Why I threw in the towel

Yesterday I posted about my extremely brief foray into online dating, I wrote about how I felt it failed. Let me expand on that today.
I got a lot of great feedback, I also saw some comments suggesting I gave up far too quickly, that I should have stuck it out because not all guys are dicks, or assholes. I do know this, I have met real life guys who are awesome, they’re already taken.
I’m pretty self-aware, I know who I am, I know what my flaws are. One being I’m not willing to compromise what I’m looking for. I’m a very independent woman, I take after my mom in that trait. I know I don’t NEED a guy in my life, that isn’t to say I don’t want one ’cause I do. I know that I would be ok going through life as is, alone, doing my own thing but I do understand the quote:
  

I have this vision of my “perfect” guy (yes I can hear that laugh and snicker) and I won’t settle. It’s not a visual image, lord knows I don’t judge in that department, but it’s more of a emotional image. I want a guy who just fits right in, I want a certain feeling and I can’t get that online.
It’s more my fault than theirs, with online dating I’m always suspicious, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is yet another flaw of mine, I’m always poised waiting for the other shoe to drop. I get weirded out easily by guys online claiming to “have a connection” because if I’m truly honest, I don’t feel it and I don’t know how to say that.
I have been told I have unrealistically high expectations when it comes to what I’m looking for. I want a guy who also knows who he is, he has a job (or does volunteer work in the event he can’t work), I want someone who loves animals and music equally, who would attend a hockey game one night, and an art exhibit the next. I want someone who loves camping, skiing, video games and boarded games, also being handy wouldn’t hurt. I don’t want someone much older than me, I know age is only a number but for some reason it’s important to me. 
I didn’t give up online dating because someone told me I was ugly, I did give it up because the potential to be told that on a regular basis is exhausting. I get that in the real world, I get it, don’t need to keep beating that nail on the head. I gave up online dating after a short time because I knew it wasn’t the right outlet for me. I need to interact in the real world, I need to see their facial expressions, hear their tone of voice.
It’s not them, it’s me!

Dating apps + me = no

2016 has begun. I rang it in as I have done so these last few years, we load up on hor d’oeuvres, go our separate ways and 5 mins before midnight gather to open some sparkling wine and watch the ball drop. I also enjoy watching Anderson Cooper & Kathy Griffin’s antics but alas that is besides the point. We rung in the new year, Crystal and I finished our wine while staning in the kitchen chatting then I went back to my room.

   
 I honestly think I’ve seen that Match.com add one too many times as when I got to my room I got some weird notion in my head that I should download their app, so I did. The app itself is easy to use simple questions, easy to upload picture, it worked great. It worked great until you try to do anything then it prompts you for money. I’ve come to the realization that those sites must make a killing, they wanted to charge $131 for 6 month subscription, access, whatever you call it. I won’t lie, I was tempted however I have 2 possibly more cracks in my foundation so really won’t be spending money on crazy stuff like online dating sites.
When I didn’t get anywhere with that I chatted with my friend Karen who suggested PoF aka Plenty Of Fish. This site comes with a bad reputation, it’s not undeserved. I also went with Adam’s (Karen’s BF) recommendation called OkCupid. I had not heard of this one but decided to give it a go. Got my first message on OkCupid not sure what the dude’s real name is but the conversation started out ok. It got clearer however that he was only interested in sex and not in anything else, his questions last of which was “what do you wear under your pants” made me very uncomfortable. I decided to wish him well, and a goodnight and I promptly deleted our chat. He wrote me back shortly after with this:

  
Needless to say I didn’t respond, nor did I respond when he followed up and said “your a dirty dog ruff” although for this one if I had responded it would have been  to correct his spelling and grammar. Back to PoF I got a “hello” message from a guy in my area and after reading his profile and being interested I say “hey” back. You can imagine my shock when his reply read “ur blocked ewww”.
I know my facial difference will make dating a challenge and I know not all guys are assholes however I’ve learned that I’m not ok with being told that I’m ugly on a regular basis in the hopes I will find someone. 
My experience wasn’t all bad, I did have a couple conversations with a couple of guys that went all right. One from around this area who seemed genuine with twin 17 year old daughters. Another who like me has been through some stuff and has some differences (not visible). I had a third one which I learned the most from.
He says his name is Scott, that he is in the U.S military (Army) and he is depoloyed in Nigeria on a peacekeeping mission. My first impression of his profile pic was that he was cute, he was nice. We chatted on and off through the night and today, my instincts were going hey wire. He used the same phrases multiple times but using the exact same language, this creeped me out. I can forgive the spelling and grammar errors as I’m not sure his level of education even though his profile says he is 43. He kept saying “we have a connection” even though we had only been talking for a very brief time and we hadn’t touched on anything serious. To be honest I kept expecting him to ask for money, my instincts told me that he was some kind of scam, so I did what I always do, I consulted a friend got some good advice, didn’t take the good advice and followed my instincts and said goodbye to Scott and deleted the messaging app I was using to communicate with him.
My use of dating apps was very brief. I’m simply not ok with having conversations like that online. I’m always thinking the worst and I don’t know if the “guy” I’m talking with is real or a scam. I get anxiety and I don’t like constantly checking my phone for a message. I’ve disabled the profiles and deleted the apps and that is that.
I know that there are many people who have met online and are in happy healthy relationships, I don’t see myself doing the whole online dating thing. If this means I remain single and never really go on dates, I’m ok with that; maybe I’m ok with being alone. I’m not comfortable at all with cheesy lines from guys whom I don’t know, telling me we really have a connection and want to get serious in the first hour or first day of chatting. I don’t know how it is suppose to work but for me I don’t think it does. I won’t say I gave it a fair shot, stuck with it for only 24 hours or so but I don’t think I will try it again.

“Have Courage and, Be Kind”

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Mon coeur est avec Paris, translation: my heart is with Paris. Like many people I was glued to my phone to get any and all information I could about what was happening in Paris. Cowards decided to enter a place of entertainment, fun, and peace and shatter a night that was meat to be a great one. Almost 24 hours later I sit here trying to wrap my tiny Canadian mind around what happened. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing to wrap my head around. Bad people who feel that the French government was at war with them took their revenge on the population. They choose their targets and acted in a horribly brutal fashion.

I was watching a Periscope broadcast earlier when one user said that they had heard that the attackers where using crowd control methods to ensure there were no heroes, they systematically killed many people some one-by-one. I couldn’t imagine being in that theater…watching what had happened fearing you might not make it out alive.

The title of this entry seemed so fitting and came from the most unlikely of places. Although I wanted to obsess over what was going on in Paris I didn’t want to engross my mom in that violence so I decided to watch a movie. I chose the 2015 version of Cinderella (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1661199/?ref_=nv_sr_1) and one of the most powerful lines in the movie and a consistent thread presented throughout the movie is to “have courage and be kind”. I thought that line was very apt for what was happening in Paris.

I’m an ordinary Canadian who sat in shock watching what was happening. I don’t have any answers, and at this point I don’t have any questions. I’ve seen a lot of reactions to this tragedy, hate, ignorance, but the one I will align myself to is love. We cannot fight darkness with darkness we have to have light, we need to realize that we are all humans, we bleed when damaged and our hearts break with great suffering. We seem to continue to want to damage ourselves we are our own worst enemy.

I’ve been lucky that all of my loved ones and friends all are on the same page. However to those who might read this and think differently; I forgive you. I understand fear, hatred, ignorance, I understand the need to wrap your brain around such events and take the easy way out. We cannot blame one whole group of people, who like you love, work,  and try to get by. We cannot condemn one religion because we may not understand it, we cannot blame anyone than the ones truly responsible.

I’m not religious and I don’t hide the fact that I’m agnostic, so I will not pray for Paris. But I will do what I can to continue to live my life; not taking anything for granted, I will continue to be courageous and be kind.

Vacation movie watching round up

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This past week I was off work on a nice resting vacation. Being a caregiver means my options are limited as to what I can do and where I can get to but despite that it was a good week off. My dream would have been to be somewhere nice and warm!

To pass the time and to keep me and my mom entertained I ran down the list of movies available to watch on The Movie Network. Here is a list of the movies we watched and my brief review on each.

Adult Beginners

Adult Beginners

After one sibling loses everything due to a tech start-up blunder he moves back in with his Sister, her husband and Son. The movies moves throBough a period of over 3 months at which point you learn that like most of us they are very flawed individuals. My favourite performance throughout the whole movie comes from Bobby Cannavale (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0134072/?ref_=tt_cl_t3). I have enjoyed any role I have seen him in and he adds a lot to this movie. Although I did enjoy this film I found at times it was a bit slow and a wee bit out there. I didn’t really connect with the characters but the humour and the story was good.

The Art of Steal

Art of Steal

This is a great heist movie. This movie is very Canadian which is one of the reasons why I loved it as much as I did. Starring mainly Canadian actors and filmed in Canadian cities (the story also takes place in Canada) it caught me from the very start. It has a great sense of humour and no spoilers here but I honestly did not see the ending..great twist!

Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep

This movie is based off of a Book I keep meaning to get my hands on and read and the movie adaptation made me really want to read the book. The story is about a woman who after suffering a traumatic assault is left with the inability to retain short term memories or remember anything from after the age of 25 (I might be off on the age). Every morning she goes to bed and every morning she wakes up not remembering the day before. The movie progresses as we find out more about what happened and who she is. It does a good job with the twists and turns which I imagine are more detailed in the novel. The acting is great, I’ve never been the biggest Nicole Kidman fan but I did enjoy her performance and she seemed to be true to the character.

The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls

This is a great family movie. As someone who is “different” I did relate to the main character but I wonder if kids would be able to follow the more complex themes presented. It does move a bit on the slow side and being a kids movie has a predictably happy ending.

Closed Circuit

Closed Circut

So far I have enjoyed any movie Eric Bana is in, and this one is no exception. A fast paced movie that speaks to current issues and fears it doesn’t always do what you expect. The ending was a bit weak but I can’t really be too hard on it, I just really enjoyed the story.

Enemy

Enemy

Out of all the movies on this list, I disliked this one the most. Although it takes place in Canada it was just so far out there and moved painfully slow I just couldn’t get into it. I left it on for mom to watch (she enjoyed it) and found other things to do. The movies features a guy who is in a deep rut (both personally and professionally), ends up watching a random movie suggested to him by a co-worker and sees someone who looks identical to him. After working really hard to find and meet this doppelganger he ends up getting freaked out….no idea how it ended as I only caught bits and pieces. If anyone else has seen this movie I would be interested to hear what you thought.

The Giver

The Giver

Another instance where I really wanted to read the book before seeing the movie but alas… It was a great movie which suggests to me that the book would be even better. Some of the characters are a bit one dimensional and based on the trivia listed on IMDb I can see why that happened. I had no idea that Taylor Swift played one of the characters until I read the trivia (way to go her). The movie moves at an ok pace if a bit slow but for this movie I didn’t seem to mind as much.

The Judge

The Judge

I have wanted to see this movie since it first came out, it was well worth the wait. Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are just amazing to watch as they play off each other in scenes. There were a few places in the movie that were a little weak but what movie doesn’t have bits where you wonder why the heck that part happened? This is by far one of my favourite movies on this list, if you haven’t seen it yet please check it out and make sure the tissues are handy!

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

It has taken me forever to sit down and watch this movie. It was a good movie, everything was not awesome with it but it was a fun movie to watch. If you have seen it check out the trivia page on IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1490017/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv)

The Railway Man

The Railway Man

When I made the list of movies to watch I didn’t realize that I had selected 2 movies starring the exact same two principal actors but both of them were so good that I didn’t even really think about the other movie when watching this one. A great movie to watch today Remembrance Day it tells the story of a WWII survivor as he suffers from PTSD (they do not give it a name in the movie) and his devoted wife who wants to help him. He confronts the demons of his past and helps other characters along the way. It’s a great movie very touching, great pace and great acting all the way around.

The Skeleton Twins

The Skelton Twins

Another estranged sibling story however this one (as the title suggests) is about twins. Not my favourite movie it moved slow and I didn’t connect with the characters at all. It wasn’t a horrible movie by any means just wouldn’t make it on any top 10 list for me.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer

I had ZERO expectations for this movie. I don’t remember it’s theatrical release and do not remember seeing any trailers for back in 2013. It was a really good movie with strong performances; not all the acting was that great so it can be a bit jarring. The plot is a good one and the movie moves at a good pace. The ending however is one of those endings where you are starring at the screen going “wait, that’s it?”; I guess it’s not wholly a bad thing but the ending didn’t sell me on this movie.

The Theory Of Everything

The Theory of Everything

This is a movie adaptation of a book written by Prof. Stephen Hawking’s first wife (until this movie I hadn’t realized he had more than one marriage). It was a good movie about a man I admire and whose name is on my bucket list of people I want to meet. I’m lucky to live in Waterloo which is where the Perimeter Institute is and where it was announced he would be a regular visitor. I’m hoping he comes back sometime soon so that I can attend a lecture; I doubt I would get to meet him or say hi but I would welcome the opportunity.

Transcendence

Transendence

“The road to hell was paved with good intentions” <— This statement nicely sums up this movie. It’s about what happens when AI is advanced enough to use it’s own technology to take over people. Some good lessons to be learned as we continue to make advancements in this technology. Great performances by everyone on screen and sets a great pace. The ending wasn’t something I predicted but it was the right ending for this movie.

Winter’s Tale

Winter's Tale

I didn’t realize I had saved the best for last but I did! By far my favourite movie on this list and one of my top 10 favourite movies of all time. What an amazing love story with a touch of whimsy. I had no idea what to expect when I put this movie on but both my mom and I loved it from start to finish. I also hadn’t realized that this was an adaptation of a novel; the movie is SO good it is the one instance where I don’t think I want to read the book. I don’t want to know about any missing parts I feel the movie is amazing all on it’s own. If you haven’t heard of this movie before check it out and let me know what you think.

A little hunt called #Gishwhes

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Over this past week I have been working with an amazing team on a very, VERY cool scavenger hung called GISHWHES, aka Greatest International Scavenger Hunt Wold Has Even Seen!

I first seen the hunt a few years ago but didn’t really pay attention to it, didn’t really register on my radar but that’s probably because I was dealing with a lot of life stuff a few years ago. Last year I really paid attention and was so sad that I couldn’t/didn’t participate. I still wasn’t sure what it was, what was up, but I did know enough that I knew I wanted to be apart of it. This year I was extremely lucky and with the help of an amazing person who folded me into her team I got to participate. Before I go further about the team I was on and what we did here is a description of exactly what GISHWHES is from the website …. on second thought click the following link and it will take you directly to their website with the best description. https://www.gishwhes.com/g_blog/what-is-gishwhes/

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Let me tell you a little about our team leader Rebecca. I first met her while watching a very crazy #Periscope broadcast from Sandeep Parikh. If you are not familiar with Periscope…apologies that is another blog post all together; f(eel free to reach out to me for an explanation.) We got to chatting as you can do and we really clicked as if we had known each other; we friended each other on Facebook and have been friends since. As friends are (and as luck would have it) we are both in to a lot of the same things the show Supernatural being one of them and when she started mentioning that she was going to be doing GISHWHES again this year I was a bit jealous. Rebecca being the amazingly kind hearted person that she is invited me to be apart of her team, sponsoring me to boot! I can’t be more thrilled to say that I know Rebecca and to have been able to do this week long event with her has deepened my respect for her.

The other members of our team I have been getting to know over this past week and I’m so glad I have been given the chance as they are all very amazing people. Jazz, Steph, Tiffany, Bethany, Bryant, David, Jackie, Jennifer, Jenny, Kathryn, Liz, Sarah, and Tanya. We have all laughed together (virtually that is) and shared frustrations over the items we have been trying to complete.

You have to know be wondering what kind of scavenger hunt this is (if you hadn’t taken the time to read the attached link please do so now..I can wait…go ahead).

Read it? Awesome let’s keep going.

There are over 200 items on the list for teams to complete. It’s not expected that you will complete them all as of yet no team has been able to do so. All items are assigned a point value but judges are known to give bonus points if your submission is beyond expectations. I believe our team had completed over 50 which I think if very good and the quality was also in my opinion amazing. I didn’t think to copy the whole list, plus I doubt anyone other than a contestant would really want to read all of them.

Here are the ones I completed:

16) Create a beautiful tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy.

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This took me a few days to complete and I wanted it to represent the cultural impact that Leonard Nimoy has had on the world. I used a blue background to represent the blue of the Star Trek uniform he wore as Spock in the original television series. Along those lines I included the black interior with stars, and the gold emblem that appeared on his character’s uniform. As Spock he was known for saying “Live Long And Prosper” this carried beyond the show and became a life long motto. The followers on the bottom left hand corner represent Leonard’s last tweet and his every amazing poetry. The theater masks represent his love for the theater and his many stage performances. On the right hand side from the suggestion of a team member I have his ever present cultural status on the show The Big Bang Theory with rock, paper, scissors, lizard. Last but not least looking over it all is Mr. Nimoy himself forever immortalized in the Simpsons world. I love how it turned out, I didn’t want the tribute to have my picture on it, I wanted to represent him, I wanted it to show how much he has done even though this small picture doesn’t do his impact on the world justice.

44) Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweeit it to him (@RobertDowneyJr.) with @gishwhes in the tweet.

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I have to give props to my sister Crystal who really helped me; she grabbed huge handfuls of salt and pepper from a restaurant to make sure we had enough. I had really wanted to do this picture in colour with lemon pepper and pink salt however that didn’t happen. I’m just happy it looks like Ironman, that’s a win for me!

61) Create a short “Supernatural”-related horror story out of the abbreviations of the elements of the Periodic Table. You may only use each letter from each abbreviation once (so you’d have roughly – 225 letters to use). The more coherent the story, the better.

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For the record this item was not mine to start with but we have such a great team that we helped each other and traded items as needed. I had a bunch of letters left over but not enough to make any words that would have made any sense. I’m not 100% that this story does make sense but it’s coherent!

62) Depending on which self-proclaimed expert you speak to, the universe is likely heading towards a Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch or a Big Bounce. Act out what that looks like in your own interpretation using whatever props or moves you need.

The first time I read this item I knew what I wanted to do. Thankfully I had some shorts hanging out in my room that were really too small so that I could get it to work. With my sister’s help (again she is awesome) we filmed this little video of the Big Rip!! Crystal was laughing so hard she worried that she didn’t stop the recording in time; she had nothing to worry about it turned out exactly as I had wanted it to. I didn’t really think about my surroundings so that would be the only thing I would change. No have my messy side table showing.

186) Choose a photograph taken from space by Chris Hadfield. Recreate it with materials found in your backyard, refrigerator or pantry, and take the same photograph of it. Put it side by side with the original and tweet it to him (@Cmdr_Hadfield) with @gishwhes and #spaceart in the tweet.

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This item was the first one I completed and took quite a while. I have a tree stump in my front yard and it worked out really well. Wind was not my friend and it took 2 full attempts to get it done. I didn’t realize until after that the picture was taken that one of the leaves is out of place but I think it still turned out pretty nicely.

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Team photo! Team The Crystal Demons

Here is a sampling of what my team mates completed:

1) Beautifully recreate one of these painting optical illusions or another one you find on the Internet using real bodies and/or props.

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Completed by Tiffany; when I first saw this I was blown away!

3) Kick back in a hammock that’s suspended from trees on opposite banks of a river. (Make sure it’s a safe section of a river to be suspended over.)

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Awesome and crazy! Done by Tanya.

9) A drawing, painting or digital image (no photoshopping of existing images) of Misha and the Queen as 1950 pin-up BFF girls.

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This is a great example of how crazy some of the items are! Really well done Steph!

12) Show us what Supernatural will look like at the start of Season 50

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Sam & Dean look GOOD! Jazz’s parents are great sports.

18) Have at least 3 people in a domestic or office setting, completely camouflaged to match their background.

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Loved how this turned out, can you see the three office peeps? This one was done by Bethany.

41) The cats are coming! Prepare your dog for battle. Outfit him or her with armory, weaponry, cutting edge laser gear – whatever it takes to create a canine of mass destruction.

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Cats of the world..you have been put on notice. The dogs are arming themselves…well with the help of their humans. This one was lovingly done by Tanya.

46)  Congratulations! You’ve won a one-way trip to colonize Mars! Unfortunately, you can’t bring a checked bag and your carry on must not exceed 10kg. Lay out everything you would pack on your bed in an orderly manner. You will live off of Martian dust mite dung; so don’t worry about snacks unless it’s a comfort food you can’t live without.

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Can’t say that this is missing anything! I’d pack pretty much the same thing Steph.

64) The Department of Consumer Kale Residency has decided 2015 is the year to find its favorite hotel lobby in the world. They’ve asked us to help. Put on your most beautifully designed hat (hat must be made of kale) and evening gown or tux and get a picture of you in your town’s finest and most elegant hotel lobby with a maid or bellman.

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Jazz totally can pull of Kale, not many can!

88) Love is in the air. Let’s see you and your lover elegantly dressed and enjoying a romantic moment under a weeping willow in a rowboat. One of you must be serenading the other with a cheese-puff-adorned musical instrument.

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Look at Tanya and her cheese puff guitar! Super sweet!

90) That was so kind of you to volunteer to host a “Going Away Party for a Boardgame.” Invite several friends over to play a gently used boardgame for its “goodbye party.” Then take it to a shelter for families living there. Photoshop two images together, you and your friends playing, and the game being dropped off at a shelter.

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Here is a great example of how this hunt gives back to other’s. Loved this Tiffany.

99) The problem with growing kale is that hipsters are always trying to sneak into my garden to steal it! Show what a trap would look like to catch these pests. Extra points if you capture (alive) a real life hipster.

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Bryant created the best trap, I’m not 100% sure if a hipster was caught in the making of this photo…hmm…

114) Waiting rooms at franchise oil-change stores can be so depressing – there’s got to be a way to make them less miserable. Let’s see it.

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David, that poor guy didn’t know what hit him! It’s so much better in there!

124) Get a coffee shop to create and run a drink special for Gishwhes and have it advertised on their menu board.

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I would SO drink The Dino-Mint Jennifer!

136) FELICIA DAY ITEM. Use recycled computer or cell phone parts to create a video-game inspired diorama.

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I’m glad Bryant was able to do this, it turned out amazing!

168) Present an artistic depiction of a famous Italian landmark – on a pizza.

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I know you can all guess this, it’s the leaning tower of Pisa..on a pizza! Love it Jackie!

The above are just some of the hard work put out by the team I was a part of. I got such a sense of inclusion, and fun with this experience. It was really hard not sharing what I was doing on social Media and I was both sad and glad when the GISHWHES clock struck zero.

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I stayed up to 3am to get this screen shot on my phone!

I hope you got to know more about this awesome event and maybe it will inspire you to jump on the bandwagon next year. My team may not win but it’s not about winning is it? It’s about the journey, the fun, the team work, and how we all work together to help others’.

Here is my team!

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THANK YOU!

Stop #DontJudgeChallenge

It’s no secret that when I was a kid I was teased, bullied, and ignored but until last night I forgot one of the worst things. I remembered one of their favourite taunts, they would manipulate their features either using the muscles in their face or by using their hands to try and mimick my appearance. They would take turns to see who could do it the best and they would laugh! Thinking about it now I can clearly see it happening and the feelings it envokes is the same; anger, shame, and hurt. Those were the worst days, the days that I would find a quiet corner and cry or use vulgar language to lash out. These feelings and memories were stirred up again last night flipping through all the images and videos associated with #DontJudgeChallenge.

Based on the articles I found on this “challenge” hashtag seems to have started with good intentions….we all know where that leads…..  The whole movement can be traced back to an amazing woman named Em Ford and her vlog post about how social media can be a bad influence on self esteem and how rotten people can be. You can watch her video here: http://mypaleskin.blogspot.ca it’s a powerful message!

I find it fascinating how words and images can invoke memories long forgotten. Don’t get me wrong I get the concept it’s just really inconvenient. When I first started reviewing all the posts associated with this hashtag I those a memories come flooding back that I could have done without that.  I write this in hopes that it will be shared and that all those who participated will think about their actions  it what started as a movement to protest against body shaming has tured in to mocking those with insecurities.  There are many organizations around the world actively trying to help those like me who have a very visible difference, I myself try to be a role model to all young women but “challenges” like this are seriously pissing me off!

The basic idea behind this is amazing and needs to be talked about more. I still aim to see someone with a facial difference in a positive light on a TV show or walking down a runway in a fashion show! We are all different, we are all the same…we are human!  Let’s work together and stop this “challenge” in fact I challenge YOU using the same hashtag let’s post a picture of ourselves, let’s all work hard NOT to judge!

Creative non fiction story. “Camp Dreams”

Not too long ago I submitted a story for consideration to CBC Writes Lit prize. They were asking for a short story 1200-1500 words, I didn’t make the long list so thought I would publish it here. Thanks to Jodi, my sister Crystal, brother-in-law John, and my good friend Crystal for all your help!

“Hey Mom, they are announcing the dates for this year’s trip to Camp on Wednesday, can I go?”  I am sitting at the dining room table, Mom is in the kitchen cooking dinner. There is a long silence and I almost ask again because I know with the overhead fan turned on and a wall in our way, she may not have heard me.

“No, you will not be going” she replied. I hear something hit the floor, followed by a muttered curse word. From the sharp metallic pang off of ceramic I heard a moment before it leads me to think it was metal lid from the saucepan or the metal spoon she was using that made the noise.

As I look around this grand dinning room with its arched entryway to the living room, I can’t help but imagine what it will be like when I don’t have to ask permission to do what I want. I don’t reply to her answer, there really is no point.  It is the exact same response I got last year when I asked to go to Quebec. I never get to go to the same places that my sister got to when she was in my grade. Quebec, nope, Canada’s Wonderland, nope, camp, nope again.

My sister is 2 years older but having failed grade 3 she is only 1 grade ahead of me. This has worked out perfectly for me and I find myself wondering if her teachers held her back on purpose for my benefit. This is doubtful since I wasn’t yet in traditional school when she was, but I like to believe my version sometimes. My sister is the only real friend I have at school since the other kids just stay away from me and generally don’t say much to me unless it’s required as part of the class. I don’t mind so much most of the time, I enjoy playing marbles with my sister anyways her friends aren’t so bad, at least they talk to me. Even if they refer to me as the annoying little sister!

I get up from the table and head through the long narrow kitchen to my room choosing not to speak to my Mom.  It is my silent yet powerful protest about how unfair I feel it is that she will not let me go to camp.  I know that my protests will go unnoticed, they always do; my Mom just doesn’t get it. She doesn’t see that it doesn’t matter to me that I have no friends at school, I love camp!  I love sitting around the fire and singing silly camp songs. I have such great memories from going to camp when I was younger with my sister that I was hoping I could go again! Making crafts is still one of my favourite activities.

I lay down on my bed and stare up at the popcorn celling, trying not to think about anything.  I focus on the smell coming from the kitchen. The onions and peppers mixing with the ever present smell of cigarette smoke.  You would think it would be an unpleasant odor, but does give me an odd feeling of safety, of home.

I know I won’t be able to stay angry at my Mom for too long, it’s not like I was expecting her to say yes.  I was just holding on to that little glimmer of hope, I don’t even bother asking “why?” anymore. I sit up and let my legs dangle off the side of my bed before touching my bare feet on the chilly old dark hardwood floors.  I hear the floor squeak as I turn left down the dark hallway to my sister’s room. Her bedroom is a makeshift room that for the longest time didn’t have a door. She now has a untreated yellowish wooden barn style door with black iron hinges that if you are not careful will give you splinters. I open the door and find her playing a video game, “Bonk’s Adventure”.  She is so good at this game!  I just sit down beside her and watch, we don’t need to say anything to each other we are happy just to be in the same room together.

“Girls! Dinner” We hear Mom calling from the kitchen. My sister pauses the game, gets up and turns the dial to turn the TV off. I’m feeling lazy so I hold my hand out and wait until she grabs hold, her fingers tightly wrapped around my wrist as she pulls me up with a grin.

We head straight past the big wooden front door into the spacious living room with its plain multi textured/coloured walls, the ugly wallpaper long since removed. With no actual colour on the walls or wallpaper left hanging, all you see are bits of what the wallpaper used to look like.  Big areas of beige where the glue just refused to relinquish hold of the wall and stayed firmly in place. It gives the room an unfinished look but it I don’t mind it, besides my bedroom it’s my favourite area of the house. I only wish instead of a computer desk setup under the big bay window, we had a window seat where I could curl up and watch the world go by on the other side of the glass.

After dinner, and dessert has been served my sister and I clear the dishes.  This is the only chore we have and even then, most nights my mom ends up doing it. I consider myself lucky after hearing that my sister’s best friend has to spend every Saturday cleaning her entire house:  clean her room, clean the bathroom, do all the laundry, dust the living room, and clean all the glass. I’ve been to her house with my sister shortly after the weekly cleaning has been completed, and the whole house has the faint smell of vinegar in the air.  Her dad doesn’t buy regular cleaners, she just mixes vinegar and water in a spray bottle to get everything done.

My sister and I head back to her bedroom where she puts on some music and we sing the songs together while I watch her resume her game.  Hours pass and I decide it’s time to go to bed.  I head to my room put my pajama’s on and walk the short distance across the hall to the bathroom.

Standing at the off white pedestal sink, I begin to study my reflection in the mirror.  I’m turning 13 soon and I feel so lucky that my skin is still flawless, no breakouts or pimples to be seen and my skin is still baby soft.  Looking at myself, I wish that I looked like my sister and my mom, instead what I see is a freak of nature, or a bad Picasso painting. I know my reflection, my face, is the real reason why I will never go to camp.  It is the reason why my sister is my only friend, and why none of the other kids will talk to me at school.  To the outside world I’m deformed…broken…ugly.  These are the words that come into my head when I see myself, these are the words I hear when other kids around me even bother speaking to me, they are the whispers of strangers that sink through my pores and get etched in my memory.

I wash my face, brush my teeth the best I can and head back to my room to wait for my mom.  She comes in, smelling like tobacco from the smoke she must have just finished. She tucks the covers tight and gives me a good night kiss, as light goes out, and as I fall asleep I hope to dream of a campfire, and of being different.