I've tried in so many ways to let people in on how songwriting works, but I don't think it ever comes out right. So I just decided to let you in and watch me at work. If you want to watch me be an idiot for a couple minutes, here you go:
Or if you want to skip ahead and watch the song:
It is currently a little after midnight on Monday, November 23rd. Toronto is officially in its second lockdown and I need to talk about it. However, I feel the need to clarifying a couple of things before we begin:
With that being said, let’s get into it: I’m struggling.
Over the last couple months, my anxiety disorders have been creeping back into my life in a way that I don’t think I noticed at first. It started with a general unease, but a general unease is normal in a pandemic. You can’t see the virus, so the general unease keeps you safe and vigilant. It reminds you to wash your hands and wear a mask. Honestly, people without unease during a pandemic scare me a little bit. Are you not concerned for yourself? For the people around you?
But the unease developed into restlessness. Like my entire body was jittering. It was the kind of jittering that kept me up until 3am just lying in bed. And the jittery-ness and the unease made me exhausted, but I couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t take a nap, I couldn’t rest, I couldn’t find enough space in my mind for a peaceful sleep.
So, I used my new hobby – working out – to try and manage the stressors. I did yoga, I ran farther, I tried new workouts. I worked out more and pushed myself, but it wasn’t working. When I started working out in May, I could almost “burn” off a stressor. I could make my anxiety seem obsolete with a spin or a long walk or a brutal workout. But recently, there was no distance I could run, no number of reps I could do, to get the restlessness out of my body.
And it started creeping into work. During the pandemic, I’ve been working in retail and I’m really happy with my current position. But I had to step off the floor more to take breathers. I found myself doing stretches in the hallways of fitting rooms when nobody was around and doing downward dog in the breakroom just to try and get myself to relax, but it wasn’t working.
At this point I want to sideline the progression of my anxiety to talk about why this was happening. In my life I have developed a three-pronged coping strategy: music, social interaction and structured activity. These three pillars hold up my mental health and keep me grounded in reality when the rest of my world is spinning. Music provides expression, social interaction provides support, and structured activity provides distractions. Throughout my life, these three categories have changed in content, but the general structure remains the same. For example, structured activity used to include school whereas it now includes work.
Early on in the year, we all lost a ton of our social interactions. And during the beginning of the pandemic, while I adjusted the weight I placed on each pillar, I had a difficult time. However, I was able to put more focus on activity and music to make myself feel more balanced. I also learned to change the way I was interacting with people, as we all did.
And now we return to the progression of my mental health, because (like many people) I just lost my job. Temporarily of course, but for the next four weeks I am unemployed with too much time on my hands. That prospect alone has caused a slight spiral. There is not just jittery feelings or general unease but panic.
2020 has me exhausted, frustrated, and anxious. My structured activity, one of my remaining pillars has been removed from the equation and I am unsure what that means to me. I don’t know how to fill my days. I have made such incredible progress over the last couple years regarding my mental health and while 2020 in ruthless in what it takes, I am determined to hold my ground here. I just don’t know how yet. It’s easy to say I will be better than my panic attacks, than my anxiety, but I also know that I don’t always get to make those calls. I don’t always get to decide what’s a trigger, especially when I’m losing coping mechanisms faster than I can replace them.
I don’t know what I want you to do with this information. Maybe I just want to scream into the void “FUCK THIS” and this is my way of doing that. Maybe I want to know if other people are riding the struggle bus the way I am. Maybe I just want to write it all down so I can finally admit it to myself, because that in and of itself can be difficult. All I know is that I don’t want this to be a pity party. It’s almost Christmas and while “normal” is in short supply, I want to find a way to stay keep bits and pieces of my life the same. Even though the world feels heavy I want to find a way to make it manageable.
I guess all I can say is keep reaching out and supporting each other. Find humour in new places and fun where you least expect it. Try a new hobby and fill everyday with at least one good thing. I say this knowing it’s 1) super cheesy and 2) something I haven’t been able to do yet, so I don’t blame you if you laugh at this advice. But all we can do is our best.
From me, with love, to you,
When I broke up with my ex, my sister came over and brought poutine and ice cream and I cried on the couch in my living room. We drank red wine and wore pj’s and had a sleepover. The next morning, I was a wreck. I was hollowed out and destroyed. It was a true and tried breakup.
Which makes sense. That relationship had been a big part of my life, so untangling the strings associated with it was a lot to deal with. However, not every relationship ends the same. And if you’ve been around a while, you know that I can use the word “relationship” in very broad terms. For the newbies, I’ll explain it: relationships aren’t just “boyfriend-girlfriend” situations, but any interaction between two people. They cover the long expanse from causal dating to marriage and all that’s in between.
Although, acknowledging that there are different types of relationships, you must acknowledge some relationships are bigger than others. Similar to friends, some of my friendships are deeper and longer lasting than others, but they are all friendships. Some relationships are long and involve anniversaries and meeting people’s parents, and some are informal and brief.
You can watch makeups and breakups until your eyes dry up and Netflix asks, “are you still watching?”.
But less formal relationships, baby relationships, come with less guidelines. There is more grey area to play in. During the relationship, it’s easier to formulate your own ideas about what can or cannot happen. Titles and interactions and “rules” are easier to play with because you don’t have as many preconceived notions about what should be going on. And that freedom can be exhilarating, without the seriousness of a big relationship, baby relationships can be a lot of fun.
However, the end of a baby relationship. When a big relationship ends, you know what to do. I described it earlier. You drink and eat ice cream and cry about what you’ve lost. But a baby relationship isn’t serious, so you shouldn’t have a serious breakup, right?
I’m going to argue no.
Whether you ended a crush or a friends with benefits or anything in between, you ended something. Something you once had you no longer do. And it’s okay to feel sad about that loss. It’s okay to be upset that something you enjoyed is done. That person lent an ear when you wanted to talk about your day, they cuddled you when you fell asleep, they made you laugh, they were company (especially in a time where company is a hot commodity), or maybe they were just killer in bed. That is also a loss you can be upset about.
I’m not encouraging that you get swallowed by your emotions. Don’t let them eat you up, because that isn’t healthy. But supressing emotions isn’t healthy either. You’re allowed to shed a tear or have a glass of wine or watch a movie to make yourself feel better. You’re allowed to mourn the end of a baby relationship with a baby breakup. Your emotions are going to be there either way, you might as well deal with them and move on.
And because these relationships are less formal, there will be less to tell you what to do. There is no movie about a girl getting ghosted. Nothing tells us what to do when your friends with benefits decides to catch feelings for someone else. Or when a global pandemic ends something that was just starting (sorry if that hit close to home for some of you…I understand). So, you’re going to have to find your own way out.
Maybe you chug an entire bottle of wine like a damn champion and have drunk karaoke in your living room. Maybe you go for a run. Maybe you Marie-Kondo your kitchen and finally sort the junk drawer that everyone inevitably has. Just don’t cut bangs, please for the love of all that is good. But find your baby-breakup. And it might change over time. But allow yourself that moment to let it out.
Allow yourself baby heartbreaks. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it. You also deserve someone who doesn’t cause your baby heartbreaks, but that seems like a new can of worms. So, for tonight pour a glass for me, because I’m in your corner.
From me, with love, to you,
I first introduced this concept here:
But I feel the need to elaborate. .
I’m fairly confident you know what a catfish is. If you don’t, welcome out from under the rock in which you’ve been living, it is currently 2020 and the world is on fire. A catfish is an individual who poses as a different individual online. For example, a 40-year-old man posing as 20-year-old girl to lure out unsuspecting individuals.
Recently, particularly on TikTok I have been witnessing gross misuse of the word “catfish”. Beautiful girls post videos in which they straighten their hair and do their makeup and put on a cute outfit. Other users claim that they are acting as catfish, which I vehemently disagree with. Catfishing is pretending to be someone else. I would like to introduce a secondary, and better term, for what I feel we are trying to get at:
In a Big Mac ad, the Big Mac always looks fucking incredible. The bun is all shiny and the sesames seeds are perfectly placed. The patties are centered, and the cheese is melted. The lettuce pokes out the sides without falling all over the place. The Big Mac looks like it was assembled by tiny burger angels. However, you order the Big Mac and it is…disheveled. It always leans to one side and the lettuce is all over the place. It’s never quite as tall as it looked in the picture and there are always more pickles on one side of the burger than there are the other. Don’t be mistaken, the Big Mac still tastes incredible, but what was given to you is not the same as what was presented in the advertising.
Of course not! A team of advertisers put that Big Mac photo together. There was photoshop and lighting and all the fake-ness associated with food photography. Obviously, the minimum-wage-paid-15-year-old didn’t not assemble my patty with the intricacy that I had hoped. First and foremost, I don’t live in an advertisement, and secondly, I’m about to down this burger in a parked car outside a McDonald’s drive thru, this isn’t quite Michelin star material.
There is no difference in content between the Big Mac at the drive thru and the Big Mac in the photo, it’s the same. However, the Big Mac in the photo received more love and attention, and better lighting. Similarly, you are the same person you presented as. If your dating profile is funny, you’re probably funny. If your Instagram features political activism, that likely still remains a part of your values. It is possible that the way you appear in your photos requires a tiny bit more effort, but that’s okay! Because that person is still you! You are still the same Big Mac, just with a bit more time and better lighting.
You are not a catfish! Catfish should be reserved for complete misrepresentation. To Big Mac, however, is totally okay! What do I look like right now? I have no makeup on, old sweatpants pulled up way too high, a ratty sweatshirt and wet hair wrapped in one of those “plop” things from Tik Tok. I’m not going to post a photo of me looking like this. I’m not cute right now. I am the same person I am when I’m glammed out to do a photoshoot, however, this look is not my finest.
Lying to people about who you are: not cool. But to advertise yourself is fine! Everyone does it, on resumes, on social media, on dating profiles, on dates. You are not a catfish. You’re simply a Big Mac.
Fuck…now I’m hungry.
From me, with love, to you,
I usually write an introduction and talk about this story or that story to build into my point, but we’re going to jump into it today:
“I don’t know” is an appropriate answer.
And if you’re currently thinking, “You never asked a question” well, I guess that’s kind of the point. Whatever your question is, “I don’t know” is an appropriate answer.
I have been lucky enough to grow up in the age of the internet. And I only say lucky enough because I am a very inquisitive person. If I wanted to know the capital of Russia, Google would tell me it’s Moscow. If I wanted to know what uranium is, Wikipedia would tell me it’s the 92nd element which use predates its discovery and was discovered by a German chemist (yes, I Googled that for this piece, and yes, that’s kind of the point). What I’m trying to say is that for almost 22 years, I have never had to settle for “I don’t know” and I think that’s a bad thing.
I love knowing things. A running joke in my family is that when I say, “I have a question,” something dangerous always follows. A question pops into my head and directly out my mouth, because I have lived in an age privileged enough to always have access to answers. If my parents didn’t have the answers, I could text my friends, text my sisters, Google it, post it on a forum, watch a documentary on it, watch a “how to” on YouTube, or (in a last resort) read a book about it. But answers have never been far out of reach. And I’m beginning to think that has done more harm than good.
Nowadays anyone can know anything, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows everything. In fact, most people know very little. And this doesn’t at all mean most people are dumb, but nearly every single person on this planet knows very little.
I’ll use me as an example. I don’t know:
How baffling is that? I don’t know how parts of my own body work. That’s insane. But the reality is I don’t know those things and an infinite number of other things. I don’t know so many things. And here’s the crazier thing. I’ve studied music for 10 years. I don’t know so much about music. I have a degree in Neuroscience. It’s sitting on my desk as I write this piece. I don’t know anything about neuroscience. Like, I know maybe, MAYBE, 0.00000001% of what there is to know about neuroscience, and that might even be a bit generous. If I know 0. 00000001% of a topic I HAVE A DEGREE IN, imagine how little I know about everything else.
you may also not get answers to the big questions like “Why didn’t I get that job?” or “What the fuck am I supposed to do with a degree in behavioural neuroscience?”. Okay, may that 2nd one is more of a me-problem than a you-problem.
I hate uncertainty. That’s why “I have a question” is kind of my catchphrase. Because I want to know the answer and I want to know it right now. I want to know what to do with my degree, what career path to take, how to be a successful musician, how to be a good friend and sister and daughter, how to be a better songwriter, how to apply my nerdy passion for psychology in a way that makes me happy, and HOW TO FIX THE LITTLE HOSE IN MY FUCKING TOILET (it is one of more minor inconveniences, but it definitely makes the list).
In this day and age, knowing the answer seems more and more necessary. Everyone on Instagram has their life together, why can’t you? Society is falling apart, what are you going to do about it? The pandemic is garbage, how are you going to stop it? And the internet, while supplying information, can also be overwhelming and stressful and wrong. The internet is often wrong.
So, I’m going to arm you with a phrase that is totally okay to use: “I don’t know”. Because “I don’t know” is better than lying. It’s better than making something up. It’s better than pretending you’re better than the truth. When I was in university, students would ask questions during class and professors often wouldn’t know the answers. What did the professor do? Say, “I don’t know, but I’ll look it up and get back to you”. These are professionals in their fields, instructing the future generation and even they had to admit that they don’t know everything. And that’s okay. My sexual psychology professor dedicated about 20 minutes every week to answering questions from the previous week. Questions she didn’t know the answer to at the time, so she went home and researched and came back with an educated answer. But her original answer was “I don’t know”.
“I don’t know” isn’t wrong, it isn’t right either, but it’s simply a place holder. A place holder until you have the information. Eventually, I’ll know what to do with my life, what to do with my obsession with music, love of writing and nerdy interest for psychology. I’ll research how a speedometer works, get my mom to teach me how to change a tire, and (if I’m lucky) I might even fix my toilet. But for right now, I don’t know.
From me, with love, to you,
I drink a lot of water, so I spend a lot of time peeing. Stay with me, I promise this is going somewhere. Let’s say I pee 5 times a day and I spend an average of 4 minutes in the bathroom every time. That means I spend 20 minutes a day, 140 minutes a week, 600 minutes a month, 7,300 minutes a year. Based on this estimate, if I live to 80 years old, I will spend 405 days peeing. That is so many days.
However, you rarely see people on TV or in movies peeing. Watching someone pee would be uncomfortable and boring and awkward, so you don’t see it. However, these characters are “real people”, or at least that’s what we’re made to pretend. So, you can assume that these people pee and stub their toes and have idle conversations and take the bus and get stuck in traffic. Sometimes you see these things happen, but often you don’t. You only see what’s relative to the plot. You see the big moments, because what we watch is more often than not about big moments. You watch weddings and divorces and fights and couples getting together and breaking up. You see details about natural disasters and wars and adventures. The moments full of passion and desperation. You don’t watch people pee.
In Hitch, Will Smith says, “Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away”. Which is a wonderful sentiment. I would love for that to be true, but I don’t believe it is. You could sit around your whole life waiting for big moments and forget how much life there is outside of those moments. Some of it seems mundane and yawn-worthy, but you need yawn-worthy moments. You need to pee.
Why do you need yawn-worthy moments? Sometimes they’re essential stepping-stones. They’re the crappy job you work so you can get work experience for better jobs. They’re the long drive to a campsite where you have an amazing weekend. They’re the time spent shopping for the perfect present to give to someone. If you didn’t get work experience, if you didn’t drive, if you didn’t look for the present, you wouldn’t get the big moments that you crave.
Sometimes, you just need to get something done. You need to do the laundry and make dinner and do dishes and clean the bathroom. You need to run errands and go grocery shopping and fill the car with gas. Do you know how exhausting life would be if all of these mundane tasks were exciting? If every time you ran the dishwasher a marching band walked by? I would throw out my dishwasher.
I watch a lot of TV shows and movies, it’s a bit upsetting if I think of how much time I have committed to screens. And growing up I craved these big moments. For arguments in the rain and grand romantic gestures. I longed for drama and excitement because I thought that would make my life enjoyable. But it doesn’t.
I’ve had movie moments. I’ve had the big arguments and heartbreak and trauma and life-changing moments. I have fallen in love and had big romantic gestures and gone through life’s milestones. For nearly 22 years, I have sought out the moments I’m supposed to want, and I’m going to let you know they’re really fucking overrated.
And maybe I’m just not a “big moments” kind of person. Maybe I wasn’t meant to fall in love in a house swap (The Holiday) or give someone a flash mob (Friends with Benefits) or fight a t-rex (Jurassic Park)…okay, that last one was a bit out of left field but you get my point. Maybe those big moments are for someone else. But I’m equally as content sitting alone at home in pajamas, eating microwave nachos and writing this post. Microwave nachos are fucking awesome and this is the first time in weeks I’ve had time alone to myself in the house.
Life shouldn’t feel like a movie because it’s not. You’re allowed to have movie moments, a beautiful wedding and crazy parties and that upside-down kiss from the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movie. But remember to revel in the smaller moments. And I think I like it better that way. I don’t mind commuting, I enjoy taking naps, and sometimes I just need to pee.
From me, with love, to you,
I wrote this song this past winter and, well, she fucking slaps. (In my opinion of course).
Usually when I write about music, I put the link for the song at the end. However, in this circumstance, I’m going to ask you to listen to the song first.
He lies through his teeth when he’s talking to me.
During my fourth year of university I was constantly “seeing people” and “talking to people” and “hanging out with people”. No commitment, no labels, no fixtures. Sometimes I loved it. I felt like a badass. For the first time in my life I was taking risks in terms of relationships. I was taking a more active part in my social life, rather than waiting on other people. I was so tired of pretending to be meek or mild around guys, because that’s not who I am.
But it was a bit of a double-edge sword. While, I felt like I was finally being honest with myself and with others about what I wanted, I was still hanging out with boys who…didn’t excel in communication. I did my best to be honest with what I wanted (nothing serious), but it kept coming across as overwhelming. Apparently, I’m pretty loud.
We out for blood, gonna getcha,
Try to run but where you gonna go?
And then I started feeling bad for myself, which was gross. I couldn’t understand why I was being misheard or misunderstood when I felt like I was the one being honest. However, this is why relationships (in any capacity) can get messy. Because two people can have two different stories.
I stood on one side thinking I was being honest and open and trying to engage in healthy communication. I didn’t want to play games. On the other hand, stood someone who also didn’t want to play games, but had a different way of going about it. In the end, I felt they were being cold and distant, and they saw me as abrasive and overbearing. The ironic part is we both wanted the same thing.
I wanted to write a song that made me feel confident in myself. That helped me to understand the story as a whole, and also make me laugh. I believe I achieved that goal.
I bare myself and pull him in,
I bear the bullshit that he spits
Additionally, I didn’t want to paint myself as a victim. I was so tired of writing “love” songs where I felt I had victimised myself. I’m an adult, I made adult decisions, so it was time for me to own up to that.
When I wrote this song, I wanted people to know that there were steps I took that made me part of the issue. I was responsible for the way I was feeling. I’m not a delicate little flower. I’m not sitting around for someone to save me. In the end, I was and am equally responsible for every time something didn’t play out. It can feel nice to place the blame on someone else, but it’s just a shitty coping mechanism.
Boys think they can play the devil at her game.
I didn’t want to write about one situation or one guy. I wanted to tell bits and pieces of different stories, all compiling to seem like one experience.
“We Out for Blood” has quickly become a personal favourite for me. As much as I love the way I feel about the song, I also am really proud of the way I wrote it. In a way it tells two stories: it’s my story of a jaded girl who keeps meeting up with guys who do her wrong. And it’s the guys’ story of meeting this insane girl who’s playing games. Plus, (as I said) it makes me laugh. And if you can’t laugh at the devil, you may as well laugh with her.
Don’t let the devil, inside your home.
From me, with love, to you,
This is a weird year. Actually, let me correct myself. This is a shitty year. And shitty years provide very little to be thankful for. They provide more heavy sighs than they do moments of excitement. However, it’s Thanksgiving (or at least, Thanksgiving weekend) and I refuse to not sit down and take a moment to be grateful.
Early on the in pandemic, my younger sister and I played a game: “What are you most excited for when corona is over?”. We talked about the life we wanted post-COVID-19. We talked about going to movie theatres and giving hugs. I have not hugged my best friend since February, and I want to cry. We wanted to go out for dinner and not get hand sanitizer rashes or mask-acne. But as weeks passed, we realised that this game was fucking depressing. The farther we got into the pandemic, the farther we were from the end.
So we changed the game: “What is a silver lining of the pandemic?”. The goal was to focus on the good, when everything was bad. We didn’t want to think about the future, because we literally had no idea what it looked like. It’s not that we were attempting to view the pandemic through rose coloured glasses, we understood what was, and is, going on. People have lost loved ones, lost jobs, lost houses and lost all sense of social interaction. The economy sucks, food insecurity is ridiculous, and I don’t even want to talk about politics. We knew the reality of the situation, but we tried to bring something positive out of it.
I understand that the pandemic is (as Jake Tapper would say) a “hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck”, I’m not denying that. However, here are some of the reasons I am (barely) thankful for the pandemic:
1) I got my family dinners back
My family is busy. We all have different schedules and jobs and social lives. During a usual summer, we would be hard pressed to find time we could all be together. When I was younger, family dinners were a staple in my life but in the recent past they were harder and harder to come by. The pandemic and all its misery gave us the time to sit down and have dinner together. To try new meals and revisit old classics. Usually we all run in 200 directions, but there was nowhere to run anymore. I got to spend time with the best people in my life and I can’t be upset.
2) I started learning American Sign Language (ASL)
This has been a long-time goal of mine. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd when it comes to languages, but there was something particularly appealing about ASL. When I moved home, I recruited my sister to my cause, and we started to learn ASL together. We learned to tell jokes and recite old vines, (Whoever threw that paper, your mom’s a ho) as well as everyday phrases we might actually need. My parents were pretty distressed that we picked up a secret language, but it made gossip in a tight space easier. I recently got to use ASL at work to help a customer, which was incredibly rewarding. Learning to bake sourdough could’ve been fun, but this seems like a more useful skill.
3) I started working out again
Y’all have already read this:
4) I learned to make pie
My paternal grandmother was an incredible baker. She could make anything under the sun, and it was all beautiful and delicious. Granted, I’m going off tales of others because she passed away a year before I was born. Over the years, I heard story after story about her different baking adventures, but one fan favourite was her pie crust recipe. Flaky and gorgeous, I have heard many stories about pies my grandmother made. So, one day I called my aunt and asked her to send me the pie recipe, and went to making my dad’s favourite pie: apple. Upon scrolling through my camera roll, I have eaten more pie this summer than I have in years. We kept coming up with new flavours to test. With fall here, I think I’m going to go for the ultimate diabetes-inducing pie, pecan, which is essentially just butter, pecans and sugar.
So it’s not much, but it’s also a lot. It’s four things, which is more than some people have right now. I still have a job, I’m corona-free and so is my family (knock on wood). I’ve got a best friend who I can’t hug but I can see from a distance. I get to see my family, when I know for many people that isn’t an option. Plus, in 24 hrs I’ll stuff myself full of turkey until I’m nauseous. It’s not the life I wanted this year, but it’s what I have. I’m thankful that I get to spend time with my family when many people don’t. I don’t know if I would got as far as saying I’m thankful, but I’m definitely thankful-ish.
From me, with love, to you,
I have a thought, and I’m not sure how to phrase it. I’m going to take my best shot here, but I’m not confident that I will get this correct the first time. So, bear with me.
In this world there are people who are hot and then there are hot people. “People who are hot” are simply attractive people, whereas hot people live a “hot person lifestyle”. The kind that you see on Instagram with beaches in Greece and yachts off the coast of France. They eat vegan food and look good when they work out. They have attractive significant others and hot friends. They have full and thriving Instagram accounts to show off their life and honestly, their lives look really fun. Saying “I’ve never been jealous of hot people” would be a outright lie. I’m often jealous of hot people.
Because their lives look like the life I’m supposed to have. And I understand that I just discussed this topic in my post “Living Unremarkably”
But every once in a while, I’m still tempted to go out and live that dream life where I get served champagne on a boat.
However, the conversation came up between my sister and myself this summer while we were swimming at the cottage. We were swimming in a lake with crocs and pool noodles, having a lake shower and rating each other’s handstands. Yes, this is a real situation, and yes, I recognise I’m 21, but you can always improve your underwater handstand.
Over the course of the summer we both saw photo after photo of girls dressed up to sit by the pool. Hair done, makeup done, jewellery on, with a pool in the background. And my sister and I were baffled. How do you go swimming if you have makeup on? How do you judge each others’ dives without messing up your hair? Do you lose rings or bracelets when you play underwater tag? We had so many questions.
We knew the reality of the situation. These girls likely didn’t swim. They sat on the poolside drinking fun drinks with little umbrellas and sunbathed. Don’t be mistaken, I’m always down for a good sunbathe. I wanted to leave this summer a crispy chicken nugget, and I believe I got pretty close to that goal. However, I still want to jump in the lake and go tubing and have a contest to see who can swim the farthest underwater.
And I wonder about this a lot. Not just the swimming, but the whole lifestyle. Do they lay around in gross sweatpants and bake cookies on Sunday mornings? Do they ever stay in on Friday nights and play boardgames? Do they have family movie nights? Do they have moments that are ridiculous and silly that don’t get photographed? Because not to sound like a boomer but those are sometimes the best moments. All the moments that I’ve laughed until ginger ale came out my nose or tried to find the ugliest outfit at Winners or sang Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs walking down the street. I love getting dressed up and going to clubs and doing things that make me feel (for lack of a better term) bougie. But I also love being a degenerate and re-watching the Twilight movies. It’s all about balance.
I guess what I’m getting at, is although the hot person lifestyle looks fun…it doesn’t always look fun. It looks like a lot of work. Nobody smiles in their photos, as if it were 1910. Nobody is bloated, which can only mean nobody gets pizza delivered, because pizza makes you bloated. And doesn’t it take so much time and energy to always do your hair and makeup? Wouldn’t it be nice just to leave the house? Do you ever go to breakfast, or to the corner store in your pajamas? And not cute matching pajamas, but the gross pants that are too short and a t-shirt from a high school club. Because sometimes you just need to grab milk but putting clothes on is a lot of work. And all this brings me to my question:
Are you having fun?
Because if you are, I’m really happy for you. Whoever you are, hot person, I want you to have fun. I want you to live the life that you enjoy. I don’t really want anyone to be unhappy… okay there’s a couple people but it’s a very small list and you’re probably not on it. I just want to know if you’re ever tired of it all. Because don’t be mistaken, I get frustrated with my life and want to pull my hair out, but all in all I love it. Three years ago I set out to make sure I love my life and for three years I have. I just want to make sure you love your life too.
And maybe you do. Maybe you have no interest in catching frogs with your sisters or washing cars with your dad or playing card games with your friends. Maybe that’s not what you want and that’s okay. I just want to know if you’re happy. I understand that it’s weird someone you don’t really know wants you to be happy, but I do.
I guess I won’t know the answer to this question. I don’t think the hot person lifestyle entails reading the blog of a small, almost non-existent, creator. I’m outside the hot person atmosphere and like I’ve said 1,000,000 times, I’m just shouting into a void. But I have this question and I want to know the answer.
Are you happy? Because I hope you are.
From me, with love, to you,
When I moved back to Toronto, I wrote this post called “Dating at Home” which you can read here:
At the time, I thought dating at home was going to be this big hurdle I was going to have to conquer. However, you should be pleased to hear that dating at home has not yet been a concern. All those pesky things I was worried about haven’t even come up yet! No awkward interactions between my parents and boys, no uncomfortable conversations about curfews, no explaining dating terms to my parents. It’s actually been very easy to manage
And if you find yourself asking, “My goodness Victoria, why hasn’t it come up yet?”. Well, firstly, welcome back from your coma, I have a lot to tell you about what has happened in the world since February. But for the rest of you who have been conscious for the last 7 months, you know exactly why none of these things have been a problem. I have not been dating.
I have not gone on a single date since being back in Toronto and honestly, it’s starting to feel pretty fucking miserable. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not a serial dater. I don’t hop from one guy to the next, getting free meals and drinks. That’s not my style. I’m just a 21-year-old with an interest in guys and I like to act on that interest every once in a while. And it’s not even about being in a relationship. However, the prospect of a relationship, the idea of dates, the feeling of meeting new people you are attracted to, are all things I enjoy.
Look at it this way. Imagine your life is divided into categories. These categories are things like school, work, family, friends, athletics, etc. Things that take up your time. One of those categories would be “relationships”. And within relationships you can label yourself as many things:
But, because of the whole “pandemic situation” all the usual “single” activities have practically been wiped from existence. It’s not that being single defines me or was this pillar in my life. I have other things going on, but the “relationship” category is now kind of empty. I’m just starting to miss the presence of that category in my life, because I enjoyed doing “single” things.
I loved going on dates and hanging out with new people. I loved acquiring new stories and writing new songs and “will he won’t he” at the end of the night when he walked me home. I miss that and I don’t know when I’m going to get it back. Originally, I thought I could wait out the storm and date normally when the world was normal. However, COVID-19 seems pretty fond of the planet earth, and with the 2nd wave rearing its ugly head I don’t think that “normal” exists anymore. At least, not the normal I was hoping for. I want to find a way to do things now, rather than waiting for something that could be years in the future. So this all leaves me with one question:
How do you properly date in a pandemic?
I know some of you have been doing it. I’ve been watching the Instagram stories and Tik Toks and Facebook posts and I know you guys have been out and about. Granted, some people are just completely disregarding the pandemic. But I don’t want to be that person, I want to find a way to date safely, I just don’t know how to do that.
Dating on a good day is a nightmare. Are we going to have enough to talk about? Is he going to like me? Am I going to get catfished? Am I going to get murdered? (Because every girl who uses a dating app has to ask that last question) Now, on top of everything, I need to add: Is he infected with a deadly virus? And this all just seems like a lot to take on. I want to take it on, I just don’t even know where to start.
I guess what I’m saying is I’m reaching out for true and tried advice. I don’t know what I’m doing here, but clearly some of you do. Please message me with how you’ve been dating during quarantine. Are park dates fun? Do you socially distance at a bar? Did you hug your date? Do you have a “quarantine buddy”? I really don’t want to have to rely on Zoom dates. Tell me your secrets because I need to figure this out. Pretty soon I’m going to join a convent and just slap a big “Foreclosed” sign on my relationship category.
I’m in uncharted waters and I need a little bit of a map. So, send me your advice, your quarantine dating stories, your triumphs and your pitfalls. I can guarantee I will read every single one (I have a lot of time on my hands right now). I want to figure this out and learn and there is no manual for this. I’ve looked. I just want to live a life again, because to be honest it doesn’t really feel like I am right now. It feels like I’m just filling time and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be productive. I want to start filling up my categories.
Could you give a girl a hand?
From me, with love, to you,
For all of August, I lived in New Brunswick. When I say it like that, it sounds a bit random, but I have a cottage there and my paternal family is from there. The story of how my family came to own the cottage is a bit of a tale, but the SparkNotes version is:
My family owned it in the 60’s, somebody else owned it starting in the 90’s and we bought it back 5 years ago.
And because my dad grew up at the very same cottage, there are 100 stories I’ve heard and 2,000 stories I’ve yet to hear. Moreover, the east coast holds a lot of memories for me, personally. When I was little my family would stay with my cousins for 3 weeks and we would visit them, my dad’s friends and my grandfather. We swam and camped and biked and ate two bite brownies covered in icing and drank ginger-ale and played “store” in their basement.
And like I said, we spent time with my grandfather. My grandfather was a character; he had big eyebrows and wore a fishing vest more often than any other item of clothing. My grandfather told stories about everything under the sun, always with a side of vermouth and gin.
Even as we got older, my sisters and I carved out a space in our summers to go see our grandfather and our cousins. Until I was 16. That spring my grandfather passed away and we flew out to New Brunswick to tell stories and pack up my grandfather’s house.
In the coming years my sisters and I got older and we stopped going to New Brunswick as much. We were in university and working jobs and carving 3 weeks into our summers became more and more complicated. But as I mentioned, 5 years ago my dad bought his childhood cottage.
And coming to New Brunswick is different now. It’s more intermittent; apart from this summer I usually stay for long weekends or at most a week. We don’t spend time at my cousins’ house anymore, and I don’t really go into town that often.
However, a couple weeks ago, my dad and I were in town running errands when my dad suggested we stop by my grandfather’s house. I hadn’t seen my grandfather’s house in 6 years, since I helped pack it up after he died. I had heard that the new owner had made some changes, but I barely even recognised it when we drove up. The siding had changed and the brick was painted. The inside had been gutted into an open floor plan. No ginger-ale in the fridge for when we came to visit. No glass figurines in the living room. No walker by the back door. It wasn’t my grandfather’s home anymore. I stood there on the street and looked at the house I spent so much of my childhood in, and barely recognised it. The only evidence that he ever lived there, was the fact that I knew he did.
But one day, I won’t be around anymore to remember that my grandfather lived there. My sisters, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my parents and their friends. None of us will be around to tell people that my grandfather once lived in that house. And when that happens my grandfather’s memory will disappear, and I think he would be okay with that.
My grandfather lived simply. He wanted to fly fish on the Miramichi and take drives to Freeport. He wanted to eat breakfast at Burger King and drink cheap gin and listen to classical music. You will never read about my grandfather in books or see him in a TV show or movie. People (apart from me) will not write songs about him and you would never be able to recognise a photo of him. On paper, he lived an unremarkable life.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t special.
The month I spent in New Brunswick, every third story was about my grandfather. About bottle openers in glove boxes of cars and getting dressed up in tuxedos to go out to dinner. The time he mucked a bottle of scotch watching Johnny Carson. The times he went hunting and fishing and camping and every story was told with laughs and smiles. The life he lived was incredible, but if I were not telling you about it right now, you would never know.
So, I’m standing there with my dad, looking at the house, thinking about the stories I know and the moments I had with my grandfather, and looking at this unrecognizable, unremarkable house and I realised something. Living an unremarkable life is more than enough.
When everyone is trying to tell you that “special” lives are filled with travel and adventure and wealth, remember that’s not always true. Because I have known people with special lives that had none of that. It’s enough to catch frogs at the cottage and have nachos after skiing and spend time with your family. It’s enough to laugh until you pee because your sister does an incredible Celine Dion impression, or watch movies when it rains, or play boardgames or work on a Friday night for the extra hours or do all the things that people have labelled “mundane”.
And it seems like such a simple life lesson but I forget it nearly everyday. I get consumed by making sure I live the best life. I watch other people have extravagant parties and luxury items and live a life that seems remarkable, and I find myself thinking “I want that”. And I get so caught up in the likes and follows and the shares, that I forget how inconsequential it is. I am so obsessed with living a productive life, I can forget to live a happy one.
In some ways, I think it may be better to live a life that is unremarkable. It might be better to have family dinners and girls’ nights and inside jokes with your coworkers. It might be more important to be loved by 10 people than admired by 10,000.
And it’s so easy to think you know this lesson. To think you understand what it means. But then you’re standing in front of your grandfather’s old house with you dad. And you’re looking at where your dad grew up, the backdrop of your childhood memories, and that place is now someone else’s.
Someone else will live an unremarkable life there, and in 40, 50, 60 years, their grandchildren will look at the house and have the same realisation. And that new family will have no idea that my family ever existed. Even though my unremarkable life overlapped with theirs’. They won’t know about the brown bread and the pies and the Saturday-morning-fried-egg breakfasts made in the kitchen. They won’t know about my aunt’s dog or my dad’s old mustang. But all those things existed, and they were beautiful.
And they were remarkable.
From me, with love, to you,
If you’ve ever spent any time reading my blog, or any time with me in person, or heard me speak for all of 30 seconds, you’ve realised that my sisters are very important to me. It is difficult for me to verbalise how important they are, but I believe it is what people describe as “unconditional love”. It is the kind of love that has no rules or regulations. There are no terms or conditions, nothing could ever change how I feel about those two weirdos.
And many of you probably know this already. The three of us are joined at the hip. We have more inside jokes than any group of people should ever have, all of which is accompanied with jargon that we have created in order to better communicate with each other. What do I mean by that? I mean we use bread flavours to describe our moods and have specific terms for different types of “borrowing” when it comes to clothes. We use sounds like merrrrrr and nieshpa and other non-English words to let each other know what’s on our minds. I drew a circle in the air once and my sister looked at me and said, “Yeah, I know I’m craving paella too”. It can get a little weird in my house, but it’s the best kind of weird.
To say it bluntly, there are no two people in the world that are more important to me. Which is why the last three weeks have been so special. Despite living in Vancouver for the last four years, the three of us are rarely apart. I lived in Vancouver with my older sister, but regularly came home to Toronto or my younger sister came out to see us. But, with coronavirus (fucking pandemic) we hadn’t been altogether for 8 months. 8 MONTHS! That’s so many months.
So, three weeks ago my older sister came home and my god it was hectic. The three of us are like a tornado. I’m talking dance parties walking down the street, laughing in the grocery store so hard you have to sit down, speaking sign language (yes, actual ASL), and singing on the plane for two hours. We are a loud group of people, but we will try our hardest to entertain you. During those three weeks we laughed so hard that one of us peed and one of us vomited.
And that’s what makes today the most difficult.
Today it the first day in 21 years that I have to live in a city by myself. Early this week I dropped my younger sister off at university and today I took the older one to the airport so she could go back to Vancouver. And the house is so quiet. It’s just me here and I don’t know what to do without them. Who do I have girls’ nights with? Who do I get to wake me up in the morning? Who’s going to pack granola bars for me when I get hungry in a shopping mall?
I wasn’t really meant to live apart from those two, but now I have to. And I will let you know right now that I am not prepared for this. That is just a fact. The sky is blue, dogs are adorable, and I am not prepared to live in Toronto by myself. And I get that growing up is about change and being independent and that eventually this would happen, but I’m going to let you in a secret: This fucking sucks.
So, I’ll try my hardest not to cry. I’ll try my hardest to be a big kid. And I’ll teach my younger sister to cook over Zoom so she doesn’t starve to death, and my older sister will hear all my new music over the phone and maybe that will tie me over for the next little bit. Or maybe I’ll be a nightmare for the next week or so because I’ll have nobody to be weird with. Nobody will play Super Mario Bros with me or speak in non-English sounds or understand what it truly means to be “done yoted”.
I don’t believe there is a solution to this problem. This may be one of those occasions where I just rant into the void. Where I tell you that I have the most amazing best friends that just happen to share my genetics. Where I tell you that the life I lead is great because of them. Where I let you know that if this week I seem a bit down in the dumps it’s because I’m just feeling a little lost. I believe this is going to be a pumpernickel, brown pasta, green shirt photo, Felix trying to make it up a hill, losing a poodge kind of week.
And I’m sorry if you didn’t get all that, but I think I know 2 people that did.
From me, with love, to you,
I don’t know if you could tell, but I took a little break from my blog. And I don’t want to waste anymore time so let’s jump into it:
When I got home from Vancouver, I was drifting. Who was I now? I wasn’t a student. I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t see my friends. I had left a lot of people behind without getting to say goodbye. I felt lost.
Around my 5th day in Toronto I went to the basement to watch TV and found my younger sister doing a workout. She had started Chloe Ting’s 2 Week Shred Challenge a couple days earlier, as I feel like most of the internet had attempted. I laughed as she did up and down plank, plank jacks, bicycle crunches. I ridiculed her form (which I had no right to do). I sat on the couch eating Oreos.
At the end of the day, I still felt lost. I had watched TV, eaten a sleeve of Oreos, almost had a panic attack, surfed Instagram, and made dinner. The reality of the situation was I hadn’t done anything. Moreover, I didn’t have anything to do, nor did I have any idea when (if) I would get normal again. So, on my 6th day in Toronto, I worked out.
My God I struggled.
I think we need to take a couple steps back. I’ve never been the “fitness-type”. God’s honest reason is that I don’t enjoy sweating and being hot. When I was little, I would spend a lot of the summer nauseous from the heat. Where most people get aggravated eczema in the winter, mine flares up in the summer. When I was little, I would be covered head to toe in rashes, and sweat would make it burn and itch. I hate being out of breath, it makes me feel like I’m having an asthma attack. Working out was a perfect storm of being hot, sweaty and out of breath, and I hate all three. So, I didn’t work out.
I could be considered mildly active. I walk everywhere, I’ve done the walk from downtown Vancouver to UBC many times (which is about 3 hours). I ski, swim, waterski. But working out for the sake of working out was not something I was going to do. And every person in my life, friends, family, therapists, and doctors kept telling me “WORK OUT”. They told me it would improve my mental health, my physical health, my productivity, my body image. They toted it like a miracle cure. And I know miracles don’t exist.
Let’s jump back to the present. Pandemic. I lose 90% of my coping mechanisms. I can’t see my friends, I can’t go downtown, I can’t shop. I’m not performing, I’m not in school. I’ve lost all sense of what day it is. I’ve lost all sense of productivity and I am slipping. So, as a Hail Mary pass, I try working out.
It started with Chloe Ting; I finished the 2 Week Shred Challenge with my sister. And then I got on the spin bike, and then it was the Chloe Ting’s Hourglass Challenge, running, swimming lengths at the cottage. And five months later, I still shove my boobs into a sports bra a couple times a week and engage in some mildly torturous activity for 30-60 minutes.
After five months, I’ve definitely noticed some difference. Like any good scientist, I’m going to publish my findings:
I don’t have as many meltdowns. I don’t fracture under small stresses. I have more energy. My panic attacks are farther and farther apart. I’m not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger. So, I guess I have to finally admit it: I was wrong.
I feel better and come of that credit goes to working out. When the world took everything, working out allowed me to fill in the blanks so I didn’t collapse. I’m not sure what will happen when the world opens back up, when I’m faced with my old triggers. The parties and boys and work stress and applying to schools. But for now, I’m proud to say I have drunk the Kool-Aid (Gatorade?) and I kind of want to keep working out. I like the way it makes me feels, I like that I’m getting a better sleep, and tbh my butt looks better. Who doesn’t like having a nice butt?
I’m not saying it will replace therapy, social support, or other coping mechanisms (it will never support me the way music does). I’m not saying it will replace anything. But it’s another thing. It’s something else it my Batman utility belt of mental health coping strategies.
I know a lot of people who started exercising during quarantine. What else were you going to do? And 5 months ago I would have scoffed at the fitness trend taking over the world. However, I’m on board and I’m even recommending it to others. Here’s the advice I have:
Number 1. For years I would watch what I ate and taken a wild stab at the occasional workout class. I would tell myself I wanted to look good for a certain event or a certain person I was seeing. And every attempt to get in better shape, to workout, failed. Working out and exercising are not easy. They’re not easy habits to pick up and it is a zillion times more convenient to sit on your behind and do nothing. However, if you want to work out, you have to do it for you. I started this for my mental health. Not to appease my family or my doctors or my therapist who’s been asking me to workout for two years. I did it for me. Because as much as 2020 is about so much garbage, it’s also the year I’m putting me first.
Number 2. Try to set real goals. I see all these crazy progress photos and people getting jacked in like 7 days. But the reality of the situation is those changes usually aren’t sustainable. Why did I start working out? To see long-term changes. My dad just turned [redacted age here] but he still bikes 40 km two or three times a week and can out ski me on my best day. Because being active is a top priority for him. I want to be like that when I get older. But those BIG goals, the ones I aspire for, start with little goals. Working out once a week, learning to do a push up, doing the plank for a minute, running a kilometer without vomiting. Today, I ran 6km for the first time since 2014 and I understand that it’s not this massive number that sounds that impressive. But 3 weeks ago, I was struggling to run 2km, so it feels pretty good. I was able to do it because I built small, progressive goals.
So, if you want to pick up working out I would 10/10 recommend. I might even know a running buddy who would love to tag along.
From me, with love, to you,
Warning: Hamilton Spoilers.
Remember in Hamilton when Eliza and Angelica are singing “Take A Break” (Runaway with us for the summer let’s go upstate) and Alexander says, “I can’t stop ‘til I get this plan through congress”. So, Miss Maria Reynolds shows up like the true and tried bombshell she is. All of a sudden, Alexander Hamilton is a philanderer and cheating on Eliza. He didn’t take a break and instead, slept with his neighbour.
So, the lesson is, it can be good to take a break. Which is what I’m going to do.
For the last two years, this website has been my diary. My outlet for stress and I’ve appreciated that so much. More than anything I’ve appreciated the positive feedback I’ve received. I’ve loved that you guys love this blog. But unfortunately, over the last little bit I’ve loved it a bit less and a bit less.
Writing doesn’t feel as much like a privilege as much as it feels like a chore. And this isn’t supposed to be my chore, it’s supposed to be something that sparks my fire and gets me excited in the morning, but this just isn’t it right now.
But don’t think I’m abandoning this. I’m not going to be done forever. The issue is right now, a lot of what I’m writing doesn’t have any substance, because my life, your life, most people’s lives are a lot of the same. I’m not telling you fun stories or lessons or talking about the progression of my life, because as much as the clocks move forward, I’m stuck in limbo. I’m stuck in this void where everyday is identical which leads to pretty bland blogs. I don’t want to put out content that I’m not proud of.
Also, I’ve been writing way more music lately. I understand how Taylor Swift released a surprise album, because it’s relaxing writing music during quarantine. I’ve gotten the chance to flush out ideas I normally wouldn’t have the time to think about. At my core, I’m a songwriter, I just want to be able to give myself the time to be that person.
And finally, I talk a big talk about being kind to yourself and taking time to regroup and support your mental health, but I don’t always live into those words. I’m actually at my cottage right now and I’m going to be spending some time there. The last couple months have been really hard on me and I’m fine, but I also recognise that I may have put too much on my plate right now. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I need to use some of those hours to check in with myself.
So, over the next month or so you may not see a lot on this blog. Instagram and YouTube and Facebook should all be the same, I just think for the meantime I need to take one thing off my plate to make sure I’m healthy and happy. I’m going to collect all my best ideas so I can get back to you with amazing content and I’m sure by September I’ll be buzzing to get a new post out.
Take Angelica and Eliza’s advice. Right now, life is stressful, but take a real break and get out of the city. Read a book. Have a nap. Order in dinner. Do something to treat you, because I’m going to do that for the next little bit.
While I’m on my mini sabbatical, feel free to do a deep dive of the blog. When I thought about taking this break I went back and read my old stuff to see what it was like. And I fucking love my old content. It’s funny and well thought out and makes me smile and I want to get back to that. So, feel free to read that if you haven’t got the chance to. I might even share some of my favourite posts with you guys, as a reminder that I’m still alive and kicking.
Thank you guys so much, and I’ll see you in the fall.
From me, with love, to you,
You know those days when everything, absolutely everything gets under your skin and you swear to the good Lord you could punch someone in the face?
Today is one of those days. It’s the kind of day where every customer is rude, the pandemic makes you want to pull your hair out and your jumpsuit breaks at work so for a split second you’re going free-titty on the sales floor.
It’s been a long day.
The kind of day where nothing lines up. When you’re tired but
you can’t sleep. When you’re antsy and fidgety, but too lazy to do something about it. When you’re hungry but there’s nothing in your fridge that is appealing. Every turn feels like a misstep and you’re just waiting for fate to throw you a bone.
But it never does. On days where you’re irritated you never get “thrown a bone”. It’s the day where you get a parking ticket or come home to a messy house or check your email and find 3,000 emails a you hate bout the thing you forgot to do for work. Days that don’t stand out in any particular manner, but are filled with mundane annoyances to the point that you’re going to scream at the next person you see (which I did, oops).
Because that’s the thing, your bad days never line up with the bad days of the people around you. When my sister is in a bad mood, I want to cuddle in her bed and go for a walk and make cookies and she wants to be left alone. On my bad days, she wants to play boardgames and sit on the couch together and talk while I try to get things done. Somehow the world has been designed as to not give simultaneous bad days.
Which means everyone around you seems so annoying. Every question, every inquisition, every attempt for someone to be nice makes you grind your teeth. And when you explain the fact that you’re irritable people try to help, but you don’t want help, you just want to rant about how the person in front of you couldn’t drive their Honda Civic to save their fucking life on your way home from work.
But other people are in a good mood, and they want to bring you up to their level, so they make suggestions for how to fix the problem. They see a problem and try to find the logical solution. However, your good-mood-brain and bad-mood-brain have drastically different problem-solving abilities. Your bad-mood-brain lashes out or wants to wallow. On the other hand, good-mood-brains want to have open-ended discussions and be proactive and find healthy outlets for stress. Your good-mood-brain makes good decisions.
Your bad-mood-brain catastrophizes. It makes specific situations seem overarching. When your kitchen is messy, your bad-mood-brain assumes that it symbolises the fact that your life is a mess. When a customer is an asshole, your bad-mood-brain thinks that everyone on the earth is an asshole. The reality of the situation is that you were running late this morning and couldn’t clean the kitchen and just that particular customer was a dick (maybe they were having a bad day too), not the whole world. Although, your bad-mood-brain has difficulty making these distinctions.
When people and their good-mood-brains come around with their optimistic outlook, you get frustrated because it feels like they’re not listening, or they’re not seeing the world from your perspective. Which is true, they’re seeing it with their good-mood-brain and your seeing if with your bad-mood-brain. Your seeing the world painted in grey and their seeing the world in technicolour.
So, I’m not trying to give you solutions to solve your bad mood, I frankly don’t want solutions to my bad mood. Sometimes you just want to wallow in your bad mood and eat a sleeve of Oreos while watching reruns of old TV shows. Sometimes that will even make you feel better. However, it is important to know that just because today was awful where people didn’t listen to you and your hands are all peeling and gross from hand sanitizer and you think your coworkers may have seen your boob in an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction, it does not mean everyday is going to be trash (okay, that last one was a little bit specific to my situation but you get the point).
So good luck with your bad mood, I’m going to go have a glass of wine and hope for a better day tomorrow.
From me, with love, to you,
Last summer I let you all know that alongside this side hustle I have a job in retail:
Working in retail is a mixed bag; there are days where I love my job and days where I could slam my head in a fitting room door. Maybe one day I’ll tell you some of the nightmare stories my coworkers and I have collected (trust me, we could fill books with these stories).
But right now, working in retail is a bit of a different monster. I have only been back at work for four weeks and things have changed, to say the least. Work protocols are different, how we clean the store, how we engage with customers, how we interact as a staff team. Everything has been turned upside down and sometimes that’s really overwhelming.
Doing all this makes me 3 million times more sympathetic to frontline workers. People who have been working at this since day one. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, grocery store employees, liquor store employees. People who haven’t been given a break, but simply thrust into this situation that nobody asked for.
Retail workers – especially in Ontario – have only been at this for a little bit. We’re only back at work because the world is attempting to right itself, we are trying to open back up. We are only the result of more lenient rules. And I think that’s where the issue is. Before, the world was black and white. What was okay and what wasn’t was set in stone, but with the world opening the door just a little, it has created a grey area. And people love to play in the grey area.
So, I want to let you all know what I – a retail worker – want you – the customer – to know.
(1) I am nervous.
Honestly, I started out more than nervous. I started out scared. And part of it was less scared for me than it was for other people. What if I cleaned something incorrectly and that led to an outbreak? What if I got sick and brought it home to my family? My mind was running wild with a series of “worst case scenarios” and it was terrifying.
And the fear has subsided, but there is still a general nervousness that exists. An unease that persists, because for four months I was told “stay inside and don’t see people” and now I’m outside and I’m seeing people. It feels…wrong. So please know that I’m nervous. All I ask is that you’re respectful of that.
(2) Wear a mask.
Firstly, I’m not going to have an argument with you right now about the true and statistically proven reality that masks reduce the spread of coronavirus. That isn’t even a discussion to be had.
Secondly, in Toronto it’s now a bylaw to wear a mask in indoor, public spaces which has made my life infinitely easier. But somehow, people still heckle me about it. So, I feel we should clear somethings up.
I have asthma, I carry an inhaler, my lungs are shitty at being lungs. I also have anxiety, and restricted airflow often leads to panic attacks which is why I’ve had multiple panic attacks while exercising, specifically skiing. However, for 7+ hours a day, I wear a mask. Because I can breathe while wearing a mask. And if I can do it, you can too.
Plus, I’m not even the one enforcing the mask policy. My company is, the municipal government is, Health Canada is, so don’t bring your woes to me. I make minimum wage and frankly couldn’t give fewer shits that you are upset about wearing a mask, there is nothing I can do about it. I get mask-acne and a sweaty face and dry lips. I don’t particularly enjoy wearing a mask, but I do it to protect other people, so please do the same.
(3) We’re just trying to keep you safe.
I know the cleaning and the waiting in line and the excessive hand sanitizer seems redundant. But we’re doing it to keep you safe. Let’s do some basic math here:
In Toronto, everyone is allowed a bubble of 10 people.
My store can see an average of 600 people come through in one day (during the pandemic).
If each person has a bubble of 10 people and 600 people come through the store, the germs from upwards of 6,000 people come through the store every day. Plus the employees, plus mall security, plus all the people you interact with while you’re in the mall. What I’m saying is, ew, our store is full of germs. Full of bacteria and microbes and viruses that aren’t the coronavirus, plus (potentially) the coronavirus.
Frankly, my life would be easier if I didn’t have to spend 2 hours in the morning wiping down every shelf, table, and hanger in the store. But I do. It would be more convenient if I could stand right next to you to help you shop. But I can’t. I’m not doing this to make my life easier, I’m doing this to make your life safer.
(4) Be polite.
I know how exhausting it is to have employees tell you to wear your mask properly, or get offered hand sanitizer 30 times in one day, but your frustration doesn’t give you the right to call me:
A bitch, stupid, or a fucking idiot.
Nor does it mean you can tell me:
To go fuck myself or to go to hell.
And you may be thinking to yourself those seem extreme. However, those are all real things that have been said to me or my friends in the last four weeks. The upheaval of normal society doesn’t give you permission to be rude. If anything, we should be kinder to one another. Take this as a reminder that humans are simply humans and we need to support each other. Yesterday, I offered a woman hand sanitizer and she looked at me and said, “Can you not? I don’t need fucking sanitizer.” When, “No thank you, I’m good” is a perfectly respectable response.
Remember what the intentions are behind our actions. And maybe that will remind you that we’re not pestering you to be annoying, we’re pestering you to keep you safe.
(5) I’m happy to be back at work.
Despite all this, I am happy to be back at work. It feels like an inkling of normal. It feels like a light at the end of the tunnel, even though we still have a long way to go.
But I’m happy to be talking to people. That’s why I got into retail, to talk to people, and I get to do that now. I had a 15-minute conversation with a girl yesterday about boutique shopping in different cities and it was the highlight of my day.
I’m happy to see my friends. My coworkers and people I wouldn’t get to see otherwise. I’ve worked with a lot of these people for 4 years and being back with them makes me happy. Sure, we don’t go for drinks after work anymore and we can’t all hang out at my house, but I get to see them and for right now that’s enough.
Plus, in a situation where so many people are out of work, I’m grateful to have a job.
Which brings me to the end. Yes, this is just my opinion, but I know I have friends who feel similar. I know my sister (who works for a different company) feels anxious at work. I know my boss wants you to wear a mask. I know friend is pretty stressed about keeping things clean because she just wants to keep you safe. I know these sentiments are not just my own.
So, go out and shop. Put something back into the economy, treat yourself, get out into the world, feel even a little normal for a day. Shop for whatever your reason is. But please respect the people who work in the stores, because they’re tired and sweaty and have mask-acne and are nervous and, at the end of the day, they’re people too.
From me, with love, to you,
-Victoria Want You To Know
We’ve talked about how I got into writing music:
But I write a lot more than just music (evidently, I write blog posts). But there is an infinite amount of content that will never grace the internet. Songs that I write for just myself, songs that I write for other people, journal entries and short stories and rants that I use to clear my head. Even if none of this turns into anything, I’ve always said I’ll continue to write. Why would I stop something that makes me so genuinely happy?
And in writing as much as I do, I’ve learned to categorise things in my head. One of my most distinct methods of categorisation is “for” vs. “about”. Who am I writing this piece “for” and who am I writing it “about”? Which can all seem like an abstract concept. Aren’t they the same thing? Sometimes yes, but often no. If I write a song about my ex, it’s likely not for him, it’s so I can explain things to myself. It’s for me. If I write a blog post about how annoying parents are, I’m writing it so younger people can get a good chuckle in, I’m not writing it for parents. But if you’re still lost, I’ll use a more concrete example.
The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an INCREDIBLE book by Margaret Atwood (which led to an equally amazing TV show). The book is about a dystopian future in which women are subject to a harsh patriarchal society, and our main character’s name is Offred. However, when you open the book and flip through the first couple pages, you find the dedication Margaret Atwood wrote:
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
And then the book begins. So, this book is about Offred, and follows the horrors that unfold her in life, but was written for these two people, Mary and Perry. Mary and Perry are never mentioned in the book, Margaret Atwood simply wanted them to know that this stroke of brilliance is for them.
Every piece of my writing works this way.
“But that can’t be true, Victoria! Not every piece?” Yes. It does. Every blog post, song, journal entry, sticky note I write has a “for” and an “about”, and often they don’t line up. Not only are the “for” and “about” often different, but they can find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. The best example of this is a blog post of mine that has become quite infamous.
This piece is so clearly about boys. I air out my grievances and explain why I am frustrated and, well, you’ve read the piece. However, I never wrote it so boys could see it, I wrote it for the women in my life. For every time my friend called me frustrated in tears. For every time my sister wanted to bang her fist through a wall because of something a boy had told her. For every heartbroken ice cream tub I ate with girlfriends while watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. It was about boys, but for girls.
And this is not the only paradoxical example. Most of the music I write is about someone else but for myself. I write music to get stuff off my chest, to explain situations that seemed fuzzy and unsure; I write about stories, but I write for myself. I write what I would want myself to know, if I could go back, if I could see everything with a clear head, if I could think through things logically. I write to clear the air for myself, not for anyone else.
And sometimes, when you’re the listener or the reader, finding this distinction can be difficult. You can be reading something or listening to something and be convinced someone is telling your story. They might be. But just because you’re a part of the story doesn’t mean that story is for you. You can convince yourself that I’m Margaret Atwood and you’re my Mary Webster and Perry Miller, when in reality, you’re my Offred. You’re simply the vessel that I use to tell the story, you’re not the motivation. You’re simply a character in a larger story, you are the “about” not the “for”.
Which could be enough for you. I hung out with a guy once who desperately wanted to be my Offred, be the center of a story I told and that was enough for him. He wasn’t a muse. Simply a topic sentence, a concept that would lead to bigger and better things. However, I know people in my life who are my Mary Webster and Perry Miller. People who fill my life so completely I can’t help but dedicated pieces of my life to them. And there are moments where the two concepts line up. Where the “about” and “for” are the same thing. An example of that is my song “West”, which is both about and for a group of friends. It can be the same, it just often isn’t.
In writing this, I’ve tried to figure out why this is all so important. Why do the “for” and the “about” even matter? In some ways, they don’t. If you find something enjoyable, that could be enough. When I share my content on a public platform, I’m taking a risk. And I can beg you to see more, I can beg you to see the larger picture but it’s not up to me what you decide to take away. So, if you want to simply see the “about” for the rest of your life than you do you.
But I am still going to ask you to think about the “for”. I think it makes life more enjoyable. Thinking more about what you consume, thinking about why it was written, not just what it was written about. And honestly, this applies in much broader contexts. Even if you never pick up a book or a pen or even open up the notes app in your phone, you’re constantly writing “for” and “about”. You tell funny stories for your friends about your day to make them laugh. You tell sad stories for your siblings about crappy people to make them feel better. Whether or not you want to admit, you’re constantly writing “for” and “about”, and people are constantly writing “for” and “about” you. That’s part of living in a society. I guess you just have to decide whether you want to be Offred or Mary Webster and Perry Miller.
From me, with love, to you,
I have been told time and time again about “bad first dates” and everyone has their own experience. Well, I’m going to share mine and hopefully, someone will find it enjoyable.
The tale starts on a cold Vancouver Friday night. All my friends have their own plans so, I open Hinge. Hinge said, “We think You and Boy should meet, you would be a great match”, which had me feeling pretty optimistic. I understand the algorithm may be bullshit, but it also may not be so I’m willing to try anything.
I have been messaging Boy for the past week and Boy and I are getting along just dandy. Being the go-get-her-feminist that I am, I make the first move and message Boy, “Hey, do you want to go out tonight?”. And Boy responds, “Yeah for sure, where do you want to go?”. We decide on a bar and I get ready to go.
Hair done, makeup done, outfit on, and I’m on the bus heading to this date. Boy then texts me saying, “Hey, just so you know I’m not looking for anything serious, so I don’t want you to fall in love with me tonight.” And I thought he was just trying to make light of a situation that could be uncomfortable to talk about, so I text back and say “Haha, dw. Sounds good to me”. Looking back, I’m convinced that Boy thought I was going to fall in love with him. I didn’t.
So, I get to the bar and show up my classic 5-10 minutes late and he is already there. The bar is super busy which I don’t mind, but I’m finding it really difficult to find Boy. I’m kind of making an idiot of myself lapping the bar but I don’t see him. Until I do. I don’t want to say I got catfished, because that would not be entirely true. But you know the difference between the Big Mac in McDonald’s advertisements vs. the actual Big Mac? We had a Big Mac situation going on. However, it’s what on the inside that counts, and we’ve all had rough days. My optimism is maintained.
So, we start chatting. Ladies and gentlemen, I may as well have sat there and talked to myself.
Me: “How is school?”
Me: “Where do you work?”
Boy: “I don’t”
Me: “Where are you from?”
Boy: “Outside Vancouver”.
And it just went on and on like this. I felt like a shitty detective trying to figure out if he had a personality or if he murdered it and hid it under a bridge somewhere.
And while I’m interrogating, in walks a complication. You know those people you meet and think, “Holy shit are people allowed to be this attractive?”. Well I once knew a guy like that through work, and we flirted a little, but things fell off because it was right before I was going home to Toronto. So anyway, in walks this smoke show of a man while I sit across from my sad Big Mac and now not only am I single-handedly holding up this conversation, but dear God am I distracted.
Now, because I’m a classy girl, I have ordered a glass of wine. I’m sipping away at my wine, talking about how good it tastes, when this boy asks me his first question:
“Do you like wine?”
Well good fucking job Sherlock, it was very insightful of you to pick up on the subtle clues I had dropped, but at least it was a conversation-starter, so I ran with it. We start talking about wine. My mom collects wine, my aunt and uncle collect wine, my sister is really into wine, so I guess that’s how I got into wine? I offer him a sip (oh, the world before covid) and I ask him if there’s an alcohol that he likes. And he says vodka. Not my first choice, but let’s dig deeper.
“How did you get into drinking vodka?”
“I don’t know, it was just always around.”
“Do you have a favourite brand?”
“I tried Belvedere once.”
“Yeah, I got bottle service when I went to a strip club.”
Okay. I’m not sure where to go from here so I take a big ol’ pause, which he takes as a sign to open the flood gates. I must be a great fucking detective because I found the personality and it was not hidden under a bridge, but inside a strip club. Boy cannot stop talking about strip clubs despite my efforts to change the subject. And everyone has their quirks, I get that, but a passion for strip clubs isn’t really a “first date quirk”.
After about 20 minutes (which felt like 3 hours), I’ve moved the conversation along. And we’re talking about family. I’ve gotten nearly everything out of him that I’m going to get, so we’re now talking about mine. He asks me if both my parents are white, which they are. And he asks me where they’re, from, and I say Canada. He puts his drink down and says, “Oh, I didn’t know you were white trash.”
Again, big ol’ pause and I say, “No, I’m not.” So, he says, “Both your parents are from Canada, aren’t you white trash?”. It’s been six months and I’m still unsure what the correlation between Canadian and white trash is.
Just in time to save the day, my sister texts me. I had let her know I was going on a date and she sent me what we call our “911 check-in”, which is basically a check in to see if you need an out on a shitty date. And I have never used my 911 before, but good Lord was I thankful for that text. So, my sister calls me, and I tell her “Oh my God, that’s awful I’ll be right there.”
I tell Boy that something really bad (and super vague) happened to my sister at work and I need to go see her. So, we grab the bills and head out. As we’re leaving the topic shifts to music. He asks me what I write about and I say, lots of stuff, but it’s mainly about my life. And the conversation goes on:
Boy: “What about if something sad happens?”
Me: “Yeah, I use music as an outlet for stress, so definitely.”
Boy: “What if something fucked up happens?”
Boy: “Like, what if something really fucked up happens to you, would you write about it?”
Me: “Yeah, I guess, but I don’t know if I would share that song.”
Boy: “Cool….so, what’s the most fucked up thing that’s every happened to you?”
And OH, LOOK we’re at my bus stop. I leave with an awkward handshake/hug combo that still makes me want to vomit when I think about it. While I’m on the bus I get a notification on Hinge (fuck you, Hinge). And it says: Did you meet with Boy in person and how did it go? So, I told Hinge that it was miserable and then Hinge asks me if I want to un-match and I say, “fuck yeah, you fucking piece of crap”, or whatever white trash says.
Not 15 minutes later I get a very angry message from Boy saying:
“Wow, so you think you’re better than me? Already unmatched?” And there is just so much to unpack and I’m a little buzzed and not really ready to deal with this shit. I send, “Sorry I don’t think this is going to work”. And I get this decently long message about how he was the one didn’t even want a fucking relationship and girls are over dramatic and fuck me and I never heard from or saw Boy ever again.
So, that is my worst first date. If you have me topped, which I’m sure some of you do, I am 200% willing to hear a good-bad story. Send them my way and if not, hopefully this made you laugh.
From me, with love, to you,
There is no shortage of mean in the English language: bitch, asshole, shit-for-brains all make the list. Not to mention the PG-13 words that include lazy, arrogant, condescending, stupid, and selfish. However, there is one word that has always seemed to have a negative connotation, but I argue shouldn’t always be on the “bad” list: high maintenance.
And yes, I’m super biased because I’m high maintenance. My life is full of rules and regulations that bring me piece of mind when things get stressful. I live a bit “my way or the highway” (I get that one from my dad) and I require significant amount of attention to feel like a human being. I have to admit, writing it out now, being high maintenance sounds like a handful. But does high maintenance have to be a bad thing?
I took a class this year in the psychology of personality, and my professor told us that every personality trait exists along a spectrum. On one end is where the personality trait doesn’t exist, and the other is where the personality trait is the most dominant. So if we were talking about “mean” existing on a spectrum, then on one end you have the kindest person ever who wouldn’t kill a mosquito, and on the other your have a tyrannical human who would kill for fun. Okay…maybe not that extreme, there’s probably other issues going on there, but you get the point? “High maintenance” exists on this spectrum as well. On one end you have the people who are 100% go with the flow, the people who avoid conflict and don’t care much for attention and the other end is a full-blown diva. Where you flip tables when things don’t go your way and require so much attention that you get a TV show for yourself.
My professor also said that every personality trait is healthy in moderation. The example he used is selfishness. Selfishness is thought to be this malicious trait, where selfish people are…well, selfish. But selfishness too exists on this spectrum. And people who are 0% selfish are not well-balanced people, they would practically starve to death to feed others. Not that these people are bad people, but you need to have a dash of selfishness to survive. At the low end of the spectrum, selfishness is kind of like self-preservation.
Let’s move forward a bit, because this post isn’t supposed to be a full regurgitation of my PSYC305 lecture (also, that’s just plagiarism). So, let’s return to high maintenance; it exists on this spectrum from super low maintenance to super high maintenance, and there is a point on that scale, where a healthy, well-balanced person exists.
And I definitely exist on the upper end of that scale, quite a bit south of “diva territory”, but I safely reside in the upper half. Would you like some examples? I have a skin care routine that gets done no matter where I am, I could be drunk, half blind, in the middle of the woods and I would get her done. Why? I grew up with really bad eczema and I am determined to keep it at bay. It seems like missing 1 night wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s the principle of the matter and the fear of having a rashy face that keeps me on track.
I developed my high maintenance-ness over time. My social relationships are high maintenance because I have the inability to read social cues and have social anxiety, so keeping in touch with people constantly and often makes me feel grounded. I have rules about social media to make sure everything gets done and I’m keeping myself safe on a public platform. I do make makeup in a particular way because it brings me joy, and I like doing things that make me happy. I clean my room everyday because I’m really messy when I get dressed but I’m more likely to be productive when my workspace is orderly. I’m picky with what I wear because…just read my last post:
Plus, it’s important to think about how someone is high maintenance. I’m super high maintenance, but I do my best to keep it contained to my own life. Yes, my family is often included in my rituals and routines, but we’re family and they’ll always love me. I try my hardest to make sure I start getting ready an hour earlier than my friends so I can be on time, even though I’ll probably still be late. I meal prep at the beginning of the week so I know that during the week I have time to get everything done. I try to keep my rules relevant to myself and my life because that’s the thing, they’re mine. It’s not fair for me to make rules that dictate how other people act.
Being high maintenance has also brought a lot of good into my life. Remember earlier when I said I’m very “my way or the highway”? That trait has brought far more good into my life than bad. I want big things out of this life, and I have no intention in not achieving them. Being high maintenance drove me to starting my music career in the middle of my university degree, because I wasn’t willing to wait. It allowed me to work two jobs every summer, because I was determined to save enough money to live the life I wanted during the school year. I believe it’s the reason I was able to write and produce my first album.
There are synonyms for high maintenance, or at least components of high maintenance, that are not as negative. Strong willed, affectionate, detail oriented, regimented. All these things can also be used to describe high maintenance people, but for some reason we’ve tied all these words up in a little package and stapled a tag onto it that says “SHITTY PERSON TO BE AROUND”.
So no, being high maintenance isn’t bad. It’s not always the best thing, but it doesn’t always mean a whiny, complaining person who needs so much attention that it’s exhausting. Just remember what your mom would tell you when you wanted ice cream for dinner: everything in moderation.
From me, with love, to you,
Let’s be frank: over the last three months I have worn more sweatpants, sports bras and pajamas than I have in the last 21 years. And the most obvious reason is that I don’t really leave the house. I lounge around, work out and work from home. Why would I wear jeans? Why would I put on a dress when I could wear leggings and a sports bra? There is no apparent reason to stuff myself into a pair of trousers or God forbid, A REAL BRA, when I know nobody is going to see me.
Ah, but this is where I have made a crucial mistake. I may not be seeing other people, but I’m going to see me. Every time I walk past a mirror or a reflective surface in my house, I’m going to see me, and I don’t know why I’m pretending like that’s not enough. Why am I willing to dress up for other people, but not myself? Are other people more important than myself? Hell no! I’m a damn treat, and I should treat myself as such.
I do have to admit that this idea is not entirely my own, so I must give credit where credit is due: Tan France. For those of you who don’t know, Tan France is a stylist on Queer Eye, judge on Next in Fashion, creator of the fashion line Kingdom & State, and just an all-around style icon. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched two seasons of Queer Eye and one season of Next in Fashion, so it’s safe to say that I’ve seen a lot of Tan France. Obviously, I’m a little obsessed, but I’ve also learned a lot.
Yes, I’ve learned some basic style tips, like mastering the French tuck, but I’ve also been reminded that style is not for other people, it’s for me. The last couple months, I’ve been wearing comfy clothes under this false pretense that it doesn’t matter how I dress. But it does matter, because I’ve set the bar for myself so low. I’ve established this double standard where other people are worth putting time and effort into my looks, but I’m not. I’ve settled into this habit of wearing “whatever is clean” because taking the time to make myself feel pretty seems unnecessary. Did you hear me? Giving myself a little TLC feels UNNECESSARY, which is ridiculous, and if anything, I’m a little disappointed in myself for feeling that way.
One of the craziest parts of this whole situation is I love clothes. I love shopping and trying new styles and putting makeup on, but I’ve been denying myself that joy. I’ve practically lied to myself over the last couple months saying that I’m more comfortable lounging around my house in old leggings and pajama tops. But I’m not comfortable that way, because it doesn’t feel like me. Do you know what feels like me? Blue eyeliner and floral dresses and bike shorts with oversized button downs. I think I am the sun, the moon and the stars and I’ve been dressing like the dirt, the manure and the gum that gets mushed into the sidewalk.
I think this all came to a head a couple weeks ago. I had gotten dressed up and put on makeup and straightened my hair to take an Instagram photo. Yes, I am cringing at that just as hard as you are. And I got home and almost instinctively put on boxer shorts and an old t-shirt. In that moment I realised the dichotomy I had created. This world where I was shouting to the rooftops about honesty and self love and self respect, but behind the scenes had devolved into an Oompa Loompa. One of the craziest things was, I was comfortable. Sure, I was wearing jeans, but I was still comfortable. If anything, I felt more comfortable than any athleticwear had ever made me feel, because I felt like me again. I felt special and beautiful and that’s what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
Please, don’t take this lesson and assume I’m asking you to base your value on your appearance. And I don’t want you to feel the need to dress like you’re about to walk a runway. But dress like you, whether that’s a suit and tie or boho or athleisure. Just take pride in the way you present yourself. Clothing is just another way to express your personality and I can guarantee you my personality is not dirty sweatpants. I want to remind you the selfcare is not selfish. There is nothing self-absorbed about putting time into the way you look or taking an extra 15 minutes in the morning to feel presentable. Sometimes in the world of self-love, amongst the inner beauty and confidence and growth everyone talks about, we can forget to take care of ourselves on the outside. Washing your face, doing your eyebrows, painting your nails, doing your hair, it all seems like this surface level obsession with appearance that is perpetuated by social media, but it’s not.
At its core, taking care of yourself is about respect. If your friend told you she wasn’t worth the time in the morning it takes to make herself feel beautiful, you would slap her upside the head with a magazine. So why isn’t that true for us? Why do we only get dressed when we go on walks or have social distancing drinks? I know the world is opening back up, and we all joke about “having to wear pants again”, but you know what? YOU WERE ALWAYS WORTH PUTTING PANTS ON FOR. You were always worth putting makeup on. Most importantly, you were always worth wearing a bra.
From me, with love, to you,
My new song “Records and Honesty” is up on YouTube right now, and of course I’m going to write about it. However, I’ve written this piece about 7 times to make sure I say this right.
There’s a lot to talk about with this song. We could talk about the fact that I rewrote it 3 times. That even after the three rewrites I wasn’t happy with it. That my original chorus was subpar, so I rewrote it again¸ scrapping not only the chorus, but the original chord progressions, tempo and rhythms.
Or we could talk about the boy I wrote it about.
I'll go on the record, saying I want you here. When the whole world calls, please don't disappear.
Despite all my talk about boys, throughout university there was only one boy I had feelings for (yes, I had the same crush for 3 years). And one night when he, our friends and I were out for drinks, he mentioned he was going to go on exchange; I wasn’t going to see him for 8 months.
When your friend gets an amazing opportunity, what do you do? You congratulate them, and celebrate with them. Buy them drinks at the bar and tell them all the amazing things they’re going to do. So, I did that. We bought drinks and danced and I made fun of him for stupid things and he walked me home at the end of the night. But all I wanted to do was ask him to stay. All I wanted to do was say "Ditch the cool things that the world has to offer and stay here with me”.
I thought I said, I wish I said, I could've said, but now it's too late.
And that’s what this song was for me. I’m a pretty bold person; I quite often will make the first move. However, it’s easy to be bold when you’re not that fussed about the outcome. With my friend I never could never make a move, it felt like there was so much to lose. What if he didn’t feel the same way and I made everything awkward? What if we weren’t friends anymore? That would’ve been worse than me pining from a distance.
I wrote this song to say everything I was too afraid to say. I asked myself, “If you could say everything with no fear of getting shot down, what would you tell him?”. And it gave me the space to be honest with myself about what I wanted. I was able to create this fictional landscape where I didn’t have to hold back.
If you're leaving me won't you go out with a bang.
That’s all I wanted. I wanted this swell of music, kiss me in the rain, rom-com moment. I wanted to know that all this reading into signals and interpreting text messages was worth it. I wanted to get everything off my chest, because for so long I had been waiting for this “perfect moment” but none of that mattered anymore because he was leaving. He was going to go explore the world and I was going to live the dull world of frat parties and chemistry exams and working minimum wage jobs.
I'll go on the record, saying I want you to stay.
I know these are usually longer, but I’m going to cut this here. For a couple reasons: first, old habits die hard and I’m still terrified he’ll figure out I liked him. I mean, we still run in similar circles, so he might find out, but I moved back to Toronto and in all honesty will likely never see him again. Secondly, I don’t think there’s a whole lot more to say. I mean I could tell you all the nitty gritty of why I liked him, and the times we hung out, but I think there’s a quiet comfort in knowing I can keep those moments private. That I get to keep them to myself.
From me, with love, to you,
Before we begin, there are some things you should know:
Story one: A couple weeks ago my sister and I decided to organise our rooms, Marie-Kondo-style. I am a bit reckless when it comes to throwing things away and donating things. If I haven’t used it recently, I want to get rid of it. I don’t like the feeling of holding onto extra stuff. My sister, on the other hand, keeps everything. Everything seems to hold some sense of sentimental value and every t-shirt, old pair of shorts or dress she thinks she might, “wear later”. Despite not knowing how to sew, she insists that she will turn old clothes into something new.
The second story is this: One day when my sister was mad at me, she told me, “I’m going to take something from your room and you’re not going to know what it is”. And she stole a makeup brush. To give myself some credit, I’m not really wearing makeup during quarantine so it took me a while to realise. But eventually, I did.
Okay, this brings me to my revenge.
I am a vengeful person. When my sister returned my makeup brush, I decided I need to retaliate, so I constructed a plan: I decided I would steal 1 item from her room everyday. I would collect all the items and hide them.
This plan was incredibly smart for two reasons. First of all, punishment fit the crime. And secondly, it would prove that not everything she owned brought her joy. I also decided to establish some rules, as not to be a bitch.
Rule #1: It would end once she noticed something was missing. Otherwise it could just go on forever. Or if she noticed me stealing something from her room. This rule is more challenging than you might think as I am not a sneaky person.
Rule #2: I couldn’t steal things that she needed or things she used everyday. Hairbrushes, credit cards, toothbrushes, her pillow etc. The point was to prove that she owned too much stuff. Plus, it would end right away and then the point of my little game would be null and void.
So, I got started by taking small trinkets and objects. You know when you walk into a girl’s room and there are candles and little bobbles and ornaments everywhere and you’re like “What the fuck is all this crap?”. I started there.
Day 1 through 5 were easy, a shot glass, a thank-you card, a candle, a stuffed toy. Things that were obvious and out in the open, but not so obvious that she would be upset. Plus, I didn’t want to take anything that was really important or breakable. I didn’t want to be responsible for breaking something because then this joke would go from very fun to not-so-fun. And also, we’re trying to prove she owns shit she doesn’t care about, not shit she does care about.
But once I started taking all the little knick-knacks I realised I need to change it up a bit. There are lot of things in a person’s room, one of the foremost things being clothes.
My younger sister fucking. Loves. Clothes. She owns more clothes than any single individual would ever need and I am well aware that if given the opportunity, she would buy more. But during the Marie-Kondo-ing, I attempted to convince her she didn’t actually wear most of her clothes. She argued, obviously, but here was my chance to prove myself. So, on day 11 I started stealing her clothes.
Things became a little more complicated here, clothes are larger than trinkets, so I needed to get more creative in storing my borrowed belongings. I found a purse that I wasn’t using (because I’m not leaving the house) and decided to start storing stuff in there.
However, I made a serious mistake.
I wasn’t always very particular in what I stole. And one day, when I was coming down to the wire, my sister left her room to pee and the opportunity presented itself. In a mad dash to continue the game I stole a little jewelry box off her dresser and tucked it in my hiding place. Little did I know, was this box contained a very expensive pair of earrings that my parents gave my sister for her graduation. So, I screwed the pooch.
I’m in the bathroom on day 17, and my sister starts BANGING on the door saying, “S.O.S.! I have a huge problem!” So, I wash my hands, and she drags me to her room to show where her earrings usually are. And I take a deep breath and ask her to sit down. I go grab my bag of toys and dump them out on to her floor. Her dream catcher, double sided tape, a couple t-shirts, and other little gadgets I had collected for 17 days. I explain to her the point of the experiment and she looks at me and says, “You dumbass, why would you steal the most expensive thing I own?”. And I will admit, I should have more vigorously checked the items I was stealing, but I got caught up in the task a bit more than the point.
Let’s review, shall we? What did I learn? I learned that my sister owns things that don’t bring her joy, or I guess, I reinforced that idea. I learned that I’m a little bit of a psychopath who likes to pick-pocket from my family. I learned…well not much else. This wasn’t meant to teach me anything. I’m just looking to kill time.
If in the light of our current situation you’re a little bored, well then, I would highly recommend this game. Just remember, to check what’s in the box before you take it.
From me, with love, to you,
My fam and I were hanging out in the kitchen the other day and my dad mentioned something to me. He said, “You spend your entire life preparing for the worst and hoping for the best”. My initial reaction was “Holy shit Dad, that’s a little dark for a Friday morning…isn’t it?”.
But it’s not. It’s actually kind of genius. And in reality, I’ve spent my entire life “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best” without even realising it. If you’re not convinced, I’ll give you the example that got me on board:
When I go skiing, I wear a helmet. I’ve only had a handful of terrible falls in nearly 18 years of skiing, but I still wear a helmet. Do I hope to fall on my face and crack my head open every time I buckle my boots? No. I hope to have a fun day on the hill where I beat the crap out of my legs on moguls. I expect to have a “usual” day skiing where I don’t endanger my life (or do so within reason). I wear my helmet, but not because I expect to fall.
And that pattern (as my Dad so kindly pointed out) is all over my life. I get vaccinated. I don’t hope to come in contact with polio, the measles, or tetanus, however, I still get vaccinated. I save money for “emergencies” that I don’t think will happen. This idea of preparing for the worst is the definition of security, when you go to a concert they don’t expect every person to have a gun or knife, but they still make you empty your pockets and check your bag.
But what do I do with this realisation? Do I change my behaviour? Not really, I should still prepare for the worst, because the worst happens when you least expect it. And I should still hope for the best, because otherwise it would be a pretty sad life to live. The psychology student in me thinks it’s both important and interesting to know why people do the things they do. But, what if you use this lesson to diffuse anger?
Let’s be honest. 99% of my daily conversations are about covid-19, and practically everyone is angry about something. The conversations started out pretty much the same across the board. People were upset about losing opportunities, missing their friends and family, and of course, the lack of toilet paper. However, as the world begins to open up, piece by piece, the anger has shifted. And this new frustration generally falls into one of two camps:
Starting with the group 1 people. I understand why they feel this way. At the beginning of quarantine, health professionals were projecting sky-high infection rates and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Canada. When your options are “quarantine” or “apocalypse”, you tend to choose “quarantine”. And covid-19 came and continues to come, I’m not minimizing the damage it’s doing. People are dying, the economy got hit with a freight train, and social isolation has made me lose my mind, but was it apocalyptic? No.
DISCLAIMER: If you work as a health professional, frontline worker, essential service, I argue you may have witnessed an apocalypse. I’m not saying what you saw was anything but horrific, I’m simply addressing my fellow cohort who spent the last nine weeks watching Netflix.
So, for anyone who’s angry about “quarantine being a waste”, I have to ask you: what did you expect? You were presented with a horror story and told the solution was to go inside. And frankly, you did exactly what you’ve been trained to do. Prepare for the worst. I do the same thing when I get into my car. I buckle my seatbelt. I don’t expect to get T-boned in an intersection or rear ended on the highway, but I still take precaution.
When covid-19 showed up on our doorsteps we were all forced to get into a car, and we were told to wear seatbelts. Some people didn’t. Some people cut the seatbelt out of the cars and took to the street in protest screaming “Fuck seatbelts!”. They complained that the seatbelts were restrictive and unnecessary because they had never crashed a car before. But just because you’ve never crashed doesn’t mean you never will. All of a sudden a car comes speeding out of no where and because you decided the restriction of a seatbelt was too much, you get launched from your car like a rag doll.
Plus, let’s be honest, if we had refused quarantine, we probably would’ve gotten the apocalypse they told us about.
And then there are the group 2 people. The people who are furious at the lack of social distancing, handwashing and mask wearing. Just as I did with our friends from group 1, I ask you to look at the situation with a new lens. Because yes, there are people breaking the social constructs we have created out of ignorance, but a lot of people may be doing it out of optimism. Just as we prepare for the worst, we hope for the best. Hard as you try, you can’t get mad at people for thinking this way, because you do it too.
Have you ever been running late for work, and you’re confident you locked the door, but you don’t have the time or energy to go back and check? That, my friend, is optimism. You lock your door every morning because you’re preparing to get robbed but you never hope to get robbed. So even though the 30 seconds or 20 steps back to the door aren’t the end of the world, you simply hope that nobody chooses to knock on your door while you’re not home.
Don’t be mistaken, I’m far more a “group 2” person. When I see a large group of people sitting together in a park, part of me smiles at their optimism, and part of me clenches my teeth and mumbles “Darwinism” under my breath. But in reality, I can’t get that mad because we have all had a time in our life where we don’t go back to check if the door is locked.
So, keep preparing for the worst, because if it gets there and you’re not prepared the worst will be a nightmare. I’m just hoping that maybe by changing your perspective on the situation you’ll be more forgiving of weeks of lockdown, or to the people who just can’t seem to grasp the severity of the situation. I’m still going to prepare for the worst, as well as hope for the best. Put a password on my phone even though I hope to never lose it. I’m going to GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE even though I’m engaging in safe health behaviours. And hopefully, you’ll all remember to buckle your seatbelt, lock your door and wear your ski helmet.
From me, with love, to you,
This week was a rough one friends. I was feeling pretty shitty about the world in general, so my sister and I came up with a list of 50 simple pleasures. I decided to share them with you in hopes that you will either smile or laugh at me or be reminded of something that you love.
From me, with love, to you,
This morning I rolled out of bed and walked past the mirror in my bedroom, and of course I gave myself a little check out. Nothing too major, just made sure I hadn’t turned into Shrek overnight. And apart from the bedhead I was like, “Damn, who is she? She’s hot.” And I rode that confidence through the start of my morning.
What did my morning compose of? I ate an apple and had a cup of tea, then went upstairs to get changed to work out. And as I did earlier in the day, I checked myself out in the mirror again. But this time, only 40 minutes after my previous assessment of my body I looked in the mirror and thought “What small whale has just walked into this room?”. I might as well be the “before” photo on my 600-pound life because I felt like a monster. I was shooketh to my very core because less than an hour before, I felt like a queen and I didn’t think anyone could convince me otherwise. Yet, here I was, poking and prodding my body as if that would change anything.
And my day went on like this. This endless teeter-totter back and forth and it was nauseating. After my workout? I felt like I belong in a lululemon commercial. After my shower? I felt like I had absorbed all the water I had just wash myself clean with. I felt like that blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Running errands with my sister? I was SNATCHED. By the time I was eating lunch? Chub-city. And it cycled like this all day.
While I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my boxers and a hoodie in my sisters’ room and looking down at thunder thighs, which I swear to God, 20 minutes ago were toned, tanned and ready to go.
But why? Why do I cycle like this? To make sense of it all I am going to talk about something I learned during my degree: sensation vs. perception. Sensation makes a lot of sense. You feel your fork when you pick it up. You see the colour blue when you look at the sky. You hear sirens when an ambulance passes. Sensation occurs when your nerves collect information from your surroundings and send that information to your brain.
But perception is where things get more malleable. Perception is what your brain does with the information when it gets there. What does it prioritize as important? How does it change the information to make things more manageable to understand? And your brain does that, changes information, makes assumptions, fills in gaps with what it thinks should go there.
A perception example is if you put an off-white square in front of a yellow photo, your brain will probably see it as really white. But if you were to put the same square in front of a white photo, you will see that it is off coloured. The information in your environment and things you’ve learned in your life prior to that moment, all influence your interpretation of reality. But why the neuroscience lesson?
Because I know the reality of my body. There was no significant change throughout the day. Yeah sure, your body weight fluctuates slightly throughout the day, but not to the extent that I was seeing in the mirror. It wasn’t reality that was changing, but my perception of my reality changed repeatedly. Twenty minutes ago, my thighs were the same as they are right now, but something in my perception has changed. And even knowing all this, knowing that my brain is playing tricks, I still look down and say, “I fucking hate my body”.
What don’t I like about it? I don’t like how tall it is! I would kill to be two inches shorter, but I can’t. I want to have either curly or straight hair, not this in between situation I’m working with. I don’t like my thighs, they’re not cute. I want skinny girl thighs. I don’t like my feet. Both my parents have ugly feet and gave way to three children that have atrocious feet. I don’t like my booty, she’s real flat. No matter how many squats I do, she stays pressed tight against the back of my legs. I hate how long my torso is. Why must things be this way?
On the other hand, I fucking love my body. This morning when I woke up, I was being honest. My waist is pretty snatched. Both my sisters refer to themselves as “12-year-old boys” when talking about their bodies. I, on the other hand, am repeatedly told by my grandmother that I have “child-bearing hips and a tiny waist”, which I think might be the old-woman version of curvy. I like my boobs, yeah, they get in the way sometimes, but big boobs are kind of fun. I like my eyebrows, I never really have to maintain them, they naturally have a really defined shape. I love my eyes, they’re 100 different colours and I appreciate them. I lowkey, have nice hands. They’re not spidery, not chubs; narrow without being too narrow, you know?
So, here’s my dilemma. I love and hate my body. Half the time I don’t understand why I’m not a model and the other half I could literally bury myself out of embarrassment for living in the body I live in. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to change your body in healthy and attainable ways. My sister finally has me working out during quarantine, because I think despite all my whining, it is important to take care of yourself. I think it’s okay to strive for better and for healthier. Set physical goals: be able to do a pull-up, lose five pounds, run a mile without vomiting. But this beating down that I do on myself day in and day out is not okay. My body is badass.
My body holds the muscle memory to play guitar, it sings, it skis (both the snow and water variety), it has walked me all over the world, beaches in Greece, streets of Munich and Berlin, downtown Toronto and Vancouver. My body can (but has not yet, don’t worry Mom and Dad) grow a baby. HOW COOL IS IT THAT MY BODY CAN CREATE A SECOND BODY?
So, improvement is okay, but I need to remember to recognise that the way my body looks right now, in this moment, is okay. That it’s okay I don’t have teeny tiny, narrow hips like my sisters, or that I’m not 5’10” or that my hair isn’t pin straight, and my feet are nasty little fuckers. My body just wasn’t meant to be that way. And I need to learn to accept that I can’t run a half marathon, or lift 1,000,000 lbs, or to be honest, probably 100 lbs, but that if I want to do these things I have to work on them and progress will be slow.
I was born with imperfect skin that gets eczema and hair that never falls the right way and I don’t look like the girls on my Instagram feed. And that’s okay. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and look in the mirror and see a garbage can with arms and legs, but I also can see a damn treat and I think a lot of it is my choice. I think a lot of it is my perception of the situation.
From me, with love, to you,
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