Saturday, 30 April 2011

Pondering Politics

I have always been non-political. There have been times that I tried to care. I would follow the speeches and read up on the false promises. I engaged in discussion with my friends and let them influence my vote. One day, I realized that the facts I was spewing in regards to the candidates were all nothing but verbal plagiarism. I was simply repeating what the people around me had said, and pretending to have a genuine opinion. My best friend has a degree in political science. She has a genuine opinion on politics, and I trust and respect her judgment. Since she was informed, I would vote how she encouraged me to.  When I mimicked quips and facts from her it wasn’t necessarily an attempt to sound smart, but rather an attempt to include myself in the wave of discussion and debate that periodically sweeps our nation and province. I felt like it was blasphemous to admit that I didn’t care, and to allow sloth to prevent me from standing in line at the polls. I read peoples facebook statuses that state that it is my responsibility as a Canadian to vote, that I have a choice and a voice and that this is my big chance to be heard!  If I dared mention to a client or co-worker that I simply wasn’t interested in the candidates or the election, I was venerable to a verbal attack. Since I don’t like getting attacked, I lied.

After a few years of being under the rule of the party that I was encouraged by many to vote against a few years ago, I have made a few observations. I am a common citizen, the epitome of Average Joe. I live paycheque to paycheque, struggle to afford luxuries such as vacations and entertainment, and have little to no back-up plan. I work full-time and a good chunk of my income goes to taxes. Sometimes I get annoyed at our social system, our health care system and even our school system. I feel like there is too much coming out of my pocket and that I am supporting people’s drug habits and poor lifestyle choices. Then I realize that it has always been like that. As long as my country is to remain semi-socialist, it isn’t going to change. So, what is the trade? The social system keeps our crime rates low. The healthcare system is far from perfect, but has always fulfilled my basic needs, now as much as ever. Our roads are fairly safe and constantly improving. Although it isn’t perfect, it is a far cry from terrible. I live in a nation where I get to complain about having too much to eat, where the most recent cause of discomfort was due to my internet being down for an hour, and where our tap water is clean, safe and delicious.  It is a country where I receive a fair and impartial trial for any offense that I commit, and where our jails are clean and safe. No country is free of corruption, but here the corruption isn’t in my face, which is important to me. I feel that all of the current candidates will be able to maintain those things for me, regardless if any of the negative things they are saying about each other are true.

I reserve my right to not vote in the coming election. I feel that whatever party is in power, the fundamentals of our country will remain in tact. I think that it would be irresponsible of me to go to the polls without being informed, and frankly, I have better things to do with the little bit of spare time I have than get informed. In fact, each commercial I see on TV encourages me to NOT vote.  They encourage me to discourage such childishness. If I was to vote, my decision would be based not on the false promises and the dirt dug up on each other, instead it would be based on 1st impressions and appearances.  I wouldn’t know who to vote for: Stephen Harper has creepy vampire eyes, Jack Layton has a stupid mustache, and the Liberal guy has a strange name  and bad hair.  The Green Party leader could lose a few pounds, and voting green is just a thrown vote anyways and not worth sacrificing my spare time.

So, to all my fellow Canadians that are political and that are informed and that don’t mind spending their time on this sort of thing, thank you, for taking the time to make an informed decision, and for not judging me on my refusal to do so.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Training with the General Public

I am required to commute to work and the method I use is the Commuter train. The last train leaves my town at 7:30am, and I catch it from 1st stop to last stop so it provides me time to sleep!

I am not and have never been a morning person. I loathe waking up early and need to snooze at least 3-4 times before I reluctantly sit up and pout for 5 minutes. Then I walk to the bathroom with my eyes closed, feeling incredibly sorry for myself.  It really is pathetic. I am almost 30 years old and have been employed without a gap for the last 15 years. They say it takes 3 weeks to form a habit and yet, after 15 years, I am unable to adhere to the habit of waking up early.

Anyways, my inability to function in the morning allows me to be pleased with my method of commuting. I saunter on the train, and settle in the same seat every day. I got a pair of Skullcandy headphones for Christmas last year. They cover my ears and help drown out environmental sound, so I immediately don those and my biggest, darkest sunglasses. I have my “train blankie” that I actually acquired on a Norwegian train which I fold it up and use as a pillow. With my phone on my leg and my backpack on my lap, I close my eyes and let the movement of the train drift me back into slumber.  The process of determining which seat I would claim as my own was tedious and lengthy; I endured a month or two of trial and error, of being constantly disturbed by stupid conversations held by stupid people. I finally found a spot that is surrounded by other ‘regulars’, people that sit in the same seat as well, and keep relatively quiet.

It was a very frustrating progression. There are these three blonde women (not that I would ever judge people by hair/skin colour etc. I just want my readers to be able to picture the scenario) that would board the train right before the 20 minute stretch with no stops. This stretch means that I can sleep uninterrupted by the station stop announcement and the people entering the train with their heavy steps and strange new smells. These loud, trivial women would completely ruin this for me, every single day. One of them is completely self absorbed and simple minded. She voices her narcissism to her companions the entire time, loud enough for someone at the back of the train to hear every word. Her counterparts can hardly get a word in edgewise as she banters on about the gym, what she wears, her hair, and whatever else happens to spew out of her mouth. She seriously never shuts up. It’s exhausting. I finally figured out the few spots that she frequents and avoid them. I have been lucky; aside form being foolish, she must also be too lazy to walk over to the back of the train, where I attempt to sleep in peace.

There are two other groups of people that have made me “almost get up in your face and give you a piece of my mind” angry. There are these 3 Russian women that sit together every day and engage in a conversation in their mother tongue. This wouldn’t be too annoying, as I don’t understand what they’re saying so it’s impossible to follow the conversation. The problem is their volume. They don’t speak as loud as the blonde woman, but they will all speak at the same time! As the tone of their conversations escalates, so does their volume and it completely take over my thoughts and my quietly playing music.  Them, combined with the “happy pill bunch” are enough to quell any positivity that I muster in the mornings. I call them the ‘happy pill bunch’ because it is impossible to be that raucous and chipper in the morning without being on some serious meds. I mean, I love life and everything is great and my days are usually stress free and filled with fun, but there is no way in hell you will hear me speaking in such a falsely cheerful tone and such a volume so early in the morning. The go on and on, gossiping and blatantly stating that they’re better than the average person, with statements like, “Well IIII do it like this, and it’s always juuust right!” and other equally aggravating quips, always stated in a self righteous tone.  I don’t understand how being completely disrespectful to the people around you can be so self-satisfying. I can tell that they enjoy it, too. They think all the sleeping, quiet people around them are brooding and miserable, and that in comparison, they are glowing with delight. Perhaps we are miserable in our tired state, but at least we aren’t forced to entertain ourselves with psycho-babble!

The evening commute is somewhat more pleasant. Once again, I look forward to donning my shades and headphones, and catching a nap with my train blankie. It is generally less crowded, people disembark at each stop instead of boarding, and by the time I am at my stop, it is almost empty, and nice and quiet. Most of the time. The evening is when some people decide to conduct their personal lives via cell phone. For some reason, some people feel they need to yell when they’re on their phones, and I am lucky when I can only catch tidbits of conversations. I judge these overheard tidbits based on a scale of how exasperating their discussions are. “So, like and he totally said that!” is unacceptable, whereas “I just got on the train, I’ll be at the station at 7” is completely understandable. I myself am careful when having phone conversations to keep my volume at a minimum. Even if I wasn’t concerned about annoying people, why would I want the entire train to know what I am talking about? This isn’t reality TV, and the commuters don’t want to be forced to be an audience to my problems, interests, or ego.  There are always a few loud-talkers in addition to the cell-phone culprits, and I sometimes will get up and move to sit away from them. Still, it is much more tolerable to share the train with them in the evenings.

There was one occasion, however, where I had arrived at the train early, secured myself a window seat and was ready for my rest. Then, a really really fat guy sat next to me. I have a low tolerance for the morbidly obese as it is, and less of a tolerance for them taking up my much needed and treasured personal space. The train was about to leave, and it was rather full that day, so I didn’t want to get up and wander around with my blankie looking for a free seat. I figured I’d just deal with it. Then, a really tall skinny guy sat across from me! I was literally forced into my corner and unable to leave without a lot of awkwardness, especially considering my anger level; my clumsiness surely would have increased. The fat guy started eating a cookie. I looked helplessly around at the rest of the commuters only to see some Asian kid with his phone out, pointing it at me. I suspect that he was taking a picture of me pouting and huddled into the corner to post somewhere on the internet.

I have started to grow accustomed to the general public, and even almost accepting of some of them. In the evenings, I am careful to select where I sit, after the fat-man incident, and I realize that people are who they are, and cannot be changed. My dirty looks and sighs go unheeded and usually unnoticed. The other day I boarded the train and walked slowly down the aisle, cautiously viewing the passengers, trying to decide who I should sit near. Then I saw the familiar woman who wears a pretty scarf to cover her head and reads quietly and politely. She doesn’t try to take over the space that I am entitled to with her feet or belongings, and is generally non-offensive. I have even heard her talk on the phone before and I noticed that she was careful to keep her voice low and ended her conversation quickly. Once I spotted her, I decided to sit near her, even though she already had the window spot. As I sat down, we made eye contact, and she gave me a knowing smile. I assume she was relieved that she wouldn’t have to deal with the fat-man, or a loud drunk kid, or a pair of girlfriends eager to gossip and socialize. I’m sure that she recognizes me as being equally non-offensive.  Perhaps she knows me as the weird girl that is glued to the Iphone and always sleeps with a blankie. Whatever she thinks of me, I will accept it, and I will be looking for a seat near her on the train tonight.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Word Count- how much is too much?

I have been working on my next post, and I am excited about it... I was re reading it, and I thought it seemed long. I checked the word count. 1500 words. I looked it over again, and couldn't decide on what to omit or shorten.

Since I am new at blogging, I am unsure; How much is too much? Do any of you, my amazing readers, want to read a post that long?

Any advice is welcomed- Time to go revise!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hopping on the Bandwagon

Ahh, playoff time! As a Vancouverite, I have had hockey shoved down my throat for the majority of my life. My parent’s both being immigrants, were not hockey fans, so by the time hockey was being shoved down my throat, I was at an age where could chew and swallow it.
I have been somewhat of a bandwagoner ever since I was a kid. As a non-athletic girl, I hardly understood the components of the game, but couldn’t help being attentive when the contagious excitement of playoffs would arrive. My 1st memories of good playoff hockey was back when the Canucks, geared up in their old yellow uniforms, played up to game 7 against the New York rangers. I recall singing along to the radio song that made fun of the size of Mark Messiers head, I remember thinking Pavel Bure was super cute, and becoming a fan of him as he was the star of the team at the time.  I remember feeling bad for Kirk McLean, as he was getting all the flack for games lost… I remember feeling sad and angry when they lost. But, I decided that it was like anything: without the lows you don’t get the highs!

I never was a bona fide hockey fan. When I was 19 or so, I started to pretend I was. It was just easier. It was a social thing, and pretty much mandatory as it was the basis for most springtime party nights. It was also unavoidable. Going out to a bar wasn’t primarily for socialization, as everyone would be fairly quiet and focused on the game. Until the Canucks scored, that is. Then the entire bar would bellow in an excited uproar. If the Canucks would win, the atmosphere would be light and positive. Everyone would have a great night and be in a great mood. If they lost, however, the mood would be dismal. You would hear tidbits of conversations, true fans attempting to reassure each other that “it’s still early in the season” or hammering out the stats of the back up goalie. There is a certain desperation in those post-loss conversations. It’s almost as if we were going to war, and that losing is not an option. I would be curious to see statistics on the occurrence of bar fights after a losing night.  I assume that the somber air would inspire more fights than a winning night, or a night where there was no hockey game at all.

Hockey inspires a sense of patriotism among Vancouverites, and I'm assuming, among the rest of the Canadian population as well.  I realized this when the 2010 winter games were here,(which is a whole other blog post) and we would gather, shoulder to shoulder in beer soaked bars to catch the action on the team Canada games. The feeling of Team Canada winning was similar to the feeling of Canucks winning. It gives Vancouverites something to believe in. It’s like a unified religion based on worshipping those that have the power to obtain the Stanley Cup. For me, I have not been raised or baptized into hockey, but still, I can’t help but believe in it for cultural reasons.

A couple of years ago I decided that I would quit hockey. I was never knowledgeable enough about the rules of the game to call out an offside or penalty, and I had stopped following other teams and player stats due to lack of time and increase in other interests. I decided that the players are paid too much and that I was wasting my time worrying about a silly sport. I didn’t like that feeling of hopelessness after a game loss. I didn’t like the stress of having my heart beat out of my chest while watching games. I was spending way too much money on beer, and having too many hung-over workdays due to weekday games.  I stopped watching. I even resisted encouragement from my beer drinking friends to hop on the playoff bandwagon. I never went as far as to say that the Canucks suck, as I didn’t pay enough attention to even have an opinion on them.

We are once again at playoff time. Tonight is the 1st game of the 1st series. My roommate is a die hard Canucks fan; a real one. Someone who has had it shoved down his throat before he was ready to chew and swallow. He is someone that understands the game and pays attention to game and player stats. He is passionate about it, but not annoyingly so. Because of him, I know that the Canucks are #1 in the league this year. I know that one of the Sedin twins is the #1 goal scorer. I know that we are doing better than ever before and that our playoff spot wasn’t a surprise. It is because of him that I have watched a few games, and seen the players in action. I must say, the games I watched were all very exciting and I became a bit nostalgic for the time that I too, was die hard fan (impersonator).

I will be following the playoffs and watching most of the games. I have officially decided to hop on the bandwagon this year. I would love if Vancouver won the Stanley cup, not only for the morale of my city, but because I think that this year, the team truly deserves it. I just hope that I am not too disappointed if they don’t take home the cup!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

And this is why I like Britney Spears.

Ever since I first heard Baby One More Time, I was intrigued. I couldn’t comprehend why; at the time I was listening mostly to Gangsta rap and Rock n’ Roll with a little bit of Top 40. There was something captivating about the song though, I felt that I almost liked it. I thought I was just having a moment. My opinion of the cute girl dancing in the school gym wearing sweat pants, a half-top, and sometimes a school girl outfit, was that she was simply, a geek.  I had never been into pop music, so I had trouble appreciating it. The uncomplicated lyrics about love and heartbreak, the laid back preppy sounding music and beats... It just wasn’t cool enough; it just wasn’t “Me”.
One night, I think I was 18 years old, I was watching Saturday Night Live. It as Brit’s debut performance of Oops I did it Again. To me, she did it again! I was once again mystified. When it was over I knew that this was it: I was a fan. Oops, I did it again, what kind of song is that? I thought it was unique, entertaining, and I liked the dance. Shortly after, the video came out. Britney had shaped up a bit and donned a skin tight red bodysuit. The video was campy and colourful and full of provocative moves. It was after Oops that I discovered that I did like pop music (N Sync had just come out with “It’s Gonna be Me”, which was just as merry, helping push me in the pop direction).
I was starting to really enjoy pop music, but I still didn’t “get” the lovey dovey lyrics (I was born to make you happy?? What? Really? THAT’s the only reason she was born? Pathetic!) or how so many songs can be about boys. I was used to music where songs were about something meaningful (U2, Guns and Roses, Tupac, etc.) And I was accustomed to listening to music that I wasn’t embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed.  What I did know, however is that Britney’s upbeat songs made even breakups kinda happy.  Sadness was presented with a bubblegum beat and I preferred to listen to that over the raw anger and intense sadness displayed in the lyrics of the Emo rock artists. Sill, I felt that in comparison, this wasn’t “real” music.
The lyric problem soon dissolved when Britney released her self-titled album, which included the sexy, orgy themed song “I’m a Slave For you” , accompanied by a video that had Britney panting  and gyrating. It also included I’m not a Girl not Yet a Woman, which I totally “got” and liked even though it was cheesy. By that time I was twenty, and having overcame the initial lameness of pop music, I fully embraced the half top wearing, buff Britney singing on a computer animated mountain.  A couple years later, she followed with “In the Zone”, which included songs about partying until early morning, masturbation, and make-up sex.  Let’s just say that considering my age and lifestyle at the time, this was the perfect album to have in my CD player. (This was before this wonderful time of having thousands of songs fit in the palm of our hands). I would ensure that it was playing while I drank copious amounts of alcohol before stumbling to a club in high heels.
By the time Blackout dropped, I was at the point where I would like any songs that Britney came out with. I was a huge fan of that album, which was about getting naked, ditching your shitty boyfriend and giving the world a piece of you.  She made that album when she was going through her media outrage, and it was the beginning of a new, improved, and seemingly older and wiser Britney.  Circus was less raw, much showier, and chocked full of amazing tracks. She still appears naked in her womanizer video, and sings about phone sex and drunken nights, but she seems less edgy, almost like she is being herself now.  A couple standout tracks on Circus include Out from Under which addresses feelings towards an ex in a more level headed way, rather than insisting that she’s suddenly stronger or leaving him in the dust and laughing while she goes and parties. It also includes a track about a new love that is unlike any other in that it’s grown up, and all the games are over. 

Her newest album, Femme Fatale, has been described by Brit as her best album yet! It is for people who feel like they might be growing up and that realize it is time to gain awareness of sexuality, and become comfortable obtaining what is wanted in the bedroom. Almost every song makes you want to dance, and it will prove to be very motivating as a pre -party listen. One bonus track, “He about to Lose Me”, describes a situation that most women in their late twenties have been through: planning to break up with a neglectful boyfriend and trying to resist temptation until the process is complete. Another unique sounding song, Criminal, describes another circumstance that is familiar to the maturing youth of our time: falling for a bad boy even though it isn’t wise to do so. I find it hard to describe any of her albums as the best in comparison to one another, but this is definitely her most professional sounding one! It is full of good-time dance and party tracks, and I think it will appeal to a wide audience of twenty-somethings.

Although Britney’s voice has been described as “wispy”, and her personal life has been a mess, I describe her as one of my favourite performers and a singers. I hope she can continue to help create the music that I have grown to know and love.  I sincerely enjoy listening to her music on repeat and I like being able to connect with the things she sings about due to our age similarity.  The reason that I have loved Britney through all these years is that in a way, her songs were tandem with my experiences at the time. From unstable breakups, long nights, too many parties, trying to look good, and not giving a fuck, to a calm normalcy: a place that combines fun and gratification with emotional stability; a place where perhaps a few lines from a love song can finally make sense. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Blogging My Inspiration

Since my post count is under 10, and my 1st post was about blogging, it may be premature for me to blog once again about blogging. But I choose to write about what is presently inspiring me or merely what I am speculating on at any moment. Since I chose this blog to pioneer my writing hobby, naturally, I have been spending some time pondering it and thus, I am inspired to write about it.

 I savour the indulgence of writing, and this blog is the perfect outlet for me. It provides me with a process in which I can relish in my narcissism, and it allows me to express my inspiration and speculations. I am constantly influenced and excited by everything around me, and being able to reflect on these things is invaluable to me; sometimes thoughts or observations can disappear from memory and putting focus on hindering the departure helps me to retain those memories, or at least be able to revisit them at some point.

I have encountered a few challenges while blogging. As a blogger, the internet is my medium, and by using such a widely accessible medium, I realize that I am obligated to censor my content. There are events from my own life and past that I choose to omit not necessarily in fear of judgment but in adherence to common sense. I do no have any huge dark secrets, but some things are best left to be discussed in a personal setting, with people that I trust and who care about me.

I find that I am passionately inspired by the people close to me, and I focus on their feelings and life events because I am genuinely interested. Unfortunately that inspiration often has to go undocumented at the risk of exposing the personal circumstances that are important to these people that I care about so much. As a writer (if I can call myself one yet), I am aware that even with omission of names and doctoring of actual events, I can leave someone feeling naked and exposed by using their life incidents for my entries.  It is difficult for me, because after conversations with friends, I often reflect and contemplate the content of the discussion. I enjoy learning from others and being aware of their mistakes, often offering unsolicited advice to people. These conversations direct my life, challenge my thoughts and inspire my musings.

I will continue to work around these pressures, and just accept the fact that some of the things that I would like to write about I will be unable to. Of course, I always get permission from people before using their names or pictures of them on my blog. It is easy to forget these little things in this time of social networks, YouTube, etc. where our privacy is constantly compromised, but it is essential in maintaining the integrity of my material.