Fandoms – the religion of tomorrow

Before I start this post, I’d just like to put a DISCLAIMER:

I, in no way, am hoping to offend anyone’s religion, religious beliefs or even fandoms, for that matter. I am not trying to say that what is in religious texts didn’t happen (who am I to say that! I wasn’t there); I am just hoping to draw some comparisons between what I’ve learned in studying religions and myths, and what I know of pop culture phenomenons and fandoms of today.

I actually really love religions and have studied many (in school and on my own). Religion is actually one of my favourite topics, especially when looking at them through the lens of History (which is, specifically, what I studied in school). I’ve come to respect aspects of all of the ones I’ve learned about and am in awe of people’s devotion to their chosen beliefs.

That being said, I, personally, have never considered myself to be of a specific religion. Recently, I have truly taken to the “spiritual, but not religious” phrase since it seems to very much apply to my state of mind where higher powers/beings and so forth are concerned.

Now, with that aside… What the heck is on my brain that got me back here?

I just (about, I have literally one page left) finished Mythology: An Illustrated Journey Into Our Imagined Minds by Christopher Dell. The bright blue cover really caught my attention and I liked the idea of a visual guide to mythologies of all types. I was not disappointed!

At the very beginning, Christopher Dell actually brings up the point that has formulated in my mind (and has been in my mind for a good fifteen years or so) that what we, today, think of as pop culture, will, in time, become the myths of the future.

Here’s a quote from him to explain and get you in the right mindset:

“What of myths of the present day? Is there a place for new myths, or do we live in a society too dominated by science? Archaeologists two thousand years from now may conclude that one of the most significant myths of the late 20th century and early 21st centuries was Star Wars; its characters were immortalized in small figurines, and countless nooks detailed their exploits. Moreover, they will find evidence of these stories worldwide. Archaeologists may even come to the conclusion that the narrative falls into canonical and non-canonical parts.*” (Dell, p.13)

*Note from me: *cough*TheForceAwakens*cough*TheLastJedi*cough*Solo*cough*

Oh excuse me, must be something making my allergies go a little nutty… 😛

His choice of Star Wars is a fantastic example of exactly where my brain went – and as he clearly states, two thousand years from now, people may look back and take SW to be the myths and legends that we, people of the 20th and 21st century, idolized and looked to for guidance in our lives.

Now, I’m going to take what he said one step further.

I believe, not only will pop culture (TV, movies, books) be regarded as the “myths” of our time, but also, that the fandoms – that is, collections of fans – created around them, may eventually be seen as religions of our time.

And, hell, isn’t that already a little true? For anyone who knows me personally, they know how often I have uttered phrases such as:

I was:

  • “raised on Star Wars
  • “born into the Star Wars-life”

or have flat out said that Star Wars is like religion in my family.

It has, very significantly, impacted my life and belief system. I have, literally, likened my spiritual beliefs to The Force when explaining what I do believe to a friend – so, yes, already, Star Wars is that important to people’s lives.

There are, in fact, people who’ve marked Jedi on their country’s census as their religion. Sure, some people may have put it as a joke, but I’m sure at least one person in the thousands of people worldwide who marked it down did so because it actually meant something to them.

Right now, there is actually a huge rift in the Star Wars fandom that was caused by what many of us feel was blatant disrespect on the part of the Disney-Lucasfilm filmmakers (specifically because of The Last Jedi and the interactions of filmmakers with fans thereafter).

Though that would require an entire post all its own to explain and delve into, the important part here is that I (in a YouTube video review, and in real life to friends) have likened this to a schism in religion. Something has happened that has unequivocally and  irreparably caused a split in a fandom, unheard of until this point. (Yes, not even with the prequels – people may not have liked them, but no one was really denying that they were canon – see, the canon vs non-canon debate has already begun and we’re not even at the year 4018 yet!)

People have said (tweeted) the line: “Get over it, it’s just a movie” to many of us while trying to defend the filmmakers and to those people I say: (1) if it’s just a movie, you need not defend (the rude, impolite) filmmakers (who’ve already made millions off of you); (2) it is not just a movie to so many of us.

The tensions over this are running so high and this further helped me to realize that Star Wars truly isn’t just a movie. At no moment moreso than when I saw my dad and mom watch TLJ – our dad was visibly angered by the movie and about three-quarters of the way through, he just couldn’t pay attention to it anymore because he went off on how they had destroyed not only a film legacy, but the emotional attachments we all hold dear in not respecting the characters and stories so tied to our family memories. And this, I might add, was coming from my dad, not my brother (three years old when the original came out), or my sister (born the year after), or myself (raised on the VHS and Special Editions).

That tells you something. That tells you that this cultural phenomenon means something, something BIG to lots of people.

But let’s back up from Star Wars for a second, because clearly I am biased where that’s concerned – let’s talk about other fandoms.

The thought that movies and books of today would eventually become the religions and myths of the future first came to me when I was in high school. I was reading The Bible (for fun, yes! I’m a nerd, did you not know this?) and the same time was (trying to) read Lord of the Rings (I only made it through FOTR…)

Something hit me one night at around midnight, when I was sitting there on my bed, surrounded by books.

The copy of The Bible I had (thanks to the library – support your local libraries!) and my copies of the LOTR books… were laid out EXACTLY THE SAME.

That is, they both had the stories (including prose, dialogue and even songs/poems) and at the back had appendices containing: timelines, maps, family trees…

And in the moment, my seventeen-year-old brain exploded with the immense thought that, what if, one day, maybe a thousand or two thousand years from now, all record of JRR Tolkien as an author was lost, and, suddenly, people thought LOTR… actually happened?

(Again, I’m not saying things in The Bible didn’t happen. Ninety-percent of my studies of The Bible in school was actually piecing together the historicity in conjunction with history of the ancient Near East, so… I am most definitely not saying that. What I am saying is…)

People two thousand years from now might not have access to all the things we have today. In one of my classes (possibly Digital History, the course for which this blog was first created, lo those many years ago – in 2010), our professor actually brought up the excellent point that the things we are creating today (HELL, THIS BLOG!) are ephemeral things. If we lost electricity, access to technology, the ability to connect to the Internet, we’d never see any of the things being created now. Even if we had hard copies, so many of our items these days are made from recyclable materials and won’t last very long either.

But hey, what if some olde tyme version of LOTR from when it was first written was stashed in a Time Capsule and people (or supreme, much evolved human beings) in 4020 found it? What would they think of it? (I totally believe Christoper Lee must’ve stashed a secret copy somewhere to be found thousands of years from now. He loved LOTR enough to do so – there are tons of Tolkien scholars and fans who love it enough to do so. And if you haven’t yet, DO IT Tolkein scholars!)

(This brings up a whole other issue that I am not going to touch with a ten-foot-pole of an author who’s stories were suddenly believed as religion in this day and age already… But, see what I’m saying? It happens!)

On the one hand, we have texts that can be (mis)interpreted as religious/spiritual tracts, and on the other, we have the fandoms – the large and very visible followings of these “myths”

So, the year is 4018 and historians have managed to track down that in 2018 people were worshiping in various categories. Some of which included:

Jedi (Je’daii)

Trekkies

Tolkienites

Whovians

Potterheads

True Believers (a subsect of which would be, the MCUists)

And… whatever you Game of Thrones fans want to be called because I don’t know your fandom enough (or at all) enough to come up with a name for you. Winter…people…? (Winter seems to be a big deal in there, no?)

And so forth…

The funny thing is, the reason this came to my mind so strongly while reading this book (aside from my saying “YES, Christopher Dell, that’s what I’ve been saying for the last fifteen years too!” after that paragraph on p13) is because I have a hard time understanding Hinduism – and, ironically, though I said I am personally not affiliated with a religion, that is the religion that my family primarily is… (Some more than others – clearly, not me. 😛 )

Hinduism seems very complex and when I read (Dell, p343): “Effectively there are three principal gods […]: Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer) and Shiva (the Destroyer). Each can have many avatars and alternate forms, allowing them to appear in different scenarios…” my brain said, to help me understand, “Oh, okay cool, so… kind of like The Doctor? (in Doctor Who).

And that’s when I sprinted from reading the book to write this treatise (of nonsensicalness) before I forgot.

Truthfully, is it not true that we are already worshiping in our fandoms in a lot of ways?

Yes, like I mentioned about SW – that’s a definite example. But also, while I was reading there was a picture of a 10th century amulet fashioned to look like Thor’s hammer Mjolnir (p316) and I was, coincidentally, at that same time wearing a ring in the shape of (MCU/Tom Hiddleston) Loki’s horns (ca. 2018, Hot Topic. Thank you Hot Topic).

I wear that ring as a symbol of pride to show that I am a Loki fan (and, also ***spoiler alert for Infinity War, but really it’s been over a month so if you haven’t made time to see it by this point it’s really your own fault if you see a spoiler*** To mourn my beloved Loki).

I wrote an essay in my final year of university (my magnum opus, if you will) about the pilgrimages people would take to Canterbury Cathedral to visit where, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket was killed . They would clamber (or clamour? Or both?) to buy anything being sold related to him our of reverence (and in hopes for a miracle).

Fast forward nine hundred years after Thomas Becket was born, and here we fangirls are, doing the same for a fictional character (who is, ironically, based on a mythological character).

Did I buy the Loki ring in the hopes of a miracle? No, not really (but, truthfully, maybe a little… I am hoping for a bit of a miracle in the 4th Avengers movie…).

Did everyone who bought something at Canterbury Cathedral in the 12th/13th century necessarily want a miracle, or were they taken by the whole excitement of having a souvenir connected to the Archbishop?

And so, with all that out of my mind, I now take my leave.

You can agree with me or disagree with me; you can believe it’ll happen or think I’m totally crazy, but the fact of the matter is, we won’t actually know what’ll survive to the year 4018 (if anything) and what the historians of their time will think of us.

If my Loki ring does make it that far, they might just think: “Hey look, thirtysomething Canadian women of South Asian descent partook of Norse mythology…” and, I guess, in some weird way, kind of do…

 

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Happy 2018! (Aka hiatus and where did the months go??)

Hello friends,

Last I wrote on here was…oh, wow, over three months ago! Happy New Year to you all!

I had really intended to keep up with my celeb encounter story experiences, but a few things happened along the way.

(1) I realized that these stories are probably best told via video rather than in writing, so, mayb, one day I’ll make videos about them instead.

(2) I got a new job!

A few days after that last post, I interviewed for a new job and about a month after that I was informed that I got it. It’s an amazing job and I am really loving it. I’ve been waiting for a big change for a long time, something that could give me a little more stability alongside my other job and this one sure seems to be a good fit so far.

As of right now, I’ve been employed for just about two months – but the first month was all about setting up. I won’t say where/what I am working as, for anonymity’s sake, but as people in my everyday life are aware, the place where I work is a brand new location, so there was a TON that needed to be done. I’ve only just recently started my regular schedule, so it’s taking a bit of adjusting to get used to what’ll be new life from now on.

So far, it’s been great and I really look forward to what’s ahead!

All that being said, obviously, some things fell by the wayside – and writing consistently on my blog was one of them.

Given that I am starting to get accustomed to my schedule now, and I do have some free moments, I am hoping I can get back into this again – possibly, yes, with some of them celeb stories, but maybe with another “book study” – as I did with Book of Awesome, perhaps? I just have to find the right book that’ll lend itself to that! (I know Neil Pasricha wrote a sequel to the Book of Awesome, so that might be a place to start…)

Since I do have time today, maybe I’ll give one of my celeb stories a shot.

Stay tuned!

Confessions of a Celeb-Spotting Fangirl – George Clooney

Hello all,

After a brief hiatus this week to nurse my horrible allergies, I’m back with my first celeb encounters post. In case you didn’t see my first post on this, I’ll be writing about the different celebrities I’ve had the good fortune of seeing or meeting over the years.

If there’s any particular person you want to hear about, go check out that first post and my compiled list of celebs to see who I’ve actually had an encounter with and let me know in the comments of that post (or this one, that’s fine too).

When I don’t get comments, I’ve decided to just pick someone at random, so for today, that randomized selection is…

*drum roll please*

George Clooney

- george clooney

I saw George Clooney at the Toronto International Film Festival aka TIFF in September 2009 (you better get used to hearing all about TIFF because that’s where I’ve seen 90% of the people I’ve seen!)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love Ewan McGregor.  No, don’t worry, I know this is a post about George Clooney, but there’s a reason I mention this:

I love Ewan so much that I have attempted to see him almost every time he’s come to TIFF in the last 10 years – which is pretty greedy of me because I actually did meet him and get his autograph at the Cassandra’s Dream premiere in 2007.

What can I say? That was in the days before smartphones that took great selfies – or at least the days before I had a smartphone that could take selfies – so I am still in a life-long mission to get a photo with him.

This takes us to TIFF 2009 – The Men Who Stare at Goats premiere.

I went to downtown Toronto with the express purpose of trying to see Ewan, forgetting who else was in the movie. Needless to say… it was a pretty big star!

For some reason or another, I didn’t actually make it in time to get a good spot for the premiere. I remember sitting at Swiss Chalet with my sister where she’d popped in for food after work, and then sauntering over to the venue (across the street), only to realize we’d missed seeing Ewan… BUT then this guy turned up!

In addition to him, there was a driver who looked just like Kenny Rogers, so we went around yelling “KENNY! KENNY ROGERS!” at him – he found it amusing and waved at us. We were also happy to find that by a few hours later there was a rumour going around the TIFF area that Kenny Rogers was in town. And this was even in the days before Social Media was as used and rampant as it is now, so that literally just got around through word of mouth!

Having missed seeing Ewan at the red carpet, we decided to try for when they leave the premieres instead, assuming that wouldn’t really work out for us either because the back of the venue wasn’t (at the time) as well-equipped for fans and photo ops (i.e. no barriers up).

We did see Ewan, but only very briefly, he gave a wave before getting into his car, and also pretty sure this is the premiere when we saw Woody Harrleson too (but that’s a story saved for the time I pick him off the list…)

Then suddenly, Mr Clooney came out and ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

I kid you not.

People went rushing for him, and somehow in that mix, my sister and I got separated and I got pushed toward his back (I distinctly remember this too), while she got pushed toward his face.

That’s right, my sister got pushed RIGHT into George Clooney’s face.

And ridiculous (i.e. amazing) guy that he is, rather than cower, hide behind bodyguards or go running into his car when he saw how nuts people were being – this whole debacle actually started because he decided to come towards the fans, sans barriers, and sign autographs. All of this, too, while he had a broken hand!

Most celebs I’ve met and seen are accommodating and quite nice, but I’ve never seen another celeb who – upon seeing HOARDS (and it was truly a large group) of people waiting, with no barrier in site – walk towards the group rather than away from them,

I thought George Clooney was pretty cool at that point (I grew up watching Sisters and ER – actually, I just remembered that for most of my childhood, I called him “Falconer” thanks to Sisters 😛 ). After this experience, I thought “DANG, this guy is really cool!” Only someone truly easy-going and patient could have done what he did that night.

And great though it was to see one of the biggest names there is – not just in Hollywood, but in the world! – I have a feeling this is why Ewan ducked out a little quicker and quieter, because that’s usually how it goes when there’s a bigger name in the movie… So DANG YOU George Clooney, you were the first in the line of many reasons why I didn’t get a photo with Ewan!

As for did we get a photo of/with George Clooney (aside from that blurry, far away one above from the Red Carpet)?

Sadly…no.

Both my camera and my sister’s camera decided to stop working right when we got shoved toward him. I feel like she may have got a really blurry one right up in his face from what I remember, but I haven’t been able to locate that just yet. I do think she was also just very shocked to be right in his face too, so may have been hard to get a picture of him at that exact moment.

She did manage to get one of him just as he walked away though…

- george clooney2
I know, if I didn’t tell you it was him, you might not even know…

Also, important point of note – most celebs, when I’ve seen or met them (and you’ll hear more of this when I get to others) actually look WAY BETTER than you would even think they would. Most of the actresses are excessively radiant and beautiful beyond words; most of the actors are extra devastatingly handsome.

George Clooney… kind of looked… just like you’d expect him to…

Don’t get me wrong, he was nice-looking and plenty handsome, I suppose (to be fair, I, personally, have never found him “devastatingly handsome” to begin with), but…he wasn’t extra special and sparkly like other celebs have been.

Still, his commitment to taking time with all fans and being kind enough to jump right into the crowd, that was especially impressive to me! And from what I’ve heard, that’s how he always is! People told me he was taking tons of times with all fans again this year at the premiere of Suburbicon, which he directed.

So that’s my George Clooney story.

Let me know which of my other celeb encounters you’d most like to hear about.

Until next time!

The Summer of Awesome – Day 34

And here we are!

Exactly 2 months later and The Summer of Awesome featuring The Book of Awesome is coming to an end!

I can honestly say, I thought I would have given up at some point. 😛 I didn’t think I’d have the discipline to actually go through reading – and writing – about each of the 201 topics, but I did and I’m pretty proud of that. It was much harder to force myself to write about something that I didn’t have to submit to a professor or that had deadlines and it was even more hard to force myself to turn my computer on in this day and age of Smartphones.

If I continue to write (which I am definitely hoping to), I think I’ll have to make a proper space to do so, though, because trying to write on a laptop without a desk… isn’t exactly helpful for my old lady back.

Kudos to any of you who actually took the time to read my rambles, and more than that, THANK YOU for doing so! I appreciate the support, even if it was just a click here or a skim there. And I hope that somewhere along the way I managed to entertain you with my anecdotes and silliness.

So, here we go, the final four…

(197) Driving through your old neighbourhood and stopping to see the house you grew up in (pg 371)

I have lived in three houses in my life (and one apartment when I went away for school for eight months).

One house I don’t really remember all that well because we moved when I was still in kindergarten. I have vague, dream-like memories of this one… Things that I am never actually sure are real, until I ask my parents or siblings if I was remembering things correctly.

One house was literally my childhood home. We lived there for ten years from when I was in kindergarten, all the way up until Grade 8. We moved to my current house when I started high school.  I have fantastic memories of this second house – playing outside in the sprinklers, running around playing hide and seek with my friends and cousins, finding my first budgie – Joey – outside on the fence one day, and many, many other wonderful things.

We’ve lived at our current house for twice as long, but maybe because I was already a teenager by the time we moved here, I am not as emotionally attached to this one. (Probably doesn’t help that circulation is awful and it’s always too hot in the summer – I am boiling right now and freezing cold in the winter.) I do have good memories though, mostly tied to my niece, nephew and Indy.

Funny enough, my “childhood” home, the one I lived in for ten years, actually isn’t far from my current house at all… I see it pretty regularly, but… it’s not the same.

I don’t mean that in the sentimental, “Times have changed, and I’ve grown” variety – I mean, literally, the entire house looks COMPLETELY different.

One of the families who moved in over the last (almost) 20 years, changed the entire facade; it’s made of brand new bricks and isn’t even the same colour. Trees that I remember from when I was a kid have been torn down and, instead, a huge fountain was put up. (My dad once promised me a fountain… he never put it in, then years later I saw that someone had. How strange is that?)

I have relatives and childhood friends who’ve told me that they’ve gone down my old street, kept an eye out for my house and weren’t able to spot it anywhere. That doesn’t surprise me at all given how much it’s changed! I’ve even taken my cousin with me, pointed it out to her and she didn’t believe that that was the house where she used to sleep over and we’d always play.

In some ways, it’s sad, seeing your childhood home get so revamped and changed, but on the other, it retains your memories, because you realize no one will ever have the exact same experiences there that you did.

Part of me does wonder if my name is still written anywhere in the house, though… Goodness knows, my ten year old self tried to leave my mark in various places. 😛

(198) The last day of school (pg 374)

I’ll let you in on a little secret, kids may love the last day of school, but…

Teachers love it more.

Don’t get me wrong, as a student, there’s nothing like the last week of school leading up to that inevitable freedom, but when you’re a kid, your only responsibilities are your own; that is – you’re in charge of your schoolwork, your projects, your homework, your own well-being…

As a teacher, you’re in charge of marking everyone’s schoolwork, everyone’s projects, everyone’s homework and, most strenuous of all, caring for everyone’s well-being!

That can get tiring and stressful and believe me when I say, teachers deserve – and really look forward to – that two months off (which, in truth, really only works out to about six weeks, if not less, between planning, workshops and having to go back to set up and prep the classroom).

And what’s on the opposite side of the love-spectrum from the last day? You got it – the first! Luckily, here, that was about two weeks back, so I can assure you, the countdown to June 2018 has already begun… 😛

(199) When you’re right near the end of the book (pg 376)

Whether I’ve loved a book or hated it, when I reach the last few pages I get really antsy.

The type of antsy will depend on how I felt about the book:

If I didn’t like it – I’m just eager to be done and am skimming through as quickly as I can to say I finished it (e.g. The Hobbit, I threw it in the air when I got to the last page).

If I loved it – I’m eager to hold on to the characters and don’t want to get through quickly, but at the same time, I want to see how the story ends (e.g. The Help, I loved it so much that I watched the movie almost immediately after I finished and am glad to say I enjoyed that just as much).

Since I also like to keep lists of books I’ve read, that’s another reason I get antsy, just knowing I am a few seconds away from adding yet another book to my list!

For anyone curious, The Book of Awesome is my 6th book read for September – as I go by “Finished” date, instead of start date; my 49th book for the year; and my 321st listed on my GoodReads “Read” list, which, generally is made up of books, comics, plays, short stories, etc. that I have read from age 13 onward. Slowly, but steadily, making my way to that 500 book goal!

(200) Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone (pg 378)

This story about Neil Pasricha’s friend was so bittersweet because you could tell where it was headed from the title. Such a sad story, but he was lucky to have such a wonderful friend in his life for the short time that he did.

Given my (relatively) young age, I’ve actually known a few too many people who’ve passed away, including some childhood classmates and friends. Two particularly come to mind for me, because now I sometimes work at my old elementary school and am reminded of them often.

One of these friends passed away from cancer, just after high school, and it was quite a significant blow because I had just seen her when we were doing our grad photos about two months earlier and she seemed to be doing quite well, much better than she had been… I remember when my sister told me my childhood friend had passed away, it was really hard to take in and believe.

She was so sweet, always happy to chat. We were close friends when we were very little, I think she may have actually been one of my first friends in kindergarten or grade 1; I remember her from way back. She was such a sweet girl, so incredibly beautiful, inside and out.

Another friend passed away a few years ago from, I’ve heard, complications from pneumonia. He and I hadn’t really seen each other in person or spoken for years.  This wasn’t for any reason, just circumstances of not seeing each other as you grow up and grow apart as you do, but as children, he was one of my closest friends and I has such amazing memories of him.

He, my best friend and I were a little trio for a long time. She used to go to daycare with him and a lot of my family used to work and volunteer at the daycare, so we all got to know each other very well. I always have this one very distinct memory of the time my best friend got this ludicrously bright pink puffy coat one winter and he and I made her run to the complete opposite side of our school yard, just to see if we could still spot her… and we did. We laughed so much (much to my best friend’s dismay). I also remember that he was very afraid of my brother and would hide from him…

While writing these stories, and thinking back on these friends, I did tear up a little, but smiled too. You really do remember how lucky you were to have such wonderful people in your life and hope that that little bit of time you were in their life, that you added something special for them too – a kind word, a hug, a memory…

It’s hard to lose friends, especially at such a young age, and so unexpectedly. Life’s truly not fair and doesn’t often make sense, so I’ve learned we need to cherish what we have when we have it.

(201) Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now (pg 382) 

Just like I said – cherish what you have when you have it!

I’ve read and learned a lot about the importance of gratitude in the last few years. It can get way to easy to complain about all that’s wrong and take for granted all that’s right in your life. I, like most everyone, have easily fallen into this trap.

And I’m not going to pretend it’s easy either, especially when you’re feeling down. A lot of books on self-help, spirituality, philosophy and the like suggest listing out things you’re grateful for, to foster more gratitude, but I’ll be the first person to tell you that when you feel crummy, those things may not be on the forefront of your mind and sometimes they might feel really forced.

What I tend to do is, start small – think of one thing that (usually) makes you smile, even if you don’t feel like smiling. Then think of another, and another, and so on, until, eventually, you might start to feel a little bitter, even if just one out of the bunch gets you remembering something good. It’s not a quick fix for depression or anxiety – I, unfortunately, don’t know that there is even such a thing anywhere – but at least it helps you to swap your thinking a bit more.

And so, at the end of all this, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read this book and take on this project. It may have just been for my own sake, really, just to get me writing and remembering some awesome things in life, but it’s been fun to do.

Even though I had to push myself to actually write at times, I really do feel like doing this reminded me how much I like writing. Sure, I still need to practice at it to get past the bad habits that texting and social media have now ingrained in me, but at least I got started in some way!

So…

Thank you, followers and readers, for coming along!

Thank you, friends and family, who may not have even known I was doing this – and probably most still don’t – and contributing a lifetimes’ worth of memories and anecdotes that I’ve been able to include along the way.

And thank you, most of all, to Neil Pasricha, for writing The Book of Awesome and inspiring me to write on my own blog again.

And now…

On to the next project?

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*One last note: If there were any big mistakes or typos anywhere along my way, sorry for that! I tended to just write and write and write, without any actual editing or re-reading. Maybe that’s something I’ll have to think about in my next go-round with the whole blog thing… 😛

 

The Summer of Awesome – Day 33

This is the last FULL post on The Book of Awesome people! My very last post will have less entries because that’s just how it worked out.

I can’t believe I’ve just about made it through finding things to respond to and talk about on all 200+ topics…

(192) Watching your odometer click over a major milestone (pg 359)

This reminded me of a particular scene in my favourite show King of the Hill, but unfortunately I can’t seem to find the it online anywhere.  In it, Hank is so excited that his car is about to turn over to 100,000 miles, but he gets just unlucky enough to miss it and sees it at 100,001.

When the same happened in real life in my sister’s old car, she and I made sure to drive around until we could actually see it happen. It was a ridiculous thing to do and, sure, a waste of gas, but made for a pretty hilarious memory. I, sadly, never got to see the same of the first car I ever drove because I got into an accident and it had to be scrapped. 😦 I am hoping I will get that exciting moment with my current car, but it will be quite a while yet because I rarely ever drive very far!

The other thing that’s very similar to this is when it’s New Year’s Eve and you just wait to see your clock switch over to the next year at midnight. Yet, the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve either:

  1.  Not really paid attention – one year in my late teens, I actually was on the computer at midnight and looked at 11:59 then forgot to look back until 12:02, so missed it
  2. Dozed off or been very ready to!

In these days, when midnight hits on New Year’s Eve, it’s more likely I’m celebrating staying awake than I am the passing of a year!

(193) Mastering the art of the all-you-can-eat buffet (pg 361)

Our buffet of choice around here is Mandarin and not so much because it’s great, but because there aren’t very many options. When I was a kid, we used to frequent a buffet called Town & Country that I really loved and have great memories of – most specifically because it was the first place I ever tried cottage cheese!

As a kid, I actually have no idea what cottage cheese was and because it was always located next to baby corn, I thought it was just some special side dish you were only allowed to have WITH baby corn. I also had no idea it was something you could buy in regular stores and thought it was only available at this one restaurant. It blew my MIND when one day, my mom came home from the grocery store with a tub of the MAGIC FOOD that I’d only ever seen at that restaurant.

But that’s what makes buffets so special, isn’t it? They can introduce you to foods you would never try anywhere else and if you don’t like it, that’s totally fine – you can just take a little for a taste and not get penalized by having to pay for an entire meal of just that food.

At Mandarin, we’ve all got our personal favourites at this point too – like my niece who’s all about sushi and chocolate covered marshmallows and my nephew who is a fan of torpedo shrimp. For me, personally, I am enamored with their chocolate chip cookies, coconut cream pie, waffles and GIANT BOWL of whipped cream that I could, easily, eat all by myself…

So… Desserts.

Pretty much that’s all I’m there for. 😛

In terms of new things I tried that I wouldn’t usually, I realized how much I like fish by eating at this buffet. I never really ate fish before that, but they have a great battered fish and even a pretty tasty salmon… Having had both of those there, now I am more likely to try fish at home and elsewhere too.

(194) Finding money in your old coat pocket (pg 365)

Right away, I thought of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry finds he’s “even Steven” on everything and when Elaine throws away $20 to see if he manages to get it back, he finds a surprise $20 in his pocket.

I can’t think of a time this has happened to me, but goodness knows I’d totally welcome it! The closest to was when I thought I only had a $5 left in my wallet and there was a secret $20 stuck to it! (We have some really weird bills in Canada now that aren’t actually made of paper, but are some strange plastic that is difficult to fold and easily stuck together… You’d think being plastic they also wouldn’t break that easily either, but recently my dad got one that was totally ripped in half from the bank, so it’s not really all that great that way.)

(195) The Laugh Echo (pg 367)

In this entry, Neil Pasricha mentions that Wikipedia says “laughing is great for us” and that reminded me of those classes that have popped up where you’re supposed to laugh for the good of your health – apparently it’s referred to as Laughter Yoga.” 

That’s not something I think I could get on board with…

Don’t get me wrong, I love laughing and think it’s a wonderful thing, but remember when I said if you’re smiling when you don’t want to be you start to look a little crazy…?

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Yeah.

So I feel like I would be a little too creeped out the entire “Laughter Yoga” session, wondering if The Joker is somewhere, secretly forcing us all to do this for some odd reason.

Also, I have times where even when I’m sitting alone in a room and laugh-out-loud (literally) at a show I find it very strange to just hear myself laugh… to nobody. I find this has happened to me often in the last few years while watching The Big Bang Theory in particular, which actually ties back to the whole “laugh echo” concept because I’ll suddenly remember a really ridiculous scene and start laughing at it out of nowhere.

In case you are someone who doesn’t really care for The Big Bang Theory or doesn’t think it’s as funny as people say… Watch this scene and try not to laugh. Still not convinced? Here are two other favourites that I sometimes just think about at random and start laughing.

(196) Crying (pg 369)

I get what he’s saying, a “good cry” is definitely something it’s helpful to have from time to time, but there was a point in my life (about six years ago) when I cried way to much, to the point that I don’t know that I can ever think of crying as something “awesome.”

Just a piece of advice: if you’re crying every single day – that’s not normal.

I was going through some really rough times at the point in my life and told myself if I powered through, it was just my circumstances, and that things would eventually get better in time…

Truthfully, they did get better, but only once the person that was causing me to cry that much left my life.

Being on the other side of that tough time, I started to look back and realize just how unnatural it was for me to be crying that much… especially since I definitely don’t cry that much now.

If you’re finding yourself in a situation where this happens to you, take a good look at what’s causing you to feel that way, and get help however you need it. Talk to your friends, talk to a counselor or therapist, cut out that factor in your life that is making you so depressed.

But also remember, once you’ve figured out what’s depressing you, that it is okay to cry when you need to.

Like I said, being happier now and on the other side of all that, I can be more discerning about what was going on. It did take me a while to realize that it’s okay to cry when you need to – I used to fight crying at all because I went through too much of it.

Now, I feel good enough to do so when something gets to me (sometimes that’s a sad situation, like our dear Indy passing away, sometimes it can just be a movie that really gets to me, like War of the Planet of the Apes).

Hell, Neil Pasricha even mentions that crying “releases a bunch of wacky hormones” and “balances your stress level” – so it’s good for your body to do from time to time. I suffer from migraines and sinus issues and have cried from the pain being too much and have actually found, sometimes… crying can actually alleviate my sinus pressure. I don’t know that there’s a scientific reason for it, but it has happened in the past. Maybe it’s just that I give in and let the floodgates open to release some of the tension my pain has cause me, but whatever the reason, I’ve learned, it’s okay to cry – now and then.

Well, that’s (almost) it! Five days of summer left and one post to go!

The Summer of Awesome – Day 32

We’re at the tail-end here, friends. As of this post, I have less than 50 pages left of The Book of Awesome – which means less than 20 awesome things for me to write about.

So without further ado, #s 186 through 191…

(186) When you spill something on your shirt and it doesn’t leave a stain (pg 348)

You have NO idea what a win moments like these are for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I am extremely clumsy and a big klutz. It’s a well-known fact among my family that I am liable to drop something on myself. My dad and I, both, actually. Somehow, it especially seems to happen if we just put on something nice or brand new.

I’ve taken to wearing my apron while eating if I have something nice on to prevent myself from getting any stains, like it’s just a giant bib.

Case and point, my friends’ family threw her an anniversary party recently and I was getting hungry before we left, so this is what I resorted to to keep drippy Wow Butter off myself…

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Yes I am wearing a Batman apron over my dress

I actually have a very nice apron too that kind of looks like a dress, but somehow I always lean towards the Batman one when trying to protect my clothes too. Maybe I want all the added gravitas of a superhero to help fight stains…?

(187) Finding the last item of your size at the store (pg 350)

For most of my teen and adult life, I was very used to being a large, then I shifted into X-Large and that made me feel slightly crummy about myself. After a while, I worked really hard – ate properly, exercised and WOW, I actually made it into the medium and even SMALL clothing territory.

Weirdly, once I did… I could never find clothes in my size… And all I kept seeing were sizes 12, 14 and 16… things I would’ve fit intowhen I had more weight on me!

Right when I started to get used to being a Medium/Small, though, and actually did start to find clothes in my size that I really liked… I gained all the weight back.

Three years have passed since I started to gain the weight – it all started from when I was very sick with the ear infection, thus was rendered incapacitated.  This was followed by wisdom tooth surgery, which was then closely followed by a wedding – I think I gained 15-20lbs within those few months alone and it only grew more after that!

I am, for the most part, back up to a large/x-large territory, but… now I can’t find any of THOSE clothes when I want them. Isn’t that just always the way?!

I still have some of the small/medium clothes I bought in my closet that I never got the opportunity to wear. In particular, there is a lovely pair of red skinny jeans that I am keeping in the hopes that they’ll motivate me into fitting into them again one day.

By now, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am not in my twenties anymore and the old ease of losing weight I once had isn’t as likely, BUT I also believe with a little work I can get down significantly.

Until then, yes, it is pretty sweet when I go to the store and find clothes just in my size (whatever the heck that may be at this point! I literally can fit anything from a S to a XXL depending on the clothing item…).

(188) When the boss goes out of town (pg 353)

I don’t exactly work in an office, and I feel like this is more in relation to people in those kinds of settings. I imagine it must be a pretty great feeling though, especially if you work somewhere where your boss can peer over and keep tabs on you all the time. (Or watch you through CCTV):

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(189) Getting out of the car and stretching at the highway rest stop (pg 354)

Right away, this brought to mind what my sister and I affectionately call “The Tim Hortons and Washroom Tour of Eastern Canda” aka, a bus trip we took through the Maritime provinces ten years ago.

I wasn’t really eager to go on this trip, to be honest – I was young and adventure-starved and wanted to go somewhere really flashy. Particularly, I wanted to go here:

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Neuschwanstein Castle aka “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle”

Buuuut a trip to Europe was RIDICULOUSLY expensive (especially given that I wouldn’t get my 2nd shoe store job until right after the East Coast trip), and so my sister suggested we go for something a bit more local.

I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be all that fun… But now, ten years later, I can say, very certainly, that it was my favourite trip we’ve ever taken! We managed to do so many fun things that I never would have done, like see the world’s largest lobster statue, the Hopewell “Flower Pot” Rocks, visit Peggy’s Cove and, way back from Day 1 – my first time playing on a See-Saw, among many, many other things.

I wish I could still handle sitting for the long hours that it takes to go on a bus tour like this because, truly, it was the best way to do things. We didn’t have to plan a single thing, the price of hotels was included, we were taken to all the best sites and along the way, I got to read books and they showed us a bunch of movies that weren’t that bad either on the bus (I finally watched The Day After Tomorrow on this trip, after a couple years of my sister telling me to watch it).

Even with all the amazing things we did, what stuck out most was that everywhere we went, we would have to take rest stops and washroom breaks – and 90% of the time, it was at a Tim Hortons.  This is how we ended up naming the trip. 😛

(190) Planning for snoozes (pg 355)

I used to be really good about waking up early. When I was in my mid-twenties, I could wake up on the first ring and be ready to go.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, that turned into one snooze, then two snoozes… until the point I’ve reached now, where I can have an alarm everyone 5 minutes and I’ll still manage to turn right over and fall back asleep.

I’ve even had times where I’ve woken up at 5am, 6am, 7am… even looked at my phone and responded to messages and then suddenly woken up three hours later, not even realizing I’d done that.

You know what I blame for all of this (aside from my lack of self-control 😛 ), SMARTPHONES.

Previous to the ability to make an alarm for literally every minute, I just used to have a plain ol’ alarm clock, which would blare staticky radio at me and I would have to obey it. Now, you have these really, not that offensive, alarms that I just happen to tune out. (Thankfully, not to the point of missing work…yet).

I suppose I could go back to using my alarm clock, I do still have one. Buuuut… I like my sleep. 😛

(191) New socks day (pg 357)

I understand this very well. I gave in and bought a new pack of socks after trying to make the most of my previous pack for as long as possible, but once they start piling and making giant holes, you just have to admit, it’s time to give up on them,

My new socks were so fluffy and wonderful. They made me wonder, “Is this what socks are really meant to be like?!?”

Now I want to hoard the good ones for as long as possible too, but I must remember, at one time… this was also true of my crappy socks, and that’s exactly how they turned into the crappy socks! Oh the horrible [laundry] cycle!

Well, that’s all for today! Soon… the last two posts!

The Summer of Awesome – Day 31

Edited to add: WordPress just informed me that this was my 100th post! How exciting! I had no idea that I had almost 70 posts before I started on The Book of Awesome. I guess I wrote more than even I realized.

Well, congrats to me, and onwards with this post:

With only exactly a week until summer is done, it’s really strange, but the weather suddenly got very hot outside!

According to The Weather Network – it currently feels like 30 degrees! Given that earlier in the week it went down to 15, I can’t say I expected this at all. Usually at this time of year, once it cools down, that’s that! But surprisingly we just got a burst of random warmth that might last until the end of the month.

I wouldn’t mind at all if it does because as a child it was always cold on my birthday (which is in a little over a week too!). I always wanted an ice cream cake, but, alas, I was told time and again that “September is too cold for ice cream cake!” (I finally did get an ice cream cake on my 20th birthday, which I remember was also quite warm.)

But weather aside, summer still officially ends on September 22nd  (though on the other side of the equator, for you folks summer is just beginning! Enjoy it!). Before that happens, let’s hope I can finish this book and these posts…

(180) Getting something with actual handwriting on it in the mail (pg 332)

A few years ago, my best friend moved to England for school and while she was there she fell in love! That was great for her, but sad for me… She was only meant to be there for a year, but as of this year she’s celebrating five years of living in the U.K.

The one good thing that came out of this is that she constantly sends me hand written postcards. I’ve always loved cards from my best friend to begin with because she writes the most hilarious and random things, but when you get something like that in the mail? It’s literally one of the best things ever.

(181) Building an amazing couch-cushion fort (pg 335)

My sister and dad have always been master fort builders. As a kid, they made forts for me and my cousins regularly when we’d have play dates and sleepovers, using just chairs and sheets. It sounds really simple, but I once remember attempting this as a child myself and it just wouldn’t work out as well!

The sheet would droop in all the wrong spots, or I’d use the wrong chairs and they’d fall over and cause a big mess. Somehow, they just did it so easily and it came out amazingly well.

Fast forward to twenty (plus) years later, and my sister is proved she’s still fantastic at this by building a tent fort for my niece and nephew recently. Even all these years later, I was still blown away by the skill.

This also brought to mind when my sister and I went on a trip through the East Coast of Canada ten years ago and we stayed at a really nice hotel in Fredericton. What do you do when you’re in a nice hotel that gives you an abundance of pillows?

Build a pillow fort – OBVIOUSLY!

I know I have a photo of this fort somewhere, but was going through my old photos and can’t seem to find it. So you’re just going to have to do with a picture of Homer’s dream “Fort Adventure” instead…

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(182) Gym pain (pg 338)

I am not a gym person – never have been, never will be. The idea of exercising out in the open around people isn’t for me.

If I ever did go to the gym, I know exactly what I’d be like – Lorelai and Rory.

Instead of going to the gym and faking like I’m doing something, I tend to exercise at home, thanks to the beauty that is YouTube work out videos.  I may not know the “gym” pain, but I do know the pain that comes from working out and exercising. The worst is when you haven’t done so in a while and then the next morning you wake up and think “WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!”

Sometimes, it’s a good feeling because you know you’re in pain for a reason, and you’re not just waking up in the morning with aches and pains out of nowhere (and believe me, that happens more often than not in these days for me…)

Still, I wish this pain would pass quicker because it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re already aching. Some people can use that as motivation. For me… it’s just motivation to sit my butt down on the couch and not get up. 😛

(183) Squeezing through a door as it’s shutting without touching it (pg 341)

Ahh the germaphobe’s greatest moment!

I wouldn’t say I am a germaphobe, myself, but even I get such pleasure out of not having to grab the door at times.

The best is when you’re multitasking – texting, talking to someone, reading – and you just catch the door closing from the corner of your eye and squeeze in like some master thief or spy, dodging laser beams… Or, as he says, Indiana Jones, making it under the door in the last second!

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(184) Snow days (pg 342)

Did you know, snow days aren’t even really a thing at many schools?

I can’t really speak for all schools and school boards, but I do know that around here – they never actually close the schools. At best, if you hear that there’s been a “school bus cancellation” then that means the school, most likely, isn’t going to be running like usual (and, possibly, you might end up being the only ones there – as happened to me and my brother when he used to volunteer at my elementary school and we trekked there on a snowy, icy day, only to find out…no one came in that day.)

Maybe this is because as Canadians we’re meant to have a thicker skin when it comes to snow. But let me tell you something, 30 years of winter and I am DONE WITH IT.

I have said this to people in the past and they’ve just chuckled or laughed it off, adding “But it’s so nice to have different seasons!”

Is it, though…

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Any excuse to add Loki to a post, I’ll take it… 😛

I can tell you exactly when something snapped in me and made me hate winter, too.

It was lo those many years ago (4 years back) when we had a particularly brutal winter – ice storms, power outages, -40 degree whether.

Additionally, I happened to be the lowest weight I’d ever been, which seemed amazing at first, but I soon learned that when you are really thin you have very little protection against the cold. (See Tina Fey’s Bossypants, where she also discusses this phenomenon!). I caught a chill around November that year and it didn’t go away for the ENTIRE winter.

The brutal winter of 2013 was bad in many ways – we actually started to get something called ice quakes which, if you’ve never experienced it, is an extremely loud sonic boom that sounds like something is exploding. When we first heard it, we all thought something – truck, bus – had hit our house! Took about a few days, but eventually other people started hearing them too and it was then explained in the news. Until that point, we started to worry that ice had accumulated in our attic and was falling down.

On top of all this, a lot of people lost power, and right around Christmas too. We were actually extremely lucky to still have power, but my brain couldn’t handle all of this insanity it anymore. One night when it got really bad, I looked out the window (sans glasses or contacts) and saw the trees across the street that I had seen there pretty much my entire life had become so icy that they had all broken and my favourite one had SPLIT RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE. Without my glasses on, it looked like some really freaky angel of death

All of it was just too much for me to take.

The cold, the chill, the fact that I had just got a job over 30km away and had to drive in this madness (thank goodness for my dad because he always offered to drive me on really crazy days and thank goodness for my amazing supervisor who let me work from home whenever I could). Also, I kept getting really sick in weird ways that winter too (what happened a few months later? DEAF MAKING EAR INFECTION OF DOOM!)

*Shudder*

The other time in my life that I can think of that possibly started this hate for snow and winter was when I went away for school. I moved only about 2 hours away to do a Masters program, but ended up right in the snow belt, apparently.

And wouldn’t you know it, that just happened to be the year that city got it’s WORST snowfall in, I think they said, 50 years or so…

I was on the bus going back when I got a text from my friend saying that the school was shutting down… (And it actually stayed closed for two or three days, which is saying something because that NEVER happens, even at Universities!) I could have stayed home, but sadly, by then I was already trapped on the bus. A usual 2 hour bus ride took almost 5 that day…

The weirdest thing was that for most of the trip, you wouldn’t even realize the snow was that bad, it was only when you got about a half hour away from my school that suddenly you realized you’d reached Snowmaggedon!

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Me, to winter

This was about 3 years before the brutal winter, so those two coupled together can explain exactly why I loathe winter now…

If I could hibernate, I would.

The bears have it right, friends. The bears have it right…

(185) The first time you fly alone (pg 345)

I’ve never actually flown anywhere on my own! I’ve travelled places on my own (see, the aforementioned university 2 hours away), but have never taken a plane alone.

To be honest, when I moved for school, I was really worried about my ability to fend for myself. I remember, very clearly, having a day when I thought “I’m such a ditz! How am I going to make it back and forth without forgetting things all the time?!”

Well, ditzes and klutzy people everywhere – I am your success story!

Despite my qualms and fears, I managed to make it through my year, going back and forth often, without ever once forgetting anything important. I also learned that I actually quite like doing things on my own and travelling on me own. To this day, I often enjoy outings on my own (which I find some people don’t quite understand, but maybe it’s an introvert thing).

As a youngest child, I think it’s particularly difficult to make that transition from being looked after to having to look after one’s self. When you travel as a youngest child, everyone kind of takes care of everything for you – they bring you snacks and tell you where to go and carry everything important for fear that you’ll lose it.

Then you grow up and have to do it for yourself and panic sets in – why did no one ever prepare you for this?!

Maybe that’s not true of all youngest children, but I was a youngest child by a wide margin, so I not only had parents who were in charge of things, but my extra set of “parents,” who were in charge of anything else that was needed or left behind.

I guess one day I’ll have to fly on my own to see how far I’ve really come in my ability to be an “independent and capable person in charge of [my] own life.”

And that’s that for today. Only 3 more posts to go!