Friday, November 20, 2009

Lightning Strike

Tonight, I was so mesmerized by the sound of thunder, and the heavy rain that I decided to take a gander outside with my boots, coat and umbrella.

I walked halfway down the block and the rain was coming down on me, and I was just about to turn around, when at that very moment, and at the exact same time: I saw a flash of light, sparks, and felt an intense shock in my hand. I threw my umbrella down on the grass and yelled, "Oh my God!"

That's right, my friends, I believe I was just struck by lightning.

I know it may sound crazy, and everyone may think I'm loony bin nuts and am making it all up, but it is true. I can not believe it. I can't believe that I felt a shock in my hand so intense that I threw the umbrella out of the way. And as I looked up I checked to see if anyone saw anything, and the lights in the street went out.

Now, after doing some research, I've discovered that despite the belief that it is a rare occurrence to ever be struck by lightning, it isn't. In fact, there is about a 1 in 600,000 chance of being struck. And about 2,000 people are injured by lightning each year. Only 9-10% die from the strikes.

There are four different ways a human can be struck: by a direct strike, a 'splash' from nearby objects that are struck, a ground strike near the victim, or electromagnetic pulse from close strikes (EMP).

I feel fine. My hand, where I saw/felt the shock, feels a bit strange, not really weak but sort of off. I suppose it is hard to explain. My umbrella looks intact, although I haven't exactly gone outside to check on it.

It's quite peculiar, though. My dad told me that my grandma was also struck by lightning when she was younger. She, however, wasn't as lucky. Her toenails fell off. I suppose it runs in the family?

Either way, I'm glad it didn't turn out for the worse, and that I am healthy and alive. The whole, "Life flashes before your eyes" phrase may really be true after all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Subway tears

I'm standing on the subway with my boyfriend. We have just come from an amazing Italian dinner with some friends downtown, and we're looking forward to getting home to our own bed.

And as I'm standing on the trai

n, I look over and noticed this woman, Chinese ethnicity, possibly mid-twenties, well dressed. She has a black pair of pumps beneath her feet, a black dress coat, as if she had expected the night to be filled with glamour. What I notice first, however, is not her attire, but how red her nose is.

I smile at her, the thing to do when you meet eyes with someone for the first time, a stranger. She half-smiles back, and turns away, looking out the subway window and into the concrete tunnel we are flying through.

I’m not sure if it is female instinct, but at that moment I feel as though she has just hinted to me that she is sad.

My boyfriend and I were smiling upon entering the train, laughing about the night, waddling with the pasta that filled our bellies, but after meeting eyes with this woman something changes. I feel guilty for being so happy, for having someone to share the small nothings on a subway with.

The boyfriend finds a seat and rushes to sit down. I stand by myself for a few seconds, contemplating what to do. Should I go and see if she is all right? Should I just ignore the fact that she is clearly upset?

I look over again, just like any human looks at the site of a car accident as they are driving past – we know we shouldn’t, be we feel compelled to see what is going on. She is speaking on her cell phone with someone, and she is crying. Quietly, probably hoping no one will notice. Probably wishing that at that very moment she could just disappear and magically reappear at home, where she feels slightly safer.

I feel so awful inside, staring at the sad woman. I’m not sure what it is that sparks inside of me. Maybe it is noticing that everyone else on the train is ignoring this woman’s quiet sobs. Maybe it is that if I were her, entirely alone, I would want someone to see if I was going to be all right. Maybe it is just me being me. Either way, I walk over towards her and put my hand on her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” I ask, hesitant. I don’t want to intrude and offend her for being so up front.

She nods her head, trying to compose herself.

“I’m fine…” but she can’t finish her sentence because she is afraid that by doing so she will become more vulnerable than she must already feel.

“You just had a bad night, didn’t you? It’s okay,” I say to her, now moving my hand over her back to console her. She nods again. I tell her everything will be okay, that when she gets home and goes to sleep, and wakes up in the morning, she will be fine.

I’m not sure if it’s a lie, or if I’m telling the truth, but I tell it to her anyways. Because at any moment people can become vulnerable. Because, whatever the reason for her being upset – whether it be a date gone horribly wrong, a friend kissing the man you came with – we are all confronted with bad things and they happen at the wrong times.

This was her bad thing and it happened at her wrong time.

I sit down with Ben, the ever-happy boyfriend, and though some people may feel triumphant for having just comforted a stranger, I feel even sadder.

Why was I so hesitant at giving out the simple phrase, “are you alright?” Has it come to this? Where people may visibly see someone extremely upset, angry, frustrated, lonely, and do nothing about it?

There is no doubt in my mind that others saw this woman on the train. There is no doubt in my mind that these people noticed she was upset. And yet even I was contemplating whether or not to soothe her.

How many other people out there wish, while traveling home late at night by train, taxi, bus, that someone would notice their sadness and offer a few comforting words? And is that all it takes… a word here, a hug there? I think if we all took the time to observe and tried to be less embarrassed to offer help, the world and those living in it might feel a little less sad. They might feel like I hope this woman felt after she got off the train – still sad, but comforted that there are people out there that still want to care.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

midnight cravings

Sometimes, when I should really be sleeping, at a late, late, too late hour, I get a hankering for mini-wheats. Because they taste so good, they can't be beat. Right now, I want mini-wheats. So that is exactly what I am going to have.

Sometimes, when I should really be sleeping, I shouldn't really be sleeping at all. Because life is too short to pass up a bowl of mini-wheats because you are too afraid to wake up tired.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

much more than just a run

I said I would run 5 kilometers this morning at the Terry Fox Run. At least, that was what I said. And with pride when I decided it. But when I reached the 2.5 km turn around sign I kept going. My legs didn't do a 180 degree turn around and I didn't head back to the finish line. Not yet. Because I decided, within a few minutes, that I was going to run the 10 km run.

The reasons are plentiful. I woke up this morning entirely excited and nervous to do my first run. I had been 'training' - if you would like to call it - running just under 5 km and thought that I could handle that distance. But as I was getting ready for the run, I had a small breakfast and turned on the news. I was doing my stretches and on CBC they ran a special about Terry Fox.

He ran a marathon a day. He ran 42 km per day, for 143 days. And he ran it with just one leg. If I can just interject math into this for one second, Terry Fox ran over 5,000 km in less than 6 months. And all the while he did it without complaint - a 22-year-old man who faced cancer head on and decided that it would not hinder his dreams. I know this sounds cliche, but in all seriousness, it is blatantly true.

After listening to what the news was saying about him, I couldn't imagine not completing the full run. I have both of my legs, I don't have cancer in my lungs or in my body, and I am not held back in any way other than by laziness.

And as I passed the 2.5 km mark, and then the 5 km mark, and back around to the 8 km mark, and finally to the finish line, picking up speed just to pass under the sign that reads 'Terry Fox, Marathon of Hope' I felt entirely overwhelmed and happier than I have felt in a very long time.

I raised $145, and my legs felt like rubber, and the second I walked under that banner I felt weak and ready to fall straight to the ground, but I ran. And I would do it again without any hesitation.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A 5-k run

I can't believe I haven't written this before, but last week, after repeatedly running past signs labeled "Terry Fox Run, Sept. 13" for the past six days, I decided I am going to raise money and run in the Terry Fox Run.

I've never done it before. Independently, I mean. Of course every high school student is required to run - or in most cases, trudge slowly down the main street with a sullen look upon their face - but I've never voluntarily run for a good cause.

So I signed up for the run, and for the past week I've sweated and practically hoped that I wouldn't trip over a rock and end up flattening my dreams of running for a purpose that has nothing to do with getting into shape.

But I believe it's more than just that. There is something... encouraging, even inspiring, about running for someone or something other than yourself. Because I don't feel any sense of selfishness. I feel like, for all of the people I've known that have suffered from cancer - the friends, the family, the acquaintance - I'm actually doing something that is a little productive.

And I don't mean to sound boastful, or egotistical. I am just happy because next Sunday, when I run 5 kilometers, I'll be doing it for my grandparents, and my uncles, and for my mom and dad, who have seen so many of their loved ones taken away because of cancer. And of course, I'll be doing it for Terry Fox.

Friday, September 4, 2009

a new home

The last week and a half have been... intense. First, my sister and I had to pack up all of our belongings and take a leap of faith, heading back to Vancouver and Victoria for school. Sister is going to UVIC, I am going back to Kwantlen to finish my degree.

My mom and dad helped us in the move, and I am now finally sitting in my own place, on my own couch, in front of my own television and cooking in my own kitchen. And I don't think anything has ever felt so good, so independent.

I've never been on my own. If i wasn't living at home with my parents, I was renting a room in someone else's house. If I wasn't renting a room, I was bunking with my boyfriend's parents. I've never fully been able to appreciate the quiet, the personal space of my own place. And now I am!

It feels great. I baked my first pie the other day, I've decorated how I want to decorate, and no one can come in and tell me to change it, to move this here and suggest I do that. It is liberating. And furthermore, I can't wait for the day I actually come to own a home, I can only imagine that independence would increase.

For those of you who read my blog, thank you, because I'm not sure too many people do. But I will still write!

Friday, August 14, 2009

cry, why, cry

It's a funny thing, when sadness hits you. Sometimes your not sure where it came from, which direction - which instant brought it on, how long will it last... what is it that makes us feel it, and so strongly?

Well, tonight, for instance, for me it was a number of things. An argument, followed by a fairly sad movie (The Time Traveler's Wife), which was then followed by a series of "mellow" playlists on my iPod that should be renamed "depressing tunes," while lying on my bed and writing nonsensical messages to my long-distance boyfriend.

But it is also a funny thing, because at times it feels like crying, or being sad is the only way to work towards being happy again. How do we know what happiness even is unless we sometimes feel downright awful? So awful that a good cry tends to cure all that boggles our minds. I know that is what happens to me. I cry, get all that was bottling up inside my heart out on the plate - or the 30 odd tissues that have now been pulled from their home and re-deposited into the trash bin - and then I realize how silly I was being.

Thing post really has no direction, except now that I've welled up some salty tears in my eyes, wiped them away, and wrote about it, I feel... better.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Camping: a place where tents, huts, or other temporary shelters are set up, as by soldiers, nomads, or travelers.

Wow! What a weekend! Ben, Emily, Justin, Chelsea, Joey, Tab and Kevin (and me) all went camping up the Ottawa River over the weekend! And it was amazing.

We got all our gear together, then the four of us hiked in to the camp on the beach! Perfect sand. It was so gorgeous - except that it rained the four days before we got there, so the hike in was wet, muddy and our socks and shoes were soaked by the time everything was set up. But it was entirely worth the hike in. We got our tents up, started a roaring fire and ate some deliciously juicy hot dogs.

I love nothing better than camping. To get away for a few days - no cell phones, no internet, no traffic lights and car alarms, no distractions. Just nature. Completely surrounded by nature. It's wonderful. To survive on what you have, and swim/bath in the river, brush your teeth from a creek, go to bed smelling like campfire. It's truly the best experience.

I'm glad we actually organized ourselves and went - because it was my second last weekend to do anything with these amazing friends in Ottawa. Gush!

Monday, June 29, 2009

tick tock

I CAN'T BELIEVE how fast time goes by. I mean, really. One minute you say to yourself "I've got plenty of time to do this, to do that, to see him, to see her," and suddenly you're wondering "what the hell happened?"

That is how I am feeling right now in my current state. It is alarming to see that January turned to February without even a minor delay, February became March and it was my birthday, then March suddenly turned to June and here we are... June 29, almost July, with a million things to do before I have to leave. But, if I wasn't so busy with all this nonsense I would be bored.

This blog has really no point to it at all right now. I wish it was a bit cooler in Ottawa - the humid 30 degrees has me sweating at all hours of the day - and even at night it's hard to get comfortable to fall asleep.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

internet madness

I am sitting on my computer today - again - trying to figure out how to avoid being so easily distracted by the internet. Because, let's face it, even though we try again and again to avoid facebook, myspace, twitter and, it is virtually impossible unless one has a strong will.

Apparently, I do not.

I have stories I have to write for my deadline tomorrow - stories that are easy, with good quotes and solid information, that would be written within minutes if it were not for all these tempting distractions.

Can you imagine what life would have been like 20 years ago when all such means of communication did not exist? I could. I think it would be peaceful. Less consuming, where one feels as though they have to know everything about every one all the time day and night. Exhausting, right? Even saying that last sentence has me feeling tired.

I wish that for a few days I could do my job as a writer, as a journalist, without having to use the internet. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

First blog and my neck is swollen

Well, how does one start a blog? Does it begin with a greeting, sort of a "welcome to what will soon become confessions from my heart", or a "I hope my violent outbursts will not deter you from further reading"? I'm not quite sure. But I'll do my best to entertain and enlighten, and maybe even frighten.

This past weekend Ben (that is my long-time boyfriend) and I went to a cottage on Lac de la Mere Bleu in Quebec. Having grown up in B.C., I tend to forget the horrid tales that my dad, who used to live in Ontario, told me of the swarming black flies. But spending an afternoon in a canoe, with no head netting at hand, has taught me not to forget those tales again.

I was viciously attacked by black flies. They look like fruit flies from the Okanogan Valley, except for when you wipe the back of your neck and are suprised to see christmas red blood dripping from your hands. Yes, those tiny bugs they call black flies eat your blood. And they do it without mercy. Ben counted over 30 bites on my neck alone. By Friday evening, I had begun to swell up and turn red with little dots all over my skin. On Saturday, I was aching all over - sort of like you do with the flu - and by Sunday I was ready to take a bristle brush and rub it all over the bites.

Needless to say, I miss the days of Horse Flies from B.C., where at least you could hear them coming for you and have time to prepare for a painful bite. I most definitely was not prepared for this itchy, unbearable feeling. But... at least there is always Benadryl.
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