Monthly Archives: October 2016

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Current Song: Elastic Heart (Acoustic) – Sia, quickly followed by Last Kiss – Taylor Swift as I type this.

So many changes in my life, it’s crazy!

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting unhappily in my bedroom, wondering where my life was going, when I suddenly decided, “You know what? I am tired of being a victim. Yes, I live with bipolar disorder. Yes, I will have setbacks. But I can’t wait around forever for things to go back the way they were before my illness developed. They never will. I have to incorporate this illness as part of my life, and not let it BECOME my life.

So I called up an Academic Advisor at the University of Winnipeg (where I had previously nearly completed a 3-Year Bachelor of Arts, but had to drop out due to the development and seriousness of my illness) to see what my GPA was, where I stood, and what I could do to complete my degree in a different field, namely Psychology.

Current Songs: Closing – The Nightmare Before Christmas, quickly followed by Turn It Off – Paramore as I was typing.

It turns out that even though my marks had started to go down drastically during my last classes at the University, I still have a GPA of 3.548, and thus I qualify not only for bursaries and scholarships (which I can start applying for in November), but I am able to enter the 4 Year Honours Psychology program as soon as the Spring term!

I didn’t want to apply for student loans for one Spring course (Psychology 1000: I had started taking this course, but had dropped it a few years ago, thinking my career was headed in a different direction), so I thought, well I guess that means I have to get a job.

I updated my resume, uploaded it to Workopolis, applied to be a Customer Service Representative at a call centre on a whim in the middle of the night, and two days later got called in for an interview. Later that day I was hired, and I now have a full-time job with benefits, an excellent work environment, amazing coworkers, and a means to pay for my Spring course without accruing any debt.

Current Songs: Save Your Day – Jose Gonzalez, Scarborough Fair – Celtic Woman

I no longer feel useless or like a burden to my family or like I’m wasting my potential. My academic advisor told me that every single one of the 66 credits I had earned for the 3 Year English Lit. BA can be used toward my Honours Psychology, which means that not only have I already completed all of my electives and humanities, but I am only 54 credit hours away from graduating. I AM ALREADY OVER HALFWAY THERE.

Once I graduate from the U of W, I plan to take Applied Counselling at Red River College and work using a behavioural therapy model based on DBT to help troubled youth and young adults.

A switch just flipped, and I suddenly realized I was at a place where I could take charge of my life again. It’s not a high, it’s not an impulse, it’s not a delusion. It’s just normal and filled with hope and potential. This is such a good thing, I had to share it with all of you.

Some of you might wonder, ‘How can someone with a mental illness be a counsellor for other people?’ Just to be sure of this myself, I asked my psychiatrist’s opinion, and he said that because I have suffered and live with bipolar to this day, it will help me be more empathetic in my job and will be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. I have no illusions that there will be no hard work involved, but I really feel that this is my purpose. It’s wonderful to find a niche. I. Am. Happy.

End Songs: Tonight – Lykke Li, All Fired Up – Petra


Book Review – ‘The Dragonfly Saga: Book I: Empress of Canton’ by Juliann Troi

 

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Kathryn Hopewell is the wealthy daughter of William Hopewell, the head of the powerful Hopewell Trading house in Canton in the early 1900s. She has just stepped off the docks after completing business studies at Harvard University in America, and is off to a good start in what she believes will be her position of taking her father’s place as head of the trading empire. Alas, alack, gasp! An unforeseen circumstance has appeared! It turns out Kathryn’s father only sent her to Harvard because he had the money to burn and thought real university would knock that idea out of her silly little head. He has engaged her to a useless Australian named Collin McNeal, who will be the one taking over Kathryn’s hopes and dreams and who is apparently completely devoted to her, even though he has never met her.

There is unrest in China during this period. Warlords and generals vie for provinces and citizens are caught in the crossfire. Kathryn and her friend Lucy go shopping for one fateful day in a district outside their safe zone, and are captured.

Lucy, who is British, is (of course) snuffed out (in fact, anything not American is looked upon as slightly inferior in this cloying melodrama), but General Cheng Jiong’s nephew Wang Ti-wei (who is acceptable as a secondary character because he, too, has gone to school in America and has Americanized his name to Ty Wang before returning to China and getting embroiled in family and national politics) has fallen in love with Kathryn and protects her by offering to lead her to General Cheng’s home in the north where they will be free to escape and he can return her to her father.

Like Disney’s version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, within three days, they have declared their undying love for one another, and become married in the peasant fashion (eat a meal and sleep in the same room together – which makes me wonder how many people I can claim as spouses today: all interested, come forth into my fold!)

The book ends with their arrival at General Cheng’s home of Shaoguan, which it turns out is actually Wang Ti-wei’s childhood home that was appropriated from him after his mother died. There they complete their final act of marriage, all in a rosy glow of prayer and Bible reading and endless repetitions every five seconds of his ‘sable’ eyes and her ‘teal’ ones.

This book attempts to produce a strong female character, and Kathryn is indeed feisty, but only through an arranged marriage can she receive her inheritance, even though she is more qualified, and the romanticization of the role Westernization played changing China forever, the fact that Ty has to be somewhat Western to be equal to Kathryn, is for lack of a better word, appalling, as though he could not have been legitimate without her as his wife, or she could not somehow have survived without a husband. The image below illustrates how I feel Troi uses Kathryn: she idolizes her – this ‘Chinaman’ is lucky to have her, and his many ninja-esque exploits only serve to feed into the fascination of the exotic that this book only uses as though to say, ‘What a fascinating time before they finally caught up with our American society’.

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I give this book 2 stars out of 5, because the writing isn’t entirely terrible, but nothing more than that, for not only being sexist and racist and very ‘Murican, I could not believe the amount of times ‘sable’ was used to describe Ty’s eyes. There is such a thing as a thesaurus. His eyes could also have been ‘black’, ‘dark’, ‘ebony’, ‘jet’, ‘jetty’, ‘raven’, ‘dusky’ or ‘dusty’, but no, ‘sable’ was the only adjective used to describe them, and that was enough to lose at least one star. Don’t even get me started on the many other adjectives she could have used instead of ‘teal’.