Was looking through my journal and came across a passage that got me thinking

Excerpt from my journal:

August 13, 2012

“And I felt a huge sense of  relief when it was over. I think it’s because I realized I was looking for something he could never give me. And he was never a man I could see myself falling in love with. There was always something about him that threw me off. He just wasn’t for me.”

This passage from my journal means a lot to me. And if you keep reading, I promise this isn’t all lovey dovey shit.

Long story short, I was seeing this guy for about 3 months over the summer. As you can see, our summer romance ended short. But unlike most girls infatuated with a handsome guy, I took the breakup better than most. That’s because I always felt like something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what. He was great. A respectful and admirable young man. We rarely fought, and things seemed to be going well. Nonetheless our relationship was subtly off-putting.

Reflecting on it now, I realize why.  He never inspired me. And although he did encourage my writing and push me in the direction towards conquering my fears, which I will forever be thankful for, he never let me do the things he spoke about. He dominated my time, he demanded attention, and in a metaphorical sense sucked the creativity out of me. It’s a really hard concept to explain, but I promise you it makes sense in my head. During the time I was with him, I never wrote. Not one single piece of writing (minus my journal entries, which was ridiculously mostly about him and the times we had, so it wasn’t all that creative).

When it was all over, I instantly felt better. I felt a sense of independence.

OK, OK. Before it was officially over, there was the fight, and that got me depressed, I can’t lie. He told me he was seeing another girl and that he didn’t know who he liked better, me or this girl. In a roundabout way, he was telling me he kept us both around for his convenience until he could decide. Either way, he wins, and one or both of us would lose out when he made his decision to be with one of us or remain single. The son of a bitch dominated my thoughts for the next few days. I kept thinking, “what does this girl have over me?” After a while, it dawned on me how stupid and immature I was being.

The guy barely knew me. We were seeing each other for little over 3 months, not giving either of us enough time to get to know each other truly. So, I stopped being so insecure, realized my great qualities, and moved on. Just like that. I knew I didn’t deserve to be just another option for this selfish guy, so I took myself out of the situation. I told him I was making his life easier by making his decision for him. He could either be with the other girl, or stay single, because I needed to start focusing on improving myself as a person and as a writer. I needed to move on to bigger and better things, and direct my attention towards things that mattered – my education, writing, and future.

I was proud of myself for doing what was best for me, and not giving into infatuation and irrational decisions based purely on emotions that wouldn’t last.

Romance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe I’m being cynical, but it’s my opinion. That being said I haven’t given up hope about finding love. It’ll happen eventually, I know it. For right now though, it’s not all that necessary. I’m still young, and I personally find the road to success much more exciting.

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Dancing

There was a little girl her name was Alexandra. She had curly brown hair and cute chubby cheeks and she used to dance a lot. She danced so much, she danced and danced and danced until her feet fell off and her legs were sore and her butt hurt when she sat. Then she grew up and she still danced a lot. And she danced and danced and danced until her feet fell off and her legs were sore and her butt hurt when she sat the end.

Inspired by my little sister who grew up too fast, and the story Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

My Inner Struggles on being a Vegetarian

I’m a vegetarian. Or rather, I’m a pescatarian. I have been for about a year now.

I’ve never been one of those vegetarians that like to announce at every dinner that they are vegetarian. I don’t know why. I know that in general, I’m a shy person, but I think it goes further than that. 

The reason I don’t like to tell people that I’m vegetarian is because I get such a hard time for it. And I know I’m speaking for a lot of vegetarians when I say this. People just LOVE to debate whether or not vegetarians are idiots for choosing not to eat meat. As soon as I tell people that I’m a vegetarian, a number of things happen. 

1. They ask me why. Aka they’re trying to tell you that their can’t possibly be a good reason for doing such a HORRIBLE thing to yourself. Yeah, okay…

2. They ask me why I still eat seafood… fish have feelings, too, apparently.

3. (This is the most common and very first reaction) They get defensive. Sometimes they skip the part where they ask my why, and go straight to NO YOU’RE WRONG, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF, STOP, EW, YOU’RE AN IDIOT. Yes, thank you. 

I write “yes, thank you” sarcastically at the end of that because people really expect me to sit there quietly, and shut my mouth. Because if I even dare to get passionate about my beliefs and try to argue my point of view… all hell breaks loose. And I guess it’s my fault for not wanting to deal with that crap.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m a vegetarian. Not for the purpose of explaining myself to anyone, but purely for me. I had to ask myself, why am I a pescatarian and not a full out vegetarian? That question is easy to answer – mostly because I’m new at this and I don’t know how to make meals that will give me the sufficient amount of protein, and fish gives me that easily. Secondly, because fish have better lives before they die – they’re undisturbed at sea until they get caught by fishermen, unlike farm animals.

And this leads me into why I became a vegetarian. A philosophy class I took last fall really influenced me (I mean I had thoughts of becoming a vegetarian for the reason of thinking that it was wrong to kill animals, but it didn’t really stick with me until a specific lecture in this class). Long story short, the prof. was arguing that you would never harm a person because they felt. They physically felt the pain. Does not an animal suffer? When you slit their throat, do they not feel it? Answer is, yes they do. No matter what kind of argument a meat eater tries to conjure up, fact is animals suffer. Furthermore, the conditions in which these farm animals are put through is the equivalent of hell. They lead short lives, in tight enclosures, and the killing processes (for most major slaughter houses) are inhumane and brutal. The list goes on, believe me.

Anyway, where I’m trying to go with this is that I used to be afraid of letting people know that I’m vegetarian because of the inevitable arguments and debates I’d get into with them. But the fact of the matter is, it makes no sense for me to hold back my beliefs. I’m a vegetarian because I want to work towards a world where less people eat meat. But if I simply stay quiet and not eat meat, truth is, I’m not doing much towards my cause. 

I’m not a vegetarian for health reasons, I’m a vegetarian to stick up for those without voices – the animals (I know this sounds cliche but stick with me here). And for this reason, I NEED to start speaking up. I need to argue the reasons why people SHOULD consider becoming a vegetarian. If I don’t influence others to be vegetarians, then millions of people will continue to eat meat, and me not eating meat won’t make much of a difference. But if more and more people decide to stop eating meat, then we’re getting somewhere.

From now on I vow to always let people know that I’m vegetarian, and I will not be afraid to argue and stand up for my beliefs.

 

Here are some other great reasons for becoming a vegetarian. 

Excerpt from:  
http://www.vegecyber.com/others/about_vegetarianism.shtml

Hunger

Number of people worldwide who will die as a result of malnutrition this year: 20 million.
Number of people who could be adequately fed using land freed if Americans reduced
their intake of meat by 10%: 100 million.
Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 80.
Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95.
How frequently a child dies as a result of malnutrition: every 2.3 seconds.
Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 40,000.
Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 250.
Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56.
Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of beef: 16.

Environmental

Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels Fossil fuels needed to produce meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more . Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75. Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85.
Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million. Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound of rainforest beef: 55 sq. feet. Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year.

Cancer

Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than
once a week: 3.8 times. For women who eat eggs daily Canadian pharmacy compared to once a week: 2.8 times. Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times. Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times.

Cholesterol

Most common cause of death in the U.S.: heart attack.
How frequently a heart attack kills in the U.S.: every 45 seconds.
Average U.S. man’s risk of death from heart attack: 50 percent.
Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat, dairy or eggs: 4 percent.
Amount you reduce risk if you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet: 90 percent
Average cholesterol level of people eating meat-centered-diet: 210 mg/dl.
Chance of dying from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol level is
210 mg/dl: greater than 50 percent.

Natural Resources

User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock production.
Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25.
Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000.
Years the world’s known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet:13.
Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260.
Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calory of protein from beef: 78.
To get 1 calory of protein from soybeans: 2. 

Antibiotic

Ingredients: Any one of our instant noodles, fresh vegetables (if you don’t have fresh
veggies handy, then our Just Corn and Just Veggies are just as good), Roasted Seaweed (optional), Wei-I Best Grade Laver Ro Su (bacon bits) (optional) and any of our frozen gourmet.

Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55.
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13.
Percentage resistant in 1988: 91.
Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban.
Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support.

Pesticide

Fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical
residues.
Percentage of U.S. mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99.
Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 8.
Contamination of breast milk, due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal
products, found in meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating mothers: 35 times higher.

Ethics

Number of animals killed for meat per hour in the U.S.: 660,000.
Occupation with the highest turnover rate in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker.
Occupation with the highest rate of on-the-job-injury in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker.

Inspired Writing vs Forced Writing (and why we writers should do both)

For a very long time, ever since I’ve come to terms that I wanted to be a writer, I’ve always thought it was better to be an inspired writer, rather than a writer who forces themselves to write. And I still believe in my theory to a certain degree, but I’ve been enlightened with another thought.

Let me explain to you what I mean by “inspired writing” and “forced writing.” Inspired writing is when something happens to you in life, and you want to write about it. Or when you hear snippets of interesting, witty, clever dialogue in everyday conversations (yours, or in some cases when you eavesdrop on other people’s conversations), and you come up with a great story from it. Or when you are taught amazing life lessons from people close to you, and you want to share this newly found wisdom with others through your writing. Forced writing is when you’re not inspired. Forced writing is when you sit yourself down, and don’t know what to write about, so you end up writing things that aren’t all that powerful, or quite frankly, not well written. I always found that my forced writing was bland.

However, I’ve always heard that writers absolutely need to write every single day, that they need to force themselves to write through writing exercises, dream journals, diaries, picture prompts, etc. But I never really thought they were entirely right. I had my own opinions, they had theirs. I preferred my inspired writing over their forced writing.

Then, someone on twitter told me “If I could give my past self advice, it would be to force myself to write everyday.” And then it suddenly dawned on me. I don’t entirely know why this guy got through to me the way he did, it wasn’t like it was the first time I’ve heard this before. I guess it was because he was telling me this directly, someone took the time out of their day to actually write me a personal message and tell me that he regretted that he didn’t write everyday, that I should start writing everyday while I’m young because it will benefit me greatly in the future.

Obviously it wasn’t like I figured this all out at the exact moment he told me this – I had to run this through my head for  a while. Eventually, I realized that it is extremely important for writers to write everyday, even if it’s forced writing. We have to exercise our writing muscle, like an everyday ritual – like going to the gym, like brushing your teeth, etc. If we don’t practice our writing everyday, we won’t get any better at it.

The way I view it now, is that writers should practice writing everyday, whether it’s forced or not, to prepare themselves. Because one day, you’ll get inspired, and you’ll be inspired to write the greatest piece you’ve ever written. And when that moment comes, you best be prepared for it.

My random thoughts during a film festival

A few days ago I volunteered at a film festival. I got to watch a free movie, and there was a couple sitting in front of me. As I was watching the movie (and this might sound creepy but I promise I wasn’t trying to watch them or anything), I could see them cuddling and talking about the different styles of the film that was screening (btw, the film was called Calendar (1993) directed by Atom Egoyan, and it was a great watch, I recommend it!). 

And all I kept thinking while I watched them, was not how much I wished I had a boyfriend – because believe me I am content being single and focusing on more important things (for right now in my life anyway) – it was how much I wished I had someone in my life that shared the same interests as me. I caught myself wondering if I’d ever find someone who loved movies as much as I did, or someone who loved to watch black and white or “golden age” films. In that moment I realized that that’s what I’m missing, someone who I can talk to about the things I love, and them being just as interested as I am in those sorts of things. Well, sure I can talk to my friends or family about it… well, actually no – not really. They aren’t interested in it, so if I do try to talk to them about movies they sort of just half-listen. 

I guess what I truly realized in that moment was that I’m not just waiting for SOME guy, I’m waiting for the RIGHT guy to come along. 

The kind of man he is.

I’m still learning things about my father. 

(I’ve known the man for the 19 years of my existence, so this proves my theory that you can’t really know anyone fully – ever. There’s always new things to find out about them, and then after that there is the whole process of figuring them out, and deciphering their actions and words, discovering the ways in which their thoughts work, etc.)

He is the kind of guy who is friends with everyone. And I mean everyone. He’s so likeable, he makes friends so easily. He’s a real people person. 

And even though he has so many friends, each one takes up a special place in his heart and he never lets go of their memory, even if they don’t see or speak to each other in years. He never forgets people. (I remember we were in Portugal, and we were at a restaurant… and the whole time my dad was staring at a man across the room, saying he looked so familiar to him. After a long while, you see his facial expression change as if he finally remembered who this guy was. All I see is my dad get up abruptly, and walk towards this man. From afar, I can see my dad saying hi and laughing. The man is still sitting, and his face showed how he didn’t remember my dad at first, but after a while of my dad trying to get him to remember, his face finally lit up and he got up from his seat and hugged my dad. I found out later that this man was my dad’s childhood best friend, and they hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years)

My dad is a popular guy, always having friends over… hell, he’s even really good friends with his boss, to the point where his boss let him borrow his Mercedes for a weekend, and his boss even comes over for my mom’s cooking every now and then! (He’s a nice guy too, always giving my dad free stuff from work). My dad is the kind of guy who always has people around him (and he always makes them laugh, being the joker that he is).

Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop him from being incredibly independent. He doesn’t need anyone to do anything for him, he does it himself.

When my dad told me his story today about how he helped his friend in need, it finally dawned on me how much of a hard working, and honourable man he really is. When my dad got laid off 2 years ago, he didn’t have anyone to help him find a job. And my dad was under a lot of pressure, because we had already booked our flight tickets to Portugal for the month ahead, and we really needed the money for while we were there. For a couple of weeks he had to do hard physical labour in landscaping. I hated seeing my dad in such miserable circumstances, and it hurt me even more when I realized he was doing this for us- his family. While he was doing his landscaping job, he never stopped his search for a new job. And indeed, he found a better job. And he landed this job with no help from his friends (who said they would help, but never did). He did it on his own.

Fast forward to a year and a half later: my uncle (my dad’s brother-in-law) was miserable at his job. Apparently he was being bullied by his superiors because of his accent and he didn’t know english all that well, and because of this he was abused by his coworkers. My dad couldn’t take it. His heart hurt for his brother-in-law, and he did everything in his power to find him a better job – which he did. 

And now today: When my dad heard about John getting laid off from his work, the first my dad did was call my mom. He felt the need to ask “What do you think? Should I help him?” She replied, “… Um, isn’t he your friend? Help him out if you think it’s right. I always tell you, the more good you do to others, the more good will come to you.” And later, my mom confessed to me she thought it was odd that my dad had asked her this question – but I knew right away why he felt this need to ask her. 

I think my dad just felt like he was always helping others, but no one ever helped him out when he desperately needed a job. And this stuck to the back of his head subconsciously, hence, the reason he had to think about a situation in which the solution seemed pretty obvious. And he helped out his friend in the end because he knew it was the right thing to do, and above all else, his heart was hurting for his friend – he felt what his friend was feeling.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that today I saw something in my dad that I never saw in him before. And this is complicated to explain. And there are reasons for what I am about to say, which I am going to leave out because it would take about 23598394583 pages to write about.

Long story short: I always saw my dad as a tough, thick-skinned, heartless man.

But today, I saw my father as a generous, sympathetic and compassionate human being.

My Dad, the hero

I come home tonight after a long day at school and volunteering at Diaspora Film Festival, to find my dad excited to tell me a story about his day. 

So, my dad gets a call this morning from his good friend John. (My childhood best friend’s dad, so I’ve know this man my entire life) John sounds extremely sad, and my dad’s like “What’s wrong John?”, and John tells him that he got laid off. John asks my dad to see if he can help find him a job at his work. My dad tells him he’ll try his best.

Now, my dad skips to this evening when he and John went out for chicken wings and beer. At this point in the story, my dad tells me that he already spoke to his boss and convinced him that John was a good worker, a good guy who really needed help. And then his boss says he can offer John a job. But my dad doesn’t tell John this yet.

My dad makes John suffer first. (My dad is a joker, and puts people through shit first before he tells them any piece of good news. And he also does this to see how badly John wants a job.) He goes, “John. I still haven’t spoken to my boss. But if I do, and my boss does offer you a job, you know you have to do everything they ask you to? You can’t just not do something you don’t feel like doing. You have to realize that we are only friends after work, during work you have to do as I say, and never get offended because my boss is telling me what to tell you.” And he goes on like this for a while. 

John is extremely depressed for a long while, and finally my dad can’t take it anymore. John’s face shows how much pain and sadness he’s feeling about losing his job, and the anxiety of not knowing what he’s going to do to support his family. 

My father now says, “Eh, John. Smile a bit. I’m going to tell you right now… Enjoy your weekend. You have nothing to worry about. Starting this Monday… you’re coming to work with me.” 

John’s head rises to look at my dad’s face, in disbelief. “No…” he says. My dad smiles and nods his head. In sudden realization of what my dad’s words really meant, he started tearing up and shook my dad’s hand. He couldn’t stop crying, and had no words to say to express the amount of gratitude he felt towards my father. 

My father says “I gotchu buddy.”