A blog for all things personal, informational, educational, and fun.
Here at my personal blog Thoughts & Things, I share a wide variety of, you guessed it, thoughts and things. Anything that sparks my interest is up for discussion. For those who are uncertain of what that might cover, I'll generally talk about reading, writing, books, movies, music, games, history, current events, and feminism. I talk about my personal emotional and health struggles from time to time. I'm also a big fan of lists.|
This is the place here at WDC where you can get to know me best, as I talk about the things that interest me, impact me, and amuse me.
|The first wave of feminism took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a focus on women's suffrage. Other than the struggle for the right to vote, the first wave of feminism also fought for things like women's right to own property or to leave a bad marriage. Most often when we speak of the first wave of feminism, we tend to focus on American and British feminist movements. While these are both fascinating and important, I am taking a few moments to share some of Canada's early feminist movement.
In Canada, some women gained voting rights early on during the feminist movement. In 1884, women in Ontario were allowed to vote if they were unmarried. A widow or a spinster would be allowed to cast her vote just as a man would; however, married women were not allowed to vote or own property, as they were not considered people under the law. Similar laws spread slowly across the nation, by individual province. The right to vote was given first to military nurses in 1917, and the majority of women received the right to federally vote by 1918. The last province to grant the right to provincially vote was Quebec, in 1940.
Although the majority of women could vote in provincial, municipal, or federal elections by 1940, there were still many men and women who did not have the right to vote. First Nations people in Canada were not considered to be legal citizens of Canada, and waited much longer to receive voting rights. The Inuit peoples gained the right to vote federally in 1954, and the First Nations peoples gained the right to vote federally in 1960.
Although the right to vote federally had been gained by women in 1918, women still did not receive equal rights with men, and the first wave of feminism in Canada had more work to do to achieve a semblance of political equality. A group of feminists known as "The Famous Five" worked hard on the right for women to be considered "persons" under the Canadian constitution in order for them to become senators.
The Famous Five consisted of Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, and Henrietta Muir Edwards. On August 27, 1927, the Famous Five piled a petition at the Supreme Court of Canada to pose the question, are women considered persons under the Constitution Act? The Supreme Court answered this question with a no. They interpreted it to mean "can women be appointed to the senate?" which had strong opposition. Two years later, on October 18, 1929, the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overturned this ruling, declaring that women should indeed be classed as persons under the constitution and the law. This also resulted in the constitution becoming something that would be considered fluid and open to growth as the times changed.
The work of the Famous Five within the women's suffrage movement, and especially their work on the "Persons Case", has brought Canada long lasting and vital change, and it brought themselves a special honour: in 2009, the Famous Five became the first people in Canada to receive a honorary positions as senators.
The late 19th century and early 20th century brought significant change to women's rights around the world during the first wave of feminism, including within Canada. While this post focused on suffrage and personhood, the first wave of feminism brought many other changes to Canada. We've really only touched the tip of the ice berg here, but I hope this serves as an introduction for those of you less familiar with this area of history.
For further reading, please see:
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Eight. Five days of leave taken total.)
|After discussing "Five Types of Music to Play While Writing" , I thought it might be a good idea to share some ways of discovering some new-to-you tunes, whether it be a new album, artist, song, playlist, or genre. I personally get a lot of joy out of hearing something new to me, and I get joy out of sharing those new finds with my friends. I thought today would be a good day to share some of the places that I hear new music, other than the radio.
Last.fm is one of my longest standing favourite ways to stumble upon something new. If you're trying to find music in a genre you're less than familiar with, simply google the genre and last.fm, and it will provide potentially dozens of artists within that genre on its tag page. If you're a member of last.fm (which is free), the more music you let it know you've heard (when you "scrobble" your music, it keeps track of everything you listen to), the more accurate its recommendation system gets, as it will suggest music to you based on what you've heard. You can also visit artist pages on last.fm, where it will suggest other similar artists. It used to be much easier to search for new stuff, but a couple years back they made some rather unfortunate changes, although they did add a few extra fun statistics.
I actually only just started using Spotify about six months ago. It wasn't available in Canada for a long time, so when it became available here I figured I could do without it. Now I have a paid account. If you're using it on a computer or tablet, you don't need to pay, just tolerate their radio style ads. Spotify recommends you artists in their discover section (the more you hear, the more they suggest), and creates daily and weekly playlists for you based upon what you've been listening to. You can search artists, songs, albums, playlists, and genres through their search function. Every artist page has similar artists shown. There are even applications to use in conjunction with Spotify, for example, Forgotify is a browser app that tells you songs that have zero plays on Spotify.
Rate Your Music
Rate Your Music (or RYM) is a good site to use if you particularly enjoy rating and reviewing music or movies. That said, there are a lot of uses for it even if you're lukewarm on the idea of rating your music. If you take the time to rate albums you've heard, it will let you know when other albums by those artists are about to come out or have recently been released. The front page shows a number of reviews that you can browse for new finds. People have created lists of music they liked, music from a certain year, music from a certain place, and so on. You can also view the music collections of other users with similar taste to yours. It can also be fun to see what other people in your area are listening to. RYM also creates a world map marking the locations of artists you've rated. You can also view statistics like which decade you most often rate music from.
Wikipedia probably seems like an odd one to find music from, but you'd be surprised at how useful it can be if you search the right things. If you look at a particular artist's page (think of an artist you already like), you can find people who have written or produced their music, people they have collaborated with, other bands they were a part of, or other acts they might be associated with. These are all good places to start. You can also search a particular genre or place, for example "metal" or "Music of Cuba" and the corresponding pages will often provide examples of music within those genres or from those places, or even link to full list pages of artists. This can be especially useful if you're trying to find something in a genre you have less experience with, or from a place you've never heard music from. You know Greenland has some pretty solid music selections to choose from? I do, thanks to wikipedia.
Youtube is probably the most obvious thing on this entire list, but it's too useful to not include. You can click on related videos in the side bar of the page for a song you already like. If the song is posted by a record company, you can click into their page to see what other artists they have released music from. You can find a playlist for just about anything you can think of, many of which will include at least a few tunes you have yet to hear. If you use youtube enough, they'll even start recommending playlists based on what you've already heard. If you're feeling adventurous, try searching "full album" and listening to the first complete album you aren't familiar with.
There are blogs like mine that have a mishmash of things that happen to include music, along with music specific blogs. There is an endless supply of music blogs, and it's just a matter of finding one that suits your preferences. You can find album reviews, show reviews, or lists of music within a certain category. I don't even want to suggest anything particular here, because every music blog brings something different to the table, and each will suit your needs differently. Google can lead you to lists of good music blogs, or to specific music blogs that might help you find what you're looking for. People who write music blogs tend to hear a lot of different music, and often have some really creative recommendations to dole out, along with some really interesting reviews.
Listening to a music podcast is a lot like listening to the radio, although it's a bit more niche. It's also similar to finding music through a blog, but you get to hear examples of what's being described as you hear it being described, although there are a few music podcasts that don't even have talking. Just as with blogs, the best way to find a good music podcast is to search through to find something that best suits your needs. A few of my favourite eclectic music finds have been through podcasts, particularly ones labeled eclectic. That said, it doesn't matter much what you listen to or what you're trying to find, there's probably a podcast for that.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Seven. Five days of leave taken total.)
|Like many others here at WDC, I find that I don't do my best writing in silence, but I do my best writing without distraction. The trick is to find music that you enjoy, that accompanies your work smoothly, but doesn't distract you from the words on your screen or page. While coming up with a soundtrack to what you're writing can be a lot of fun, and quite helpful, it's incredibly useful to have a set of fallback music to toss on regardless of what it is that you're writing. I find the same music tends to work well for reading as well, as it can help focus my mind without distracting me.
Because most post-rock tends to be instrumental, there are no lyrics to distract from what you're writing. Post-rock can range from soft and sad to explosive and angry, so I definitely like to find different songs and bands to work for different scenes. I like to find a few post-rock albums I'm fond of, create a playlist of albums, and just hear several albums back to back while I'm writing. I don't even have to think about it, I just have to bob my head along while I'm writing.
There is jazz for every mood and occasion. I find that for writing, you either need to find something specific to what you're writing, or find a set of albums or songs that won't distract you. I find that a lot of the jazz classics work really well for this, although certain smooth jazz is excellent to write to. That said, do not write to free jazz. I repeat, do NOT write to free jazz. I like free jazz, but it is incredibly distracting. Jazz works best when you know which subgenre is least likely to distract you.
There are few things that make better background music than a really good, chill hip-hop beat. When you find some really excellent instrumental stuff, you've really hit the jackpot. There are no clever or emotional lyrics to distract you from what you need to write, just a beat to write with. Spotify has some excellent playlists to write to in this vein, my personal favourite being Mellow Beats. It has a few tracks with lyrics, but it's mostly 4+ hours of chill beats to write to.
Classical can describe so many subsets of things that all happen to work exceptionally well as writing music. Whether your preference is the well known stuff like Beethoven or Mozart, medieval choir music, or contemporary classic piano, you can probably find something that suits your preferences for writing. There are endless compilations and playlists based on those preferences, so it's just a matter of finding out what works best for you. I personally enjoy it all, but I do have a preference for anything piano or clarinet based.
While lyrics in music can be incredibly distracting for some of us (I know I'm prone to sing along to my favourites rather than writing), lyrics become significantly less distracting when you don't understand a word of what's being said. Find a language you don't know singing a genre you know you enjoy, and you've found your own personal sweet spot. I personally tend to go for more music in French or Lithuanian, but anything other than English works for me. Hope onto youtube or spotify, and you can easily find a foreign language music playlist that works for you.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Six. Five days of leave taken total.)
|I love a good memoir. There's something about a beautifully told personal story that can speak to me on a deeper level that allows a book to hold a special place in my heart. I didn't always love memoirs, as I thought they seemed dry or banal. While some certainly can be that, I genuinely believe that some of the most important stories that have been told over the last century have been autobiographical works.
This list is for those who are new to memoirs, and perhaps are looking to try something out of their comfort zone that's going to speak to them. That said, if you enjoy memoirs and you see something here you haven't read yet, by all means read it! There isn't anything on this list I wouldn't recommend regardless of your experience level with memoirs, these ones just don't happen to be what one might call obscure.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou writes beautiful poetry, and I truly believe that spills into her memoirs. Angelou actually captured her entire life story in a series of autobiographies, with I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings being the first in that series. It revolutionised memoirs as we read them now, and it stands the test of time. She brings love and heart to the page just as well as she brings the tragedy to life. I genuinely believe that this is an important work in terms of the history of women of colour in America, and absolutely necessary in terms of understanding the aftermath of childhood sexual assault.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman also ranks among those writers that did revolutionary work within their respective genres, in this case graphic novels. Spiegelman shares his own difficult relationship with his father, as well as his father's story as a holocaust survivor. He does this in graphic memoir format, with the Jewish people represented as mice, and the Nazis represented as cats. It is absolutely heartbreaking, and it manages to show the events of WWII with emotion and tact, along with the aftermath of survivors' lives once they were free people again.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi weaves the incredible tale of her life through graphic memoir format, just as Spiegelman before her did. Unlike Spiegelman, she tells the type of story we don't often hear about in the west. Satrapi writes of her childhood in Iran during the revolution, her time spent in France, and her time again in Iran after returning there. It's one of those stories that is packed with good humour and heartbreaking emotion that makes it irresistible. It's all the more important for being set in a place that many in the west prefer not to think about in any sort of positive light.
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes beautifully put together non-fiction prose, and this is a fine example of that quality and importance. Coates did write a memoir that dealt more specifically with his life story, but I haven't read it yet, so I can't vouch for it. I'm honestly certain it's fantastic. Between The World And Me is written as a letter to Coates' son, and discusses the significance of being black in America in this day and age. Written with insightful depth and tender emotion, it makes for an eye-opening read.
Alive In The Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide by Nawuth Keat
Nawuth Keat co-authored Alive In The Killing Fields with Martha E. Kendall to achieve the effortless writing that is comprehensible by adults and teens alike, but regardless of the style, the content is devastating. Keat speaks of his childhood in Cambodia, initially an idyllic one, where the Khmer Rouge began to massacre larges portions of the population. Keat lost much of his family and much of his childhood, and the struggle to leave Cambodia is an intense one. Even though this was the fairly recent past, much of this has been forgotten by the bulk of the west, making it all the more important that Keat's story be shared.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler is better known for being a funny woman than a writer, but Yes Please shows she is more than competent at being both of those things. The humour is absolutely on point throughout the entire book, with anecdotes from her career and life all being worth a smile or a laugh, but she also shares some more serious or tender anecdotes that touched the warm places in my heart. I personally heard this one through the audiobook, which features Poehler reading the book herself, with an incredible guest ensemble. The book is worth a read, but the audiobook made this one for me.
Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks
bell hooks is a powerhouse writer and an incredible intellect, both of which she displays tenfold in Bone Black. Bone Black is styled much like a patchwork quilt, with each chapter being a three page snapshot look into hooks' childhood and teenage years. This is a particular standout if you already enjoy hooks' other works, as she really shows the different parts of her background that helped make her who she is today.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Five. Five days of leave taken total.)
|I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I can't help myself. I laugh at funerals. I would say I'd prefer to be serious the whole time, but I really don't. I prefer that I laugh at funerals, and I have no intention of stopping. How could I not? I think I would explode. Not with laughter, but with other negative emotions. Laughter is the only healthy outlet I know.
I don't think death is inherently funny, just to be clear. I only prefer to find the funny parts and laugh at them. Preferably getting others to laugh along with me. I can remember being a little girl at my best friend's grandmother's funeral and getting her to laugh with me. Nothing in the world had felt as good as that sound did.
I know it's inappropriate, and there are many folks more serious than I who don't approve. I just need it, and can't seem to stop it. I can recall times throughout my entire life where I used cartoons as part of the at home grieving process. My sister doesn't approve of this, and finds it a tad inappropriate. I think my grandmother probably would too if she realised how bad I am for it.
I wish it didn't make everyone so uncomfortable, but I know people grieve in different ways. For me, grief involves just as much laughter as tears. There has to be that balance. Lately I feel like I've done a bit too much of both. I also feel like I haven't done enough of either.
Let this serve as a verbal reminder to myself for when I speak at my grandmother's funeral in the morning: funeral speeches are not for jokes.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-Two. Four days of leave taken total.)
|There are many kinds of fog that can be hard to see through. Sometimes it is the literal variety, the fog the weather brings. Sometimes it is a physical vision difficulty. Sometimes it's another physical impairment that makes concentration intensely difficult. Sometimes it's an emotional fog. Lately, I've been have lots of the non-literal fogs, in many varieties.
With all of my health issues, I often feel my mind fogged. My vision isn't what it used to be, so it can feel a bit hazy at times to see through. Lately I've had a lot going on emotionally, which just makes it all worse. Sometimes it's nice to just lie there in solitude, but I often wish I had it in me to be doing something more. Like writing.
Unfortunately, writing is one of those tasks that can be hard to do, even when you need it most. Perhaps especially when you need it most. With everything going on in my life right now, I need writing now more than ever. I especially feel this way given how my grandmother has always encouraged me in my writings, and been so proud of be when I do well at it. Sometimes life makes it difficult to use writing as my catharsis, no matter how desperate I am for it.
The one plus side to writing is that it doesn't matter how fogged my brain feels, I can always take a peek at the last thing I wrote. It's been the only thing saving me lately. As I've mentioned, and as can be plainly seen, I have fallen a bit behind on my blog. I'm still working at catching up on it. It feels so good to stay so caught up, but it feels just as bad to fall behind.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty-One. Four days of leave taken total.)
|In times of stress and sadness, it's incredibly easy to fall back onto a few particular things that bring you a great deal of comfort. I have been under a great deal of physical and emotional stress lately, so I have fallen back onto something that has always brought me a great deal of comfort. It just so happens that it's a broad category, as it is media.
I do have particular things that I fall back to, but they all tend to fit into the category of media, which isn't surprising if you know that that sums up all of my hobbies. I thought I would take a little bit of time to share some of the things that bring me a lot of peace in times of stress.
TV shows are a big one, since they can provide a lot of emotional comfort, as well as distract from what's upsetting me in the first place. I tend to fall back on shows I've seen a lot of, mostly because they provide the most comfort, but also because if I feel distracted I don't end up missing anything. The Simpsons has always been a big one for me, but in the past several years, I've also found that Law and Order: SVU and Grey's Anatomy tend to act incredibly reassuring, like comfort eating without the food. It's also reassuring to know that it's at my disposal for however long I need, be that twenty minutes or seven hours. Movies are another big one, as they can provide just as much of an emotional comfort and distraction for me as TV shows, but for a slightly longer time constraint.
Books have always been an important part of easing my emotions. There's something about escaping into another world that just allows you to exhale your emotions into some other place that can handle it, and inhale all of the magic and wonder in its place. I think it's particularly true of romance and fantasy novels, but just about any bit of fiction can transport me to a place where my problems don't matter, and my emotions can be sorted out through someone else's problems.
Music is also a huge catharsis for me. The mood and the tone of certain songs just helps me to feel a certain sense of peace with myself and the world. I think it also allows me to put my emotions somewhere they won't be destructive. An angry song can let me push my anger out where it won't hurt anyone. A sad song can help me push my sadness out where it won't hurt me.
I feel like sometimes I don't appreciate my media hobbies for all they do for me. I love them, and I know I love them. But sometimes it's easy to forget that I'd probably be lost in a sea of turbulent emotions without them.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Thirty. Three days of leave taken total.)
|A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about some of my favourite quotes, found here: "Seven Favourite Quotes" . I thought I would share a few more favourite quotes, this time themed around death. Those of you who might not be sure why my mind is on the topic may see "Grief" and "Grief, Part Two" , but that won't be the focus of this post. It feels like a good time to take a brief look at some touching quotes on the topic.
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” - JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
I think a lot of Harry Potter quotes stand out to me so much because of the place Harry Potter held for me growing up. This quote in particular feels really fitting in my life at the moment. I think that it can feel incredibly reassuring to think of your loved ones going to a better place, being reunited with people they may have once lost, and perhaps starting a great new adventure.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” - Mark Twain
Mark Twain definitely came out with a number of incredibly wise quotes in his time, but this one ranks among his best in my opinion. This is particularly reassuring for those of us who have lost relatives that we have felt are full of life. It can feel like they did what they were meant to do when they were here, like they live with no regrets. Even if they have some regrets, even if they don't necessarily long for death, there's still that knowledge that they did a lot with the time they had.
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” - Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
I think this particular quote is one we all need to be reminded of when we lose someone. The person we've lost may no longer be with us, but they are still apart of us. Even if you don't believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation or anything, your relationship to the person you've lost is still a part of you. That relationship is there, with no greater power required.
“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
- Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems
This beautiful piece of poetry is one that touched me from the moment I first read it, and it's what I intend to finish on. There is something incredibly magical and beautiful about viewing life as a song, and death as still being a part of that song in a way. It serves to remind that life is beautiful, and we must live it while we can. It serves to remind that we must not let death become too much a part of our lives, because the two are separate parts, each beautiful in their own way. It also serves to remind that it's okay to take that moment to linger on that final note unsaid.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Twenty-Nine. Three days of leave taken total.)
|I am in a long distance relationship right now. It's something I haven't really blogged about before. It isn't my first one, but it will definitely be my last. Not because it makes me unhappy, but because I have found the person I want to be with forever. I tend to not be the sort of person to dwell on my romantic feelings publicly, as those are between myself and my partner. That said, as he is visiting right now (which is incredibly exciting, as he is visiting from Northern Ireland, and it has been too long since we have seen each other), I thought I would take a moment to share some of the things that make a relationship work despite the distance.
A long distance relationship really requires full commitment by both parties to make it work. It isn't the kind of relationship you can be casual about. You have to have enough feelings for the other person to be willing to put a lot of extra time into communicating and spending time with each other. When your relationship relies on words rather than touch, there's more of an obligation to spend that time verbally communicating, and if you do it right it can bring you a lot closer in some ways.
I personally love the joys of skype. You can chat through text, voice, or video, which makes things a lot easier. You can hear each other's voices, you can see each other's faces, and you can truly feel like you're spending time together. My significant other and I like to use skype to plan out dates together. We might eat a meal together, play an online game together, or click play on something on Netflix at the same time together.
Don't take any of this as advice, necessarily. I think different things work for different people. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on how we've managed to make it work for two years despite the distance. I truly believe the key to any relationship, romantic or otherwise, is communication.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Twenty-Seven. Three days of leave taken total.)
|I recently wrote about "Romance Tropes I Can't Stand" , and I thought I would take a moment to share some of the tropes that I really enjoy. Sometimes it is nice to have a simple concept that is really well done as a comforting sort of fall back. As long as these tropes are done right, they pretty much guarantee that I will enjoy the book. It's also worth noting that many of these tropes can be done together to really excellent effect.
As an additional note, these particular tropes tend to most often apply to historical romance, which is what I enjoy the most. That said, they can all be done really well in contemporary or paranormal settings as well.
Marriage of Convenience
It doesn't actually matter what the convenience is. Maybe it's a business deal, an arranged marriage, or a couple caught in a scandalous kiss. Perhaps it's even to avoid marrying someone else or for simple legal benefit. I think it's really incredible to see two people in a situation they wouldn't necessarily choose come to the realisation that fate has brought them together for the best.
The Smart Heroine
I really, really love smart heroines. Maybe she's a scientist, a mathematician, a teacher, or a librarian. Maybe she's really good at wordplay, or really good at sussing out the complexities of the story's conflict. I generally tend to be drawn to nerd characters the most, as I find them the most identifiable. I also think intelligence makes for some of the most interesting strength in a character.
The Reformed Rake
This one is pretty corny, and I am fully aware of that. I think it's one of those natural attractions to the idea of a bad boy not really being a bad boy. He used to be a rake, but now he's ready to settle down. Maybe he's a little dangerous, but in the most protective of ways. Again, I am fully aware of how corny this one is.
The Fairy Tale Twist
Having grown up on fairy tales, there's something really charming about re-experiencing those childhood fairy tales in what amounts to my adult fairy tales. Seeing the classic Cinderella story or Reed Riding Hood twisted into something new and creative, with a loving new happily ever after is one of those little things that makes me feel warm inside.
(I have committed to blogging daily with Give It 100. This is Day Twenty-Six. Three days of leave taken total.)