Saturday, 18 May 2019

Onward

Hello.

It's been far too long since my last post. On several levels, I am still the same person I was a year ago. I am still passionate about music, writing, fiction, and reality. I still have so much love for everyone in my life and I still take moments to take in absolutely everything and breathe in all that I don't want to forget, and I still write and think in cliches.

I've also grown up in the past year. I'm graduating high school in just over two weeks. I'm still friends with a lot of the same people I've cryptically mentioned in my past posts, and I've opened my heart up to even more people this year that matter just as much to me as those that have been in my life for longer. I'm ready for the change that is coming, but I've also never been more afraid. I'm terrified that the group and situation I've found is the best one I will ever have, and I'm having trouble seeing the wide expanse of life I have left to live and experiences I have yet to have.

I'm letting myself feel everything to a full extent, and I'm giving myself the grace to live and make some stupid decisions and have authentic moments with those I love. I've been listening to mostly sad, soft, acoustic music alone, and with friends, party music that lets us let go and dance all together.

The biggest lesson I am currently in the process of learning is letting go. I've spent a lot of time recently with my inhibitions lowered due to lack of sleep and situational circumstances, and I've learned that it's okay to let myself feel honestly if I am in a safe place with people I trust.

I must let go of the place that has become my home, and let go of the particular set of people that have made every single moment infinite for me. Thinking about all of this releasing I must do has made me question every aspect of my past and present life, which is what reminded me that I have left this blog hanging in the balance for far too long. I owe it to my past self, as well as to the few that have continued reading it for the last five years, to provide some closure.

I used blogging as a tool in my preteen and early teen years to fuel my passion for writing, to stay connected with other people on the internet, and to have another outlet and pastime. As I've matured, I've found other pastimes and outlets that have been more suitable for me. I used to resent myself for changing, but in the last year I have come to terms with the fact that changing is acceptable, and I must treat my present self with the same amount of kindness that I treat my past self with respect.

I am officially letting go of this blog. I no longer want it to hang in the balance.

I'm so thankful for the community with which it provided me. Even if we only had a few interactions over the years, please know that I treasured every single comment I received and every online friend I made. I'm so thankful for the motivation and encouragement this site gave me to pursue my interests and passions.

On July 13th, 2014, I wrote: "My amazing case of wanderlust has led me to my goals of exploring and discovering. I'm going to travel across Europe, climb a whole bunch of mountains, and see as many, historical, wonderful sights as possible.Dearest eleven year old me, you have so much to look forward to. Only within five years, you will travel in Europe, climb mountains and hills and see trees and stars, visit authors' houses and old museums, travel to Washington, Boston, and New York City, and experience things you didn't even dream of. And we both have so much more ahead of us!

Though currently melancholic, I am happy. I am attending an environmental science program in college next year, and I hope to continue writing and reading in my spare time.

I am moving onward. Thank you to all that stayed with me for the whole or part of this journey. I will still be active on instagram for those with whom I connected there, and maybe one day I will be at another stage in my life where a blog will feel necessary.

Until then, I am tearfully, but surely, signing off. 

Thank you.

Love,
Oakstar

"Let us go on and take the adventure that shall fall to us." -C.S. Lewis

Saturday, 16 June 2018

An ode to best friends & St. Andrews, New Brunswick

April 24th-April 28th, 2018

photo taken by Abby W
When I started high school, if someone asked me what I'd expected to experience that would in large part define my entire high school and teenage experience, I would've said something about joining the Harry Potter club, making friends, doing the science fair, learning MLA. I would not in years have dreamt to find my soul in a small town in New Brunswick. If anything, I would have expected to find it in maybe on a big city trip to New York to see a bunch of musicals or to study art or literature. But, I'm so grateful that I was pushed out of almost every zone of comfort I've built for myself in terms of high school experiences to share in something that I doubt I'll ever experience again.

All my life, I've been searching for little bits of magic that could take me away and transport me to a place that isn't the real world. I find this in fiction to take with me throughout my real life. Fiction gives me something to hold onto, a little bit of hope if I can't find any in reality. The adventures of the characters, the strong bonds they form with each other, every little thing they experience I begin to feel like it's my own.

But lately, I've been finally finding the life around me that doesn't just emulate everything I love in fiction, but that is my own, full of characters and experiences just as bright. 

And then, I went on the marine biology trip. Only fifty students in my grade go every year. The trip features four days at a marine biology discovery center in St. Andrews, New Brunswick where students can explore and learn about its rich and diverse ecosystem and marine life through different lab experiments and hands on projects at various beaches in the surrounding area. 

Everything I had been jealous of characters for experiencing in fiction, I experienced. I learned so much more about everything than everything I learned about marine biology. 

There was the adventure, fog over bridges and docks, breaking rules to ghost hunt, exploring abandoned haunted places, getting lost in the middle of nowhere, standing in the stream of a waterfall, and running free in an open field.

That week brought the inner world inside my head, all my wishes and hopes and fantastical dreams, and all of the outer reality and beautiful people in my life, together in a way that I had always and yet never imagined. 

photo taken by Ilyssa T
Each day featured outings to different beaches to learn about different marine organisms. One day, we stood on a wet and windy beach for three and a half hours, slowly walking down the beach counting marine organisms at every two and a half meters. The next, we did a massive clean up of marine debris at another beach and collected as a group of fifty over twelve buckets of garbage in approximately one hour. One of us even found a giant plastic bag, which we filled with even more trash (my arms ached for several days after carrying it all the way back). This was my favourite outing, because it didn't involve sea urchins. We didn't like the sea urchins.

We also dug up worms for an hour at another beach, but at that point we were very overtired and dug for onions with our gloved hands instead (it was a very weird trip). 

photo taken by Abby W
We had to walk very far out on a beach to do our zonation project. On the way there, a friend and I stood in the shallow but fast moving current brought down by mini waterfalls heading toward the ocean. We felt the powerful stream rushing by us, and in another strange way it allowed me to feel connected to the earth. The rocky paths we had to walk through to get to the larger part of the beach made me feel like I was in Narnia. 

photo taken by Abby W
After dinner on the first night, we were given free time until curfew to wander and explore and get our energy out. Outside at the front of the dining hall, there was a massive field, and we ran around in the dark.
photo taken by Abby W
The picnic table is nearly hidden in this photo, but that night seven of us lay down on it to look at the stars. We didn't see any, but across the water, we did see the lights of what we believed to be a small town in Maine.

I think this was a point where we all started complaining about wishing we all had significant others with whom to appreciate the beauty of the sky and the sea, but looking back on it, the experience was perfect with my dear friends.


One of my dear friends on the trip believes that the place she belongs is near the ocean. It is her passion and the source of her joy. For me, I feel the same way, but about lush, green forests and wide expanses of fields. We both got to see each other in our own element.

photo taken by Abby W
Our ghost hunting expedition on the empty fourth floor in the dining hall actually turned into photoshoots of each other at this beautiful window. However, the area did give us strange, haunting vibes. 

The entire trip had a feeling as haunted and as hopeful as the boat in the foggy distance in this photo. I experienced walking to the very edge of a peninsula while the tide was coming in, and watched my vision get engulfed until nothing in the periphery remained except the ocean.


On the paper they gave us months before the trip stating the rules and regulations we must follow, we were told that we would be allowed to walk into town in groups of three as long as we were to return by eight pm. But at eight on our second night, our teacher chaperone asked us all if we wanted to go on an adventure. We took a while to walk there because we were too busy sightseeing-we found a historical site with a cannon-armed blockade and stopped to take a lot of pictures.

We were given free time to wander in groups and get back by nine pm. The chaperone gave us simple directions to get to the Tim Hortons we had visited on the first night, but we ended up taking several wrong turns up a hill and barely made it back in time. However, we got into interesting conversations about the meaning of life and living in a simulation on the way there, and I vlogged and we skipped and joked about feeling like we were in Stranger Things. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
photo taken by Abby W
On the campus where we were staying, there were two abandoned, ramshackle shacks just enough to the side to make us feel like we were breaking some sort of rule to explore. We pretended we were in an episode of Spooksville, and then stood outside in the long, yellowing grass, chanting and swaying, pretending to be witches boiling our cauldron.


photo taken by Abby W
don't worry mum, we didn't actually go in 
I don't think that, for one second of the trip, I didn't feel like I was living somewhere I had made up in my head. It was so surreal and amazing.

Except maybe the lab where we had to watch and time fifteen different sea urchins flip over onto their right side (three times each). That is forty five times we had to touch sea urchins (forty five times I whimpered until my friend had to physically take the sea urchin from the bowl and physically hand it to me upside down so I could release it when the timer went off).

photo taken by Ilyssa T
On the last night, we roasted marshmallows at a campfire. Everyone was so full of joy. I remember taking many, many pictures together, jumping around and hugging each other in some type of euphoria brought on by the smell of smoke. I remember standing back for a second to take it all in, and I saw my friend standing aside near me as well. I said something along the lines of "There's something about this scene that's so breathtakingly beautiful- something that stirs up feelings in my chest that I can't exactly describe. I can't explain it but I think you get it and feel it too." And he did. 

photo taken by Abby W
Here, it felt acceptable to embrace the beautiful cliches. I lost count of the amount of breaths I held, hoping to stop time as I watched my friends laugh and hug each other in the firelight, hoping to freeze everything as we sung our hearts out, arms outstretched, fingers gently getting pricked by the long blades of grass. There was something about the salty air that allowed me, or perhaps all of us, to let go and feel passionately and deeply, to marvel at the beauty of everything we saw, to express our love for each other and for being alive on this earth as we watched the sun set behind the trees.

We played Cards Against Humanity nearly every night before curfew, and had to witness the jaw drop off of one of our teacher chaperones as she read some of the cards after she asked what we were playing. To avoid having to go into our separate rooms, my group of friends would sometimes talk in the bathroom for a half hour. The two friends I was rooming with and I got into classic teenage conversations at midnight when we had to wake up early the next day.

photo taken by Ilyssa T
On the last morning, I was in a group of only four as we explored the town for one last time. We found a cool Christmas shop and a war memorial and walked around appreciating a beautiful ominous dock. 

We then met up with the many other people we had gotten separated from at the only grocery store in the town, where we proceeded to buy fourteen shopping bags worth of junk food for the ride back. Outside of the grocery store, we took a really iconic group picture I will treasure forever. 

photo taken by Abby W
I don't think I could ever pick an experience and call it the best one of my life, because there have been so many experiences that have helped shape me as a person, but I can definitely say that this was the experience that made me feel the most connected to every person and creature and force around me. I have never felt more purely alive. 

On the way back, I taught my friends Carillon de Vendome, which I've been singing at Girl Guides for eight years. We sung it in a round, and our voices sounded like melancholic church bells, bringing us back to home. 

photo taken by Abby W
I got closer with so many amazing people on this trip, and I am blessed beyond belief to have shared in this once in a lifetime experience. It was the kind of trip that put everything I had thought into perspective, and affirmed everything I already believed and wanted to believe about myself and the people around me.

I am usually a very cynical person about the high school experience. I refuse to believe that these are the best years of my life; the constant stress and fear of failure and desire to fit in but also stand out. But this trip and this year as a whole have shown me that these experiences are what are shaping me to be whoever I am to become in the future. 

I am so lucky to have the people in my life that I do now. I am blessed with a truly special group of friends. Each one is a highly relatable, kind, quirky, flawed, genuine and amazing young person. Even if I lose contact with some after my graduating year, I'm going to remember every bit of laughter and every person who helped me grow throughout my developing years. They are what made this trip so remarkable. Not the sea urchins or the waves or the rocky shores, but their presence there that filled each place we visited with laughter, understanding, and love. 

However, thank you New Brunswick. I hope I come again.

-Oakstar 

p.s: Thanks to my awesome friends Abby and Ilyssa for letting me use their beautiful photography skills! Love y'all. If you want to more of Abby's work, check out her blog over here

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Something Produced in Twenty Minutes

A few months ago, I entered a writing competition for young writers in high schools across Canada. I didn't hear about the competition until the week of the deadline, and I didn't have that week to really concentrate on anything. So what I ended up doing was something really exciting.

The competition ended at six in the evening my time. I had musical practice that day, and got home at five forty. I wrote my entry in sixteen minutes and submitted it just before the time ran out. It was an extremely exhilarating experience. I had barely enough time to check my grammar, and I knew it was very unlikely I'd actually win anything, but I forced myself to come out of my shell and write something for the first time in months and months, and for that reason I have no regrets.

I didn't win or make it to the finalists, and I thought it would be interesting to post it here, as though it is very obviously not my best or my most polished work, it was a wonderful learning experience and showed me that I can beat writer's block and produce when put under pressure.

The writing prompt was to write the first page of a novel that takes place in Canada in one hundred and fifty years. I had been toying with a dystopian novel idea at the back of my mind for a while before I heard about the competition, so I used that to create my four hundred word mess.

***

Mask

It all started because people were bored. We needed something to entertain ourselves; now that the population had dwindled down because of the drownings on island provinces and that we had built machines that would reconstruct the cities after the fires. People had nothing to do. We started getting restless. We started wondering if we should do something about the smoldering world around us.

And so the government introduced Masks. Devices full of chemicals that when placed on the mouth and inhaled would transport the wearer into a land completely of their own, where in their mind they would be an average person from 150 years ago, where they would be completely submerged in a safe, fake life just before all of the wars and destruction and death.

At first, people were only allowed small doses at a time. But, they began craving more and more. It was easier to hide in an ignorant bliss than to face the horror that was their reality. Our reality. My reality.

I distinctly remember the first time I put on my Mask, on my twelfth birthday. The first time everyone is put under, the chemicals being pumped through them are so strong and toxic that it takes only a few seconds for blood pressure to rise and for every muscle in the body to go into spasm. For me, for some reason, it took more time than usual for them to kick in. I remember that after they tore the Mask from my face, they wrote my name down on a clipboard that contained only a few other names. I tried to get a closer look, but they took it away before I could see anything else.

I still haven’t succumbed to living under the Mask yet. I hardly see a lot of my friends anymore because they have grown accustomed to the drugs and chemicals, and it’s almost as if they rely on them now to survive. They have to have their fix of the past.

If I look outside the window of my apartment, the streets are deserted. No one sees the point of going outside anymore. Smog clouds the horizon and it always looks as if we are in a field of ash. And no one cares, because no one needs to. Everyone is contented as long as they are under the Mask. We are placid.

We are safe.

***

I am planning to edit this one day and make it, you know, good, but I am still proud I managed to write something in the short time I gave myself. It was a reminder that I could still write and that I still had passion left in me that I thought had left me. 

If you haven't had time to write in a while, I dare you to give yourself twenty minutes to write as much as you can about whatever you want, and no matter what comes out, be proud of yourself for returning to something you love and enjoy. 

Most of my writing now is done through writing music now, and I'd love to one day pluck up the courage to post some of my songs on this blog. Until then, I'll push myself to write whenever I possibly can.

-Oakstar 

Monday, 5 February 2018

Welcome to February

Hello friends! I felt the need to make this quick little update because I have not forgotten about the blogging world. In fact, I've been thinking more and more about it as time passes by and I'm finally coming up with good ideas I'm getting excited to talk and write about in the upcoming months. Everything that was causing me stress before is now over and my life has calmed down for the most part. I'm eager to start anew and maybe even blog about my journey with the things that were causing me so much stress, as I've had so many wonderful experiences in the past months and would love to share them.

I'm in a steady, happy place in my life. I'm going on two trips with school in a few months, and I also got selected to go to London in August with Girl Guides of Canada. I'm so excited and I can't wait to blog about these incredible upcoming adventures!

I miss this community so much and I miss the friends I've made here even more. I hope this is the last time my blog posts have month long gaps between them. I can't wait to get back to blogging regularly again. I'm definitely thinking of updating my blog and changing the design around soon, but I want to give it the time it deserves.

This is an extremely short post but please feel free to comment and update me on your lives in the comments! I miss talking to everyone here.

See you guys soon!

-Oakstar

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

My original plan for this post was to have it three or four worded, to have it just say, "OH. MY. GOD." and leave it like that. However, this wouldn't quite do justice to this absolutely outstanding literary experience.

More Than This by Patrick Ness is a young adult fiction novel. It starts off with a young boy named Seth. He drowns and dies. 

I'm going to leave the plot at that, because one of the many best parts of this book is going into it without expectations, knowing as little as possible about the actual plotline. Allow this book to surprise you to no end.

So, instead of giving you a general summary like I could do with any other book, I thought I would instead tell you a bunch of reasons why you should put this book at the top of your TBR. 

You should read this book because it will drown you in philosophical thoughts and ideas. It will confuse you in the best way possible, and you'll want more. You should read this book because it does not understand the concept of genre, throws it completely out of the window and still makes it to be the most interesting literary experience you will possibly ever have. You should read this book because the buildup to its climax is incredible. You should read this book because it will have you hooked on the first page.

 You should read this book because it will blur the lines between beginning and end. You should read this book because it is a reminder that you are not alone in searching and wanting for something more, something that is just beyond your fingertips yet ever so hard to reach.  You should read this book because you will not just fall in love with its characters, but you will fall in love with the story itself and the meaning it holds. You should read this book because if you've been at a loss regarding anything at all in your life, this book will most likely provide some sort of consolation.

You should read this book because it is about love, loss, friendship, instinct, free will, and survival. It is about almost anything and everything that is relevant to the brain's cognitive process.

Patrick Ness once again baffles me with his incomparable talent. He is able to write and understand and connect with teenagers in a way that I personally find many authors can't.

What is the true meaning of our existence? I feel so much more reassured because Patrick Ness answers things in the form of questions and creates such stunning, sublime masterpieces that will enthrall and enrapture and transport you. Read this book. Please.

Happy New Year!

-Oakstar

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Some Songs

As mentioned in probably many of my previous posts by now, I've been incredibly stressed out by school and other commitments. I've been finding that the little things that bring joy into my life really do add up and matter. One of the things that never ceases to get me out of a slump is music. Therefore, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite songs! Some of the songs on my list have been my favourites for years, whereas others are songs that I've discovered recently. My favourite lyrics of each song are in italics at the bottom of the actual song. (three of these songs are by a great big world and I don't care)  


1. Boondock Saints Theme- The Blood of Cuchulainn


I honestly have no idea where this song comes from, whether it was the backing track of a video game or a movie or a television show. I found it while listening to a compilation of instrumental music while studying for a test, and I kind of got distracted from the actual studying because I fell in love with the very Irish feeling of the song. Now, I listen to it when I need a dose of optimism without anyone actually telling me what to feel, but rather, showing me the feelings through pure music.

2. American Pie- Don McLean


Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

A little while ago, my friends and I started compiling a list of songs we wanted to live by. One of my friends suggested this, and though I've heard the song before, this was the first time I really listened to it. It is now one of my favourites. Its lyrics make me feel like I'm floating. It is a simple song, but it's also so beautiful and complex in the emotions it makes you feel. 

3. The Call- Regina Spektor


But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget

I've been listening to this song for years. My infatuation with it comes and goes. Whenever I need to calm down and restore peace in my heart, I come to this song. I always find this song during dark times, when I need to hear exactly these words. I've possibly never heard a prettier song. It's lyrics remind me of jewels and waterlilies. I can't explain why. Just listen to it. This song has also become deeply personal for me. Regina Spektor sings the words, and it feels as if she's singing them directly to me. 

4. Glitter In the Air- P!nk 


Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight

This song has been one of my recent favourites. For me, November is a month of mourning the summer and the better part of fall, but it's also a month of hope and shedding of darkness to make room for life. This song, I think, captures that feeling and that is one of the reasons I fell so deeply in love with it. Also, the imagery it provides is beautiful and P!nk's vocals are simply amazing. 

5. Rockstar- A Great Big World

So take a ticket and get off the line

A Great Big World is my favourite band. I discovered their music only a few months ago. This band alone has provided me enough optimism to get through the first couple of months of the school year. This song is adorable and perfect to mouth along to while bopping your head.

6.  Oh No!- Marina and the Diamonds

'Cause I feel like I'm the worst
So I always act like I'm the best

At first, I was surprised I loved this song so much, until I realized exactly why I loved it. I don't know what the original intent was of the person who wrote the song, but I related to it because, to me, the song is about loving yourself and hating yourself at the same time. It's helped me gain a lot of fake confidence, as I feel like the song itself is kind of about faking it until you make it. I relate to the internal torment of the singer that's hinted at during some parts of the song. Listening to it makes me feel I can conquer the world despite whatever is going on inside my head. 

7. Waving Through a Window- Dear Evan Hansen Soundtrack

We start with stars in our eyes

This is the most played song on my phone. A song has never made me cry more, and I've never related to a song more than this. I was lucky enough to see it performed live on a Broadway stage, and the experience is so incredible that it's indescribable. Ben Platt's vocals are absolutely breathtaking. The lyrics are moving and the emotions they evoke range from confusion and a place of being lost and alone to anger to complete elation and joy. The instrumental behind the vocals are also amazing, and every time you listen to the song you pick up something new (I've been listening to this song almost daily for six months and it has yet to bore me). AND THE FEELING you get when he pauses right before the last chorus and you bask in the silence of so many screaming emotions- just for a second- it's extraordinary and magical. 

8. Kaleidoscope- A Great Big World

You're like the thing that makes the universe explode
Into the colors of a world I've never known


This song is so happy and bouncy! Listening to it always puts me into an amazing mood, regardless of what I was feeling before. A Great Big World always comes up with the most amazing lyrics that make you picture beautiful images and just feel happy. The use of colour in the lyrics of the chorus puts pretty pictures in your head. A Great Big World is such a unique and underrated band. People tend to only know them from Say Something, but that isn't even their best song. I highly recommend all of their music, especially this song.

9. You Get What You Give- The New Radicals

You've got the music in you

The amount of important messages this song manages to get through is amazing. I rarely listen to it unless I really need it. This song doesn't employ anything really fancy to share with you what it has to say. It is a raw reminder that life is beautiful, you are beautiful, and you were put on this earth for a reason. I recommend it to anyone who is struggling. 

10. This is the New Year- A Great Big World


We are the voices of the underground

This is one of A Great Big World's bigger hits, and I understand why. It fills you with such hope and inspiration and makes you want to cry out with joy and dance around. This song sets my soul on fire. It is there to offer a fresh beginning, to bring people together, to remind you that you are not alone. GOSH I LOVE THIS BAND SO MUCH. I feel like if everyone listened to this song as well as all of their other songs, the world's problems would be solved. I could ramble on and on about why this song is so beautiful, but I think the best way to find out is to just listen for yourself. Also, there's a brilliant harmony at 1:26 if anyone cares.

So those are ten of my favourite songs! Let me know in the comments if you've taken any of my suggestions, and if so, which song was your favourite out of the ones you listened to.

-Oakstar


Sunday, 29 October 2017

October Again

School has been incredibly demanding recently, and I've had to make a few sacrifices as I've tried to maintain a balance between work and life. 

This October, I've been thinking a lot about how important it is to find an equilibrium. I've had two weeks straight with three orals and about eight tests in total, and though the pressure isn't completely settling yet, it has finally started to slow down a bit so I wanted to find time to write a blog post. 

Lately, I've been busy with my school's Glee Club, musical rehearsals, Girl Guides and schoolwork itself. I've had to carve out specific blocks of time for myself so as to not have any mental breakdowns. I'm learning how important it is to say no sometimes and just take time to do something you enjoy. 

Also, I'm learning that schoolwork shouldn't be my number one priority always, not constantly.There is so much more to life than retaining information for a test or having perfect french grammar. I know schooling is important for getting a job in the future, but until I am actually able to take the classes I want to take and learn about the things I am truly interested in, I will not let my schooling interfere with my education (I got this from Mark Twain). 

I do have an amazing Human and Physical Geography class this year, however, and it has truly piqued  my interest and I feel like that might be something I may want to pursue one day. I am also taking Biology, and I've gotten to learn about the leaves that grow in the forest by my house, which has been extremely cool. 

My geography teacher went on a rant the other day about his idealistic views, and I've been thinking about that a lot as well. Imagine a world where people would be able to spend their lives pursuing their art, just creating and imagining. 

I spent a lot of October kind of down on the world, partly due to my own personal stress and dark thoughts, and partly due to just watching what has been going on in the world. However, now I feel like I've been filled with optimism and hope that will help me trudge on through to November. It's going to be okay. 

-Oakstar