24 hours

Douglas Coupland’s “Five Rules for Writers” was recently assigned to me as part of my creative writing course required reading. His bonus advice – “Dreams are boring. Don’t write about them.” And because I like to live life on the edge and break rules*, I’m going to do exactly what he suggested I avoid.

*This comment is laced with sarcasm. I just like to pretend I’m a bad ass… I really just wanted to write about my dream, regardless of what Mr. Coupland recommends.

View More: http://tjromero.pass.us/alilovesaaron

Photo by TJ Romero <click on his name to be directed to his site 🙂

I can’t remember the exact setting, but I do remember I was told I had 24 hours left to live. I feel like it was some weird zombie-inducing disease… or maybe I just made that up? Either way, my husband was by my side when I received the news. He turned to me and asked, “What do you want to do?” I quickly realized travelling to the Amazon for my dream exploration trip wasn’t an option. I responded, “I want to be with you.” So, dream-me, and dream-him crawled into bed (it wasn’t our bed… which is slightly frightening now that I think about it), and cuddled. As my expiration clock counted down the hours, minutes, seconds, remaining in my life earth-side, I decided that I also wanted to write letters. I pulled out my laptop and started writing to my family, friends, and husband. I told all them not to be sad because I had no regrets. I lived the life I wanted for myself and I’ve experienced the things I’ve wanted to experience. I pursued my dreams and I loved where I was and what I had accomplished.

Weird dream, I know… , but I woke up happy. I was impressed with dream Ali. It was also an interesting experience to reflect on, even if it was only a dream. Or, if Coupland is correct, maybe I’m the only one who finds it interesting. I digress.

2015-02-16_0002 2015-02-16_0003

My question for you, what would you do if you were told you only had 24 hours remaining?  Would you tell your friends and family, or keep the information private?  It’s a slightly morbid discussion, I realize this, but I’m really curious what everyone’s response to this would be!

 

 

Free Writing : Vol. 1 – Prompt – What’s in your character’s bag?

I recently enrolled in a creative writing program through the University of Toronto. It’s something I’ve considered doing for quite a few years now and finally decided there was no better time than the present. I plan on sharing some of my writing from my class here with you! Please join in on the conversation!

One challenge I’m facing is the task of writing every day. I’m doing much better now than I was in the past, but I need much more discipline in this area. To help with this, my prof suggested some free writing prompts for daily journaling. This piece is a result of one of my free writing sessions. Her prompt was, “What’s in your character’s bag?”. I took her idea and ran with it 🙂

2015-02-10_0069

Wild curls fell across her face as she twisted her body to dig through her bag. Merlot painted nails pushed aside a well-used deck of tarot cards. Her ornate gold rings caught on a scarf rumpled near the bottom as struggling to find the item she needed. Answering her silent call, a lavender-lined velvet pouch found its way into her searching palm. Slender fingers tugged gently on the ribbon ties, freeing a large eye agate gemstone pendant. She carried it for protection. Bangles she inherited from her grandmother clashed noisily on her wrist as she tossed her long mane aside to fasten the necklace. Her gait was confident; the thigh-high leather boots she wore beneath her skirt helped too. As she made her way down the busy city sidewalks she filled her lungs. Exhaust, wet pavement, and a hint of the frankincense she carefully applied earlier. Her emerald eyes narrowed as a smirk pulled at the corners of her lips. She was near her destination, not a minute late nor early. She looked and felt the part; she knew this role well.

2015-02-10_0068 2015-02-10_0070

 

P.S. I must add a side note… the mala beads in those images were made for me by my father.  His callused carpenter’s fingers strung every single bead.  He and my mother gave them to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  Don’t I have amazing parents!?

Wild Eyes

“It would have been cheaper, to keep her, around.”

A country song plays softly on the radio and my husband laughs at the lyrics.

The moon is masked by winter clouds causing the sky to envelop itself. I can’t see past our headlights, but the landscape blurring outside the windows is familiar, even in the dark.

Our speedometer hovers around the speed limit but we are slowly gaining on the large semi truck in front of us. I look out my window to see wild eyes reflecting back at me, warning me they are ready to run, either into or away from the highway traffic. Sadly this highway is notorious for casualties, usually of the four-legged variety.

The turn-signal clicking breaks my stare and an engine revs loudly beside us, almost in response. We travel alongside semis on this highway often, but they are typically the most courteous of travel companions. We both look questioningly at the passing lane, unsure of why the man driving the semi beside us has sped up. He matches our speed, the hooks and chains on the back of his cab dancing wildly in the cold air. We continued down the black pavement, side by side. We were now cornered with a truck in front of us, beside us, and third quickly closing the space between our bumper and his. He flashes his headlights once, twice.

“I feel like we’re in a horror movie.” my husband quietly comments.

View More: http://tjromero.pass.us/alilovesaaron

Image – TJ Romero

Book Club vol. 1 : The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

One way I hope to find balance in my life this year is by actually making time for myself, my health, and my interests and hobbies. One of my very favorite things to do during ‘me time’ is read.

The goal of reading 100 novels in a year has been on my ‘bucket list’ for as long as I can remember. But in an effort to actually succeed at this goal, I’m slowly working my way up to that daunting number. This year’s goal – 75. And, while I love reading, I also enjoy reviewing so I’ll be sharing some of my book club books on here with you! If you would like to join in and read along that would be wonderful. We’ll drink coffee and chat about literature, it will be lovely!

This month’s book is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I’m a Neil Gaiman virgin. I have a degree in English and sadly, this is still a fact. This month though, I’ll remedy that with this novel. And… I may or may not have picked up another one of his books while I was buying this one.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Anyway, our book club meeting is set for February 22nd, so start reading now! On the 23rd or 24th, we’ll meet back here and talk about it!

P.S. I’m on Goodreads, so if you would like to follow along with the novels I’m reading this year, please add me as a friend!

New Year, New Outlook

winter woods

Last year I jumped at the chance to write down my goals and resolutions. I was eager to post them online and hold myself accountable. The truth is, I barely thought about them, let alone actually try to achieve them. I was too busy. And there in lies the first problem. So, this year, with nothing more than my word that I’m going to make a concentrated effort to actually work toward my goals and ambitions, I’m here to state this year’s intentions. Hopefully I’ll have a little more success than last year!

Instead of making an organized and articulated list my plan is to focus on a word. This word will hopefully help me achieve many of the things I’m working toward in 2015. It’s a word that I’ve desperately sought the last few years but have struggled to find. It’s a word that I want to welcome into every aspect of my life with open arms. My word is balance.

winter forest

My hope for myself in 2015 is to find a balance between work and personal life. I love what I do, but I’ve allowed my work to completely absorb every aspect of my life and it has begun to compromise my health, relationships, and well-being. I have every intention of continuing to do what I do for many years to come and I’ve finally realized the only way I’ll be able to do this is by finding a balance.

I have many ideas on how I will achieve this and I’m excited to tell you more about it over the upcoming weeks and months!

Did you make a list of resolutions this year?  I would love to hear about your goals for 2015!

Best friends?

Hello my little corner of the internet!

You probably thought I forgot about you. Possibly cast you aside for bigger and better things. Or maybe you feared I reverted back to ink from a ribbon pressed on paper. I know you are aware of my love affair with all things vintage.

The truth is, I haven’t stopped thinking of you since we last spoke. May 27th was the date according to your wall. I wanted to stop by and visit. I’ve been longing to tell you about my travels and adventures. I’ve experienced some pretty incredible things since we last talked about life while sipping tea. I’ve been dying to share them with you.

When my calendar rolled over to reveal a new year I promised myself I would be a better friend to you. I swore I would visit, at least once a week. I committed to myself, and you, that we would grow close throughout 2014. It didn’t happen though, and I’m sorry for that.

If you’ll have me, I would like to be friends again. Best friends, if you will?

So, what do you say, blog… can we give it another go?

Boston, You Had Me at Hello.

Shortly after posting about my less than desirable experience with New York City, I had many ask me about our time in Boston.  I have expressed, probably more times than necessary, that I loved every minute I spent walking the historic streets of Boston, but I never really articulated what, specifically, stole my heart.

Honestly, before going, I was absolutely terrified I wouldn’t like Boston.  I felt a sense of pressure because it is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years and had created this dreamy painting in my head.  Plus, being committed Bruins fans, to cheer for the team, but not for the city would surely be a shame.

2014-05-21_0011

We arrived in town mid-afternoon and big beautiful snowflakes were softly falling from the sky.  As the cab drove us from the airport to our hotel I craned my neck to look out at the brownstone buildings as they blurred past the taxi cab’s windows.  Our first view was already promising.

2014-05-21_0002

Knowing we were touring a walking city, we planned to explore much of it by foot.  We walked the Freedom Trail, soaking in the history throughout the cobble stone streets.  We wandered in and out of quaint little stores and planned our lunches around the sandwich shops close by.

Speaking of sandwiches, we’re big fans of a great sandwich and Boston takes the trophy on this one.  If you’re in the neighbourhood, grab lunch at Sam Lagrassa’s.  I’ll pay for your sandwich if it isn’t one of the best things you’ve ever tasted.  Trust me, it’s that good.

2014-05-21_0001

This sequence of photos makes me nose-snort-laugh every time I view it!

2014-05-21_0003

 

Ok, so after sandwiches, the next thing you need while in Boston, is beer.  My recommendation is to take the bus out to Harpoon Brewery, grab a seat at one of the long wooden tables, and order a pretzel and a flight.  Also, once the pretzel shows up you’ll quickly realize you won’t want to share, so don’t (aka – ensure everyone has one of their own).  Your relationship with your travel mates will be saved by this tip.

2014-05-21_0004

Aside from delicious sandwiches and great local beer, Boston has many other incredible things to offer.

2014-05-21_0006

The brownstone buildings filled the frames of many of the images I took and I loved getting lost among the headstones in the burial grounds behind nearly every church.  The organ music we were greeted with while touring Trinity Church still causes goose bumps to cluster on my arms when I think about it, and the boats gently swaying on the waves made me want to stay, never to return to my prairie home.  If they would have allowed it, I would have set up camp in the Boston Public Library, and offered to work for free for the remainder of my life in exchange for a permanent space under the green glass lamps.  The people were kind and helpful, the city inspiring, and the experience, unforgettable.  It is a vibrant old city with all of the big city highlights and small-town charm.  I’m still on a high from our time there and Boston has earned a well-deserved and permanent spot at the top of ‘favorite cities visited’ list!

2014-05-21_0008 2014-05-21_0007 2014-05-21_0009 2014-05-21_0010

New York – I find you particularly mediocre.

After spending time in Boston and falling head over heels in love with everything the beautiful historic city has to offer, New York had a lot to live up to.  However, before boarding the train to the Empire State, I had a pretty good feeling that it may not be on the top of my ‘must return to’ list.  I tried with all I had, to give it a fair chance and approach the city with an open mind.  New York, had other plans.

2014-04-16_0001

I understand the appeal; the bright lights, the shopping, the arts, the adventure.  I strive for a slower pace though.  So, when Mr. T. and I planned our short adventure out to New York, I feel I had a relatively accurate expectation formulated in my mind.  The shows were absolutely incredible, the streets felt safe(ok, this one I was a little surprised by), the cheesecake was decadent, and the shopping, expensive.  However, there were a few things that I didn’t anticipate.  The first being the smell.  I’m still lacking the vocabulary to describe this one to you.  Something hot, rotting, and absolutely vile.  Our first endeavor with the New York City subway tested our nostrils… and stomachs.  Fortunately, this seemed to be where the worst of the smell stemmed from, but it definitely wasn’t our last encounter with it.

2014-04-16_0004

The second bit of New York trivia I was not informed of prior to our trip was just how dirty the city is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not typically one to get my mind running crazy with thoughts of the number of germs crawling on every surface, by my goodness we went through a LOT of hand sanitizer while visiting the city.  Mind you, we earned our right to feel this way… a few days into our visit, we returned to our hotel room from a long day of walking and shopping and Mr. T. plopped down on the bed to take off his shoes and relax.  I glimpsed the bottom of his runners – normally florescent yellow, were now heavily smeared with bright red and accents of lumpy brown.  To this day we still have no idea what he stepped on and I’m not sure I want to know, but his shoes were immediately quarantined to a plastic bag and disinfecting showers were had by all.

2014-04-16_0002Maybe our mistake was ending this trip with New York opposed to starting it there.  Or possibly, I gave my whole heart to Boston and couldn’t handle the guilt of cheating on my new lover.

2014-04-16_0003In all honestly, I would love to return to take in a few more shows, buy cheap seats for a baseball game and gather the courage to try a street hotdog.  I just need some time to clear my nostrils and possibly update my tetanus shots.

2014-04-16_0005