It’s Certain Now

I’m graduating.

Some of you may know that my graduation ceremony happened over three weeks ago and be thinking, yes, yes we know, you actually already graduated, is it only now clicking?

Well I walked across the stage, shook the hand of the President of the university and was given a diploma holder, but three weeks ago it wasn’t certain I was going to graduate.

Now realistically it probably was certain based on where I was going into exams, but to be really, really literal, our final grades weren’t in yet so we had no way of knowing and I had one class, this oneeee classssss that was worrying me a bit.

You see it was an ethics course, Ethics in the Marketplace, and while a business course it was also branched under philosophy and the last philosophy class that I faced off with nearly got me. I just scraped through that one with a D and I honestly don’t know how I even managed that. It was required for my minor and heading in I didn’t know it was philosophy. The methods and arguments all seemed so confusing and it being an 8:30am class probably didn’t help a whole lot either. When I sat down in my first Ethics class in January, a required course for my major, and found out it was a philosophy course my heart sank. And then, to top it all off, 20% of our grade was reliant on participation. My last philosophy course had gone badly and I’d never taken a business course; I felt at rather a disadvantage.

A few weeks in, time comes round for the first assignment to be due and the instructions were a bit vague so I did my best and waited to see what my mark would be. The day the assignments were being handed back I logged online to peek at my mark before the papers came round and was floored to see I had a 0. 0%? How can you even get 0% if you handed anything, like literally anything, in?!

After class I went up to the prof because my paper hadn’t even been handed back and he was like, “Oh yeah, did I forget your email in my inbox? Whoops! I’ll get that to ya as soon as I can!” (Super chill guy, probably my second favourite prof throughout university. Has like flowing, shoulder-length, ringletted, white hair and a double piercing in one ear in which he always has a set of two hoop earrings. I say he’s the retired pirate prof)

So next class, before it starts, he comes and stands in front of me and says, “So we have a problem.” My stomach drops and I’m nearly panicking, did I do it completely wrong? Did I misunderstand everything? Am I going to fail? Am I not going to graduate? Am I going to have to stay another year for this one course? Whyyyyy crueeeeel worldddddddddddd…. Etc.

“Your assignment is really good! You need to speak up more in class!” Relief could have melted me onto the floor in that moment. And while the class did end up being one of my favourites overall it was still very challenging. I always felt like I was uncertain in what I was doing and yet my marks usually implied I was doing alright so the exam was going to be the final test (like, literally, cause it was the last test, but like it also determined like everythi-you get it, it’s a bad pun :P)

Realistically I could have gotten 0 on the exam and passed the course, not well! But passed. Well, my mark was entered into the system two days ago. I done good guys… I done good.

I’m graduating.

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Failure, the Monster of Fear

I want to design things.

I keep seeing videos or projects or posters or fonts that make me want to make stuff. I listen to songs that make me want to make things and everything is just beautiful and so well done and I want to be able to do that too, but I can’t.

I hate the learning process. Let me unpack that a bit… I like learning new things, but I like to learn them and be able to be good at them right away. Maybe I like to discover things. Discovering things usually means they’re ready to go, like discovering a talent for something! Learning things means having to not be very good at them at first. It means being able to see something I want to be able to make so perfectly in my minds eye, and not being able to recreate it.

Learning is frustrating, it’s hard, it’s discouraging, it’s frightening. What if what I desire to create is something I will never achieve? What if no matter how hard I work and study and learn, I’ll never develop the ability to truly do to the extent I desire?

This week I feel like I’ve seen so many things that spark that desire to create, but I haven’t created a thing because I’m scared to try and sure I’ll fail. People tell me otherwise and they say I’ll be great, or they say, that’s part of learning! but that doesn’t actually lessen the sting of failure. I’ve built up failure as a monster of a fear in my mind’s eye, I might only be looking at the shadow, failure could be a mouse in front of a candle’s flame, but that shadow on the wall is big and scary and I’m not sure I can face it just yet. I begin to wonder if I’ll ever be ready to face it.

 

These are some things that I loved the look and sound and feel of lately:

Tessa’s music video for her song “Dream”

Dodie’s song “Sick of Losing Soulmates” (heads up, contains swear words)

Episode 1 of Emily’s webseries “Cold” (everything Emily touches is so beautifully made, her Letters to July series are amazing)

 

I turn 23 at the end of this week. It sounds too grown up.

-B

This Is It.

Heyyyyyy friend! It’s been, let’s see now, well, umm, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Nearly five months?! Sheesh, my bad… So how ya been?

Summarizing the last five months could be tricky, lets see, I did keep cooking a bit, I know the posts dropped off at “E” but I made chicken broccoli noodle thing (F), pretzel buns with cream cheese icing dip (G), and Sloppy Joe Mac & Cheese (H) and maybe some other stuff but I don’t remember. I’m going to try and get back into weekly cooking, still ironing out my back-to-school schedule though.

But the summer was great! Mostly worked, but did get to take a trip to BC with mah boyfriend Ryan to visit with family and adventure down there for a bit! If you’d like to see some of what we did I did put together a video shortly after the trip

And since then school has started up again! Well for me, Ryan’s a fancy graduate with a grown-up job and everything (he’s my inspiration for what to be like next year, you see!). I am in my last year of school. It’s weird. I remember my last year of high school, it was exciting and incredibly nerve-racking all at once. There’s the excitement of moving on but also the emptiness of what is going to happen next, it feels like everything is so unknown. I’m getting feeling like that again now. This is my fourth year in university, I have the year mapped out until April when I wear the gown and funny cap and get handed a piece of paper and then I have absolutely no idea and when I start to think about that, it terrifies me. I feel so unprepared and inadequate.

Now I’m not saying that school has let me down and not taught me what I needed, I hope it has, but I am not confident that I’ll find a job, I’m not confident there will be a job, I worry I’ll be working 34.5 hours a week in a minimum wage job forever because why would someone chose me over someone else? I realize my instinct here is to say, “I wouldn’t.” and that makes me sad. Why wouldn’t I chose me? What’s wrong with me?

The other day my alarm went off and I opened my eyes after a night of tossing and turning. I couldn’t have gotten more than two hours “sleep” all night – the start of a terrible day, no? But a thought popped into my head. My boyfriend (who is a very smart man) has three things he tries to do (or would it be, be? Grammar… :P), Be optimistic, be patient, and no complaining. So I turned off that alarm and I took a breath and I decided, this is my day. No one can ruin it but me, and I say it’s my day and it’ll be just fine. And you know what, it was. It was very nearly a pretty good day actually.

So this is my year. I’ll try and blog bits and pieces of it but I know already it’ll be busy as heck so I don’t know how often I’ll pop in. I wrote out a list of all my assignments and due dates and oooh baby, this’ll be fun! But it’s my year, it’s going to happen. There will be no repeats of grade 12’s downward spiral to capital “B” Bad Times, these are sure gonna be some capital “B” Busy Times, but capital “G” Good Times too. We got dis, got a team of great folks to support and be supported by and we’re gonna do some cool stuff this year 🙂

– B

PS – I went exploring in the woods behind my university the other day. That was fun.

A Beginner is Cooking: E is for Easy

Yesterday was not my favourite work day so today when I woke up I decided I needed comfort food. Typically that means soup and sandwiches, or perogies, one of my easy fix meals, but today I had to adapt it to involve cooking. I found a recipe for Chicken Caesar Pasta salad and chicken caesar salad is basically one of my favourite foods so adding in pasta just seemed destined to make it better!

Now I realize there’s minimal cooking involve in this recipe, I cook up some pasta which I then don’t even have to try to keep warm while I time the rest of the recipe, cook the chicken, which again doesn’t have to be cooked in time with the rest of the food as it too can cool, and make a salad. Now I may be speaking too soon but this seems like it should be a cake walk.

(This leads me to wonder where the phrase “cake walk” comes from? A google search has informed me that, “the American English term “cakewalk” was used as early as 1863 to indicate something that is very easy or effortless, although this metaphor may refer to the carnival game of the same name in referring to the fact that the latter’s winners obtain their prize by doing no more than walking around in a circle.” x)

This time when making a recipe involving parmesan cheese I checked to make sure we had it first, which we did, phew! In fact we had all the ingredients except baby tomatoes and I don’t even like tomatoes (I’m a picky eater about strange things, okay) so it worked out perfectly!

Once more I bravely strayed from the recipe (this is becoming a habit, my goodness!) I remembered that one of the commenters on the original recipe of last weeks Lemon Herb Chicken said that they liked to use leftovers on salad, a good idea! So I threw in some lemon juice while cooking the chicken like the recipe called for last time. Caesar salad is often served with a lemon slice on the side, it must be a thing!

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They say pride cometh before a fall (“they” originally being the Bible) and due to the clear simplicity of this recipe, I was bound to make a mistake. I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough and began sautéing the chicken, like was needed last week. Now I’m sure in the long run this wouldn’t have been a big deal, cooked is cooked, doesn’t really matter how, but the recipe said to grill and grilled chicken is definitely better looking on a salad! So I saved the chicken from the pan and threw together a grilling set up for it in the oven. This, however, meant I hadn’t preheated the oven, so it was a good thing that timing is all higgledy-piggledy for this recipe!

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In the meantime, I couldn’t screw up cutting lettuce and getting salad stuff ready so I did that, yo, at last, a task I can handle!

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The chicken survived, I discovered that I don’t know how to make grill/char lines using an oven and was too hungry to bother figuring it out, and made mah salad. Comfort food to the max. I love this salad. This, this is a good salad.

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A Beginner is Cooking: A is for Alfredo

Meat is the bane of my existence.

Okay that may be a slight exaggeration, I should clarify. What I mean to say is, I dislike cooking meat.

I have no issues eating it, definitely not a vegetarian! Not a super fan of fish and refuse to eat veal and lamb because cute baby animals but everything else is usually pretty safe! It’s the cooking… the raw slimy floppy I’ll move on, I’m grossing myself out.

So not a fan of raw meat, yet I’ve made the decision to cook. Huzzah. This should go well.

I tried to cop out today, I really did. I looked through a bunch of vegetarian meals but they all had weird ingredients that I didn’t recognize. I think the health-fanatic vegetarians and vegans have scared me off. Also a lot of the things I don’t just have lying around – is goat cheese substitutable with just, like, normal cheese…? I don’t know these things!

I kind of a fan of those thirty second “Tasty” videos on Facebook that make cooking look so fun and easy with their cheery music and fastness and I had saved one of a one-pot chicken alfredo thing. Now I quite like chicken alfredo so this seemed like it could be a nice lunch.

First speed bump. I discovered the recipe calls for heavy cream. (Again, do people normally have these things lying around or are they actually smart enough to plan ahead? People I admire you.) My good friend Google told me that I could make a heavy cream substitute with milk and butter though so here we go, we’re gonna start straying from the recipe before we even start. Rebel. Yes. That’s right.

But it got worse. Oh friends, the gong show has yet to begin.

So I made the mistake of assuming we would have something as common as say, parmesan cheese. Apparently not. Thankfully before starting to cook the chicken (which I discovered it much easier and less gross to cook with gloves on, very glad mum bought those!) Our parmesan seemed had been forgotten at a relative’s house after Easter and no one had yet noticed. I was the one who got to discover the glaring lack. Alfredo is simply not alfredo without parmesan cheese thus I grabbed my ever-suffering sister to chauffeur me to the grocery store. (Mental note, get driver’s license faster.) Actually having to pay money for this learning experiment was unexpected and cooking is stressful and I was starting to get cranky. It was at this point that I dramatically texted my boyfriend, “It’s official, I hate cooking.”

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Having obtained the rogue cheese (and a chocolate bar) I began cooking. It was after adding the chicken broth and “cream”, as I was stirring that suddenly the smell wafted up to me. It smelt good. People, at this moment it came to me, this could actually work.

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After painstakingly waiting for it to simmer 15-20 minutes, (you know the plus side to sandwiches is you get hungry and within two minutes you’re eating) it was time. I stirred in the parmesan cheese and tasted it.

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Folks it was pretty decent. The cheese didn’t fully melt and not as much of the brothy stuff had evaporated as I thought but it doesn’t have to look pretty to taste decent right? The next few hours will finalize if I live or not… It wasn’t super flavourful, kinda salty from the broth I think. But it was food and I made it and I have officially cooked a meal on my own, no help, huzzah!

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I’m gonna go eat my chocolate bar now.

Overall time from start to eating: hour and a half.

Should have taken: maybe 30 minutes? (quite possibly less)

Stress level: One med-large chocolate bar

In the end: Might make again, but almost too cheesy and salty. Maybe with less broth and less cheese?

 

(Feel free to follow me on snapchat @rlpdean for real-time annoying updates when I’m “cooking”!)

The Need of Internet

I don’t need the Internet anymore.

Now there are a couple things in this sentence you could confront me on, first, need – who needs the Internet? But also anymore – so I did need it then? And what changed?

I’m reading a book for my Media and Society class right now called The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships and it’s sort of freaking me out a tad but I think I’m also learning lots. It talks about Internet addiction and how it affects our brains and how we function and how it changes our relationships (for better and for worse, it’s not a doomsday book, they acknowledge that there are benefits!) but it’s making me consider how much I use the Internet and social media and why.

I began using the Internet more and more starting from around age seventeen. A friend introduced me to the vlogger (video-blogger) side of Youtube and within a few months I was vlogging myself. At this time I was in grade twelve and slowly giving into minor depression as I grew increasingly afraid of my unknown future and saw my friends all drifting into the great unknown. I felt that I was losing my friends, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, didn’t like my part time job at a grocery store post-grad (I would “entertain” myself by seeing how far into a shift I could get without talking to someone. I clearly wasn’t a cashier!) and wasn’t pushing into God and building my faith thus allowing that to drift away too. I was lonely.

And the Internet, oh the Internet! The Internet helped me find friends, find friends fast and who had common interests and fun hobbies. I had Facebook, and now Youtube, next was Twitter and Tumblr, more and more ways to connect with my new friends. Now I’m not bashing this because it actually served a purpose in where I was at because as I somewhat dissolved into “living in” the Internet, it also helped bring me back out. I went to a convention in California, meeting friends I’d only previously known online. I’ve since gone on a second trip to DisneyWorld with them. I began organizing meet ups in Winnipeg a couple times a year for other people who were fans of some of the same Youtubers as I was.

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2012

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2012

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2013

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2013

The Internet sucked me in, yes. I became too reliant on it, yes. But it also helped me grow, a lot. I planned my portion of two trips out of the country and then travelled there alone. I organized meet-ups with people I’d never met before and spent time getting to know them. As I found solace online I began to gain more confidence in my real life outside of the Internet. I made friends with coworkers, I reconnected with high school friends, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. As I gained a few subscribers on Youtube I began to value my voice and think about what I was saying more and through vlogging I actually developed an interest and some practical skill in video making, an aspect of what I hope my future career will involve.

Lately the Internet hasn’t been very fulfilling though. It’s no longer serving the purpose it once did and I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it. It’s not that I don’t value the friendships I made while regularly vlogging or even regularly watching Youtube videos – I do, very much, I would consider many of them to now be friends, but I no longer solely need the Internet to feel that I am connecting with people and being heard. I begin to find it tiresome, Internet connections cannot interact the same way as people in real life. I have friends and hobbies and goals and a life that extends past the limitations of my laptop and my wifi. I can appreciate the ability to stay connected using social media and the like, but I prefer to see friends in person and actually go out and to things and build relationships in that sense. And that’s a big change for me. There was a time when I would Facebook message you instead of trying to get together in person. Now, well… now I’ll do both 😉

I suppose over the last five years I’ve been able to mature and get to know myself better. I’ve experienced life online, and it’s fun for a time and serves its purpose, but I’ve discovered it’s crucially important to maintain a solid foundation in the real world. To be able connect with people in person is something that cannot be replaced and it is only through the challenges and bumps that we face along the road that we can grow, and those are rarely found within the safe walls we build up for ourselves online. Online is a place to hide from challenges and bumps, however, in the sage words of The Sound of Music‘s Reverend Mother, “These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”

-B