Monthly Archives: December 2016

Stay afraid. But do it anyway.

“Carrie Fisher blazed a trail by setting fire to everything blocking her path, to all the debris and overgrowth that stood in her way, leaving open ground behind her that made those of us following behind her so much easier.  She blazed and burned and lit the way for others.  She lived fully and touched many.”

Words of comfort and wisdom from The Bloggess.

Source: Stay afraid. But do it anyway.

Game Plan: A Navel-Gazing Self-Indulgent Ramble and Motivational Speech

Granted, this is just yet another method of procrastinating, but I need to know when this interminable self-inflicted form of torture is going to end.

(because I could not possibly care any less about this course if I tried, and it’s not relevant to anything I want to study, but it’s a pre-requisite for every 2nd year bio course, so I don’t have a freaking choice and I hate it I hate it I hate it)

I recently had a long Facebook conversation about definitions of success, treading water, and finding your place in life. In these conversations, people often say that it’s the journey  that’s important, not the destination. So enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it! Think positive! Love life!

That can be very true and very important. But in this particular instance, my specific journey involves 4 more years of school. Reminder to self: YOU HAVE DONE STUFF. You have completed, with high honours, a Bachelor of Journalism and a Minor in Classical Civilization from Carleton University, found out you CAN hack it in the real, adult world, worked in administration and communications, taught English in Korea, traveled to 27 countries, read thousands of books, dabbled in copy editing, origami, photography, and archaeology, finally worked out a life course that feels meaningful, important, and somehow also realistic in a field that excites you, where you feel competent and in control, and RIGHT NOW you are doing pursuing that course, completing a BSc in Psychology and Biology at York. YOU ARE NOT USELESS. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. You’re just making your way over a particularly, shall we say, sticky patch in your life road right now. Like a road bump made of molasses.

Because, see, I am NOT good at school. I am a terrible student. I get good marks, but I procrastinate, get stressed and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing, and, of course, have no money. Worst of all, when I’m in school, I cannot organize a good work-life balance to save my life. I’m either doing homework, worrying about homework, avoiding homework, or trying to convince myself to get started on homework. For instance, this entire post.

This journey doesn’t feel like an exciting and stimulating exploration full of new knowledge and lessons to be learnt. It feels 4-year emotional jail sentence, and I am putting myself through it for one reason: to reach the destination of a career in something that is intellectually interesting, emotionally fulfilling, and pays decently. Something I can see myself succeeding in, caring about, doing full time while making space for family, travel, writing, and hobbies. In this case, I really really really care specifically about the destination.

With that in mind, here’s what I need to do to complete this BSc in Psychology and Biology after the end of the current school year. As wonderful as it would be to fit all this into one semester, I can’t, because every damn group of courses in each semester from here on out is required to take those in the following semester. There is no shortcut. There is no way to speed through this.

Summer 2017 (I turn 30)
BIOL 2070 – Research Methods in Cell and Molecular Biology
BIOL 2020 – Biochemistry
BIOL 2021 – Cell Biology

Fall 2017
BIOL 3110 – Molecular Biology 1
BIOL 4270 – Reproduction

Winter 2017
BIOL 3130 – Molecular Biology 2
BIOL 4061 – Cell and Molecular Biology of Development

Summer 2018 (I turn 31)
BIOL 4285 – Human Molecular Genetics
BIOL 4010 – Biology of Cancer

Fall 2018


In my perfect world, I run off to do a working holiday in Australia (Fall 2018-Fall 2019) and see New Zealand and Southeast Asia at the same time! Then I teach overseas and earn some money in Europe or South America (Fall 2019-Fall 2020)! In 2019, I apply to grad schools, and in Fall 2020, I choose one, endure 2 more years of education, and then begin my career. After graduation, I take one last year off to travel. I do Africa and whatever continent I didn’t teach in. Then, in 2023, at age 36, I begin my career. Any further travel will take place during summer and winter breaks, like a “normal” person. With any luck, I’ll fill in the blanks I missed, maybe see the Galapagos and Antarctica. At some point in the future, maybe I write a book, or get a PhD in behavioural psychology, maybe I meet someone and we adopt a kid, maybe I get a puppy, perhaps I’ll learn how to sew, or sell custom gifts and paper creations on the side. I work until I’m 70, then retire. Despite the late start, I’ve still had a 34-year long career. I write, maybe enjoy grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, maybe that’s when I start my PhD. Hey, Brian May was 60 when he got his. Maybe I visit all the countries in the world, go sky-diving at 90, finish all the books on my to-read list, and die happily at 102 years old.

Or maybe I skip the travel and go straight to grad school. Maybe I find out that genetic counselling isn’t for me after all. Maybe I play saxophone in the orchestra pit at musicals and become a voice actor. Maybe Trump causes a nuclear holocaust and the point is moot.

Or, maybe I get hit by a bus next week.

Ok, seriously, it’s time to study chemistry now.


To Read in 2017



Every year, I set myself a goal for a minimum number of books to read over the next 12 months. Usually, that number is above 30, which is more than manageable when I’m not at school, and a good thing to strive for when I am. The problem is, the higher the number, the less likely I am to read books that will take a long time to finish, especially nearing the end of the year. Which means many of those giant bricks sitting on my shelves never get read.

I’ve wanted to do this for a while, so:

Here are the 10 (.5?) monster books I will read in 2017. Criteria: A book I own that’s more than 600 pages and, ideally, that has been gathering dust for a few years.

That’s less than a book a month. You can do this.

(There are two – really three – copies of Les Mis because I don’t know which one I want to go for yet. Maybe if I’ll do both – or all, if I’m ahead of schedule.)

  1. H.P. Lovecraft – The Complete Fiction
    • 1098 pages
    • exception #1 to the dust-gathering rule because I borrowed it from a friend, and if it’s not included on this list, he’s never getting it back
  2. Steven Pinker – The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
    • 802 pages (696 pages not including index and notes)
    • owned since 2011
  3. Jeff Smith – Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume
    • 1332 pages
    • owned since approx. 2013?
  4. Howard Zinn – A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present
    • 745 pages (688 pages not including bibliography, index, and notes)
    • owned since I don’t even know, 2010 maybe?
  5. Ron Chernow – Alexander Hamilton: The Ten Dollar Founding Father Without a Father
    • 818 pages (738 pages not including notes, bibliography, and index)
    • exception #2 to the dust rule; owned since a few months ago, but I really wanna reeeeaaaad iiiiiiittttttttt
  6. Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead
    • 704 pages
    • my mom’s, so “owned” at least 30 years
  7. Michael Palin – Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years
    • 650 pages (608 not including index)
    • owned since 2007
  8. Jonathan Franzen – The Corrections
    • 609 pages
    • owned since no idea
  9. Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries
    • 832 pages
    • owned since 2013
  10. Victor Hugo – Les Miserables (translated by Lee Fahnestock & Norman MacAfee based on the C.E. Wilbour translation)
    • 1462 pages
    • owned since approx. 2013/2014 I think?
    • I also have half of the C.E. Wilbour translation. If I can get the other half, I might switch to it instead, or add it to the list…
  11. Victor Hugo – Les Miserables (translated by Norman Denny)
    • 1232 pages (1200 not including appendix)
    • owned since approx. 2013/2014 I think?

Total pages: 9052
Total pages not including extras: 8767 (Huh. That’s not as better as I had hoped…)

Well, I’ve read over 7000 pages during each of the last 6 years, according to Goodreads, so this should be okay.



(I would also like to note that there are at least enough bricks left in my room for me to do this at least one more time.)

Reliving Old Experiences with Nice Guys

I’m posting this here as an supplement to a facebook entry on Nice Guys, inspired by an article on

What follows is a lightly edited version of a private Livejournal entry I wrote on December 24th, 2006. Names have been altered. Nothing else has. Some comments have been added. It was 10 years ago, please judge the writing style and naive idiocy thusly.


Remember Nice Guy, the guy that asked me out on a date a couple of months ago? Who I (for lack of a better word) broke up with on the SECOND outing (i.e. After one date; can you “break up” with someone you’ve never really started seeing?)? Back in the beginning of September that was, I believe.


Validation is really, really nice. I like being right, and boy was I right about him.

So after I told him that I just wanted to be friends, that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, and, when he offered to help me put the beans in my new bean bag chair way back when, I said (and this is almost word-for-word) that I didn’t want him to help if he was going to take that as a message that was pro-relationship, and I didn’t want him to think I was taking advantage. I think that was pretty clear. Short of saying “I hate you, you pain in the ass,” I really don’t think I could have been more clear. (Oh, poor, sweet, innocent baby Donna.)

My name, in this first msn conversation, was “> smile away ~ actually working, please do not talk,” while his was a notably creative “Nice Guy’s Real Name.” This is copy/pasted, by the way. I even left in my typos.

Nice Guy: ohhh thats just retarded
Me: excuse me?
Nice Guy: I’m joking
Me: yes, but about what?
Nice Guy: your name
Me: ah
Nice Guy: so wutsss new
Me: I’m working
Me: would have thought that was fairly obvious
Nice Guy: ahhhh man
Nice Guy: I’m just not sure about u
Me: ?
Nice Guy: ohh my god…. so unfortunaly I’m using an older msn with no eye rolling emoticon
Me: seriously, what aren’t you sure about
Me: I;m no mind reader
Nice Guy: So I’ve been involved with some other girls heh, as one can gather I was on the hunt from the start
Me: that’s great
Nice Guy: I just don’t get how u don’t even contact me as a friend like ur scared that I’m still after u or sumthing
Me: no, I just haven’t been talking to anyone lately
Me: first it was midterms and now it’s all the projects
Me: ask anyone
Me: I haven’t talked to mutual acquaintance either
Nice Guy: lol welll…
Nice Guy: u and her r dffrnt types of gals in all due honesty
Me: ummm
Me: okay then.
Nice Guy: well I dunno
Nice Guy: she’s not like u
Nice Guy: ur not like her <note>Thank you Nice Guy for that illuminating comment.</note>
Nice Guy: I gotta sleep though <note>Clearly.</note>
Me: ok
Me: don’t be afraid to msn me when I’m on <note>This was our first msn conversation, when I was still trying to push the “friends” angle. (UGH YOU IDIOT NO DON’T DO IT) </note>
Me: I’m just rarely on

Aaand msn conversation number two:
Nice Guy: yo
Me: what’s new?
Me: do you not go to fencing anymore?
Nice Guy: ahhh man I don’t got time for that crap lol
Nice Guy: I am on the team though
Nice Guy: number 5 or 6
Nice Guy: I could have got 3 but I just was to tardy about going to try outs
Me: ah
Me: foil, right?
Nice Guy: yep
Nice Guy: that little name of some guy guy made it onto the top 3
Nice Guy: I can stand him <note>Oh, you *can* stand him can you? That’s definitely statement-worthy.</note>
Nice Guy: well he’s very up tight and consceitiuos <note>consceitiuos? Does anyone have a Moron-to-English dictionary?</note>
Nice Guy: or how ever the hell us pell that <note>Well, you were close. If by close you mean not close at all.</note>
Me: I don’t think I know him
Nice Guy: he made it on becuz he showed up to every tryout and did the entire thing
Nice Guy: I only ran the laps once <note>I wonder if he remembers that I was there? He ran the laps at least twice. Oh, and also? I don’t care.</note>
Nice Guy: other then that I showed up late and dueled
Nice Guy: Name of some guy is like this very uptight, ahhh it’s hard to explain… I never get along well with guys like him
Me: how’s school going, then?
Nice Guy: ohhhh it could be better
Nice Guy: I was with this chinese girl for all of october and that distracted me from my studies
Nice Guy: hows ur school going
Me: awful
Me: essay due monday, haven’t started <note>As you can see, university has really improved my procrastination skills. Sigh, well, that’s depressing. </note>
Nice Guy: yeah… I’m ina similar pickle
Nice Guy: So are you still staying away from the social life or what
Me: as much as I can
Me: me and a few of the fencing people go out to pub nights once in a while
Nice Guy: well thats good
Nice Guy: see I just can’t live life that way
Nice Guy: I’ve tried to live life really introverted liek that I just can’t
Me: to each their own
Nice Guy: ya don’t think the way u live is a mistake?
Me: of course not
Nice Guy: see I’ve been goin after alot of women, I need women, or at least one real good one, but like how can you live a man free life <note>Wow. So now not liking him means that I wish to live a man-free life. That’s right.</note>
Me: who said anything about a man-free life
Me: I just said I don’t like to party a lot
Nice Guy: well… people party for one reson as far as I’m concerend lol
Nice Guy: okay well forget that
Nice Guy: well I dunno have u met any guys r wut
<note> DO NOT ENGAGE. I think I knew that even back then, because this was my note-to-self at the time: And this is where I get stupid. I blame lack of sleep. Please don’t judge me. Please, for the love of God, don’t judge me.</note> Me: one guy asked me out
Me: but I have a huge crush on someone else that I’m just waiting to go away because it’s never going to happen
Nice Guy: phht make it happen
Me: yeah right
Nice Guy: u already missed one boat with me (I don’t care if that arogent I’m sayin it) why miss another one
Me: ha
Me: missed a boat?
Me: ok then
Me: because the guy is older, probably has a girlffriend, and it’s just embarassing
Me: when the right thing happens, it’ll happen <note>Trying to dig my way out of it…</note>
Nice Guy: who is this guy
Me: why does it matter <note>Still digging…</note>
Nice Guy: hahah don’t tell me it;s some knob at fencing
Me: im not saying a thing <note>My grammar suffers when I realise my idiocy.</note>
Nice Guy: lol is it name of guy I had a truly massive crush on <note>Oh, shit.</note>
Me: as I said – not saying anything
Nice Guy: what do u think I’m gunna do go tell them <note>Ok, I seriously would not put it past you.</note>
Me: nope
Me: I just don’t want to type the name
Nice Guy: I probably don’t know the name <note>Oh thank God.</note>
Nice Guy: and ya u missed a boat, I did a poor job of pulling your strings, I was off my game at that moment in time, but what ever I shouldn’t have wasted my time on u… I’v been meaning to express this negative sentiment for a while <note>Oh, we’re back to that again?</note>
Me: man, relax
Me: it’s not an ego attack if it just doesn’t work out <b>It is now, however, turning into an ego attack.</B>
Nice Guy: I can be mean and relaxed all at once*-)
Nice Guy: I’m not sure u have a good impression of me <note>Can’t imagine why</note>… I swear I must have split personalities <note>That is the least of your problems, I think.</note>
Nice Guy: either that or I’m just deceitfull and a good actor
Nice Guy: see when I was seeing u I wasn’t afraid to play up my geeky side cuz I see u as a geek, where as the chinese girl would have seen me as a total ladies man <note>…I have no words for this. Still don’t. </note>
Me: well, when I see you I behave normally, and when I see other nameless guy I behave normally, although maybe a little more klutzy
Me: so no. I don’t get that
Nice Guy: like u I am a brainiac and half of these people wouldn’t have the slightest clue <note>I…it…wa…wow. Yes. Yes you are. And you aren’t being at all consceitiuos or arogent in saying so.</note>
Nice Guy: I swaer to god I have multiple personalities
Nice Guy: any ways talking with u puts me off my game|-) I have a club to get to tonite:)…
Me: ok then

And then I blocked and deleted him.

I deleted the first e-mail, sent a while back, which was basically him saying he was “checking up on me,” was “fine with just being friends,” and that I should talk to him more, because he’s not “after me” at all, now, and he’s been with plenty of different women.

I have not deleted this one, on advice, so that I can use it as a “paper trail” in case things get serious.

“Hey heres the deal I’m not gunna go into extrenuating detail, but when we first went out the signals you gave were pro relationship signals, and then the second time you said that at first you thought to your self you’d like a relationship (although you were still officialy undecided) and then as the week moved on you figured other wise because of school and shit- hence you telling me the second time that all you were looking for was friendship, but that maybe then it could evolve into a relationship, ya don’t fuckin try and let me down easy like that, understand woman? ya play it straight up ya don’t jerk me around you got that? Ya make your point clear and understandable ya don’t use indirect feminine bullshit with me, I’m to far out of your leauge for you to be able to deal with me in that way.
then the third time I saw you in the caf you denied that and said that you had always said you weren’t sure and that you had never said that “at first you thought you might like a relationship” well you said that I know for a fact ya did. Well that was always the explicit, but in terms of the implicit you jerked me around, now heres the deal, ya don’t try and let me down easy ya don’t play games with me, ya don’t change your story around and jerk me around. When I met you I was off my game, I did a poor job of manipulating you, plain and simple, you should only be so lucky as to have met me in a more flirtogenic mindset when I could have charmed you better because ur lucky I gave you the time of day to begin with. The truth is I’m outa ur leauge, Some how I failed to realize that at the time.

heh just felt like sayin all that!

and any replies you send will suffer the indignity of being deleted on sight”

You all hear that? He’s “to” far out of my league! What was I thinking, dumping this guy? This e-mail has clearly caused me to immediately change my mind. Take me back Nice Guy! Please do! SO THAT I CAN TEACH YOU THE GLORY THAT IS GRAMMAR AND SPELLING, AND PERHAPS MURDER YOU WITH THE DICTIONARY. AND NO WEENIE LITTLE POCKET DICTIONARY, EITHER; YOU’RE GETTING THE FULL-ON OXFORD TREATMENT, YOU FOOL.

Good lord, I am actually shaking with anger from this right now. Because not ONE fucking thing in that e-mail is true.

The thing that gets me most is that this is all e-mail and msn — no telephone or face-to-face conversations. Which means first he had to think the words. Then type them. Then they were there in front of his face and could easily be reread. And yet he pressed the send button anyway. In what universe would one think that this was an okay thing to write? Can he simply not TELL that he’s making a complete and total ass of himself with every new word? Frankly, it is BEYOND ME, at this point.

No, this has not been my only university experience, but it IS the only one I feel the need to vent about. I am, however, calm now.

Just keeping the following in out of nostalgia. Ah, HP fandom. 

I’m working on some HP fanart right now, but who knows when that’ll be done. It’s one of the requests I’ve had on the back burner for…an amount of time I would not like to specify.