Flipping Channels in Japan

I lived in Japan for 6 years, from the age of 11 to 17. I loved living there but one of the downsides to living on a military base in Japan was that we had only two American channels for about 4 years. We had the Armed Forces Network (AFN,) which was basically satellite and was only good for sports and news. Then there was the Far East Network (FEN,) which showed pre-recorded television from the states. We had all your basic shows, if it was popular in the states we had it. Just not at the same time as in the states. I can’t remember how far behind we were but it was probably like 4 weeks behind. I could be wrong. The other downside is that we didn’t get every show, like we didn’t have Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because it had more of a cult following and not so much high ratings. Luckily I had my mom, who lived in the states at the time, who recorded Buffy for me on VHS, along with Hercules and Xena episodes (don’t judge me,) and mailed them to me.

So when there was nothing on the two American channels the only other option, besides watching some VHS tape or Laser Disc, was to watch Japanese shows. Which was hard when you didn’t speak the language but awesome at the same time. You could pretty much make up your own dialogue in your head and create your own story through what you were watching.

I got to see Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon before they ever came to the US and were popular with American kids. Sailor Moon was my show! I loved to watch it. Yeah I had no idea what was going on, it didn’t matter. I made up some entertaining stories to go along with the show. My favorite character was Sailor Jupiter because she had a ponytail and I had my hair in a ponytail a lot. I don’t feel I should justify my logic, it’s just how it was, you know since I really didn’t know what was going on with the show. I will say that I have yet to watch the show dubbed in English. I feel like it would just take away all the fun out of the cartoon that I once loved.

The other thing that was awesome to watch in Japan, were the game shows. Which most Americans know about Japanese game shows and how crazy they are. There was even a Supernatural episode where Dean and Sam end up on a Japanese game show. And yes folks they are that crazy. I was obsessed with watching them, just because they were so insane. It was quite mind blowing.

Eventually we did get cable on base with your basic MTV and Nickelodeon, it was like a week or two behind what was being broadcast in America. So I stopped watching a lot of Japanese television but I will never forget the experience. And I also learned from that experience, that no matter what country I’m in I will always work out a way to watch something on television. Not necessarily a great lesson to learn but hey I can’t help who I am and what interests me. 

 

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April’s Tea Runners Subscription – Review

It’s time for another tea review!! I know how excited you must be.

I received April’s Tea Runners subscription the second week of April and it promised me a tea that would taste like birthday cake. Yes!! But that would have to wait, since I decided to save the best for last (or at least I hoped it was the best.)

Orthodox Earl Grey –

As I was trying out my Peach Nectar Turmeric tea (reviewed in my second Whistling Kettle Review) all I could think about is how I wanted some Earl Grey. I had just received my new Tea Runners box and it had a bag of Orthodox Earl Grey inside. So after a few sips of the turmeric, I dumped it and made me some Earl Grey.

I don’t know if I was just happy to not be drinking the turmeric tea or what, but I loved this Earl Grey. It was so smooth and refreshing. I tasted all the flavor notes and they all melded together perfectly. Overall there isn’t much else to say because it was a simple Earl Grey but it was lovely.

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Creme De La Berry Green –

I was a little hesitant about this one because the last green tea I got from Tea Runners was a bust. I will say before and during the steeping process, Creme De La Berry Green smelled quite wonderful. You could smell the strawberries and chocolate. Even though it smelled wonderful, I was still a little apprehensive to try it.

The first sip, I did get more of a that bitter earthy green tea taste. But with the second sip I got the rest of the flavors and it was beautiful. The strawberry came through as the strongest flavor, but that didn’t bother me.  I loved it a lot. I think it’ll be even better when cold brewed.

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Black Masala –

The description on the sample bag, for Black Masala, kind of scared me with all the spices mentioned. I immediately thought that there was no way I would be able to drink this. I liked all those spices but not sure about it in a tea. I will admit that the smell was quite nice, so while a little scared I was also intrigued!

This is the second CTC tea that I’ve received from Tea Runners and I didn’t look it up before but CTC means “crush, tear, curl” or “cut, tear, curl.” It’s a way to process black tea in which the leaves are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of sharp teeth that crush, tear, and curl the tea into small, hard pellets. I loved the last CTC tea I received and this one was surprisingly quite good. The spices were a little strong but I did as it said on the package and added a little milk, and that made it so much better. It almost had a chai latte quality to it once the milk was added, which equals, “yum!”

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Winter Wonderland Rooibos – 

This is the one that supposedly tasted like birthday cake and I decided to leave it for last, to try on Easter morning. Kind of like an adult Easter treat!! The description sounded so lovely: Rooibos with cinnamon, hazelnuts and Bavarian chocolate. Almost sounds like it is a type of Nutella tea. The smell of course was heavenly.

While it steeped I could smell the hazelnuts, which I love the smell of hazelnuts. Tasting it was quite wonderful. It did kind of taste like cake. It was so beautiful, all the flavors melded together perfectly. It definitely was the best out of the box.

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Ratings:

1st – Winter Wonderland Rooibos

2nd – Orthodox Earl Grey

3rd – Creme De La Berry Green

4th – Black Masala

I really do love all these teas and I kind of hated rating them. I’m so happy with this month’s subscription, it was so much better than last month’s. You can purchase the Winter Wonderland Rooibos and the Creme De La Berry Green from Simpson & Vail (www.svtea.com). Which while looking at their site I discovered they have tons of teas I want to try. So now I have a new place to shop, yay!

I’m hoping to test out some Boba Tea soon but other than that it would probably be a while till the next tea review. I have a full box of tea that I need to get through. I think I kind of overdid it with all the tea purchases in the last month.

Till next time!!

Sorry…

I know I said I was going to post every Monday and Thursday, but there won’t be a post today. Due to a bunch of random stuff, I just didn’t have time to write anything for today. I’ll be back on Thursday with a new tea review! 

Whistling Kettle Review #2

Like I told you in the last Whistling Kettle review, I had already bought more tea by the time I finished writing that review. So here goes the review for the second batch of samples I ordered.

Earl Grey Cream

I’ve only tried Earl Grey one time prior to this and it wasn’t pleasant. It was in a K-Cup sample set that I received when we bought our Keurig. I did not like it. It was burnt and very bitter tasting. I vowed then that I would never drink Earl Grey again. Now I know that loose leaf teas are different from bagged teas and it’s all about the steeping process. So when I ordered my second set of samples, I decided to get an Earl Grey this time around.

One thing I learned about Earl Grey while actually reading about different teas, is that it’s supposed to mimc a floral and fruity taste, partially due to the oil from the citrus of the bergamot fruit (a sort of orange.) From that Earl Grey K-cup I tried, I could have never known this unless I tried it again and read about it, it did not have any floral or fruit notes at all. However I can happily say that the Earl Grey Cream I purchased from The Whistling Kettle, pulled through with those flavors and more. I absolutely loved this tea. I wanted to drink it all day, I didn’t, but I wanted to. Along with the floral and fruity notes there was also a hint of cream that made it such a smooth drink. I’ll definitely purchase this one again.

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Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu-erh Tea

Pu-Erh (pronounced Poo-Air, and yes the inner child in me laughed) is a type of tea that goes through a unique fermentation process that’s not like other teas. It’s meant to be an aged tea and the older it gets the better it is. The microorganisms that are created during this aging process gives Pu-Erh properties that help with digestion. From what I read, people in China drink this tea after rich meals to “cut the grease.” And like other teas it is also high in antioxidants which help with the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

This was one type of tea that I had yet to try, so I figured I would give it a go. The name, Scottish Caramel Toffee, is what intrigued me because I love caramel and toffee. The smell was so creamy and caramel like and I was extremely excited to take my first taste. While the smell was wonderful, the taste was a little strong. It wasn’t bad and I got the hint of caramel and toffee. The problem for me was that it tasted a lot like coffee and I’m not a fan of coffee at all. While it was slightly more drinkable than coffee, I still had a hard time finishing my mug. Honestly I’m just so conflicted because I wanted to love it so much and parts of it I did, I just couldn’t drink much of it. I’ll of course finish this sample bag but I don’t know if I would ever buy this one again. However if you like coffee and are looking to try out some teas, you may love it.

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Purple Tea –

I had never heard of purple tea until Whistling Kettle had posted about it on their Facebook page. I was immediately intrigued. Purple tea is a tea mainly grown in Kenya and it has all the health benefits of green and black tea, plus more. It’s grown at a high elevation and due to that it gets higher levels of UV and it causes the plant to produce very high levels of anti-oxidants. The tea can have a purplish hue to it and this is due to a unique genetic mutation that produces anthocyanin, which is the same powerful anti-oxidant found in blueberries, but at a high percentage. It contains 1.5 percent anthocyanin compared to .1 percent in blueberries. Anthocyanin is particularly known to be beneficial in the prevention against cardiovascular diseases, as well as providing anti-cancer benefits, improving vision, and aiding in cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism.

So since I like to try new teas, I purchased some plain purple tea, wanting to try it with no additions. While steeping it smelled very much like other teas and it tasted just like most teas as well, very earthy. At first I wasn’t sure I could drink a whole mug because admittedly I’m used to teas with some kind of flavor addition. But after I sat the mug down and went about making my breakfast, I found myself wanting to drink more. I liked it and the health benefits are a bonus. I think next time I’ll get one of the mixes.

IMG_0772IMG_0773IMG_0782(In this picture you can’t really see the purple hue, but in person you can. And when I was done with my mug you could see a little purple sediment at the bottom of the mug.)

Peach Nectar Turmeric –

I ordered this turmeric tea before I went to Hendersonville to see my mom. I had no idea that I would end up buying tea at Spice It Up or that I would be getting turmeric tea in my sample set then. If you remember from my Spice It Up review I was not a fan of the Turmeric Ginger tea. So I immediately regretted that I had bought the Peach Nectar Turmeric from The Whistling Kettle. But hey, how was I supposed to know?

When smelling this tea, both in the bag and while it was steeping, all I could smell was the turmeric. I immediately knew I wasn’t going to like it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of turmeric in my food but not so much to drink. I took a small sip at first, just to kind of brace myself, and it turned out not to be too bad. The peach, which was dried before steeping, definitely came through and was the winning flavor note. The turmeric was there but it wasn’t too overpowering. I did learn that the weird aftertaste I got from the last turmeric tea was not the lemon oil, it’s the turmeric. I got that same weird feeling and taste in my mouth with this tea. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I liked this tea but I didn’t dislike it. Most likely I’ll finish up the sample I have and probably never buy it again. I only drank half a mug because I was craving some Earl Grey, but I did drink it!

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Chocolate Cake Honeybush – 

Honeybush is like a Rooibos just slightly sweeter, according to what I’ve read about it. It’s caffeine free and has all the other health properties that Rooibos has.  I decided I wanted to try this one out and see if it would kind of feed that chocolate craving. While it smelled delicious and was very smooth tasting with just the right about of chocolate taste, I don’t think I could use it to substitute for a Snickers craving.

I really did enjoy it. It had beautiful flavor notes and was a nice way to wake up in the morning. However it did have a slight coffee taste and I mentioned before that I’m not a huge coffee fan. So while I will totally finish the sample that I have, I don’t think that I would purchase it again. I’m sure others would love it though!

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Rankings:

1st – Earl Grey Cream

2nd – Purple tea

3rd – Chocolate Cake Honeybush

4th – Scottish Caramel Toffee Pur-eh

5th – Peach Nectar Turmeric

While I wasn’t super in love with most of these teas, besides the Earl Grey Cream, I still love The Whistling Kettle. It has to be my favorite place to order tea from. Obviously I was not going to like everything they have and I’m sure that there will be purchases that I don’t like, but it still is the best place. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should!

Next week I will be reviewing my second subscription box from Tea Runners!

Crossed Off the Netflix List

I’ve noticed that I don’t write much about what I’m currently watching or have watched recently. So this is the start of what I guess you could call a featured post series. I don’t know what technical term to use, but basically anytime I finish a tv series or catch up on a current season of a show offered on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so on, I’ll write a “Crossed Off the List,” post to discuss any thoughts. I won’t talk about every show I watch, just the ones that need to be talked about. 

The People v. O.J. Simpson – American Crime Story

I want to start off saying that I’m actually surprised that my husband and I even watched this. One night we were trying to figure out what we were going to watch on TV and I threw out the names of the current shows we were watching but we were both pretty, “meh,” about each option. So I was scanning through Netflix, just naming off shows and then I jokingly said we should watch The People v. O.J. Simpson. My husband sincerely said we should. I was honestly surprised that he said yes but I hit play anyways kind of relieved that we landed on something.

We actually got addicted to it. Which is hilarious because we were both alive when the events depicted actually occurred. I lived in Japan at the time but I remember seeing bits and pieces on the news. I don’t know if this is because I saw it when I went to visit my mom back in the States or if the Air Force showed bits of the case, but I remember it. I remember my parents talking about it. I remember everyone talking about it. So you would think that watching The People v. O.J. Simpson would just be a repeat history lesson but it wasn’t.

I learned things about this case that I don’t think I ever knew. Things that I never saw in any behind the scenes documentary that I would watch years after the trial. For instance, I don’t remember Chris Darden, (co-prosecutor) being much of anything. I feel like anytime I saw court footage he just always seemed to be sitting there. Well Sterling K. Brown, who played Chris Darden, certainly showed me that there was a lot going on with Darden. He was going through so much internal struggle, people calling him horrible names because he was doing what he thought was right and constantly being goaded by Johnnie Cochran, played by Courtney B. Vance in the show. I felt so bad for him.

That being said, I felt even worse for Marcia Clark, played by Sarah Paulson. I remember when the events were playing out in real time, people were harsh towards Marcia. People would call her names and make comments about her appearance. I even developed a preconceived notion about her because of what others were saying when I was younger. But after watching this show, I now know that she was treated unfairly. People were so horrendous towards her and it made me sick. Even when she tried to lighten up her appearance, which she shouldn’t have had to do in the first place, people still found disrespectful things to say about her. The lawyers of the opposite sex were not treated like this at all. And to top it off, she had ex-husbands who were defaming her in public, saying she was a horrible mom or releasing nude photos of her on the beach. Who does that? It was awful.

Granted Johnnie Cochran also had exes coming out of the woodworks with offenses he made but I didn’t feel awful for him because he did some bad things, like domestic violence and having a secret child with his mistress while married to the woman who accused him of beating her. I also never realized that the defense team were at such odds with each other. It always seemed to me that they were just cool as cucumbers in all the videos I saw, but that wasn’t so. They were constantly at each others throats. I mean maybe I was too young to notice and others saw the tension when it was really going on, but I didn’t. 

I know that some of these issues were probably over dramatized for the television viewers, but I still feel that the show built on the core emotions, events and drama of the actual crime and trial. Overall I think it was good and I think if others are down for some kind of behind the scenes look at what was going on during this so called “trial of the century,” then they should check it out.

13 Reasons Why

This is a Netflix original TV series recently released. I remember the trailer looked interesting and I wanted to check it out. I was hooked within the first episode. Now I’m not going to go into too much about the show, like I did with the OJ show because there really isn’t a lot I can say that wouldn’t spoil it for others. The People v. O.J. Simpson was previously on FX before it was on Netflix and it’s part of history, so I figured most people know what went down, so no worries about spoilers, but that’s not the case with 13 Reasons Why.

I will tell you that this show was intriguing but at the same time I could barely watch it. There were so many emotions rushing through me while watching 13 Reasons Why and it was quite overwhelming. I couldn’t watch too many episodes in a row at one time. It broke my heart because I felt that it was a true, maybe slightly exaggerated, representation of what teens are going through nowadays. I’m so glad that I didn’t going through my teen years during the days of social media but I’m scared for my own children. I feel like everyone should watch this show to kind of open their eyes to what are the issues teens are dealing with and maybe even learn from the show. I also feel like teens should watch it just so they can maybe prepare themselves for certain scenarios they may get caught up in. But overall everyone should watch it because it touches on the rough subject of suicide, something that we all need to be more aware of as far as signs and causes. 

Check it out but prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster. 

Well those are the two shows that I’ve finished or caught up on, on Netflix. Give me your opinions if you’ve watched either of these shows. 

What I’m watching now on Netflix: 

Currently I’m catching up on Grace and Frankie! And occasionally I re-watch episodes from Buffy, Supernatural or Bob’s Burgers, when I don’t feel like watching something new.

Till next time!

Spice It Up – Tea Review

This past Saturday I decided to take a “Mommy Break” and go up to visit my mom in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Most of the time when I go see my mom we either go to Asheville or other surrounding towns, but never to downtown Hendersonville. So this time around that’s what we decided to do.

Downtown Hendersonville is a quaint little place with a lot of locally owned shops and restaurants. After filling up on Mexican food at Sol Y Luna and buying some cheesecake at a local shop, we headed over to a spice store called Spice It Up. They also sold loose leaf tea, so you know I had to buy some. I decided to buy a sample set of five herbal teas, since I haven’t really tested out a lot of herbals.

Here is the sample set I bought:

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Before I start these reviews I want to say that none of these teas came with steeping instructions, like many of the ones I’ve gotten lately. I wasn’t sure of how hot the water should be, how many teaspoons of tea per ounce of water or how long it should steep. So I had to use good old Google and I found a steeping chart for different teas. So I just went with the standard instructions for herbal tea. I don’t know if this affected the taste or not.

Here are the reviews:

First tea: Turmeric Ginger

They say turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, so I tried this first because my body had been feeling really achy lately and wanted to see if it would help. The description lists ginger, orange peel, lemon peel and lemon oil along with the turmeric. With the first taste I got a lot of lemon and some ginger with a slight hint of the turmeric. I’m not sure if I liked it. It’s definitely drinkable and not something I want to dump in the sink immediately but it’s also not something I would purposely buy or crave to drink. This tea really tasted like hot flat lemon ginger ale with a hint of some spice. It also left this aftertaste in my mouth that was really weird. In a way it was like when you drink diet soda and it leaves that aspartame aftertaste in your mouth. I’m assuming it was the lemon oil creating that aftertaste. It’s not bad just odd. As for the anti-inflammatory benefit, well I didn’t seem that achy after drinking it but I don’t know if that’s because of the tea.

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Second tea: Cape Cod Cranberry

This tea is the reason I bought the sample pack. I was smelling some of the teas in the shop when I came across this and I immediately fell in love with it. Cape Cod Cranberry is a fruit tea and the first I’ve ever had. As this tea steeped the aroma was immediate and it was so amazing. It was very fruity and almost smelled like candy. Drinking it was just as good, the cranberries were the main taste but I also got the small notes of hibiscus and apple. I’m absolutely in love with this tea and plan to buy more.

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Third Tea: Peach Melba

This was a berry tea that’s supposed to taste like peaches and cream according to the description. It definitely smelled like peaches and cream, which was a delicious aroma, but it did not taste like it at all. All I could taste while drinking it were the berries and hint of the hibiscus. Again, none of that tasted like peaches and cream or maybe I just forgot what that combo tastes like. This tea was also a bit sour. I did like it, but I’m not sure I would buy it. 

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Fourth Tea: Rooibos Candied Almond

The first thing that struck me when I smelled this tea, even before steeping it, was that it smelled straight up like pipe tobacco. It wasn’t necessarily a bad smell, that’s just what it reminded me of. I loved the little sugar hearts that were in this tea, but I don’t think the sugar did anything for the taste. The main thing I could taste was the almonds and of course the rooibos. I wasn’t really a fan of it. I didn’t dislike it and I drank a good bit but I just felt really “meh” about this tea.

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Fifth tea: Warming Crimson Berry

This has to be the first time that I tried a tea and it was down right awful, to the point I couldn’t finish it. First off it smelled like perfume or potpourri and it tasted like it too, with a kick of cayenne. I drink a morning detox drink almost daily that has cayenne in it and it doesn’t usually bother me, but this was just too much. I didn’t care for this spicy perfume tea at all and I poured it out after five sips.

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Ranking:

1st: Cape Cod Cranberry

2nd: Peach Melba

3rd: Rooibos Candied Almond

4th: Turmeric Ginger

5th: Warm Crimson Berry

Overall I think I should have just bought the Cape Cod Cranberry and left it at that. I would definitely go back to Spice It Up to purchase other sample bags. I think it’s a great way to try new tea, it’s just unfortunate that I either didn’t like some of these teas or that there was no wow factor with most of them. If you’re ever in downtown Hendersonville you should check them out, even if you aren’t a fan of tea they do have many spices and meat rubs.

 

Television Betrayed Me and Gave Me Nightmares

The trailer for the It remake was recently released and I barely could watch it. I had to hold the phone as far away from me as I could and keep one eye closed, all while I screamed, “NO! NO! NO!” The trailer gave me the idea for this post, because it made me realize that my three biggest fears are all attributed to either a movie or a tv mini series!

First we’ll start with my fear of CLOWNS and the original mini series It, since that’s what inspired this blog. I never had issues with clowns before I saw It. Before they were just lovable funny looking people trying to make others laugh and now they are the face of pure scary evil. I can’t remember how old I was when I saw the mini series but I know I was in the later years of elementary school. My father was a Stephen King fan, we had many of his books on the bookcases in the house and because of my father’s fandom I had also already watched the movies Pet Sematary and Cujo. While those movies did scare me, it did not prepare me for the fear that would be with me forever once I watched It. I can’t look at clown now without wanting run away screaming. I actually had a friend who was a professional clown for a time and I could barely look at her when she was in makeup. Pennywise was the most monstrous creature to ever haunt me in my nightmares and he made simple everyday things hard to be near, like sidewalk drains or sheets on a clothesline. The funny thing is, I love this mini series! I’ve watched it more times than I can count. I don’t get as scared as I used to when watching it because I know what to expect and when to expect it. However I still have to cover my eyes during certain scenes. 

Next up is my fear of BIRDS and obviously this is due to the Alfred Hitchcock film Birds. My father and mother attribute a lot of my fear to this incident:

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While in Italy, at St. Mark’s Square, I fed some pigeons. My tiny self had a little seed and the pigeons decided I was their friend and they could swarm me. I obviously don’t remember any of this but there are pictures to document the beginning of what would be a life long fear.

I can’t remember how old I was when I saw Birds but I believe I just randomly caught it on TV and I’m sure I wasn’t older than 10 years old. I couldn’t draw my attention away from this movie and I just kept watching the horror of these every day creatures raining down pain and torture among people in a small town. I think this must have brought back memories from that day in Italy. Now I can’t have birds near me without having a slight panic attack. I don’t trust their empty dead eyes and their sharp beaks. They will forever be the mortal enemies that I can’t fight because of the fear I’ll be pecked to death. I’ll add that I do love the movie Birds, just like I love It. I must be a glutton for punishment.

The last fear is DEATH and yes I know that pretty much everyone is scared to die, but it actually gives me anxiety talking about it and I can only hope that I make it through this last paragraph without freaking out. My fear of death came from the most unlikely place, Anne of Green Gables. This adorable, lovable and light-hearted mini series introduced me to death at the age of five or six. I had seen death many times in other movies and tv shows, but I don’t think I ever really acknowledged what happened, not until Matthew Cuthbert died on Anne of Green Gables. While watching it, I turned to my mother and I asked her what it meant when someone died. She explained it to me in the best way a mother could and I immediately began to sob. I didn’t realize there was going to be an end to my existence. My world was shattered and I would forever be in fear of when my day would come. I don’t remember much at that age but that entire scene is so vivid in my head. It was inevitable that I would learn about death at some point in my youth, unfortunately Anne of Green Gables was the thing that broke the news to me. I do still love the books and the mini-series, but for the rest of my life I will associate it with death.

So there it is, my three biggest fears and how they came to be because of some tv mini series or movie.