Friday, December 20, 2013

A brutally honest account from an introvert

I love people. Don't get me wrong.

It took me a really long time to adjust to living with another person. As an only child, I got used to sharing space and time with no one in particular. I had a fair amount of friends as a child, and a handful of good friends in high school as well. When Brad and I were about 20, we decided to move in together. It took awhile for Brad to get used to how much I liked solitude, and frankly, it took me just as long to get used to living with another person. Brad also was an only child growing up, but would spend more time with neighbouring children and had more friends at close proximity.

I didn't even know what an introvert was until many years later. At around 2008, I started developing some harsh anxiety and left university to focus on my mental health. Because I suddenly had gained some free time and didn't spend much time around other people, I had a pretty constant desire to see friends. I didn't find myself drained or exhausted. I genuinely wanted to spend time around them.

Summer came and went, and Brad and I moved into a new apartment with our new family member--a kitten named Lady Pansy--while I adjusted to my new job as a waitress. I suddenly started to realise that I didn't like spending time around people as much as I thought I did. The very idea of hanging out with friends became an exhausting prospect. I would start to ignore my phone to catch up on some well-needed writing and reading time. Even planned dates or hang outs with people would become things I would dread. I didn't know that this was because I was spending much more time around people and needed to recharge.

I'm going to stop for a moment and point out that if you think this makes me a bad friend, you likely don't know what an introvert is. Here are a few articles to help you along your way: How to Intract with the Introverted7 Positives that only Introverts would Understand23 Signs that you Might be an Introvert5 Things you need to Know about Introverts. Think you've got it now? Excellent. I'll proceed.

I didn't really know I was an introvert. In fact, a lot of people would likely think of me as an extrovert upon meeting me. I'm very friendly and approachable. I work in customer service, so I see and talk to a number of people on a daily basis. I have a metric ton of acquaintances; it's hard for me to go anywhere without seeing someone I know. I have extroverted hobbies, like singing, acting and going to concerts. Sounds like an extrovert? Not quite.

I have cancelled many plans for the mere reason that I have seen far too many people that week and I just want to sit quietly with my cats and recharge. I have, out of frustration, ignored doorbells when not expecting anyone over. The only time I answer my phone without hesitation is when work is calling me, and that's only because being available is part of my job description. Otherwise, I very regularly screen my phone calls.

Continuing with my story, I had some friends who were starting to wonder if something was wrong. I had a lot less time than before, plus I was seeing an awful lot of people a day and, as a waitress, dealing with conflict as well. I would pass on hangouts and tell Brad to see our friends alone while I caught up with my own mind. I changed jobs and was finding myself working 40 hours a week as a barista, which made my introversion even more prominent.

Eventually, I embraced it. I stopped letting myself worry about whether or not people would be upset if I wanted to spend time with them. I explained to my closest friends that I've never really spent a lot of time with others and that the period of time that I did was the real anomaly. I started to worry less about feeling pressured and decided that I simply am who I am.

Interestingly, the comment section of one of the articles I posted above had an extrovert asking "so, what? Extroverts are just supposed to cater to introverts all the time?" to which another poster responded "the world caters to extroverts". Good point.

I am only spontaneous a good 1 out of 10 times. Very rare is the time that you will ask me "want to go do this right now?" and I'll say "yeah!". Often, I come to the conclusion by myself. If something sounds good enough and I'm not being pressured, I may ask to tag along, because the worst thing you will say is "no" and then I can get back to whatever it was I was doing.

If you identify as an introvert, I recommend you embrace it and teach your friends and family to embrace it, too. After all, it makes you unique. I read online--so, you know, take this with a grain of salt--that only an estimated 25% of the population identify as introverts. Personally, I love being an introvert. It's helped me learn to stand up for myself a little better, and it keeps me self-sufficient. It's not to say that I'm always alone; I'm often seen with my husband and we spend a lot of time together. I can just be content when he's busy or working that I can do things by myself, too.

Here's a little handful of things I hate as an introvert:

10. "You should get out more!"
How about I decide that for myself?

9. Too much stimuli in one place
I love going out to eat, but if we're in a place with 5 TVs, loud music and I also have to order and socialize with the person I'm sitting with, it's overwhelming.

8. In equal amounts, the sound of the telephone or the doorbell

7. "What are you doing on Tuesday?"
I'll tell you what. Invite me to something on Tuesday, and then I'll tell you.

6. Sudden plans
If you pop by my workplace to ask if I want to catch a movie after work, my answer will most likely be "no". It's not that I have any special plans myself. Maybe I just wanted to go home after. It's nothing against you--I just need a bare minimum of a day to get used to the idea of changing plans.

5. Guilt trips
Never ever ever guilt an introvert for not wanting to hang out. This is for the sanity of both parties. This will only push the introvert further away, because he or she will come to associate spending time with the non-introvert friend as an impending guilt trip or just filling a "quota". The more understanding you are of your friend's nature, the more likely they are to seek time with you on their own.

4. Awkward conversation
If I see you in public, I'll likely smile and wave, and carry on my way. I'm not a huge fan of small chat outside of work--I'd much rather keep doing what I was doing. This is nothing against anyone. This is more of a situation that I don't know how to control or respond to. Small talk simply isn't necessary if I know you. I'd rather hear updates and changes with you rather than go back and forth with "what's new?" "not much, you?" "how's Brad?" "good" etc.

3. When I'm done, I'm done
Don't try to keep me around at a party. It will not work, you will be disappointed, and I'll be annoyed.

2. "Are you okay?"
I'M FINE. If I'm not crying or screaming, I am fine. I'm just not saying anything. That happens sometimes.

1. Dropping by
If you just drop by with no announcement, I may never speak to you again. I don't care who you are--unless you're the mail carrier with that package I was waiting for, CALL FIRST.

Some of my favourite things include cancelled plans, power outages in busy places, getting to places before everyone else (i.e., coming into work early before any other customers or co-workers arrive), and early mornings when very few other people are up and about.

To be clear, I don't necessarily advocate using labels to define people. I don't think that being an introvert defines me as a human being, but it does provide a little context as to why I act a certain way socially. I don't think it gives me carte blanche to be a jerk, either, but I do think that it can help people understand why certain friends seem more distant than others. I don't hide behind my introversion or use it as an excuse. Rather, I feel that I define my own sect of introversion.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November is pretty great.

I spent most of my life resenting the very existence of November, until recently. In high school, November is The Month Before Christmas (also known as Not Christmas Yet or What do you Mean we Still Have Two Months Left Before the Holidays? month). In university, November is Final Papers Month (which becomes even worse if you're an English major). In the wonderful world of retail, November is Ah Crap it's Already Christmas and we Have Lineups a Mile Long month, also known as There's Still Two Months of This Before we See a Holiday month.

Somewhere between Final Papers Month and Ah Crap Month, something in me changed. I discovered NaNoWriMo while still in university and, despite all the final papers I had to write and the reading I skipped did, found it to be an exciting and worthwhile exercise. I'm sadly not participating this year because I barely have the time to squeeze this blog post in, but the excellence of NaNoWriMo will be mine once more next year.

There's something inherently quiet about November. If you spend any amount of time in the woods or in nature in general, you may notice a certain kind of peace. Though I love the warmth that summer and spring will offer every year, I've grown accustomed to the chill air of autumn, the early snows and the gentle frost that sits on the grass. The mornings that are quiet and dark seem to be the only source of peace. When you wake up, it's still dark. I like that. When it's that dark in the morning, it seems like no one can approach me. November mornings give me an impenetrable barrier of solitude. No one needs me for anything and I don't have to do anything. I can relax.

A hot cup of coffee tastes best on a November morning, when I'm not chilled to the bone but just cold enough to experience the pleasant contrast in temperatures. The slow cooker comes out and hot soup is just a sleep away as it cooks overnight. Waking up to a golden sun, beaming over the ice-kissed lawn looks like something out of a fairytale.

There's also Movember. Though I can't condone moustaches on anyone under 45 (I'm sorry, I just can't), it's a fantastic cause. And, you know, some participate in full-out No-Shave November, which simply means a greater abundance of beards. That, I can totally get behind.

Now, if only I could feel this way about January, February and March, I'd be all set. For now, at least I can enjoy the tranquility that November brings.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten most important albums in my life so far

Everyone who enjoys music has at least one album that is THE album for them. I have ten of them--at least. One of the side effects of having too many interests and an intense love for music makes this the case for me. Rather than trying to just say "I like a bunch of stuff", I've embraced my diverse tastes. 

The ten albums in this list are important to me in some way. They might not be my favourite albums necessarily or even albums that I deem are the best for the artist, but they may have helped me through a difficult time in my life, or may remind me of a happy time. It may even define an entire era of my life for me. Music has a deep impact on how I live my life--it always has. 

With each album on the list I have included either my favourite song on the album, or the song that got me interested in the album in the first place. I tried to rank this but it was very difficult, other than the top three.  So, here you are.

I don't really have a reason for this one in particular. I preferred Unia as an album on the whole, but this album in particular reminds me of cool autumn mornings, gaming before dawn and taking long walks through fallen leaves while sipping coffee. I love this album and there's something really magical about it that I can't put my finger on. While Flag in the Ground may be the single from the album that initially got my attention, Deathaura really sets the tone and prepares you for a mysterious journey. When I listen to this album, I want to write. Or go on an adventure. Or... both.

When I was 13, I couldn't get this album out of my head. It was the first time I'd ever really listened to an album and thought "this is what I want out of music". While it was often blown off as silly pop, something about it made me see more. I saw past the cartoon pair of Simon and Milo and felt like I understood what Jason and James, the real musicians behind it all, we're trying to say. My prepubescent fawning over the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls aside, Prozzäk was my first foray into the world of following bands. I still regret that I never got to see them live. My fondest memory is having one of their questions answered enthusiastically by them on a live chat. For the record, I asked them if they were influenced in any way by the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star. They were.

At the end of last summer, this album appeared. I was already a Mother Mother fan, particularly of their masterful O My Heart. I'd seen them live twice. I still wasn't expecting the haunting surprise that awaited me with The Sticks. This is one of the few albums that I can listen to the lyrics and really get them. It's all about packing up your stuff, getting away from all the crap in the world and moving out to the boonies--the sticks, if you will--with the animals. Wow, is that ever something I can get behind.

7. Oceanborn - Nightwish
I've mentioned my love for Nightwish before--in fact, it can be hard to get me to shut up about my love for Nightwish. I first heard of them upon stumbling across Sacrament of Wilderness before their music was even available on North American shores over ten years ago, and I've been happily hooked ever since. Oceanborn was the first metal album I ever listened to in full. Kind of like a gateway drug. I found myself instantly wanting more.

6. Discovery - Daft Punk
Ever heard a commercial and had an urge to know what the song playing in the background was? That happened to me when I was 15. I'm sitting there, watching TV with my parents, and a GAP commercial starts playing. Something about the catchy guitar and the somehow innocent vocals grips me and I suddenly have to know what song this is. Instead of doing a simple web search, I go right to the GAP's website and send them an e-mail. "What song is playing on the commercial with the two dancing robots?" I ask. "That's Digital Love by Daft Punk," they reply. And lo, an obsession is born. I realise immediately that they also did Around the World and One More Time and that I like both of those songs, too. The next day we're taking a trip to Nova Scotia, so I stop by FutureShop to pick up the CD on the way there. I proceed to listen to it on repeat--for the next 4 months.

5. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
I know, I know. Two Daft Punk albums in a row. Deal with it.
This year has been rough for me, and having something to look forward to really helped me out. Finding out that a new Daft Punk album was coming in May was that shining beacon in the future for me. And when the album came, I sat in the car with friends as we drove all over the city, listening to it for the first time. The sun shone through the windows and made the promise that summer was on the way--and what a summer it would be. Something about the fluttering flutes in Motherboard and the bombastic finish that was Contact made me want more out of life. I was happy again.

4. Journey soundtrack - Austin Wintory
If you like video games at all and have a PS3, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Part of what gripped me in this game's beauty and simplicity is the flowing, beautiful music. This game's music is more than just a soundtrack of a video game, though. There's something about the soaring strings in Apotheosis that never fails to make me cry, and something in I Was Born for This that reminds me that everyone is important. The soundtrack to Journey isn't a pleasant instrumental album, the entire work is life put to music. Apotheosis in particular is like the reflection one has at the end of a particularly difficult, but worthwhile, year. It is everything summed into one--the beginning and the end. Everything about this soundtrack makes me think of experiences I've had, sweet and bittersweet. 

3. Dark Passion Play - Nightwish
Here's an ancient photo of me with bassist Marco Hietala,
holding the doll before I gave it to Tuomas
I had barely gotten to the point of fully understanding that Nightwish was my favourite band before their lead singer, Tarja, was dismissed. Shocked and terribly sad, I had thought that Nightwish's days were over. But then, in the spring of 2007, an angelic new voice came to the surface through Nightwish's new single, Eva. What followed was a musical obsession unlike any other. I spearheaded a YouTube movement (that will remain unnamed because this was half a decade ago and quite frankly I'm a little embarrassed) revolving around Amaranth, I travelled to Quebec three times and even made an Eva doll, which I gave to the band before the first show. Anette took the doll onstage while performing the song. I spent a whole lot of time loving this album. I even ended up taking singing lessons because of the aforementioned Youtube movement. It came at an odd time for me, too, because I was experiencing heavy anxiety, depression and generally was having difficulty getting through my day. Not to mention, I had no idea where my life was going or what to do. Dark Passion Play was the one consistent thing in my life that I could go to and be happy. While it's not my favourite Nightwish album for the songs, it is certainly the most important album Nightwish has released, in my mind, and is still a masterpiece in its own right.

2. The Black Halo - Kamelot
I've also spoken of my love of Kamelot before--very recently, in fact. The Black Halo is my all-time favourite album of any band, ever. This was the album that sold me on Kamelot and, to this day, is my go-to when I can't figure out what I feel like listening to. The summer of 2009 marked my first full year working full time, and between not being in school and not having as much time to work on writing as I used to, I wasn't particularly happy. Add the fact that Brad and I worked opposite shifts and didn't see much of each other, I was lonely too. When we were driving anywhere together during this time, he would play The Black Halo in the car. I had heard bits and pieces of it before, but the more I heard it in its entirety, the more it grew on me, and the more it spoke to me. I bought my own copy of the album and listened to it on repeat for weeks. Somehow it filled my loneliness--it became a friend. The Black Halo is a concept album based on Goethe's Faust and tells an exquisitely crafted tale of sorrow and betrayal, with the main character, Ariel, played by former Kamelot vocalist Roy Khan. By the end of that summer I felt that Ariel and I were old friends, confiding in one another on a daily basis. 

1. Rosedale by Allan Cooper and Rose Dale
I don't need to go into too much detail as to why this is the number one most important album in my life. I helped to create this album. I sang on it and performed live with it. It is the first album I've been on, and hopefully not the last. I loved the process of recording and performing and would love to do it again some day, maybe in a higher capacity, and maybe not. Rosedale was my first entry into the world of professional music and performance and I've been bitten by the bug.

I really, really like music.

I'm sure there will be other albums one day that will grip me in the same way these ten have, and I really can't wait to listen to them. For the moment, though, this is what I have.

Here is a brief list of four more albums that had a big impact on me, but didn't quite make the list:

Deloused in the Comatorium - The Mars Volta
Silverthorn - Kamelot
Imaginaerum - Nightwish
Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morissette (I was nine years old and I had this on cassette!)
Design Your Universe - Epica

Eventually, I'll probably write a bit about various summer soundtracks as well. I associate a lot of images and sounds with memory, as I'm sure a lot of people do, and spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds. Experiencing nostalgia is a daily occurrence for me.

As a bit of a case in point, I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD yesterday, and with the opening cutscene it occurred to me I hadn't played the game in eleven years. The theme music sent chills down my spine.

I won't lie: I'm not really sure how to end this. So I suppose I'll shamelessly promote my Youtube covers project. Give it a look if you're interested in what I've been up to lately. It's relevant to the topic at hand as I cover songs from a lot of albums listed in this top ten.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When Kamelot went to Montreal, and I went to Kamelot

The year is 2000.

A 14-year old me is scouring the internet for news about the new Zelda game, which was up until recently known as "Zelda Gaiden", set to release later this year. The game, now titled Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask promises to be an darker, deeper sequel to Ocarina of Time.

I stumble across a site called Hyrule: The Land of Zelda. The splash page loads a flash video of the Skull Kid wearing Majora's Mask. Suddenly, the most mesmerizing piece of music I've ever heard plays in the background. It's the first 26 seconds of this song. And all I see is "Music by Nightwish" at the bottom.


And this is what got me interested in symphonic metal. Weirdest, stupidest way to get interested in a type of music, but it's the truth. To be honest, a very similar event occurred to get me interested in Daft Punk: a clip of Digital Love on a GAP commercial.

I had no idea what the song was called, only that the first 26 seconds had pulled me into an obsession. I had to know what that song was. And instead of doing the obvious thing and emailing the webmaster, I decided my best course of action would be to download songs until I found the right one.

I underestimated Nightwish's discography. 

It took me about a full year to find the song, but in the meantime, I fell in love with the band. It hadn't been long after Wishmaster had released, and the first full song I heard had been Sleepwalker, the bonus song from that album. 

Years later, after their album Once had released in late 2004, I discovered they were playing a show in Montreal and knew I would have to go see it. I took a 13 hour train ride with a friend who wasn't even remotely interested in this kind of music and went to see them live. As the first notes of Dark Chest of Wonders swept across the crowd in the Metropolis, I knew. This is my favourite band. 

Years still later, I managed to see them live--in Montreal and Quebec City, because few good bands come to New Brunswick--three times with their new singer, Anette. The first show, I even brought the band a small doll I had made based on the character Eva from one of their songs. I was floored when Anette brought it onstage during the encore. Anette told me after the show that she was planning to bring it for other performances as well, and she was true to her word--she brought it onstage in Toronto the same week. Again, Nightwish was cemented firmly as my favourite band. 

Slowly but surly, a contender appeared. Kamelot, at first, was unassuming to me. Seeing their video for March of Mephisto on MuchMusic in 2005 got me interested, but it wasn't until I sat down and listened to the Black Halo as a whole that I truly understood what a fine band they are. I spent the entire summer of 2009 listening to that album on repeat. I couldn't stop. "All right," I told myself, "this is your favourite album. But Nightwish is still your favourite band."

Then, disaster struck. Last October, just a day before I was due to make a trip to Montreal for work, I discovered that Anette was no longer a part of Nightwish. I was heartbroken to hear that yet another of the band's prolific, talented singers was gone. I'm not ashamed to admit I shed tears at both Tarja and Anette's respective departures. Both times, the future was uncertain. The second time, though, I was starting to develop trust issues. I don't like to take sides when I don't know the full story, but I couldn't help but feel a little bitter.

Floor Jansen joined Nightwish to promote their Imaginaerum album and, from what I've heard from the live videos uploaded to YouTube, has done a magnificent job singing in the interim. Since the summer of the Black Halo, I had fully listened to two more albums of Kamelot's--Ghost Opera and Poetry for the Poisoned--and started to feel that second place was coming up very closely behind Nightwish. I didn't want to think about my precious Nightwish being kicked out of the position I had mentally put them in. Not because I think they would care, but only because I'm particularly stubborn. 

Kamelot had experienced some lead singer problems of their own. Roy Khan, their talented singer with a voice like velvet, had suffered a serious collapse during their tour to promote Poetry for the Poisoned. After a year's break and having Rhapsody of Fire's Fabio Lione take over for the tour, Khan announced in his blog that he would no longer be a part of the band, and he has since left he music industry altogether. 

I fell into a period of musical confusion. My two favourite active singers were no longer a part of the bands I loved. There was a period of time that I avoided metal altogether. It was a brief period, but it was there. I listened to Gorillaz and Mother Mother and wondered if I would ever love metal again.

And then I discovered this song. 

When I heard the singer, at first I thought it was Roy Khan in a new band, or that perhaps he had changed his mind. When I got to the chorus, though, I realized that it wasn't Khan at all, but someone new, and that Kamelot was alive and well. I was overjoyed. Not only were they releasing a new album, but they sounded as good as ever. While new singer Tommy Karevik had some big shoes to fill, it seemed he was doing a very good job of it.

I purchased their most recent album, Silverthorn, and was blown away by it. To me, it was their best album since the Black Halo. It helped me through a particularly rough patch in winter. Every day I would look forward to coming home, cranking the album as loudly as I could, and... well. Cooking supper. I cooked supper like a badass.

I bought concert tickets on a whim in late March, foolishly overlooking the VIP tickets and going straight for the regular show, thinking it would save me money. For some reason I was neglecting the fact that I was attending a concert 13 hours away and that saving money was a little bit out of the question. Many months passed. Random Access Memories was released and kept me actively listening to something in the meantime. When September arrived, I was ready, and terribly excited.

We woke up at 4:30 AM to board the plane to Montreal the morning of the show and met with a friend who was also in town to see the band. We spent the day hanging out in Montreal, more or less killing time until we could enter the venue.

Brad and I waited outside in the line in the rather uncharacteristic cold for about an hour and a half until finally the line started moving and we were allowed inside the venue. We found a spot on the floor to stand and were surprised when everything started exactly on time. Opening band Eklipse took the stage promptly at 7 PM and blew us all away with their unique, harmonic blend of string instruments. 4 ladies--3 violinists, and one cellist. They played popular cover tunes as well as their own atmospheric originals.

Closely following Eklipse was Delain, a Dutch group who are actually far better live than their recordings would suggest. Lead singer Charlotte Wessels seemed to be an absolute sweetheart, smiling at the crowd at every opportunity. She packed a powerful vocal punch as well. At one point, the crowd was cheering so loud that Charlotte just stopped and watched us, positively beaming. All around, the show was shaping up to be one of the best shows I'd seen, and that was before the main act even came out.

At 8:30, Delain thanked us and left the stage. Just a half hour before Kamelot came on. It was a pretty long half hour. But the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, and a familiar voice from just offstage shouted "Montreal!". The opening notes of Rule the World started to play, and like the revelation I had when I saw Nightwish live for the first time, I realised right then that Kamelot's succession had arrived. They had dethroned Nightwish, my favourite band for almost 10 years, and taken their place.

Their set was absolutely magical. Alissa White-Gluz of the Agonist--my personal girl-crush and current musical inspiration--accompanied and sang backing vocals and the female vocalists on many of the songs. She also growled during Sacrimony. Eklipse returned for My Confession, playing their strings just as they do on the album. Acadian artist and fellow East Coaster Angie Arsenault took the stage to sing a duet of Don't you Cry in French alongside Tommy. Incredible.

The band said goodbye for the time being, but was, as always, met with a series of cheers and chants from the crowd, begging them to come back on stage. They did, opening the encore with Ghost Opera ("welcome all to curtain call/at the opera/raging voices in my mind/rise above the orchestra/like a crescendo of gratitude"--fitting!). The final song of the night was March of Mephisto, which began with two members of Eklipse coming onstage to play a drumbeat, and followed up with Alissa growling the role of Mephisto. I think that was when I lost my mind. And my voice.

It was an incredible, magical evening. But it wasn't over.

We stopped by our hotel room for a few minutes, then went back out to see if the band might hang around the venue a bit afterwards.
And then, this happened. That's Sean Tibbetts, Kamelot's bassist. I wasn't in pain, by the way, I just can't take a decent photo to save my life.

We saw a few people coming and going, but Sean Tibbetts stopped to talk to us and take a few photos. After seeing no other members coming out, we decided they were likely tired and we headed out to Foufounes for a post-concert drink.

It was when I was ordering a round of Shocktop when my husband Brad leaned over to me and asked "Isn't that Thomas Youngblood over there?". I looked over, and sure enough, the guitarist and founder of Kamelot was standing not far away, chatting with fellow musicians and having a drink of his own. Marcel, our friend who accompanied us--also the lead singer in Moncton-area metal band Shades of Sorrow--suggested we say hello. I'm shy, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity. We approached Youngblood to say hello, and he reciprocated with a smile, shook our hands and clinked glasses with us. Wow. To say it was the perfect end to an already magical evening would be a bit of an understatement.

While I didn't get to meet everyone in the band, it's safe to say I'll be getting VIP tickets next time to ensure this happens. When I first heard of Khan's departure, I was uncertain whether Kamelot would keep going, or that the new singer might not measure up. It seems now, though, that my sentiments echo Youngblood's from this Blabbermouth article:

"In the beginning, when this whole thing started, we were a little unsure of what the future might be, but now we're really excited about it."

I couldn't agree with him more. I'm excited, too.

Nightwish will always be special to me, but times change and so do our perceptions. I'll still see Nightwish on their next North American tour, I'm sure, but I don't know that I can get attached to another singer in the same capacity. It's not right to compare two bands, and though it may sound like it, I'm not. One has just slowly and steadily grown on me to the point that I can no longer see myself calling any other band my favourite. Thanks for September 8th, Kamelot. I'll never forget it.

A post-script to note that seeing Kamelot was the musical kick in the ass I needed. I finished recording this song this week. It's the first song I've ever written. Please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Moncton life

I grew up in a small rural community surrounded by trees and gorgeous vistas. Our house was a 2-minute drive from the the Bay of Fundy, which boasts the highest tides in the world. If I wanted to be alone, I could easily go find a place where no one would be able to find me. Fog drifted in and out like a familiar friend, and the salt scent of bay air met your nose the moment you opened a window.

Naturally, moving to a city proved to be a bit of a challenge for me at first. Though not a particularly big city by any means, Moncton still had an unsettling tree-to-person ratio. I had grown accustomed to the quiet solitude that came from walking in the woods or watching the tide roll in. That was something that was now missing for me.

Rest area at the Tankville School trail.
My first year of university, I would sit in my dorm alone. That part wasn't so bad--but what I didn't like was the sound of ambulance sirens blaring at all hours of the day. Université de Moncton's Lafrance dormitory was where I stayed, and it loomed above the Georges Dumont hospital. During the week I didn't take many opportunities to go anywhere other than my room or class, but on the weekends I would go home and that would give me the chance to go on those long beautiful walks I craved. In the summer, I would also go home to work from May until the end of August, when school would start again.

One of the highlights of the apartment we rented just off Elmwood was the little duck pond and walking trail down the road. The wildlife made me feel at home, and seeing people walking their dogs made me even happier.

There was a small patch of woods right by the Université de Moncton campus that I used to take a shortcut through, despite the sign that barred pedestrians from passing through. I wasn't the only rule-breaker and often found other students doing the same thing. That one little strip of forest was enough to reconnect me to the place that I wanted to be: the forest. As much as I hate the term, calling me a tree-hugger wouldn't be far from the truth.

Five years ago, in October 2008, Brad and I moved to Moncton permanently. I got a job downtown, we got a new apartment and adopted our cat, Lady Pansy. All of a sudden, life was much different for me. Having no specific days off, I found visiting home much more difficult. In addition, Brad and I would often have separate days off. I would get to visit home very rarely and found myself exhausted from being on my feet all day anyway. 

We weren't anywhere near any kind of walking trail or park. The best we had was the little area in front of the cultural centre across the road. 

Gradually I found out about various places to go in town. First it was the Irishtown Nature Park just off Elmwood Drive. Next was Mapleton Park off the Gorge Road. Both places provided scenic, woodsy walks that put me at ease. We often saw many other people there, but for some reason I didn't mind. Those places are like communities in themselves; many people smile and say hello as they pass, even if you've never met. 

After walking on those paths for some time, we started to locate smaller, less travelled paths. A recurring favourite became the Tankville School trail, just down the road from the Irishtown Nature Park. It seems the Tankville trail hooks onto the back end of another trail, because we found that one, too. The first time, we found it by walking over the frozen lake at Tankville School. The second time, we took the real entrance--just a short drive down the road.

Now we've taken to other sorts of adventures, whether it's through Centennial Park or through visiting outlying villages, cities or towns. One thing that can be said for Moncton is that it lives up to its nickname--the Hub City. Moncton is a short drive away from all kinds of interesting places. It's still close enough, too, that I can get down home when I need to reconnect. On Labour Day, for kicks, we took a little drive down to Cape Tormentine for a change of scenery.

Definitely a change of scenery.

At first, I didn't like the noise and I didn't like the street lights getting in the way of the stars. I still don't like the way the air smells compared to the fresh drifting sea breeze of Alma. Moncton has become home for me in many ways now, though, from the coffee I pick up at Read's on my way to work, to the people I've met simply from working in the mall. While I still sometimes think I'd prefer living out of the city, right now I'm happy with our life in Moncton.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The world would be a better place if it were more like Animal Crossing

Here's why. And don't you dare judge me.

10. Renewable resources
You can fish all day without a license. You can catch rare butterflies without the fear of airport security hunting you down when you try to smuggle them out of the country. Rare fossils can be found every day. Guess who doesn't care that you just caught a half dozen whale sharks? The DFO. 

9. Your pockets are freaking amazing
This is the 27th one today.
Fish and bugs can live harmoniously in your pocket without being crushed or killed, even when buried under 4 furniture items. You can store an entire week's worth of clothing. In your pockets. 

8. Storing furniture in handy leaflets
There would be a lot more trips to IKEA in my future, let me tell you. 

7. Everybody gets a mansion
It's like The Invention of Lying, only true.

6. You can choose your neighbours
Don't like one of your animal friend townies? Kick em out! Fascist.

5. Gardening is stupid easy
You can seriously grow a fruit tree in like 3 days. And then you can chop it down and grow another one in another 3 days. Also, these trees bear fruit every three days. Who needs seasons when you can grow fruit all the time?! Solving world hunger faster than you can count to 72.

4. Your tropical island destination is just a song away

3. Make your first million in a day
Go to the island. Catch beetles. Return to land to sell. Repeat ad nauseum.

2. Get your furniture upholstered in 30 minutes
or your Bells back. Seriously though I'd get my furniture re-done every single day if it was as cheap and quick as Cyrus does it. Also if I could store it in a handy leaflet. (See point 8.)

1. Money grows on trees
No, really.

Sweet, sweet Bells.
My other blog, thisindiegameblog, is typically home to all kinds of other game writings, though they're typically independent games. Check me out over there, too!

Also my Dream Suite address is 4800-2191-6274!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Life as a Nerd

Growing up geeky in my generation wasn't always easy. I had much different interests from other girls my age. I remember well, sitting in my pyjamas at the age of 10 with a loose tooth, playing through Super Mario RPG on my Super Nintendo. In grade 6, when I went to a brand new school, I was bullied and teased for my braces and my weird sense of style. I went home in tears nearly every day. My mom gave me a Sailor Moon doll to help give me incentive to stay at the new school, because I wanted to leave so badly. While I didn't play with my doll, she was a part of my growing collection of Sailor Moon toys and other items: another sign I wasn't like the others.

Summer Fear III led to me getting zombified.

No one wanted to be near me at school dances, which, for some reason, I took to heart in an extreme way. I was that girl you saw, sitting alone in the corner, crying because I was lonely.

I didn't really have anyone to spend time with at school for about a year, when a boy named Johnny and I decided we were destined to be best friends. We'd trade Pokemon cards and watch anime together. I'd go to his house for lunch and we'd play Harvest Moon or Ocarina of Time on his Nintendo 64. We'd spend hours on the phone, giving play-by-plays of the shows we were watching and the games we were playing.

We weren't teased any less, but at least we had each other.

Later on in high school, I had a bit of a broader set of friends--nearly all of them guys. We played card games and our GameBoys together in empty classrooms at noon. Some of my "in-between" friends--not overly popular, but not teased either--couldn't figure out why I wouldn't just hide my weird interests and wear my makeup differently. They told me I could get a boyfriend easily if I changed a few things. I didn't want to change, though. And that did pay off, because now I'm actually married to Brad, who is one of those guys I used to play card games with.

Growing up geeky, as I said, wasn't always easy, and in fact, there were a lot of times that it would have been easier to hide my interests. But, I didn't, hoping that one day it would pay off. When I finally got out of high school and made my way into university, it did.

I lived on dorm by myself, which was fine with me. Brad would come to visit me on weekends, so living alone gave me the freedom to have him over whenever I pleased. The two of us would stay up until the wee hours watching anime and playing Baldur's Gate on my GameCube. I didn't have many friends in university right away, but having Brad visit from the university he attended helped ease the loneliness on weekends.

One day, as I was leaving my dorm room, I caught a glimpse of my neighbour's door and saw a poster that read "Animaritime". Reading further, I saw that this was an anime and gaming convention--something I had always wanted to attend, but was sadly unavailable to kids in the Maritimes. I was instantly on the website from the poster and signed up for the forums. I chatted with people about the event and, eventually, I met my neighbour--through the forums! We exchanged private messages, and she invited me over to her room to hang out.

A year later, I was walking to class. A keychain of Sakura from Naruto dangled off my backpack. The girl walking behind me hurried to catch up, and she quickly engaged me in conversation. We were fast friends, too, and were a big part of each other's lives for the next few years.

Animaritime was a cornerstone for me to find more people who like the same things I do, and with the intensity I like it. I got into cosplay and started becoming friends with the people I met at conventions. It seemed like, for the first time, I had found my people. 

In 2006, I started getting tired of waiting between Animaritime events to cosplay and see people, so I decided to spearhead an event of my own. At first, I just referred to it as "Moncton Cosplay Picnic", but with some help from my good friend and fellow nerd Tom Savage, we came up with the name Picnicon. The event has been happening on a yearly basis ever since, with a break of only one year in the interim.

After Animaritime one year, Brad and I were invited by a local gaming store to start up a Pokemon League for kids to learn how to play and meet other kids for free. Five years later, we're still at it--Brad's a League-officiated Pokemon Professor, in fact. And yeah, we're pretty pumped for X and Y. I'm getting X, because that deer is too fabulous to pass up.

Attending Animaritime as a staff member this year, I got to witness firsthand as teenagers and young adults made new friends, brought together by the love they feel for various geeky pursuits. I thought to myself how lucky all of these kids are, growing up in an age that these events take place on a regular basis. When I was young, Maritime con-goers would have to travel to Quebec or Ontario to enjoy a large-scale event. Now, after nearly ten years of Animaritime, the event has reached over 1,700 attendees. This is a far cry from the 200-something attendees that were there the year I started going, which was their second year of operation.

Picnicon 2013 is coming up very soon, with thanks to my staff and the attendees for their ongoing support. Picnicon will never be a 1,700 person event, but it has been expanding every year and has been a lot of fun. Just last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Harbour Con-Fusion to meet people who have made an incredible living off being awesome and geeky. Some day, I hope to be among them.

I could go on for hours on this topic. To end, here is an amazing video featuring super-nerd Wil Wheaton that, I feel, sums up why it's awesome to be a geek today. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Harbour Con-Fusion 2013

A picture of me with my table-neighbour Darren Hann.
This past weekend, I had a rare opportunity: I was invited to attend a convention to do nothing but promote myself. I set out to do just that and, of course, to meet new people. Meeting new people was not only a goal, but also a necessity, as it turned out. On day one, I knew only a small handful of attendees.

Did I ever meet a friendly group of people! All the other guests, it seemed, were just as willing to meet new people as I was, and they all went out of their way to introduce themselves to me at some point or another.

It's always fascinating, to me, when a group of creators are placed into a room together. It seems to me that they are always working on various projects and, at this event in particular, seemed to have a keen interest in what everyone else was doing. I spent the weekend collecting business cards and discussing works in progress, as well as swapping notes, resources, and suggesting collaborations.

It's hard to believe all of this came from the lot of us meeting at a sci-fi/horror/fantasy/anime/gaming/etc. convention, but there you have it--sometimes when creators meet, friendships are inevitable!

It was nice to see such a supportive group, as well. I ended up doing book trades with 3 guests who were interested in my book and had books of their own.

I had the opportunity to run a panel on publishing and self-publishing with Matthieu Gallant, who was one of the authors I book-swapped with. I had great conversations with illustrator and comic artist Sandy Carruthers about his work, and was the lucky table neighbour to independent filmmaker and outstandingly friendly Trekkie Darren Hann. I got to spend time hanging out and having a couple of drinks with the guys of Geeks vs. Nerds, in particular fellow writer Larry Gent. Artist (and fellow Daft Punk fan) André Myette was a couple of tables down on the first day, and we had some great chats as well.

Aside from the connections I made, I want to give a shout out to Drakon Designs and Blind Leviathan for their lovely tables! Drakon did some beautiful facepainting on attendees this weekend, and Blind Leviathan was selling everything Lon Lon Milk pendants to Companion Cube earrings. Being the huge zombie fanatic that I am, I got some bottled zombie virus.


I should mention I got numerous StreetPasses as well, and compliments about my special edition Legend of Zelda 3DS. Maybe I didn't need to mention that. Whatever.

On the third day, the moon crashed into Termina I held a small panel about events planning and running your own event or meetup. It was attended by only 2, but I had held the same panel at Animaritime last month and had a good turnout there. I'm going to keep working on expanding the panel, particularly with feedback I've been receiving about it, and hope to turn it into a PowerPoint presentation so I can spread it even further. Giving panels is always interesting because not only do the attendees learn something, but quite often the person or people holding the panel will learn, as well.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend, and I managed to sell out of all printed copies of Hub City Survival! Amazing! I also managed to get a lot of work done on Retail Hell, the webcomic I am writing. I was surrounded by so many talented people all weekend that it was hard not to be inspired to work.

I won't be drawing the comic myself, and am looking for an artist. If you're interested in the project, send me an e-mail! I'll likely be throwing some sketches or other tidbits up here before long.

Right now, I'm looking for a new home for HCS because my print-on-demand publisher, Lightning Demand Press, is currently isn't printing due to a flood. As well, I am working on my new novel with the working title A Couple of Dreamers. I have written a silent screenplay that is very short, and I hope to film it in the next month or so. There's certainly a lot going on creatively, but that doesn't mean I don't have time for more! I'm always interested in collaborations or working with others on various projects. Give me a shout if you have something that you think might interest me.

I'm on vacation currently, which means that I'll likely be posting another entry or two in the next little while. You'll be hearing from me before too long.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Greetings from Harbour Con!

Greetings from Harbour Con!

I'm a guest at this year's Harbour Con-Fusion. If you're there now, chances are you've already been by my table. If not, well, come say hi!

I've put out a call for game devs over at thisindiegameblog as well. 

I'll be live tweeting throughout the weekend, so check me out on @KCooperWriting. Enjoy the event!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The best job I ever had

Alma New Brunswick is a small village, boasting a meager population of around 300 people. It's home to the highest tides in the world, Fundy National Park, and a slew of unique local business, including the Octopus' Garden Cafe and Kelly's Bake Shop (sticky buns, anyone?).

It's also home to some great memories for me, since it's the village I was raised in, and where my husband Brad was raised as well. One fateful summer I took a job there, a literal five minutes before being offered another one, and that job became the best I've ever had.

I've had a lot of great jobs in my time--one of them I'm working right now. I've also worked as a Barista and a kids' program coordinator.  The best job I've ever had wasn't glamorous, or, at its core, that unique. The best job I ever had was working as a cashier at the only gas station in Alma, NB: The Fundy General Store.

I love people. I always have. Growing up, though, I was a little more reserved than most. I got picked on and bullied. I was kind of weird. I was a vegetarian in a fishing village. To say I wasn't a part of the crowd was a bit of an understatement, but I tried to own that, and tried my best to pleasantly surprise people. When the owner of the General Store took a chance on hiring me, he later told me he was glad he had.

After my first couple of days of work, I learned the ins and outs of the POS system and got familiar with some of the regulars who would come in for coffee. Some of them were surprised to see me there, as they'd always seen me as the strange quiet girl who would take walks in the village, and not make many public appearances beyond that.

At work, my duties didn't go too far beyond dealing with customers and brewing coffee, and I liked it that way. When the store got really busy, particularly on Saturdays and sunny summer days, we would sometimes have customers lined up literally all the way around the store. In addition to being the only gas station in town, we were also the only liquor store in town. We also had a number of campers' amenities, such as firewood. We had a lot of things people wanted.

Being a huge tourist area brought in all kinds of unique people from all around the world. I got to meet people who were on their own life journeys: off on a six-month hiatus from their responsibilities, or simply on vacation with their families. It was a very introspective period for me. It taught me what I wanted out of life, and I still managed that while juggling it as a full-time job.

That's not to say it didn't get a little stressful sometimes. It is to say, however, that I managed to get a lot done without worrying about work too much. I got a lot of writing and hiking done because of my schedule, and because the work that we did there was never draining or exhausting. My boss liked to work us on a rotating schedule--one week I would work opening shifts, and the next week I would work closing shifts. He would give us the same days off all summer. On top of it, he was an amazing boss in general. He never yelled and never gave us a hard time. If we were doing something wrong, he would quietly pull us aside, tell us what it was and to stop, and that was that. He would never do this in front of other workers or customers.

Some people might be surprised that working in a gas station could be so enjoyable, but it really was. There was a great vibe and the boss had a knack for hiring the right people. Of course, we didn't always get along, but we came pretty close.

Alma's a beautiful village, too, and very scenic. Every day that I was on the front cash I could simply turn around and look out the window to be met with a view of the Upper Salmon River.

I worked that job for three summers, and I still look back on those times fondly, especially when summer begins.

If you have any interesting jobs you've had that you'd like to share, feel free to contribute in the comment section. I'd be interested to hear!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Girls just wanna have fun

On May 22, 2013, an e-mail I wrote was sent to the 20,000+ subscribers of mailing list The Listserve. I included my e-mail address at the end so anyone could write back to me.

Nearly 100 e-mails later, I have received articles, book recommendations, and a few very interesting counter-thoughts. I'm pleased to say that, as of writing this, I have received only a single troll.

I've been recommended the books The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Lean in - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I'll be looking both of these up the next time I go to a book store.

There is a plethora of feminist articles that readers sent to me, as well, that I wouldn't feel right if I didn't share.

A good one from Curator of Dialogue
Why society still needs feminism, on Tumblr
Clara Fritts' take on feminism
A TED Talk that might turn every man who watches it into a feminist
Serenade my Soul on my article
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus (such bollocks!)

 Some people directed me to causes they feel strongly about as well, such as Girl Develop It, whose mission is to empower women from diverse backgrounds to learn how to code and develop software, and a non-feminist but very real humanitarian movement based out of NYC that is actively moving against the controversial stop-and-frisk program. I have learned a lot about people from all over and their views and impressions of feminism by sending a single e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who read my e-mail and who felt compelled to write to me, and those who remained silent as well.

The title of my e-mail was Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which meant as an ironic twist to the well-known song.  I've pasted it below for you to read.


I was going to take this opportunity to talk about something entirely different, but after something that happened yesterday, I’m going to use it to clear up a few misconceptions about a topic very dear to me.

My mom is an English professor. During one of her classes, she looked at her students and asked “How many of you here would identify as a feminist?”. To her dismay, about three or four of the twenty-some students raised their hands, and all of them were female.

“Let me ask you something,” she said. “How many of you believe in equal rights for women?” Everyone raised their hands. “How many of you believe women should be paid the same amount as men in the workplace?” They all raised her hands again. Mom smiled. “Then you are all feminists.”

The first two definitions of feminism, as per, are:
[fem-uh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
If you’ll look, you see none of the common misconceptions of feminism, which include:
1. hating men
2. burning bras
3. getting angry when men hold doors open for them
4. trying to take over the world with our feminine wiles
5. obliterating men altogther and releasing them as a fine powder into the atmosphere (okay, I’m embellishing just a bit)

The reality is that feminists are sick of the way women are portrayed, the way they are pitted against each other and the way that society tells women that their bodies are shameful and that they should hate them for not looking good enough for men.

Yesterday I had a guy refuse to let me help him lift heavy things for the mere fact that I was a woman, even though I had just carried one of those “heavy” things (which, for the record, really weren’t that heavy) across the floor to him with ease. Instead of standing there and arguing with him, I decided it said more about him than me, and I left. And that was when I knew what to write about for the Listserve.

A few traditional sexist practices need a little clarification, too. If a man refuses to hit a woman because he just doesn’t hit women, he’s doing it for the wrong reason. You shouldn’t hit a woman because she’s a person, just like you shouldn’t hit a man because he’s a person--a quick digression to add that I am absolutely not referring to domestic abuse here, rather the old "I wouldn't hit a girl" adage. When you hold a door open for a woman, you should hold it open because it’s polite to hold a door open for anyone. And, regardless of which gender the person holding the door open identifies with, you should always say thank you. But that’s a “common courtesy” issue, so I’ll stop there.

My aim with this e-mail wasn’t necessarily to change minds, but rather to help some of you understand that you might just be a feminist without knowing it. And that’s okay. Most of the negative aspects associated with feminism are radical and certainly not the thoughts of every feminist, or are non-existant altogether.

I have a lot to say on various topics, not all of them necessarily political, social, or even negative. If you’re interested, I invite you to check out my blog. Google “kcooperwriting” and you’ll find me a few links down under my Twitter account.

Thanks for reading. I’ve really enjoyed all the Listserve e-mails so far, especially those with projects linked to them.


To finish off, another reader sent me this great cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Enjoy.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Creating These Random Memories (Anticipation Part 2)

This evening, after I was done work, two of my friends picked me up and we got into their car to listen to the much anticipated Random Access Memories, as referenced in the previous post. I looked at them and I said "Guys, this is the last time we will listen to this album for the first time".

The sunroof down and wind whipping past accompanied the warm, late May air. The sky boasted clouds of all different shapes and textures, hanging in the sky against a perfectly sunny backdrop. The bass thumped at a reasonable level behind us as the the album revealed its beautiful secrets to us.

I remember the entire journey as we drove and listened. When the final track played, the sun was low in the sky, but not yet to setting. A dull gold-orange glow cascaded through the modest urban forest we passed by, light peeking through the trees and creating long shadows behind. At one point, during the album, the sun had gone behind a cloud, and just as the song reached a pivotal point, it came back out, right through the sunroof.

As is common with a group of people who are familiar with each other, we cracked our fair share of jokes (such as when my friend Sally thought the song Fragments of Time was called Fragments of Tim--I laughed for an uncomfortably long time at that).

As we listened, the three of us crafted a memory together. We'll always remember cruising through town, visiting random locations while Random Access Memories played as our soundtrack. From what I've heard from the interviews that Daft Punk gave, I can't help but wonder if that crafting of memories is one of the things that they were hoping to achieve with this album.

Monday, May 20, 2013


As I sit here writing, I have the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories, staring back at me from my phone. It is complete and waiting for me to listen to it, but because of a promise made to a good friend, that will wait for now. Instead, I'm thinking about how incredible an album it's going to be. Even the one song I've heard from the album is a whole two minutes longer than its radio edit, so really, it will be almost entirely material I've never heard.

Have you ever taken a moment, while just about to read the last page of a book or about to watch the last half hour of a film, to think about how amazing that moment you're about to experience is? Something you didn't know five minutes ago will be something you know, and always will know, in the moments to come. You will never be able to re-live that moment. You will forever be trying to re-imagine that sense of wonder you feel in the moments leading up to your experience.

This is exactly how I feel about Random Access Memories right now.

Daft Punk's Discovery album came at a pivotal time to me: my late teenage years. 12 years ago, Discovery became a very important part of my life, as far as musical influence goes. And now, I get the feeling that Random Access Memories is about to become the same.

My friends and I plan on listening to the album in their car tomorrow after I'm done work, cruising with the album playing at full blast. Interestingly enough, interviews with contributors to the album reveal that Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo did much the same during the process of putting the album together.

I'll prolong the anticipation for now. At 4 PM tomorrow, I'll be ready.

I have a challenge for you. At the last few pages, or even the last chapter, of whatever book you're reading now, stop. Think about the journey you've taken so far, and what loose ends are left to be tied up. Reflect on the fact that you're about to learn something new that you'll never re-experience, and take a moment to recognize how remarkable that feeling is. Then, turn the page.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Role models

I hope everyone has at least one role model growing up. I was privileged to have had several. My parents, obviously, were (and still are!) the biggest ones, but I was fortunate to have numerous teachers who impacted my life, too. Belinda Myers was one of those teachers.

I found out a week ago that Mrs. Myers had passed away suddenly in a motorcycle accident, and the news hit me hard. I had seen another teacher a few weeks prior and, oddly enough, had asked what Mrs. Myers was up to. It was jarring, to say the least, to hear that she passed away not long after.

There's a lot that needs to be said about Mrs. Myers, but I can only speak from the perspective of a former student. I will say that as a "black sheep" sort of attendee, I found Mrs. Myers to be welcoming and understanding. I could always go to her if I had an issue of any kind, and if she couldn't fix it, she could at least change my perspective on it so it didn't seem so bad. She always had something constructive to say, so if you were doing something she didn't agree with, she would tell you why and how to change it. She was calm and didn't yell or raise her voice, but she was still fair and wouldn't let students get away with breaking rules. She also didn't make it a secret how much she cared for her students.

Since high school, which has been nearly ten years now, I've had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of teachers, and even tell some of them how much their instruction meant to me. One thing that I'll always regret now is that I never got to do that with Mrs. Myers. She was the vice principal when I graduated and I had always thought, while attending, how I would have liked to see how she ran it as principal. She was principal for several years after, and I can only imagine she did a great job with that, too.

That is my fond, little memorial of Mrs. Myers and the great teacher she was. I had three classes with her: Media Studies, Law, and Journalism, and I still think of all of them. My thoughts are, especially, with her family at this time.

Thank you, Mrs. Myers.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Here we are again.

It's not the ideal stargazing spot, to be honest. Streetlights dot the side of the parking lot and lead into a nearby highway. Even if there were no lights, it's a busy enough highway that even at this time of night, there are enough cars to brighten the road and distract us from the stars. But where can you go in a city when it's below freezing in April? So, we sit in the car, staring up at the sky with the faintest hope we might see just one falling meteor.

I'm not really sure I care. I look over at you, fiddling with your phone, and you catch me and smile.

I could spend my life like this. I don't care what we're doing. Even visiting a parking lot at 2 AM feels like an adventure. We move to another location with hope that we will be able to see some falling meteors there, but have no success. It's just as well-lit there, meaning that even if there were falling meteors, we likely would miss them. We decide to head back home, our adventure short-lived by the lack of unlit places.

To some, this might be a failure. We didn't see any meteors. I didn't think of it that way, though.

On our way back, I start to drift to sleep, lulled by the motion of the car. I nod awake long enough to see you're giving me that look--the one that you always give me when I randomly fall asleep (this happens more often than I'd like to let on).

I'd like nothing more than to freeze time and keep this moment forever.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


It's 8 PM. The light has just started to slip down the horizon, painting the sky in dark purple and blue. The weather is still mild enough that you can sit outside without a jacket on. The birds are singing happily in the trees, even though the sun is setting.The air smells fresh and verdant. And faintly of dog dung.

This long, heavy winter has finally succumbed to spring.

 Every winter I fall into a funk that's pretty difficult to bounce back from, and it doesn't seem to get any better until late March at the very earliest. This year, I almost made a very big life change during the winter, and came out of it at the very last minute in the final days of March. It was that moment that I awakened and spring truly seemed to be in fruition.

If there's anything I learned from it, it's not to make any decisions when stuck in a funk, or in winter at all. It gave me a different perspective, but the moment I emerged from the funk, I changed my mind.

When I made my final decision, it was as though the final clouds had dissipated and the flowers had begun to bloom.

With the lengthening of the days and the warmer sun comes longer hours of consciousness and awareness. Perhaps now that we're all becoming aware again, the days will seem more inspiring and revealing for us all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A reading

A few weeks back, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a group of people that I knew from all walks of life read before an audience. There were five people in total: one is the head of the Writer's Federation I'm a member of, one was my professor, one a customer, one a co-worker, and one is my father.

Seeing these five people, all of whom have affected my life in different ways, work together so flawlessly was inspiring. The five of them had been meeting together to discuss poetry and draw inspiration from one another. What came from these meetings was beautiful poetry--some of which was read that evening.

Cafe Aberdeen was filled with people, some of whom knew these poets, as well. It was very well-attended, and the cafe workers actually had to bring in more chairs to accommodate people. While the poets read, the audience, rapt and attentive, said nothing. The magic of poetry hung heavy in the air like snow on a branch. No one dared speak out of turn to break the spell.

It was an inspiring night, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who left with an unfinished poem in my head. In fact, I saw a woman scrawling notes down during the reading, probably for later use.

In honor of that evening, I wrote this one unfinished and unedited poem. It's aptly named, I think; I call it "At a Poetry Reading".

like a cat watching a bird
on the edge of the stool
you listen and watch
held in balance
absorbing every word
and never losing focus
or wavering
from the person who reads before you.

When the poems are done
you do not clap
but continue staring ahead
in the pose you assume
that looks so uncomfortable to me
but you hold so effortlessly
it must be a second nature
to you.

Do you refrain from clapping
because you didn't enjoy it?
Or rather
were the words so powerful
they shocked you into stillness
and led you to believe
that no sound
of appreciation
could really do them justice?

Do you
like so many others in this room
have your own way
of keeping the silent magic?

This winter has been a bit strange for me, and finding inspiration for writing has been scarce. This reading was like a shining beacon in the (literal) storm that has been the past two months.  When I say literal storm, I mean that my house is currently sitting under a good six feet of snow!

I'm not kidding!

 I have a week of vacation next week, so there may be more blog posts forthcoming. In the meantime, I'm still regularly updating thisindiegameblog, as winter is a perfect time of year to sit inside and play games!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How many sunrises?

The last sunrise of 2012.
As soon as 2013 hit, I'd taken to a new hobby: photographing sunrises with my phone.

It started with New Year's Eve, first thing in the morning. I was up just long enough to feed the cats, but I took my phone downstairs with me. The last sunrise of the year was waiting for me. I snapped a photo, fed the cats, then went about my day. The following day, the exact same thing happened: I woke up, fed the cats, and saw the sun rising, so I snapped a photo. The first sunrise of the new year.

A sunrise is a reminder that we're living to see another day--a privilege, not a right. We might not necessarily get to see tomorrow's sunrise. I look at them, myself, to remind myself that above all else, I'm alive, and that's all that matters.

I catch myself complaining a lot. In fact, I'm really bad for it. I know I have no reason to complain about anything, but I do it anyway. Instead of beating myself up for it, since that will only cause more negativity, I've been trying to divert my energy to something positive.

The first sunrise of 2013.
The other day, I was walking to the bus stop on my work, feeling grumpy and rushed and thinking of trivial things that didn't really matter. As I was walking, I turned to see the sun just hovering over the horizon, casting a pale golden light on the ground below. The ice-coated snow reflected the light back, like a frozen mirror. The sight was breathtaking. I glanced at it distractedly, thinking to myself that I didn't have time to stop and look, and that I'd miss my bus. I hesitated on that thought. Was that really the worst thing that could happen if I stopped to look at this sunrise? I set aside my petty problem for the time being. If I died that day, I didn't want my only regret to be that I didn't look at the sunrise long enough.

These thoughts may seem a touch morbid to anyone else, but to me, it's a reminder that I have so much to be thankful for. If my biggest concern is missing a bus because I stopped to look at a sunrise a little too long, I really don't have many problems. So, I stopped to look at the sunrise for those who aren't able to--for those who don't have the same kind of freedom I have, and for those who have bigger things to worry about, like whether they'll be able to eat tomorrow. And also, to remind myself that I am in control of my life, because too often do I say I "can't" do something, when in reality, I simply won't.

The sunrise photos are, I suppose, a bit of a personal project. When I sleep through a sunrise, I take a picture of a sunset in the evening. I know I won't do it every day and it's not something I want to pressure myself into doing. It's really just something for me to remind myself that life is great and it's getting better all the time.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A quick re-direction

I've decided that, after four long and detailed blog posts about various indie games, to re-direct that effort elsewhere. I realise that some of the posts have actually become reviews as well as reflections. Rather than hold myself back from this, I've decided to go the "create another outlet" route for it. And thus, thisindiegameblog was born. thisindiegameblog will be comprised of reviews and shout-outs for indie games of all kinds. Maybe, through doing this, I'll manage to find a home for Thread!