On Human Behaviour

I get frustrated when kids do immature things. Their specific actions don’t offend me in any way, just their incredibly human behaviour. Let me give you a hypothetical example.

If a kid uses the word “gay” out of context, I wonder why he chose to say that word when none of the adults around him use it. Isn’t it painfully obvious? Adults have had more experience, therefore they are wiser, and make better decisions than children. So why can’t children put two and two together and mimic adults right off the bat?

Of course, the answer is simple. They can’t because they’re children. And inherently, anyone who acts like an adult is no longer a child.

This idea’s been on my mind as I’ve entered adulthood, and especially as I’ve learned things less trivial than using words out of context.

For instance, why is it a rite of passage to have one’s heart broken? We’ve all heard the story! In its simplest form, a young, naïve, girl (in my case) falls for some guy who breaks her heart. And she’s never quite the same and looks back on that first heartbreak forever.

But we aren’t naïve are we?! Because we’ve heard this story from adults! So why do we insist on making the same mistakes ourselves?

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My Mother

I like to imagine that I have a remarkable long-term memory. While I struggle to remember the names of people I’ve just met, or the particular date of a friend’s birthday, I remember many distinct, poignant moments from my childhood. I may just be kidding myself, though, because what is childhood if not a collection of short, vivid memories?

I’m five years old. I’m standing at the edge of a field of wild strawberries. They’re leafy plants that grow close to the ground and for every large handful of leaves you can find 1 or 2 pea-sized red fruit dotted on the outside with yellow seeds. I’m tentatively looking on the outskirts of this field when my mum takes me by the hand and leads me fearlessly into the centre. She shows me how to lift the leaves to find the berries. She says that they like to hide from the sun under their leaves like I hide under my bandana. For the next little while, as my clumsy baby fingers bring one berry at a time to my mouth, my mum, with her experienced, sure fingers picks a heaping handful. She tells me to open my mouth wide and stuffs every last berry into it. When I try to resist the second handful, she tells me that it’s good for me and picks a third. She doesn’t eat a single berry. What a selfless thing it is, to give everything you’ve got to a child.

Flash forward two years. I hated crying when I was a kid, but I did the night my family left our home in Ukraine. I don’t remember many details of this journey, but this specific moment I remember quite poignantly. It started either very late at night, or very early in the morning as all travels to the airport seem to begin. I remember how strange the experience was for me. We all piled in a Scooby Doo-like van with the cheap checkered bags that I saw old ladies with at the market, but that now contained pots, basins, books, cutlery, clothes and toys. As we were getting into the ancient van-taxi, I began to cry. My mother asked me why I was crying and I told her I was crying because I wouldn’t ever see my grandma, her mother, again.

In my short 7 years, I had come to love my mother’s mum in a pure childlike, innocent way. She took care of me and loved me and in return I tenderly called her “babulya.” I was a skinny kid who hated to eat. Every morning my babulya would cut up a piece of chocolate and add a tiny piece of it to every spoonful of oatmeal so that it would taste better. I know where my mama learned to be a mama.

On that night when we were leaving, my mother told me I would see my babulya soon enough. Alas, tickets overseas were expensive, my family was poor and even the best of people couldn’t live forever. And so my mum gave up her family in order to ensure a better future for me.

A collage of fond memories exists in my mind… a push on a swing, a special birthday cake, a handmade doll’s dress, a bandaged up scraped knee. Although these images are typical of childhood, a mother’s love resides at the heart of each one and makes it precious. So on this mother’s day, I thank the wonderful mothers in my life and I’m inspired to someday be as good of a mama as mine.

PicMonkey Collage1 (2)

Upper Hand

You know what they say about relationships? That the person who cares less has the upper hand?

I agree and I disagree.

I agree because if you care less, you’re in control of your heart and no one can break it.

A broken promise is just that… a broken promise. It’s not a broken heart.

I disagree because if you care less, you’re in control of your heart and no one can break it.

Giving someone the chance to break your heart, and trusting that they won’t, well, that’s love. And if you can’t love… What sort of upper hand is that?

Home Sweet Home

Home sweet home, or at least that’s how it felt returning back to Ottawa for the first time this year. My summer job is leading grade 8 grad tours to Ottawa, and seeing as elementary school is ending in June, the new touring season is finally here!

Overall the trip was a success. I got to share my favourite city with some kids and made a couple friends along the way.

Let me tell you about three of my highlights.

1) I got to see my first ever hockey game! And an NHL one at that! It was an important tie breaker between the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although it’s beyond me why in the world you would choose a penguin as a mascot… the game was a lot of fun! I’m not usually a sports fan so it was also fun to get teasing texts from friends saying things like, “Score goals! Go team! Sportz!”

IMG_20150407_1957002) In 1916 there was a big fire that took out most of the Canadian parliament buildings. Thanks to some heavy duty steel doors, the parliamentary library was saved. So this one room in the building has the intricate wooden design of the old buildings. Walking through the door is like walking into the past. For the first time ever, photos of the library were allowed, so I thought I’d share this one with you.

IMG_20150408_1000473) On the second day of the tour, I had an hour to kill before signing in night security so I went on a walk around the parliament buildings. It was snowing big fluffy flakes and it was the first time I’d seen parliament hill all covered in white.

IMG_20150408_220846Thanks for joining me on my quick recap of the first tour of many, many more. Can’t wait to get these exams behind me.

Wonderful Weekend with Friends… In Bed

Once again I found myself in Hamilton this weekend. My friend Emma played the cello in a play staged by the engineering student body so I went down with my other friends, Erika and Julia, to support her.

Let me sum up the overall awesomeness of this weekend in the following experiences:

1) Half an hour into the process of opening a bottle of wine, Erika asks, “Do you happen to have a pair of pliers?” We proceed in joking, “How many engineers does it take to open a bottle of wine?”

2) All through high school, us four had aggressive debates about the definition of a salad… (I challenge you to define salad. “A mix of vegetables?” What about fruit salad? “A mix of foods?” Well a trail mix isn’t a salad is it?) Then my friend Mark makes these past four years of debating essentially pointless by saying, “Salad is the food that my food eats.” Golden.

3) At 4:00 o’clock in the morning, Emma is massaging my head.

4) Also at 4:00 o’clock in the morning, I say, “That feels phenomenal!” I take a moment to do some deep thinking and add, “What’s that called? Feels phenomenal? It’s not an alliteration because phenomenal doesn’t start with an F. A consonance? No…” This sparks a lively discussion.

5) During breakfast, which happens around noon time, Erika asks Julia to pass her a “Moo-faun.” Laughter ensues as we realize that she’s referring to the muffins.

6) After having lunch at an Asian restaurant, us classy ladies decide to play a game in which we append “in bed” to our fortune-cookie fortunes. I get, “Just be yourself. You are wonderful.” … “IN BED!!!” Classic.

Silliness aside, it was a lovely weekend full of old friends, new friends, a delightful walk, a lot of crude humour, and occasionally terrifying driving (on my behalf).

Also a reconfirmation that a combination of nerves and excitement makes me a dreadful conversational partner. Gotta work on that… But first, linear algebra…

Pi, Pie, Friends and Geckos

For once in my life I put all of my important assignments and deadlines on the back burner in favour of an awesome weekend getaway.

The journey began at my friend Emma’s house on 3/14/15 at 9:26 A.M. I’m not crazy. I’m not just telling you the exact date and time for no reason.

This was exactly pi day: the day in this century whose numerical representation matches the first digits of pi! Alright, I may be crazy for caring about pi day, but frankly, that’s a type of crazy I’m willing to embrace.

Despite being the embodiment of lazy-uni-students-on-a-Saturday-morning, Emma and I were happy to wake up at an ungodly hour of 9:00 AM in order to eat a ceremonial slice of apple pie at exactly 9:26.

IMG_9568After breakfast our journey officially began. Just as we were heading out the door I took this picture of Emma’s bag because I thought it captured the spirit of our weekend perfectly. What you see is a backpack stuffed with homework, with a bottle of wine sticking matter-of-factly out of the water-bottle pocket.

IMG_5016I was a proud bug as I backed the car into a parking spot after driving  the first somewhat long-ish distance of my driving career. The destination was Emma’s University, McMaster, located about an hour’s drive out of Toronto. Despite having a couple bouts of panic thinking I was driving on the wrong side of the street because of Hamilton’s numerous one-way streets, spirits were high and cars remained undamaged.

In the afternoon we lazied around watching a movie until we got hungry, and then headed to a hipster-ish yet sophisticated place called Koosh Bistro where I ate my weight in pasta. I would have loved the meal even if it were not exquisitely delicious since I got to catch up on long-overdue life-chats with my dear friend.

PicMonkey Collage

My favourite part of the trip, by far, was meeting Emma’s future housemates. This was a collection of 6 guys and gals who welcomed me into their evening as though we were old buddies and not meeting for the first time. The evening’s conversation was a metaphorical trail-mix of poetry, debates, good-natured mockery and sex-jokes.

We played king’s cup with a modified set of rules. Whenever anyone pulled a Queen, they would be put in the “hot seat” and would have to answer a series of questions with complete honesty. Whenever anyone pulled a five, the room would erupt into a frantic scramble as everyone threw themselves onto the nearest wall in attempts at looking like a gecko. The constant transitions between confessing deep thoughts and, well… being geckos, were priceless.

Emma and I headed back to her house late that night and crashed in her bed. I had to bulldoze her off my side of the bed half-way through the night. But all’s well that ends well since she claims to not remember the incident. After a quick walk the next morning, I was on my way back to Toronto.

A part of me wonders whether I’m missing awesome weekends like this by living at home. I can’t help but wish I could stay longer and live the traditional University experience. But I’m so happy for my dear friend, and I am glad to be back in my own, wooded wonderland of a University.

An Academic Analysis of the Similarities between Eggs and Brains (a Poem)

Holy moly, Uni’s hard.

Hard like hard boiled eggs.

Except hard boiled eggs are squishy.

Squishy like my brain.

When you spend a whole day reading

But you don’t remember what,

That is when you know your brain can’t fit the things it just forgot.

Rather than remembering the things you’ll need on tests,

Brains preoccupy themselves with what you definitely WILL NEVER USE ANYWHERE.

Mostly, the great question weighing on my mind,

“Eggs and brain” and “brain and eggs”,

Am I crazy? Do they rhyme?

I apologize for that. Sometimes the tired university student that hides behind my mask of professionalism and put-togetherness just needs to come out and play.

Strange and Scandolous 2015

I rarely share my weirder musings on the internet, so posting this makes me a little nervous.

At some point in high school I read 1984 by George Orwell. and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Both novels present a dystopic society, yet in a key aspect– sex, they’re stark opposites:

In 1984, everything in society is strictly controlled. The language, the literature and the politics are all meticulously constructed by Big Brother. Love is also controlled. Or, sex, more accurately, since the act is deemed only appropriate for the purposes of procreation. It’s wrong to enjoy sex.

In Brave New World the society is controlled on a deeper level — down to the very genes of every individual, however a very different set of rules governs sex. In a nutshell, everyone “belongs” to everyone else, and it’s wrong to be with only one person.

I’ve always understood that both of these novels achieved success because they presented a strange universe entirely different from our own. People are drawn towards the strange! How preposterous is the idea of no love? Or what about the idea of being chastised for loving only one person?

But are these ideas preposterous? Are they, really?

Our world seems so comparatively normal. We fall in love, with one person, and we become committed to them. But is this normal?

I was watching sister-wives a couple weeks back. This is a reality TV show that features a family with one husband and four wives. I felt embarrassed when my mum asked why I was watching it. And I feel embarrassed admitting that I was curious!

Don’t worry though, there’s not logical way I would actually be tempted to enter into a plural marriage since I think it’s just as strange as you do.

But it’s worth considering, I think, that our way of life is only normal because that’s what we’re used to. It’s actually quite strange if you take Brave New World, or 1984 to be the norm. I imagine a girl my age, who lives in Brave New World and is reading 2015 by Hanna Y. Or a boy from 1984 sneaking off to read 2015 in secret. 2015 is a best-seller because it’s strange and scandalous. But I can’t tell you why it’s strange and scandalous because I live in it, and I simply don’t know.