Clicking the Send Button

Summer has finally arrived and after I pick up my report card later today, I will consider myself officially finished with grade 10. Therefore, it seems only fitting that I post my final English project for the year.

As with many English assignments that I’ve completed over the past two years, I stumbled into this project blindly. There was no real criteria other then to have written and spoken words that communicated something. What I communicated was up to me so I hummed and I hawed over a topic for a while and was finally drawn towards the idea of sisterhood. I decided I would do a video/podcast and began drafting what ideas I wanted to cover, who I wanted to interview, and when I would include certain things. However I didn’t really start the project until school had ended and there was five days left before it was due. Then again, I didn’t start making the video until the day before it was due.

Now, before I continue, you should know that I am somewhat of a technology noob. Can I use a computer to a basic level? Definitely. Do I love my computer very, very much? Absolutely. Did I appreciate how long it takes to make a video (even if it’s less then 10 minutes long)? No.

My first imovie binge was about 7 straight hours. (Note: this was about the time that I started going crazy). The next day (when technically the project was due), I had a friend look at what I had done, knowing I still had lots to do. She politely informed me that it was dull and (in my words) sucked. At this same time, I managed to get permission to hand it in a day late. I focused my topic more, did some more interviews, took a deep breath, and had my second imovie binge. By the time I went to bed, I was starting to believe that there was a finish line to this project again.

Even with lack of sleep, I slept lightly and woke up the next morning early to get to work again. A few more hours and I was done (mostly), so I headed over to my friend’s house where a bunch of people were meeting to study for our science exam the next day. Being around people again made it quite obvious that that I had completely lost it. I was addicted to my computer (and fairly so, I felt like we had been through a lot together… I needed to be with my dear laptop). I allowed people to watch my video and they complimented it and tried to pry the keyboard from my hands… It was time to accept that it was actually done. Phew. And so the long process of uploading it to youtube began.

I occupied myself with other things for the afternoon and it wasn’t until 3 hours later that one of my friends realized the uploading was a bit too slow. Luckily, she was a computer whiz so she took my darling laptop away from me and looked for a better way to upload it. All I wanted at that moment was to write an email that included the project itself and click the send button. Done. A little while later, the real problem was discovered: the house I was at had a poor internet connection. The video was never going to upload in time- if ever- as it was already 8pm (report cards were due the next morning).

Uh oh.

By this time I hadn’t just gone crazy- I’d completely lost it. So the three friends who I was still studying with started problem solving for me. One girl suggested burning the video to a DVD which would work, except I wasn’t sure how I would hand it in. This question was solved by the fact that my friends lived about a block away from my English teacher. What were the chances? I wanted to at least give warning of the delivery, so I sent a tweet, knowing that my teacher is somewhat of a twitter addict, and gave him half an hour to respond. So we began studying again, me sitting in front of my computer, refreshing my twitter page every couple of minutes hoping for reply. Half an hour came and went though with no response and we realized the internet still wasn’t working. I had no choice but to allow my three friends pull me up off the floor, grab the disk, and set out on a grand expedition to hand in my English project.

My teacher had in fact, seen my tweet, and was coming up the stairs to his driveway as I arrived, accompanied by three friends and a DVD that I had some pretty strong feelings about. (I can’t really recount the rest of the journey because it mostly involved a lot of insane ranting and somewhat maniacal laughter from me…) The point is that even though it wasn’t quite the glorious moment of clicking The Send Button that I had envisioned, it worked out just fine.

Anyways, I finished (even if it involved the most ridiculous case of homework handing in I’ve ever heard of). Hurray! Please enjoy my video entitled, “Exploring Sisterhood,” that I have posted below. Much sleep was lost and computer knowledge gained in the making of this film. Many tic tacs were swallowed (they’re my chill pills), rants were given, tea was drunk, and buttons clicked. Thank yous go out to all my interviewees as well as Kia, Ari, and Kiko for putting up with me at a very interesting moment 🙂

With the posting of this final English project, I will also take this proud post to retire this edublog. It has been my first blog and I have had a marvelous time documenting the writing of my grade 10 year. However, it is time to dig even deeper into the the blogsphere…

Please check out the new joint blog that I, along with 7 of my friends, are beginning: Frozen Tic Tacs. Throughout the summer and into our grade 11 year, we hope to stay in contact and explore our written worlds with this blog. It’s very exciting 🙂

Thank you for reading and maybe I will see you out in the blogging world again… 😀

Procrastination, Inspiration, Creation

I’m fairly confident that my procrastination has gotten a lot worse this year. If you’ve been reading my blog, you may recall that I struggled to get an essay in long after the due date. More recently, it’s been poetry.

I know, I know. Anything and everything is poetry! Right? Well, I suppose so. You could point to any piece of artwork, random inanimate object, written work, etc… And argue that it’s poetry. Some poetry is still much better then others however, and that is where writing poetry can become daunting. I want the poetry to express something and I want readers to feel something (even if it’s not the original feeling I was going for) when they read it. If nothing else, I should like what I write and therefore it has taken me many drafts and scrap pieces of paper to produce anything that I would glance at twice.

At the beginning of the poetry unit, I chose to study Jack Johnson. Listening to his music was pleasing and his lyrics gave me that connected feeling that I wanted to produce through my own writing. I did my research on his life and read through his lyrics multiple times to get a better feel of what I was aiming for.

Jack Johnson is essentially a surfer dude from Hawaii. He learned guitar at 14 but wasn’t seriously pursuing it, his true joy came from surfing the waves. By 17, Jack Johnson was a pro and became the youngest invitee to enter the Pipe Trials- the world’s most prestigious surfing event. It was during this event that he crashed into a reef, resulting in some knocked out teeth and over 150 stitches (ouch). His dream of becoming a professional surfer took a large hit at this point and Jack ended up studying film and directing surf films. He also produced the music for his movies with his guitar. It wasn’t until people started asking for the movie soundtracks that he started down the path of a musical career. Eventually, Ben Harper found him and took him under his wing, taking Jack on tour and helping him to produce his first album, Brushfire Fairytales. He got hired for the Curious George Movie and his Sing Along Songs Album for the film sent him to the top of the charts. Now a husband, father, singer, songwriter, active environmentalist, and inspiration for many, so you have to admit- Jack Johnson is a pretty chill guy.

As far as his actual lyrics go, I wrote a list of descriptions and have wordle-ed it for viewing pleasure here. In short, I find his lyrics to be simplistic and repetitive, but in a way that also makes you view the greater picture.

And that brings the project back to me. Like I mentioned earlier, the idea of writing a song was rather… intimidating. For the past month (as I re-wrote “Song” on my to do list, over and over again), I’ve had ideas on what to write about come to mind: about people, places, events, ideas, or a certain feeling. I filled several pages with disjointed lines. I looked through old free writes of mine for inspiration. I even finished a song at the beginning, but it was so bad, I completely ignored it, and instead counted it as a warm up. Time does catch up to you though and I finally had a surge of inspiration (unfortunately it was at midnight- but hey, better late then never).

The hardest part of writing is showing your work to someone else, but it is also the greatest tool for success. And so I began the editing process that included finding some rhythm in the lyrics, adding a chorus (which is very repetitive, I know. However, if you look at some of Jack Johnson’s lyrics you’ll see the idea), and just generally smoothing the edges. Of course, no piece of writing is ever truly finished… but for now, here is my song:

Enter the world anew
Realize moments are of few
The sounds that you still make
Crazy chances you always take
Reminds you, small you are
Out in that world so very far

So live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live like there’s no tomorrow
Live, live, live

The light fades from the sky
Don’t know if you can, but please try
To breathe and always know
To sleep fearless of tomorrow
Smooth waves will carry you
Far Out and deep into the blue

To live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live like there’s no tomorrow
Live, live, live
You want to be so good

Carry the world’s weight if you could
Life keeps a steady pace
Flip that penny to see its face
Know that everything will end
But with time, hearts can always mend

Well you laugh and you cry
And is there really need
For goodbyes
Wasn’t expected
May not be perfected
But still take it for what was meant
At least a time well spent

And live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live, live, live, live, live
Live like there’s no tomorrow
Live, live, live

Lover of the Universe

Considering that there are only 40 pages on BC History in my Socials 10 text book, it should have been a piece of cake to find an interesting topic to study and report on. So I googled and read about several things but didn’t head in any particular direction with my research until I met Amor De Cosmos, a journalist and politician who was an avid supporter of confederation.
Amor_de_Cosmos_2a
William Alexander Smith was born in 1825 with one of the most traditional names possible. He grew up and went to University in Nova Scotia where he was an avid member of the debating club.

1852, the young man left for California in search of gold and all it’s riches. Before long he had established a business as a photographer, taking pictures of all the miners and their operations. It was during this time that William decided he needed to change his name to something more eloquent that described his love of order and the world. And so, William Alexander Smith became Amor De Cosmos, a mix of Latin, French, and Greek that quite literally translates into ‘lover of the universe.” (That’s pretty intense if you ask me).

A few years later, De Cosmos followed the gold rush North and settled in Victoria where he founded a newspaper known as ‘The British Colonist.’ Through this newspaper, De Cosmos promoted his ideas of responsible government and attacked the governor of Vancouver Island, James Douglas. He went so far as to demand the removal of Douglas, saying that they must get rid of the “present government, with its lick-spittle characteristics, its crawling and evil proclivities, its thousand and one faces, and all the corruption which it has engendered; they must curb its profligate extravagance…..they must show it to the world in all the hideousness of sin, that honesty may blush and bow the head…..”

De Cosmos became so popular for his journalism he decided to enter politics instead. He sold the newpaper in 1862 and was elected to the Vancouver Island House of Assembly in 1863. It was here that he became a major lead in the movement to unite the colonies of Vancouver Island and BC in 1866. After that, Amor represented Victoria as a member of the BC legislative council and became a major component of BC joining Canadian Confederation. By 1871 BC had become Canada’s sixth offical province and by 1872 Amor De Cosmos became the second premier of BC.

During his two years as premier, De Cosmos’s main focus was responsible government. However he also  implemented free public education, fought for the rights of married women, and introduced the secret ballot. While being part of provincial legislature, De Cosmos also ended up representing BC in federal parliament which he stayed involved with until he left parliament in 1882. At this point, De Cosmos stayed in Victoria until he died 15 years later. In the meantime there are rumors that he was a heavy drinker, was afraid of electricity, and refused to have it in his house. Basically, by the time of his death, the revolutionary politician had gone insane.

Today there is a a peak known as Mount De Cosmos in Nanimo and a Amor De Cosmos Creek just North of Campbell River in his honour. The Great Amor De Cosmos, a man who so desired to express his love of the world he lived in.

Be Careful What You Give

As I was standing on the patio of Government house this past Saturday, looking out across rooftops to the ocean, holding a warm cup of tea with saucer, and having my hair continuously swept across my face by the wind, I felt very Victorian.

I was honoured to be invited to the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award Ceremony in Victoria but at least half the reason for actually going (and I believe my mother and sister who accompanied me would agree with me on this), was to get away from home and visit Victoria. So on Friday afternoon the three of us packed our bags and headed off to the ferry. Maybe it was because I got to sit in the front sit quite a bit, but I found myself observing the city differently. First of all, Victoria is one of the old fashioned cities that is very old fashioned. Second, the trees are very artsy and driving around gives you a much better appreciation for Emily Carr’s paintings. Then of course, being right on the ocean, it’s always windy (so I would suggest bringing a hair brush), and rocky. I also must sadly admit that Victoria’s lampposts put Vancouver lampposts to shame.

The ceremony itself was worth the experience. There were 70 award recipitants, all of whom got a chance to walk across the stage, recieve their award from the lieutenant governor, and pose for a picture. It was short, formal, and well planned out. The highlight for me though, was hearing his honour speak. He didn’t have anything prepared, but as he walked to the podium and started speaking, he still managed to draw the entire audience into his wisdom. Below, I have tried to get at least the general gist of what he said…

At the end of your life it is not the things you have accumulated or the money you have in the bank that matter. What was important is what you gave.

So give all you can and know that it will always come back to you.

If you give knowledge you get back wisdom.
If you give kindness you get back love.

But it also works the other way.

If you give fear you get back ignorance.
If you give anger you get back hatred.

Be careful of what you give away.

Why am I so Good at Liking Dresses but so Bad at Writing Essays?

It seems like an unlikely pair, I know. Dresses and essays, essays and dresses. As I was standing in the mall a couple nights ago, after successfully purchasing my second dress within only a couple of weeks, I turned and asked my sister “Why am I so good at liking dresses but so bad at writing essays?” Here I was, feeling pretty great with my shopping bag in one hand, and a chai tea latte in the other, chattering away about whatever popped into my head and out my mouth. Yet I knew once I got home I needed to crack down and get to work on my essay… My essay, which was 7 weeks overdue.

I’ve always been one to hand in assignments on time. I use a planner obsessively and enjoy being impressively on top of things so that I can let myself relax a little. So having to rewrite “Essay” on my to do list countless of times, has not been particularly pleasant. I mean, I have actually put way more thought into the assignment then it looks like- conversations with peers, skimming through the book and taking note of page numbers, several free writes, a healthy handful of quotes- but still no essay.  Hence, this past weekend when I had couple of hours of alone time at home I sat, wrote, and somehow managed to produce an essay draft on a book that I read for a novel study almost two months ago.  I had hope again- I was going to finish it! Soon. I began revising and a few days later I was ready to hand it in. Except I didn’t because instead of feeling relief I felt disappointed that the essay wasn’t really awesome, it was only decent. So I pondered handing it in, but didn’t send the email.

On the other hand, I have a couple of formal events coming up so I actually had a reason to go dress hunting. Personally, I don’t get a lot of chances to dress up, so when I do it’s very exciting. My sister was also searching for a dress and although she doesn’t get the same thrill from shopping that I do, we made the rounds: checking out the styles, admiring the colours, and even feeling the fabrics. The best part is the fitting rooms though, when you play dress up and flounce around in front of the mirrors (that’s why we go shopping on Wednesday nights I believe… so the mall is open late with few people around so my mom doesn’t get embarrassed by my frolicking). Somehow, to my delight, I’ve ended up with two fabulous new dresses that I am eagerly anticipating wearing.

Now you’re probably reading this and wondering what I’m thinking… I admit, essays and dresses is the not the most common topic. But I’ve been feeling very attached to both of them lately, just in different ways. When stressing about the essay got to be too much, I could pull on my new dress and feel a little happier, even if only in the girliest of ways. I often feel bad about how clothes have so much ability to make me happy, but really, there are worse things. Also, I’m not actually that bad at writing essays, I’ve just procrastinated this particular one for far too long, and perhaps wound myself a little too tight.

All in all, what I’m trying to say is this: Sometimes there are things that you just have to do. Sometimes there are things that you don’t need to do but would really like to do. And sometimes, you just have to figure out how to do both 🙂

Alright Stage, Here I Come….

3 weeks and 3 days until I perform…

It’s one thing to play an instrument solo. It’s another to play alongside a different instrument that is playing a different part. In the past couple weeks I’ve gotten the opportunity to practice the Mozart duet that I will be performing with my awesome friend and pianist. To play a duet I need to be sure and strong on my entrances, timing, and phrasing so that I don’t get distracted by the other part. So practicing has helped boost my confidence and even got made me excited. But, I’m also still terrified. Playing French Horn solo on a stage is going to be a first for me and although all my practicing will make me more confident when I get actually get on that stage, all the work I’ve done will be reflected in that one song.

My solution to deal with my nerves: Start finding small audiences to play for. Family, friends, my horn teacher and her friends… anyone with 3 minutes to spare. Obviously I shall continue to rehearse the music but now is the time to practice performing. The other thing I can do is warm up properly on the actual day as this will hugely impact my playing flexibility and tone. Also, every room has a different sound, a different amount of space to fill. Every time I play, the music changes so having a chance to practice actually on the stage will be extremely valuable.

One of the most important things will be for me to keep my face in shape. Playing French Horn (or any brass instrument for that matter), strengthens the lower face muscles quite a bit. When I exercise these muscles every day, playing comes easier. So although I’m excited to go to Galiano Island where I’ll be hiking, biking, and camping for five days, I’m also aware that I won’t get to practice all that time and that when I get back, I have less then a week, to strengthen those muscles again as much as I can. Guess whose going to be waking up early on the trip to do some buzzing on her mouthpiece? Yep, it’s the best I can do 🙂

So I’m prepping the best I can. Adding musicality, putting everything together, and finding audiences. Next time you hear from me about this project, the hard part will be over… 🙂

Putting an Obsession to Good Use :)

I have an obsessive personality. There are certain things that I need to obsess over for a while before I can move on. When I was younger I had a dolphin phase, then Cinderella (ok, so maybe that phase isn’t quite over yet)… In middle school I loved giant, colourful earrings, Harry Potter, a snowboarding video game called SXX (to this day, my brothers refuse to admit that I was ever better then them at a video game. I was though), and admittedly was a big fan of Twilight for a while.  More recently it’s been Wicked, Glee, hats, 3D glasses (lenses popped out of course), Sarah Dessen books, and Jack Johnson (who I first discovered after watching the Curious George movie- Upsidedown makes me happy!).

I have lots of music that I like to listen to, however, sometimes I find myself putting a single song on repeat for a while. When I find one song that perfectly fits my mood other songs become distracting. I fall into the music, letting the lyrics fill me up and allow me to think, even if it’s only subconsciously. Through music, I can connect with other people who either wrote the songs  or people who feel similarly to me when they listen to them. I’ve found many, many connections in Jack Johnson’s music so instead of listening to one song on repeat, I can put on a playlist of 50 and feel content.

I love how simple his songs sound at first, how easy they are to get into. Yet, upon listening to them, I can find a deeper, more complex meaning. I interpret the words in a way that makes sense to me and my life. And so, listening to Jack Johnson became an obsession for me, something I could go do and find peace in.

Basically, picking a poet to study wasn’t hard for me 🙂

“The west winds often last too long
The wind may calm down
Nothing ever feels the same
Sheltered under the Kamani tree
Waiting for the passing rain
Clouds keep moving to uncover the scene
Stars above us chasing the day away
To find the stories that we sometimes need”


An Epic Dragon Slaying Tale

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this piece of genius. Still, I felt it was worthy of sharing, especially while on the brink of our poetry unit… Enjoy! 🙂

Once, there was a dragon.
He really liked to pillage,
Steal the cows and eat the sheep,
From the nearby village.

If anyone had ever asked,
The dragon would quickly mourn,
“It’s not my fault that I’m depressed,
And Dr. Phil is not yet born.”

The villagers, sad to say,
Were too ignorant to ask,
So they never knew that antidepressants,
Would make it an easy task.

They tried to hire St. George, who
Recommended a cohort
His name is Brave Sir, ask for him at the the inn,
He’s called BS for short.

BS was only too happy
To try and take on the job
Unlike St. George, who never took small town gigs
He was no dragon hunting snob.

BS found his sharpest sword and fastest steed
And rode out to the cave,
There was uplifting music in the background,
Mysteriously played.

BS was creeped out by the music
But he persevered,
Because once he slayed the dragon
The villagers would cheer.

He was nearly at the cave,
His heart was pounding in his ears,
They he heard a crash behind him,
Confirming all his fears.

For all BS’s supposed skill,
The dragon was a ninja
And so he had crept behind him
Making BS cringe…a.

“Oh no, not canned food again!”
The dragon sadly sighed,
Meanwhile BS was not so brave,
And began to cry.

He was incinerated by the dragon,
As you can probably guess,
And then all that was left of our brave knight,
Was a smoking pile of BS.

Justice for the Lubicon Cree… or at least some sort of action!

Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something!

People like to categorize things. It allows them to see a problem, take a side, and point the blame the other way. However, this can lead to the misinformed opinions that are sometimes mistaken for knowledge. Opinions are wonderful things, and they start innocently enough. Eventually though, they stop people from being able to analyze a situation properly. I think this applies to a lot of the problems surrounding native people in Canada –their education, funding, government… It’s time to take action that actually results in something.

I’ve heard several debates recently at school regarding native rights in Canada. The arguments go back and forth but I sit on the fence, not feeling informed enough to make an opinion. Until, one particular issue regarding a native group in Northern Alberta caught my eye. The Lubicon Cree have been struggling to remain on the land they traditionally call home, even though it has been abused throughout the years by the implementation of hundreds of oil wells. Fascinated, I read about the problem and found myself with an opinion, just not the one I was expecting to have.

Quite honestly, I think both the Canadian government and the Lubicon Cree are being completely close-minded and rather ridiculous about whom the land belongs to and how it is used. The Lubicon Cree want to stay on their traditional land, the same land that the Canadian government wants to set up industries on and extract oil from. Since 1979 the Lubicon Cree have protested the oil wells and the government has refused to negotiate. So why is nothing changing in order to find a solution?

The Canadian government has failed to take the native’s rights into consideration. People wanted oil, so oil wells were set up and money was made.Yet none of these revenues went towards the natives who traditionally owned the land. All the Lubicon received was the pollution and health issues that came with the hundreds of oil wells surrounding the area. The mining also interrupted the native’s traditional ways of life such as hunting and fishing. All of these disruptions have greatly affected the native children. As their health and education falter, their futures become dimmer. My question for Canadian governments: How can Canadians pride ourselves being accepting of multiculturalism while a native group, such as the Lubicon Cree, is being treated so shamefully?

The Lubicon Cree deserves better treatment, yet I don’t believe that their continuous protest is helping their case as much as they think it is. On some level they need to accept that as long as humans continue to drive cars, there is going to be a need for oil and that that piece of Albertan land is an excellent source. It’s not like the government is going to suddenly decide to close the oil wells and move elsewhere. Even if they did, that land would take quite a while to be restored to its former glory. Instead of putting all their efforts towards protesting, I think the Lubicon Cree need to accept some part of their situation and try to find ways to adjust and fit into the present world. My question for the Lubicon Cree: Is staying on their traditional land really the best thing for their children?

Both sides have been blinded by their stubbornness. I don’t believe that either side will ever be entirely satisfied. Still, it would be nice to have some compromise as opposed to continuing this endless stalemate for another 30 years.  A proper reserve needs to be set up or some of the revenues from the oil wells need to start going towards native compensation. By sharing the land and profits made from it, the natives can have more of an opportunity to share their culture with their children. Not to mention, government won’t look bad for essentially destroying the Lubicon Cree’s homeland.  Money may not buy happiness, but it can definitely help to balance the two sides.

The Lubicon Cree’s struggle for rights is just one example of native rights being abused in Canada, but little action being taken to correct it. People get so convinced that their way is the right one, when really, looking at only one side of an issue limits the possibilities. Only when people are open and work together can compromise be made. So what are we waiting for?

________________________________

For more information on the Lubicon Cree, check out this site by Amnesty International

Technical Details

Spring break provided me with an excellent opportunity to have a long, 2 hour lesson with my mentor. For any instrument, there is a wide range of exercises you need practice in order to develop and improve on all aspects of playing. Here are some of the different concepts I cover when practicing the French Horn:

  • Warm up– For this I mostly use a book called “The Art of Playing the French Horn,” which according to my teacher, is the bible for horn players. It covers all aspects of playing but so far I have only focused on the practice part. To warm up one needs to get lots of air moving through the horn and loosen the muscles in their face. Scales and lip slurs are common however it is important to play them in different ways, slurring, tonguing, and using different rhythms.
  • Low Range– It is important to consistently practice the low range because you need to be relaxed to play that low. By learning to keep relaxed one can get into the higher ranges more easily and effectively.
  • Technical Studies– These are used to get the fingers moving and your mind working! I usually practice one of these studies for about two weeks. It’s all about patterns, with various intervals, scales and articulation.
  • Flexibility– Not quite as quick as the technical studies, these exercises are used to create a greater range and clarity of notes.
  • Preparatory Work– This book contains short songs, each with their own emphasis on a particular aspect of playing, to get one used to solo playing. I quite enjoy these actually (although when I start learning them they look rather scary…).
  • Solo piece– Well actually, it’s a duet for me. I’m learning a Mozart piece (or at least some of it) that I will be performing at the end of May. Soon I hope to try it out with my friend who will be playing the piano to accompany me (very exciting!). At this point, I’ve learned the entire piece however still need to iron out some details in regards to timing, articulation, and fluidity… This is where all the practice and technique I learned above comes into play!

So all in all, just continuing with my practice and overall understanding of the French Horn 🙂