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Friendship Goals

I’ve gotten away from writing. This happens a lot. I never plan to stop writing but it always happens and by the time that I realize I’ve stopped it’s already been a month or two since I’ve put a pen to paper or in this case my fingers to the keyboard. I don’t solely blame social media but I think it does plays a part in my lack of motivation and inspiration.

There are so many different platforms we have access to that help us connect with friends, family and strangers and help tell the stories of our lives but I haven’t found any that are quite as authentic or thoughtful as blogging.*

The reason I started this blog was to keep in touch with family and friends in Canada while I was living abroad. Then along came Facebook. I connected my blog to Facebook because let’s be honest who is actually going to go out of their way to read my blog when they can just get the Coles notes version of my life from my Facebook feed. And I wasn’t willing to give up writing stories about my life.

Instagram came on the scene next and again I connected that social media to Facebook because many of the friends (mom) I have on Facebook don’t have Instagram and I was no longer using Facebook to post pictures. I noticed that Instagram was becoming my go-to social media for connecting with others and it started making me sad because posting to Instagram doesn’t take any effort. Is this what friendships have become? Do my friends not deserve a solid heartfelt effort from me when I’m sharing stories from my life? We’re all too focused on making our lives look flawless and full of adventure to make any real connections.

Online dating has been reduced to superficial first impressions based solely on a picture rather than an introduction. And friendships have been reduced to 15 second videos and instant snapshots of our staged lives. Does anyone actually use the call function of their phones anymore? Are we heading towards a world where that function will become obsolete? I don’t want to live in that world. Maybe I am of a different generation but I love phone calls. They may not be convenient but they’re more efficient and I believe that they help build relationships and secure bonds. By not calling each other we are slowly putting more distance between ourselves and that worries me.

To any of my friends reading this, CALL ME!

#truelove

#truelove

*Tumblr does not count as blogging.

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I can’t say that my life in Halifax is perfect or without it’s frustrations, sadness and stress but I make the most of it. I’d be lying if I said that my heart strings weren’t still tightly tied to living abroad. There’s something about living in another country that makes your life feel more purposeful and the human connections made more genuine and special. That is something that has been lacking since my return to Canada. I have met some truly amazing people and have formed some good friendships but I hadn’t felt that real connection with someone until recently.

Those of you that have been abroad for any length of time know what connection I’m referring to, it’s the one that’s instant and the more you get to know each other the more you see how similar you are and the more you grow to love each other as unique and special people. These are the connections that help you grow in obvious ways and teach you to be a better person. I find these connections usually happen with people who are also foreigners they are not necessarily from the same country as you they could be from anywhere but because you share this unique (and often frustrating) experience of being a foreigner you are connected.

I didn’t think that I would ever experience this sort of human connection with anyone again until the next time I went abroad but I was wrong and so glad that I was. Thanks to an inexperienced manager I ended up leaving a full-time job I had at the end of December and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I was feeling fulfilled and as though my life had no meaning so I started searching out meaningful volunteer opportunities and that’s when I came across the English language learning program at the Halifax public libraries. I thought that I would be a great teacher because not only did I have the experience of teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) but I also understand what it’s like to live in a foreign country and struggle to understand both the culture and the language. The student I was assigned to is an incredible Brazilian woman who moved here with her husband in December. Over the short time that I have been teaching her we have connected on more than one level. Even though we come from completely different countries and our lives are different, we understand each other and to me that’s the beauty of friendship

I admit I have been living my life in Canada with a somewhat closed heart which has made it difficult to find genuine connections. I think I live this way because there is a part of me that always wants to leave, the same part of me that feels disconnected from Canada yet will always feel connected to Japan.

 

…and every other sexual assault survivor who has been put on trial and had their honor, their words and humanity discredited through the so-called process of justice.

 

Does an abused partners accusations against his/her partner become any less credible because they remain married? What if someone gets punched in the face by their friend? Does the fact that they were friends before and friends after the incident suddenly make that punch something other than an assault?

 

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My Feminism

I started this post months and months ago and just never got around to finishing it. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I am a passionate feminist and passionate about feminism. The more I think about where and when my feminism started the more I realize that I was always a feminist but just didn’t know what to call it and moreover was too afraid to express that feminism. But the older I get the more important it is for me to be vocal.

The other day I was listening to a podcast and it got me thinking about being a feminist and I started wondering if living in Japan was what made identifying as a feminist important to me.

While I was living in Japan, I realized the importance of feminism and the importance of supporting my fellow female in arts, business or whatever it is that she is pursuing. Too often we are our own worst critics and enemies, we tear each other down for making bad decisions rather than help each other up after falling. I am ashamed to say that I have been active in this reverse form of sexism and even slut shaming but have grown up and learned how detrimental this is to women. We are human beings and make decisions the best way we know how, for reasons that most of us may not know.

The podcast was Just Japan, hosted by fellow Canadian Busan Kevin. This particular episode featured the lovely Jenny Silver whom I’ve been following on Twitter since my time in Japan. The theme of the show the experiences of being a foreign female in Japan. Until listening to this podcast, I almost forgot about what women (foreign and Japanese) have to go through in Japan or maybe it was more that I had blocked it out.

Thankfully I didn’t experience any direct sexism or harassment in Japan but I know from the stories I’ve been told and articles I have read that the experiences of victims of harassment or sexual assault in Japan are very different than those in other countries. Still, to this day career-focused women despite years of experience are often denied promotions and even jobs What I mean is that at the very heart of Japanese culture is the understanding that personal (selfish) pursuits and needs are put aside while maintaining a sense of community is importance. It’s this deep-seeded cultural mentality that allows Tokyo (a city of approximately 30 million people) to remain more safe, clean and orderly than any other city in the world. Maintaining this sense of community is so ingrained and important that things like discrimination and sexual assault are rarely reported.

Things aren’t much different in Canada. Street harassment is still a problem and misogynistic and hateful comments from university groups are brushed off as boys being boys but it’s these societal problems that make my feminism and my desire for change stronger. I guess in a way I’m thankful for all of the shit that women have to go through on a daily basis because it fuels the fire for change.

Cat Calling by Victoria Brumwell

You can find Kevin and Jenny at the following links:

YouTube:
Busan Kevin
Jenny Silver

Twitter:
Jenny
Kevin

Art by Halifax artist Victoria Brumwell

Three months! Also read as a million years and enough time for people to stop paying attention. I recently made a vow to myself to start devoting more time to the things I love; one of which is writing and I’m starting right now with this long overdue post.

I could offer you a basket full of excuses as to why I’ve been away so long but there really is no excuse for neglecting the art of writing. I will be straight with you though, the last couple of months have been difficult/stressful and I’m just now feeling like I’m coming out of my psychological funk. I was feeling very frustrated with most aspects of my life, work/career, living situation, relationships and no matter how hard I tried to change my life there just didn’t seem to be a solution. Job opportunities were dangled in front of me, teasing me with their promises of financial freedom, and although I put my all into the interviews there were never any call backs.

Oh, the despair!

I’m convinced now that the timing wasn’t right, I wasn’t meant to move onto another job until the right one came along and it did. I’m working for a wonderful company with a team of fabulous ladies and I love going to and being at work. I have a hard time leaving sometimes! From the get-go, the owner gave us (the six ladies she hired) ownership of the store. She trusted us to sell the products, promote the brand and manage the store without her supervision. It’s been a very long time since I have had any sort of creative control in a job and it feels great. When given the opportunity to express myself and when I don’t feel confined to corporate rules my best ideas and qualities come out. I had a customer ask me today if I was the owner of the store because I talked so passionately about our products. I’ve worked a lot of retail jobs in my life but the difference between this job and the retail environments I’m used to working in is that I believe in the products and my selling points are not forced. It feels really good to sell quality product to people.

Check us out! We have a store in downtown Halifax at the Historic Properties, in downtown Truro and an  online shop!

Now, that I’ve shamelessly promoted my workplace through my blog, I’ll tell you what else has been going on. Remember how I said that the last three months consisted of the job search from hell? Well, at the same time that I was looking for work, I was also looking for a new apartment. Apartment hunting in Halifax is equally as (if not more) frustrating then job hunting. The problem with the apartment hunt was that I was looking for a place to satisfy not only my own but the preferences of two other people. We needed reasonable rent as well as parking, we needed lots of light and lots of space, two bedrooms that was also in a convenience part of town. Phew! Lots of places looked promising in their ads but fell short once I stepped inside. I am happy to say that after viewing a lot of places and being constantly disappointed we finally found one. We found our Buckingham Palace! The security deposit has been paid and the lease was signed today. The best part about finally having a place to move into come September is not the end of the apartment search stress or that I have my free time back, it’s that I can finally put an end to the long-distance part of my relationship. It’s not over yet, we still have a few months to go but with that end in sight it feels like a huge weight has been lifted. Having a long-distance relationship has been incredibly difficult and difficult in ways that I hadn’t imagined, but I’ll save my long-distance relationship advice for another post.

It’s time for me to go to bed. Goodnight, friends!

Now that Burger Week is long over and my body has (mostly) recovered from a diet of meat and very few vegetables, I can recount my delicious journey.

Not even piles of snow and unploughed sidewalks stopped Haligonians from starting Burger Week on March 19th. I feel like even if White Juan junior had hit a day later and as long as pubs/restaurants stayed open Haligonians would’ve trudged through the blowing snow to get that first Burger Week burger. We are Maritimers who are fed up with winter and need those $5 burgers, dammit!

This was my first Burger Week and I was damn excited! But I think I’ll develop a plan of attack (and possibly consult a nutritionist) next year. I fell behind the other Burger Bitches by missing out on a lunch burger the first day but I made up for that rookie mistake by fueling my body with nothing but burgers for the next 5 days. I was inevitably stricken with the worst digestive problems I’ve ever experienced but it was well worth it, I think.

My first burger came from Rogues Roost. We originally decided we would try Krave first but after arriving and seeing the queue we decided to pop across the street to Fickle Frog only to be told that they had already sold out of burgers at 8pm. How do you run out of burgers on the first day!? After that disappointment, we pulled out our Burger Week passport we decided to check out Rogues Roost for their Montreal Smoked meat burger. Once we entered we were greeted by an slightly intoxicated acquaintance of Burger Bitch #1 who gave a less than favorable review of the burger. We were disappointed but decided to go for it anyway, I mean, it’s only $5! It wasn’t as disappointing as our friend had made it out to be but a bit more than one thin slice of smoked meat would’ve been nice.

The other days weren’t as exciting as it became more of a personal challenge than an enjoyable feast.

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BEST PICKLE: Rogues Roost – Montreal Smoked Meat Burger

 

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MOST UNIQUE & TASTIEST: Ardmore Tearoom – Waffle Burger

 

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THE MOST DISAPPOINTING: The Wooden Monkey – Kimchi Haddock Burger

 

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MOST SATISFYING: Krave Burger – w/Smokey Bacon Jam

 

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JUICIEST BURGER: The Fickle Frog – w/Brie and Curry Aioli

*Not pictured here Athens Restaurant – Lamb Burger as it wasn’t anything to write home about.

I Like The Grit

So this is what I woke up to this morning. I literally heard birds singing a few days ago and then all my hopes and dreams of an early spring were crushed.

Snowed In!

Snowed In!

But I don’t want to talk about snow and winter anymore, I’m over it. What I want to talk about is the grittiness of Halifax. For a lot of people, Halifax is an amazing city to live in. It’s ripe with opportunity, it’s people still have a friendly Maritime vibe and it’s just big enough that you can hide under the cover of anonymity, at least for the first year.

Living in Halifax makes me feel like I’m living in RL. Living in Japan was easy, the most stress I endured was that one time I was unemployed and had an expiring visa. It was stressful but in reality if I had not found a job at the international school I could’ve easily picked up a teaching job. Teaching opportunities are everywhere. The stress you feel while living in Japan is nothing compared to the very real stress you feel living and working in your home country. At least for me this is the case. Dealing with Japanese superiors is one thing but dealing with Canadian superiors is a whole other kind of stress.

The other things that make living in Canada so real is the homelessness, the beggars and the crime. Since moving here last September there has been a foiled attempt at a mass shooting at the Halifax Shopping Centre, a bomb threat at the Mic Mac Mall, an armed man running around town, a bomb scare on Spring Garden Road and just yesterday a man was stabbed in the face in front of the new library which also happens to be on Spring Garden Road. I’m sure there have been a lot more incidents but these are the ones that stick out to me because they were the most sensationalized. Maybe these things should scare me but for some reason they don’t, I like hearing about them in some weird way because this is real life. There are individuals out there that want to cause others harm and there’s nothing that you can do about it, it just is. I accept these things as part and parcel of living in a city.

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