Friday (November 22) evening I had gone out for pizza and drinks with my best friend and my partner. It was a momentous occasion, since it was the first time both of them were meeting. We were enjoying bulgogi pizza with shots of Soju while my phone was ringing silently. It wasn't until we were all in my friend's car after eating, that I checked my phone. Several missed calls, a voice mail and a few text messages were waiting for me. My sister's message was urgent. This was only somewhat typical - it was the missed call from my father and mother that set me off. I hadn't spoken much to my father since October 25. We had a falling out, so to speak (parents just don't understand). So it must have been important for him to breach the awkward tension to call me.
I called my sister first. She gave me the news. My grandmother is dead. Just like that. Now, just imagine for a moment, a person who is akin to a Nazi, dying. Are you sad? No, not really. Actually, you probably feel elated. Like, finally. One of the most evil people in the world died - no great loss. I know it's a horrible thing to say - people say you should never celebrate someone's death. Well, perhaps if it was a regular person or even if they weren't, as long as they weren't bitter and cruel to their dying days. Unfortunately, my grandmother was like a Nazi. She hated everyone - every sexuality, every colour, every nationality, everyone. She hated her friends, her family and her peers. I don't remember her saying anything nice about a single person - except herself. She always had praise for herself. How kind she was - how smart she was - sadly, all delusions. She may have been steeped in denial and lost all objectivity. Either way, she was not a good person.
I dislike this fact however my opinion isn't necessarily shared. My sister was broken up about it. She was crying. She actually felt sad. I was surprised. I mean, my sister never visited - if anything, I visited much more frequently (to my chagrin). Nor did she speak kindly of her or to her - she would openly mock my grandmother, but in a way that my grandmother didn't know it was happening. It was embarrassing. I never dared to behave that way, despite not liking her. Yet, my sister was broken up about it. My father's reaction was expected - he was sad, but sad for different reasons. He felt like it was a life wasted - she didn't learn anything and she died alone, with no one who loved her. Perhaps she could have arguably deserved some pity if it wasn't for the fact she lived her entire life abusing others. I have zero tolerance for abuse.
So here I am, contemplating. My grandmother was 91 when she died. My father told me that she was found standing up, leaning on her walker with her eyes open. I hate to have been the one to find her. It must have been terrifying. The workers knew my grandmother and did their best to avoid dealing with her except when mandatory. She was in an assisted living facility where they had to check on her twice a day. So there she was, still moving, still stubbornly pushing - she died mid-movement. I can't think of many people who do that. That was her though - she was incredibly stubborn. So stubborn in fact, we were all convinced she would never go. She had already defied the odds years ago when she walked again, after doctors said she wouldn't. She had disc surgery in her back, and in more recent years, both hips replaced. Yet, she walked. Nothing stopped her.
While it's obvious there's no love lost between my grandmother and I, I can admire her tenacity. I have never known another woman so fierce, so stubborn, and so determined. Maybe I have her to thank for those attributes in myself. Either way, she's now gone. There's no point in belaboring the same point again and again, she's dead now.
Yet, it does leave me with some curious questions. How am I supposed to feel? Despite not liking her, I had visited her frequently throughout my entire childhood, adolescence and adulthood. I knew her closely. My father, sister and I played cards with my grandmother. We ate at the same restaurant for years and years and years. This Chinese buffet she preferred going to - she was also incredibly cheap and refused to eat anywhere else. We had gone so frequently, I recognized all the staff and knew exactly what food was served where. I had a preferred route!
So I was "close" to her. Although no one was truly close to her. She didn't have depth - she had layers of manipulative abuse. How do I feel about her death? I was honestly happy. I thought, finally. She's no longer a burden to my father. He often complained about how difficult it was for him to take care of her, and her affairs. She was stressful and demanding. If he didn't answer the phone, she would call the police and have them search for him - from another province! Controlling is a word that describes her. Yet, is that okay? Is it okay not to care about the death of a close family member? If one of your relatives was a "Nazi", would you feel bad upon their death? I will say that she was one of the last remaining ties to my father's side of the family. That part is sad.
Regardless, I wanted to update the Blog with what's going on in my life. I moved in October to a different place, so it's taken a long time to transition and organize everything. I've only begun to get settled in. I apologize for my absence but hopefully there will be more updates coming soon.
I mentioned on a previous post (Life and Death) that I would discuss the meaning of life as I saw it. Many people have attempted theories before me including Monty Python. I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring and let you in on my theory.
If this topic makes you uncomfortable then I suggest stopping right here. Although seriously, I imagine other things probably make you uncomfortable too if that's the case. Regardless of your sensibilities, I am continuing. If I were you I'd read anyway just to satisfy my curiosity. After all, you don't have to believe anything I say. It's just my own theory.
The simplest I can describe my beliefs regarding life is fate. I believe in destiny. I suppose that sounds rather corny, doesn't it? I've thought long and hard about this and I've come to a conclusion I feel satisfied with.
I'm sure at some point in your life you've been in a situation that appears completely random. Perhaps unpredictable. You're so certain that something so bizarre could not happen that in fact it did.
Anyone could sit back and look at life as a series of random events. Perhaps indeed they are. It is my opinion however that there are no accidents. That's right, no accidents and no coincidences. To me, everything happens for a reason.
What does this have to do with the meaning of life? If there are no accidents then life is indeed fateful. It means we're all destined to a particular set of experiences. If that's the case then perhaps the meaning of life is intrinsically tied to fate.
I believe that as interconnected beings of energy we are on a collective journey. What sort of journey? A journey of spiritual growth. Our experiences help shape and define who we are as individuals but more importantly these experiences assist our "soul" growth as well. In much broader, more accurate terms, these experiences not only affect the individual but the collective (the ball of energy I described before). While assuming these physical bodies,
each sensation, each emotion, every hardship or thought is funneled into the collective consciousness. The collective consciousness has been described in multiple ways by many people. I believe that due to the interconnectedness of nature that everything we know, think and feel is gathered together. We are constantly tapped into this consciousness whether we realize it or not. It breathes inspiration and ideas into our minds. This consciousness is crucial in helping us grow by sharing our experiences and serves to remind us that we're not alone.
Destiny provides us with the necessary catalysts to grow in new ways. In the grand scheme of things, the physical body only provides the required vehicle for experiencing fateful events. It is through the limits of these bodies that we come to understand the nature of the universe and ourselves.
To sum up, we are interconnected beings of energy placed in limited physical bodies in order to experience destined events that help us progress together as a "ball of energy".
Sounds silly, doesn't it? Maybe it is. Maybe it's absurd. It doesn't really matter, after all these are just the musings of one person (more correctly, the collective consciousness). So thanks to everyone who helped me form this theory.
For most people female and feminine are synonymous, just like male and masculine. However there is a distinct difference. Sex and gender are not the same thing.
Sex refers to the genitalia of a person making them male, female or inter-sex (discussed later). Gender is completely different yet it is continually used as though it meant the same thing. Many words are used incorrectly. People often say cement when they mean concrete. Cement is an ingredient in concrete while concrete is the finished product. Similarly, weight is inappropriately used on health forms when they actually mean mass.
Gender is not sex. Gender is a social construction. This means that gender is something simply made-up to describe an archaic belief known as biological predetermination.
Biological predetermination is the belief that women are inherently feminine and men are inherently masculine. This goes hand in hand with the idea that men like women and vice versa. It is widely accepted despite its fallacies. Most people think that women are naturally nurturing, compassionate and giving, making them excellent mothers. Just like they also believe men are naturally brave, aggressive and lascivious, making them excellent in business. Oddly enough, this set of beliefs is common and unquestioned. However it is false. I'm sure that in your own life you have met women who are "masculine" and men who are "feminine". If such qualities were natural then why doesn't everyone fit in? The simple answer, they're not natural. Believing in biological predetermination would also mean subscribing to the belief that homosexuality is a disease. It's not. Some guys like guys, some girls like girls and some people like both. This is naturally occurring and doesn't fit in with this little "theory".
Life is too diverse to fit into neat little categories. That is the truth of the matter. Not every man will identify with being masculine just like not every woman thinks she's feminine. Yet we live in a society that likes labels. So we've found terms to describe things in relation to what we assume to be fact. Transgender is a term people use to describe themselves when they identify with the gender that's not typically associated with their sex. For example, a man might behave and dress like a woman and choose to call himself "transgendered" but that doesn't mean he's homosexual. Sexual identity and gender identity are not always synonymous. Transsexual describes an individual that identifies with the other sex and may or may not have an operation to make the transition. Sexual and gender identities are flexible.
As noted earlier, I mentioned something referred to as "inter-sex". The world is not a clean dualism. Things are not simply black and white, male or female, masucline or feminine. Nature is more complex than that. Inter-sex is the third sex. Someone may be born male, female or inter-sex.
Inter-sex is when you cannot distinguish the genitalia or chromosomes to be either male or female. This is not the same as hermaphrodite. It seems unlikely but it does happen in one baby in every 2000. In nations like Canada when a baby is born inter-sex, public healthcare will pay for the procedure to "correct" the baby's genitalia. This means that the doctor and sometimes the parents will make the decision to either have a boy or a girl. This sort of decision will impact that child's life forever and I fear it is made too cavalierly. Often the child will grow up identifying with a sex not their own and have corrective surgery. Why can't the baby grow up as they are? It is too much to ask for people to accept a third sex?
I hope that someday the world will be open to the unique differences and similarities that make us human.
*For Canadian residents, if you're interested in a documentary about inter-sex I recommend watching InterSEXion by CBC.
Hello readers, today I'm going to discuss my own perspective of life and death. If you are sensitive about these topics, please feel free to stop reading right here. My blog is a place where I can express my opinions but I certainly don't expect you to share them. You are entitled to your beliefs and it is not my intention to tread on your dreams. However if you are curious, please read on. I realize these topics are complex but I'm hoping to provide the simplest answer I can.
Over the course of my lifetime I have been plagued with the thoughts and unanswerable questions of generations before me. What is life? What is death? (What is the meaning of life? I will attempt to answer that in a later blog post.) Before I could answer these questions I spent all my life asking questions of my own. In university I chose all of my courses to learn the most I could about people, be it individuals, groups, cultures or beliefs. With much thought and consideration, I have finally come to the answers that satisfy me.
For the answers to life and death, I personally found that a mixture of ideas and intuition was best for me. Everyone will come to their own conclusions and this just happens to be mine. After studying tribal cultures such as North American First Nations, Australian Aboriginals and African tribes like the nomadic Kalahari, I discovered something very similar between them. They all believe that life is cyclical. I don't think this is by mere coincidence. Somehow, very different people across the world all came to the conclusion that life is not linear but it is cyclical. I've combined this belief with pieces of Buddhism, neo-Paganism and a dash of mysticism.
It is a common Buddhist belief that what brings us misery is desire and ego. In order to separate ourselves from misery, we must abandon our desire to want things and at the same let go of our ego. Doing both of these things will only leave room for happiness. When I think about things that make people miserable, ego and desire are often the reason. Things such as "wants" are unnecessary and inevitably create more want. We are never satisfied with just one thing, there is always something ready to take its place. For example, "I want a flat screen television" turns into "I want a bigger flat screen television". It's like a never-ending goose chase. We are never satisfied. Perhaps the real reason is that none of these things truly satiate the appetite for happiness. They are mere distractions. They may entertain us but they will never fill that hole. (In a previous post I discussed The Key to Happiness and the hole borne in each person's heart.)
Then there is neo-Paganism. If you aren't familiar with the term, let me help acquaint you. In my own words, neo-Paganism is a collection of sub-cultures that derive their practices, ideals and beliefs from the history of Paganism. People who are a part of neo-Paganism would simply call themselves "Pagans" since they do not separate themselves from the cultures before them. To sum up, neo-Pagan cultures include many diverse groups such as witches and druids but they all tend to share similar beliefs, that is respect for people, the Earth and the belief in Karma. More importantly, neo-Pagans believe we are all connected. The environment, the animals and of course each other. We are all united and share the same energy and in turn to harm the Earth or another living being is to harm ourselves. To love each other is to love ourselves.
I have described pieces of beliefs that I have come to accept for myself from tribal cultures, Buddhism and neo-Paganism. The last part is mysticism. Again, in my own words, Mysticism is the idea that we privately seek our own answers using our intuition to reach conclusions. Perhaps this means meditating or praying in private or maybe communicating with nature, whatever it is, is up to you. In my own thoughts and times of meditation, I have come to accept certain ideas.
Life is cyclical. We are born, we live and we die but only to be re-born again. I am a true believer in reincarnation. Just like the Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, I believe that we are beings of energy and therefore cannot be created or destroyed. Our bodies are mechanical but the "energy" that makes us tick exists almost separately. We are all connected and to me that describes life as a ball of energy. When we are born, energy is borrowed to make us breathe and when our bodies fail us, the energy is returned. Perhaps it is easiest to compare to people's notions of a soul. The difference for me is that the soul is described as individual, as though it has a personality of its own. I'm not sure that's true. I am more inclined to believe that due to life's connected nature, the energy is without personality. For me this means, there is no judgement and therefore no heaven or hell.
I realize it may seem like a lot to take in and perhaps it's somehow offensive to you but that would be silly. I am not here to persuade you to think like me. In fact just the opposite, I'm hoping to inspire you to search out your own answers. I am here to say that I have come to this conclusion after much deliberation and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to reach their own conclusions. If something I've said rings true with something deep inside of you, please follow up and do the research. Learning is always a good thing. If you want to ask me questions, just use the contact form and I will get back to you. In the meantime let's try to spread love, not hate; peace, not war.
I had the excellent fortune to attend a Just for Laughs event in my city. In case you were wondering, Just for Laughs hosts comedians to travel to different venues. I was extremely excited since I've seen their events on television numerous times but never had the opportunity to attend an event until now. It was absolutely fantastic. The show featured Last Comic Standing John Heffron along with Godfrey, Canadian comedienne Debra Digiovanni, Jim Breuer, Roman Danylo and Diana Frances. I didn't find out the show's theme until we actually arrived and it turned out to be "The Relationship Edition". Perfect for my partner and I on a night out.
Roman Danylo and Diana Frances opened the night with improv to get everyone started. They were great. With audience suggestions they turned something mundane into something exciting and hilarious. A great way to open a show and get everyone ready to laugh. John Heffron came out next and hosted the show. He did a fantastic opening bit. He discussed the difference between being in a relationship as a man in his early 20's to being a married man at 42. One of the funniest things he mentioned was going out to dinner with his wife. He goes on to say that he didn't expect a performance review. He was quite funny.
Next was Godfrey, an honest and very active comic. He brought the stage to life with hilarious comments on everyday life. He made jokes about everything from the incredibly cold Canadian weather and mitten wearing to Victoria's Secret and American Airlines. I laughed particularly hard while watching him. He really knew how to make people laugh. He was quite a ham.
There was a brief intermission before they continued on to one of the most well known and respected comics, Debra Digiovanni. If you've ever watched Much Music's Video on Trial, you would be familiar with her kind of sardonic humour. Most of her humour is self deprecating, something I truly appreciate. I like when a comic can make fun of themselves. It's too easy to make fun of others. She's really very intelligent and witty. She's the one comic I would love to meet in person. I think she'd be terrific fun.
Last but not least was Jim Breuer. In a way he was similar to John Heffron, in comedy and appearance. He also commented on the inner workings of marriage but extended it to having children. After he was done I couldn't help but be more afraid of the possibility of ever having children. Children are a handful. Regardless, all the comedians were truly on their game. I appreciated every minute. I love to laugh. If Just for Laughs returns, I will be there.
I wasn't looking forward to yesterday at all but it seems no matter what you can still be surprised. I might have to admit as well that having a good day is largely dependent on yourself. No one else is responsible for your happiness, just you. It's a hard pill to swallow but every day is only as good as you make it. I digress.
Yesterday truly was a great day. It started off with my partner waking me up with breakfast in bed. That's truly impressive since they have to work early in the morning, yet they took the time to make sure I had breakfast. Very sweet. While they were at work I slept in a little then woke up and just lounged around instead of my usual write, write, write business. I watched a movie and played a video game. It was nice just to relax and not stress about submission dates or pages I need written.
My partner came home from work early just for me. It was nice to spend some real quality time together. We relaxed a bit before getting ready to go downtown. The day before my birthday I decided what I wanted to do. First we visited the art gallery. I love strolling through the rooms looking at all the different forms of art. We saw modernist paintings from the Automatiste Revolution (1941-1960). Many of them captured the essence of motion. I wish I could share my favourites but they did not allow photography. The best part of the art gallery was the exhibition of contemporary art and the baroque entitled, Misled by Nature. Never in my life have I ever felt such fascination and awe while I gazed at these installation pieces. I so badly wanted a million photos of each one. They were all spectacular. One piece could best be described as a yeti decomposing into the earth. Another was an impressive chandelier hanging in a room full of mirrors (there were even mirrors on the floor). There was also a magical hut that was made out of what seemed to be wax. It looked and felt like a fairy getaway in the middle of a forest. I particularly liked that one. My partner's favourite was three panels of framed decorative patterns made out of bindis. The most interesting installation was this giant open sphere that you could describe as a world under construction. There were so many facets to it that it was truly something to behold.
After the amazing exhibitions we had a dinner reservation with a restaurant I have always wanted to visit named, La Ronde. The restaurant is at the top of a hotel on the 24th floor allowing for a magnificent view. The best part, the restaurant rotates, doing a full rotation in 90 minutes. We were able to see a unique and stunning view every time we looked out the window, whether it was of the rolling river valley or the lights of downtown. What made it truly romantic was the sunset during our dinner. As though the view wasn't spectacular enough, the food was absolutely stellar. The menu is superb and thoughtful. To start we had Classic Steak Tartare with brioche toast points and Escargots Bourguignonne En Croute. The steak tartare was delicious but the escargots was phenomenal. The little dish had a pastry top that when eaten together with an escargot made me wish I never ate anything else. For the main course my partner had a lovely prime rib while I ordered Roast Brome Lake Duck Breast with bigarade sauce and roast baby potatoes. I have always wanted to try duck and thought it was the perfect opportunity. I made the right decision, I have never eaten anything so succulent. To round out the perfect entrees my partner ordered a seafood melange of shrimp, scallops and lobster. I'm allergic to shrimp but let me tell you, scallops are usually bland but these scallops were delectable, not to mention the outstanding lobster. To top it all off we had dessert. What I haven't mentioned was the outstanding service we received. When I ordered my Cinnamon Creme Brulle the waitress remembered it was my birthday and brought it out with a sparkler. She also tastefully sang happy birthday. It was a lovely touch. I love sparklers! The creme brulle was perfect while my partner's pistachio and white chocolate slice was amazing. All in all it was an amazing dinner. I would highly recommend LaRonde to anyone, just be prepared to pay the price for a truly wonderful experience. You won't forget it, I know I won't.
We returned home, happy and more than satisfied. My partner then gave me my present. It was delivered in a giant box from Amazon and had been teasing me for days. I had ideas about what it was, one in particular but the size baffled me. So I finally opened it. It was the Harry Potter Wizards Collection! All 8 movies on Blu-Ray, DVD and in digital copies! Not only that but it came in the most wondrous and impressive box that included 2 different maps of Hogwarts, many pieces of art, beautiful books and the Horcrux necklace. I had been looking at it online for months but I never knew how big it was! It's enormous! Not to mention heavy! The only downside about the box is the decision about where to put it!
After all that excitement we sat down for a relaxing movie. I picked one of my very favourite movies all time (should have included it in my Top 10). It's called "The Flight of Dragons". It's a brilliant animated film about the struggle for magic to survive in a world turning to logic and science. I really love it. My partner had never seen it so it was nice to share it with them.
All in all it was a stupendous birthday. I'm truly thankful to have such a loving partner. Now you can enjoy some scenic photos! (They were taken with my iPhone 3GS.) On a sidenote, today is the first day of snow!
Teddy Bear Day! What a beary wonderful day! I could go on about Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States and how his persona created the "Teddy" bear after a hunting trip in 1902 Mississippi, following the mercy killing of an injured bear. A toy maker, Morris Michtom heard the story and thus created a toy bear in his name. Instead I want to discuss cute Teddy bears!
In North America it is common for every child to own a Teddy bear at one point in their lives. Some own many. Some hold on to their Teddy bears into adulthood. Most likely because they come to signify many adolescent memories and an attachment to their inner child. To the left is a photo of a StarCraft 2 e-sport commentator, Day9 and his Teddy bear, "Manfred".
Day9 is not the only adult who still cherishes their Teddy bear. I personally love mine. Her name is Matilda and she's a mouse. I've literally owned her since the day I was born, in my eyes she is my age. I dragged her everywhere as a child. I was so enamoured with Matilda as my best friend that my mother made up a song about her and I. At one point I even requested to make one of my middle names Matilda!
So take this day to celebrate the Teddy bears we know and love or the ones we no longer have.
In the past few weeks I've seen one particular date over and over. I thought to myself, what a strange coincidence. Each time I saw today's date I was reminded of what that date used to mean to me. September 6 is the birthday of someone I knew. At one point I knew them as a best friend and at another I realized they were a bully. I couldn't be friends with a bully.
Bullies are one of the most egocentric personalities. They can be narcissistic, focusing their concerns on their own lives while disregarding all others. This sort of behaviour seems common in schools. This is probably due to the social hierarchy, forcing adolescents to socially combat each other for higher status. That combined with each adolescents' feelings of insecurity creates a ceaseless need for recognition. Some do it by getting the best grades they can, others throw themselves into the claws of their peers and still others become bullies. They harass their peers and berate their friends, all in an attempt to cure low self esteem.
Growing up is one of the hardest things to do and being an adolescent is definitely one of the most difficult times of anyone's life. Everyone must overcome challenges in order to mature into an adult and sometimes those challenges can overwhelm us to the point of surrender. To everyone out there still experiencing the horrendous reality of adolescence, I salute you. I know you have the strength to put it all behind you and become a healthy adult.
I think everyone is born with a hole in their heart. This hole makes you feel an emptiness. The emptiness pangs and aches begging to be filled, making people search for something to satisfy their emptiness. They search and search, hoping that if they find something satisfactory they'll be happy, that they'll no longer feel the pain and longing. So they try to fill it with things that they think will make them happy - money, things, drugs, adrenaline - anything and everything. After they acquire their new "thing" they feel happy for only a moment before the pulsating longing returns with a vengeance. It's not enough. It wasn't satisfactory. So they do it again, filling it with another "thing". Still, it doesn't work.
This hole in everyone's heart cannot be fixed by "things". It can't be fixed by anything someone might find in life. Everyone searches for happiness, expecting to find it outside of themselves. The truth is that happiness is not something you can search for because it is something that already exists inside of each and every person. It lays dormant inside of us, waiting to be discovered. Only you can make you happy. Only you know how to make you happy. We hold the key to happiness in ourselves.
Quite a while ago I discovered I have a few white hairs. I was in denial at first because it seemed so unlikely. Then I came to accept they were in fact real. I haven't the foggiest why this has happened. People always suggest it's stress related and if in fact that is the case that makes sense. I have indeed experienced enormous amounts of stress in my life. However I've performed a Google search and discovered it could in fact be a vitamin B12 deficiency. So I think the first thing I'm going to do is increase my intake of vitamins. Luckily for me I've started to eat more fruit.
Sometimes when I brush my hair and see those white hairs I find myself filled with questions about mortality. We're aging all the time. We're constantly growing and changing on a molecular level. I have to admit I've taken my youth for granted. It was just so easy to be young and ignorant but now I realize I can't live like that anymore. I need to face the fact I'm not going younger nor am I staying the same age. I'm getting older.
So what does that mean? It means I need to treat myself better. Instead of shrouding myself in ignorant bliss I'm going to do my best to live healthier. I want to feel healthy. I want to feel young. I don't want to feel old. I don't think anyone does. There is no better time than right now. That means eating healthier and getting more exercise. The age old solution. Everyone repeats those words but does anyone really understand what that involves?
Live life like you mean it. We've only got so long before we move on.
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