Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starting a new life isn't easy...

I will admit that I've been so busy the last few years and as a result, my personal blog was neglected. I'm not sure why. It really doesn't make sense. I have a lot of views on this blog; in fact, probably more than my writing blog (although it's also been neglected - mostly because my main focus has been my YouTube channel) or my website. I guess because deep down, we're always a bit curious about people's personal experiences and maybe, in some small way, we want to see inside their lives.

Not that my life is vastly exciting. I returned to PEI in 2013 after a few years in Vancouver, BC, with the intention of making it a short stay rather than a long visit. It's now 2018. I'm still here.

Having said that, I'm currently looking into moving. I've considered various places over the last few years but my main focus has been Halifax or Toronto. I briefly considered Charlottetown but each of my experiences in the city made me feel like it was not my spot. Halifax felt more doable and maybe even more digestible compared to a larger city like Toronto but in truth, I guess I find that Toronto speaks to me the most of all Canadian cities. I love diversity and want to learn as much as I can about other cultures and feel Toronto would be ideal. In fact, this is what I miss the most about Vancouver; well, that and my friends. I'm fortunate enough to have friends scattered throughout the country and although I see many of my friendships changing lately, I guess it's normal to outgrow some people while meeting new people along the way. That's just a part of life.

So what have I been up to the last few years? Well, since returning here in late 2013, I've written 7 out of my 9 books, so I guess that's something, right? I would even go so far as to say that some of my best writing has taken place while living on the island. In my opinion of course, since my writing is apparently a little too hot to handle for some people but that's ok, so am I ;-)

I'm currently working on my tenth book and as of today, I think I'm about 11 chapters into it. I've been lucky to capture media attention while on PEI, some like CBC has been particularly kind to me in letting people know about my writing and of course, PEI's favorite FREE magazine, The Buzz.  Of course, I appreciate any attention I can get because as a writer, it's sometimes hard to get noticed since writing a book doesn't sound as exciting to producing a film or releasing a CD (not even to me!) so I love the opportunity to get out there and speak about my work. I think that's another reason why I started the YouTube channel, as a way of connecting with potential and current readers in order to talk to them about my work.

Along with working, my writing has been my main focus for the last few years. Unfortunately, I've found PEI very socially isolating in the area I live in. I'm reminded of being a teenager here and never quite fitting in or being allowed into various 'cliques' and although that doesn't speak for everyone, I do find that to be a common theme and one that others from here and 'away' have mentioned to me again and again, so I know it's not just me. However, this hasn't been my experiences with everyone. I've had some awesome conversations with former classmates and met some lovely people along the way so that's been awesome too.

Although in fairness, I don't really have much in common with people here. I hate country music. I have no interest in ATV driving. I don't like traditional music especially if there's a fiddle involved. I literally cringe at the sound. Until I moved back, I had never heard the word 'ceilidh' before and as soon as I did, I immediately didn't want to investigate it further. I actually don't go to the beach much for growing up on an island. I don't like bonfires. I see one bug and I'm back in the house.

So yeah, I guess that means I'm more of a city girl. That shouldn't be a surprise though since I lived in a city for most of my adult life.

And let's not even talk about dating. It's truly terrible.

This is Ceelo. He has a thing for blondes.
The point is that it's time for me to move on again. It's been an interesting few years. Definitely, a very productive phase for my writing and an opportunity to see the people I wanted to see, reconnect after being away for so long and of course, spend time with Ceelo but now I must get my shit together and figure out the rest of my life. Not that it is easy. It should be vastly exciting, shouldn't it? The only problem is that it's scarier most days than exciting and definitely challenging (especially when looking for an apartment - when did this become such a hellish chore?) And of course, I'm looking for a new job. I have lots of different work experiences, however, who knows what I will end up doing in the future. The main thing is that we always have to believe that something exciting is always around the corner (even if we don't fully believe it) and take on the challenge one step at a time. When I think about moving again, I have to frequently remind myself that it's like eating an elephant: you can only do it one bite at a time.

If you want to keep up on my adventures, join my newsletter and don't worry, you won't be bombarded with emails. I send a couple a month unless something super exciting is going on, like a new book is coming out but otherwise, I try to throw one together every few weeks.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It's time to stop being assholes and start treating each other with respect again

I’m currently looking for an apartment. For some reason, I assumed that I’d have my pick of the litter since I’m mature, responsible, quiet and have great references. When contacting most landlords, this was the information that I gave them when introducing myself; after all, I figured that the people on the other side of the computer are humans too and I’ve always believed that whether I’m contacting a landlord, a potential employers or someone in customer service, it made more sense to talk to them in a respectful, friendly and direct manner. Makes sense, right?

As it turns out I was wrong. In fact, my honesty almost appeared to turn them off. It didn’t matter if I told them I was mature, (ie. not partying every weekend and could potentially be vomiting in their front yard every Sunday morning) responsible, (I can pay the rent!) quiet (I won’t have music or the television blaring at midnight) or what I was looking for as a tenant (a central location where I could walk to most amenities) because what I was met with, was quite unexpected. 

Many were abrupt, rude, ignoring most of my message and questions and tossing a ‘so when are you gonna come see the place?’ at me. Others simply disregarded my message or coldly responded that the place was ‘already taken’ even though it continues to be advertised online. My favourite was a lady that literally wasted an entire week with a series of hoops that I had to jump through; all of which I did, providing her with terrific references, proof that I could afford her place and yet, with each response, she seemed to stretch out the amount of time before replying until, yes, an entire week passed and I was still no further ahead. 

But that’s fine; it’s not as if I have a life to figure out or anything. 

The point is that this experience is becoming quite dehumanizing. However, this shouldn’t surprise me since this has become the theme in our society over the last few years. Try calling for customer support anywhere and you will probably get a robot-like voice on the other end of the phone and I don’t say that to put down the people working at call centres; I’m saying that because many businesses want their personnel to be like machines. I once, briefly, worked at a call centre where I had to read from a script and was chastised if I didn’t follow it. I remember asking a customer one day ‘What can I do for you today?’ rather than ‘How can I help you?’ and being raked over the coals. I didn’t sound professional enough and perhaps, I sounded like a real human being. This was apparently a problem.

And then there’s social media and comment section of…well, anything online. People rip each other apart. It could be the journalist writing the story, the topic of the story or another person’s comment on the story. It doesn’t matter. People feel justified to do so and yet, if they were standing in front of that other person, I almost guarantee they would scurry away like frightened mice.

I’ve actually had a couple of situations in my life where men I dated took the liberty of attacking me in emails. I found it interesting in both cases because when challenged to say the same words to my face, they declined. It’s not cause I’m a large, massive woman with mixed martial arts training or that I carry a weapon in my purse, it’s because most people can’t look each other in the eye and say what they are willing to say online. 

We’ve become a society of people taught that human life doesn’t matter. Perhaps it is because violence and death are so regularly highlighted on the news that we forget that there are actual human beings behind that bombing in Syria or the murder in Toronto. Then again, maybe some can’t think about that because if we started to see each other as humans and not faceless people on the Internet, a ’morons’ on the other side of the phone or ‘just another dead body’ on the news, we might have to feel something that isn’t terribly convenient, which is compassion.

Perhaps life is easier when you’re disconnected. Maybe discrediting someone is the ideal way to not feel guilty or accountable. Anyone who’s ever had a ‘close friend’ ignore them during a bad time knows exactly how that feels and of course, they do it because it’s easier to not extend themselves. 

The good news is that sometimes it simply takes a little boldness to get these people back down to earth. Sometimes the solution is to let people know that they are, in fact, dealing with an actual person in these circumstances. 

Many years ago I had to speak to someone in IT about my hacked website. Back then, I had a terrible host that essentially put me in the position of talking to an uninterested employee at a call centre. He was giving me attitude, talking to me like I was a moron and generally making me feel more frustrated, even though I was sincerely attempting to understand all the tech talk. Finally, I grew angry and said, “You know what? You can speak to me as if I’m a real person. Not everyone has been trained in this area like you and I’m sorry that I’m not a tech expert but you don’t have to talk down to me.”

I’m not exaggerating to make a point, I really did say that to him. He immediately changed his tone and became helpful. I’m thinking that we all should be doing that exact same thing a little more often. Maybe its necessary to give those disconnected people an abrupt and direct reality check and bring them out of their apathetic, disconnected world and back down to earth.