The Memories That Will Ripple Forward

The death of a young person really puts life into perspective.


I’m sitting here in my living room with the lights turned off because I cannot afford to pay expensive hydro bills. The darkness that fills the room leaves me clenching my eyeballs trying to hold back tears. I saw a friend from high school in a casket just a few hours ago. Twenty-One years old, my age, already dead. As a child, I always believed young people were never supposed to die. I think a lot of people still live with that mentality.

We plan our lives and goals assuming we have more time. All my dreams will come true in the future. But what future do we have? As saddest as I sound, life can be snatched from you at any second. Have you lived your life to the fullest? I know I haven’t.

Even in death Simon had the most positive energy illuminating from his casket.

In his Final Testament (a document Simon wrote before he passed), he wrote that he created an immobilization of ideas and memories he wants to ripple forward after he dies. I want the same to be true for my life after I die.

Luckily (and unluckily depending on how you look at it) there is no “countdown clock” ticking away the time we have left on this Earth. I am a big believer that our body is a vessel that holds our soul for a given period of time. But, what I fear the most is being forgetting. I want to positively influence each person I meet while living on Earth. I want my eternal energy to live on in people once my body decomposes.

As I placed my trembling hand on the casket of a fellow friend, I promised him that his uplifting energy and illuminating presence will never die. I will live each one of my days the same way Simon had. I will be kind to every living being that I meet. In my darkest times, I will fight negativity, disease, and failure with a bright smile on my face.

The death of a young person really puts life into perspective. Live out your dreams, your passions, and aspirations while you are alive. Be kind, be positive, and be bright.

 

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School Blues

I have so many issues with people who constantly complain about school. And yes, I totally understand coming from a Middle-Upper class, European-Canadian home, I do hold privilege in the education institution. Curriculums have been catered to my upbringing and I recognize the incorrectness in this. 

However, I am a first-generation immigrant and was the first person in my immediate family to graduate high-school and receive a bachelors degree. My family’s lack of education has constantly pushed me to continue mine. 


Catholic school, private school, studying abroad in Italy, university (both in Canada and America), and soon-to-be graduate school… I have been granted an education, IN A FIELD I LOVE, that many people only dream of. I am grateful for this. One day, I will share the knowledge I have obtained with others.

As a journalism and women’s studies student, I am bombarded daily with assignments, essays, and articles to write. Oh and did I mention that I need to stay up-to-date with current event stories from all over the world? This isn’t to devalue any other major, but I complete way more assignments than the average college student.

Sometimes I wish that my programs would consist of only two exams and one major assignment. This is the standard course load I see in a lot of other majors. But, these were the degrees I chose. And, I have no regrets.

I love school. I would chant it from the top of the CN Tower in Toronto if I could. Sure, those late nights writing 20 page papers were brutal at times. But, I’ve been dreading graduating university ever since I was in Preschool. The end came so soon. How, in the matter of months will I be done 2 university degrees? Sure, I can probably prolong my degree. Take a 5th year, mess around and take a bunch of random courses. But, I’m already taking an extra semester I don’t really need. For what? To boost my already high average into a perfect 4.0. Is that really necessary? Nope, not at all.

This isn’t to brag about my knowledge. Everyone is smart in their own way. But, I saw something the other day that completely disheartened me. And it was this…

It’s so easy to claim you hate school when a big assignment is due. School is indeed stressful at times. But, if you’re constantly going to complain about your workload, skip class, or put in the bare minimum… You should not be in school. School, isn’t for everyone.

My issue arises because I acknowledge that school is a privilege. My parents were unable to receive an education because of familial and economic reasons. Though that was over 30 years ago, these inabilities to access education still occur today. Before you complain about hating school, think of all the individuals who were and still are unable to receive the same opportunity you have been given.

People are denied an education because:

  1. They simply cannot afford it
  2. They have familial duties (Usually tied in with economic inability)
  3. There are no education facilities in their local area
  4. They have disabilities & the society does not want to accommodate them
  5. They are a woman (Usually tied to poor sanitation and lack of menstrual accommodations)
  6.  AND MORE

So please, if learning really is a burden for you, either think twice about your position of privilege or simply question whether a higher education is right for you. As I stated previously, school isn’t for everyone.

Shift to a Minimalist Lifestyle

I’m a hoarder, collector, and a compulsive buyer.

I buy things for temporary happiness. I keep things because of an emotional attachment to them. I keep buying, buying, and buying because I can never find true happiness in my purchases.

I have an obsession. Not only with the act of shopping itself, but with purchasing things that make me feel prettier, richer, and more stylish than others. Fuck, saying that out loud makes me feel like a bitch. But, it’s true. I would receive an immediate satisfaction upon purchasing things I really didn’t need. That satisfaction quickly fades after I use the products. If I even use the products. I have countless amounts of purchases that are still in the original packaging, still containing the price tags.

I now feel claustrophobic surrounded by all this stuff. I have thousands of articles of clothing on hangers, in drawers, on the floor, and in my luggage, because I have run out of space in my room to put them. I feel overwhelmed being in my own home, looking at all these things.

And I feel sad, sadder than ever, that 21 years and millions of purchases later, I’m still not happy. Materialism has done nothing for me other than put me in extreme debt at such a young age.

I think I’m in that rebellion, fuck normativity phase of my life. Or, I might just be realizing what is actually important to me. Something that very few people can accomplish. I’m realizing that material goods have and can never help me achieve true happiness. I feel the most happy when I’m merely just surrounded with the people I love.  I feel the most satisfied when I’m strolling through nature, taking in the beauty and alignment of an all natural environment.

I’ve decided to make the shift to a minimal life. It will definitely take time to completely change my lifestyle, but this is a challenge I’m ready and willing to take!

Orange Is The New Black: Educating or Fantasizing the Criminal Justice System

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers from Season 4 of Orange is The New Black 

Season 5 of Netflix’s hit series Orange is The New Black (OITNB) will be released this Friday, June 9th. YAY! If you aren’t obsessed with series yet, this upcoming season will definitely hook you in.

I decided to re-watch the whole series to prepare for the new season. Unlike some other shows I watch, OITNB does not centre solely around a comical and/or purely entertainment theme. The series has tackled important social issues, like mental illness, LGBTQ+ rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the American Prison system. Not to mention, it has shed light into a variety of crimes, the intent and cause behind the crimes, racial issues, class divides, and sexual orientation and preference.

Even though OITNB does an incredible job combining both drama and social justice into the series, it is still only a TV show. That means that any conflicts within the show might be exaggerated or even made up. Just to attract a larger viewer rating. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean the topics discussed should be taken lightly either. OITNB may be a fictional show, but the social issues that they focus on are very real.

Here are some things we might see in Season 5:

1. RIP Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley)

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Am I the only one still mourning the loss of Poussey????? Not only was she sweet, sensitive, funny, passionate, supportive, cute, the list can go on… BUT, she cared. She cared about her friends, family, strangers, goals, and social issues. AND, her death hit so close to some of the racial inequalities our world is still experiencing. She WAS the symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement on the show. Her final words, “I can’t breathe,” mimicked the exact words of Eric Garner, before he was murdered by police. Garner was racially profiled, suspected of selling single cigarettes (Is this even a crime wtf?), and put into a chokehold until he died by American officers. It was almost unbearable to watch this exact re-occurance take place on OITNB with Poussey.

Based on how Season 4 ended, I think the inmates will finally revolt against the correctional officers!! How this story line will play out, I have no idea.

2. Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Dogget and Charlie Coates

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Pennsatucky is a character I grew to love throughout the seasons. So, it broke my heart to see her sexually assaulted this season by Charlie Coates (The officer seen above). The whole situation was so disheartening and complicated. First, both parties claimed to have liked each other. Coates admitted that he loved Dogget right before he committed the crime. What makes everything worse is that he holds a position of power. The only reason Dogget did not report Coates was because she knew no one would believe her, since she is a prisoner. This misuse of power is absolutely devastating to watch. Dogget might be a prisoner, but she is still a human and should have been treated as such.

Season 4 ended with a passionate kiss between the two (Ugh). Coates told Dogget that he wanted to quit his job, so that he can be romantically involved with her. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what exactly happens with this relationship.

3. Suzanne Warren “Crazy Eyes” and Maureen Kukudio

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Suzanne represents a slew of mentally ill inmates on OITNB. She is an extremely important character because through her, we can see the lack of aid, acceptance, and tolerance given to people with disabilities and illnesses in correctional facilities. How Crazy Eyes and other mentally ill characters are treated by officers is beyond disappointing. When these characters are seen as a liability, they are granted “compassionate releases,” thrown in the psych ward for “their own protection,” or forced upon their friends to take care of them. Poussey was trying to defend Suzanne when she was murdered. If the system had more compassion, knowledge, and programs for mentally ill inmates, like Suzanne, murders like that of Poussey’s could be prevented.

Suzanne and Kukudio are another prison couple that ended on complicated terms in Season 4. Suzanne, after being forced by officers, bet up Maureen to the point where she had to be taken to the medical ward. After trying to suffocate herself, so that she could feel what it’s like “not to breathe,” Suzanne ended up in medical right next to her ex-girlfriend. Will they rekindle their love in the medical ward? Will it be an awkward recovery for the both of them? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Only a few more days until season 5 of Orange Is The New Black is Released on Netflix!

 

 

AGO: Gender Trouble

Alcohol, art, gender equality, and good friends perfectly describes my night at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Every First Thursday of the month, the AGO basically hosts a party after dark, where an older crowd enjoys wonderfully mixed drinks, delicious finger foods, interactive activities, good vibes, and themed artwork. Last night was my first AGO First Thursday, but it definitely will not be my last.

The main exhibit celebrated the influence of Georgia O’Keeffe, who once declared “I am not a woman painter!” As someone who is receiving a Women’s Studies degree, I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Art, whether it be a painting, drawing, poem, song, dance, sculpture, picture, blog post, the list goes on, should not be determined by the gender of its creator. Instead, it should be considered for its merit, influence, and legacy.

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Gendering an art piece, just like gendering an individual, places conventional, gender roles and stereotypes on that thing. These attributed expectations of gender inevitably clasp onto the art work and ultimately guides our understanding of the piece. For example, when we know the given sex and gender of an artist we, even if it’s unintentional, try to understand the piece through that gendered perspective. The same applies to when we view art work through the limited lens of a certain class, [dis]ability, age, race, etc. As a general society we think that viewing an absurd art piece, like a sculpture of a women’s vagina, that was created by a radical feminist woman is “normal” because of her social status and identification. If the same piece was created by a heteronormative, cisgender man, we certainly would be confused and maybe even uncomfortable with the piece.

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I am completely guilty of researching artists and attempting to understand why they created a certain piece. And sometimes, it is necessary to do some research to fully grasp the intended meaning of the work. I often wonder whether their gender, race, class, etc. led to the creation of the piece, but never really appreciated the artwork for being art. What if the artist who made the piece didn’t actually want me to analysis their personal life? Personally, as someone who creates many forms of artwork, I absolute despise it when viewers, readers, and listeners try to analysis my life instead of my art piece.

My observation came directly after bumping into that gorgeous art creature in the above photo. My curious, tipsy self ran up to this individual and without asking any questions just said “You are so beautiful.” Maybe it was because I had a few drinks, but for the first time ever, I did not question the creator of this piece. There was obviously an individual wearing the outfit however, I did not want to know about them. I just stood there, paying attention to all the fine details of this work.

I think “Gender Trouble” successfully completed what it sought out to do. Viewers like me, did not look at the artwork as gendered pieces but instead, appreciated them for being fucking amazing pieces of art. Next time you examine any art piece, take in the actual work first. Understand the time, effort and mindset put into achieving such a beautiful piece. Next, determine your feelings toward the piece, does it make you feel happy, comfortable, awkward, confused, sad, etc. And then, only if you REALLY need to, try to understand the artist. But, when doing so, do not automatically attribute their social status and identity as being the mere reason for the creation of their piece.

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A poem I created from selected lines from a Georgia O’Keefe poem

My Thing

Every blogger kind of has a thing. You know, their niche, voice, hashtag, whatever you may call it. Mine is “Shit that Matters.”

Let me explain…

When I started my blog I didn’t have a focus. I always knew I liked to write. I have countless journal entries, notes on my computer and phone, and stickies all over my room. But a blog was different. It let me share all these thoughts with the world. Woah, for someone pretty closed off this was kind of intimidating. But a few months ago I made “ICON NIC.” Maybe I’ll change the name, maybe I won’t. Yet, I still didn’t have a focus. Like most women in their early 20s, I thought I had wanted something fun, carefree, and well basic. Something that would include culture, fashion, celebrities, beauty products, etc. And yes, I do care about some of those things but not much as I care about SHIT THAT MATTERS.

Everyone who knows me knows I like to bring up, think, and discuss very controversial topics in my everyday discussions. Some people enjoy how I randomly bring up such extreme and diverse ideas and some well, get uncomfortable. But that’s why I decided to make this section of my blog. Because “Shit that Matters” is me. I want people to know my blog for this particular section. Whatever weird thought, question, or discussion I might have, I will post it here.

Welcome everyone! I think this may be, the official launch of ICON NIC.