Kincardine Exploring

I recently travelled to Kincardine, Ontario, to photograph a wedding. I managed to make some time to explore, and took some photos of Kincardine and the surrounding area. I had only been to Ontario once before, to visit Ottawa. Although Ontario is not exactly an exotic, far off country, I was curious to spend some time on the other side of Canada and see if I noticed anything different. Spoiler alert- I didn't. Except I think people are much friendlier in Kincardine than they are in Vancouver. The weather was interesting as well, very humid some days and storms with fork lightning that struck into the lake would roll in and out.  

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I drove my rental car outside of Kincardine, and through some farm land. I drove down an empty road, and only saw only maybe 1 or 2 other vehicles. I pulled over to take some photos and explore a decrepit farm. It was perfectly silent, I couldn't hear any buzz of city sounds- only birds and a breeze that would catch a piece of stray tin roof and make it clang gently once in a while. I'm not sure if there is a word for this, but I experienced the feeling of being completely alone. The pang of realization that no one has any idea where you are, you are completely alone in a new place. It's kind of thrilling and liberating to be completely cut off and alone. Maybe this is felt so much more from living in a culture and age of connectivity, and being glued to my phone. The last time I felt like this I was travelling alone in another country.

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There was an old, abandoned farm house on the property. The yard was completely overgrown, with plants growing up to my waist. Part of me was nervous about exploring it, but I knew I would regret it if I didn't take a few photos. I walked carefully through the tall plants and carved a path to the front door. I looked through the window, and saw abandoned furniture and clutter. I went around the backside and the door was unlocked. 

Los Angeles 2017

I recently visited LA with a couple friends. The sun was hot, the air was dry. The city is not a beautiful city, it’s palette is of browns and beiges, but it is a city full of energy and character. I felt thrown into a thriving and swirling current, bigger and stronger than what I’m used to in Vancouver. The stereotypes of the city were real- celebrities walking down the sidewalk, everyone pursuing their dreams and creative endeavours. I landed back in Vancouver on a sunny, mild, spring afternoon with an excitement hangover. After a couple days acclimatizing back into my routine I felt happy to be home. I missed Vancouver's green trees and clean air.

Warm evenings, late night roof tops, cocktails, a desire to be seen, palm trees, expansive highways, a city where even familiar street signs evoke excitement, poverty, celebrity and wealth, creativity, and electric energy. 

On the Upside

On the Upside

Published in the December issue of Link Magazine

The night after Donald Trump was elected, I was driving with my dad. The radio was playing Tom Petty, like it normally does. Just as we crossed a bridge, out of nowhere he announces to me that he’s been inspired by the Trump phenomenon. My dad and I don’t talk about politics much. We’ve talked a bit about the outrageousness of the Trump situation, and the headlines-of-the-day, but really we just talk about funny things that happened to me on the Skytrain, or the day-to-day events that occur in our lives. But on that November night, my dad opened up and told me that he wanted to do better. He said he was making a personal effort to call out casual racism and people who make “harmless” comments.

This was pretty cool for me to hear. I’ve never considered my dad to be any shade of the bigotry rainbow, but I do think he (and a lot of other people) have reasons why they don’t speak up most of the time. My dad’s name is Rocky and he works in the construction industry. He owns his own business, and many years of managing large projects and employees inside the “trades” culture has made him into a “Rocky” kind of guy. However, I know him well enough to know that he is a bit crunchy on the outside, but soft and sweet on the inside.

I think everyone has their own reasons why they might not speak up about the harmful words they hear around them, and I can’t claim to know what all of those reasons are. Maybe they’re just too polite, or don’t want to rock the boat too much. Sometimes it seems easier in the moment to ignore it, brush it off and move on. But I’ve noticed a shift after the election results rang in. For a lot of people, like my dad, something about Donald Trump has changed them.

Rocky told me that he was making a personal pledge to do better, and combat the off-the-cuff bullshit he hears on the daily — little racist remarks, sexist comments and homophobic jabs. Because it’s little comments like these that snowball into larger problems. It’s hard to imagine how a dumb joke that someone makes on their lunch break contributes to a culture of violence. You may laugh it off politely, but what if that joke was directed at your kid, your neighbour, or your friend? I get it though; it can be uncomfortable to call someone out when they make an off-colour joke. But you know what else is uncomfortable? 1 in 4 women in North America will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The degree of separation between yourself and the victims of abuse, harassment and violence is not that large of a gap.

We all can become really passive to these statistics, but I think Donald Trump obnoxiously dominating the news for the past year has lit a real fire. People want to do better. I think now more than ever, Rockys are realizing that when they stay silent about the stuff they know in their gut is wrong, it’s like saying that it’s okay.

But there is good news. This situation is a reminder of a couple things. First, it’s a huge reminder about the power of voice and influence. What you or Donald Trump says has an impact on listening ears. Second, spawning from the first point, you can be influential and make positive change. I think Donald Trump has exposed a repulsive, hyper masculine part of our culture, and people, like my dad, no longer want to be associated with it and let it carry on. So he’s speaking up, which I think is a real shift away from just complaining about it. Don’t like what Trump stands for? Do something about it.

Do you believe in magic, honey?

I wrote about my experience visiting with a psychic back in 2015, but never published the story. Below is my experience having my cards read by Madame Carmen, September 2015. 

I slept in quite late this morning, tossing and turning with vivid dreams all night. Those weird dreams where you are floating through your regular day-to-day, nothing really too weird, but everything and everyone are kind of different and twisted. My friend is 50 lbs heavier than she is when I’m awake, my house is twice as big and old as it truly is, I’m loosing my teeth and lost all of the beer I bought for my house party with none of my close friends.

Playland Ride 

Playland Ride 

Last night I went to the fair at the PNE. I walked around, ate junk food and went on some rides. I went to a psychic who had a booth between a slushy drink stall and frozen dipped desserts on a stick.

A man with shoulder length, black, wavy hair, wearing a jean jacket and baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, leaned against the entrance. He was swaying slightly. I stood outside the stall wavering about going inside or not. My friend walked up to the front table and asked a woman with large, thick-rimmed red glasses “she wants to get her palm read, who do we talk to?” Madame Dolores was with another client, so I got the next psychic in line. She stood up and said, “I’ll read her,” as she led me into a small semi-private stall with blue draped satin curtains. There were two folding chairs and a table, cards and pamphlets scattered across the table, a crystal ball and a clear plastic tablecloth stretched across a blue trivet shaped like a flower. My friend wasn’t allowed to come inside.

The psychic didn’t smile and was chewing gum to one side on her jaw. She introduced herself as Carmen and asked if I had ever had a reading before. “You want a palm reading or your cards?” “Huh? Palm reading I guess”. “You guess? Do you want to know more about yourself honey, or do you want to know your future?” She had round features and inexpressive eyes. Her hair was tall and neatly pulled back with a little swoosh of bangs across her forehead. “Ok, cards please”. She picked up the pile of tarot cards with her stubby gold ring clad fingers. She asked me to shuffle the cards. I started shuffling the cards, wondering when do I stop? Will it make a difference if I shuffle the cards once, or if I shuffle for five minutes? Is the way I shuffle the cards telling her something about my future? I stopped when my OCD let me and put the cards in a pile on the little table. She asked me to put my left hand on top of the cards, take my time and make some wishes. “Do not tell anyone what you wished for or the wishes won’t come true.” I stared blankly at the stack of cards and made some wishes, trying to concentrate on wishing and not let my mind wander. “Okay I’m done,” I said and she picked up the pile of cards. She laid out eight cards in two rows. She warned me that I was not to tell anyone of what we spoke of in the stall. As she flipped over the last card in the second row she asked me, “do you believe in magic?”

We flipped through the cards and finished off the deck. I reached down to make sure my purse was still sitting beside my chair. “God bless you, and do not tell anyone your wishes or what we spoke of or it will not come true. God bless you. That will be $25”

There were some predictions and advice given to me that was accurate and encouraging (and no, I will tell you what exactly). I am not a firm non believer or believer in psychic ability, magic or faith, that this booth was not a scam, but I tend to always look for signs in my life. My mom always told me that if it is meant to happen, things would fall into place. I have been looking for direction in my life, choose a direction but self-doubting each of my possible decisions. I think I know my next step now. It’s silly how my loved ones, friends and coworkers can all give me good advice but the advice I’m following cost $25 in a 4x4’ room at the PNE from Madame Carmen. 

Pamphlet for Madame Dolores, European Psychic 

Pamphlet for Madame Dolores, European Psychic 


Online Dating

Cupid's Cursor

Smart Phone, Dumb Dating

Words by Maddy Adams, Illustrations by Flora Brodie

Published in the January 2017 issue of Link Magazine

I’m at that age where more and more of my friends are getting engaged. With all the elaborate surprise proposals sprinkled throughout my social feeds and wedding hashtags littering every post, it started getting to me: ‘Why am I single. What’s wrong with me?’ I’d come out of a long-term relationship earlier in the year and decided to enter into the dating world again, but it can be very difficult to meet people while studying at BCIT. Joining a dating service had started to seem like a viable option. Online dating held such a negative reputation to me, though. Wasn’t it reserved for the desperate and unlovable? Or is finding romance online the new status quo? Wide-eyed and innocent, I entered this new scene feeling like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City stepping off the New York subway for the first time — only a little less Manolo Blahnik, and a bit more Sketchers.

 

My first venture into online dating started at a friend’s birthday party. Most of my friends were already online or had at least tried it, so after a couple of beers, three of them hijacked my phone and downloaded a dating app. As a team, we swiped and swiped and swiped, through an endless stream of profiles. I’d half-expected to find only mutants online—the desperate and unlovable leftovers of Metro Vancouver — but I was wrong. Most of my matches seemed really interesting, well-educated, attractive and relatively normal. The problem for me though wasn’t with the people on there, it was the environment in which we were interacting. After chatting with some guys, I started to notice how impersonal and quick the interactions were. Am I boring? Did I say something wrong? I quickly realized that getting a match didn’t mean very much, as I was probably one of 50 other matches they were chatting with. I felt like most people were simply collecting matches like trophies, without any intention to meet or talk to them. I suddenly felt the pressure to really upsell myself, and I started to overanalyze my speech. Should I add an emoji? Should I respond with “haha” or “lol”? Do I portray the best, most enhanced version of myself, or do I present my completely organized, gets-eight-hours-of-sleep, human self?  I was in the midst of an identity crisis.

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I took some time to think over this new world and came to this conclusion: being a Millennial changes the way we date, especially online.

 

We Millennials just love to give our personal elevator pitch, quick to rattle off our list of diverse interests, jobs and the social causes we believe in. I think the Millennial generation was raised to believe that we can have whatever we dream of, and that we are deserving of any of our desires. Our Gen-X parents are often described as the cheerleading generation, showering their Millennial children with compliments and an abundance of support along the way. This has created a generation of young adults who are more open-minded to possibilities than generations before them, and who have developed a mind-set of: “Why can’t I have what I want?” This open-mindedness to change and progress can be great for shortcuts, creativity and efficiency, but it’s also screwing up the Millennial’s perception of relationships.

 

Online dating platforms emphasize the discovery of people, not developing strong, committed, and lasting relationships. In the traditional dating method, you’d meet all potential partners face-to-face. Relationship building and strengthening occurs naturally when you are spending time and investing effort in one another. This has given way to the modern user experience of online dating, where there is an endless pursuit to discover the “perfect” partner. Online dating platforms are designed to keep users swiping and browsing. This abundance of choice mixed with the belief that Millennials can have whatever they want in an easy-to-use mobile app, keeps us on the hamster wheel, swiping endlessly through profiles.

 

One of the first dates I went on with someone that I’d met online was with a gentleman I’ll call Mr. L. After a few exchanges online, Mr. L asked me out for a drink. I’d had a busy week , so I hadn’t thought much about the date until I was on my way to meet him. I remember sitting on the bus and thinking to myself: What the hell am I doing? I barely know anything about this guy. Why did I agree to an evening to him? We met at a trendy brewery in Mount Pleasant, and as we drank craft beer, surrounded by succulents, I quickly realized that we did not have much in common. I scolded myself in my head; I should have screened him more before agreeing to a date. He gushed to me about his love of red meat, and teased me for being a vegetarian. He laughed as he told me how much he loved travelling through Spain, and “how entertaining it would be to watch a Picador kill a bull.” Being a vegetarian, I tried not to look too disturbed by this, calmly trying to explain how terrible I thought killing animals for entertainment was, seeing if I could evoke some empathy from him. He chuckled like I had told him an adorable anecdote. Afterwards, I had plans to meet my friends and he offered to give me a lift. As we pulled up, I was so preoccupied looking for the entrance to my friend’s apartment that I didn’t notice him leaning towards me. I turned, surprised, as he went in for a kiss. My response? I somehow ended up petting his head awkwardly. We were both mortified, and I hurriedly jumped out of the car. We never spoke again.

 

Is this online dating? Meeting strangers and seeing if you get along? Throwing a dart and seeing what sticks? I thought the whole experience was unnatural, spending time with near-strangers to see if anything sparks. Had Mr. L really felt chemistry between us, or was he just as lost as I in this whole online dating world?

 

I think I should have spent more time getting to know Mr. L before agreeing to an evening with him. We didn’t put any effort into laying the groundwork and getting to know one another. If you meet someone traditionally, you would chat for a bit, then only if you get along and have some things in common, would you agree to spend more time together. When meeting online, a lot of the pre-screening takes more effort, and I think is often skipped or minimized. I got caught up in the online dating race, talking to and meeting many people in quick pursuit. But in reality, Mr. L and I didn’t know anything about each other, we didn’t have anything in common, and we didn’t put effort into getting to know each other. We swiped, met at a bar, and moved on. Granted, many dates will never make it past the first, however I think minimizing the shopping aspect would reduce the amount of disappointing first dates, and increase the quality of people you meet, with more chemistry and more common interests.

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Of course, online dating is not all bad, or at least it doesn’t have to be. For certain personality types, or smaller communities of people it can be a huge benefit. For instance, online dating has been found to be more successful for middle-aged people, marginalized groups in the LGBTQ community, or those with niche interests/kinks who may have smaller dating pools. Having control over your profile, who you meet, and who you interact with gives you a lot of control in your romantic life, which can be really radical for someone who may be tired of waiting to meet someone “organically.” Being in full control of how you portray and market yourself also allows you to meet people you may have never crossed paths with traditionally. Online dating can be a great advantage for people who are shy, or have a hard time meeting people in person. With less self-awareness involved compared to in-person communication, you can get to know each other more comfortably, quickly, and form deeper connections faster than you would have traditionally.

 

I think if you keep the inherent flaws of the online social environment in mind while using these apps, you can adjust your expectations, or maybe even your attitude while swiping. Everyone knows a success story (and everyone knows a horror story). So, flaunt those sketchers while you step off your comfort curb, and ask yourself this: why not find a romantic partner online?