Spirit Day

Oct. 3rd, 2010 07:42 pm
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] neo_prodigy at Spirit Day

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.

"So, when do we get to hear another wonderful speech from you, Jennifer?", I was asked last night. I made up some half-truthful story about how busy I have been, and how I had to re-think what I was going to talk about. There was no way I could admit the full truth to my fellow Toastmaster (and friend).

The truth is is that I am terrified of one of our other members. I remember when she berated me in front of a few members for making a mistake on something that was not related to the meeting. I have heard her condescending evaluations of other members. I will never forget the one evening when I overheard her remarking to another member about how she could not evaluate the cooking demonstration speech that night because the speaker "forgot part of the recipe". I have read many a rude e-mail from this woman as well. I often dread coming to meetings because I am afraid of what she will say about me. I am a very sensitive soul, and things that should not bother me often do.

I cannot speak up about how I feel because this member attends the same church as someone who is high up in TM in our city, and I do not want our club to face any consequences. Besides, what if I am the only person in our club who feels that way? I do not want to lose everything I have worked hard to gain.

For now, my thoughts, feelings, and my next speech will remain caged up inside of me.
This conversation happens every year.

"So, Jennifer. What are your plans for Christmas?"

"Well, my dad, sister, and I are having a ham dinner on Christmas Eve, then we are going down to my "cousin"'s (my dad's best friend's daughter) place for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, we're having a turkey dinner," I answer.

Then comes the judgemental stares and tone of voice. The probing question that always makes me feel like a horrible person.

"Well, what about your mother?"

"My parents are divorced, and my mother lives out of province," I meekly reply. "She will not be alone at Christmas, so there is no need to worry about that," I add.

"That's no excuse," I hear. "You should go and visit her. You have that week between Christmas and New Years off". More attempts to make feel like a horrible person because I do not spend the holidays with my mother. At this point, I start feeling very uncomfortable and walk away from the conversation. I do not need to justify myself to those nosy people.

My mother and I have not spoken in four years. I broke free of her lies, drama, abuse, and manipulation that had went on for as long as I can remember. I know that not having a relationship with my mother makes me a reprobate, but I think trying to have a phony mother-daughter relationship to appease people would make me an even bigger one.
My dad and a family friend walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. A man answered the door, accompanied by two young children.

"Hello - we're here from Northeast Adopt-a-Family. We're here to drop off your Christmas hamper. Just let us know where you want us to drop off the boxes," my dad said.

"Oh, just over there," the man replied, pointing at a space in the living room.

Before my dad and his friend went back down the steps towards our van to bring the boxes in, he turned to the man and asked if he would take the kids upstairs, as part of the hamper consisted of unwrapped gifts for the kids. Off he went with the kids, and off my dad and his friend went to bring in several huge boxes of food and gifts.

Once everything was brought into the house, the man came back. His jaw almost dropped to the floor, shocked by how many boxes there were and how large they were. With tears in his eyes, he walked over to my dad and shook his hand.

"Thank you very much - this is just great. Merry Christmas!," the hamper recipient said with a tremble in his voice.

"Merry Christmas to you as well," my dad answered back.

This story still touches my heart as strongly as it did when I first heard it a few years ago when my dad came home from delivering that Christmas hamper to one very grateful man and his family. I think it still touches my dad's heart, too.
"I'm staying late at the library after class," the note read every Thursday night for three semesters. I could not very well write "I'm going to have dinner with my Spanish professor/best friend/surrogate mother/big sister" - even though that was the truth, it would have incited more drama than I could deal with. I needed that escape from my studies. I needed that escape from my conflict-filled home life. She wanted me to stay out of trouble (I had had issues with alcohol prior to meeting her). Telling the truth would have taken all that away from me.

One Thursday night, we lost track of time. It was easy to - we would talk about absolutely anything, share a few laughs, and I felt like I mattered to someone. While we were eating - I had my salad and a Coke, she had a hamburger and camomile tea (normally, our food choices would have been the opposite), I noticed her looking at her watch.

"Jennifer, what time does your mother normally come home?" she asked me.

"Nine-thirty," I replied. "Why? What time is it now?"

"Nine-ten," she said.

I started to panic - we were on the other side of the city from where I lived, and there was no way that my mother could believe that I would be studying all this time. Instead of taking me to the nearby train station (it would take me an hour to get home on the train, plus the bus from the train station), she offered to drive me home. I felt bad about her doing that, but I agreed.

The car ride home felt like an eternity (even though it was only about half an hour). I started crying and shaking. She tried to reassure me that things would be alright. My heart sank as we pulled up to the house and I saw my mother's Cavalier parked out front. I was surprised when my professor shut the motor off and offered to walk me up the steps to my house. I was even more surprised when she rang the doorbell.

My mother answered the door. I introduced the two of them, and I was shocked when I heard these words come out of my professor's mouth:

"I'm sorry she's late - we were discussing her paper, and we lost track of time."

I could not, and still cannot, believe that my PROFESSOR lied to my MOTHER (even though I know I was guilty of doing the same thing!)

Author's note: Where I live, most "traditional" university students live at home while completing their studies.

Edit #1: I changed "college" to "university", as I was in university when this happened.
One night in the fall of 2002, while I was procrastinating on a college paper, I did some random Internet searching. During one of my searches, I stumbled across a link to someone's LiveJournal. I clicked on the link, took a look around the LJ site itself, and was intrigued. "This is so cool", I thought to myself. I wanted in to this world we call LJ. I wanted to share my life with the world at large. The only problem was that I did not have an invite code (remember those days?).

On November 29, 2002, I received that coveted LJ invite code. I was finally in (I used to be [livejournal.com profile] brightsmile here). I was able to build bridges to other people through my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and life. Bridges that I thought would be long-lasting due to the nature of this site (we share so much here - it's hard NOT to bond with others here!).

Over time though, I could (and still can) feel these bridges weakening. Not because of a few bad apples (even though I have come across some of those). First, there was GreatestJournal. Who could resist the lure of a free journal with perks that we have to pay for here??? For a time, I cross-posted between here and GJ, and I tried to keep up with some of the people who had left LJ for there. It eventually got to be too much, and I just did not feel as connected to GreatestJournal as I did to here.

Nowadays, I think the biggest things trip-trapping over LJ are - you guessed it - Facebook and Twitter. First, Facebook. For a time, I got caught up in the hype. Sure, it is fun sharing photos and finding old classmates (I apologize - I'm not much of a Farmville/Bejeweled/Farkle/any other games there fan!). However, as strange as this seems, I can never manage to be *me* on Facebook. I always feel obligated to be "fluffy" there - having to pretend everything is "peachy keen like a jellybean" 24/7 to impress former classmates/coworkers/relatives/anyone who I also interact with in real life who are on there.

Twitter is pretty self-explanatory - sometimes, all we have time for is 140 character updates. That's not the fault of anyone or anything really - it's just that our lives are so hectic, that that's all we can manage to find the time for. However, I cannot tell you the last time I logged into Twitter - 140 characters simply does not do justice for what I want to say.

Livejournal really is a special place - where else can I go to be open when 140 characters just doesn't cut it? Where else can I vent or be open about things without drama spilling over into real life? Where else can I say I have had a connection to for almost seven years? I really feel like I am part of a family here.

I have a feeling that eventually, I will be all alone here. Those bridges that I have formed will be eroded completely because some new site has trip-trapped over them. Some new site that just will not feel like home to me.
I will never forget walking in the door that Monday night.

"Are you here for Toastmasters?", asked the friendly lady with the welcoming smile.

"Yes I am!", I replied cheerfully.

"Well, you picked an interesting night to come - it is contest night."

"I'm sorry. I'll come back another night." I backed away, feeling terrible that I came on a contest night (every fall, Toastmasters groups have club contests in humorous speech and Table Topics (impromptu speech).

"No, no, that's fine - come on in", she reassured me. I was given a guest package, and a little introduction to Toastmasters, and led into the meeting area.

When I was introduced to the club president that evening, I found out that she first came to Toastmasters on a contest night. I started to feel better. People were coming up to me, and asking me if I had any questions. I felt very welcome there. I was even invited to come back the next week to one of their regular meetings.

I remember the first time I got called up for Table Topics. I was still officially a guest, so I could opt out if I wanted to. However, looking around the room at all those encouraging faces, I decided to go for it. I made a total fool of myself, yet when I finished, I was greeted with friendly smiles. That meant so much to me.

This past Monday, I was officially "inducted" into the Vibrant Speakers Toastmasters Club (the other members had to take a vote as to whether or not to let me in). I looked out upon the faces of my fellow Toastmasters and saw their smiles, and I had one for them as well. Being accepted and wanted by others really makes me smile :)

I look forward to many smiles on many Monday evenings to come.
"You're like a sister to me. We'll be friends forever." Emmy and I had known each other all of six months when she told me that. That is too short a period to say those words and have them come across as genuine (even when an adult says them). However, there is a sucker born every minute, and I am embarrassed to admit that I was that sucker when it came to those two statements.

Emmy and I met in our Office Administration certificate program. We were friends for a time - in school, she offered to carry my heavy backpack when I twisted my knee and was on crutches. I helped her with school work. Outside of school, we taught each other how to make our favorite recipes. We would go to the movies every so often. We would go for Ethiopian food. We swapped silly stories about our cats. I began to think that Emmy was right - that we really would be friends forever.

One event changed everything. One friendship reduced to the rubble of empty statements and promises. All in a matter of hours.

Cut for a possible trigger )

Fast-forward to about two months later. It was graduation day. Emmy and her husband spotted me in the crowd of people gathered at the Jack Singer Concert Hall for the ceremony. We exchanged the plastic "Hi!!!! How are you?" small talk. I saw Emmy go over to Upset Classmate. I saw them together, acting like they were best friends. I wondered if Emmy tried that same scam on her.

After the ceremony, pictures were taken. I remember Emmy's husband insisting that Emmy and I pose for one. I remember the plasticness in our smiles, the phoniness of our arms around each other. The emptiness of her parting words - she told me "I'll call you and maybe we can do lunch." The ickiness I felt in my stomach playing along with the charade yet again.

I ran into Emmy's husband a couple of days ago in the Canadian Tire parking lot. We exchanged the usual small talk, accompanied by him saying that he would tell Emmy that he saw me and that "we should all get together for Ethiopian food sometime".

Thanks, but no thanks.
**This should accomplish two objectives - my first foray into [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol, and I have some new LJ friends, so they will benefit from an intro post**

Tell me about yourself - this statement can trip people up at job interviews, first day of any class from elementary school right up to college/any other time when it is necessary! It is so important to make a good first impression, and it can be stressful. What if I don't say enough? What if I say too much? What would someone be interested in hearing about? I don't want to drive people away from me. I am a very self-conscious person, so I tend to worry more than I should about these things.

Anyway, on with the show.

I used to say that I was the reason why "Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?" is a ridiculous job interview question. You see, about 2001-2002, I had this lovely idea that I was going to get my MA and PhD in Spanish (I idolized one of my professors who saved me from continuing down a destructive path (needless to say, she was not the person I thought she was), and most importantly, I love reading, researching, and learning). However, due to financial, family, and confidence issues, I am still parked with my BA in Spanish (I also have a BA in Sociology) that I graduated with in 2004. Instead of spending tons of money and time indulging my love of reading, researching, and learning, I am spending 40 hours a week "babysitting" about 3,000 distance learning students and navigating the world of office politics as an administrative assistant at our tech college. Definitely not where I pictured myself, that's for sure.

In an effort to be less self-conscious and be more "out there", I have decided to join Toastmasters (I have been attending meetings as a guest for about two weeks now). Not an easy step for a person who has always been "the quiet one". I have taken that step, as I want to be more than "the quiet one". I want to be more confident, more social, more out of my shell. I want to eventually make friends as easy in real life as I do online. I want to silence that nagging voice inside that tells me that I'm worthless, that nobody cares about what I have to say.

In some respects, this is what I hope to gain from LJ Idol. I want to be a better writer so I can write great speeches for Toastmasters. I want to become more open on LiveJournal and step out of my online shell.

I will wind up with the basic/boring/ stuff:

-I am a 31 year old single female living in western Canada

-I am happy with being single - why should I settle? I have tried to dabble in online dating, but I have slacked majorly in that department, and I am taking that as a sign that I am not interested in that at this point.

-I don't have any human children, but I am owned by an almost 5 year old grey kitty cat

-I am not a hot coffee drinker, but I do like iced coffees (I like to make my own iced mochas in the summertime!)

-I hope to buy a condo sometime in 2010

-I want to learn more about photography - pictures hold so many memories and so much meaning in them

-Likes: reading, listening to music, watching movies, learning about things, shopping, baking, cooking, summer

-Dislikes: drama, liars, winter, getting up early (especially in the wintertime!)

Nice to meet everyone, and best of luck to you all :)

I'm in!!!!

Oct. 6th, 2009 08:49 pm
I'm taking the plunge and giving [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol a shot :)

I want to be a better writer (and if I can meet some new people in the process, why not?).

My journal is friends only because I want to keep some snoopy real-life individuals out.

Don't let that stop you. If you feel like we would get along, please feel free to add me. I love to make new friends on here :)

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