Monday, August 30, 2010

Like a bottle tossed into the ocean.

Today, I received my first sympathy card.

Actually, I think it's a bit too early to receive one as my mother is still alive. But it struck me as something so strange and foreign, like it's hard to believe that it's truly meant for me. The formality doesn't seem quite appropriate yet for someone my age. Sympathy for who, me?

But then I remember, that when my mother does pass away, it won't matter how old or how ready I am to receive the entirety of being a mature member of society. I will have to do it regardless, because no one else will do it for me.

I suppose this may come as a surprise for anybody who may be reading this entry, but this summer has been so very stressful for me. It was so long and tiring, and because I had decided it would be even more tiring to share what I was experiencing with others, I had kept it to myself. To give a short summary, my mother was hospitalized for a few weeks in July and is now on palliative care at home. Basically, just over a month ago, we were told that my mother (who is suffering from heart and kidney disease which then entails many other dysfunctions within her body as a result) is incurable and has a life expectancy of approximately one year left. Putting the details of my mental state throughout the summer aside for another day, the summer progressed and is now coming to an end, with me getting ready to leave home again for my last year of university in Montreal.

Two friends and I went for a walk along the West Dyke Trail this afternoon. It was a splendid time of taking photos, climbing hills and chasing grasshoppers as we would have 10 years ago. But as our energy levels died down after a while and my friends were occupied with studying the many plants available for viewing at the public garden, I detached myself from them for a bit and turned around to look at the landscape behind us.

As I stood there staring across the field into the far distance, I suddenly felt a strong sense of loneliness, of a fear for the future that is appearing to be so forlorn and desolate; a life without my mother. The strong breeze, the rustling of dry grass, the bright but sunless sky that reached into neverending space... the sudden occurrence that the world is so vast and empty hit me so rapidly that I could only think of one thing: I am scared to be left alone in a world like this. At that moment, I felt as if I was frozen in a place where my past was but a faint flicker; the future seemed blank like the pitiless sky that-- unlike us-- will always exist, surpassing time and space, and I will be here and gone like a vapour in the wind.

You might think that I am a bit too young to think of these things, but keep in mind that having a dying mother at home and all... well, I can't help but be constantly wrapped in a cloud of slightly existentialistic melancholy. Life is so very short. Growing up with a single mother has made me an independent person-- indeed, probably much more independent than most girls my age-- but also extremely aware of my vulnerability as someone who will be completely on her own in this world without my mother.

Well, in any case, I still have some more time at school to decide what to do by myself from here on. But only so much time, and I will have to make my decisions soon. But you never know, many things can happen within a year's time. As even this short, summer season has proven.

Where will I go from here?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I've never had blackberries before, actually.

Today, I'd like to address the topic of those handheld devices that every other young person seems to have these days called the "BlackBerry".

The first time I learned about the BlackBerry was in high school, when a friend of mine worked at Bell Mobility and received a BlackBerry to use, free of charge, for working there. Not that anyone she knew had a Blackberry back then since most of the people who used it were businessmen, but it seems to have become the complete opposite in recent days.

It started with some people I knew who were studying commerce in university. It was the "cool" thing to have if you want to do business-- or rather, at that point in time for them, if they wanted to be pretentious. All these university students started popping up with a BlackBerry of their own, furiously typing away text messages to their other [spoiled] friends that own a BlackBerry, or distracted at work or in class by the small screen through which they browse the internet... because who can stay away from the internet for more than a few hours these days?

The BlackBerry isn't the most cost-effective phone, since the phone itself is quite expensive in addition to the monthly fees you have to pay. I guess I don't really have a problem with that since it is your choice whether you want to spend that much money on a 4 inch piece of plastic and metal, but what I do find [even more] ridiculous is the BlackBerry Messenger service, commonly known as "BBM".

If you take the bus in the Greater Vancouver area, the most common ads you'll see over your head are-- other than the annoying sex sense ad with a picture of two teenagers making out-- the ads for the BlackBerry that span across two ad spaces. At the bottom of the ad would be one of many horrible slogans that the company came up with, like "Define your friends from your frenemies", "Get connected with your inner, inner circle", "If you can't say it here, you probably can't say it". Personally, I think the most outrageous (or not?) goes something along the lines of "You know they know you know they read it". Apparently, BBM records if the other person has read your message or not in a conversation.

Why would anyone want that? I think the only thing it would be convenient for is if you're in an emergency and you type "HELP" to someone, and if you know they've read it, at least you can have a peace of mind that help may be on its way. But that is an unlikely situation. Instead, it seems to me like this is going to create a whole lot more drama for the tweens, teens, and young people out there using this device. Why would you want to know if someone has read your message or not if it's not that important? Why would you want someone else to know that you have read their message? What happened to privacy?

I don't think I'd like it very much if people knew what I did on my own phone. I can read your message and decide to reply or not, whenever I want. Why would I want anyone else to know what I do? I also don't need people to know where I am 24/7, so I don't see why I would need BBM. But without BBM, what is the point of getting a BlackBerry, at my age anyway? Oh, who am I kidding, it's not necessary at any age, really. But I find it especially devastating that young people are getting attracted to this type of thing, spending money and signing a contract they probably don't need and most likely can't afford on their own. Do you really need to talk to your friends all the time? There are so many better ways to connect with your friends, and I hardly think text messaging is one of the most effective ways in doing so.

Perhaps it's just especially annoying for me when I see my friends checking their BlackBerry every other minute when I am hanging out with them, or teenagers not being able to look away from their little screens for over a minute during a short bus ride. Sure you can stay "connected" to your friends this way, but I think I'd much rather spend quality time in person, or even on the phone, than texting short, meaningless sentences to my "friends" about nothing important. I text on my phone too, but for me, I think texting is more of a way to eventually lead to a more efficient and worthwhile way of communicating, maybe meeting up at someplace else or whatnot. Not a way to rid myself of my own boredom with the excuse of "talking" to my friends.

By the way, if you own a BlackBerry and are reading this: by all means, carry on with your life.