Would Elijah Wood read my blog? Elijah would.

Hello reader⁠— if you’ve been reading my blog for a while then

1. you are awesome, and

2. you may remember a couple years ago when I posted A Rather Overdue Love Letter to Elijah Wood From Alberta’s Unfortunate Fangirl. I wrote about how my plans to finally meet one of my favorite actors, Elijah Wood (Frodo in LOTR), at a geek convention were squashed by the simultaneous timing of my own presentation at a library convention. It was like the plot of a Highschool Musical-esque movie (omg, which one will she choose, her first celebrity crush or her first real public speaking gig!? Time to break out into a choreographed musical interlude on the emotional turmoil of it all!) but as much as I would have loved to meet Elijah, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity and adventure of presenting my session at the Alberta Library Conference (despite needing to overcome the terror of being in front of a group of people).

Then, when I heard that the entire hobbit crew, including Elijah, were planning to come back to Calgary for the 2020 Calgary Expo, I knew this is the time I will meet him and fulfill the dream that my 13 year old self held on to so tightly! I was excited to go to Calgary Expo for the first time; I’ve heard it’s bigger and generally more happenin’ than Edmonton Expo, which I have frequented in the past.

But alas, this is 2020, so again, it was not to be. FOILED AGAIN! Of course the conference was cancelled, thanks to Covid19. The event space probably would have been filled with murder hornets anyway, so whatever. It’s cool. No biggie.

So April came and went with no Calgary Expo. My 30th birthday also happened, and although I’ve realized that birthdays are generally underwhelming once you hit adulthood, I was hoping to get some friends together and go out for karaoke or something and have my first real birthday “party” in years (30 is supposed to be one of those big milestones, isn’t it?)… but again, Covid made that party idea impossible. It’s all good- gotta do what you gotta do to kick the virus’s ass!

I did, however, get some birthday moolah, and this coincided with Elijah becoming available on that Cameo site where you can pay celebs to make personalized videos. Requesting Elijah was a bit pricey, and the whole premise of the site gave me some cringey vibes to be honest, but I thought oh, what the hell, he made the decision to be available on there, it’s my birthday money, and this is a cool opportunity.

So, I sent in my request, explaining that I am a huge fan and asking if he wouldn’t mind reading my aforementioned blog post to him from 2018. He sent me back this wonderful video and it really made me happy- such a genuine, positive, and kind response. I think it was birthday money very well spent! Thank you so much, Elijah!

His overalls ❤

You Are Not Alone: Maddy’s Story

Something heartbreaking happened recently in my home community in New Brunswick- it has been weighing heavily on my mind for quite some time and as such I considered writing about it earlier on, but it wasn’t my story to tell.

Now that Maddy’s family has opened up about what happened and urged that her story be shared publicly far and wide, I feel comfortable writing about Maddy today and passing along the Murphy family’s message. I’ve included her father Mike’s post below: Maddy’s Story.

I live away from home now, so I only had a handful of opportunities to spend time with Maddy, but her life has touched my own. Maddy was a kind, funny, athletic girl, and my sister’s partner. She has left behind hundreds of people who fondly remember her dorky humour, love of animals, and easygoing attitude.

Her story is important not only because of her lasting legacy of kindness and love, but also because the way she left us was so shockingly unexpected, revealing the often silent yet intensely deep depths of depression. For a brief but agonizing time we were all waiting on breathing tests and brain scans, holding on to a slim hope that she would wake up in her hospital bed and have a chance at recovery, but we lost her.

It is immensely hard for the people left behind after suicide; I feel the pain of my sister so strongly, as well as that of my parents who have seen their beautiful daughter, who battles with mental illnesses of her own, crumble in response to the terrible news. Everyone struggles with a helpless feeling and the many painful questions that have no answers. I don’t know what to say or do other than to tell my family that I love them and I’m here for them, because there’s no getting around it- this is a horrible time. This is a new and painful reality that is hard to face- my father lost his best friend Jeff to suicide, so he understands the pain, and I hope he and Mom can help my sister heal. I’m very grateful for all of the friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and everyone else who is supporting my sister right now as she grieves. I also hope my family can feel my love from afar, as I am thinking about them, and Maddy, constantly.

I’ve also wept for the people I’ve never met who are dealing with Maddy’s loss- her mother, her father, her siblings, all of her family and friends. I’m so sorry that this happened. It was overwhelming to see the huge number of people reaching out and sharing memories of their time with Maddy- clearly she will never be forgotten in the hearts and minds of so many people.

To Maddy’s family, and to my sister, thank you for sharing Maddy’s story. My heart is with you.

At the bottom of this post I have included some links, both Canadian and international, which offer support if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or has been affected by a suicide loss. Please know you are never alone.

Be strong, everyone. Rest easy, Maddy.

Many of Maddy’s friends and loved ones have gotten tattoos in her memory- her hockey number was 81

Maddy’s Story

Via facebook post from Maddy’s father, Mike Murphy
September 23 at 12:29 PMPublic:
 
Hi Everyone,
 
As I said this will be one of the longest posts you will ever read, and it will shed some light on how my life changed on September 12, 2019. If anything, please read the last few paragraphs as this is the underlying message we all need to hear.


My beautiful, vibrant, athletic, zest for life daughter Maddy Murphy has a story to tell. You all need to hear this and share with everyone you know because it’s so important as this affects so many people out there who are struggling with issues that we do not even know. Her story goes something like this…


From the moment she was born she was special, being a twin, she was the unlucky one who endured having her twin brother Mack sitting on top of her for the full term. I will always remember how we made jokes of her bent ear, crooked neck and cone shaped head from Mack. She was just amazing with those quirky features that went back to normal overtime, they were both healthy kids born at 7lbs4oz (Maddy) & 6lbs4oz (Mack). They both had a passion for all sports and excelled at everything they tried as they grew up together.


Maddy had a niche for hockey, her skating was strong (forward skating anyway), she quickly excelled playing for KVMHA in her early years. By the time she reached the age of 12 she earned a spot on the boys Pee Wee AAA Rangers Team. Maddy had a great year with the boys, this made her more determined as she set out to prove girls can play the game just as well. Maddy & Christina Rombaut were the only girls in the EDZA Program in the KV Area at that time, and the two teammates developed their talent that year, it was the beginnings of her crazy slap shot. Once Pee Wee was over the fun really began as the first Bantam AAA girl’s hockey team named the “Hericanes”, here Maddy developed bonds with her friends that are even stronger today than ever.


On the 2nd year of playing hockey something happened that changed her life in a moment, Maddy went to bed one night and woke up a different child. Maddy developed severe Tourette’s at the age of 14 with no explanation, this was the start of her first long battle that contained components with embarrassment, shame, ridicule and DEPRESSION. Maddy had to draw deep within herself as she focused on her sports with even a more determination than ever as she excelled to the top of her game. At the age of 15 one of her highlights was to play on the U18 Team Atlantic in Calgary for the Canadian Women’s Nationals, all along still dealing with Tourette’s and the silent disease of Depression. Maddy had many weekly sessions with Natural Path Therapy to try and ease the symptoms of Tourette’s & Depression, it was a battle. I still remember her always calling Tracy and asking to get in right away to help her, at least Maddy recognized she needed help and reached for it.


As Maddy began her high school years at KVHS in grade 9, she played hockey on the girl’s team while still playing for the Hericanes, there was a lot of running around to support the amount of hockey games. Going into grade 10 Maddy had the most fortunate opportunity to attend the elite school of Rothesay Netherwood ( RNS ), here she felt so welcomed she would spend so much time forming bonds with the girls in all sports. Maddy represented RNS in Hockey, Soccer, Rugby & even Volley Ball ( didn’t like ) sporting the number 9 ( #9 rides the pine ) the girls always cheered her on. This was every parent’s dream having their child immersed in such a great atmosphere.


Maddy was so happy or, so we thought….the disease that no one is aware of and what this whole story is about appeared for the first time.
She was a kid of the times on top of her game but Maddy was holding a secret from everyone, this would weigh heavily on her Mental Health issues even more. That underling Depression finally showed itself for the first time when Maddy thought the best part of her escape was an attempt on her own life in the form of pills not only once but twice this happened. This took us all by surprise that we were dealing with a young daughter that was displaying a smile on her face & a unmistakable laugh, the whole time was hurting so much inside. Taking the pills was a cry for help, although the help was there she needed something more. Maddy spent the night in the hospital for observation and released to follow up with a clinical phycologist. She always knew she had a problem, she would often text Kelly see if time was available to see her, Kelly always made time for Maddy.

After some time, we finally found out the secret she was hiding inside, low & behold Maddy was “GAY” like what was the Big Deal, but in Maddy’s world it was a big deal. After facing years of Tourette’s causing shame, embarrassment & ridicule, fighting the invisible illness it all took a toll on her. Her grade 11 year was one of the hardest years, she was losing that drive & the will she had almost to the point where I felt she succumbed to the battle of Depression. She was bullied by someone who was supposed to be one of her closest allies but ended up being her worst nightmare. Her academic grades were being affected, sports were slipping all at the most crucial time in her life. With help from her closest friends Kristen & the gang they helped her overcome this battle and expose what was going on in Maddy’s life. These girls help her get through a rough time in her life and as a parent I was so thankful.

After the years of therapy and countless visits to alternative care, the Tourette symptoms started to subside, the “Being Out Of Closet” had closure, things seem to be going so much better. Maddy started university, working different jobs and living life with such a zest. Maddy attended UNBSJ in pursuit of her Arts Degree, we all know she wanted to go to University to keep playing the sports she loved. She worked 4 different jobs at the same time, Rockwood Golf Course full time, worked for Vito’s Restaurant part time, The Saint John Marina part time & Harbor Station part time. Everywhere she went she made an impact on people a trait Maddy obviously picked up from her mother Mindy. Everyone on the outside looking in, she looked like someone who had it all, she met a beautiful girl named Chyanne & eventually fell in love. To the typical parents this was all good, things moving forward in life, she had the beginnings of a partner in life, dogs Bauer, Bailey & Thai, cats Sophie, Buddy & Tittin. Maddy always loved animals so much, she always wanted to pet every animal she seen and bring them home.

Maddy was a genuine kid who everyone thought loved life, she was known to post inspirational quotes and party like there was no tomorrow. Maddy & Chy traveled a lot and got to experience some spontaneous trips to see concerts or get their feet buried in the sand. Maddy had such a good relationship with Chy and they had so much fun together. Her young mind lacked the experience of life & relationships as she did not realize a relationship requires work. The highs and lows of all relationships are unavoidable, but to someone battling depression as Maddy has all these years, they look at though there is no light at the end of the day. She coped with her Depression the best way she knew how.

On Sept 12, 2019 my daughter Maddy Murphy thought the best way to ease her pain was to take her own life, she was a determined girl driven to succeed in everything she tried and unfortunately succeeded in her final task. The final chapter of her story will sum it all up on what the real meaning of this whole life story is about and why we ended up with a beautiful soul taken from us way to early.

Maddy had depression & knew it, its not like she didn’t try to help herself. Maddy went to countless therapy sessions in all forms, from Acupuncture, massages, chats with phycologist. She went to the family doctor and asked for an ESA ( Emotional Support Animal ) and purchased a Golden Retriever, she named him Beckett. Maddy has a passion for animals and Beckett would be ready for her in January. Just 10 days prior to Maddy taking her life she went to the Outpatient and asked for different meds as she knew she was not feeling well, she did this all on her own without telling anyone. The disease she has been battling was taking over and no one even knew. The biggest mistake Maddy ever made was the failure to see the support that was in front of her, she had a loving family with so many friends. When dealing with this sickness she was blinded by the pain she was in. I will never figure out what was going through her mind when she decided to follow through what she thought would be the best way to ease her pain.

Here is a girl who was so outgoing, determined, and everyone thought she loved life, we were all mistaken, all of us!

Depression is the “Silent Killer” that no one sees or hears, it strikes at the most vulnerable time in your life and leaves you helpless. This is the most important thing of all, this is what needs to be shared. Maddy’s life looked so good from the outside, but this is how she deflected her pain, by being the life of the party, working as hard as she could, playing her heart out in her sports, THIS is how she coped with Depression. Look around you nobody knows what is going on in people’s lives, just when you think things are so good they may not be. This disease of the mind can be so hidden with so many outlets for it to take a hold of people one wrong move and it has you. Don’t judge people based on their life from looking on the outside, get to know that person find out who they really are. We thought we knew our own kid better than anyone and never realized we would be sitting here trying to make sense of it all.

Everyone needs to remove the Stigma of this terrible debilitating disease, its out there and everyone experiences at some point in their life, its how we can recognize it and cope with it that makes the difference. The only thing I ask is for people to recognize the “not so” obvious symptoms, as no family should ever have to live through a tragic event like this. This was a complete tragedy that made no sense at all but if a positive can come of this that would shed light on the real “Boogey Man” Maddy’s story needs to be told. Maddy was so full of life yet such a hurting little girl inside. This is the sign that people need to see, the façade she was putting on for everyone around her. If this was a movie she would deserve an Oscar, I just wish it really was……

Maddy didn’t understand the consequences of her actions but at the time dealing with this terrible disease all she could think about is to end the suffering. Her suffering has now ended, I am at peace knowing she is not suffering anymore but my suffering through this tragic loss of life has only begun. My entire family has lost a piece of our hearts that we will never get back and we are devastated. No one should ever have to bury their kids. Please keep your loved ones a little closer, talk to them freely about Depression no one should ever need to experience what we just went through.

You touched the lives of so many at such an early age, I know there was more of you to give if I had only one wish it would to turn back time and be able to say goodbye.

May you rest in peace Maddy Murphy, you will be dearly missed and never forgotten!

Madison Claire Murphy born April 8, 1998 – September 16, 2019 #MM81 live on!

Beckett will be raised by our close friends, so Maddy’s spirit will live on, Beckett will be a reminder of a lost soul that had so much to offer this world and we are so thankful for this! #YOUmatter #MENTALHEALTHMATTERS its ok to not be ok!

maddy

RESOURCES

Canada Focused/Origin

Crisis Services Canada: Call, text, or chat support, and various resources

The Lifeline Canada: Links to Canadian crisis centres

Centre for Suicide Prevention: Suicideinfo.ca

Mental Health Commission: Toolkit for people who have been impacted by a suicide loss

Lifeline Canada: Survivors of Suicide Loss – Resources and Information

Lifeline Canada: Survivors of Suicide Loss- Support Groups

Mental Health Commission: Toolkit for people who have attempted suicide

 

General/International

Befrienders Worldwide: Providing emotional support to prevent suicide

International Association for Suicide Prevention: Homepage

International Association for Suicide Prevention: Guides relating to helping someone who is suicidal in a variety of languages

Suicide Stop International Help Center: Worldwide chat options

List of United States crisis centres

List of International crisis centres

List of Worldwide emergency numbers

American Society for Suicide Prevention: I’ve Lost Someone – Resources and Information

Bad Romance: A Defense of Reprehensible Love Interests in Otome and Beyond

My prince charming is your worst nightmare.

From the age that I can first remember feeling the pangs of infatuation and lust in my mid-teens, I found I had a taste for rogues, tricksters, baddies, and miscreants. In books, movies, manga, anime, and otome games, I rarely go for the hero of the story- my affections are generally reserved for the evil adversary, mysterious secondary character, or perhaps the dangerously playful womanizing side-kick. These characters are often sexy but would ultimately make terrible romantic partners in real life.

Recently I’ve been noticing in comment sections all over the internet well-intentioned people decrying these very sorts of characters that I am drawn to. Fans and non-fans alike are calling out reprehensible actions of characters as they see them. I think this is a positive reflection of wider discussions and movements that are happening worldwide right now regarding healthy relationships, love, affection, sex, and consent. These honest reflections on characters, from Sabrina’s Father Blackwood to the Sakamaki family of Diabolik Lovers, are valuable and worth noting. The relationships you see on TV or other media are often not good examples for real-life relationships to follow- sometimes these sorts of characters stray into cruel or even verbally and/or physically abusive behavior.

However, I do not believe that the answer is to eliminate such characters from the stories we tell and worlds we create.

One area that gets a lot of heat for these sorts of characters is otome games- perhaps because they are simulating a relationship with the player. Games like these feel more intimate than watching a movie or reading a book: usually a player uses their real first name in-game to enhance the immersion, voice-actors use dummy-head mics to record sound like they are right beside your ear whispering sweet nothings through your headphones, and choices in the game lead to consequences for the character you play as well as other characters in the game.

The first true otome game I played was Code: Realize, Guardian of Rebirth. It’s an interactive visual novel with a Victorian steampunk aesthetic, excellent Japanese voice acting, and odes to famous historical figures throughout.

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Code: Realize

A common strategy for playing otome games is play the main route with the main love interest first (often he’s featured on the cover, as with this example featuring Arsene Lupin) and then branch out to other romantic partners in subsequent play-throughs.

However, I always gravitate immediately towards the character that (you guessed it) is strange, aloof, mean, temperamental, and/or seemingly sinister. In Code: Realize, I went for Saint-Germain, an intriguing and mysterious white-haired gentleman voiced by my favorite voice actor, Daisuke Hirakawa.

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Saint Germain still image from Code:Realize, Guardian of Rebirth

*Warning:  spoilers ahead!*

My interest in Saint only grew as his complex and tragic story slowly unwound, with seemingly no means of a happy end. Still, I was caught completely off-guard when my first play-through ended abruptly with that is probably considered the worst possible ending you can get in the game: he murdered me.

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Scene from Code Realize, Guardian of Rebirth

I was shocked, bemused, and strangely thrilled by this sudden turn of events. Retracing my steps and choosing different directions on my second play-through, I discovered that he had some solid legitimate reasons for killing my character (really!) and in the less tragic story-lines he is actually a gentle, devoted, caring partner, despite a crushingly brutal past that haunts his every step.

Aside from his bad-ending (murder…) route, Saint is actually not particularly problematic, so I’d like to present a more blatant example of the “reprehensible love interest”…

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Diabolik Lovers, by Rejet

Diabolik Lovers began as an otome visual novel game franchise, but has since been turned into manga, anime, a stage musical, and tons of drama cds and merchandise in Japan. I stumbled upon the subbed anime on Crunchyroll a few years ago, starting a personal infatuation with this vampire series- a series featuring characters that are unabashedly terrible in their treatment of the female protagonist, Yui.

Yui is a Mary-Sue type character often seen in otome series-  aside from some rare moments of tenacity, she is presented as an unremarkable, quiet, polite young lady. She’s a sort of vanilla stand-in for the viewer or player, one which they can easily replace with themselves.

yuiiii

Her potential suitors, on the other hand, are some very strong personalities. Their dispositions differ widely, ranging from hysterical and possessive to dismissive and toying. What unites all of the Sakamaki boys, though, is the way they all cruelly use and abuse Yui to sate their thirsts for blood and amusement.

Some hardcore fans will argue that by the end of the plotline their favorite boy truly loves Yui and is deeply devoted to her, but let’s be real here: that doesn’t excuse the abuse, and nobody is compelled to watch the Dialover anime or play the Dialover games because of the romance. The average viewer would be repelled by the sadistic, narcissistic, misogynistic and psychopathic actions of the Sakamaki family (some of my friends certainly are). The Sakamaki brothers each in turn physically restrain Yui, attack her verbally and physically (mainly through biting and taking her blood against her will) and deceive her naive and trusting nature unendingly. Each boy has a different demeaning nickname for Yui (Pancake, Sow, Bitch-chan, and so on…). So why are some people, like myself, drawn to these characters who are obviously toxic?

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This scene from Watamote is literally me T-T

This conundrum has fascinated me for some time. Why am I attracted to characters in fantasy that would make me miserable in real life? Is this predilection linked to the dark triad of features that supposedly signal a capable mate, triggering some biological response in me? Am I simply bored by predictable good guys and their chivalry? Is it pure masochism on my part? While not everyone falls for the charms of the bad boy, i’m certainly not unique in this regard, and there are lots of potential reasons someone might be willingly pulled over to the dark side.

Whatever the reason, the truth is that I and many others enjoy these sorts of flawed, dangerous, cruel characters, even when they are at their worst. While I understand the criticisms of series like Diabolik Lovers,  I believe we mustn’t equate a portrayal of an abusive or problematic fictional character with the actions of a person in real life or an endorsement of these kinds of relationships.

It’s okay to enjoy a romantic fantasy, even a dark and twisted one.

I am an advocate for the freedom to read, write, and create without restrictions. No work will be pleasing to everyone, and some may find certain works distasteful, but we must remember that these stories are fictional. When I immerse myself in an otome game, it is my choice, and I can withdraw my consent from the experience at any time by pressing the “power off” button on my Vita. I don’t confuse the tangled relationships in the fictional stories I enjoy with my real life relationships, which are thankfully much less dramatic than the ones I read, watch, and play.


 

Abuse is wrong. Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse have no place in a healthy relationship. Consent is vital. I don’t condone abuse in real life.

The fantasy world of books, movies, and video games are a space where the dangerous sides of love and lust can be explored safely- the cat and mouse game, which is exciting in theory but potentially devastating in real life, can be enjoyed in a make-believe format in which the consumer controls (while enjoying being “controlled” artificially).

We can and should continue to reflect on characters, and each person can determine for themselves what they enjoy or do not enjoy reading, watching, or playing, but there should be no shame for enjoying reprehensible love interests in fiction!

 

Ruff Starts and Becoming Family: Tegan

As of this month, it’s been 6 years since we adopted our dog Tegan. She is my first pet outside of living with my parents, and it turns out that having your own pet (and all of the responsibilities that go along with caring for another living creature) is a lot different than being in the house while your parents take care of the pets. Who would have thought?

It has been 6 crazy years so far, and I absolutely love Tegan with all my heart- she is family. In the beginning though I didn’t know what I was doing! So, here is our story.

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~~~

My family has always had lots of pets. Growing up, my friends joked about our house being a sort of zoo. You weren’t sure when you rounded the corner in my house if you’d come face to face with a grumpy, overweight cat, an energetic Labrador retriever, or even a couple of young Fancy Rats on somebody’s shoulder. My mother worked in vet clinics and shelters, so there were always lots of animals around, including occasional foster puppies and ill or injured creatures that needed round-the-clock care.

It wasn’t until I moved out of home and in with my then-boyfriend-now-husband that I began to consider getting a dog of my own. Life felt like it was missing something vital without a dog around. I love all animals, but I’ve always had a special affinity with dogs. I pored over our local SPCA website regularly, occasionally seeing a dog that seemed like a perfect fit but who was already adopted by the time we went, or was too large to be allowed in our small apartment.

One fateful day I came across a photo on the SPCA site of a mixed breed dog named Amelia. She was referred to as a “puggle”, a beagle and pug mix. She was around a year old, and looked like she had some real personality.

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Anyone who knows me will tell you, when I get an idea in my head I can’t rest until I see it through and make a decision. She was all I could think about. I wanted to see Amelia. Dustin wasn’t sure if he wanted a small dog, but I just had to see her. So we went to the SPCA and there she was in the dog room, standing alert behind the cage door. The dogs all around were barking very loudly, but she just stood there looking up at us, expectant. The kennel attendant took her out so we could take her on a walk.

As we exited the SPCA with Amelia on a leash, it wasn’t like the movie scene I might have envisioned in my head- she didn’t shower us with love or run joyfully in circles around us. She wasn’t starved for affection or cuddles- in fact, she seemed like she didn’t really care that we were there, only that she was outside and could go for a walk. So, we walked. We took her down some of the industrial streets in the area, amused when she would hop up onto the brick and concrete ledges and trot along them.

After our walk we sat down on a bench for a few moments, and I patted her and stroked her short fur, but again she was very independent and stood alert, looking around at seemingly everything but us.

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That under-bite… ❤

Despite her aloofness, I was smitten with her. Dustin was on the fence about adopting her. However, we returned the next day to walk her again, by which point I think he realized I was serious about this dog and now that she was in my head, she wasn’t going anywhere. So, we decided that I would sign the application for adoption and see what happened. I hoped desperately that we would be able to adopt her.

When I asked for the application, the staff were very excited. That must be a good sign, I thought? I filled everything out and handed it in. The staff gave it a good look over and told me the cost of adoption for an adult dog. Then they asked if we wanted the kennel staff to go get her now, and if I would pay by cash, credit, or debit.

I looked at Dustin in surprise. Wow, this was fast. I’m going to be a dog mom!?

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“Right- right now!?” I asked, unable to hide my surprise.

The staff explained: my application was good, the kennels were overfull, and the SPCA was stretched to its limits that summer. Normally it would take more time to adopt a dog because they would be sifting through multiple applications, but right now they were desperate for space and were ready to let me take Amelia home.

“Of course! But we don’t have a leash or anything yet…” I stammered. They told us not to worry, and provided us with a few basic items to get us started. And so, that’s how I found myself pulling out my debit card and becoming a sudden dog Mom.

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We headed out to the truck with Amelia, a little stunned but full of excitement. We headed right to the grocery store- I went in and loaded up on dog blankets, treats, food, dishes, spill mats, anything and everything I could think of.

And so, we brought Amelia home, but her devil-may-care attitude had disappeared, replaced with a demeanor of perpetual confusion and concern. We tried to be really relaxed at home and let her get used to her new surroundings, but by the third day I was worried that Amelia would never feel comfortable in our small apartment- I didn’t realize how long it can take for dogs to adjust to a new home.

She was driving me crazy with her anxious habits- staring at me with bulging eyes when I was trying to read and study, army-crawling underneath the couch, vaulting herself from the couch to the bed like a hovercraft malfunctioning, whining incessantly for no apparent or discernible reason.

I thought, she’s miserable! She hates our little bachelor pad. 

But, again, all we needed was some time. It took a couple of weeks, but Amelia began to show her true colours- dorky, full of energy, and happy to nap on the couch or bed. We didn’t think “Amelia” suited her very well, so we renamed her- Tegan. (We were listening to a lot of Tegan and Sara at the time…)

As she became more comfortable with us, Tegan began to get more assertive, nipping at our fingers and eventually trying to hump us. I had no idea how to train a dog, so I did what I always do when facing a problem: explore the library!

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The books helped, as did internet forums. It wasn’t long before we had our routines and habits, and Tegan fit right into our family, wrapping her little swirly tail around my heart. I got curious one day and called the SPCA to ask if they had her background on file- I wondered, did she come from previous owners, or was she abandoned somewhere? The woman on the phone looked her up and told me that she was found wandering downtown with a couple of other dogs. Wow, I thought. I couldn’t imagine our derpy dog being a part of some doggie street gang!

Over these six years we have made lots of memories

and Tegan has made lots of derpy faces

I hope we still have lots of memories and derps to come.

Lastly, here is a little video compilation I made of Tegan, featuring clips from our earlier years together!

Fictional Moms: An Often Unconventional List of Favorites

I’ve been seeing a lot of these Fave Mom posts kicking around since Mother’s Day is tomorrow, and although I wasn’t planning on doing one I inevitably began thinking about my own favorite fictional moms, and after a bit of reflection I was like “no, this is a damned good list; it must be shared with the world”.

And so, I present, my list of Favorite Fictional Moms (That I Can Remember At The Moment.)

In no particular order, here they are!

  • Louis Pointe Du Lac (Interview with the Vampire)

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Louis you say? But, but, he’s a dude! Ah, but here it is from Claudia’s own mouth:

Locked together in hatred. But I can’t hate you, Louis. Louis, my love, I was mortal until you gave me your immortal kiss. You became my mother and my father, and so I’m yours forever.

3VJO

Claudia was born, so to speak, from Louis’ “immortal kiss”. And Louis tries his best to be a good parental figure to Claudia given their unique vampiric circumstances. Oh, Louis!

I could include Lestat here too, except Claudia kinda sorta rejected him in a huge way sooooo, yeah, let’s not go there.

Disclaimer: in the unlikely event that this post goes viral for some random reason 5 Mother’s Days from now and a subset of netizens take this post literally and start a vitriolic social media thread about how I am promoting an abusive  kidnapping child-killer as a parenting win for Mother’s Day, I must say- dude, chill, it’s a vampire movie/book. Take it for what it is. P.S. the movie and the book are both excellent, get on that.

  • The Parents (Easy A)

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I can’t remember their names (if they were ever given). I do remember that when I watched this movie I thought again and again “dang, these parents get an A+ from me”. They’re funny, understanding, not overbearing, accepting, and obviously totes in love.

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#parentinggoals

  • Duchess (Aristocats)

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It’s been a while since I watched Aristocats to be honest, but it was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up, and I remember Duchess being totally devoted to her kittens, leading them tirelessly through treacherous situations to try and find their way home.

She’s also been known to get groovy if given the opportunity to let her hair (fur?) down:

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Ok, so maybe this psychedelic dance scene re-used animation from previous Disney movies and also contained some unfortunate racist chariCATures, but that’s on Disney, not Duchess. I’m sure Duchess would not approve!

  • Vianne (Chocolat)

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Vianne is a strong-willed independent thinker who doesn’t give a flying fair-trade truffle what people think of her. She sets an excellent example for her young daughter Anouk by standing her ground when the ultra-conservative community threatens her chocolate shop, and she doesn’t shame Anouk for having an imaginary friend.

I was once a little bitter about Vianne having had the opportunity to make out with Roux, aka Johnny Depp, but you know what Vianne, you deserved it. Get it girl.

And again, here’s a book that was made into an awesome movie. Check out both if you haven’t already! Your public library can probably hook you up!

  • The Other Mother (Coraline)

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Hey, I sense some hackles are raised. Is this list called “Most Inspirational Mothers” or “Mother’s I’d Like To Have”? Nope, this is Favorite Mothers, and I truly adore Neil Gaiman’s creepy Other Mother. I’d love to cosplay as her someday.

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^Dave McKean’s illustrations are amazing as always

The Other Mother gets a lot of hate. She’s just like your normal mother! Except, buttons for eyes, and the desire to capture you and erase all you know and love to replace it with an eerily similar but utterly wrong replacement.

And once again- excellent movie, excellent book!

 

  • The Inventor and Pegg Boggs (Edward Scissorhands)

Neither of these people are Edward’s Mother in the traditional sense of the word, but both were, I think, well-intentioned and good-hearted people who contributed to his life in the best ways they knew how.

Who can fault the lonely inventor, played by legendary Vincent Price, for seeing a potential for life, and seeking love and companionship?

And Peg, the sweet and dependable Avon Lady, who reaches out to Edward without judgement when nobody else would.

Oh, Edward. ❤

  • Edna Turnblad (Hairspray)

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Edna, traditionally played fabulously by men in drag on stage and in film, is an anxious laundry-business owner and overweight mother. Her transformation of self-love and learning to let loose, led by her tenacious daughter Tracy, is sweet and inspiring.

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  • Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)

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Molly is frequently listed on Favorite Mother lists, but it’s justifiable because she is a damn good mother!

Not only does Molly immediately accept Harry (whose family life has been less than ideal) into her family and home, she is a proud mother who loves her kids fiercely. Yet, I especially love Molly because she isn’t just a one-dimensional sweetheart character- if you piss Molly off or do or say anything disagreeable, she’ll let you know in no uncertain terms what she thinks of the situation!

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Oof.

And who could forget such gems as Not my daughter, you bitch! Molly is talented with a wand, and not just in the kitchen! Though, on that note, Molly is also a proud homemaker whose home is so charming and cosy that fans can feel homesick for it from time to time. Molly has been known to sing along unrestrainedly with her Celestina Warbeck albums in the kitchen. Yes, Molly is relatable to a fangirl like myself, as she has been known to swoon wholeheartedly, even, occasionally, over questionable celebrities (*couLOCKHARTugh*).

  • Irie-Mama (Mischievous Kiss, Love in Tokyo)

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If you enjoy cute Japanese dramas, you gotta watch Mischevious Kiss, Love in Tokyo (there are also other versions of this show in other languages too I think, and i’m pretty sure it’s based on a manga series).

Irie-kun’s mom stands out because she has a youthful energy and brings humour to the show by constantly trying to pair her son up with Kotoko.

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I think lots of fangirls resonate with Irie-Mama because she expresses the way we feel when we really, really want two characters to end up together! She will go to any length to support Kotoko in winning Naoki’s heart (even when she goes overboard into shenanigans involving cameras, disguises, and bamboozlement.)

She’s also a kind and positive influence in Kotoko’s life, especially because Kotoko’s own mother passed away long ago.

  • Tanya Baxter (That’s So Raven)

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Speaking of TV show Moms, Raven and Cory’s mom Tanya is hilarious and loves her kids very much. I loved watching this show with my sister when we were younger. Tanya puts up with so much ridiculous tomfoolery from her kids!

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It’s refreshing to see two parents who are often present in the plot (rather than all but missing from the show entirely for some reason, as parents kids shows on often are). Not only that, but for the most part the Baxter’s aren’t overbearing on their kids, and are just as goofy and funny as Cory and Raven.

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Aside from the funny stuff, there are lots of learning moments in That’s So Raven that show how thoughtful parenting aids in raising strong, informed, resilient kids.

 

  • Lucy Emerson (Lost Boys)

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Dianne Wiest again? What can I say, she plays a great motherly character. Lucy loves her two sons, and will do whatever she can to support them (including fleeing a bad marriage and moving back in with her kooky Dad). How was she to know she was relocating her family into the Murder (vampire) Capital of the World?

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And props goes to Lucy for not being afraid to get back out there into the dating scene after her divorce, though maybe things would have been better after all if she hadn’t… but hey no spoilers here, if you haven’t watched this killer vampire movie yet GET IN THERE AND WATCH IT RIGHT NOW WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR DUDE!?!?

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  • Miss Honey (Matilda)

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If you are a 90’s kid and you don’t love Miss Honey you have no soul. Or, you haven’t seen or read Matilda yet, in which case, get on that asap.

Miss Honey is the real mother Matilda never had, proof that just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you’re family (and that you don’t have to BE related to BE family). Miss Honey sees how Matilda’s toxic family disregards her well-being, happiness, and education, and in addition to being in-loco-parentis as Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey finds herself willingly taking on more and more motherly roles in Matilda’s life.

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Her voice is so soft, calming, and kind, that I could easily compare it to honey.

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The finale of Matilda lends itself to be the title one of those click-bait articles- “What one selfless teacher did for her student will give you goosebumps- the ending had us in tears!”

 

  • Mrs. Darling (Peter Pan)

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Mrs. Darling is just so beautiful and enchanting, you can’t help but want to be embraced by her motherly presence, especially when she is played by Olivia Williams.

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When her kids fly off to Neverland, she and her husband  are desperate for their return, pining away and spending every moment searching in vain.

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The fact that the kids want to return to them from such an exciting place at all says something about their capability as parents (although Mr. Darling does bear an uncanny resemblance to Captain Hook. And for that matter, Lucius Malfoy. Just me? Well, we’ll let it go for now. )

Side note: let’s not forget the other motherly presence in the Darling house: Nana!

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Don’t you just want to kiss those little jowls!? ❤

 

  • Aunt May (Spider-Man)

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I love all iterations of Aunt May, but my favorite still has to be Rosemary Harris. She was the first Aunt May I saw in live action, and she kinda won my heart.

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No matter what version of Aunt May you favor, you gotta admit each is pretty bad-ass in her own way.

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HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW, DOC OC?

I’ve mainly only read the early original Spidey comics masterworks, but Aunt May has proven herself again and again throughout the life and times of the Amazing Spider-Man.

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Well, that’s all I’ve got at the moment, but i’m sure there are tons more awesome Moms I am forgetting. Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms out there!

A Rather Overdue Love Letter to Elijah Wood from Alberta’s Unfortunate Fangirl

Dear Elijah Wood,

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My friends have been tagging me in posts like these ^ with lots of exclamation marks to let me know you are coming to the Calgary Expo next weekend; this is because I have awesome friends who know that I enjoy travelling to the nerd expos, that I am a huge fan of yours, and that LOTR was my first ever fandom. Unfortunately I won’t be able to realize my dream of meeting you this time, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Now, about The Lord of the Rings. My Dad got me into the books when I was 10 years old. He wanted to make sure I read them before the movies came out, and for that I am eternally grateful. The books were (and are) life-changingly excellent, and catapulted me into a lifelong love of reading. The movies took my interest to the next level- Dad and I bonded over the cinematic masterpiece of the trilogy as each movie came out. I got “the shakes” after watching The Fellowship of the Ring in the theatre because it affected me so much (ok, maybe that was also partially due to sitting tensely and staring at an illuminated screen for 3 hours straight).

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^ Freaking iconic!

LOTR became my obsession, I was seeking it, seeking it, all my thought was bent on it. I had a literal shrine in my bedroom with everything from a paper-mache Sting dagger to a Gandalf the White cardboard standee that my shy mother somehow haggled off of a movie store employee because she knew it would bring me joy. I took a replica One Ring off of a bookmark and attached it to a necklace that I wore to school regularly- I remember being called “Ring Girl” because of it. I got a set of plastic Fellowship figurines for Christmas one year and took them into the snowy woods with my camera, attempting to recreate scenes from the movies. (The resulting photos were about as impressive as you’d expect).

Elijah, you were also my first ever crush. Because I’m a freaking weirdo, I realized you were my first crush in The Fellowship of The Ring when Frodo was stabbed with the Morgul blade by the Nazgul and his eyes became all pale and creepy.

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^ boyfriend material

I had an account on one of your fansites where I posted in forums for the first time in my young life, squeeing enviously over posts where other girls recounted times they met you in person at various events. I frequented lordoftherings.net and refreshed the page every 10 seconds so I could hear every version of the randomized intro “Hi, this is [actor name] and welcome to lordoftherings.net”, but I especially got excited to hear your voice.

While my tween obsession of near-stalker levels has faded, I am definitely your fan forever.

I tried drawing you as Frodo a few weeks ago. I wish I could say that I cut the left side of the picture like that for artistic or compositional reasons, but really it was because I made your right eye freakishly large. Sorry.

I’m a married woman now, but once a fangirl always a fangirl. I’m an eternal Ringer- as both a Lord of the Rings fan as well as a member of a handbell choir- how about that. Speaking of handbell choir, I was in the novice group previously but I lost my mind and managed to shoehorn my way into the advanced group when I found out they are learning none other than THEMES FROM THE FREAKING LORD OF THE RINGS!

Last year I had the privilege of meeting and getting a picture with Mr. John Rhys-Davies at the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. He complimented me on my cosplay. I told him “you’re my favorite dwarf forever” and he said “aw, I love you”. My little hobbit heart grew three sizes that day.

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I also managed to get a pic with Sauron himself. He’s actually a really nice guy.

The year before that I met Billy Boyd and was entranced by his Beecake concert. Bought all the CDs!

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^ (Sorry Billy, the real picture is on an external harddrive tucked away somewhere and I am too lazy to find it at the moment, but here is a blurry picture of the picture of me and Billy Boyd, screen-grabbed from a picture of me holding the picture of me and Billy Boyd!)

I’d very much love the opportunity to meet you too, Elijah. I was more than ready to drive or fly to Calgary to see you.

But Elijah, would you believe that the very weekend you are visiting is the same weekend I am going to my first ever Library Conference, and as a speaker? I have worked at a library for 7 years and in September I am beginning my Master program with the goal of becoming a librarian. At the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper, Friday afternoon, I am doing a presentation session on the versatility of the graphic novel format. I’m super passionate about it and excited for the opportunity (been prepping it and working on my public speaking skills for several months!), but I can’t say i’m not bummed out that I am missing the opportunity to see you at the expo in Calgary.

So, since I can’t say it there, let me say it here- I think you’re Terrific with a capital T, you gave us the perfect Frodo and made my tween heart flutter- thank you for coming to Alberta- I hope you have fun in Calgary, and I’m sorry I’ll miss you when you’re here!

-Sincerely, Shauna

P.S. if you have time, feel free to swing by Jasper and crash the Alberta Library Convention! You know you want another adventure in the mountains! XD