no one to be seen or heard of for kilometers gave me that same sense of confidence and beauty that the city once did. My muddy sneakers and autumn leaves.

So, it was love/hate.

The past year or two has been different though.  I’ve grown to appreciate both the city and the country, but not in such a romantic way, I see their flaws.  It’s almost like when you’re beginning a relationship, at the beginning the other person is this glowing orb of perfection, but as you get to know them more, you start to notice the pimples, hairs, annoying eating habits, etc.  BUT you still love them, it’s just a deeper love, a more intimate love.

The country is beautiful, peaceful, quiet, but it’s also hard to find art, live music, or beautiful architecture.  Then there’s the city, it’s beautiful, creative, busy, alive, but it’s also hard to find quiet.  I appreciate a drive out to Hope, and I love sitting in an over crowded coffee shop in the rain pretending to read, but really just eaves dropping (guilty habit).

So, why did we make the decision?  Well I have to give most of the credit to our friends who made the big jump a month ago.  They moved out to the city, so now we know people out there.  My biggest fear of moving, is not being in a community like I am now, and then if Tal has to go out of town again… I’d be all alone out there!  So, now that our friends are already out there, I feel like I have a bit of a community.  Seems like a funny reason, but it brought me a lot of comfort to be able to make this decision and feel safe about it.

It’s competitive finding a place out there though.  We originally were toying with the idea of moving to East Van, preferably around Commerical drive, maybe in a suite in an old house, then we thought, maybe Mount Pleasant, in an old apartment off Main street, I’d also had a thing for the Cambie area since I had been working at Cambie and 16th for a couple years and liked the neighborhood.  It turns out that if you’re looking to live in highly sought after neighborhoods, you’re competing with A LOT of other people for that tiny one bedroom apartment.  We applied for one suite right in the heart of Mount Pleasant, E 8th, about a block off of Main. We didn’t go very prepared, I hadn’t done much research on how to nab an apartment in a competitive neighborhood.  So we went in sloppy clothes, forgot to take our shoes off at the front door, and didn’t have our info ready to fill out the application.  I still thought we had a chance though.  We faxed off the application a day later, and two days after that I figured I’d do a follow up email to see how it was going with the application, I received this short email a minute or two later, “The unit has been rented. Thanks.”  Ouch, not much humanity (lol). 

So, we stepped up our game.  We figured we’d just go crazy and see as many places as possible, by the way we were thinking we probably wouldn’t get anything until Spring if it continued to prove this competitive.  I even looked at a basement suite way far away from where we wanted to be, keeping an open mind (it turned out to not have a living room, so that was an easy decision).  I looked up a “how-to get an apartment in a competitive neighborhood” article, and tried to follow the suggestions.  Dress up, look professional, have all of your application info ready, be prepared to put a deposit down right away, show up on time, correspond right away if you like the place, basically, beat everyone else that wants the apartment to it.  I’m not that competitive, so this felt very foreign to me, I’m also not a professional type.

Then I saw this ad on Craigslist, no picture, 1 bedroom suite, Cambie and Broadway, December 1st.  No details, nothing.  So, I thought, well it’s got to better than a basement suite on E 37th without a living room, right?  I figured since it’s a nice neighborhood there would probably be a lot of competition, and since only one of us is working full time, we wouldn’t be first on the list of people to rent it.  Anyways, we went to see it anyways.

The neighborhood proved to be beautiful, full of apartment buildings, really close to W Broadway and everything going on there, my favourite view of the city is about a block away (shown in the picture above).  The street is beautifully lined with old trees, like a little green tunnel.  My heart knew, this was the place, and that it would break if we didn’t get it (I hadn’t even seen the suite yet)!  We had dressed up, had all of our info, we were ready.  The suite was simple, not beautiful, not hardwood floors, not big, but Tal and I felt it was cozy.  We loved it.  About 10 steps after we’d left we both felt like this was to be our new home.  It felt good to immediately agree.  We both knew.  So we followed our protocol for getting an apartment in a competitive neighborhood, and the next day, we got the call that we got it!!!

So I’m still in shock.  This is something we’ve wanted for a long time, and it just seems like a fantasy. December 1st is so soon!

We will be living in the Fairview district, which just so happens to be where my parents met.  We’re close to Granville Island, Mount Pleasant, and Kits.  There’s an old theatre, organic grocery store, interesting video rental store, parks, and coffee shops all within walking distance.  Oh yea, and transit that Tal will be able to take to work! We’ll be saving $500/month in gas.

The biggest perk, although there are many, is that Tal will be about a half hour away from his work. He’s being commuting very long distances, and it’s no good for his sanity, or our relationship.  Other perks include, not having to spend gas to go out to Vancouver every weekend and then drive home (we spend a lot of our time out there), being close to a school that I’m thinking about taking a program at, being close to the ocean, and having an urban living experience that we’ve long wanted.  I could go on about what we’re excited about, but it would just turn into this big list.  We’re excited.

We’re going to miss a lot about Mission, but it’s only about an hour away.  It’s not like we’re moving across the country.  This is going to be a new adventure.

Please visit though, we’re going to miss our home community, a lot.  We promise to come back lots.

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Learning, Life

Seeing God in a flawed, human marriage.

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At the end of this month Tal and I will have been together for 7 years. Together for 7, married for 2. Tal has seen me through my Donovan, Dandy Warhol, and Daft Punk phases, and I’ve seen him through his Rancid (however I’m not sure if he ever liked the music, he did wear the shirt), rainbow suspenders, and Radiohead phases. It’s been good, beautiful, messy, painful, hard, easy, tragic, silly, mellow, stressful, fun, and amazing. The coolest most miraculous part however of being in this union with Tal is what it’s taught me about God’s love, selflessness, and grace.

When you see the analogy of Christ being the bridegroom and his church being the bride you can go one of two ways. You can be afraid that the bridegroom won’t find you attractive, won’t sacrifice himself for you, and won’t love and accept you, or you can run into his arms knowing that he definitely finds you attractive (he made you!), he gave himself for you, and that he loves and accepts you. So with that base here are some of the things in my marriage which have revealed Gods love for me.

A lot of people nowadays wait until there late 20s to settle down, and they do this for a lot of reasons, but one I’ve heard a lot is because they want to really “know” who they are (ask any 80 year old if they ever really knew exactly who they were… Lol, it’s a hard task to get done before 30!), and I think underneath that belief is the belief that they don’t want to or won’t be able to have the grace to see someone through that searching phase of their lives. Meaning, we don’t want to have the grace to let someone grow. We think if we wait until we’re 30, that person won’t change and neither will we (as if!).

I think God gives grace for growth. Tal and I have been together since we were 15 and 16 respectively… We’ve needed a lot of grace to grow. I’ve seen God pour out grace upon grace to me as I camp in different areas of my faith, as I walk as far away as I can, and as he gives me grace to love Tal through his changing, too. In 2009 Tal and I tried to live in Vancouver on minimum wage and an 18 year olds wisdom, needless to say, it didn’t end well. I was fickle. I needed grace. I hated my life after giving it a good, long, hard, ehem 5 weeks, and I knew I needed to go home and reconnect with God. Tal upon hearing this (me in tears sitting at a fountain in front of a business building on Burrard, him coming to visit on his 20 minute break from working at American Apparel on Robson) shares with me that he’s apathetic towards Christ and his salvation. Hmm. So I feel like I’ve received this divine wake up call to reconnect with my saviour, and he is further away than he’s ever been. Grace for growth. Tal had immense grace for me as he had already been renting a place and making good friendships out there, and now his girlfriend was moving home. A lot of his coworkers (with the exception of one “if you really love her you should follow her” (thank you so much Tals coworker!!!)) told him to dump me, that he deserved better, but he loved me, so he had grace for me. He did end up moving home a few months later. It was the strangest time, but a good time. I experienced companionship with God, and the distance I needed from Tal in order to have the time (we were together, however, through this entire season, and I’d see him on weekends).

Imagine if God had peers. Here God is loving all of humanity, and cherishing his children who have accepted his gift of salvation, and we’re still being human. We’re not perfect by any stretch. Don’t you think his peers would be saying, “dump them man, they’ve caused you so much heartbreak, you deserve better”? But he loves us! He’d reply, “I love them, I can’t imagine not having them, I want to be in communication with them, I’m going to give them grace to grow.”

Sometimes in a relationship you really hurt each other. You lie, you hide, you are selfish, it’s really gross, but I think we should all just stand up and admit it. In a marriage though you love someone so much that you are selfless when they’re being selfish and you have grave when they’re being graceless, trusting that when you’re selfish and graceless they’ll do the same. The thing about the the biblical marriage analogy is that in that marriage God is perfect and we’re a mess, but through Christ we have been made righteous enough to be in a union with God. In human marriage we’re both learning to love and live our faith through the Spirit, but we still do crumby things to each other. There are big things, and small things, and love, selflessness, and grace can cover them all.

Since we’ve been married I’ve gone through a couple of seasons of depression. They last a few months, and I really become a pain in the neck to deal with. Our marriage structure is that Tal is the breadwinner and I am the homemaker, and that usually works really really well for us, but when I’m depressed? I stop cooking, I stop doing laundry, I stop cleaning, and I spend money. There was a time last year when the fridge was empty because I hadn’t shopped and all we had really was pancake mix. I made pancakes for dinner every night for two weeks. We didn’t have milk or eggs either, so it was pancake mix and water. Every working man reading this that would admit that he’d need supernatural grace to put up with me through these seasons, raise your hand. Well Tal was given that grace for me. He’d come home, shower in our dirty bathroom, eat his soggy pancakes, cuddle me, and go to bed in our unmade bed. He just loved me through the whole thing. He knew I was acting out of character, but he loves my soul, and so he nurtured me through it all. God gives us grace for situations like these. Tal became immensely selfless when I was being incredibly selfish.

How many times in the Bible does God reveal his selfless love for us? Even in the time of the brutal law of Moses he had grace for the ones who lived by faith!

Last summer Tal and I experienced a hurdle in our marriage that we never thought we’d have to jump. It hurt. There was a lot of anger. There was also a lot of supernatural grace again. Within 20 minutes or so of everything coming to light, we had grace for each other… And I know this wasn’t my own grace or Tals own grace because for some humans this situation would be a deal breaker in a marriage. It was like this curtain of grace fell on to both of us and we were able to not look so much at the physical situation but at our souls and what our actions were saying about how we were feeling, how did our actions show the health or lack of health of our marriage, how did the situation reveal who we were? Yea, there have been consequences and repercussions of all of it, but within days Tal and I were closer than we had ever been in 6 years.

This is another really cool thing about God that I’ve learnt through marriage. God wants us to reconcile ourselves to him, and so he shows this reconciliation over and over and over to us in our lives. Every horrible situation we’ve been through, God turns into a beautiful story. Even last summer, when we were steeped in pain, we came out more honest, closer to God, and closer to each other than we’d ever been! God restored intimacy to us and intimacy to Him! Beautiful.

That grace that fell on us is not even an eye drops worth of grace in comparison to the grace God has poured out to us. I’m letting that sink in. That miraculous grace I experienced a year ago, is nothing compared to the grace God has for humanity.

This has been heavy, here’s something a little lighter, but just as beautiful!

Have you ever read Song of Solomon and imagined God was the “he” and you were the “she”? Please do. If you’re not sure about how much God loves you, it will blow your mind.

Song of Solomon 7:4
(This is the he speaking to the she)
You are all together beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

So the Bible has this beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman, and then we read that the love between a man and a woman is symbolic of the love between God and us! When you’re standing at the alter with your future spouse it’s not difficult to love them right? You love them! You want to spend the rest of your life with them! How come we can’t seem to see that this effortless love we often feel for our spouses (sometimes there is effort, I know, we’re humans) is poured out to us from God in WAY larger amounts!? It’s like we believe “God loves me, but…” But that’s not truth, if you’ve accepted the salvation of Christ, died to your “self” and are walking in the Spirit, you are righteous and perfected in Gods eyes, we’re covered in the blood of Christ, he looks at us and says “you are all together beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you!”

Lets stretch our imaginations a bit, because why would we have them if we weren’t supposed to use them? The other day I was texting Tal (our primary form of communication when he’s away) and I was saying how lucky I felt to have a husband that worked so hard for me, then without skipping a beat Tal replied, “I’m the lucky one.” I immediately felt like God was trying to teach me something. I was saying I was lucky because of everything Tal has done and is doing for me, and he says he’s the lucky one because… I’m sitting at home waiting for him? No, he’s says he’s the lucky one because he loves me! This is where the stretching comes in — we’re always thanking God for everything he’s done for us and how amazing his salvation is, and how lucky we are to know him, and I imagine him saying, “I’m the lucky one.”

When you think about it, it’s not too much of a stretch. God made us to be in communication with him, but then because of sin, we couldn’t, and he wanted us so badly to be able to come to him! That desire for communication for us was so strong that he sent his Son to die for us, in hopes that we’d accept that gift and run to him. When we accept Jesus and run to God, he’s the dad in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), he’s the groom when he sees his bride coming down the aisle, he’s “the lucky one.” This is so beautiful to me, goosebumps and teary eyes.

Marriage is hard, but beautiful, so is a walk with Christ. Regardless of how hard it is, however, we are being drenched in love and grace. We fall down, we make mistakes, we hurt each other, and God turns these into something beautiful, just like how he turned the story of humanity into a story of reconciliation.

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