The parts they left out of Free Willy

A couple of weeks ago while I was home I decided to watch some Blue Planet. While I was watching, something became glaringly apparent: Killer Whales are the sadistic sociopaths of the sea.

Seriously though, those things are awful. There's a reason why no one calls them "Orcas".

First off, they hunt baby seals. The Killer Whales will hang out near the shore and wait for the seals who are trying to learn how to swim. They will then ride the waves up to the beach, snatch the baby seal, and then drag it out to deeper water.

But that's not the end, oh no.

After that, the pod will throw the still-alive baby seal back and forth using their teeth. They will keep doing this until after it has died, and only then will they actually eat the poor thing. No one knows why they do this, as it doesn't seem to serve any function besides perverse entertainment.

Secondly, they torture Grey Whales.

Female Grey Whales will give birth to their calves in the South, and then migrate with their young to the North for feeding purposes. The baby whales are just learning to swim and tire much more quickly than the adults. What Killer Whale pods will do is follow a mother and baby. They will chase them until the baby is exhausted and has to be lifted to the water's surface by the mother just to breathe. Then, when both mother and baby are vulnerable, they will attack, separating mother from child. Their method of killing the little whale is to push it underwater until it drowns, then rip it apart. This process takes days (possibly weeks), and in the end the Killer Whales only ate the baby Grey Whale's jaw, and left the rest of its body for scavengers.

So next time you're watching Free Willy, reconsider who you want to root for. Think about exactly what Jesse is unleashing on the ocean.


If Chivalry Wasn't Dead Before, It Sure Is Now

You may have noticed it's been a long time since my last post. The short version of the story is that life has been on the quiet side lately and there hasn't been anything worth writing about.

But now that I'm back in Toronto I seem to have found the motivation to write again, and this post in particular is dedicated to my colossal failure of a romantic life. Where to even start? I guess I'll begin with the shinanigans which ultimately led to my total loss of faith in men.

You already know how unlucky I was in Europe when it came to dating. I'm sorry to say that this didn't change when I returned to North America. I had hoped that moving from my small town in BC to Toronto would make dating easier, and for a while it almost seemed to. While at a work party with my cousin in November I happened to be introduced to a friend of her boyfriend's. We got to talking and seemed to really click. Despite having ample opportunity to politely leave, we wound up chatting for most of the night. When it came time for him to go, he said goodbye to his friends and then came back to say goodbye to me.

Due to a hectic work schedule and a badly-timed sickness we didn't see each other over the next two weeks, but then we (my cousin, her boyfriend, myself, and this guy) arranged to meet up for a movie and dinner. We wound up catching a Hitchcock (North by Northwest) at the TIFF Lightbox, which was really excellent. We discovered afterwards that the cinema we were in was the one that has a seat named after me (long story), and he helped me find it and then offered to take a picture. We all went out for dinner after that, and it was really enjoyable. The conversation was great and totally effortless.

When it was time to say goodbye he asked for my number, and about twenty minutes later he texted to say that he had a great time and that he would look into a director I had mentioned so we could discuss it "next time". I took that to mean that he had enjoyed the double-date as much as I had.

That weekend I was off to New York and out of touch. Once I got back I deliberated on whether to get in touch or not, and my sister wound up convincing me that the courteous thing to do was message to say I was back in the country. So, I sent a quick message to say I was back in town.

And then I never heard from him again. Not once. Nothing.

I feel fairly justified in saying "WTF?!" By this point I have accepted that - as my sister so sensitively put it - he just wasn't into me. While this is absolutely a reality in life and I'm no stranger to it, it bothers me that my judgement was so completely off. I'm also annoyed that he asked for my number and sent a misleading text message. What's the goddamn point? It wasn't helping anyone, especially not me.

After that things stayed pretty quiet. The only other guy I was remotely interested in had struck up a relationship just prior to my arrival in Toronto. Talk about lost causes. Then it was back to BC.

The real breaking point for me came right before Valentine's Day. Two days before, to be exact. I had been invited out to dinner in the city by a guy I had met in Germany. We had stayed in touch over the course of my travels, and when I came back to BC (before leaving for Toronto in November) we saw each other again. When I told him I was in BC again he suggested we meet up. And, in case you're wondering, it was very unambiguously a date.

Initially I had doubts about making all the effort to come into the city just for a date. I generally don't feel that it's good to go far out on a limb for someone you're seeing extremely casually. However, in the time I had known him he'd always been exceptionally polite, considerate, and really not at all like an early-twenties guy. So, I decided to go.

We were in touch that day during my trip over (it takes a few hours, including a ferry) and all seemed well. Luckily my sister and her boyfriend were in the city as well, so I killed some time with them during the afternoon. Then, an hour or so before our planned date, he abruptly cancelled. There were plenty of excuses that came along with the cancellation, none of which that were the least bit legitimate. So, I turned around and went home, having wasted an entire day travelling for nothing.

Needless to say, it really sucked. I felt like an idiot for having gone so out of my way for someone who apparently couldn't care less. And right before Valentine's Day too. As far as bad dating stories go, getting stood up around that time of year is pretty awful. Thanks for letting me know I'm totally disposable! I mentioned in an earlier post that my New Years Resolution was to adjust how I think about myself and thereby develop better self-esteem. And until Valentine's Day I was doing really well. It's a tricky process though, and what little progress I made got pretty decimated by my non-date.

So after that I was pretty down. A day or two later I met for coffee with a wonderful friend of mine, and we got to talking about my inability to date successfully. At some point in the conversation internet dating came up - something I've always resisted. I have a lot of friends who are on one site or another (often Plenty of Fish), and they're reviews have been largely positive. I don't really have anything against online dating, but I'm such a believer in meeting in person that it's never appealed to me. My friend did an excellent job of talking it up though. From where I'm standing it has felt as though a primary impediment to meeting guys is that I don't have all that much in common with guys my age. I've already finished school, done my travelling, and started working on my career, and few people I meet share that timeline. I'm sick of dealing with guys who don't know what they want or who are only interested in non-committal hooking up. As an added "bonus", when I meet older guys who I have more in common with they always turn out to be married or in relationships. My friend insisted that going online was the perfect way to circumvent this problem. Besides, what was I so turned off by? Over the last 15-20 years the internet has become accessible and usable for pretty much anyone. My generation in particular has grown up with it. So doesn't it make sense that we would use it to try and navigate the emotional quagmire that is dating?

So I caved. I signed up. I don't like admitting it, but I figure if I don't I'll be missing out on a prime writing opportunity. I concluded that at worst it could be a small confidence boost and some positive reinforcement, even if I never went on any dates.

I didn't go for Plenty of Fish (apparently there are a lot of not-so-great guys on there just looking for hookups) but rather opted for one of the ones you have to pay for. I figure it means at least whoever's on is a little serious about it.

It's been about three weeks since I signed up, and so far it's fairly alright. I've been on three dates, but I don't intend to pursue anything with those guys. They were all perfectly nice, but there was never that crucial spark that made me want to see them again. And being online certainly can be funny. I'm beginning to note certain trends and figure out who to avoid. For example: never bother with any guy who has taken a shirtless photo of himself in a bathroom mirror with his cell phone (this happens more often than you'd care to think); avoid anyone with a cheesy and clich├ęd quote on their profile; spelling/grammar is a quick indicator of eligibility; when a guy has selected only "athletic and toned", "slender", and "about average" for his ideal date's body type it's his way of saying "no fatties". So far I've had one stranger tell me he loves me, and another propose that we get married "ASAP". Never a dull moment.

And then there was today. I mean I knew this would happen sooner or later (because people are horrible), but that didn't make it any nicer. Some guy thought that it was socially appropriate to include in his email to me that my profile write-up sounds like an essay (because of my choice of words) and that I "seem super uptight". He is obviously a mannerless ignorant douchebag, but I haven't been able to brush it off so easily. I mean really. If he finds me so totally unappealing, then why send an email?! This is especially frustrating because it feels like the millionth time that a guy has complained about my vocabulary/intelligence (though usually they don't complain directly to me). Do men really have that much of a problem with someone who is familiar with the English language? Is intelligence such a threat? Why is it a bad thing???!! I guess this is just one more reason to despair for the human race.

If I have any more adventures I'll let you know.


I Tried It: Newsprint Nails

For about a year now there has been a manicure I've been dying to try: the Newsprint manicure. I had seen it here and loved the idea, but it kept getting shuffled back on my agenda. However, today I was home sick so I took the opportunity to try out this fun manicure.

I started (as I always do) with a Seche Base base coat, then two coats of Essie's Sand Tropez. As per the instructions, I then cut up a newspaper and soaked it in rubbing alcohol. This is where things became frustrating. On the first nail things came out pretty well, but after that it was all downhill. Long story short, I wound up spending the majority of my afternoon swearing at my nail polish bottles in frustration. For starters the type wasn't coming off at all on my nails, and I kept having to re-paint fingers because the polish would chip, dent, or warp.

After a while (and a lot of cursing) I gave up and re-painted my nails in simple Sand Tropez. I then waited about two or three hours and gave things another try. Finally, things started to work. In my experience, however, it works better to do it like this:

1. Take your pre-cut piece of newsprint and soak it in rubbing alcohol
2. Soak a large cotton ball in rubbing alcohol
3. Place the newsprint over your nail and secure it with the alcohol covered cotton ball on top.
4. After ten or so seconds, remove.
5. Repeat as necessary.

Now it did get some vague ghosted pattern from the newsprint, but nothing like what I was expecting. I'm guessing this is a manicure you have to try a few times over before it comes out right.

Anyway, in the meantime this is how my manicure finally turned out:

Nothing to brag over.

Anyway, before I leave you I thought I'd include another manicure, something of a belated NYE themed manicure. I used OPI Onyx (or something) on the bottom, followed by Sally Hansen Disco Ball, then Revlon's Belle, and I finished off with Icing's Sparkle Me Happy.


New Year, Old Problems

About a week ago I was doing some preparatory New Years shopping with my sister. As we wandered through the aisles we continued an argument that had been going on for the last four weeks. My sister had planned an elaborate New Years Eve overnight in the city with just under a dozen of her friends, and she desperately wanted me to come along. I, however, was "fence-sitting".

Here's the thing about New Years: every single year it's the same story. It's supposed to be some party-to-end-all-parties; a spectacular fun-tastic experience that will change your life. People plan for weeks, shell out obscene amounts of money, and then.... meh. Every single New Years I've ever had has been nothing more extraordinary than mediocre. There's too much hype surrounding it, so it's a guaranteed disappointment. Not to mention fun cannot be forced. The nights I'll always remember were spontaneous and genuine. So, this year I wasn't feeling the effort. Rather than waste my energy and (recently exhausted) funds I figured I would just pretend it was like any other night and veg out on the couch.

As I was explaining this for the millionth time to my sister, several other reasons occurred to me for why I had no desire to go out. These mostly consisted of how I feel overweight, lethargic, and ghostly pale. Which led me to ask: why on Earth do we still celebrate New Years in January??? Besides it being midwinter and deathly cold, it also happens to be when the majority of the populace is feeling just as I am: fat and pasty. We've all been overeating ourselves into pseudo-hibernation since Thanksgiving, and most of us have Seasonal Affective Disorder from seeing so little sunlight. As much as I'd love to believe that "pale is the new black" (the racist overtones of which I only just recognized) I mostly just don't.

Imagine, for a moment, New Years Eve in August. The night could be spent outdoors in the glorious warmth of summer nights. Having spent the last several months on beaches, in parks, and on mountains everyone would have a healthy summer glow and would be feeling fit and trim. Rather than having to make frustrating and pointless resolutions to frequent the gym and eat better, everyone would already be feeling pretty good and therefore could come up with some more original (and fun!) resolutions that we might actually keep.

Despite a total lack of enthusiasm to go out, I wound up attending since it clearly meant a lot to my sister. It was definitely one of the better New Years, though it had its fair share of shenanigans. I'm sorry to disappoint you all but those will not be included on here. After all, I'd like to maintain some small semblance of professionalism.

Most years I don't make resolutions. They've never worked out too well for me, and they often seem pointless. In that sense this year was just like the others. But tonight I had cause to reconsider.

I had lain in bed for a good two hours trying to sleep without success (totally my fault for ODing on sugar and doing nothing all day). On a whim I started rifling through some of my old journals that happened to be close at hand. Sometimes I like to read them like novels, from start to finish, but tonight I just flipped through, pausing here and there. What I read gave me pause, and I started to consider the last few years. I suppose you could call them tumultuous. My old writing called to my attention some things I think I've swept under the rug, so to speak.

Rather than rewrite all of my teenage angst, I'll get to the point. A couple of weeks (months?) ago I stumbled across this cartoon about depression. At first it caught my attention because it was hilarious, but after reading I also had an uncomfortable awareness that my own thought processes are sometimes alarmingly similar to what the author called "narrating my thoughts and actions with a constant stream of abuse." Since first seeing the cartoon it has stayed with me, causing me to notice whenever I start thinking in these patterns.

Now I'm happy to say I'm not depressed (pardon the pun), but closely identifying with a severely depressed person is kind of a red flag. So, I finally reach my point: this year's resolution is to change the way I think about myself. I have concluded that most of the things troubling me right now will be ameliorated if I can get myself to a happy, confident place. While I have no more than my usual faith in New Years resolutions (that is to say very little) I am going to make an effort to write nice things about myself every day. Instead of wallowing in my shortcomings I am going to celebrate my achievements; instead of dissecting my imperfections I will be grateful for my many blessings. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of having terrible self-esteem.

Hopefully this will inspire one or two of you to do the same: I think we could all use a little more love.