Cosplayers around the world who had been working hard on their costumes have found that the cons they were preparing for were cancelled thanks to Covid19. Cosplayers, however, are nothing if not creative. My friends at M’Guphynn Media, who usually bring their fancy equipment to cons each year and make cosplay music videos with the resulting footage, put together this awesome Cosplay Music Video: Quarantine Edition, made up of submissions from cosplayers (including myself as Rize Kamishiro at 2.36 and my doggos as Harry Potter and Mario at 0.24 and 3:04 respectivelty!)
Something heartbreaking happened recently in my home community in New Brunswick- it has been weighing heavily on my mind for quite some time and as such I considered writing about it earlier on, but it wasn’t my story to tell.
Now that Maddy’s family has opened up about what happened and urged that her story be shared publicly far and wide, I feel comfortable writing about Maddy today and passing along the Murphy family’s message. I’ve included her father Mike’s post below: Maddy’s Story.
I live away from home now, so I only had a handful of opportunities to spend time with Maddy, but her life has touched my own. Maddy was a kind, funny, athletic girl, and my sister’s partner. She has left behind hundreds of people who fondly remember her dorky humour, love of animals, and easygoing attitude.
Her story is important not only because of her lasting legacy of kindness and love, but also because the way she left us was so shockingly unexpected, revealing the often silent yet intensely deep depths of depression. For a brief but agonizing time we were all waiting on breathing tests and brain scans, holding on to a slim hope that she would wake up in her hospital bed and have a chance at recovery, but we lost her.
It is immensely hard for the people left behind after suicide; I feel the pain of my sister so strongly, as well as that of my parents who have seen their beautiful daughter, who battles with mental illnesses of her own, crumble in response to the terrible news. Everyone struggles with a helpless feeling and the many painful questions that have no answers. I don’t know what to say or do other than to tell my family that I love them and I’m here for them, because there’s no getting around it- this is a horrible time. This is a new and painful reality that is hard to face- my father lost his best friend Jeff to suicide, so he understands the pain, and I hope he and Mom can help my sister heal. I’m very grateful for all of the friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers and everyone else who is supporting my sister right now as she grieves. I also hope my family can feel my love from afar, as I am thinking about them, and Maddy, constantly.
I’ve also wept for the people I’ve never met who are dealing with Maddy’s loss- her mother, her father, her siblings, all of her family and friends. I’m so sorry that this happened. It was overwhelming to see the huge number of people reaching out and sharing memories of their time with Maddy- clearly she will never be forgotten in the hearts and minds of so many people.
To Maddy’s family, and to my sister, thank you for sharing Maddy’s story. My heart is with you.
At the bottom of this post I have included some links, both Canadian and international, which offer support if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or has been affected by a suicide loss. Please know you are never alone.
As I said this will be one of the longest posts you will ever read, and it will shed some light on how my life changed on September 12, 2019. If anything, please read the last few paragraphs as this is the underlying message we all need to hear.
My beautiful, vibrant, athletic, zest for life daughter Maddy Murphy has a story to tell. You all need to hear this and share with everyone you know because it’s so important as this affects so many people out there who are struggling with issues that we do not even know. Her story goes something like this…
From the moment she was born she was special, being a twin, she was the unlucky one who endured having her twin brother Mack sitting on top of her for the full term. I will always remember how we made jokes of her bent ear, crooked neck and cone shaped head from Mack. She was just amazing with those quirky features that went back to normal overtime, they were both healthy kids born at 7lbs4oz (Maddy) & 6lbs4oz (Mack). They both had a passion for all sports and excelled at everything they tried as they grew up together.
Maddy had a niche for hockey, her skating was strong (forward skating anyway), she quickly excelled playing for KVMHA in her early years. By the time she reached the age of 12 she earned a spot on the boys Pee Wee AAA Rangers Team. Maddy had a great year with the boys, this made her more determined as she set out to prove girls can play the game just as well. Maddy & Christina Rombaut were the only girls in the EDZA Program in the KV Area at that time, and the two teammates developed their talent that year, it was the beginnings of her crazy slap shot. Once Pee Wee was over the fun really began as the first Bantam AAA girl’s hockey team named the “Hericanes”, here Maddy developed bonds with her friends that are even stronger today than ever.
On the 2nd year of playing hockey something happened that changed her life in a moment, Maddy went to bed one night and woke up a different child. Maddy developed severe Tourette’s at the age of 14 with no explanation, this was the start of her first long battle that contained components with embarrassment, shame, ridicule and DEPRESSION. Maddy had to draw deep within herself as she focused on her sports with even a more determination than ever as she excelled to the top of her game. At the age of 15 one of her highlights was to play on the U18 Team Atlantic in Calgary for the Canadian Women’s Nationals, all along still dealing with Tourette’s and the silent disease of Depression. Maddy had many weekly sessions with Natural Path Therapy to try and ease the symptoms of Tourette’s & Depression, it was a battle. I still remember her always calling Tracy and asking to get in right away to help her, at least Maddy recognized she needed help and reached for it.
As Maddy began her high school years at KVHS in grade 9, she played hockey on the girl’s team while still playing for the Hericanes, there was a lot of running around to support the amount of hockey games. Going into grade 10 Maddy had the most fortunate opportunity to attend the elite school of Rothesay Netherwood ( RNS ), here she felt so welcomed she would spend so much time forming bonds with the girls in all sports. Maddy represented RNS in Hockey, Soccer, Rugby & even Volley Ball ( didn’t like ) sporting the number 9 ( #9 rides the pine ) the girls always cheered her on. This was every parent’s dream having their child immersed in such a great atmosphere.
Maddy was so happy or, so we thought….the disease that no one is aware of and what this whole story is about appeared for the first time. She was a kid of the times on top of her game but Maddy was holding a secret from everyone, this would weigh heavily on her Mental Health issues even more. That underling Depression finally showed itself for the first time when Maddy thought the best part of her escape was an attempt on her own life in the form of pills not only once but twice this happened. This took us all by surprise that we were dealing with a young daughter that was displaying a smile on her face & a unmistakable laugh, the whole time was hurting so much inside. Taking the pills was a cry for help, although the help was there she needed something more. Maddy spent the night in the hospital for observation and released to follow up with a clinical phycologist. She always knew she had a problem, she would often text Kelly see if time was available to see her, Kelly always made time for Maddy.
After some time, we finally found out the secret she was hiding inside, low & behold Maddy was “GAY” like what was the Big Deal, but in Maddy’s world it was a big deal. After facing years of Tourette’s causing shame, embarrassment & ridicule, fighting the invisible illness it all took a toll on her. Her grade 11 year was one of the hardest years, she was losing that drive & the will she had almost to the point where I felt she succumbed to the battle of Depression. She was bullied by someone who was supposed to be one of her closest allies but ended up being her worst nightmare. Her academic grades were being affected, sports were slipping all at the most crucial time in her life. With help from her closest friends Kristen & the gang they helped her overcome this battle and expose what was going on in Maddy’s life. These girls help her get through a rough time in her life and as a parent I was so thankful.
After the years of therapy and countless visits to alternative care, the Tourette symptoms started to subside, the “Being Out Of Closet” had closure, things seem to be going so much better. Maddy started university, working different jobs and living life with such a zest. Maddy attended UNBSJ in pursuit of her Arts Degree, we all know she wanted to go to University to keep playing the sports she loved. She worked 4 different jobs at the same time, Rockwood Golf Course full time, worked for Vito’s Restaurant part time, The Saint John Marina part time & Harbor Station part time. Everywhere she went she made an impact on people a trait Maddy obviously picked up from her mother Mindy. Everyone on the outside looking in, she looked like someone who had it all, she met a beautiful girl named Chyanne & eventually fell in love. To the typical parents this was all good, things moving forward in life, she had the beginnings of a partner in life, dogs Bauer, Bailey & Thai, cats Sophie, Buddy & Tittin. Maddy always loved animals so much, she always wanted to pet every animal she seen and bring them home.
Maddy was a genuine kid who everyone thought loved life, she was known to post inspirational quotes and party like there was no tomorrow. Maddy & Chy traveled a lot and got to experience some spontaneous trips to see concerts or get their feet buried in the sand. Maddy had such a good relationship with Chy and they had so much fun together. Her young mind lacked the experience of life & relationships as she did not realize a relationship requires work. The highs and lows of all relationships are unavoidable, but to someone battling depression as Maddy has all these years, they look at though there is no light at the end of the day. She coped with her Depression the best way she knew how.
On Sept 12, 2019 my daughter Maddy Murphy thought the best way to ease her pain was to take her own life, she was a determined girl driven to succeed in everything she tried and unfortunately succeeded in her final task. The final chapter of her story will sum it all up on what the real meaning of this whole life story is about and why we ended up with a beautiful soul taken from us way to early.
Maddy had depression & knew it, its not like she didn’t try to help herself. Maddy went to countless therapy sessions in all forms, from Acupuncture, massages, chats with phycologist. She went to the family doctor and asked for an ESA ( Emotional Support Animal ) and purchased a Golden Retriever, she named him Beckett. Maddy has a passion for animals and Beckett would be ready for her in January. Just 10 days prior to Maddy taking her life she went to the Outpatient and asked for different meds as she knew she was not feeling well, she did this all on her own without telling anyone. The disease she has been battling was taking over and no one even knew. The biggest mistake Maddy ever made was the failure to see the support that was in front of her, she had a loving family with so many friends. When dealing with this sickness she was blinded by the pain she was in. I will never figure out what was going through her mind when she decided to follow through what she thought would be the best way to ease her pain.
Here is a girl who was so outgoing, determined, and everyone thought she loved life, we were all mistaken, all of us!
Depression is the “Silent Killer” that no one sees or hears, it strikes at the most vulnerable time in your life and leaves you helpless. This is the most important thing of all, this is what needs to be shared. Maddy’s life looked so good from the outside, but this is how she deflected her pain, by being the life of the party, working as hard as she could, playing her heart out in her sports, THIS is how she coped with Depression. Look around you nobody knows what is going on in people’s lives, just when you think things are so good they may not be. This disease of the mind can be so hidden with so many outlets for it to take a hold of people one wrong move and it has you. Don’t judge people based on their life from looking on the outside, get to know that person find out who they really are. We thought we knew our own kid better than anyone and never realized we would be sitting here trying to make sense of it all.
Everyone needs to remove the Stigma of this terrible debilitating disease, its out there and everyone experiences at some point in their life, its how we can recognize it and cope with it that makes the difference. The only thing I ask is for people to recognize the “not so” obvious symptoms, as no family should ever have to live through a tragic event like this. This was a complete tragedy that made no sense at all but if a positive can come of this that would shed light on the real “Boogey Man” Maddy’s story needs to be told. Maddy was so full of life yet such a hurting little girl inside. This is the sign that people need to see, the façade she was putting on for everyone around her. If this was a movie she would deserve an Oscar, I just wish it really was……
Maddy didn’t understand the consequences of her actions but at the time dealing with this terrible disease all she could think about is to end the suffering. Her suffering has now ended, I am at peace knowing she is not suffering anymore but my suffering through this tragic loss of life has only begun. My entire family has lost a piece of our hearts that we will never get back and we are devastated. No one should ever have to bury their kids. Please keep your loved ones a little closer, talk to them freely about Depression no one should ever need to experience what we just went through.
You touched the lives of so many at such an early age, I know there was more of you to give if I had only one wish it would to turn back time and be able to say goodbye.
May you rest in peace Maddy Murphy, you will be dearly missed and never forgotten!
Madison Claire Murphy born April 8, 1998 – September 16, 2019 #MM81 live on!
Beckett will be raised by our close friends, so Maddy’s spirit will live on, Beckett will be a reminder of a lost soul that had so much to offer this world and we are so thankful for this! #YOUmatter #MENTALHEALTHMATTERS
its ok to not be ok!
The month has flown by, but before it’s over I really want to acknowledge on my blog that October is library month in Canada! This month we celebrate our libraries and raise awareness of the vital roles they play in Canadian lives each day.
“More than just a place to find books, libraries promote cultural awareness, engage in the community, provide educational programs, support freedom of expression and so much more.”
This library of nothing but books and silence is a lie. It’s a myth of a previous time, and that myth gets in the way of us realizing an important truth: that our world needs libraries more than ever… in an age of technology and information, in growing inequality and social isolation, our world needs libraries. They’re essential.
Libraries are not just places to consume- they are places to create, and places that engage with their communities.
“Librarians no longer have all of the answers. We no longer expect that we do the talking and you do the listening. We are building a world… where we share in these experiences, and we are co-creators in the experience that people are going to have in libraries.”
Here are some titles to check out for Library Month!:
These are just a few I’ve come across, and there are so many more awesome resources out there! Please let me know if you have any other favourite recommendations 🙂
This is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information for All by Kyle Cassidy
“In 2014, author and photographer Kyle Cassidy published a photo essay on Slate.com called “This is What A Librarian Looks Like,” a montage of portraits and a tribute to librarians. Since then, Cassidy has made it his mission to remind us of how essential librarians and libraries are to our communities. His subjects are men and women of all ages, backgrounds, and personal style-from pink hair and leather jackets to button-downs and blazers. In short, not necessarily what one thinks a librarian looks like.”
Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady and Amiko Hirau
“A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps.”
Americus by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill
“Neal Barton just wants to read in peace. Unluckily for him, some local Christian activists are trying to get his favorite fantasy series banned from the Americus public library on grounds of immoral content and heresy. Something has to be done, and it looks like quiet, shy Neal is going to have to do it. With youth services librarian Charlotte Murphy at his back, Neal finds himself leading the charge to defend the mega-bestselling fantasy series that makes his life worth living.
This is a funny, gripping, and relatable tale of life and local politics in middle America”
BIBLIOCraft: The Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects by Jessica Pigza
“There is untold wealth in library collections, and, like every good librarian, Jessica Pigza loves to share. In BiblioCraft, Pigza hones her literary hunting-and-gathering skills to help creatives of all types, from DIY hobbyists to fine artists, develop projects based on library resources. ”
Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes
“When twelve-year-old June Harper’s parents discover what they deem an inappropriate library book, they take strict parenting to a whole new level. And everything June loves about Dogwood Middle School unravels: librarian Ms. Bradshaw is suspended, an author appearance is canceled, the library is gutted, and all books on the premises must have administrative approval.
But June can’t give up books . . .”
Library Wars: Love and War by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa
“In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves—the Library Forces! Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the Library Defense Force ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favorite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she’s finally a recruit, she’s finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it out for her!”
Chipman, a small village in my home province of New Brunswick, is in the headlines today because officials approved the raising of a “straight pride” flag next to a main road.
“Chipman resident Glenn Bishop and 11 others met over the past few months to find ways to show support for straight people.” –Global News
Interesting, I didn’t know that people in New Brunswick were in need of support for …being straight?
The flag was swiftly taken down amidst backlash, and although the town claims that the flag was intendedto show support for “all groups in the community” I fail to understand how that is possible, unless it was a decision made from ignorance.
Pride for what?
“Straight pride” flags are at best completely unnecessary and at worst incredibly offensive symbols of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people.
LGBTQ+ communities have pride parades and raise pride flags because they are coming together, not only as a positive celebration of who they are, but also to take a stand against the discrimination, prejudice, unequal rights, and violence that they are subjected to just for being themselves.
If your response to seeing a pride flag is to feel excluded and think “where’s my straight pride flag?” you are totally missing the point of the pride flag. Pride flags are used worldwide as a bold visual symbol that says “we’re not ashamed of who we are” in a world that still positions straight, cisgender people as the apparent default way to exist.
Straight, cisgendered people are not shamed for being straight.
Neither their sexuality nor their gender are perceived by the public as remarkable traits of their identity.
They aren’t screamed at in the street for holding their girlfriend’s hand.
They aren’t denied the opportunity to take their boyfriend to prom.
They aren’t approached at the bar and told “you’re a waste of a perfectly fine girl”.
Nor are they targeted, profiled, denied rights and privileges, attacked or murdered because of their sexuality or gender.
When “straight pride” flags are flown, they carry a toxic message: “I don’t care/believe that these things happen to you, I’m important too, look at MY flag!”.
“Straight pride” flags are arrogant, as they were created in direct response to pride flags as a way to claim “it’s just equality!” while simultaneously overlooking the reason why we need pride flags in the first place- people (not straight people!) are being attacked solely because of who they love and who they are.
While the mayor of Chipman recently said that no formal apology was forthcoming, I think that further shows that the people behind this flag, and those who claim not to understand why it is controversial, are in need of education on this matter.
Note: Making threats, hurling insults, and jumping on an internet hate train are NOT effective or ethical ways to educate people. Please don’t do that. Rather, consider sharing information and statistics about LGBTQ+ realities , contacting officials in Chipman, and showing support to your local LGBTQ+ group(s).
I hope that the village of Chipman will learn from this experience and grow together as a community. I agree with recommendations that were shared by the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP), a sibling to Moncton’s River of Pride:
“NSRAP strongly encourages the town council and mayor of Chipman to seek training on diversity and inclusion and sensitivity training to attempt to understand the lives of their marginalized constituents. Additionally, a formal apology, beyond the previously released statement, should be made.”
Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting:
I love blogging because I can share my thoughts and ideas on things I am passionate about with the world! I’ve only been blogging on here for a few months, but I’ve already met some super cool people and joined some awesome collaborative projects. I truly enjoy writing, so it’s a good fit for me. My blog is also a time capsule I can look back on for the memories, as well as something I can share with people when they ask things like “why do you like cosplay”, “why do you love vampires so much”, or “how long have you been a SHINee fan?”
Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
I just ate some butter chicken!
My Dad calls me “scrawney” but I don’t think I’ve ever been what you could call scrawney…
My left eye has really poor vision but apparently my right eye is 20/20 (last I checked, anyway) so it compensates for my bad eye.
I considered getting laser eye surgery for my bad eye but decided against it when I found out that it would make it a lot harder to wear costume contact lenses (because cosplay>ocular health…)
I have a small piece of New Brunswick rock embedded above my left cheekbone from a bad bike accident when I was 11 years old.
My family “smuggled” our pet rats across the country when we moved because rats aren’t allowed in Alberta. We told the Air Canada security people that they were hamsters or something, and they didn’t really investigate. (We would have been a hysterical mess if they took our rats away, so i’m glad it worked out…)
Last year I went to Japan and I still think lovingly about Japan every single day.
I’ve been slowly but steadily working on learning basic conversational Japanese for several years.
I’ve never eaten a food that I wouldn’t try again.
I can’t help myself when it comes to sweets, so I don’t buy them often- when they’re in the house I devour them way too quickly!
Super Specific Questions
Ask your best friend/significant other to make an annoying animal sound. How did they react, and what animal did they imitate?I don’t even have to ask, because I can already hear the beleaguered goat sound Dustin would make. I know it to be so. I will test this later…*I tested it later*.:
Dustin, driving home, on bluetooth: Hello?
Shauna: Hun, make an annoying animal sound.
Dustin: *prolongued silence* uh…
Shauna: Just do it. Any animal.
Dustin: …. “HOOOOOUUUNNAAANNNNKK”
Shauna: What… what IS that?
Dustin: It’s a cow!
Ok, so I was close.
I then told him I thought he would make a goat sound.
At first he said “I don’t know how to make a goat sound?”
Then I made a goat sound, and he blurted “BAAEEEHEHHHEHHE” as if remembering a long-lost bovidae secret.
*POOF* I am your barista. Order your favorite coffee shop beverage exactly as you would in real life.
“Hi um… can I please get a chai tea latte? Oh err, the one that means medium heh, I can’t remember what it’s called. Great, thanks. OH, and this peanut butter cup thing too please. No that’s ok, I will eat it right now. Great. Thanks!”
Do numbers have personalities in your mind? If so, tell me about the personality of the number 6. What’s it’s story? What kind of disposition does it have?
Six isn’t afraid of seven. She’s so tired of people making that joke. In fact, she’s about to snap! She has a secret room in her basement that the other numbers have started rumors about. “It’s a torture chamber!” they whisper, “no, I heard it’s a kinky bdsm dungeon, you know they call her Sadistic Six right?” Meanwhile Six bides her time, musing “They think i’m afraid? Heh, I’ll show them what it means to be afraid…”
What is your favorite movie title? Not your favorite movie, just the title, irrespective of the quality of the film.
“Malkovich’s Hole” (Coincidentally though, I do love that movie)
Story time! Your best friend suddenly finds themselves in the body of your least favorite animal. Craft a story of five sentences or less with this unfortunate predicament as a central plot mechanic. Bonus points if it’s the same animal they chose to imitate.
I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking and I honestly can’t think of a least favorite animal!
I just… I love all animals T-T
Well, since he makes goat sounds, let’s go with goat.S: Honey, you’re a goat!
S: You know that goats are sometimes associated with the devil, right. Are you a Satan worshiper?
S: I challenge you to a rock off!!! Give me one chance to rock your socks off!!!
Tell me. Do Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?
If you give credence to lexical ambiguity, they sure do!(Thanks for getting me to curiously google buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo and find this interesting ted-ed!)
Tell us about the most boring game show you could ever imagine.
A game called “Truth Or Trump?!” where Trump’s tweets and video clips are shown: contestants raise a sign up to show their guess of if what Donald Trump is saying is TRUTH or a LIE, and whoever gets the most right wins a small loan of a million dollars.It would be extremely boring because there would be no contest; everything that man says is a lie!
Useless Superpower Bedbug: The Return! Which of the following useless superpowers would choose and why? – The ability to randomly add cat meows to every song on the radio – The ability to randomly add the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story to even the most intense of any movie scene – The ability to randomly add Owen Wilson saying “WOW” to any line of dialog in a video game
WOW, these are all solid options. However, I’m definitely going with the ability to randomly add cat meows to every song on the radio. It would really entertain me and tickle my funny bone endlessly. There would have to be a wide range of meow sound selections so that I could tailor my choices to the specific song. I’m already obsessed with Corgi Maybe, so this isn’t a far stretch for me.
What is the hexadecimal color code for your favorite color?
#88d8c0 Color Information. In a RGB color space, hex #88d8c0 (also known as Pearl Aqua) is composed of 53.3% red, 84.7% green and 75.3% blue. Whereas in a CMYK color space, it is composed of 37% cyan, 0% magenta, 11.1% yellow and 15.3% black.
On a scale of one to 15,742.58, how do you feel about these super specific questions?
The scale doesn’t even go high enough- I rate them a fifillion out of a million!
1. You wake up tomorrow to the Breaking News that alien ships had been discovered in our atmosphere. How do you feel? What do you do?
2. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? Do you still have it?
3. What fictional character would you love to be besties with? What would a typical hang-out session be?
4. Share a random, obscure YouTube video that you are fond of and explain why you like it. If you don’t have one, explore until you do!
5. Share a memorable story from your past involving a teacher you had.
6. What is your opinion on the “YOLO” mindset?
7. Describe your dark alter-ego. Give them a name, explain their style, their hopes and dreams.
8. Open up Paint or a similar program. Create something just for the act of creating it- no judgement, no expectations, no worries, just go with it. Take a screenshot and post it here! (Alternately, draw with old fashioned paper and pen/pencil/marker/paint and take a picture).
9. Explain your true feelings towards circus clowns. You may wish to do this in the form of poetry.
10. Speaking of poetry, what is your interpretation of the following verse from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky? What is being described?
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
11. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen in person- something that might have gone viral if it was caught on camera?
Thanks a bazillion to Megan of A Geeky Gal for nominating me for this really fun award, featuring SUPER SPECIFIC QUESTIONS! I really appreciate it, community is what makes blogging fun, and I’ve met so many cool people through blogging!
And also thanks to Matt of Normal Happenings for creating this award! It’s an interactive and engaging idea.
So! Here are the rules for this award:
You control your own destiny. If you desire Normal Happenings Super Specific Sunshine Award, the nomination process is as follows.
Respond to at least one super specific question in the comments.
If I like your answer even a little bit, I shall dub you “Nominated,” and exchange some witty repartee.
Respond to all questions on a blog post of your own, then come up with ten more super specific questions.
Link back to this post (or not, doesn’t bother me).
Encourage others to do the same, henceforth propagating an internet macro for centuries.
Bask in the glory of your newly earned Normal Happenings Super Specific Sunshine Award!
Super Specific Questions fromA Geeky Gal
It’s Karaoke Night! What song are you singing?
I LOVE KARAOKE! I usually go for soulful songs or powerful rock ballads from artists such as Journey, The Cranberries, KISS, The Cars, Ozzy, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin.
If someone really wanted to understand you, what would they read, watch, play, and listen to?
Read: Transgressive fiction
Watch: Vampire movies and epic fantasies
Play: Otome games
Listen to: Diabolik Lovers drama CDS XD
What movie made you so sad that you could never watch it again?
When I was a little kid in the 90’s my parents rented this vhs from blockbuster and sat me down to watch it. They still fondly recall sometimes the story of how, when the movie was over, they asked me “So what did you think of the movie, Shauna?” and I turned to them, tears streaming down my lil’ face, and bawled “IT WAS HORRIBLE!”
It’s about a boy and his dog lost in the woods together. There is a scene *spoiler alert* where the kid and his dog are finally found and a rescue helicopter comes to save them but they can only take the kid. They have to leave the dog behind, and the kid is screaming, held back by the rescue crew as the helicopter raises higher and higher, noooo my dogggg, I can’t leave my dogggg! and I was pretty much scarred for life.
If you dropped everything right now and went on a road trip, where would you go?
Japan isn’t really accessible by road so….. Banff! I want to soak in some hot springs and see the beautiful scenery. I would also love to visit my friends in Calgary and Nanaimo.
You can play match maker with any two characters of any genre, what characters would you pick and what would their first date be like?
I want to see InuYasha take Kagome on a proper date with no alternate context. YOU CAN’T RUN AWAY FOR EVER, INUYASHA!
InuYasha has to take the initiative. Window shopping, fancy dinner in a restaurant, an evening at the theatre. Who knows where the night will lead?
It always drove me CRAZY that InuYasha was obviously so in love with Kagome but always hid it, CRAZY I TELL YOU.
If I were a billionaire and I wanted to hire you to be make my life better/easier, what would I hire you to do?
Hmmmmm good one…. I’m pretty good at cleaning, and I could maybe entertain you with some very basic ukelele songs?
How many pillows do you sleep on and why?
I have one pillow, and I am VERY particular about my pillow! It must be squishy enough to wrap behind my neck and around my ears- not too firm, not too flat. Sometimes I even take it with me when I am traveling if I know that a hotel has crappy pillows.
The worst kind of pillow for me is one that’s too firm >.<
You die. Credits start rolling past you. What are some of the strangest roles other people have played in your life?
WOAH this is such a great question!
-First Kiss Boy: Kevin Bacon (no relation)
-Mutually Johnny-Depp Obsessed Girl
-The Coolest Woman You’ll Ever Meet
-Racist Jerk on Public Transit
-Loud At 2AM Roommate
-Very Sexually Active Roommate
-Drug Paraphernalia Roommate
-Witch at the Bus Stop
What’s worth the wait?
Happiness is worth the wait, though I wish I’d known I needn’t have waited.
What kind of people do you hate the most?
Hate is a really strong word that I don’t use often, but I think it’s safe to say that I hate animal abusers.
Super Specific Questions from HideNGoShauna
You’re at a geek convention. You’ve got $1000 to blow. If you could only choose one of the following, which would you rather spend your money on: plushies, posters, or figurines?
What fictional character do you look up to as a role model or inspiration, and why?
Explain an outlandish belief or misconception that you had as a child.
What is a profession that you’ll probably never do but think you would be good at and/or enjoy?
Do you have any special or unique traditions with your family or friends?
What would your catchphrase be if you were a 90’s hero? (Example: In the Name of the Moon, I will Punish You! – Sailor Moon)
If your life was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
What was your favorite childhood toy?
Do you prefer city life or country life?
What’s on your bucket list, and have you completed anything yet from it?
I am a library worker and future librarian, and I am writing to ask you to please reconsider your censorship of LGBTQ+ displays and buttons in Washington County libraries.
I understand that Southern Utah is a place where LGBTQ+ materials cause controversy.
However, that is all the MORE reason why it is important to have these materials visibly available.
Having displays on a theme or topic facilitates learning and discussion. Having a display on something doesn’t mean you “promote” that sort of book- but even if it did, the only thing you’d be “promoting” in this case is the acceptance, inclusion, respect, and understanding of LGBTQ people and communities. It shouldn’t be a “point of view” that LGBTQ people should be respected and treated as people rather than as controversial topics that should be hidden away in the stacks away from public view.
The mission statement for Washington County Libraries explicitly states that censorship is not tolerated and that you provide open, non-judgmental access to materials, but asking staff to take down a display is a form of censorship as it is a conscious act that will reduce the number of patrons who come into contact with those materials.
I respectfully ask that you please reflect on your policies and procedures and consider reaching out to LGBTQ+ groups for information and support in building a more welcoming and inclusive library system.
Today I had the opportunity to partake in a simulated role-play workshop intended to raise awareness of the barriers and challenges of being homeless and/or living underneath the poverty line. The workshop, called the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) comes from the Missouri Community Action Network, and was offered by my local Poverty Reduction Network. As someone who works at a public library in Canada and spends a lot of time interacting with low-income and homeless patrons, I am glad that I had the chance to experience the workshop.
Each participant was randomly sorted into a group and directed to a cluster of chairs that would be their “home”, complete with a detailed synopsis of each family member and the overall situation of the household, including incomes, debts, medical considerations, assets, and expenses. Those without a home were directed to the homeless shelter space. I took on the role of Albert Aber, a father of 3 who was just laid off from his job.
Each person or group had a limited amount of time (broken into 4 weeks of 12 minutes each) to visit simulated local services run by volunteer actors. We dashed from place to place with our fake money and paperwork, facing a variety of setbacks, surprises, frustrations, and injustices along the way.
Of course, no simulation, no matter how immersive or detailed, can offer a true experience of poverty. The closest I have been to poverty was when my family lived in Saint John New Brunswick and experienced the 2 year Irving strike in the 90’s. I remember coming home from school one day and finding weird film equipment in the living room. My Dad was interviewed about the brutal slog of walking the union picket line day in and day out. The film crew followed us to the grocery store to document how we had changed our shopping habits to try to make ends meet and bring enough food home. Mom says we also borrowed food from my aunt during that time.
I was very young back then, so I don’t recall those years as vividly as my parents, but I do remember their frustration. Still, for as long as I’ve lived I’ve had enough food, water and shelter to live a comfortable life, even during the times that my family encountered struggles like the strike. I am thankful for the full and peaceful life I live, and aware that I am lucky to have many privileges and supports that beneficially contribute to my life.
While a simulation could not give anyone a full perspective of what it is like to live in poverty, this is a very worthwhile workshop, because it gets participants thinking about all of the compounding barriers that can make it so hard to get out from under the poverty line. CAPS sensitizes participants to the realities of poverty and homelessness. After the role-play was done, we sat in a large circle and shared our insights and experiences.
Here are a few take-aways from the workshop:
When something gives, something else takes. While I was able to secure a job in the simulation and start bringing in some income again, by the time I finished work many of the community services had already closed, so I was unable to access them.
It became harder and harder to support my family when my wife and I were at work for so much of the simulation, and family matters kept slipping through the cracks. Our pregnant high-school aged daughter was being targeted by a corrupt policewoman, and our two young sons were taken by social services as a result of her being taken into custody.
Every family or person in the simulation had a different background with unique considerations and struggles- those living with mental or physical disabilities, trauma, or addiction faced additional isolation and barriers.
Situations became even more dire when participants missed payments, turned to pawn shops, or were coerced into taking or selling drugs.
Making ends meetsometimes came at the cost of dignity. Despite my character’s more advanced work experience, out of necessity I ended up taking an entry-level cashier job as soon as it was offered.
Most of the people participating in the workshop worked in public and social services and outreach, but I think this kind of simulation would be especially enlightening and enriching for those who do not as regularly encounter people who are homeless and living in poverty. Many prejudices and stereotypes persist regarding these populations, and so it is important that people have the opportunity to be sensitized to the truths that exist behind the unfortunate stigma.
I am 100% a Shawol (SHINee World) fangirl. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know SHINee: SHINee is a korean pop group that debuted in 2008 and dazzled the world, shook up the kpop scene, and swiftly gained a reputation for being a group whose 5 members are genuinely multifaceted, kind, funny, and dedicated.
My love for SHINee came as somewhat of a surprise, as in my tween and teen years I sort of skipped the boyband phase alltogether (despite avidly fangirling over tons of other stuff). I guess by my mid-20’s I was ready for that kind of commitment, because I found SHINee and haven’t looked back.
It all started with this gif:
I was browsing my old tumblr account one day, and somewhere mixed into the hundreds of book-related posts I usually scrolled, this gif boy introduced himself to me.
I wondered, Who is this impeccably styled, eye-patch donning, smirking man with the guyliner and flawless skin?
His aesthetic was perfect, and his expression allured me. I had to know more!
I did some research and found out that this was none other than Kim Kibum, aka The Almighty Key, of SHINee.
^ Key with his two flufferpups, Commedes and Garcons! ❤
I found the music video that the gif came from, a live performance of Odd Eye from the Odd album. The music, written by SHINee’s Jonghyun, was sensual, playful, and hypnotic.
I fell down the SHINee rabbit hole and I’ve never come back up for air. Two of my dear friends, who are huge TVXQ fans, were excited to welcome me to the world of Kpop, of which I knew next to nothing about.
When I found SHINee (and really, kpop in general) in 2015, SHINee had already been making music for 7 years, so I had a ton of quality content to catch up on! It was also cool that the members of SHINee were all around my age.
^ from the shineeusa unofficial fanclub blog
I came to respect and admire all of the boys in the group:
Onew, the oldest, the steadfast leader of the group who is always making puns and cheesy gags that really crack me up. He supports the members in any way he can
Taemin, the youngest, the maknae, who alternates between shy sweet child and expertly dancing sex god, with seemingly no in-between. His face also lends itself well to various memes!
Jonghyun, born the same year as me, a talented vocalist whose emotions are so true and heartfelt they resonate not just in the lyrics he writes, but in his eyes, his voice, and his tears
Minho, whose sporty competitive side didn’t really resonate with me at first (as I know zero about sports) but once I saw his aegyo and the way he soaks up every moment he is performing for his fans, I really came to appreciate. My admiration for Minho was further bolstered when I watched him in the kdrama Hwarang! P.s. his abs are the real deal o.o
Key, the first to catch my eye, and the one who is especially influential to me- my bias, my muse, my inspiration. Stylish, extra, diva Key, who pampers his dogs, follows a strict skincare regimen, and teaches me that style and fashion are fun. He can pull off literally any style, and his bedroom eyes are no joke, folks. He dances energetically every single performance, and his singing voice is a sexy whine that impresses whether it’s rapping or hitting a seriously high note. His talents range from singing and rapping kpop, performing in musicals, acting (DRINKING SOLO WAS AMAZING, DIRORIIII), creating custom fashion lines, the list goes on.
^Even my car has SHINee Shawol pride!
Since I fell hard and fast for SHINee, devouring their immense backlog of music videos, albums, concert footage, tv appearances, and varity shows, I freaked out when I heard that they would be coming to Canada as the starring guests for an expo called Hallyu North.
I felt a little conflicted- If I went it would mean a hastily planned flight to Toronto (where I hadn’t been before), plus expensive expo tickets on top of that. Should I, a woman in her mid 20s who was saving up for her wedding, spend a ton of money to go on a last-minute trip to see a kpop band I’d been following for only a year, however intensely?
After tons of reflection, rationalizing, justifying, and consulting with my awesome then-fiance-now-husband, I came to my answer- HELL YEAH!
I decided I wanted to support SHINee on their first visit to Canada as a group. I snatched up some tickets and began dreaming of the Expo, which hailed itself as being a sort of Korean culture, entertainment, and food fest. I memorized the fanchants of popular SHINee songs and pulled anything out of the closet that even slightly resembled the Pearl Aqua Green color our fandom is known for. I got all my ducks in a row and waited anxiously for the expo date, which landed on the weekend before my birthday in May 2016.
What I didn’t plan for was the unpredictable monster wildfire that surrounded my town and resulted in one of the largest evacuations and costliest disasters in Canadian history mere days before my flight to Toronto.
^definitely one of the most surreal days of my life…
The wildfire, which had its 2 year anniversary a few days ago, May 3rd, could definitely fill its own blog post, so I will keep it simple here. As my fiance and I were fleeing the fire with our dog, we didn’t realize the scope of the situation. Before long, though, we realized that we wouldn’t be returning to Fort McMurray any time soon (in fact it was about a month that we were away before the town re-opened for residents). Since my flight was supposed to leave from Fort McMurray International Airport (which was closed due to seemingly inevitable fiery doom) I felt a crush of disappointment that it was unlikely I would make it to Toronto.
That feeling of disappointment brought with it some guilt. How could I be sad about potentially missing a concert when my father’s condo just burned to the ground and he was stranded in the north with nothing but his cat? How could I feel sad about missing a concert when teachers just drove through walls of flame with terrified students in their cars? How could I feel sad about missing a concert when many people lost their pets, and two teenagers died in a car crash during the evacuation? I resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to see SHINee and reminded myself to be grateful that we got out of the fire safely.
By the time we were near Edmonton looking for a place to stay, it was apparent that we wouldn’t be able to return home anytime soon. So, I thought, if we are going to be wandering around looking for things to do and places to stay anyway, why not make the best of it and see if I could get the flight switched and go to Toronto after all?
I called Air Canada. When my call was finally answered and a man asked how he could help, everything came out in a frantic stream of babbling, blubbering in-coherency. It turns out that if you want good customer service, crying works really well!
So, we made it to Toronto. Feeling a bit guilty to be having a fun excursion given the circumstances, my fiance and I checked into our hotel in Chinatown and set about doing all the things we had originally planned- eating a delicious meal at Momofuku, browsing some local shops, and exploring Toronto.
^Thanks SHINee, for giving me an excuse to visit awesome Toronto for the first time!
I also took a few minutes to hastily write a letter to SHINee, which I would drop off at the expo entrance with all of the other fan gifts. I had planned to write them something a bit fancier than this sad looking note on hotel stationary, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do when she evacuates her town, yo.
Finally it was time to head to the expo. We walked for over an hour to our destination, a huge expo building, and waited in the heat for several hours until we were let in with a clamour of hot, tired people (mostly girls). Unfortunately, the expo was a bit of a mess and became known afterward as a disaster. The “food fest’ turned out to be 2 food trucks with ridiculous lineups, one of which was shut down shortly after opening because they didn’t have a permit. I ate the only thing I could get my hands on- walnut wafer cookies (?) from a Korean grocery store stall. I met some other Shawol who were so kind and made me feel very welcomed, and we explored the expo together.
^Lynda, I took measures to protect your identity XD
The vendors were pretty scarce, several guests that had been announced did not arrive, and the concert, which was supposed to have a slew of warmup performances before SHINee, kept being pushed back as the organizers and volunteers struggled to get the hundreds of people into a coherent lineup according to the numbers on their bracelets.
^I mean, Hallyu North had this cute mascot, so they had that going for them? Even though he broke the #1 rule of being a mascot and began talking to me in a gruff, husky voice, but hey, whatevs.
However, none of this disorganization really mattered to me, and I was happy as a clam to be honest ( I was going to see SHINee!). It was only after talking to other Shawol after the fact that I realized how truly poorly organized the event was. SHINee ended up having to come out later than scheduled, without the planned local acts before them, to a crowd of people who were sore and tired, in a venue that was clearly less than what they deserved, but they did not disappoint. It basically looks like they are dancing in a Highschool Gymnasium (these being the boys who sold out Tokyo Dome numerous times) but, you know what, they rocked it for us.
^Sorry that my videos are really low quality, but the boys are high quality sooooooo 😉
After the concert ended I joined the people outside who were dazed and shining like me. I chatted with a girl about how awesome SHINee was for a few minutes, and then we heard restrained screaming. We hurried over to see what the fuss was about, and it was the SHINee van leaving the arena. All of the Shawol respectfully stood on the sidewalk where we smiled and waved at the van with the tinted windows as it rolled past. From inside those darkened windows, a cell phone lit up pressed near the glass and waved back at us. I bet it was Key! It was exciting.
Later I talked with Shimmycocopuffsss (who was the MC for SHINee) during a live vid he was doing and asked him what he thought of the event. He said they asked him to be MC mere hours before the concert! He pulled it off professionally but man, SHINee deserved more preparation. Still, it was a memory I was happy to hold. I didn’t know if they would ever come back to Canada, but I hoped for it. My Shawol heart was filled, but still longed for a true concert experience with SHINee.
^Me & Shimmy
I wondered, would SHINee return after such a shoddy, if well intentioned, event?
The answer, again, was YES.
A more well-known company, KpopMe, posted an image on their social media hinting that a group would be coming to Canada. Shawol immediately recognized the V from the SHINee World V logo and we went absolutely wild.
It turned out that SHINee would be coming to both Toronto AND Vancouver as part of a North American tour in March 2017! I was at work when I read the official announcement, and I was afraid that when I drove home I would crash my car because I was so frazzled!
Even though we had just had our wedding recently and money was tight, I knew I had to go to this or I would regret it. This would be a proper concert! A real SHINee concert! Again I consulted my hubby and we agreed that, since I felt comfortable in Toronto, I would go alone this time so we could save a bit of money. (My dear hunbun puts up with my fangirling so well, but he doesn’t really care to join me for these kinds of things!)
I remember getting my tickets for this event like it was yesterday. I only got 2 hours of sleep because I was so anxious. I researched all of the different ways to get good seats from the tricksy Ticketmaster site. I set an alarm for over an hour before the tickets went on sale so I would be freaking READY. When the seats opened, I grabbed a decent one and felt so happy. Other Shawol told me that often better seats open soon before the concert, so I scoured the Ticketmaster site regularly and I did actually get an even better seat. I sold my old seat to a Shawol at a good discount, and she was totally happy.
And so, once again, I found myself in Toronto for SHINee (even though Vancouver is closer to where I live- the Toronto date was on the weekend so I wouldn’t have to miss much work.) I had a ton of fun exploring Toronto again, and doing a bit of a Scott Pilgrim tour.
I even visited my first Cat Cafe, where two Shawol noticed my SHINee shirt and we fangirled together! We all agreed that it was hard to function when you know you will be seeing SHINee in mere hours.
I planned to meet up with a group of Shawol for a lunch at a Korean bbq place before the concert, but I got the time wrong and I was there 2 hours early… oh well, it was tasty!
I visited a couple of nerd shops while I was out and about- when I saw two older white-haired ladies browsing manga animatedly together in a shop, I thought “Wow. Goals. Hope that will be me someday.”
Finally it was time to head to the concert venue, the Sony Center.
^Thanks for the reminder, NOT THAT I NEEDED IT!!!
I got there with tons of time to spare, and the first few Shawol were beginning to trickle into the area. I decided to wait in the park across from the centre, and I saw a couple of girls milling about. I thought “they are probably Shawol” and approached a tad anxiously. They welcomed me into their group like they had known me forever, and we spent the afternoon grabbing fan swag, eating, and fangirling!
One lovely thing that happened: since the concert was sort of last-minute, a lot of people had trouble getting lightsticks. As any kpop fan will know, lightsticks and fanchants are an integral part of the kpop concert experience, and Shawol are proud to show off their Pearl Aqua Ocean to show their support for SHINee. I was fortunate enough to have ordered a lighstick on Ebay that arrived in plenty of time, as well as a special Key lightstick from a small group order, but many fans were resorting to aqua balloons and cheap glowsticks. Japanese Shawol found out about this and came to our rescue, sending hundreds of their lightsticks to us freely. Even now, thinking about this kind act makes me go all misty eyed. The Shawol community is beautiful.
Finally it was time- time to enter the concert venue. Everyone lined up in a big circle around the entire building, and the excitement was palpable. Shawol young and old were literally vibrating with excitement. When we were finally let in through the doors, we were welcomed by an aqua glow.
I left my new friends as it was time to find our seats. As I was approaching my area, a young woman said “Are you Shauna?” I was like “uh yeah!?”… Turns out it was the girl I sold my original ticket to! She thanked me for selling her the ticket at a lower price, and we wished each other to enjoy the show.
I found my seat about ten seats back from the stage and sat there, shaking. I shared some small talk with the girl next to me, and looked around in awe at the other Shawol playing with their lightsticks, readying themselves, and feeling just as on top of the world as me. SHINee songs played on the speakers, and a huge SHINee WORLD V display lit up the stage. Finally, the lights began to dim and we were transported into SHINee World.
After some fanciful intro videos, the stage went dark, and the boys began to perform Hitchhiking. The show proceeded in a blur of absolute joy. Some highlights:
The boys pressuring Taemin to speak english and he said “Next song is… Prism…”
The music cutting out during Prism when Taemin was singing, and Jonghyun saying “we need your voice! We need your voice.” to Shawol
Key throwing subtle shade at HallyuNorth with something like “It’s our first time in Canada… well, first concert”
Minho playing with the crowd, flashing his smiles, and shouting “Thank you for coming. Thank you for waiting. Thank you for SCREAMING!!!”
Increasing my love for the songs Ready or Not and Savior because they are SO JUMPIN’ LIVE THE ENERGY WAS CRAZY
Key’s solo dance during Juliette
Shawol fanchants were ON POINT- View, Sherlock, Lucifer and Everybody were perfect
Taemin’s Sayonara Hitori solo
Jonghyun and Onew duet
Key’s energetic dancing throughout
Performance of their new song 1 of 1
Whenever I knew Key’s solo parts were coming up I would raise my Key banner and Key lightstick extra high and jump up happily. It’s hard to say, but I really do think he saw me and I felt his gaze on me several times
Our beautiful Pearl Aqua Ocean, with much thanks to Japanese Shawol
^Screenshot from a fancam: that’s me with my pink LilFreak banner! The no-photography policy was strictly enforced, so I decided to just let go and enjoy the show, but I am grateful to those who did take some photos to help us keep the memories alive.
^Another shot of me from a fancam, basking in the glow of SHINee XD
Besides the video and talking portions of the concert, I was bouncing on the balls of my feet the entire concert. Finally, sadly, it ended, and the boys left the stage, Minho being the last to go, waving and smiling as usual. At the end I was exhausted and, like many others, sat there feeling a sort of high, not wanting it to be over. At the same time though, I felt incredibly lucky to have had the chance to see a real SHINee concert.
^I am but a speck in the SHINee World. I have this wonderful picture blown up on photo paper framed in my room and also at my work desk at the library ❤
I joined the zombie line of people shambling slowly away from the venue towards their hotels and cars. The hotel I was staying at was just a block or two away, and I followed a couple of girls inside. Nobody said a word as we climbed the stairs to our floors- we had left our hearts in the concert hall for the time being.
I look back so fondly on that day. It was a perfect day- good food, new friends, excitement, happiness, joy, music, energy, community. I felt closer to Shawol and SHINee than ever, and still do.
^Confetti, streamers, ribbon, bracelets and a balloon from the concert
^ Am I crazy? I don’t know, you tell me.
^another happy moment ❤ Thank you Japan Shawol! On that note, my hubby and I went to Japan last year (BEST 3 WEEKS OF MY LIFE, AND DESERVES ITS OWN BLOG POST <3), and I took the opportunity to visit both the SMTown Tokyo (SHINee bar!) and Shin Okubo (Koreatown), seeking out SHINee everywhere I went.
SHINee has made such an impact on the lives of so many, both in Korea and around the world. They gave me inspiration, laughter and entertainment during some hard times in my life, and I sincerely believe that each member enjoys being on stage and interacting with fans. However, SHINee has been in international headlines recently for a heartbreaking reason.
*The following may be distressing to some readers. If you are a Shawol you know what I mean. I want to express what it was like for me personally, as I feel it will be good for me to get it out in writing, but I know some people would rather not dwell on the details as it hurts too much. Feel free to stop reading here ❤
The kpop industry is crazy intense. The rigorous training, schedules, travel, promotion, exercise, dieting, and so on, are absolutely harsh.
“Idols”, such as the members of SHINee, are expected to put on a happy face 24/7 and push their own personal issues under the rug for the better image of their company. Those who confront mental health face stigma, and so some idols put on a brave face while they may be facing inner turmoil.
Jonghyun was refreshingly open and honest about his depression. He spoke about it in interviews, expressing how he was dealing with this pain and trying his best to get through it. Tragically, he could not. Dear, emotional Jonghyun, who had openly wept during concerts, who crooned his thoughts softly to listeners on Blue Night radio show, who always shared thoughtful reflections and deep sentiments to his fans, was not supported in his time of need. The world failed him.
I believe in my heart that Jonghyun did have joyful times with SHINee and with his fans. You could see it in his eyes. But then there was another side of him that was hurting even more than he let on. That, too, you could see in his eyes.
On December 18 I woke up extremely early for some reason. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and felt compelled to sit at my computer. Incredulous voices filled my SHINee kakao group chats and social media. What on earth was going on?
People were saying things like:
“Jonghyun? It can’t be true?! I won’t believe that.”
“No, don’t listen to this, we don’t have the facts.”
“That site isn’t a valid source. It’s just a rumor.”
The rumor was that Jonghyun was dead. I was so shocked I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. But the articles kept appearing, the rumors kept flying. He was killed. It was a plot. It was a suicide. It was a cover-up. It was an accident. It was a terrible marketing ploy.
What the hell was happening?
I had to go to work, but it was still unclear what truly happened. I was dazed at work, going through the motions as best as I could. By the afternoon, rumors that he was still alive (barely) in the hospital were disproven, and it was confirmed that Jonghyun was dead. Soon after it was confirmed as a suicide.
His suicide letter revealed that he was tired of carrying on for others, that he wanted peace for himself, and that his doctor told him that his personality was to blame for his depression. He finished by asking “please tell me that I did well”.
A brutal numbness followed, and Shawol came together in their grief. We worried for the SHINee members, we mourned Jonghyun, we felt guilty for not knowing how deeply he was hurting. We’re still mourning, and some of us are having troubles with our own mental health aggravated by this tragedy. I’ve heard that some Shawol have taken their own lives after Jonghyun left us, and that saddens me immensely.
Some will say to Shawol “can’t you move on by now? You didn’t really know him.”
Yes, it’s true that we fans didn’t personally know Jonghyun in his intimate private life. However, we closely followed his journey as an artist, we were inspired by his creativity, passion and kindness, his bravery taking a stand for LGBTQ+ rights and mental health in a society that still views these things as taboo discussion. We took his remarks to heart, and we truly cared about him as we do all of the SHINee members. Jonghyun was a part of our everyday lives, and losing him truly hurt. Furthermore, Shawol are a community who bonded over a shared love of SHINee, and the relationships and connections we’ve formed with each-other are undeniably real too.
“Life is a series of encounters and farewells. I believe we grow in the process.
For now, it is very sad but we will meet again.
We can hope for that day to come soon, and we will be able to greet each other with much bigger welcome.”
I hope that all Shawol can find peace when the time is right for them. Some find solace in spirituality, or religion, or things they perceive to be signs from him. I don’t know if I can feel peace that way, but it’s different for everyone. Personally, I was numb for a long time, but I have come to accept reality. Sometimes it really stings suddenly, but this is how it is now.
Once again the kindness of Shawol uplifts me. Many have reached out in various ways, beginning initiatives in Jonghyun’s name to raise money for mental health causes, creating projects to memorialize him, and supporting other Shawol who were so lost in devastation that they didn’t know how to carry on. Shawol is the first fandom that I ever really opened up to and actively participated in, and it feels like one big family looking out for eachother.
One very kind Shawol extended the offer to bring messages from international Shawol to Jonghyun’s memorial in Korea. Thanks to this thoughtful person, my message for him made it to Seoul.
“Jonghyun, I hope you are finding the peace this world could not give you. You did well, and your legacy will shine forever.”
– Shauna D
Jonghyun left us with one last posthumous album, Poet | Artist. I try as much as I can to remember him as the smiling, happy, laughing man that I know existed on the other side of his dark despair. SHINee is always 5. I hope that Key, Minho, Taemin and Onew know I support them fully whatever they decide to do in the future.
On Friday my manager and I attended a pre-conference where we learned about being savvy when talking to the media. I volunteered to be a mock interviewee (i’m trying to take opportunities to work on my public speaking, because it’s still a bit out of my comfort zone…).
We attended the First Timer’s Reception in the evening where they had tons of free books (unedited proofs and advanced readers copies) for us to take!
Yesterday I presented my session, There’s a Graphic Novel for Everyone (Yes, Even You!). Although my nerves did suddenly appear and I felt my face reddening, I did enjoy sharing all I’d learned about graphic novels the past few months. I saw some familiar faces in the crowd, even a few smiling strangers, and a bunch of people have come to me afterward to give positive feedback and ask me about accessing my resources lists and presentation materials, which fills me with joy!
^Playing the ukelele during group-work to avoid awkward silence!
I had about 45 people register, which is wonderful! Like I’ve said before, even if one person finds some information in my presentation useful or interesting, then I am a happy woman. I hope lots of people were inspired to take a closer look at how awesome graphic novels are! When my session was over, I was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion, but the good kind.
Some other highlights of the conference:
Keynote speaker Scott Bonner, Director of Ferguson Municipal Public Library, on his experiences serving the community during turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri.
Adventures in Animation, where many practical ideas were shared about lively, community-focused programming
^these feminist posters are so awesome!
Stand Up! Access to Justice, where I learned about recent and upcoming resources being created by the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta (CPLEA)
an author talk by Trevor Herriot, where he shared his passions about birds, grassland environments, Indigenous traditions and meeting places, and conservation
Keynote speaker Sheila Watt-Cloutier sharing her deep knowledge on the current condition of the Arctic and Inuit adaptation to a warming climate
Learning, Art and the Third Age, where we looked at the importance of art programming and created a quick, cool, group art project
^colourful community art that took only minutes to create
Up With Voices: Zines, where we learned about zine collections and creation, zine workshop programming, and an exciting Indigenous zine project currently in the works
These are just a few highlights, but overall this conference has been amazing and I wish I could have attended every session!
Jasper Municipal Library
Of course we had to visit Jasper Municipal Library at some point! Thursday morning we got directions from a lovely woman at the Jasper info center. The library is a mix of modern and cosy. I am in love with the cute manga-style posters welcoming you in. A library staff told me they were created by a local teen for a program!
We also stumbled upon this adorable Little Free Library in town.
Regarding Impulse Purchases
We had some time to explore the Jasper shopping scene a little bit.
I promised myself I wouldn’t spend any money on cheesy souvenirs, but we were exploring on Thursday morning and I fell in love with these finger puppets. A grown woman can spend her money how she likes, right?
At the Fairmont Fitzhugh’s To Go, I tried my first ever Brookie (Brownie/Cookie) and Cruffin (Croissant/Muffin).
The Brookie was the winner.
On Nearly Burning Down Our Hotel Room
On thursday morning, we knew we would have to talk to the hotel staff because our room was ridiculously hot. We had kept the air conditioning on all night but with no success. We talked with the hotel desk staff who said that the air conditioning wasn’t set up properly from the winter and that we shouldn’t use it. We advised them that it was emitting cold air so they basically said “oh, OK then, guess it’s alright”.
When we returned that evening the room was like the deepest steaming crevice of hell. Something was obviously messed up. We called the desk. A guy came up and urgently advised us that there was no exhaust hose connected to the air conditioning, so although it was providing cool air from the front, all of the hot air was escaping out the back directly into the curtains behind. “This is bad” he said. “This could have caused some damage.” My manager and I imagined having to call our library admin staff to advise them we’d burned down our hotel (this became a running joke for the rest of the shenanigans we got into on the trip).
Ah well, what happens in Jasper stays in Jasper.
It seems like Elijah Wood didn’t take up my offer in a previous post to crash the conference, unfortunately. IT’S COOL I’M STILL FANGIRLING FOR YOU ELIJAH 😀