Monday, September 13, 2010

Travelling

I often find myself sitting in front of the computer, rifling through trip packages and flight sales. A huge part of who I am is wanting to see the world. I figured out that it would be a smart idea to start saving for a trip for two years time. I suggested it to my boyfriend. He paused, staring at the television. I looked at him, "...or do you not want to go?" He was hesitant to respond, which is an evident "no". I looked at him and said, "I am going regardless."

It's sort of a bummer that I'm in a relationship with someone who isn't as passionate about traveling as I am. It would be so fantastic to be able to share those experiences with somebody whom I love, but at the same time - maybe it's not such a bad thing to do those things by myself. It's not just about discovering the world - it's much about discovering myself.

Once you travel anywhere out of where you've lived your whole life, it's a huge wake up call. I recognize that not all people will be able to gain this opportunity and won't thrive to experience the cultures of the world the way that I do. I can't force my boyfriend to travel with me. Maybe he'd much rather spend his money on tangible things. This is how we differ. I would much rather spend my money on experiences and memories to last a lifetime. I don't want to be on my deathbed looking back on my life, regretting not seeing what is out there in the world. And let me tell you, it's a lot!

All over Facebook, I see friends posting albums full of photographs of themselves tanning on beaches down South. This is not the kind of experience I'm talking about. I'm not saying anything bad about people that do that - I'm just saying, I think that vacating to a resort isn't the route to go if you want to experience the many worldly cultures. When you are on a resort like that, you're completely cut off in isolation from the actual place that you're visiting. You don't get a real sense of that place in the least.

Now, my kind of vacation is packing everything I need in a backpack and adventuring through parts of Europe (for example) - experiencing the different cultures that it has to offer. I don't seek a five-star hotel with all-inclusive treats; I'd much rather a hostel filled with other young travellers from all over the world seeking adventure the same way I do - filled with energy, accents, different languages and new friends to make connections with all over the world. Now, that's my kind of vacation!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That's so "gay".






"That's so gay."

GAY IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR SHITTY OR STUPID. If you want to associate something as being stupid or shitty, USE THOSE WORDS - NOT the word "gay".

I'm infuriated with how the word "gay" is used today. "Gay" is absolutely NOT a synonym for stupid. People in today's society have become completely numb to this saying and maybe don't realize it. They let it leave their lips without thinking of the harm built up behind it. When you say that something is "gay", referencing that something is bad - you're inevitably saying that GAY is bad. You're using it as an insult. And when you let that three letter word slip from your lips in that manner, you're throwing homosexuality into a bad or negative category.

Homosexuality is NOT something to be ashamed of. Today, it is an extremely normal and acceptable way of life. It's time that "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" is swiped from everybody's vocabulary. It's time people STOP associating homosexuality as a negative connotation.

I'm not gay, however, I completely accept anyone's decision when it comes to love and whom they're sexually attracted to and who they fall in love with. I believe homosexuality falls under the category of nature, not nurture, and you can't help who you fall in love with and who you're attracted to.

I 100% believe in gay rights and the right to love/marry whomever - male or female - no matter what your sex is.

I still see guys that I graduated with, chatting over Facebook, calling each other "faggots". I've never in my life let that word slip from my lips and never would I let it. It's a homophobic slur against homosexual males. Generally meant as a joke, people don't realize the meaning and impact of their words. Words like "gay" and "faggot" are used WAY too casually. It's time to grow up and knock it off, people.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide. The number one contributing factor is the feeling of not being accepted. Out of many causes of feeling this way, the abuse of derogatory terms such as "that's so gay" is top ranked.

Seriously folks. Knock it off.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Figuring things out

It's been three weeks since I left Toronto. I feel like when I left Toronto, I left a huge part of me there. My summer there was the most eye-opening experience I've ever had and it truly made me re-evaluate myself. For the first time in my life thus far, I felt like I truly belonged and I felt like I knew what I wanted in my life. The thirteen weeks I was there, I completely reinvented myself and changed, in my opinion, for the better.

The biggest struggle I'm dealing with since moving back, is the loss I feel. I feel like everything I had finally pieced together has fallen apart... and the puzzle pieces I need are back in Toronto. I feel like I've hit a wall and I'm not really sure how to bulldoze it over. Doing my Bachelor of Education is what I wanted, right? Then why do I feel like being here and doing it is a huge step backwards? I need to figure out a way to feel like myself again... the new me...

I miss feeling free, walking through the busy streets with unfamiliar faces. I miss doings things that I've never gotten to do before with people who I never thought I'd be friends with. I miss sailing through Lake Ontario, feeling the rush of the cold breeze hit my face. I miss getting lost on the Toronto Islands, way past the closing time of the ferries, and feeling scared yet completely excited at the possibility of being stranded there. I miss going to Madison's and getting trashed with my best friends... and having to wait for someone who forget their ID - even though I reminded everyone to make sure they had it.

Maybe it's the friends I miss more than Toronto itself. Maybe it was them who helped me realize myself. It was witnessing their care-free attitude and ambition that made me crave to feel like way they do about life. My friends do see me as having ambition and a care-free attitude, but this past summer was the first time I saw myself that way.

I'm remembering the fear I felt when I first got on the airplane - the fear I felt when I had the whole summer ahead of me. I was terrified that I wouldn't meet friends, that it would be a treacherous experience and the worst summer of my life. That was the best part... realizing how oblivious I was to how amazing the risk I was taking would turn out to be.

I think, I need to realize this about my life ahead of me. It's unknown - just like my summer was. Maybe I just have to let it fall into place... and it will be amazing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wake up call

Most people, anxious to move from their parents' humble abode and into their own complex, are completely oblivious to the complexities of it all. Think of your life right now if you're still living at home. Your fridge is always full. You can just go grab whatever you want whenever you want. You don't have to worry about having to go get groceries or being able to afford them. You can use the telephone whenever you want - not having to worry about running up the phone bill. You probably leave the bathroom light on without thinking. You probably don't worry about turning off the television when you leave to go eat. I imagine that you just crank up the heat when you're cold in the winter time.

All of these luxuries (yes, trust me... they are luxeries) will fade when you're on your own. One day, it's like the carpet will be yanked from underneath you and you'll see how quickly the scenery changes on the fall down.

You'll have to balance the cost of tuition, books, rent, electricity, phone, cable, internet, and groceries. Note other luxuries not listed above (alcohol, shopping money, money for things like shampoo and toilet paper). You may think it will be a breeze and that you're up for the challenge... but boy, oh boy, you are in for a treat! Perhaps your parents still plan on paying for everything while you're living on your own - but that won't last.

You will quickly develop OCD, making sure all of the lights are turned off (even when you leave the room for a second). You will resort to a sweater (or two or three sweaters) in the wintertime instead of turning up the heat. You will probably even resort to lighting candles for warmth (or at least you should.) As great as living on your own is, it still sucks. Responsibility sure seems like a luxury from the outside, but on the inside it's just a ball of stress that vomits all over you every month when you receive your multiple bills.

Once upon a time, your cell phone was equipped with voice mail, caller ID, unlimited texting and web browsing. As soon as you acknowledge your lack of money, you'll be downgrading your cell phone plan so you can have the extra forty dollars a month to buy food.

Advice? Keep track of it all. There's nothing worse than getting paid and then wondering where the hell all of your earnings went. Buy a notebook and keep track of how your money is divided and how much goes towards what. You will learn to budget and you will also learn how to fight the temptation to buy the new leather boots in the store window when you realize you'd rather not starve. Before you buy something, ask yourself... "Do I need this? Or do I just want it?" There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal out or a night of social drinking every once and a while. But there's a huge problem if you're going out boozing every weekend and you're getting harassed by your landlord to pay the remainder of your apartment rent.

Keep your priorities straight folks! And remember to budget!

Happy living!

A precious memory

Leaving Toronto was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I was in my room, listening to music, when my Irish friends piled into my doorway. Tears clogged my eyes when they handed me over an Irish flag penned up with messages that they each had written out to me. It warmed my heart to see that my friendship meant a lot to them and that they were going to miss me.

This summer was one of the best summers I've ever had and I'm so glad that I decided to go. Saying goodbye to each of my friends from all over the world was harder than I could've imagined. It's seldom that many people can say they spent their summer becoming friends with people from France, Ireland, America, England, Holland and Austria. We were a close-knit group who loved spending time together. So, as devestated as I was that I couldn't go to camp this summer... I'm doubtful that I would've had a better time there. For years, my summers at camp were as good as it got - I couldn't imagine anything better... until now. I'm not sure if I'll ever have a summer as memorable as my summer of 2010.

I thought a part of me would be happy to fly back to Cape Breton. I thought for sure that I would feel right at home driving through the streets of my hometown, right by the ocean. But all I can think of is how much I miss the glowing city of Toronto at night time... and all of my friends that I left behind there. The saddest part of it all is that I know if ever I return to Toronto, it would never be the same. The huge part of why my summer was so unbelievable was because of the people whom I met and spent time with.

So, when I was leaving Toronto... I recognized that it would probably be the last time I would ever have a summer like this. I recognized that a lot of these friends that I've made, I'll probably never see again. It's terribly sad to recognize that my summer of 2010 is just a precious memory that only exists in my mind. It's a memory I'll forever long to escape back into...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jersey Boys


When I was a child and would see a movie in the cinema that I really loved, I would quickly become obsessed with it. The whole time watching the movie, I would be anxious to hurry up and get home so I could draw pictures of my favourite scenes. I would become obsessed with listening to the soundtrack, learning the lyrics of every song and reciting them even without the help of the background music. I would buy the latest J14 or Bop magazine with pictures of the lead actors and actresses, posting them all over my walls.

This was my personality for a lot of things that I grew passionate about. I haven't experienced this sort of love for something in a long time. Maybe because it's easier to achieve this sort of feeling about something you love when you're a child.

That is... until I saw Toronto's broadway musical number, Jersey Boys. The first time I saw it, I was absolutely blown away. It was brilliant in every way; I hadn't felt this good watching something in a long time. I connected to each of the actors and fell in love with them. I was dancing and singing along to every version of The Four Seasons' songs. I couldn't stop thinking about the show and how great it made me feel; So, I made my boyfriend tag along with me to see it again two months later. I loved it even more the second time. I've downloaded the soundtrack, and every time I hear each song it brings me back to sitting in the broadway theatre and feeling, again, the feelings that shot through my whole body. It's a healthy obsession, really.

If ever I'm in a bad mood, I just have to listen to the songs and I'm instantly dancing. I contacted Jeff Madden, the actor who portrayed Franki Valli in the show, and told him I would be ecstatic if I could meet him and the boys, get a few pictures and autographs. It's pretty much exactly equivalent to my 12 year old self meeting the J14 poster boy. I was touched when Jeff responded almost instantly. It's so great when someone so talented and admired is humble and reaches out to their fans.

So, you only have a few more weeks to see Jersey Boys - so if you're in the Toronto area, you absolutely HAVE to see it! I promise you that you won't regret it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Burst your bubble


Yesterday was a beautiful day and I found myself walking through High Park, feeling like I was 100km away from the city. The sun's rays were massaging my skin and I breathed in the saturated aroma of assorted flowers and a campfire nearby. I paused in my footsteps and realized I was feeling a bit nostalgic. For the first time since I'd arrived in Toronto, I was missing home. The only thing I was missing was the sound of crashing waves against the shore and the smell of sea salt.

Near the campfire, kids were singing and playing games and then it really dawned on me; it wasn't just home I was missing - it was camp. It's the first summer since I was nine years old that I'm not counting down the days to when I start packing to escape. It's the first summer in three years that I'm not spending my entire summer making bracelets, canoeing, singing campfire songs every night, and working with seven people who quickly become my best friends.

Camp is a memory I'll always escape back into triggered by the smell of sunscreen lotion, campfire, chicken noodle soup, pine trees, sea salt, and that musky smell your clothes get when they've been wet and lying on the floor for awhile.

Camp is a memory I'll always escape back into triggered by the sound of birds chirping much earlier before the sun rises, the laughter and chit-chatter of a crowded cafeteria room, the crick-crackling of a campfire burning, and the summer peeper's singing in the nighttime.

Initially, I thought I was completely comfortable with not going back to camp. I was ready to say goodbye and was confident that my last summer working there would be my last. But now, I find myself wanting to escape back into that place; I'm not just accidentally stumbling upon the smells and sounds, but I'm desperately seeking for them... hungry to tightly hold onto the happy memories that significantly shaped the person that I am.

It's because of camp that helped me realize the importance of holding onto your inner child. I realize life is too short to take seriously all the time and I take no shame in being reluctant to let go of that inner child. My friends here in Toronto laughed and asked if I was a child while I bought a few packages of Hubba Bubba chewing gum. We spent the following few hours roaring in laughter and snapping pictures as we blew bubbles as big as basketballs, watching and hoping that they'll burst all over the others' faces. I constantly tell them that "you're never too old to be a child again". As we grow older, we tend to mature and forget how easy it was to fall into the world of play. I remember the satisfaction I got as I child while I played with my barbie dolls and plush puppies. As we grow up and change, our interests and ideas of "fun" evolve and change. I'm not saying we should all haul out our old trunk of barbie dolls and other such toys, but I'm saying we should learn to embrace our inner child in different ways - in new and adaptive ways.

Do yourself a favour and go buy an outrageous flavour of Hubba Bubba bubble gum and chew away. They've changed the gum since we've been kids, you know?


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Get Ready

I can't believe it's basically July already. All of you high school graduates must be excited to soon start the next chapter of your life! When I was in your shoes, I had the next ten years of my life planned and I was confident that I knew exactly how everything was going to play out. If you would've told me then that I would be in Toronto doing an artist residency now, I would've laughed really hard.

I think it's important when you're young to have many dreams and aspirations. You shouldn't be so close minded to options like I once was. I think when we're younger, we're a little stubborn and oblivious to the fact that what we want in life will change as the years go by because we, ourselves, inevitably change.

Four years ago, just after graduating from Glace Bay High School, I was in a relationship with a guy I had been dating throughout high school. I would've bet my life on us being together for the rest of our lives. He was my first love and it was evident that I didn't have a life outside of him... I was perfectly content with that. We were so in love that anything outside of our relationship didn't matter and I know, without a doubt, that I never would've gone anywhere without his side (including an artist residency in Toronto). We went to university together and our plan was to finish school, become teachers, get married, move to Antigonish and start a family.

That plan lasted a whole two years post-graduation before university acted as a barricade, tearing us apart. You will change more than you could anticipate in university and it will truly be self revolutionary. My first love and I grew up and grew apart, but it was probably the best thing that ever could've happened (at least this was the case for me, I'm not sure how he turned out because we've never talked since). I was devastated and crushed as all my dreams and plans were dramatically destroyed before my eyes. But it was when the pages of my pre-written book of life were erased that I truly became a writer. I held the pen and was in complete control. For years with my first love, I knew exactly who I was but now that he wasn't in the picture anymore I had to do some major soul searching and self re-evaluating. I had to find out who I was without him. It was during this period that I started doing things I never would've imagined doing if I were still with him - especially traveling (something I couldn't IMAGINE living life without doing now)

So, you're starting to pack up your life in preparation for the big move to university and I'm telling you... to let go of all your plans. I want you to fully embrace the change that you're about to go through and get ready to face dramatic hardships that will really shape who you are. I'm not saying to let go of your dreams and aspirations, I'm telling you to come to the realization that as you change, so will your dreams. So be prepared to be disappointed, but be prepared to learn and grow from those disappointments.

Monday, June 28, 2010

G20 Zoo




I couldn't believe the chaotic mess that Toronto was the past weekend during the G20 summit. I was on a leisurely stroll through Dundas Square when I accidentally walked into a riot. I actually witnessed the transition from humans to animals as I watched crowds of people throw bricks through store windows and spray paint protests over building walls. I was appalled to see how boisterous and disgusting people were acting. I'd never seen so many police in my life as hundreds lined the streets, equipped with face masks and protective shields. There were police men and women in buses, vans, trucks, bicycles, public transportation and on horses.

It felt like I was in the midst of a war while crowds of people trumped the streets. These streets that I normally walked where I once felt safe, I found myself swallowing lumps of nervousnesses while I kept my arms tucked close to my body. I was tripping over abandoned protest signs, clothes, shoes, garbage, and broken glass. I walked down Yonge Street where every second store's window was smashed. Stores and malls were on lockdown; Their shoppers pressed their hands against the store windows, mouths open in surprise and disgust while they watched the horrific event.


Remember the movie Jumanji? Remember when the animals took over the city and stampeded through the streets destroying everything? That's exactly what it felt like while I walked through the stampede of people.


So, maybe you're questioning my previous statement about witnessing humans transitioning into animals but perhaps this will clear it up if what I've said already hasn't. Above you see an elephant destroying a car, without remorse. And below you see what protestors had done - lit a police car on fire. What normal human beings would do this without remorse? -- only the ones corrupted with the instincts of an animal.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

$$$

I never used to let money (or the lack of money) stress me out, but it seems to be sort of inevitable since I've gotten here in Toronto. It was a lot more difficult to find a job here than I thought it was going to be. I dropped off resumes almost everywhere, but with no luck.

Anytime during the school year that I used my credit card for groceries, or shopping, or whatever, I would just put the money right back onto it once I got paid. But now, it's like I feel guilty with every purchase - even if it's a purchase that is a necessity (food, art supplies).

Every weekend there is always something going on. My friends always want to go out, and I don't want to return back to Nova Scotia regretting not going out with these people whom I may never see again. So, I try to convince myself that this summer in Toronto is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I should live it up, and not let money be an issue. And when I see things from that perspective, I don't feel so stressed; However, I don't think my parents see that things from that perspective. I think they're more stressed about the money I'm spending than I am --- which drives me to frustration... and more stress. It makes me feel guilty every time I transfer money into my account to buy a baguette sandwich for lunch, even though I convince myself that I have to eat.

So, as much as I love Toronto (and I really really do), it's evident that you need a LOT more money to live here than in Sackville or Cape Breton. I just wish I could win money; I would buy a lottery ticket if I wouldn't feel guilty about spending two dollars on it.

I was hoping that since I'm a lifeguard I could easily pick up some shifts at the U of T swimming pool, but they were over staffed and not looking for any more lifeguards.

I was hoping that I could make some money off of my art, but it's way more difficult to get recognition in a big city than a small town.

Sigh. What I really want more than anything right now is a plate of delicious pasta... but I really don't have the money to spend on it.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cell Phones


Did you ever think about how much we're tied up into our cell phones? Instead of passing people on the street and engaging in conversation, we haul out our cell phones desperately needing to look busy to avoid the awkward passing. There are so many times people have almost walked into me, because they refrain from looking up from their hand held device. I admit that I, too, use my cell phone in unnecessary times but after being in a big city and seeing how wrapped up people are in their cell phones, I've made it a habit to leave mine home.

It seems as though people can't go out for dinner, hang out with friends or go for a walk without having their hand on their phone, waiting for it to vibrate. Recently, there was a service shutdown and one of the popular cell phone providers wasn't working. People were going absolutely INSANE without the ability to send texts. This is just absolutely ridiculous! Once upon a time we survived fine without cell phones... and it wasn't a time too long ago. So, I really think people have to calm down.

Challenge yourself to leave your cell phone at home when you go out for a walk, or to an appointment. It will force you to do other things during the times that you would normally take your phone out of your pocket and update your Facebook status.

It would drive me crazy when I would text me boyfriend when he was out with the guys and he wouldn't text me back. Cell phones have helped a lot and have become an important way to communicate in relationships. It would drive me even crazier when my boyfriend and I were out for dinner, and he would be texting his guy friends. So, as great and convenient as cell phones are, I think we have to learn to become less attached to them. There is a time and a place for cell phones, and I think we abuse them way too much. We've become so reliant on this technology that it can be, and is, a huge issue.

Once upon a time, when out at the club with my friends - I would constantly be checking my cell phone for texts or missed phone calls. I would become so wrapped up in it, that clearly it was interfering with me having a good time. So, while in Toronto, I've been leaving my cell phone at home and having a far more enjoyable time out with friends. What I think is even more nauseating is seeing children and young teenagers with cell phones. I, as well as everyone else in the world, survived just fine without having one when growing up... and I think it's ridiculous when young people have cell phones. They're way too out of touch with the world around them - and it's a disastrous thing. Whenever I have children, I will never allow them to have cell phones until they reach an appropriate age.

Leave your phone at home. Or tuck it away in a pocket where you won't be tempted to check it every minute.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I.L.TO

Never in my life, have I been so completely happy and satisfied. I feel as though this move to Toronto has helped me realize so much about myself. It has helped me redefine everything I've ever believed in. It has helped me challenge myself in ways I'd been long avoiding, but forever needing. I've only been here for 49 days, but I feel like I've finally changed the way I've been craving and needing to change. I feel like I've finally changed the way everybody hungers to change.

My mother often tells me a story about myself when I was younger. My cousin had always had difficulty in school and didn't do as well as I knew she could on tests. In grade four, I spent the whole day before our test helping my cousin study. I worked so hard on helping her memorize the material; I got so caught up in helping her study that I hadn't studied for myself. After she left my house, I was completely stressed and upset, worried that I didn't know the material for the test. My mother often uses this story as an example with how I'm always putting people before myself. She tells me it's my nature - and that, inevitably, I've always worried about other people and have always gone above and beyond to help others.

When I first got to Toronto, I went to a psychic. The very first thing she said to me was, "You always put other people first. You have to stop doing that. You have to put yourself first, and think about what you want and need. Everything else will fall into place."

The move to Toronto has, for the first time in my life, made me think of myself and what I want/need. Maybe that's why I feel so fulfilled and so satisfied. Everyday, before being in Toronto, I always felt the same anxiety and stress that I felt after my cousin left my house that day I helped her study. Now, that huge weight of stress has been lifted off my chest... and I just feel relieved. Now, I do the things I do and make the decisions I make because I want to... and for no other reason but for myself.

There were many reasons why I didn't want to go to Toronto in the first place. I was thinking about all of my friends and how much I'd miss them, I was worried about my relationship with my boyfriend, and I was thinking about my sister and her pregnancy. After plunging through the thoughts of everyone else, I settled on the thoughts of myself and realize that I needed to make this move. I think it's important for everyone to make a move like this in their life. Don't ever settle for the ordinary. It's better to regret what you've done rather than what you haven't. Life is way too short to stay in your comfort zone. Remember that you're creating your own autobiography. Don't write a crappy book... create a masterpiece. Don't create something just mediocre. You hold the pen... no one else.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Letters to a Young Artist


One of my favourite books is Letters to a Young Artist by Julia Cameron. I've read it a few times, but it's comparable to a favourite movie... one you can watch over and over again. Every time you flip through the familiar pages, you gain a little bit more out of it than the last time you read it. Like your favourite movie, there are quotes and jokes you didn't quite comprehend but watch it again in a few years, and they become much more clearer and you're better able to appreciate them. That's exactly how I feel about this book.

Have you ever stumbled across a quote that when as soon as you read it, it was as if you took a huge breath of fresh air? Finding quotes that relate to you can be self revolutionary and motivational. This book, for me, is filled with them. If you're into any sort of creative arts (writing, visual arts, etc.) then I suggest this book become a part of your library. But it's still a great read even if you're not creative or artistic. Many of its quotes can metaphorically relate to life in many many ways. Julia Cameron states a Picasso quote that "we are all born children" and that "the trick is remaining one." She says that children don't worry about masterpieces when they are playing. We, as artists, only want to make good art - masterpieces, but bad art is better than creating no art at all. We have to stop thinking and talking about making art and DO IT. The quote Cameron says is "art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite -- getting something down." She elaborates a lot on this, which helped me sort of break away from my theory of "well, I'm not FEELING motivated! I don't want to make art today... so I won't! There. It's rationalized." Bullshit!

"As you move towards a dream, the dream move towards you". This is such a great quote to keep in your mind because, when you think about it, it's so true. How will you ever reach your goals if you sit back, wondering how you're going to reach them? You have to move and work, and eventually your efforts will be rewarded and your goals will be in reach.


Everything is falling into place for me


Toronto is amazing. I can't believe, for a second, that I had doubts about coming here. This was absolutely 100% the best decision I could ever make. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm where I should be.

I feel like for the first time in my life, I really know who I am. As soon as I got here, everything sort of fell into place and I've never felt so great about myself. Toronto is so rich in art and culture and there's so much to get involved in. I was chosen to represent the Toronto School of Art in the annual Riverdale Art Walk and I sold the painting that I had submitted to exhibit. My creativity has flourished and, because I'm constantly being exposed to art and culture, I'm constantly motivated. I realize that making bad art is better than making no art at all; so, I'm constantly creating something.

(one of my recent portraits)

My independence was something I was slowly beginning to lose a grasp of over the years, but being here in Toronto has really helped me redefine who I am. I know now, without a doubt, that there is so much more out there for me. I'm so motivated to go as far as I can go to reach my dreams.

I realize that, to be in Toronto, you have to have money to live. There is so much going on all the time and so much to do, but everything costs money. I've been living life as a starving artist for the past month and a half and I realize that talent doesn't put food on the table. Even though I don't have a job (trust me, I've been looking), I'm smitten as a kitten. I got accepted into Mount Saint Vincent University for the Bachelor of Education Secondary Program which means in two years time, I'll be a high school art teacher. My family isn't exactly ecstatic about the idea because they see so much more for me and my talent.

However, I don't feel like it's the end of the road for me; I feel like it's the beginning. Having a BEd is something I can fall back on. Like I said, I realize that talent doesn't put food on the table. I have every intention on going to Europe when I'm finished at MSVU - and it's not an unattainable goal. I don't want to live life envying other peoples'.

I'm staying in a University of Toronto residence surrounded by people from all over the world. These people have become some of the best friends I'll ever have. The memories I'm making with these friends are memories that I'll keep with me for the rest of my life. It's such an unbelievable opportunity to be living with people from literally all over the world. My friends are from Holland, Ireland, France, England and Austria. It's great that we're all making connections from everywhere so if we ever want to travel, we can always stay with each other.




Monday, April 26, 2010

Alcohol vs. Life

I strive for so much more than what I see around me.

A big part of why I dislike Cape Breton is because of peoples' statuses on Facebook. They're constantly bragging about how drunk they're going to get, how drunk they are or how hungover they're going to be. It's noon, and people feel the need to brag about them being "2 beer deep".

I'm not saying drinking doesn't exist everywhere - especially with this generation - but it's particularly prominent in Cape Breton. It nauseates me how obsessed people are with the fact they go out, get sloshed and hit up The Main Event at least twice a week. 90% (Note: this isn't an actual statistic - just a guesstimated hypothesis) of what goes on on Facebook (from the perspective of my own profile, and looking at my News Feed) involves people posting pictures of them doing shots, beer in hands, drunk times at bars, drunken status updates or wall posts about being drunk.

I'm not saying I don't enjoy going out and having a drink with friends. But I know for certain I'm over that "drink to get drunk phase" while the problem with a lot of people is that they feel the need to bask in this phase for years. When you're my age or older and you look forward to getting drunk at least two times a week - there's a problem.

I've moved from Sackville back home to Cape Breton and have been here for about two weeks. I completely understand the motivation people have to go and get drunk because "there's not much to do". However, there is SO much to do. The only problem I have is finding people to do it with. There are so many hiking trails along waterfalls and through beautiful forests that I'd love to explore.

Another thing... these people who drink at least twice a week - do they ever think about the money being spent on liqueur and going out? You can easily spend over a hundred dollars a weekend spent on cover fees, alcohol & mix, cabs and drinks/shots at the bar. Do these people who drink at least twice a week ever think about not going out for a month, banking the money they would have thrown away and saving up for something like a trip?

I strive for so much more than what I see around me. I want to see the world... I just wish I didn't have to do it alone.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Women's Rights.

Q: Why does every man need a woman?
A: Because the dishes would get piled up without one.

Q: Why don't women wear watches?
A: There's a clock on the stove.

Q: Why do women have short feet?
A: So they can stand closer to the stove.

If it's one thing that infuriates me, it's these sexist jokes. In no way AT ALL are these jokes the least bit funny. I can't count how many times I've uncomfortably sat, fuming inside, amongst a group of guys roaring over these jokes. I expressed my concern with someone recently who said one of these jokes. He replied, "it's funny." I said, "in no way is it funny at all. It's a serious issue." And he said, "it has nothing to do with you." I replied, "it has EVERYTHING to do with me."

Most people who tell these jokes are men, and men who are COMPLETELY uneducated on the struggles that women and feminist movements have had to go through. The battle is nowhere near over and gender equality is a serious issue that still exists worldwide.

It's really hurtful when I hear jokes like this... because there's nothing at all funny about them. And the fact that a serious issue has been twisted around into a laugh is absolutely disgusting. Some people may swear at me to lighten up and to learn to take a joke. But the fact of the matter is that these "jokes" shouldn't even be told at all. Why should women be expected to "lighten up" and "take a joke" when it's directed at them?

Women's rights are in no way a laughing matter. End of story.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toronto



I had a lengthy discussion with Dan, one of my Fine Arts professors who convinced me 100% that going to Toronto would be the best decision I could make. After weighing the pros and cons I really asked myself, "why wouldn't I go?" Even if I absolutely hate it, it's only thirteen weeks. This could be a life changing experience. This opportunity could open up doors for me. Dan said if I decided not to go, it could be a decision I'd come to regret. I don't want to look back on my life wondering, "what if?"

I told Dan I was stressed about the cost of the program, the cost of rent, finding a place to live, total cost to live there, cost of food, cost of art materials, etc. He looked at me, smiled and said, "All you have to do is make the decision to go; Once you make that decision, everything else will work itself out."

I think that's the best advice I've ever heard. Think about it. All you have to do is make the decision... and everything else will indeed fall into place. So, the stress has been released and the excitement is kicking in.

I booked my flight. I fly to Toronto on May 1st, stay in a hostel the night of the 1st and 2nd (because the residence I'm staying in doesn't open until the 3rd) and then I'll be renting a room from the University of Toronto residence for three months.

I've never been to Toronto so I'm definitely going to make a "While in Toronto" bucket list to tackle for the thirteen weeks I'm there. I am a little bummed to miss graduation - mostly because I was looking forward to spending the last weekend with my BFA friends before we part ways. However, the unofficial opening of the BFA grad art exhibition is in April (which I had initially planned on skipping to move home) but since I'm missing convocation weekend, I think I just might have to stay.

So, I'm off... to go google things I can do in Toronto.

Take care until next time!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I am a feminist.

The correspondence course I took this semester was Canadian Studies 3301: Canadian Women: Critical Perspectives. This course was one of the best and most memorable courses I've ever taken.

This course was a real eye opener to me. Prior to taking this course, I, along with many other women my age, shrugged my shoulders at the thought of "feminism". I figured it was a term that was slowly diminishing and a term that didn't hold, at all, as much significance as it did in the past. I was basically already convinced that we had "won the war".
Reading the course text, Open Boundaries, was self-revolutionary as it made me see my life and the world around me from a completely different perspective. It made me realize how much of a feminist I really am and how proud of myself I am now that I finally realized it. Hearing the perspectives of the women authors made me respect the issues that women have had to deal with in the past. It made me appreciate the little things that I take for granted.

I'd never really taken an interest in provincial or government elections before. I've been able to vote legally now for five years, yet I've never ever participated in the act of voting. I rationalized this decision with the fact that I know very little about this topic and I didn't feel comfortable voting when I'm not fully educated on the subject; However, I hadn't taken into consideration until now the fact that, once upon a time, it was only men that held the power to vote. The choice to vote is something I should appreciate and take advantage of. Now, I want to take interest in elections, educate myself, and voice my own opinion.

There were many thoughts that ran through my head the past few months while reading the chapters in Open Boundaries. I'm very much a romantic person, very in love with love. Yet, I'm completely independent. I'm a regular girl with the dream to fall in love, get married, and have a family; however, this dream won't interfere with my dream of being an independent traveling artist. I was thinking a lot about marriage and the act of women changing their surnames to match their husband's. I remember, when I was younger, being completely appalled when I recognized that a woman didn't take her husband's last name. I remember being confused and not able to understand why a woman would keep her own last name. This course made me reflect back on these thoughts and see the situation from a new perspective. I asked my partner if he'd be offended if, when married, I decided to keep my maiden name as my surname. He said he hadn't thought about it but he concluded he wouldn't be happy about the idea. Why are women just assumed to adopt her husband's last name? Why aren't the roles reversed? Why should names by changed at all? Why is the traditional act of "the name change" so vital to marriage? Why would my partner be bothered if I chose to keep my own surname when the most important thing about marriage is celebrating the love between two people?

There are a lot of questions this course made me ask myself. Some questions have been answered easily and some answers I will have to come to understand and learn in time. I'm glad I've come to understand the importance of feminism in the past, and the importance and need of feminism presently and in the future. I recognize now that the gender gap still exists and women are still striving to achieve gender equality. Society, the world, and everyone in it will continue to evolve; therefore, new barriers will be formed. Challenges will continue to be faced as new ones reborn according to the dictates of the changing society. Gender equality is an ongoing struggle that will continue to be brought to justice. It's a long and tedious process but persistence will pay off in the end. Just look at how far we've evolved from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

I'm happy to title myself a feminist and I appreciate the battle that women have had to fight in the past to allow me to have the privileges I do now. I, too, will strive to make gender equality an attainable goal.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Well...

Two days ago...

Nope. No news yet on what I'm doing next year. The longer I wait, the more I lose my motivation to do everything else. There are three weeks left. Three weeks. Three weeks until I'm completely finished my degree. Three weeks until I have to pack up all of my junk and move back home. That means I'm going to have to start packing PRIOR to that third week mark. I'd love to know exactly where I'm going while I'm packing... or before I start packing.

This is unbelievably stressful; I've been avoiding blogging because all I can seem to write (and think) about is the frustration that's burrowing inside of me.

Earlier today...

I called NSCAD, asking them when I would hear back from them. I was told they were currently rifling through the numbers of applications and I would hear back from them in three weeks. I hung up the phone, stressed when I realized that this is only the first process. They're not basing their initial decision on my artwork - only the sheet of paper I filled out. Only after that step do they ask for portfolios and review them. This basically means I'd have to wait an additional Lord knows HOW long before I find out whether or not I actually get into the program I applied to.

Later today...

I got an e-mail from the Toronto School of Art telling me I'm one of the six people accepted into their independent studio summer residency program. They said the program starts May 3rd and runs until July 30th. This would mean I'd miss my graduation... what I've been working towards for the past four years. They told me I'd have to let them know what I decide by April 16th. That's essentially three weeks... three weeks. I have to let them know if I want to go in three weeks... probably before I hear anything from NSCAD.

Currently...

So, I've heard back from one of the three schools but my stress level hasn't decreased any. I'm desperately trying to weigh the pros and cons. If I go to Toronto, I'll be back in time to go to NSCAD if I do get accepted; however, if I do go to Toronto... I have very short time to find a place to live for three months while I'm there. The tuition is $2,500. This obviously doesn't include the cost of rent for three months (which will probably be an additional $1,500) plus the cost of food, etc. This would be an amazing opportunity for me to work in a creative space with five other artists hungry to strengthen their artistic abilities. I've never been to the city, so this would be extremely overwhelming... but exciting? I'd actually be living life as a starving artist.

Oh! I don't know what to do! The thought of missing my graduation makes me sad. What would you do if you were in my situation?

Maybe my next entry will be the pros vs. the cons. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

embrace


The grad banquet is Thursday and I'm pretty excited. I hadn't planned on going at first but I realized I only have a month left as a Mount Allison student and I should soak every bit of it up that I can. That means participating in the grad events that will be happening so I can surround myself with the faces that have become so familiar to me over the course of four years... faces that will diminish in time.

My mother always initiates conversation about my university experience and asks whether or not I'm going to miss it here. I respond honestly and bluntly, "nope." It's not that I, in any way, regret my decision to come here. It was the first gutsy and adventurous thing I did. My four years at MTA have shaped me into the most independent person I can be. The easy choice would've been choosing a university closer to home, but I desperately wanted to escape that easy route. I wanted to choose the route that was the least likely route I would take. My four years at MTA have strengthened my artistic mind, soul, and talent in more ways than I ever could've predicted.

My first year was extremely exciting and overwhelming. That glam wore off near the end of the second year. Not that I didn't love Mount Allison as much as I did when I first came here... it just turned into something not as exotic. It just become normal. Predictable. Plain. School. Work. Stress. Routine. Yes, routine is definitely the proper term I was looking for.

I'm desperate now to break away from that routine and seek a new adventure... an adventure I've been longing for since the mid-way point of my degree journey. So... no, Mum, I will not miss the predictable. I will not miss the plain. Or school. Or work. Or stress. Or the routine. But I will miss that independent exotic adventure that Mount Allison was. And Mount Allison was. My Mount Allison experience was everything I could've ever expected and imagined it to be. And I will miss the friends I've made along the way who helped shape me into the artist and person I am.

The last two years have been that escalation to the top of the roller coaster. I'm sitting in that cart now. I'm waiting at the top - inching slowly closer towards to edge. I'm anxiously waiting. I'm biting my fingernails and tapping my foot. I'm waiting for that push and the thrill of the adventure... for when I feel the wind press against my face as I throw my hands up in the air, embracing the thrilling drop of that roller coaster.

The climb to the top has been a struggle. But I'm ready to let go of the rail now. I'm ready to be pushed. I'm ready to throw my hands up into the air and let out a scream. I'm ready to be whipped around and knocked off my feet. I'm ready for a new adventure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

snail mail


When I was little, I would anxiously wait for my father to check the mail. I'd scurry over to the table as he'd throw down a handful of envelopes and flyers. My eyes would widen and my heartbeat would quicken, soaked up in the possibility of seeing my name scribbled across an envelope.

There have been a ridiculous amount of benefits with the evolution of technology but one thing I hate is how nobody communicates in letters anymore. I still check my mail, rummaging through envelopes and flyers, hoping to come across an envelope with my name scribbled across the front (something other than a cable, internet, or phone bill).

There's something so personal and precious about a hand written letter. Because everyone communicates in Facebook messages, MSN instant messaging and e-mails, perhaps "snail mail" is even more personal and precious now than ever.

I want to introduce you to a website I was told about. www.sendsomething.net is a website where you put in your mailing address and have people send you random postcards, letters, knick knacks, artwork, and just silly little random things to make you smile. You can browse through many profiles and addresses of people who would love to receive something from you and they'll happily return the favour. This website makes me unbelievably happy knowing that there are people in the world who value the preciousness and simplicity of a handwritten letter. There's something so satisfying and heartwarming knowing that the person you decide to send something to will be delighted to see their name scribbled across an envelope in your handwriting.

So, go register for that website. Maybe I'll come across your profile and send you something in the mail that will make you smile (only if you promise to return the favour!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

How full is your bucket?


If you had one day left to live, what would you do? Ride a bull? Throw a legendary party for everyone you love? Vegas? Now, if you had your whole life to live, would you lose that drive, or would your list just keep getting longer? It's all in the question: "What do you want to do before you die?"

It's reading week and I'm home (as are a lot of university students). Everyone's break seems to have fallen in the same time frame. Everyone's frantically trying to find plans to fill up their week; however, for me, instead of thinking about my plans for the week, I'm constructing my bucket list of goals I want to achieve before I die.

There's a new TV show that I've been watching on http://www.mtv.ca called The Buried Life which tells the story of four university students from British Columbia. These four friends have constructed a list of 100 things they want to do before they die. They journey across North America trying to accomplish everything on it. The main plot revolves around the question, "What do you want to do before you die?" For every thing they strike off their list, they help a stranger do something that they want to do before they die. It's such a motivational and inspiring show. It's also pretty amusing and hilarious while they attempt to achieve goals such as "party in the PlayBoy mansion" and "go on a date with Megan Fox".

It really got me thinking of things I want to do and there's no reason why I can't cross everything off on my bucket list. I suggested to my boyfriend that we should both come up with 50 goals each and, every year, cross a few off.

Here's what I've cooked up with so far (in no specific order):

  1. Travel to Ireland
  2. Write and publish a book
  3. Become a well established and well known independent visual artist
  4. Sell a painting for a ridiculous amount of money
  5. Go white water rafting
  6. Sky dive
  7. Take up skiing as a hobby
  8. Learn to surf
  9. See Stonehenge
  10. Float in the Dead Sea
  11. Visit the Lascaux Caves
  12. Take salsa or tango dance lessons
  13. Ride in a hot air balloon
  14. Go on a helicopter ride
  15. Go snorkelling somewhere exotic
  16. Go rock climbing
  17. See the Taj Mahal
  18. Climb up the Statue of Liberty
  19. Go camping around the Cabot Trail
  20. Jump from the top of a waterfall
  21. Fly a kite
  22. Learn a magic trick
  23. See a NHL game live
  24. Learn how to sew
  25. Finish learning how to play guitar
  26. Learn different types of origami
  27. Read all of The Chronicles of Narnia
  28. Get a Masters degree in Fine Arts
  29. Go tubing on water
  30. Donate blood
  31. Watch the 250 top movies on IMDB
  32. Learn to drink wine
  33. Get married
  34. Swim with dolphins
  35. See penguins
  36. Revisit my old house
  37. Go on a safari
  38. Ride a camel
  39. Go on a silent retreat
  40. Get a professional massage
  41. Stay in the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel
  42. Scream from the top of a mountain

So, what do you want to do before you die? Start constructing your list. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. Just don't ever think of a goal as being unachievable or farfetched. That's not even a possibility. Every goal is achievable if you put your mind to it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the uncomfortable abyss of oblivion


I really can't think of anything but the vast abyss that is laid out in front of me. I hate the fact that it's not even me, standing at the crossroad, forced to make the decision for my future. My future and the decision to travel down either road is in the hands of complete strangers, and I'm not even entirely sure when they're going to make the decision.

While I was standing, staring into the abyss of oblivion, a possibility dawned on me:
What if I don't get accepted anywhere?

That thought had never even occurred to me and the more that thought sinks in, the more nauseous I get. I have to get accepted somewhere or else I'll have to start paying back the copious amount of loans I'd been granted over the past four years. I'm not usually one to wallow in negativity but the realization that it's ultimately not up to me where I go in September is swamping my mind daily.

I have no doubt in the strength of my art portfolio and I'm confident my love for what I do evidently shines through in my artwork; however, I'm just really worried because the competition is tight. I've applied to the Toronto School of Art who accepts about six people for the program I applied to and I've applied to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design who probably doesn't accept many more than that.



NSCAD would be an ideal choice. Halifax is perfect. My brother and sister live there as well as the vast majority of my friends. I've been to Halifax plenty of times and if I did get accepted into NSCAD, my life and what I want to do is completely laid out for me.
However, if I get accepted into the TSA program there's so much adventure laid out in that option. My life is fairly plain, boring, predictable, comfortable. Lauren Conrad said she wanted to move away from her perfect life to be uncomfortable, and there's something inspiring about this point of view. The more I think about it the more excited I get about the possibility of being in Toronto and the completely different lifestyle I'd be exposed to. Who knows what direction my art would take. It's sort of overwhelming to think about.

If I don't get accepted into any school, maybe I'll just take that leap face first into the abyss of uncomfortable oblivion and move to New York City.

Friday, February 12, 2010

teaching a lesson


So, I hadn't heard back from Cape Breton University about the Bachelor of Education program that I'd applied to, and I'm not entirely upset about it. Though, I think it is ridiculously rude that they haven't contacted me to let me know that I wasn't accepted into the program. I think if you've paid an application fee (which I did) it should be mandatory for them to put the simplest effort into sending a letter or e-mail stating the outcome of their decision.


I've come to the realization that they don't want art teachers educated to teach specifically fine arts because they can just hire English teachers to do it. That's basically what the majority of high schools do for their art class and is exactly why the art programs suck in high schools (in Cape Breton, anyway). You get teachers not passionate about art - teaching it because they have to - to students who are taking it because they have to, and not because they're genuinely passionate about art. I feel, however, that I could've changed that. I feel that because art is something I'm so passionate about, I could've enthused and motivated students and changed their view on taking it "just because they have to" or taking it "for a bird course".


But apparently that's not going to happen.


Everyone thinks it's a blessing in disguise; they feel like I would be wasting my talent if I went into teaching. For the most part, I believe they're right. Like I've mentioned numerous times before, I feel I'm meant to do something big with my art… and that doesn't involve being cooped up inside a classroom. I tell everyone I'm going to be famous. They laugh. I don't need them to believe in my theories about art, my art, and the world. They don't need to understand my passion for art, my art, and the world. They don't have to believe or understand my drive for wanting to succeed as an independent artist; the only person that has to believe in it is me…

… and I'm not sure I've ever been so sure about something in my life.


Don't ever let anyone get in the way of your passion. If you're passionate about something then someone (and someone important ) will eventually recognize that. Don't let other people discourage you from following your dream, and eventually you'll get there.


www.bethmartinartwork.com

Sunday, February 7, 2010

you're only a day away


Sixty. Soixante. Sesenta. Fifty + ten. Thirty + thirty.

Sixty days is all I have left in Sackville... forever. I happily updated my Facebook status displaying the countdown. I stared at it. The longer I stared at it, the faster the happiness started to diminish and be replaced with sadness... anxiety... fear.

As excited as I am to pack up all of my belongings and start the next chapter of my life, I'm sad to leave behind the school that shaped me into the independent artist and individual that I am. I'm sad to say goodbye to the friends I've made here whom I've shared classes and memories with over the past four years. I'm sad to step outside the comfort zone I've built up... and fearful of what's to come.

I'm thinking back to the beginning of this chapter of my life that began when I graduated high school. I was anxious and scared to move away... and I'm experiencing those same sort of intense feelings now. Mostly because I still have no idea what I want to do next year... or what I want to do with my life for that matter. I wish it was all laid out for me, but I suppose it would be quite boring if you knew what cards were dealt to you in the hand of life.

So, I have sixty days to make memories that will last me a life time. I have sixty days to figure out exactly what my options are for next year and what route I'd like to go. I have sixty days to figure out how exactly I'm going to pay off the copious amount of debt that has been built up over the past four years. I have sixty days to figure out how I'm going to pay for further education. I have sixty days to soak up as much of Sackville as I can. I have sixty days to create an astounding body of artwork that will hopefully set a name for myself.

But for now, all I can really do is take it one day at a time. That's really what life is all about... taking it one day at a time and living for the moment. How terribly sad life would be if all it consisted of was countdowns. It's like being a kid and as soon as school's out for the summer, you start counting down to the last week in August when you go away to your favourite camp. The whole summer is consisted of anxiously tearing off the days of the calendar, making your way closer to the day where you pack your bags for camp. Before you know it, camp has come and gone, summer is over and you're back to school again. You don't know where the summer went.

You don't want your life to be full of countdowns and not living for the moment because before you know it, you're ninety years old and wondering what happened to all the days of your life.

So, let's rewind back to the first number we were ever introduced to... and let's start there.


One. Un. Uno.

1.
One day until tomorrow. Let's live out that one the best way that we can.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

all you need is love


I'd love to be one of those people who doesn't succumb to the cliche that is Valentine's Day. But I'm not. I'm completely infatuated with the idea of a day devoted completely to love. I'm one of those ridiculously sappy people that craves for those unattainable fairytales that seemingly only exist in novels and movies. My friends call me a rare breed and say I "bring faith to the idea that love can be real and exist". Love is something I've always been extremely passionate about. It has always been my drive and motivation for a lot of things.

My mother wants me to be completely independent, and for the most part I am. "You don't have to get married, Beth. You know, you could just live for yourself and live out all of your dreams on your own." I smile and nod when my mother tells me these things, but think to myself, "...but Mum, those dreams aren't worth living to me if I'm not sharing them with someone whom I love." A lot of people are brought up believing in the ideology that they must meet someone, fall in love, and get married. It's rare that you find someone perfectly content on their own... with no intentions at all with finding someone to share their life with eventually. That way of life is so exotic and attractive to me, and is the basis around the facade I sometimes try to paint for myself. I claim independence when I travel to all the places I've traveled. I claim independence when I'm as spontaneous and have a fire for life the way I do. But, for the most part, the only person I'm really trying to fool is myself.

It doesn't take long before the paint starts to crack, and my true romantic and completely dependent self is exposed. It takes a lot of willpower to continually try to resurface that exotic and independent facade. But like I said, the only person I'm really trying to fool is myself. I'm coming to terms with that. My friends and family are completely aware of the fact that I'm in love with love... and I always will be.

So, no, I don't think Valentine's Day is over rated. And sure, I do believe that love should not just be celebrated on one day, but every day of the year; However, sometimes our vision is blurred and I believe a day such as Valentine's Day is there to allow ourselves to refocus and realize the extent of love that we have for that special someone in our lives; and it's about celebrating that love; and celebrating that love with each other.


Monday, February 1, 2010

the inevitability of failed perfection

Failure.

I was one of those pre-teens and teenagers cursed with severe acne. I never really thought of it as a serious condition until I made my first dermatologist visit in grade eight. She closely studied my face before responding, "Well... this is really bad, isn't it?"

For years, I made countless trips to that same dermatologist office being prescribed numerous ointments and pills. The acne weighed me down and shred my self confidence. Every time I looked in the mirror I'd see the ugly facade that masked me. Every time I met someone knew, or had a crush on a guy... I knew all they'd see was the vast amount of pimples and redness that plastered my skin. It was a painful experience - both physically and mentally. I'm an extremely impatient person and the thought of waiting at least six weeks per treatment to see results frustrated me. I hated how my dermatologist constantly told me, "it has to get worse before it gets better." I hated how my parents constantly regurgitated that same line to me. I hated the routine I fell into - the swallowing of pills at particular times before and after meals, the application of the numerous tubes of ointment that were to be used at specific times of the day. I didn't just have it on my face. It was on my arms and my back. I was prescribed specific ointments to apply to those areas at specific times of the day as well.

Makeup became my best friend. I was obsessed with caking on copious amounts of liquid foundations and powders to cover my face. My dermatologist would scold me when I popped a pimple, telling me it would scar. I didn't care. I had no patience to deal with said pimples, and they were much easier to cover with makeup once they were popped.

In high school, I would make routine visits to the bathroom and my locker before, after and between classes to check my face. Ten minutes at the end of every class was designated to haul out my foundation and mirror to retouch what had come off. No matter how hard I tried, the acne would always beat me down. I couldn't run away from it. I strived for this ideal perfection that I never could really obtain.

My acne is gone now, but I still see that pimpled face teenager when I look in the mirror. I'm cursed with the scars that my dermatologist warned me would appear from popping the pimples. Makeup is still my best friend. I'll spend forever getting ready for the day, applying my makeup; at the end of the day, I'll look in the mirror and see that my makeup has diminished. I'm still striving for that perfection that really is unattainable.

I think we're this way with a lot of things. We all want to pick the apple at the grocery store that isn't bruised... We all strive for this idealized perfection.

When I was a child, I would colour the pages of a colouring book like most children do. When I'd accidentally scribble outside of the lines, I'd get frustrated at myself and tear out the page to start over. How many times do we get frustrated at ourselves and want to wipe the slate clean? A lot.

I was asked by my professor to document a performance piece themed around "failure". Here, I sit at the table... blinding myself. I give myself thirty seconds to colour the page of a colouring book. Once the thirty seconds is up, I tear it out - recognizing (even without looking) that I have failed my goal to stay inside the lines since I'm unable to see. It's essentially an infinite project of striving to reach that goal of perfection... a goal we all strive to achieve throughout our lives... will we ever realize that perfection doesn't actually exist?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bryan.


I was fourteen when I met him.

The summer of 2002 was the summer that everyone went to the mall on Saturdays. Saturday afternoons in the mall were spent mingling with friends from various groups and meeting new ones.

He emitted such a positive energy and his smile lit up his whole face. He shook my hand and enthusiastically introduced himself as Bryan. There was something about him that made me long to be his friend. Right away, I was proud to walk through the mall beside him. Him, another friend and I walked through the mall listening to him speak. His voice was so lyrical - probably because he voiced a smile through every spoken word.

"Have you ever had Butter Pecan ice cream?" He looked at me. I shifted from foot to foot trying to avoid his stare. His eyes held such intensity that was enough to make my insides quiver. I shook my head and smiled. We made our way to the grocery store where we purchased a massive tub of Butter Pecan ice cream and a package of disposable spoons. We walked through the mall while Bryan passed out spoons to random friends, inviting them to try a spoonful of his favourite ice cream.

This day was the introduction of a great friendship. I spent almost everyday of that summer spending time with Bryan and his friends. We'd went to camp together that summer. I treasured every moment that I had with him because the moments truly impacted me. He was such a passionate person. Bryan told me that he had cystic fibrosis and was told by his family doctor that he was lucky to live as long as he did. Bryan had a twin brother, Brendan, who passed away at the age of five with CF. Bryan saw every day that he woke up as a gift and lived it to the fullest. He touched everyone who knew him in a tremendous way. He loved life, he loved his life, and he loved everyone in his life. He was always greeting people with hugs and smiles. Bryan expressed his feelings on his life, his disease, and his brother through his music. He was in a band called West Avenue, where he played guitar and sang. He was exploding with talent and was passionate about writing and singing his own music.

I remember a time in high school where a complete jackass (you know... those kinds of jackasses that hang out together in high school) was pushing Bryan around. Bry was wearing eyeliner and the jackass was muttering words like, "fag" at him. The jackass hit Bry's hat off of his head, shouting jackass comments at him in regards to the eyeliner. My stomach cringed while I watched, not knowing what to expect. Bryan smiled at him, "Everyone has their own opinions. I respect that." Bryan picked up his hat and walked away. This situation really showed Bryan's amazing character.

Friday. October 10th, 2003.

I was at a school dance when I found out that Bryan passed away. He'd been at the IWK hospital for a few weeks, but our prayers and hopes were high. My insides grew numb when I found out. My knees fell weak and I dropped to the floor. My stomach ached and I clenched my hands into fists by my side. I rocked back and forth, crying. My boyfriend held me and cried. I looked around while the terrible news diffused through the crowd. Tears, shouts... pain.

The following Monday at school was treacherous. Not a soul spoke. The silence held gut wrenching pain. Everyone's faces were expressionless. Nobody knew what to say. It was evident, then, how much Bryan had affected so many people.

Bryan loved his life and lived every minute that he had the very best that he could. I try to always think of Bryan when my life gets tough. He had a rough life and was battling against a disease in which the odds were against him... but it didn't stop him from celebrating life every day. I think it's important not to get caught up and stressed out about things in life when the situation can always be much much worse. I think it's important to celebrate life, rather than get upset about it.

Not only do I aim to celebrate my own life everyday, I aim to celebrate Bryan's.

Check out the Facebook page "Brystock" to learn a little bit more about how Bry's friends and family continue to celebrate his life, while benefitting others.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

flux capacitor

Did you ever think about all the different forks in the road you've encountered throughout your life? Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you'd chosen to go down the alternate path? I often do.

I often imagine going to sleep and waking up in the past, still consumed with the knowledge of the future I had initially chosen. And I often imagine, given the opportunity, if I would choose the same way that I did. You always hear that famous quote regurgitated by friends to "never regret anything in life, because at one time it is exactly what you wanted." But is this really true? How many of us actually believe this? Maybe some of the choices we've made are not what we wanted - but obstacles got in the way, gearing us towards that specific path inevitably. Maybe the vast majority of us choose to faithfully believe in this quote because it's much easier to accept than the fact that maybe the choices we didn't make would've been the better ones. Maybe the vast majority of us choose to faithfully believe in this quote because life would be extremely pitiful if we lived it in the past, constantly wondering, "what if".

Another quote I, myself, used to regurgitate over and over again is that "it's better to regret what you've done rather than what you haven't done." But what if what you haven't done was choosing that other road to venture on? Maybe one of the biggest reasons that we do wallow in our own past (and the choices we could've/should've made) is because we're fearful of the future. We're fearful of the future that is at the end of the path - the path that we chose.

But if we constantly live with regrets of yesterday and worries for tomorrow, then we're losing something extremely important - today. A quote I recently stumbled upon is one by philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard who said, "I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both."

I thought about this quote for awhile before I realized how true it actually is. No matter what decisions you make... no matter what path you choose to walk down... you're always going to wonder what you're life would be like if you had chosen the alternate path.

I recognize that "if only" are two of the saddest words in the world, but it doesn't stop me from wishing I had a DeLorean with a flux capacitor so I could go back in time. Though... we've seen the tangled web Marty McFly ended up in when he did that. However, he did make subtle changes in his life for the better and he did end up with a sweet 4x4 in the end.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

smackers

When we're stressed, upset or frustrated... we tend to reflect back onto more comfortables times when our lives didn't seem so heavy. We seldom deliberately get lost in memories that were painful... that's why it's so easy for people in abusive relationships to continue going back to that abusive partner. When reflecting back on relationships, we choose to be blind to the times when we were upset... because reliving those feelings is uncomfortable. Instead, we remember only the happy times and times that comfort us.

Some people go on forever living in their past - reliving those happy memories because what we know is a lot more comforting than the unknown. We have no idea what our future holds for us and that can be extremely overwhelming. So, even though our past may not have been perfect - it is a lot easier to think about than thinking about the unpredictability of the years to come.

We tend to tie comforting memories to certain objects. When we're feeling upset, it's natural to put on a song that's tied to something or someone special. There's this body wash I used to own... Bonne Bell Smackers Orange Starburst. I've only ever owned one bottle because I've only ever seen it in stores the one time I decided to pick it up. I just spent twenty dollars to order one online... just so I can escape into the delicious scent... and escape into the days when I was the most happy and stress free. Ok, maybe I wasn't completely stress-free (because we repress bad feelings of the past), but this scent definitely relieved a lot of stress.

There's also perfume by Bonne Bell I'm dying to hunt down. It's called "Lucky" and it was from the Emotions scents. It was my absolute favourite scent in the world but they discontinued it when I was in grade six, I think. There is something so innocent about these scents which is why they appeal to me. They remind me of the complete joy and satisfaction I'd get every Saturday going into Walmart and peeking at all the flavours of Bonne Bell Smackers lil balm. I'd scan each and every package... taking in all of the bright colours and delicious sounding titles. Strawberry Cheesecake, Nilla Mint Frost, Berry Jelly Donut, Candy Confetti. I'd buy one just for the sake of buying it. I think the process was way more exciting to me than actually using the lil balm. I had a special box that I'd collect all of my Smackers lil balms in. I'd buy a new one, take it out of the package, and place it with the rest that made up a rainbow of different colours and satisfying smells. Berry Heavenly was my absolute favourite.




I forever long to escape into a time when everything was cured with just the delicious smell Bonne Bell lip balm or body wash.


Monday, January 4, 2010

persistence pays

I'm back in Sackville now with high hopes that this semester is going to be a breeze. I only have one class on Monday and Wednesday from 8:30-11:30am... and that's it.

Why, you ask?

Well, two of my courses are studio courses which in previous years took up 12 hours in my school week. However, because these courses are independent ones this year, I work independently in my own time. I'm taking my elective course through correspondence, which I also do in my own time. Other than that, according to my audit form that I filled out, I have everything I need to graduate! It feels fantastic! This semester is going to be such a load off and a great way to end my years at Mount Allison.

Makesure you don't leave your audit form to your last year. An audit form is a form specific to your degree and it tells you what courses you need to graduate. So, you check off what ones you have and need. If I hadn't have done it I would've had a full semester... but I'm not doing to dish out money for extra courses when they're not necessary for my BFA. You can print off your audit form on the MTA website.

I've been refreshing my transcript almost every half hour. I'm waiting for one more mark and the anticipation of its final stamped arrival on the website is driving insanity through my veins. As soon as that mark is in, my transcripts will be sent to Cape Breton University and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. So, ultimately, my acceptance into either of those schools is waiting on this one mark.

I have only three months before I wave goodbye to the place that has shaped me in more ways than I ever could have initially anticipated. I only have three months before I way goodbye to Sackville forever. I'm not looking forward to packing up the last four years... that's for sure. After your first year of university, you just take what you need home for the summer and you end up leaving whatever you won't need (winter clothing, bedding, towels, etc.). So, I've basically been saving up a reckless amount of junk throughout my moves through residences and apartments. My parents have come to terms with the fact we'll have to rent a U-Haul in order to comfortably take everything back to Cape Breton (or Halifax... depending on that acceptance letter I'm anxiously waiting for).

My boyfriend, Liam, told me that if I haven't heard anything by March that I should e-mail whomever I need to in order to irk a response. "The squeaky wheel gets greased"after all. That's a good quote to keep in the back of your mind. It's so true. There are so many times my mother can ignore my continuous yells of her name until she gets sick of my persistence and finally responds, "WHAT!"

So, keep that in mind. If you really want something... (like the attention of your mother) continuously try to get it... and eventually you will.

Persistence does pay off in the end.