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Writer's Block: Lesson learned

The transition from youth to adulthood can be smooth or incredibly difficult. What is the most important lesson you learned since middle school, and how has it guided you?


That nothing is black and white. My dad used to always yell at me for being very judgemental when I was a teenager, and for failing to see shades of grey. Now I know that he was definitely right, and that most things fall in between two extremes. There's nuances, and surprises, to everything and everyone - and some of the most interesting things in life are those that smash all of one's preconceived notions to pieces.

Feb. 19th, 2010

I was disappointed when class was cancelled last night because it meant I didn't have an excuse to see you. Me? Disappointed not to have to go to class? This is bad...

Not that you'll ever know, of course.

Valentine.

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This Postsecret brought up some painful memories for me... memories not so much about him, but about who I became when I was with him. What I let him get away with, and how much I sacrificed to the almighty goal of "being in a relationship." I found out on Facebook, and when I found out, I should have left and never looked back. But instead, I let him placate me with lies, and stayed for more than a year after... only to be surprised when he did it again.

Quoth myself, February 12, 2008:

Well, it's been three years. And I spent the earlier part of my evening with a room full of convicts, which actually put me in a better mood than I'd been in before. I'm now alone in my apartment listening to depressing music, with my good friend, Mr. Riesling, who is doing a wonderful job of cheering me up.

There's definitely something wrong with this picture. I'm supposed to be spending my anniversary with my boyfriend, not with convicts and a bottle of wine.

Something's gotta give.


I'm not that girl anymore. This new, well, whatever sort of unconventional arrangement it is, has proven that to me. And I'm happy, not because of the "him" that's currently somehow in my life, but because I'm not changing myself, lowering my standards, or compromising my own happiness for a "him" anymore. And I hope that I never will again.

The Proust Questionnaire

(from Vanity Fair)

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with the people who matter, smiling, somewhere beautiful and warm, with nothing to worry about. There freedom in that situation, and meaning. And finding those two things, for me, is happiness.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Losing those I love.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Being quick to judge. I'm getting better about that as I get older, but I still have my moments and still dislike myself in those moments.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Narrow-mindedness and judgementalism... I think Shirley MacLane noted that we most deplore in others the qualities we deplore in ourselves. She has a point.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

Nelson Mandela.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Shoes and travel. Both worth it, for various reasons.

7. What is your current state of mind?

Generally pretty good. I've got things to look forward to and lots of possibilities - and when the future is exciting, I'm usually doing pretty well.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Chastity and temperance. Moderation makes sense sometimes, but indulgence makes life interesting. And chastity's just dumb. I believing in choosing one's partners well, but that doesn't mean there's anything to be said for abstaining once said partners are chosen!

9. On what occasion do you lie?

When it will prevent someone from getting hurt. Or if I'm trying to get free drinks at the bar ;) ("I'm in second year poli sci!")

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My impossible to flatten abs. And the bags under my eyes.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

I really don't know... life's too short to dwell on people that you don't like.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Honesty and open-mindedness. And a nice arse.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Honesty and open-mindedness.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Profanity in general. I can't picture Audrey Hepburn telling someone to go fuck themselves... I wish I could be more like that.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Theatre!

16. When and where were you happiest?

The summer I spent at the Castle in England. It combined two of my great loves - travel and human rights, I was there with some of my best friends, made new friends, and had some incredible adventures. Nothing in my life has ever felt as right to me as that time did.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

Singing, definitely. I sing like a dying cat, and it makes me sad because I love music and would love to be able to express myself musically.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My hair! I wish it was long and curly instead of straight and too fine to grow much past my shoulders. And the bags under my eyes... but I will change that once I have the money.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Making my parents proud of me.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A koala. I love the idea of sleeping 20 hours a day, eating for the other 4, and having people appreciate the fact that I'm fat and cuddly.

21. Where would you most like to live?

Savannah, GA. Warm weather, by the ocean, lots of history and character, and a little quirky. I'd move there in a second if I could!

22. What is your most treasured possession?

My great grandma's engagement ring.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Isolation.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Travel. Does that count as an occupation?

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

My shoe collection, and related ability to walk in any sort of heel, no matter how high.

26. What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, reliability, and open-mindedness. Also, sense of humour - or at least tolerance of mine!

27. Who are your favorite writers?

Tennessee Williams, Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Without a doubt, Scarlett O'Hara.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I think it would be narcissistic to say that I identify with a famous figure of history when I haven't yet done anything in my life to warrant fame or regard. In the future, I hope to identify with someone like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela - but at the moment, I'm simply one of the masses that lives their life in a way that goes unnoticed by the pages of history.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

Those who put the value of helping others above their own selfish aims... be it the person who stops to talk to a homeless person on the street to the doctors with MSF in Haiti right now; it's so easy to get caught up in one's own life and forget others that I always respect those who remember to recognize the humanity in strangers.

31. What are your favorite names?

Well, I'm planning on naming my two future pugs Stella and Blanche...

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Injustice.

33. What is your greatest regret?

I'm going to quote Rent on this one: "Forget regret, or life is yours to miss." Why dwell on what one cannot change?

34. How would you like to die?

In the cause of something I believe in, in a way that would attract support to that cause.

35. What is your motto?

"No day but today."

Jan. 24th, 2010

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Sometimes fiction is so much better than reality...

I feel like I've blogged this before...

I'm going to go see RENT tomorrow. I can't wait.

There's this song in RENT, Another Day, where Mimi is trying to convince Roger to take her out somewhere, and Roger is trying to resist. It's probably my favourite song in the show, especially when Adam Pascal is singing Roger's part. It's a passionate, conflict-ridden song, and passion and being conflict ridden are two things that I'm quite familiar with.

Anyway, Mimi has two choruses in Another Day, each sung to the same tune but with slightly different words...

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today...

The "No day but today" theme runs through the whole show of RENT. When I was younger, I seriously considered having those words tattooed on myself; that was the importance to which I attached living by that philosophy. It comes in many forms: live each day as your last, carpe diem, no regrets, etc. Behind all those terms, there's the over-arching idea that you shouldn't let fear of regret keep you from taking chances and doing things that, although could have negative consequences, could also have huge rewards.

My 19 year old self lived by those words - my colleague Katie and I sat around the office discussing that idea for hours, and both based so many of our decisions on the idea that there really is "no day but today". My 24 year old self, having seen that there are many other days in the future in addition to today, is much more reluctant to believe in the power of those words. After all, so what if fear (or perhaps reason) keeps me from taking an action, if there's a good chance that action will simply lead to tomorrow, and many days in the future, where I will feel regret, pain, and a whole host of other negative emotions as a result of something that I did where I was trying to forget consequences, to forget the cooly rational voice in my head that tells me that, however amazing this may be tonight, it's going to bite me in the arse tomorrow. Is the magic of tonight really worth it?

It scares me that I've gotten this rational. Although I've always been a cynic, I've always also had a ray of optimism in my personality. That's the part of me that understands Blanche DuBois when she cries "I don't want realism, I want magic." That's also the part of me that has jumped head first into things that I knew would hurt me, living in the moment and ignoring the potential for regret. I've learned a lot in the past few years, and one of the biggest lessons I've learned is caution.

At the same time, as I listen to RENT in preparation for the show tomorrow, those words still resonate. "There's only now, there's only here. Give in to love, or live in fear." I want to give in. But I fear what I know is likely to happen. There is potential for magic, but there's also potential for heartbreak too. Right now I'm living in the world of cold reason that exists between those two extremes. Is it amazing? No. But it's not agonizing either. If I give in, there's a chance it could become that way, and I don't want to go back to agonizing.

But I really do want to forget regret. I want to give in...

2009 in Review

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? Went to South America, lived in Toronto, geniunely enjoyed my summer job, tried online dating, ran a half-marathon.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Will post on that separately, on New Years' Day.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope :)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Nope :)

What countries did you visit? Ecuador and the U.S. Road tripped to Halifax in the summer too. It was a slow year, travel-wise.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? To be done with Queen's... which will happen in April, yay!!

7. What date(s) from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? My trip to Ecuador was pretty incredible and unforgettable.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting hired back for articling at my firm, and getting really good reviews from the lawyers that I worked for. It's nice to know that I'm good at what I do, and can enjoy it at the same time. Also, running my first half-marathon - that was one hell of an achievement for me.

9. What was your biggest failure? I wish I'd been nicer to a certain guy I met this summer who was really nice to me. But I think/hope that's fixable.

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury? Nothing serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My adorable grad formal dress. It was stupidly expensive, but it's fabulous.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My friends, for putting up with my antics.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The girl who I overheard trash talking me in November. It was probably good for me to hear that, and did prove to be a real turning point for me - but at the same time, it was really unwarranted. That said, people who trash other people generally only do it because they're unhappy with their own lives, so I should probably be less appalled and more pitious of her,

14. Where did most of your money go? Travelling and shopping. And school, but that's no fun.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Finishing the half-marathon. It's amazing to succeed in doing something you never thought you'd be able to do.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? My "Brathy" mix; the playlist that I'd put on when my roommates from the summer, who are a couple, were "spending time together". It consisted of lots of loud, angry, dirty, thoroughly un-sexy music, and I still laugh when I hear certain songs from it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Definitely happier. My head wasn't in a good place this time last year. Now I'm more focused - I'm ready to be done at Queen's, but once the next 4 months are over, I've got a lot to look forward to.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner :) Running and yoga have paid off.
iii. richer or poorer? Still poorer... stupid student loans.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Travel.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Whining, moping, and being depressed. Also, drinking - I drank a lot before the summer, but it's gotten better lately.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Spent it in Florida - best family Christmas ever!

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Nope. Wouldn't mind doing that in 2010, though.

22. How many one-night stands? Two. Both attractive, and both utterly regrettable.

23. What was your favourite TV program? Same as last year: What Not to Wear and Two and a Half Men.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't like to waste my energy hating people.

25. What was the best book you read? Nelson Mandela's autography - "A Long Walk to Freedom"

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? The soundtrack to "Across the Universe".

27. What did you want and get? An articling position. Staying in Toronto wasn't my first choice, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it's the best place for me at this point in my career.

28. What did you want and not get? Again, a puppy. One day... *sigh*

29. What was your favourite film of this year? I saw "Up in the Air" on Christmas Day, that one was fabulous. Also, "500 Days of Summer" - best love story I've seen since "Love, Actually".

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 24, and I worked. Boo. Went out for dinner with the parents after, and my roommates took me for drinks that night. Had a party the weekend before that was fun 'til I got into a fight with the bouncer at the bar, lol.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I'd had more of my friends with me in Toronto this summer. I'd have probably had a lot more fun if I'd had more people to have fun with. Luckily, lots more of them will be there when I go back in May :)

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Shoes, shoes, shoes. I became known for my shoes at the office over the summer. Am over 90 pairs now, and probably pushing 100.

33. What kept you sane? My parents and my friends. Knowing how proud my parents are of me helps keep me focused in school (at least focused enough not to flunk and/or drop out), and my friends keep me sane on a daily basis.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Barack Obama. I think he's seriously the perfect man.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The Iranian elections. I wish we got more news of the situation there, because it seems like Iran is on the verge of a revolution.

6. Who did you miss? My grandma, and my former best guy friend at law school, who got a girlfriend over the summer and has subsequently ditched his friends. I'm glad he's happy, but I want him back!

37. Who was the best new person you met? All the people at work - my office mate, one of the young associates who always came by to discuss dating, the lawyers who came to scotch hour, the librarian, the receptionist, the adorable undergrad boy who worked in the mail room... with a few small exceptions, they're all awesome!

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: People matter more than anything, and to be grateful for all the amazing friends in my life.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"We've tried to wash our hands of all this
We never talk of our lacking relationships
And how we're guilt stricken sobbing with our
Heads on the floor
We fell through the ice when we tried not to
Slip, we'd say
I can't be held responsible..."

--- "The Freshman" by The Verve Pipe
Do you think honesty is really the best policy when it comes to relationships? Is total honesty possible, let alone desirable?


Honesty about the big things, absolutely. But a little white lie never hurt now and then...

last friday's friday five

Guess what - I'm writing a paper again!!

1. When did you last experience emailer’s remorse?

Last St. Paddy's Day when I sent a super-bitchy drunken tell-off to the penishead at 4am. It's not that he didn't deserve it - he absolutely did, and then some... but he didn't deserve to know that I still gave a shit.

2. When did you last experience diner’s remorse?

Probably after the last time I had chicken wings... so good, but so bad :)

3. When did you last experience movie-goer’s remorse?

I haven't been to the movies in so long, I couldn't say. I'm sure I will after I go see that stupid new Twilight film, though. Which I will go see eventually, just for the eye candy.

4. When did you last experience caring friend’s remorse?

Not sure about that one...

5. When did you last experience lover’s remorse?

Two boys in two weeks in early November. Didn't regret it a bit until I realized that I was judged for it, including by them. Now I regret it more than anything I've done in law school. Why can't people just mind their own fucking business?
Have come to the realization that I've lost one of my best friends at school this year to a relationship. Maybe that's part of the reason I've been so fucked up lately.

I want my friends to be happy, and to be with people who make them happy... but why does that sometimes have to mean I lose them in the process?

The worst part of this one is that I called him on this in August and he swore it wouldn't happen =(