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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Today Should Have Been My Birthday

Okay, so I decided to start the four year anniversary celebrations one day early.  And I did so for a very specific reason.

Before I get into that though, I just thought I would get into detail over what you all can expect over the next, wait.  Scratch that.  I'll show you what you can expect until the first part of June, because that's how long this anniversary celebration is going to last.

So, you had your say, and you decided that you wanted to hear a month of personal stories.  And, well, I am actually happy that most of you picked that option, as that was the route that I really wanted to go anyway. 

But the more I thought about it...the more I thought...well, what if I tell you thirty-four personal stories - one for every year that I've been alive?  I would start from birth and tell you one personal story from each year of my life.  I'd of course, pepper each entry with a little bit of pop culture. 

You see, each entry will start with the top movie at the box office the week I was born, the top rated television show that year, and the #1 song the week I was born.  I don't really have to do this, but I find it fun to see what was popular around each of my birthdays.

Now, I'll be doing this six of the seven days of the week.  The Tuesday Timeline entries will probably go ahead as normal, but I will say that each Tuesday Timeline spotlight during the month of May will take place between 1981 and 2014.  After all, that's the only time period that I've been around for.  Hence the need for the anniversary celebration to expand into June.

But take it from me.  You'll probably learn a lot more about me than you wanted to know.

So, let's start at the very beginning, shall we?  A personal story from year...I guess you could say zero.

And, I know what you're thinking.  You're probably thinking, how the hell can you remember any sort of detail from the first year of your life?  Truth is...I can't.  In fact, the first three or four years are going to be stories told to me by my family members.  And, well...I guess I sort of have to trust them, right? 

So, here goes.  We'll start with the prerequisite baby picture.

Can't believe I was ever that tiny!

YEAR ZERO STATS - 5/18/81 - 5/17/82

#1 SONG THE WEEK OF 5/18/81
Bette Davis Eyes/KIM CARNES

"Happy Birthday To Me"

(How appropriate!)

#1 SHOW OF THE 1981-1982 SEASON

And the title of this blog entry might confuse you.  The title being "Today Should Have Been My Birthday" might seem like a bit of a weird title to give this piece, but the thing's absolutely the truth.

You actual date of birth was supposed to have been April 30, 1981.  I was born nearly three weeks later.  Can you say overdue?

Can you say "extremely patient mother"? 

Here's the story behind that.  I won't bore you with the details of how I came into this world because by now, I'm sure most of you probably know how it happened.  And if you don't...lord help you.  All you need to know is that my conception happened sometime during the summer of 1980.

And given that my mom's original due date was supposed to have been April 30, counting back nine months meant that I was supposedly conceived sometime between July 26 and August 2, 1980.

But for some reason, April came and went, and most of May passed by before my mom was brought into the hospital to give birth to me.  And it was my actual birthdate in which the doctor who delivered me exclaimed that I was way overdue!

Not premature.  Not on time.  Overdue.  By eighteen days!

So much for conception at the end of July.  More like the beginning of the month!

Not that it mattered all that much.  I was born on a Monday morning at 7:35am.  Even though I was an overdue baby, my birth weight was just under six pounds.  But hey, I guess you could say that I was kind of an oddity from the very beginning.  After all, I basically stayed in the womb a full eighteen days past what I was supposed to.  It's a wonder my poor mother didn't serve me an eviction notice.

Of course these days, women are induced into labour long before that ever happens, so I don't think you'll see too many cases where babies were born nearly three weeks past their due date.  I guess I could call myself a rarity.

But you know, looking back on it, I'm glad I decided to wait before coming out in a way.  My original birthday was supposed to have been April 30.  April 30 is the deadline to file your taxes in Canada.  Do I really want to share my birthday with the day that stresses most Canadians out the most?  Probably not.  I also would have been born on the anniversary of the day that Adolf Hitler killed himself.  Nice.

And, having an April 30 birthday meant going to school each day my birthday fell on a weekday.  Which would have been five of the seven days.  Which completely would have sucked.

Now, a May 18 birthday on the other hand?  Well, May 18 is later in the year and closer to summer, so chances are that it was going to be a warm day.  Unfortunately, it meant more of a chance of rain (I'll talk about that in a future blog entry).  And if May 18 falls on a Monday, it's a statutory holiday in Canada.  And as it so happens, this year, my birthday falls on Victoria Day!  What a great year this is going to be.  Funny, I was born on Victoria Day as well.  I suppose this could be considered a full circle kind of year!

No matter what, I was born thirty-four years ago this upcoming month.  And while I was supposed to be an April baby, I think May suits me better.

So stay tuned for some more personal stories from the memory banks of this pop culture addict.  We've only just begun.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Well, I have quite a bit on my mind today.  So, first things first, I'll get the most important stuff out of the way.

The site above will take you to a link where you can donate money to the people of Nepal.  Mind you, this is a Canadian site, so I have no idea if donations from outside of Canada can be accepted.  But Nepal and its surrounding nations are enduring some major hardships lately on account of that massive earthquake a few days ago, and the people there could use all the help they can get.  So, take some time and donate some money to them if you can spare it.

(NOTE:  You will need a major credit card to make a donation.)

Secondly, my thoughts go out to the people of Baltimore right now with all of the riots going on.  While I sympathize with the reason why people are protesting, I don't have any tolerance for people who destroy property and cause mischief out of anger for a decision that was made, and if you are one of those that feels the need to do this, please stop.  There are ways to protest wrongdoings without resorting to violent acts.

Baltimore, stay safe.

Anyway, onto the real point of this blog - which really doesn't have anything to do with the above postings at all - but still something that I've written about after doing a lot of thinking about where I am right now.

I want to thank those of you who cast a vote in the poll.  Your votes helped me decide what topics to talk about for the blog's anniversary month.  There's still a little bit of time to vote yet, but it appears as though the personal stories choice won.  So, for at least the next thirty-one days (and actually, my plan is to make it go a little bit longer than that), I'll be posting some personal stories about my life and what I've learned.  And, of course, I'll be throwing in a little bit of a pop culture twist.

Think of the blog entries for May as a nice refreshing glass of iced tea, and think of the lemon wedge in the glass as the pop culture twist. 

Now I want iced tea.  Be right back.

Ah.  That's better.  Now where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Personal stories.  Anyway, as I was saying, I have a really cool idea as to how to present each of my personal stories...and I'll get into more detail about that tomorrow.

For now, I have a personal confession here.  And I'd like you all to hear me out.

You know, in addition to the blog turning four years old in May, my birthday also happens to be in May.  I started this blog six days after my thirtieth birthday, and now that I am a couple of weeks away from turning thirty-four, part of me is amazed that I have kept this blogging project going for so long. 

But realizing that I will be thirty-four has sort of made me think about a lot of things right now.

Going on social media sites, and connecting with people who are my age or a couple of years older or younger, I've noticed that most of them have settled down and have gotten married and had a child or two.  Believe me, I've seen your pictures, and read your status updates!  But that's cool with me.  Truth is, I like hearing all about those kinds of stories.  In a world that is constantly peppered with bad news and doomsday prophecies, it's wonderful to hear stories of people who have done well and found success in their lives. 

Mind you, I imagine most of you sometimes want to rip your hair out with the stress that comes from raising a family, but I suppose it's a necessary part of becoming a parent.  It's one of the hardest jobs that one can do, but I can see how it can be one of the most rewarding.

Of course, I can only imagine this to be the case.  I have no experience with having a family or raising children because at nearly thirty-four years old, I am still childless.  Of course, I'm nobody's husband either, so that sort of explains why I am childless.

And believe it or not, there was once a time in which that really bothered me. 

I guess in some manner of speaking, many people seem to equate success in the amount of children one has.  And certainly for a lot of people, I can see why they would want to have children.  They would want to continue the legacy that the family began.  And most people probably do want to become parents at some point in their lives.  And seeing the vast majority of people who I went to school with having children and settling down, it did sort of make me feel left out knowing that I didn't have any of my own to share.
But that was then. 

To be completely honest, I've already made peace with the fact that in my lifetime, I'm probably not going to be a parent.  At least, not right at this moment.

And I'm fine with that.

Let's face it.  I don't exactly have an easy time taking care of myself a lot of the time.  I mean, sure, I do have financial responsibility and I probably could handle the day-to-day aspects of taking care of a child.  I did after all become an uncle at fifteen years old and did a lot of child sitting when I was in my teens and early 20s.

But emotionally speaking?  Yeah, I'm definitely not ready.

I'm nowhere near where I want to be professionally, and I still have a long way to go before I even can consider myself even in the right frame of mind to enter a relationship, let alone father a child with somebody. 

I suppose it comes down to the whole pronoun that goes something like this.  If you can't love yourself, you can't love anyone else.  And, as most of you know by now, I am still trying to figure myself out. 

The way I see it, children deserve to have parents who have got mostly everything together.  I'm not afraid to admit that I am nowhere near that yet.  Truth is, I'm just not ready to become a parent or a husband yet.

And that's perfectly okay.

I know - or I guess I should say have known - some rather rude people who seem to believe that success is measured in how perfect your children are, and that if people don't have children, they are selfish.  I actually think that it is more selfish to bring a child into the world for the purpose of keeping a marriage together, or to solely get benefits from the government, but I suppose that's just my feeling on the matter. 

And keep in mind that some people are unable to have children biologically.  Think about that before you call someone selfish for not having children.

I suppose that this has ended up being a whole lot of rambling, but the bottom line is this.  I'm single.  I'm childless.  And, I'm perfectly okay with that.  Maybe in a few years time, I'll think differently.  Maybe ten years from now, I'll be trying to write this blog while simultaneously trying to get two little ones into bed.  And maybe I go the rest of my life not having known fatherhood.

Whatever life brings me...I'll try to be ready for it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 1979

Welcome to another edition of the Tuesday Timeline

I certainly hope that most of you like music, because today's featured entry is all about music.  In fact, I suppose you could call it a signature hit of sorts for a particular New Wave band.  Not bad, given that the song had a disco flavour to it.

That's your one and only clue for now.  In the meantime, have a look at some of the other events that took place on April 28 throughout history.  There's certainly quite a lot that has happened.

1788 - Maryland becomes the seventh state to ratify the Constitution of the United States

1792 - The French Revolutionary War begins with the invasion of Austrian Netherlands by France

1881 - Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County Jail in New Mexico

1910 - Louis Paulhan wins the 1910 London to Manchester Air Race

1916 - Ferruccio Lamborghini (d. 1993) - the founder of Automobil Lamborghini - is born in Italy

1920 - Azerbaijan becomes a part of the Soviet Union

1930 - In Independence, Kansas, the first night baseball game is played

1932 - A medical breakthrough is discovered when a vaccine for yellow fever is announced for use on humans

1945 - Benito Mussolini and his mistress are executed by firing squad

1948 - Igor Stravinsky conducted the premiere of his American ballet, "Orpheus", in New York City

1949 - Tragedy strikes the Philippines as the former First Lady - Aurora Quezon - is assassinated along with her daughter and ten others en route to a hospital dedication in honour of her late husband

1969 - Charles de Gaulle resigns as President of France

1970 - President Richard Nixon authorizes American combat troops to fight communist sanctuaries in Cambodia

1986 - The nuclear accident in Chernobyl that took place two days earlier is publicly announced following the discovery of high radiation in some parts of Sweden

1987 - American engineer Ben Linder is killed in an ambush by American funded Contras in Nicaragua

1988 - Passengers aboard Aloha Airlines Flight 243 have a scary experience when the fuselage of the plane breaks open mid-flight, killing flight attendant C.B. Lansing

1996 - A gunman opens fire at a cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania, killing thirty-five people

2001 - Dennis Tito becomes the world's first space tourist

And, let's have a look at the number of famous faces celebrating a birthday today.  Birthday wishes go out to Harper Lee, Lois Duncan, Ann-Margret, Alice Waters, Ginette Reno, Paul Guilfoyle, Jay Leno, Chuck Leavell, Mary McDonnell, Kim Gordon, Jimmy Barnes, Nancy Lee Grahn, Steven Blum, Lloyd Eisler, Kari Wuhrer, Jorge Garcia, Elisabeth Rohm, Penelope Cruz, Vernon Kay, Lauren Laverne, Jessica Alba, and Nikki Grahame.

Now we get to the real meat of the matter.  Today's Tuesday Timeline date.

And, well...I hope you all like the 1970s, because we're visiting the tail end of that decade.

It was April 28, 1979, and disco was three months away from being murdered.  As most of us know, July 12, 1979 was the official day that disco officially "died", which saw the detonation of disco records in the middle of a baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox.  The event caused thousands of fans to rush onto the field and the game was forfeited by Chicago because of the damage caused.

So, what does this have to do with the Tuesday Timeline date?  Well, you have to understand that disco music dominated the charts in 1979.  Almost every single number one hit of 1979 was disco themed from Donna Summer and the Bee Gees to Michael Jackson and even Rod Stewart!

And given that by 1979, many people were getting tired of the disco scene, they saw any artist who released a disco single as a sell-out or someone who lacked creativity.

And that included a rock band out of New York City.  A band that formed in 1974 with the goal of making music that didn't sound like anything else at the time. 

A band that scored their very first number one single with this hit thirty-six years ago today.

ARTIST:  Blondie
SONG:  Heart of Glass
ALBUM:  Parallel Lines
DATE RELEASED:  January 3, 1979

Yes, the New Wave group "Blondie", made up of Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Frank Infante, Nigel Harrison, Jimmy Destri, and Clem Burke, had a #1 hit with "Heart of Glass" between April 28 and May 4, 1979, and yes, it was a disco hit.

Well, actually, it started off as a song called "Once I Had A Love", which was penned by both Stein and Harry in 1974 - right when the band had first gotten together.  Recorded as a demo in 1975, the song had a very different sound than the version most of us got to hear.  It was a lot slower, and had a more basic disco beat.  And, reportedly, the band experimented with several genres of music to try and make the song work before settling on pop disco.

At one point, the song was almost released as a reggae hit, similar to the group's 1981 smash "The Tide Is High"!

Now, it's really unclear as to who came up with the idea to make "Heart of Glass" a disco single.  Some sources say that record producer Mike Chapman convinced Harry and Stein to make the record a disco one, while other sources claim that Harry was the one who insisted that disco was the way to go.

And to be fair, Harry supported the disco scene.  In an interview she gave with NME Magazine in 1978, she stated that while disco was commercial, but was also good.  She cited famous disco producer Giorgio Moroder as an example of this.

And prior to Blondie releasing "Heart of Glass", the group had performed at the Blitz Benefit at the famous rock club CBGB in May 1978 where to everyone's shock, they performed an impromptu cover version of "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer.  Certainly Blondie seemed to break down barriers and maintained their neutrality stance.  They knew that rock was cool, but they wanted to show that they liked disco music too.  Sure enough, that moment in 1978 was one of the first times that a rock band had performed a disco hit live.

I only wish that I could have found the original music video to show you guys, but alas, it is not available on YouTube.  But I do have a link to the video HERE.  I can also tell you a few things about it.

Obviously, the video was filmed in New York City, as we see shots of the Empire State Building and the former World Trade Center intertwined between shots of the band performing in what appears to be a discotheque.

TRIVIA:  Contrary to what some may think, and despite the appearance of an exterior shot of the club appearing in the video, the video itself is NOT filmed at Studio 54.  It was actually filmed in a different club in New York City.

Oh, and Debbie's interesting dress?  You'll never guess where the inspiration for it came from.

Believe it or not, the pattern came from television scan lines.  The asymmetrical dress - designed by Stephen Sprouse was inspired by the scan line pattern which was photo printed onto a piece of fabric, which was then draped over a layer of cotton fabric and chiffon on top.  It was quite a fantastic piece.  I should also note that Debbie Harry herself had a designing credit.  She designed all the T-shirts that the male band members wore in the video.

Of course, while the single did become Blondie's first #1 hit, it also caused fans to cause a backlash against them for selling out.  And certainly some of the members of Blondie felt the same way.  Drummer Clem Burke would refuse to play the song live until it became a huge hit and he was forced to.  Other members like Stein and Harry defended the single and were proud of its success.

Oh, and in some British radio stations, the line "once I had a love, and it was a gas, soon turned out it was a pain in the ass" was banned from airplay.  Or at the very least, the BBC would mute the lyric completely from radio play.  Yeah, it's not even that offensive, people!  To solve the problem, a second version was recorded where the "pain in the ass" lyric was changed to "had a heart of glass".  Because repetition is so much better than having a naughty word.

Anyway, whether you liked disco or not, "Heart of Glass" was the #1 song 36 years ago today.  Where does the time go?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Starlight Girls of Jem

Is it just me, or are we on a huge 1980s nostalgia kick this decade?

Not that there's anything really wrong with that.  The 1980s defined my childhood, and there were a lot of fun things about that decade that forever shaped who I am as a person.

I mean, one has to take a look at the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" reboot, the "Transformers" reboot, and the "Smurfs" reboot to really understand that the 1980s are back in full force.

There's even talk of a "Jem and the Holograms" live action movie that is set to air at the end of the year.

Yeah, that's right.  Jem and the Holograms.  That girl group inspired by a doll line that sang a whole bunch of cotton candy fluff songs that were truly, truly, truly outrageous and made a catchphrase out of "Showtime, Synergy".

Yeah, I don't really know how that's going to work either.

Now, here's a confession.  I don't really remember watching Jem when it first came out.  But I've done an entry on the show, and had to do some research and found that the cartoon's not that bad.  Mind you, the show is marketed towards a female audience, but the music lover in me secretly kind of likes a couple of the songs played on the cartoon.

(Though, admittedly, I think that if I were a cartoon character in 1985 - the same year the cartoon was first screened - I'd probably be a Misfits fan.  Nothing against the Holograms...just that the Misfits had better sounding songs.)

Anyway, I suppose it makes sense to do a Jem movie.  The movie is set to come out right around the 30th anniversary of the cartoon series, so the timing is perfect.  I just have to wonder how they plan to make it happen in a 2015 world?  I mean, let's face it, the computer that Jerrica Benton used to create Jem was the size of a small transport!  In 2015, she may have USB drives attached onto her earrings for all we know!

One thing that I am sure will remain the same though is the original story of Jem.  When Jerrica Benton's father dies, he leaves her part ownership of Starlight Music, and full ownership of the Starlight House For Foster Girls.  Jerrica's sister Kimber, and two former Starlight Girls - Aja and Shana - help Jerrica raise the twelve young orphan girls who call Starlight House home.  Unfortunately, the other half of the record company was left to the slimy Eric Raymond, who plans to use the company profits to finance the promotion of his new band, The Misfits.

And that doesn't suit well with Jerrica.  When her father ran Starlight Music, all of the profits made by the record company went towards funding Starlight House.  And with Eric threatening to cut off the cash flow to the Starlight Girls, Jerrica decides to put her cards on the table.  Receiving a final gift from her father of Synergy, red star earrings, rock star fashions, musical instruments, and a cool car, Jerrica decides to become a pink haired rock goddess named Jem, and Kimber, Aja, and Shana become her Holograms.

(Now, throughout the course of the show, only a handful of people discover that Jem and Jerrica are the same person - and considering that Kimber is Jerrica's sister and that Jem and Jerrica were rarely in the same room together, how could the world be so incredibly stupid?)

Anyway, Jem and the Holograms managed to get full control of Starlight Music, and when Starlight House burned down, they won a Battle of the Bands contest against The Misfits, and won a new mansion for the girls to live in. 

But don't think that it was easy to balance making hit records and taking care of twelve orphaned girls.  Certainly each of the Starlight Girls provided their own set of hassles for Jerrica, Kimber, Aja, and Shana.  So, I thought that I would use this space to talk about a few of the memorable ones.

I suppose of the of the first Starlight Girls that we meet in the series is Ashley.  Ashley is basically your stereotypical bratty girl in that she doesn't like to take orders from anybody, and she wants to be her own person.  And she's also introduced as being a bit of a "take what may or may not be rightfully hers" personality when she swipes money from the house's "Honor Jar".  She's forced to pay back thirty dollars - which she gets from The Misfits - and she decides that The Misfits are going to be her real role models.  Aside from Stormer who treats Ashley with respect, the rest of the Misfits only want to use her to destroy Jem and the Holograms, and eventually Ashley sees that Jerrica has had her back all along.

It's actually quite amazing to see the complete turnaround that Ashley made in just the course of a couple of episodes.  She went from being a bad girl wannabe to a regular Pollyanna.  It would almost be believable if the change wasn't so sudden.  All in all, Ashley would prove to be a leader in Starlight Mansion and served as a bit of a caretaker for the other girls.

Deirdre was also another one of the older girls, and she could be considered a role model as well, even though she had a really sensitive personality.  Her personality was so sensitive that she when she felt that Jerrica and Jem were brushing her off, she decided to run away from Starlight Mansion along with two other Starlight Girls.  Fortunately, Deirdre found out that life on the streets wasn't nearly as much fun as she thought it would be, and she returned home in time to watch a benefit concert that Jem and the Holograms were throwing in support of a home for teenage runaways.

Nice tie in, don't you think?

Krissie was another Starlight Girl that the show focused on.  She was one of the girls who ran away with Deirdre, but she did it to keep an eye on them, showing that she may very well be the most mature Starlight Girl of all.  Mind you, her maturity has taken a backseat to her ability to have common sense.  She's almost fallen off of high places twice.  And she certainly didn't take too kindly to the fact that a boy named Domenic Lerner was making fun of her and bossing her around.  They later became friends though after she promised to teach him how to swim.

And then there's Ba Nee.  Ba Nee was Jerrica's favourite Starlight Girl, and she basically did everything for her.

Unfortunately, Ba Nee is probably the Starlight Girl who has caused the most stress.

I mean, when your eyesight is failing, and Jem and the Holograms work hard to make a movie so that the profits could help fund an operation to save her sight, how does Ba Nee thank her?  By running away from home with Deirdre and Krissie!  Um, yeah...thanks for saving my sight, but I hate living here, and so I must leave.  What the hell, Ba Nee?

Don't even get started on the whole "my father is alive and he has red hair, and therefore every man who has red hair must be my dad".  This was Ba Nee's whole plot during the whole series.  And what did searching for her father get her?  Well, she almost got eaten by a bear, and she got kidnapped by a man who claimed to be her father, but was actually only claiming to be so he could have access to Jem's money.  And of course, Jerrica had to endure Ba Nee's crying about how she wanted a father, regardless of how good Jerrica and the rest of the Holograms treated her.

Yeah, Ba Nee was just...yeah.  At least she tried to help Roxy from the Misfits learn how to read.  So, she's not completely a loss.

At least from what I hear, she did reunite with her father and the series concluded with Ba Nee leaving Starlight Mansion for good - probably causing Jem and the Holograms to breathe a sigh of relief...ahem...feel sad that she was leaving, but happy that she was with family.

Anyway, those were just four of the Starlight Girls.  Any fans of Jem...can you name the other eight?  And what were some of your favourite memories?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cliquety-Cliquety-Claque (Friendships Fly Off The Track)

This is a piece that I wrote about five years ago.  And the subject happens to be about a time in which I was exiled from a Facebook group for what seemed to be no reason at all.  I thought it would be a good time to revisit that piece I wrote all that time ago, and take a look at what I've learned since that day.

Originally written on September 29, 2010.

You know, it's very seldom that I devote an entire note to a recent event that has happened to me.  Normally, I tend to write notes in here that are mostly lighthearted.  Talking about colours and imagery.  Writing about my hopes, dreams, and deepest desires.  Venting about crazy ladies who throw gum at me because our juice supply ran low...

...well, okay, they aren't ALL positive.

But, if any of you who read these notes really know me (and yes, I'll be touching upon that point a little later in this note), you'd know that I tend not to talk about current events in my life.  For one, I don't think anybody would even be remotely interested in my current life, because at times even I find it a bit dull and monotonous (though I am taking steps to remedy that).  And, for another, I actually find it much more therapeutic to talk about things that happened to me in the past so i can look at situations through adult eyes and laugh, heal, make peace with it, etc.

This note is going to be a bit different though. 

I'm sure that when you glance at the title of the article, you'll soon discover that the article is all about cliques (and not about trains, though having a father who worked for a railroad for 31 years makes me kind of a semi-expert in that subject as well). 

The dictionary meaning for clique is as follows...

CLIQUE - a small exclusive group of people.

What's funny is that there are so many people who want so desperately to belong to a clique, but yet so few people actually find themselves actually belonging to one.

Growing up, I never did understand the whole concept of cliques.  To me, I was a kid who wanted to be liked by everybody, and wanted to like everybody.  Of course, a world where everybody likes and respects each other is about as real as a world that is filled with unicorns and fairy dust.  So, you try to make do with what you have.

I do feel that there is a humongous difference between a small group of friends and a clique.  To me, having a small group of friends means having a small group of at least three people who like and respect each other, and will pretty much have each other's backs and won't let other people hurt them, even if they kid each other around with humour and inside jokes.  I'd also like to believe that a small group of friends can like and respect each other in spite of any differences that they may have, and that a small group of friends can accept anybody else who may befriend the other people in the friendship.

But, in my experience, a clique differs quite a bit from a simple group of friends.  To me, a clique is made up of a group of a fixed or determined more, no less.  A clique is formed based on one or more shared interests, and anyone who doesn't relate is immediately excluded from being a part of it.

And, perhaps the biggest difference between a clique and a mere group of friends is the fact that in a clique, friendships are built on a foundation of conditions and high expectations.

Recently, I was involved in a situation that included a clique (rather I was forced into being involved), and the end result has lead to hurt feelings, anger, and general disgust in several people.  I want to speak about this experience I had.  It isn't because I want people to feel sorry for me, because I'm a lot stronger than I let on.  It certainly isn't to get revenge, because I don't play that game.  And, it's not to belittle or begrudge anyone either, because anyone who really knows me (again, a key point to this whole essay), knows that I am the last person who would take pleasure in other people's mistakes.

So, a few months back, I had made some friends with a group of people who were mutual friends of some of my friends.  They had started up a group on Facebook, and when I was invited to join the group, I didn't hesitate.  The group itself was one of those self-improvement groups, and again, to those who know me, they know that I have a bit of an issue with making those self-improvements.  So, joining a group that was originally described as a group where people could share their dreams and their goals with each seemed like it was a fantastic idea.  And, for the first few months, it was great.

Then the cracks began to form.  There was some minor in-fighting between a couple of members, and there were a couple of people who left the group, but since it didn't have anything to do with me, I just ignored it.

Then, about three or four months ago, a couple of my friends were blacklisted from the group for tangling with one of the members of the group who was also a friend of mine.  Again, since it didn't directly affect me, I thought nothing of it.  I was upset that two of my friends were fighting with each other, but again, I trusted that both of them were mature and responsible enough to handle the fights themselves away from the group.

Then, out of the of the feuding friends decides to end the friendship between her and ME...without any explanation to me in regards of why she did it.  Imagine my surprise when I was left confused, because I was always under the assumption that we were cool, and that I hadn't done anything wrong.  It never dawned on me at the time when this happened, but now that I think of it, I often wondered if maybe she had thought that I had taken the side of the other friend because I was still talking with him.  But, again, I wanted to stay out of it.  Obviously, there were issues between the two of them, and obviously, it was up to them to work it out.  But, the idea that I would have my friendship forcibly ended with one of the people didn't make any sense to me, especially since I wanted to stay out of the line of fire.

So, imagine my surprise when the person who ended the friendship with me sends me a message out of the blue two months later, telling me that I should basically end my friendship with the other person, and that as someone who has such a strong anti-bully stance, I should know better than to have let him on my anti-bullying group because he was such a bully to her.

Let's just go ahead and dissect this little rambling.

First, for someone to decide not to have anything to do with me because of my association with someone she dislikes to then come up and try to tell me to drop this person as a friend tells me one thing.  She's a troublemaker.  I don't like troublemakers very much.  And, besides...she decided way back when that I wasn't important or worthy enough for her friendship and now she decides to warn me about him?  Sorry.

Second...the person she had the conflict with and I have been friends for almost an entire decade.  It would take a lot to get me to walk away from a friendship that I've had for such a long time.  Personality conflicts between people happen all the friend of almost 10 years probably has friends that he has that I probably would not like...and similarly, I'm sure that I have contacts that he's not fond of.  But would we end the friendship because of this?  Unless that friendship was purely toxic, not a chance.  I'm just sorry that the other person involved in the dispute was so insecure in our friendship that she chose to end it without hearing my side of the story.  Because if she really knew me, and really valued my friendship, I most certainly would have tried to keep things civil, and I would have tried to keep both friendships going.

Thirdly, I don't do well with ultimatums.  For the record, my friendship with the guy that has lasted ten years has never issued me any sort of ultimatum in regards to my friendships with others.  He may not like everyone I hang out with but I'd like to think that we're secure enough in our friendship that we need not worry.  The other person ended the friendship and THEN told me two months later why she did.  Sorry, not good enough in my opinion.

And, try and use my beliefs and my passion about a certain subject as a guilt trip to try and win brownie points from me...I'm me, that is pretty low, and if anything, it damages their credibility a heck of a lot more than it damages mine.

So, long story short...I chose to remain loyal to my friend who I had known the longest.  His friendship is real, genuine, and not based on a set of conditions.  Hers was, and the more I thought of it, the more I realized that having a friendship with her wasn't meant to be.

Then it really hit the fan.

Not long after she messaged me, which I pretty much ignored, the founder of the group that I belonged to piped in with her two cents, saying basically a repeat of everything that the other one had said...that my other friend was bad news, I was getting in over my head, she didn't feel comfortable maintaining the friendship as long as I was friends with the other know...things like that.  I messaged her back, saying that I would at least speak to my other friend to get the whole story (mainly because I didn't understand why he was being blacklisted, and why I was being blacklisted right alongside him).

Shortly after that message, I then went to visit the group that I was a part of to see if I could get some advice on how to handle the situation as someone who seemed to be unintentionally caught in the middle. 

Only I couldn't find the group.

It was only after that when I realized that all of my friends (with the exception of two) from that group had either blocked me, or decided that I wasn't worth having as a friend, and then it dawned on me.

I was blacklisted from that group because I had chosen the friend who they did not like anymore.  I was basically shown the door by the owner of the group and her other friends because apparently I was friends with the enemy.

Did I mention that this was all done BEFORE the founder of the group contacted me?  That she had ended our friendship and kicked me out of the group BEFORE she told me that she was ending the friendship?

I'm sorry, but what cowardice on her part.

Had I known that she had done this, I would not have been nearly so nice to her in my reply back.  I would have likely told her off, and told her off real good.

When it first happened, I'll admit it.  I was deeply hurt.  Why would I be kicked out of a group for such a silly reason like that?  Why wasn't my friendship important enough for them?  Didn't they enjoy my contributions?  Didn't I inspire them?

Turns out, I wasn't the only one.

I know of quite a few people who were also kicked out of the group for basically the same reason I was.  We just didn't fit into THEIR group.

We weren't IMPORTANT enough for them.

They had essentially become a clique...and the troublemaker who tried to cause trouble between my friend and I was right in the center of it all.

It was like high school all over again...being on the outside of the clique that contained some of the "coolest" kids in the school.

Though, looking at this clique, and many other cliques that I've had to encounter in my school years, through adult eyes, I have a different conclusion.

There isn't anything "cool" about a group of people who shun others because they don't seem to fit THEIR criteria.  What it shows is insecurity plain and simple.  Insecurity about themselves, and insecurity about their relationships with other people.

If that group of people really (and I mean REALLY) knew me, they'd know that I am the last person who would want to hurt anyone's feelings intentionally.  I am incredibly loyal to people who show loyalty back.  The fact of the matter is that my friend of almost ten years has shown me that loyalty, even when times got too tough, while the whole lot of those people didn't think twice about ending my friendship based on a conflict between two people who were not me.  And, people wonder who I'm going to align with.

Let's get one thing straight.  I don't have any respect for the way this situation was handled by the group.  I'm not acting like a Mother Teresa here and saying that I was absolutely perfect.  I know that I could have done more to try and understand both sides of the story...but it's incredibly difficult to try and get both sides when one side immediately cuts you off before you get a chance to hear them out.

I also don't like the idea of people turning against other people just because another person tells them to do so.  It happened with another one of my closest friends too, and to me, it shows more about their character than it could ever possibly say about them.

People have made mistakes.  Lapses in judgment.  Things that they could do over again if they could.

I wish that I didn't need to join that group to know that I am a fantastic person who is incredibly loyal to their TRUE friends.  Although, in a way, I'm glad I did join, because I quickly discovered who my real friends were from that experience.

The whole experience could have left me bitter, but I choose not to let that happen.  Clearly, those people in the group made their choices, and they'll ultimately have to live with their choices.  I just hope they realize that what they did to me and my friends was much more hateful, hurtful, and immature than anything that my friends could have done.

The worst part about this is that I still would have posted on that group.  I still would have used that group as a springboard for healing my old wounds and finding my inner strength.  If the opportunity wasn't snatched away from me by force, I'd still be a member there.  But, it's kind of ironic in a sense that my deletion from that group lead to the addition of inner strength, self-worth, and self-esteem.

And here we are...five years later, and I still have these same thoughts.  I still have no tolerance for cliquey people, and whenever possible, I try to avoid them as much as possible.  If they want to have their own exclusive group, by all means, let them.  In the end, they'll only become some of the loneliest people to ever grace this world. 

I'm confident enough in myself to know who my real friends are.  And believe me.  They know it.