Have fun when you can. Think all the time.

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October 31, 2014


A flashbulb memory is a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid 'snapshot' of the moment and circumstances in which a piece of surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) news was heard.

I’ve been fascinated with the concept of ‘Flashbulb Memories’ since I first read about them in my Introductory Psychology class in my first year of University. The idea that a moment in time is so emotionally important to us that they're laid down as vividly, completely and accurately as a photograph. Effectively, these moments are etched into your brain able to be recalled in vivid clarity years later.

I haven’t done extensive research on Flashbulb memories, and am aware of the critiques against them but think often of the power of my own flashbulb memories. The ability to be taken back to that very moment regardless of the time that’s past. The taste, the smell, the very visceral feelings all come back. This could be a good thing if my flashbulb memories were positive or happy experiences that one would want to remember, however the funny thing about the brain is we seem to be more vividly effected by those moments of crisis or trauma.

I remember getting the call from Meghan to let me know that Steve K. and his mother has passed away the night before in a car accident. I remember I had been getting ready for school that morning happier than usual for a Tuesday morning. I had a crush on someone and wanted to look extra nice for physics class still elated from a great weekend celebrating Kory’s birthday. I remember not believing her. I remember calling her a liar and collapsing onto the floor, crying so hard that I felt like my lungs were going to escape my chest. That pain, that raw emotion comes back whenever I recall the memory. In the years following I would be reduced to a crying ball in a heap on the ground. Now, nine years later I don’t cry. I don’t lose my footing, but my skin tringles remembering the feelings that day.

I remember the coldest I’ve ever been. As I think about it goose bumps are growing. It was 2008 and the first day of planting in Quesnel Alberta at the start of my second year as a tree planter in Northern British Columbia. It was late May and it seemed like it was going to be a mild but sunny day judging from what I gathered from the balcony of our hotel room I was sharing with Francis and Felicity. That was fine by me. I had forgotten my rain jacket on Manitoba and it was currently somewhere in between Beausejour and my hotel room with expected arrival the following week. I pulled on my Hele Hanson thermal underwear and a long sleeved shirt, covered by a pair of loose fitting shorts, thick socks, my trusted Asolo boots, and tied my hair back with a bandana. On the way to the block I remember feeling excited and exhilarated by the day head, riven by challenge and happy to be back for another season of hard work and high reward. I taped my right hand with duct tape. Covering my fingertips, knuckles and fingers with a practiced technique I had perfected the year before. We arrived, I took a look at the map, loaded up my bags with ~500 trees (as was my preferred strategy) and shovel in hand set off to the back of my piece.

The day started slower than I would have liked. My muscles adapting to the steep inclines and elevations that my prairie body had forgotten about during the year at University. I slogged away finding my rhythm and appreciating the intoxicating smell of earth and pine that I had missed. It started to rain. Slowly at first. I wasn’t worried. This was common place. I actually enjoyed rain days. It was easy to push harder knowing that it was likely a rough day for everyone else as well and if you could remain positive you had a better chance to come out having planted the most trees. I found the competition motivating. I planted on.

As is common in Northern BC, the temperature dropped. The gentle rain turned to frozen snow and began to blanket the ground. I planted on, feeling the layers nearest to my body stiffen as the water that had collected within the fibres froze. My hand started to lose the ability to move as the duct tape gathered ice particles from being slammed repeatedly into the frozen soil. Visibility became difficult. I was unable to see more than a foot in front of me, my freshly planted trees disappearing under a blanket of white powder. A fire had been set up near the road where we would have grabbed more trees, but I had grabbed enough to keep me busy for at least 2 hours under the best of conditions, and never made it there to feel its warmth. My foreman, an experienced planter names Dale, came on to my piece to give me a hand. We began to plant together, something we did regularly, but were unable to fall into the comfortable waltz of working together as we had in the past. We double planted trees unable to see anything. I stopped shivering. We planted, Dale cursing under his breath, until Zap, the lead foreman yelled at us to pack it in. Dale and I slid back to the truck. I asked Zap if we needed to load up the trucks and he looked at me, drenched with blue lips, called me insane and ordered me to get into the truck that he had put the heat on full blast. I started viciously, afraid that I would shatter my own teeth. It took me hours to warm up again.

Two memories etched into my memory with visceral clarity. I like to think that these Flashbulb memories shape who we are because they’re the memories that stick most strongly. One day I may write a book…

Always remembering,
Delaney C


“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott

I generally try to post well formed, completed thoughts. There is merit to that. However, sometimes a raw thought, a thought not as flushed out comes to my mind and I hold off for months, daunted by the process of formulating a perfect thought worthy of sharing. Sometimes a raw thought, unshaped by time or correctness needs to be shared and I want to start making space for that.

Delaney C

October 7, 2014

Not All Men

It’s Monday. I’m going home at 6pm and a middle aged man and a teenage boy are the only people left on the bus with me. I consider the fact that because the driver is also a man I am the only person left on the bus with the correct genetic makeup for boobs. I’m automatically scared, scared because of my own anatomy. I wonder how old I was when I realized that my own body was going to be the cause of the constant anxiety and fear I feel in situations like this. I get off at the last stop and the older man smiles at me while following me up the street. His smile drips, drips, drips and my heart is pounding, pounding, pounding. He turns off down another road, but I run the rest of the way home.

Not all men.

I’m at home on a Tuesday, beginning to plan the travels I want to go on next year. I dream of wandering the streets and meeting strangers. I just can’t wait to escape the city I’ve lived in for 17 long years. But… my mum is hesitant. She’s forever worried about the danger that being a young girl traveling alone can bring. I’ll be alone and she’s scared. Surely I’m invincible. I feel invincible. But I know, I know this danger is real and I can’t help but think to myself, if I feel unsafe in my own city, how am i going to feel in a strange place with strange men who don’t speak the same language as me? If I was my brother planning this, I would probably just be wondering if European girls are going to be hot.

Not all men.

Wednesday is a beautiful sunny day but I’ve always been told that I don’t have a “nice enough body” to wear a bikini on the beach. Ever since I was 6 years old I’ve thought that having tummy fat was ugly. That skin that doesn’t have a perfectly golden glow is undesirable. I amble to a clear patch of sand in my one piece and I can feel pairs of eyes latching onto me. Hairy men in speedos who I don’t look twice at eat into my body with their stares. I’m a piece of meat. I am a piece of meat? I am here for their amusement. Please don’t let me be eaten alive.

Not all men.

Thursday night two friends and I are walking to our god damn school dance when we hear “Jesus look at you! You sluts heading to a pole?” These words snarl out of the mouth of a respectably dressed man and we stop in horror. Shivers roll up my back in fear. It’s dark. We are alone. What. Do. We. Do??? One of us pulls the finger back. I can never be sure how quickly a sexist man can get angry so we walk quickly away. We’re angry, so so angry. But also so… deflated. I wonder if we deserve this shame.

Not all men.

Sitting on the internet, Friday night and scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed:

“Haha, good job at the game today bro. You RAPED them!”
“Damn with tits like that, you’re asking for it :P”
Another sexist comment…
Another sexist comment…
Another sexist comment…
I’m shrinking and shrinking and shrinking and I want to CRY because these boys don’t realize how small they make me feel with just pressing a few keys. I see these boys on the streets, I talk to these boys, I laugh with these boys. Dear GOD, dear GOD i hope these boys don’t think actions speak louder than words…

Not all men.

Three rules that have been drilled into me since I was young run through my mind at 1.30am on a Satur… Sunday Morning:

-Don’t ever talk to strange men
-Don’t ever be alone at night in a strange place
-Don’t ever get into a car with a stranger
I break all 3 of these laws as I pull open the taxi door. Making light conversation with the driver, he doesn’t see my sweaty hand clutching the small pocket knife I keep hidden on me at all times. He doesn’t even realize the fear I feel at his mere presence. He cannot comprehend it, he never will. How easy would this 15 minute car ride be if I was born a boy?

Not all men.
It comes to Sunday, another snoozy, sleepy, Sunday and someone has the AUDACITY to tell me not all men are rapists. I say nothing.

I’m a 17 year old girl.
When I am walking alone and it’s dark, it’s all men.
When I am in a car with a man I don’t know well, it’s all men.
When men drunkenly leer at me on the streets, it’s all men.
When a boy won’t leave me alone at a party, it’s all men.
Not all men are rapists. But for a young girl like me? Every one of them has the potential to be.


My sister, Sierra, found this on tumblr and shared it with me. The writer does an excellent job at articulating how as a women I know it's Not All Men who perpetuate sexism, violence against women,and who make public space a dangerous place for me as a women to occupy.

I recently got in an argument had a discussion with my 24 y/o brother who was frustrated with "being painted with the same brush" as men who are sexist and oppressive when he himself is not. He challenged me saying, "if people are going to assume I am sexist or oppressive simply because I'm white and male, then what's the incentive" for him to make sure that he is not. I had trouble articulating my thoughts with him aside from saying that it's the right thing to do, and that as a women I'm judged every day due to sexism, and we don't always get to decide how people see us or perceive us to be.

One of the differences being that my safety is constantly in question and top of mind, while his feelings may be the only thing to be harmed. He routinely walks home from work in the exchange and downtown to Wolesely and West Broadway at 2 am. An experience he finds calming, enjoyable, and freeing for me is experience filled with anxiety, concern for my safety leaving me hyper aware of my surroundings, going out of my way to stay on well lit streets, and switching to the opposite side of the street to avoid other groups of people. I'd like to think I'm overreacting, being more cautious then necessary, but on more then one hundreds of occasions I've been yelled at, grabbed, and made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

I remember one evening leaving Old Market Square after closing down the Jazz Festival and finishing my volunteer shift. I started walking towards my apartment at the corner of River and Donald feeling content with the evening, the fact that at 2:30am it was warm, people were milling about, and I was going to meet a friend and have a beer. As I approached portage avenue a man came up to me and started talking to me. I kept walking while being polite, making it clear that I was headed on my way. I wasn't scared until he grabbed my arm. He grabbed my arm forcefully saying something along the lines of "you're pretty, you're alone, and we should get to know each other."

I'm not small by any means, but I remember feeling terrified. Easily overpowered. I managed to yank my arm out of his hand, kept walking forward and he lost interest. A minuted later, shaken up, I saw a cab and jumped in not wanting to take any more chances that evening. I hoped in the back and as I was giving my address realized the male cab driver was accompanied by a male friend whom sat beside him in the front seat. Again, I immediately felt unsettled, outnumbered and that there was the potential for danger. Was I safer on the street? Or safer in a cab? The ride was short. I hopped out blocks before my apartment, figuring I would take my chances in my own neighbourhood. I remember getting home to my apartment, double locking the door, sliding down to the floor with my back against a wall...and I still didn't feel safe.

As this writer eloquently says, its Not All Men, but every man has the potential, and sometimes I'm not willing to take the chance so that someones feelings don't get hurt.

With anger and frustration,
Delaney C.