If I Wasn’t So Timid

I’d like to apologize for not writing in a while. I went into emergency job hunt mode for a couple months. Now that things have settled in, I’ve got another piece on my mind, about the things I wish I’d said.

If I wasn’t so timid,
I would have told them the truth.

If I wasn’t so timid,
I wouldn’t have told him it was because he wouldn’t travel;
I’d have told him it was because he was a legit sociopath
And being with him made me angrier than being alone.

If I wasn’t so timid,
I wouldn’t have sat there and taken his excuses;
I would have told him good riddance and goodbye,
Because he does not respect women.

If I wasn’t so timid,
I wouldn’t have told him it was because we wanted different things;
I would have told him it was because he said he liked me because I was white (yes, really)
And I have no tolerance for racists.

But I was raised a quiet girl.
So I am timid.

I said the thing that would be easiest,
Because I didn’t want to be a crazy ex-girlfriend for being honest
And pointing out their unacceptable flaws.

I’m a crazy ex-girlfriend anyway.

We can never win.

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Writing Prompt #2

Today’s prompt is a little more laid back.

Describe each decade of your life using pop songs.

I’m actually going to switch this up and make it every 5 years, otherwise this list would be very short. I’m also trying to use songs that I was actually listening to at the time, so sorry if they’re not actually “pop” songs.

1991-1996: Infancy

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland

As a child, I was obsessed with musicals. I mean, I still am, but more so as a kid. I’d watch The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast on repeat. Multiple times a day. What do Belle and Dorothy have in common? They were both big dreamers. They wanted more from their dull, repetitive lives. And they inspired me at a young age to be a dreamer too.

1997-2002: Childhood

Numb – Linkin Park

I look back on these years of my life and feel very confused. I talk to friends and family, and it sounds like people have vivid memories and had some kind of personality. For me, I don’t think I even had a personality until I was in university. I just sort of did what I was told, went to school… I barely remember any friends from this period because I didn’t really register friends as important. I don’t think I registered anything as important. I was just a very numb, bland, empty human.

2003-2008: High School era

I’m Not Okay (I Promise) – My Chemical Romance

So, besides the fact that I was just an angsty teenager, I took it to the emo level hardcore. This song was basically my anthem during this time period. It was angry, it gave me a chance to scream about the fact that I wasn’t very happy with my life. It helped define my style and sort of helped shape who I wanted to become. MCR was my band. So it seems fitting that this was my song.

2009-2014: University era

Minority – Green Day

About this time, I was hard into Green Day. I mean, I’ve always been hard into Green Day, but this era more than others. I’m not a rule-breaker. I’m not a punk. I’m not a rebel without a cause. I’m actually far on the opposite end of that spectrum. Goody-two-shoes. Timid. But “Minority” summed up what I felt about myself, and what I wanted to be. For the first time, I had a more defined personality because I knew I was different, embraced it, and molded that definition to mean what I wanted it to mean – rather than molding myself to fit something else.

2015- : Adulting

Knocking at the Door – Arkells

I couldn’t even think of a better song to describe my adulthood than this Arkells hit. This is a point in my life where I know what I want and go for it. For the first time in my life, I’ve defined my morals, my opinions, my feelings, my thoughts. I’m no longer stumbling through life hoping to strike some sort of mental and emotional gold; I know who I am now and am using my personality as a tool to make things happen in my life that work for me.

I’m hoping the song to describe the next five years is “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.
Now that I know who I am, I want to start spending more time and energy influencing people around me for the better.

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Day 1, Prompt 1

Here we go with the first writing prompt of the year. I don’t expect anything wonderful to come out the first few times I write these, but things improve with practice.

The first prompt I’ve chosen is,

What can happen in a second?

A snap judgement, for better or worse happens in one second. The instant you lay your eyes on someone, your brain has decided its figured that person out. Clothes. Hair. Facial expression. Body language. Visual cues can give a person everything they need to know about someone. Financial situation. Marital status. Personality type.

It doesn’t mean that snap judgement is accurate.

Judgement is good. It prevents the young girl from wandering onto a dark street alone.
That one second is also very dangerous.

It convinces you that you don’t need to get to know the person. It convinces you that you’ve learned everything you need to know. One second. One impression. It took me longer than it should have that a person is more than a first impression.

Judgement is good. It helps you recognize danger.
Judgement is also bad. It destroys the potential in a person before you get the chance to learn anything else.

Judgement called one of my best friends loud before I got to see how incredibly strong and independent and thoughtful she is. It told me not to make eye contact with the girl who I would grow to have the most in common with. It convinced me a classmate was snobby when she is one of the sweetest people I’ve come to know. I wouldn’t have any friends now if I’d gotten stuck on that one second of judgement.

There is one instance where my snap judgement was right.
I saw him on the bus – glasses, reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Smart. Bookish. Maybe shy.
In that instant I wasn’t wrong. But because it wasn’t a negative judgement, I opened myself up to the opportunity to learn so much more about him.

Maybe I’m not getting as hooked on that one second as I used to.
Maybe I need to start having more positive judgements.
Maybe that’s what’s more important.

New Year’s Resolution 2018

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Recently, I’ve been struggling to keep creative.

I used to write all the time. I’d picked up painting. I used to shoot photos whenever I could. By the end of 2017, I’d sort of gone brain-dead in that way. Kind of went on autopilot and stopped challenging myself to create things.

That’s the inspiration behind my 2018 New Year’s Resolution; the goal is to get my brain thinking creatively again. I’m hoping to use this blog as a platform to complete creative writing prompts. Ideally by the end of 2018, I’ll add a couple of videos, designs, and paintings to my portfolio as well. But I’d be happy with just a few short writing prompts a month.

So I’m going to use 642 Things to Write About to spark these blog posts, and hopefully it’ll inspire me to get more visually creative, too!

After a lot of self-reflection, stepping away from social media, and surrounding myself with true friends and family and a supportive boyfriend, I’ve realized that creativity is the one thing I loved about my personality and the practice of it in my life has sort of fallen to the wayside.

So 2018 is going to be a year of creativity and getting my brain out of its rut. And I invite whoever still reads blog this to come along on the journey.

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Finding Yourself

Look, I’m alive!

And I’m back with a little bit of a personal story of self-discovery. Quite literally.

I haven’t lived without an audience for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on Facebook since the beginning of high school. Performing my life for anyone who would pay attention. I guess that’s why I was so eager to start blogging; it was another outlet for my thoughts and creativity. And then the blog sort of lost its purpose, and I was doing it for reasons that weren’t about self-expression. So I stopped. It soon became clear how much I enjoyed living without an audience. Not only because it was exhausting to maintain, but also because I could finally figure out who I was without trying to impress anyone.

Facebook status updates. Tweets. Tumblr posts. Blog posts.
Snaps. Pins. Likes. Retweets.

It was all for the benefit of the people who follow me on those accounts. I was performing. I performed my entire personality and my entire life for the people with one eye on me. And it’s not like I’m an internet celebrity. It’s not like these people care what I’m up to. But I kind of like the idea of having that Instagram perfect life. Doesn’t everyone?

Actually, Instagram is the one thing I do still use on a regular basis. I haven’t stopped loving photography and sharing those photos. But that’s not for an audience. That’s because I like it.

And that’s what I’ve been up to. Finding myself. Figuring out what I like to do without the thought that other people are noticing. (Which, to be quite honest, is why I think this relationship I’m in right now is going so well – because I’m not constantly asking friends for advice on something they are not a part of. I love my friends, but learning what to keep to myself and what to share with others has been key in all of this.)

So what have I learned about me?

Mostly, I’ve learned how I honestly like to spend my time.

I got so caught up in the idea of being the quirky, shy bookworm girl and maintaining that image that I thought it was who I am. I mean, that has been people’s expectations of who I am since first grade – it’s easy to think that’s who you are. Family and friends can’t be reading you wrong for years, can they?

Well, here’s the truth.

I am an extrovert. That’s surprising to everyone. I am kind of quiet and can be nervous to meet new people. But I would one million percent choose to be with someone else over spending a night alone. I like talking to people. I like being surrounded by friends and drinking and dancing and going to shows. Too many nights on my own is what drains me – not too many nights going out.

I do love reading. But I wouldn’t choose it over playing a video game. Painting, sketching, and making pieces of art is something I like to treat myself to as a means of self-care.

I am passionate about learning. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. But what I have discovered is that I’m not really into learning something by reading a book. I have a mind that learns better through images and sounds, not words on a page. I love listening to educational podcasts and learning new languages on Duolingo. That being said, I’ll almost always prefer to read a book over watching a movie. I guess fiction is still better left to my imagination.

I love to travel. I wasn’t sure if getting on a plane would be super stressful for me, or if I’d be okay when I got to another country. But it turns out I love to lowkey adventure. Iceland was amazing and now I know that I’d be okay getting on a plane by myself and discovering a new place to love.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for you is spend some time living without an audience. Don’t let other people dictate who you are or what you should do with your time. Stay away from the social media for a bit and stop letting other people’s opinions influence the way you choose to live your life.

South Park: The Stick of Truth – Game Review

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Publish date: March 4, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

SUMMARY

You are the new kid in South Park, and it doesn’t take long for Cartman to recruit you for their game. But when the battle between fake mages and elves for the Stick of Truth becomes a battle to stop the very real green alien goo that creates Nazi zombies, there is only one kid who has the strength, and the farts, to save the world.

WHAT I LIKED

I am a huge South Park fan. I love the satire and the 2D animations, and this game felt very much like playing through an episode of the show. I loved the fact that this game had turn-based combat; being a newer gamer, this aspect really helped me to gain more control of the combat at my own pace. And I didn’t feel like being turn-based slowed down the combat at all. Adding upgrades to my weapons and trying to build my ultimate character, and then smacking down some zombies with my fiery vibrator-sword was really satisfying. Being able to pick from South Park’s finest to be your combat buddies was pretty cool, too. (Butters. Always Butters.)

I also really enjoyed the collectible aspect of the game. I loved exploring South Park, discovering inside jokes from the show and collecting all of the items (Chinpokomon!) It was just so much fun to play through, and play through again to complete all of the side quests you may miss during your first attempt.

Side note: I’m currently streaming my third playthrough of this game – trying to collect all of the friends. Follow BohoWallflower on Twitch to get notified when I go live!

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

If I had one piece of criticism, it would be that I don’t particularly like how some of the collectibles (i.e. Chinpokomon, making friends, etc.) can be missed in the main quest. Some places you can only enter during certain points of the game, and if you miss these collectibles, you can’t just go back once you’re done – you have to restart the game and play through the whole thing again to get the few things you missed. I don’t mind replaying this game, because it’s a lot of fun, but it’s sort of frustrating to go back and do a whole replay for one little thing to get the achievement.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You are a fan of South Park;
  • You love games with lots of side quests and collectibles;
  • You’re looking for a fairly easy game with which you can kick back and relax.

I cannot wait for the sequel, The Fractured But Whole, to finally hit shelves!

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Arkells + July Talk @ Budweiser Stage

Arkells + July Talk with Said the Whale and Mondo Cozmo
When: June 24, 2017
Where: Budweiser Stage – Toronto, ON
Seats: General Admission – Lawn

THE COMPANY

I could not have asked for a better group of people to see this concert with. I had an unanticipated extra ticket and asked my sister to come along – promising her the most fun concert she’s ever attended – and she said yes. (An answer which she doesn’t regret, because she is now obsessed with both Arkells and July Talk). And then my friends Christine, Jeremy, Marco, and Mike were all coming as well, so we met up and got super psyched together for what would be an amazing show.

It was actually the best thing ever to dance and sing along to my favourite tunes with some of my favourite people.

THE PERFORMANCE

The opening acts of this show were both pretty stellar. I’ve got a few Said the Whale songs on my iPod so it was cool to hear them live. I’ve never heard of Mondo Cozmo, but I really liked their music. But honestly, the entire time, I was counting down the seconds to the two headlining bands of this concert. And once they hit the stage, I think I literally lost my mind.

Having only heard July Talk songs on the radio before, I was really hesitant that lead male vocalist, Peter Dreimanis, would actually sound as deep and raspy as he does in the recordings. So let me just say: he sounds even better live. The entire band does. Peter and Leah’s voices are incredible together, and their chemistry on stage brought the crowd to its feet. They also (very smartly) advertised their next set of shows to the 16,000 people packing the Bud Stage that night. Needless to say those shows sold out almost immediately. (And needless to say, my sister and I will be going).

Arkells. My band. I’ve seen them before and I knew I’d love seeing them again. They’ve quickly become my #1 favourite band. So when the lights went out for them to begin, the cheers rumbled and I went into full fangirl-concert mode. Every song they played was a hit. Front man, Max Kerman, did not let the energy die down even for a second. I don’t think anyone in the crowd stopped dancing at any point during their set.

But easily the best part of the entire night was the encore. The venue gave everyone at the show a beer cup that would light up red at certain points in the encore. Arkells came out to sing “My Heart’s Always Yours” and the cups lit up the venue – pulsing and dancing along to the tune of the song. Then all four acts came out once more and did a rendition of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” that had everyone going wild (including the red lights).

It was quite honestly the best concert I think I’ve ever been to in my life.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

July Talk:

  1. Picturing Love ♥
  2. Summer Dress
  3. Gentleman
  4. Johnny + Mary ♥
  5. Lola + Joseph ♥
  6. Strange Habit
  7. Guns + Ammunition ♥
  8. Paper Girl ♥
  9. Jesus Said So
  10. My Neck
  11. Ace of Spades (Motorhead cover) ♥
  12. I’ve Rationed Well
  13. Touch
  14. Beck + Call ♥
  15. Push + Pull ♥
  16. The Garden

Arkells:

  1. Private School ♥
  2. Michigan Left ♥
  3. Never Thought That This Would Happen ♥♥
  4. Come to Light ♥
  5. 11:11 ♥♥
  6. Oh, the Boss is Coming! ♥
  7. Pullin’ Punches ♥♥
  8. Drake’s Dad ♥
  9. Savannah
  10. And Then Some ♥♥
  11. Book Club ♥
  12. Leather Jacket ♥♥
  13. Dirty Blonde ♥♥
  14. Whistleblower ♥
  15. A Little Rain (A Song for Pete) ♥♥♥
  16. Cynical Bastards ♥♥
  17. Knocking at the Door ♥♥

Encore:
18. My Heart’s Always Yours ♥♥
19. Dancing in the Dark (Springsteen cover with July Talk, Mondo Cozmo, and Said the Whale) ♥♥♥

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Michelle Muses: June 2017

June was a busy summer kick-off, and it’s only going to get busier from here! But here’s what I’ve been up to this month.

Wonderland: I went with my dad and sister to Canada’s Wonderland – a place I haven’t gone in quite a while – and it was so much fun! We haven’t had a family outing in a while, so to be able to eat funnel cakes and walk around and enjoy the rides and take photos together was really nice.

Escape Room: I have never done an escape room before, but my family and I started doing this monthly get-together, and our first activity was an escape room. It was SO FUN. The guys teamed up and did a sort of James Bond-ish escape room, while the ladies took on a Mayan Temple, very Indiana Jones-type room. And we escaped our room! The men were not as fortunate, but theirs was a lot harder.

Family BBQ: I got to accompany Jacob to one of his family’s BBQ dinners where we went swimming and I met a ton of people – it was a lot of fun and very relaxing. This was mainly prep for the fact that in August I’ll be attending a bigger family reunion with even more people. Eep.

Jays v. White Sox: I think I am a jinx, in that anytime I go to a Jays game, they get their ass handed to them on a silver platter? Hoping the next time I go it’s a bit of a closer game! But it was still fun to have a drink and hang out with my favourite person.

Train: First concert of the crazy summer of concerts ahead of me! Train with one of my best friends was a great way to kick it off. Keep a look out for my post about the show!

Arkells & July Talk: Arkells is my favourite band right now, and July Talk is quickly climbing my list. This was, not gonna lie, probably the best show I’ve ever been to. I wa surrounded by awesome people who just wanted to have a great time and we did not stop dancing. Again, keep an eye on the blog to see a more detailed post about the night ❤

Third Eye Blind: This was such a great, nostalgic concert. Getting to jump up and down to Semi-Charmed Life and scream the words to Jumper? Heck yes. Stay posted for the full concert recap!

Changes on the blog:

Here’s probably the biggest one that will actually affect my readers. As you may have noticed, my blog is sort of headed in a concert direction. And honestly, it’s not about me switching the blog from “book blog” to “music blog”. It’s about me switching the blog from “writing about books because I have to”, to “writing about what I want, when I want”.

So no, you probably won’t see reviews for books before they get published. No, you probably won’t even see reviews for books within the first month of their being published. No, I don’t plan on working with publishers anymore.

BUT.

Yes, you will see more variety and posts about things I’m up to and things on my mind. Yes, you will get better reviews, because I’ll actually WANT to review the books, and I’ll have many more passionate things to say about them. So. There’s that.

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Skin Flick by Norm Foster: Book Review

Skin Flick

Obtained: Playwrights Canada Press
Pages: 112
Publish date: March 13, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

Middle-aged couple Daphne and Rollie and their friend Alex are out of work and out of luck when they get the idea to make their own porno film for some quick cash. The only problem is none of them want to star in it. As if on cue, a birthday telegram messenger arrives on their doorstep…

Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

I wasn’t sure what the tone of this play was going to be when I picked it up, but as soon as I started reading, I could not stop chuckling to myself. Rollie narrates the story to the audience directly, telling the story of how their idea to make a porn film came to be, and these narration often influence the characters acting out the story. Rollie decides to censor their language, and the characters become aware of the fact that their “F-words” get bleeped out. He also changes details mid-story and they get confused as to why they’re saying one thing when they wanted to say another. I thought the narration and breaking the fourth wall was extremely clever and entertaining.

I also enjoyed how dynamic and fun the characters were to read. I didn’t feel like any of them were particularly flat or conventional, which was refreshing for a comedy. And on a bit of a deeper level, I really liked the way the play addressed the topic of sex. Each character had their own viewpoint that wasn’t right or wrong. Sex wasn’t just meaningful, and it wasn’t just a meaningless act.  It was dependent on the situation and the individuals involved, and I thought that was a really great approach to the topic.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

Honestly, there wasn’t any part of reading this play that I didn’t enjoy. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I wasn’t totally blown away (pun intended?). It was funny and I had a great time imagining the staging of this production, but it isn’t going to go down as one of my all-time favourites. And that is what a 5-star rating is reserved for, in my books.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You’re looking for a great, live comedy;
  • You’re open to learning about various opinions on sex;
  • You have an hour to kill and want to laugh.

Skin Flick is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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The Kindness of Strangers

I work in a school. So whenever I go into a public washroom, I see students – young women on their phones, taking selfies, laughing with friends, fixing their lipstick. Sometimes I have the unfortunate experience of walking into a washroom and seeing a girl crying. Most of the time, they’ve got a friend to support them through whatever is going on in their life. And sometimes I walk into a washroom and I’m reminded of an instance when I was in grade twelve, of an act of kindness that always sort of blew me away. That was nearly ten years ago, and I still think about it to this day.

It was the first day back from summer – my first day of my last year of high school. I’d signed up for an art class that was meant to focus on theatre set and costume design. Due to an underwhelming registration for that class, they’d merged it with the grade twelve art students’ class. I hadn’t taken art since grade nine, and these guys were all naturals. The teacher told us to draw a person’s face in two minutes – just a rough sketch using techniques we’d learned (which I hadn’t learned, because I wasn’t an art student). He came around to my desk and told me I was doing it wrong. Each similar exercise, he’d approach me and said I needed to draw faster: I wasn’t doing it right; I wasn’t good enough. Eventually he just didn’t walk around the class anymore, he just stood in front of my desk and criticized me in front of everyone. Finally, I’d had enough. I threw my pencil down and stormed out of the room, not waiting to burst into tears until I’d reached the girls’ bathroom. I don’t like any sort of attention, and all of his negativity was terrible.

I locked myself in a stall and started sobbing. Was this what grade twelve was going to be? It was only the first day and I already couldn’t handle the stress.

That’s when I heard a timid knock on the stall door. Quiet and curious. Then, a voice as small as her knock. “Um, hi – are you okay in there?

I sniffled and wiped my face, even though she couldn’t see me. “Yeah.” She obviously knew that was a lie, so I back-tracked. “No, I don’t know.”

“Do you want to talk?” Really? This girl actually cared enough to talk me down from this? I sighed and opened the door. The girl was tiny. I barely remember what she looked like, but I remember she was smaller than me. “Are you okay?

I explained what happened with my art teacher, and the girl shook her head. “What grade are you in?” she asked me. I told her twelve. Then she said the part that blew my mind.I’m in grade nine.

It was this girl’s first day of high school. She should have been terrified. Intimidated. Hoping just to get herself through the day. But this thirteen/fourteen-year-old girl had the courage to step up and knock on that door. And even though I was quietly sniffling into my tissue paper, she kept talking. “I can’t imagine how hard grade twelve is going to be. You’ve got to start thinking about graduation and school is getting harder… This is only my first day of grade nine, and it’s a little scary. But that teacher seems mean. Do you think you can drop the class?

I’d never considered dropping a class in my life. I loved school a lot. But I didn’t need it to graduate. I could have a spare period. She was being the logical one and talking me down from my anxiety attack. “Yeah, I think I could.”

If you don’t like the teacher, and you don’t like the class, maybe stick it out for a few days and if you still don’t like it – drop it.

Yeah. Thanks.

Do you want a hug?

Sure.I smiled as this girl wrapped her arms around me and actually squeezed. Not one of those awkward stranger hugs where you’re hoping to not have any more physical contact than absolutely necessary, but an actual, meaningful hug.

You got this. You’re almost done. You’ll be okay.”

I left the bathroom smiling through my reddened face, and didn’t return back to the classroom until 5 minutes before the bell. I ended up dropping the class the next day and saving myself a whole lot of unnecessary stress.

Often times I think about how brave that grade nine girl was. If I was in her shoes – the first day of high school, I’d be keeping my nose down. But that girl stepped up, talked me down from an anxiety attack, and was a friend when I needed one. I never learned her name, and I don’t think I ever saw her again. But the fact that she reached out and helped me did not go unnoticed.

Those random acts of kindness really do matter.