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Weathering the storm

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

UPDATE 11/02/2017: I found this article about 3 weeks after writing this post, and I drew parallels from its boat imagery to my own. Enjoy! Last night as I went to bed, I looked out at the night sky. Snow was falling gently, drifting past the street light and onto the ground. The world around me was in silence, despite the turmoil that was culminating elsewhere. I looked up to the night sky and I whispered, to no one, “what can I do? How can I help?” I fell asleep shortly after lying down, and I slept deeply. An interesting dream visited me not long after. I was in a ferry boat, surrounded by friends and loved ones. The captain, who was someone I actually met only yesterday, announced that a storm was coming in rapidly. We were anchored to a dock, but it would be too unsafe to leave the boat on such short notice. “We’ll be all right here,” said the captain. “Hang tight, though. It could get rocky.” The storm struck almost immediately, bringing with it howling winds and heavy waves. Our boat was strong, though. No one was tossed overboard, and no waves came over the side. I was at a comfortable spot by the payphone, where I’d set up everything I had with me. I was surrounded by friends and a few family members, and had been trying to get ahold of my mom on the phone. I saw a few people behind me who didn’t have a place to sit, so I moved all my things out of the way and let them through. My husband was near, talking to some of my family members. I looked out the window of the boat and saw other boats sailing past, going strong despite the storm, and I silently wished them luck. I wasn’t focused on the storm. I was focused on the people I loved, and the people outside of the boat—the people struggling. I was focused on strangers to whom, in that moment, I could easily give kindness. Before long, the storm passed, and we were well on our way again. There’s something we all can do: weather the storm as best we can. Ground ourselves firmly, prepare for the long haul, and refuse to be distracted from the good around us. The message I received in response to my question, how I could help, was this: more kindness. More generosity. More gratitude. Less judgment. This, too, shall pass. Around the world today—and in one country in particular–people are anchoring their boats against what may be a heavy storm. Maybe the songs we sing in celebration of one another can drown out the deafening howl of the...

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Okay, 30. I’m ready for you.

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s 9 PM on a Monday night in early June. The baby’s in bed, and Brad’s home, so I take a walk down by the bridge that leads to the university. The weather is perfect: it’s a bit warm for this hour, but with a cool breeze. I bought a bottle of apple juice at the store, because why not? On top of it, my new favourite album–Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightwish–is blaring in my headphones. It’s a nice night, and one of the few chances I get for a few minutes to myself. After a half hour or so of walking to the bridge and taking the long way home, I stop by the park on our street and sit on a swing. It’s not the first time I’ve done this. I reflect on the past few years as my legs push the air forward and pump back, my body a pendulum in the night air. 30 was such a daunting number a few years ago. “Late twenties with nothing to show for it,” I would lament to myself in the years prior, a bottle of beer in my hand as I scrolled aimlessly through Tumblr. I had an unfinished degree that I should have completed several years before. I didn’t complete any of my creative projects. I was still working retail, which I’d wanted to get out of for a very long time. My twenties were an incredible decade in my life. I learned so much about myself. I learned that I operate best when under my own schedule; I learned ways to treat my growing anxiety. I accomplished things I never thought I would, such as returning to school and finishing my degree. I made the best friends I’ve ever had. I sang onstage. I acted. I had a baby. It wasn’t all positive. I remember as I was in the midst of my early twenties, my mom said to me “your twenties are really for figuring yourself out and making mistakes”. I definitely made a few. I lost friends and alienated people. I worked a job I hated because I thought I needed the money. I dropped out of university because I couldn’t handle the pressure.  I still don’t have my driver’s license. On this, the eve of my 30th birthday, I can look back at the missed opportunities of my twenties and feel at ease. Nobody gets every goal they want done at this point in their lives. In some ways, I’m not as far as I would have liked to be, but in others, I’m a lot farther. Let’s do this, 30. I’m...

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I will genuinely miss you, 2015.

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

So I said that 2014 was quite a year, and it was. 2014 was a mixed bag of good and bad; it was a year of extremes on both sides of the spectrum. 2015 wasn’t without its rough and difficult moments–not by a long shot–but, on the whole, it was a genuinely amazing year and I’m sorry to see it go. Here are some of the highlights. Last New Year’s Eve, I went into very early labour, then spent the following four days waiting for my sweet baby to appear. Nearly a year has passed since she was born, which I find hard to believe. Everyone told me the time would go by quickly, but I wasn’t ready for the truth of that. The first 3 months were slow because I was asleep about half the amount of time I normally would be, but then the time started whizzing by and before I knew it, 2016 appeared. In a few days, she’ll be a year old. In summary, having a baby has been kind of the coolest thing ever and I’m so excited to see what kind of person Amelia has grown into by the end of 2016. In February, I received my university diploma in the mail, at long last. This was a particularly big deal because I never really thought I’d be able to come back and finish things for good, but I did. I’ve had the opportunity, this year, to work on more creative projects than I would normally have the energy for. I’m very much an introvert, which is difficult, because I’m also very outgoing. The two may sound contradictory. To put it simply: I love people, but they exhaust me on many levels. This means that when I’m working with people, I use up all of my energy on them and have very little left for myself. It typically doesn’t matter which people they are, unless they’re my daughter or my husband. Even if they’re close friends, I find myself easily “peopled out”. Being out of energy usually means that I’m not always able to devote myself to the creative pursuits I’d like to because I simply can’t muster up the energy. So, because of this, I don’t focus on creative projects as much as I want to when I’m working as I would when not. As someone who spends a lot of time in the clouds, this is hard on me. 2015, being the year I took 100% off from work, became a year that I did some new things creatively, and came up with loads of new ideas. While I didn’t make any headway on any novels, I did some really fun new stuff. One of those things was Retail Hell, a comic I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. I’ve been updating it every Wednesday since June, and it’s been a lot of fun. If you’ve ever worked retail or are curious about those who do, I’d encourage you to take a look. It’s got a few twists and also deals with a retail worker’s life outside of the daily grind. Since August, I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations about the state of the province of New Brunswick and our bilingual culture as a result of a Facebook rant I wrote. It was given a lot of attention at the time, as it was published, purposely, on the Fête des Acadiens–the 15th of August. There’s not much I can say about it here that hasn’t been said already, but I’d be happy to talk with others about it if it comes up. I’ll say it. I have to. Undertale has been a much bigger highlight for me than I expected it to be. I was having a bit of a rough time from October through early December, and wow was that game a positive thing for me. I played it knowing that it was popular. I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect to actually fall in love with the game. I didn’t expect to still be thinking about it through the...

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December doesn’t belong to you

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

The amount of people getting genuinely angry over a greeting is growing increasingly confusing to me. I’m talking about the greeting “happy holidays”. “Happy holidays” is a wonderful, all-inclusive greeting that encompasses every holiday being celebrated in December. Lately, though, people have been claiming that “happy holidays” is being used to avoid offending anyone. These same people, then, are getting offended over the avoidance of  “Merry Christmas”. This has gone from an attempt to include others, to the assumption that we are trying not to offend others, to people being offended by trying not to offend others. I can’t be the only one who thinks that progression is silly. The thing is, most people don’t get offended at “Merry Christmas”. People say “happy holidays”, not to avoid offending anyone, but rather to avoid excluding anyone. It is a courtesy. It is meant to curb the violence that is assimilation and erasure–a violence that, for some reason, we feel we are entitled to dole out just because we are in the majority. To add, there is more than one holiday around this time of year. Even if you do celebrate Christmas, the New Year is just a week after. “Happy holidays” collectively says both. Most people celebrate more than one holiday during this time. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and many others are also celebrated, and that’s why we get so much time off from work or school–so that everyone gets the opportunity to celebrate the holiday of choice. Christmas is almost always the majority. Saying “happy holidays” to someone doesn’t mean you’re taking away from Christmas, but rather that you’re acknowledging that many people live in our part of the world who may celebrate differently from you. If this seems like a no-brainer, that’s because it should be! Do we really need a reminder that different people celebrate things differently? Take a moment to realize that people are wishing you well when they say “happy holidays”. They are not trying to offend you; they are not trying to avoid offending anyone. They are telling you to enjoy this time of year, sometimes despite the fact they don’t know you well enough to know what holiday, if any, you celebrate. And, by the way, if you feel it’s ridiculous to get offended over someone saying Merry Christmas, then I would counter that it’s equally ridiculous to get offended over someone saying happy holidays. December doesn’t belong to Christians. December doesn’t belong to any one denomination. Canada is not a Christian country, but rather a beautiful cultural mosaic that respects people of all religions and creeds. In fact, there is no one Christian nation; there are merely nations with a Christian majority. So happy holidays to you, no matter which holidays you celebrate or recognize. And if you don’t appreciate my greeting, that’s cool too. I’ll gladly save it for someone who...

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Video game music

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I listen to a wide spectrum of music. From heavy metal to electronica, some pop and, occasionally, hip hop, my tastes are pretty varied. Despite all this, there has been very little, I have found, that suits working or walking better than video game music. Occasionally, a game’s music can be its only saving grace. All of the games I discuss here are games whose soundtracks have touched me in some way or other. The Sea will Claim Everything I’m starting with this one because it’s a fantastic indie title that many readers may not have heard of before (unless you read thisindiegameblog, in which case I wrote a long piece about it a couple of years ago). The game is very much like an adult storybook–with its political themes and its intricate story coupled with its whimsical, hand-drawn images–and the soundtrack goes along perfectly. This soundtrack was composed by Chris Christodoulou, who has done a wide variety of compositions–check out his Bandcamp page for more information. Despite being a fairly recent game, something about its soundtrack feels indescribably nostalgic. Favourite track: Home, Underhome Journey This is a well-known indie title that took the world by storm nearly four years ago. I was obsessed with it for a very long time, and the soundtrack had no small part in that. Composed by Austin Wintory, who has since composed the soundtracks for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and the Banner Saga, it is a masterpiece. “Apotheosis”, followed by “I Was Born for This”, are both tracks that have, admittedly, brought me to tears more often than not. Favourite track: Apotheosis Flower Flower is defined as an interactive poem, and this is evidenced through the game’s beautiful graphics and setting. Flower is relaxing, for one thing, but it also inspires awe in the player. Vincent Diamante composed Flower‘s soundtrack to be perfectly coupled with each singular level and mood within the game. For instance, the first few tracks have a calm, playful tone to them. Then, a few levels later, the game grows a bit darker, as reflected in the track “Solitary Wasteland”. Finally, with “Purification of the City”, the game reaches a triumphant, hopeful conclusion that makes me cry every time I hear it. Just listening to the soundtrack again inspires intense emotions within me that I remember feeling the first time I played it. Favourite track: Purification of the City Baten Kaitos and Baten Kaitos Origins These two lesser-known GameCube titles–Baten Kaitos being the first one released, and Baten Kaitos Origins being the prequel–have a stunning soundtrack by a well-known games composer named Sakuraba Motoi. Recently, Sakuraba has done well-known titles such as Bravely Default and Dark Souls, so the Baten Kaitos games are some of the least popular on his expansive roster. The games, considered to be somewhat cult classics among GameCube players, have incredible soundtracks that reflect each environment and mood perfectly. One of the common themes among both games is politics, and one thing that struck me was how songs on the soundtrack can actually sound political. It’s great background music, and great to write to. Favourite tracks: Supreme Ruler of the Nine Heavens (BK), Boundary Between the Wind and Earth (BKO) Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon This was a very unique, immersive game based in a post-apocalyptic Japan. This game was also developed by the same lovely folks who brought Baten Kaitos: Tri-Crescendo. The game is melancholy, lonely, and mysterious, and its beautiful soundtrack is a perfect companion. Many of the tunes are piano pieces that tug at the heartstrings and evoke that same feeling of loneliness found in the game. Fragile had interesting dynamics that weren’t always enjoyable, but it was a very emotional experience that’s worth playing. This is another lesser-known title. Favourite track: A Dedication to… Everyone ICO This game soundtrack is as ethereal and mysterious as the game itself is. As a minimalist game, featuring no heads-up display and no backstory, ICO asks its players to decide for themselves what the surrounding setting really is. The music works in the same vein. Often only centred around one prominent instrument, each...

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The great taboo

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I’ve always found our society very strange: the way we dance around topics, the way we condone violence but abhor sexuality, the way our “morals” allow us to unapologetically condemn others based on skin colour and sexual orientation. The way we put a taboo over something that affects 20% of Canadians directly, and all Canadians indirectly. Mental illness is a huge topic. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because it’s widely misunderstood. As a society, we don’t talk about mental illness well at all–we call people “crazy” and blame violence on the mentally ill, even though mentally ill people are more likely to be victims than they are to perpetuate violence. There is a seemingly unending list of non-facts and unnecessary fear-mongering. The mentally ill are thrown under the bus time and time again, used as scapegoats to avoid discussing the deeper issues. Some people are willing to speak up, thankfully. That alone can help bring about change. My name is Katie. I have generalized anxiety disorder (also known as GAD) and social anxiety disorder. I also suffer from depression, which, I have been told is directly due to my GAD. My mental illness does not define me, and does not make me a dangerous person. It explains some of my actions and, thankfully, gives me something to fall back on when I don’t understand why my brain is reacting a certain way to a situation. I try not to use it as an excuse, but it’s hard sometimes. Mental Illness Awareness Week is drawing to a close. I urge you, this week and all weeks, to consider that mental illness is a health issue like any other. Try showing some compassion, even if you don’t understand. Let’s work together to end the stigma that looms over mental health and get people the help they need. Mental health is such an incredibly broad topic that I don’t feel I can properly give it the time deserves in a cursory blog post. I felt that, on this week, it would be important to say something, no matter how...

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