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,
Do you remember at the beginning of Beyoncé’s song Pretty Hurts, where she’s at a beauty pageant, and she says, “My aspiration is life is…to be happy.”? Beyoncé is right, my aspiration in life is to be happy. I think at everyone’s core that is all we ever want. But I want to talk about the thing that won’t make you happy. It’s one of (in my opinion) the most damaging dating myths:
“Being in a relationship is going to make you happy.”
NOW. Before all the happy couples mount my head on a spike (I’m rewatching Game of Thrones), please reread the sentence carefully. I’m not saying that you cannot be simultaneously happy and, in a relationship, nor am I saying that relationships can’t enrich your life. However, relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, partners are not going to make you happy. This idea that a relationship is the missing part of your life is a lie. The great and terrible lie we tell ourselves to ward off the demons at night. The sky is not magenta, babies don’t come from storks, and being in a relationship will not make you happy.
Why not? First, we have to think about why you want the relationship.
You know that feeling when you have nothing to do (#quarantine) so you open the fridge and get a snack and while you’re eating it feels really good and you’re pretty content with the way things are going, so you go along your merry way. But then thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, maybe an hour passes, and you’re bored again. So, you duck back into the fridge to get another snack because at least eating is something to do. You’re not hungry, you’re bored.
We’re going to call this the “Fridge Predicament”. And the Fridge Predicament is attempting to solve a problem with an unrelated solution. And the same thing occurs on a larger scale with relationships. That feeling when life is just lackluster and over a glass of wine while watching Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling canoeing in the rain, you say “I want a boyfriend”. Here’s the thing, you don’t want a boyfriend. You want change. You want change because you don’t know what to do with your degree, because you’re unhappy with the size of your booty, because you’re overwhelmed with the time commitment from your job. The problems you’re experiencing are unrelated to a lack of romanticism in your day-to-day life. You’re living into the Fridge Predicament.
Now, we’re going to take a little detour, because there is something I want to say. My dear friends, if you are seeking out companionship because it makes you happy, that is completely separate and not at all what we’re talking about. If you seek out casual hookups, one-night stands or any sexual interaction of any capacity because you’re a bad bitch who wants what she wants then YOU DO YOU. Never let anyone ever tell you that the way you live your sex-life is wrong. We’re just talking about seeking relationships in place of solving problems. I digress.
The Fridge Predicament is not easy to escape, it’s so common place you may not even be aware that you’re doing it. Let’s use me as an example (because it’s my blog, duh). Two years ago, I was in a real shithole. Life had beaten me down and I was near ready to give up. I hated my program, I had no friends at UBC, I was fresh out of a relationship that ended on less than amicable terms and I was just a hot mess all around. So, I met this boy who asked me out and we went on like two or three dates, but they were the epitome of a non-starter. Just no chemistry, no spark, no NOTHING. However, that glimpse of attention, that light in the distance that was shaped sort of like a relationship became a beacon of hope because I had this deluded dream that “happy people are in relationships”. So I spent months trying to find boys that I could shove into my life to make me feel like I was happy and just blatantly ignoring all the shit parts of my life, which was practically everything else.
And in writing this piece my younger sister got a little frustrated with me. “How could you tell people that relationships won’t make you happy, when your old relationships have made you happy?” And part of her is right. Being in the right relationship with the right person makes you feel alive. But if, and only if, you are happy with the life you currently live.
A romantic relationship is commitment and work and time and energy. And yeah sure, in the beginning it’s rainbows and unicorns and you actually think that your significant others can part water like Jesus did, but that all wears off. All that shine of a new relationship will dull and you are simply left with your same life plus an extra person, so you better be happy with the life you have before you start things up. A relationship will add to your life but not change the reality you’re currently living in. You need to have a life you’re proud of and are excited to live, and then find the relationship. And this doesn’t mean be in a stable job with all your ducks in a row, but have goals and plans and ideas and live a life that inspires you and drives you forward.
No, it’s not wrong to want a relationship. Human beings in all their wisdom are designed to do three things. Eat, survive, reproduce. And that last one usually requires a second person. Just make sure that you’re seeking out a relationship for the right reasons and not just sliding into the Fridge Predicament. So, next time you’re whining and moaning about being lonely and wanting a relationship, ask yourself one question: How would a relationship change my life?
Because if your answer is “It means I could start a family”, “I have created this super amazing life that I want to share with someone”, “Probably not at all, but I’m in love with _______” THEN GO GET IT. Go find that man, woman, unidentified consenting adult human that lights your world on fire and LOCK THEM DOWN. But if you’re trying to eat your way out of boredom, when the fridge is empty and you’re stomach is full of leftover Chinese food, ice cream and potentially expired yogurt, you’re still going to be bored.
From me, with love, to you,
So as many of you know I’ve moved back to Toronto. What you may (or may not) know is that I’ve returned to living in my parents’ house. And there are lots of pros to living with my parents. First of all, constant entertainment; my parents are fucking hilarious. Second, the food is amazing, and the booze is even better. Third, free rent. So yes, those are three among the many reasons that I really enjoy living with my parents. However, there is one thing I am less excited for.
Although we’re all currently locked in our houses, there will come a time when the world opens back up. At which point, my single self will want to rejoin the world of other singles and find myself a man (men? I’m in no rush to settle downs fear of having a spinster for a daughter). But dating at home can be a buzzkill.
Now, my parents aren’t super religious or anything. They’re not asking me to save myself for marriage or reject men until a suitor comes along that can buy me for 10 cows and a bag of gold coins. They’re realistic that I will date people and…hang out with people who are not “the one” (I mean if you ask me “the one” is a bit of a hoax, but that’s for another time). And my parents know about my less than virtuous past, (my mom found when I got a UTI and my dad discovered the birth control boxes I had stashed in my room, which led to a particularly uncomfortable dinner conversation) so we’re all on the same page.
However, we don’t really exchange information regarding casual dating. My parents know when there is someone significant to know about, someone they should expect to see around, someone who will be taking time in my life. They DO NOT need to know about short term flings that I use to keep life interesting. In fact, my parents and I talk about everything under the sun except sex. I mean, we talk about talking about sex. And sex in its periphery comes up, like a couple nights ago when we discussed pros and cons to making prostitution legal, but that debate was primarily political.
But my parents and I don’t talk about sex or dates or casual dating. Not in the books. Telling your parents makes it seem like this big deal when the point of casual dating is to be “breezy”. Involving parents is not breezy. Plus, the idea of my mom and dad witnessing my hot mess of a romantic life makes me want to vomit. There is a threshold of appropriate parental interaction in casual dating and I will give you an example:
Appropriate: A boy picks me up from home and while I am leaving my house my mom is also leaving the house at coincidentally the same time. They share a BRIEF “Hello” and the world continues to turn.
There are so many inappropriate examples of parental interaction. And when I lived in my own apartment in my own city the chance of inappropriateness occurring was 0%. But living at home makes dating feel like walking through a field of land mines. I’m not bringing home a boy after the bar just so my mom could come into my room at 2am to see if I stole her melatonin when she can’t sleep. I’m not letting this boy walk out in the morning so they can meet over morning coffee and the paper. Nope. Not in the cards.
Plus, my parents are home all the fucking time. My mom works from home and my dad is retired. So, I can’t “wait for a free base” because the base is never free. Nobody ever leaves. It is constantly filled with my genetics. My parents are running around, watching movies, having dinner, drinking wine on the back patio, all of which is stopping me from casually dating. I’m not emotionally prepared to settle down right now! I haven’t collected enough stories to write songs about yet.
And yes, I could go to his place. But first and foremost, ladies, Lord knows what I’m going to run into when I get to this boy’s place. I have seen boy-apartments that resemble the state of frat houses. And there is a reason that I spent four years in a sorority and 0 nights at a frat house. Moreover, then I have to do the walk of shame home in the morning. To who? MY PARENTS. And that is not a conversation I want to have.
I don’t want to have any of these conversations with my parents. I don’t want to talk about ghosting and rosters and dating apps with them. I want to keep that part of my life entirely separate from my family, screw drawing a line in the sand, I want to carve a line in the cement.
So, to my friends who live at home. I am reaching out for advice. Because moving out right now is not financially feasible and I’m not returning to celibacy. I need options. How do you date while living at home? How do you meet people and… get frisky? HOW DO YOU BE SNEAKY? Because although it feels like the world has stopped turning, I need a plan for when it starts up again.
From me, with love, to you,
I just finished my degree – no matter how unconventional the ending – and I can’t help but admit that I learned a lot in university. I would be an idiot to say I learned nothing in class. I learned lots in class, not necessarily anything I will remember or anything I will use, but that’s on me for picking a degree that has little to no real-world applicability.
However, over the last four years I’ve learned a lot of things that were definitely not taught by my professors. And we’ve talked about some of my favourite life lessons:
But those aren’t necessarily school related. You also learn all those skills you use to fluff up your resume: time-management, teamwork, collaboration and other buzzwords you say in interviews like “synergy”. And I understand that my experience at UBC is different from someone who goes to McGill or UofT or Queen’s. It’s even different from anyone else who goes to UBC (we’re not even going to get into the differences between Canadian and American schools. That’s just a can of worms I don’t have the brain capacity to open right now). But there are definitely some threads that get sewn into everyone’s experiences. So, in hope of spreading wisdom I am going to tell you every I learned about school. Not everything I learned in school, I’m not willing to start using APA citations on my blog, but everything I learned about school.
1) Make friends with 1 prof
At one point in your life you will need a reference letter, so pick one professor and try to be friends with them. Send them emails, show up to office hours, ask a question in class every now and then. Don’t be a brown nose because then everyone in your class will daydream about you drowning in an accident so you don’t derail the discussion every time you raise your hand. But pick one professor and show some interest. It works best in a class you are a) doing well in and b) have some genuine interest in the course material. Then when you want to apply to grad school or a job or a lab, you will have someone to hit up when you need a reference.
2) You can go to class drunk
I do not recommend it. But if you had a raging night on let’s say…. Wednesday, and you wake up still full of tequila and bad decisions, you are still able to attend class. Your notes will probably not make sense and halfway through, your hangover will start to set in like somebody hit you in the back of the head with a lead pipe, but you can do it if push comes to shove.
3) Take Tums (or another antacid) before you start drinking
Basic chemistry for my readers who a little scientifically inept: acid + base = neutral. Alcohol is an acid, Tums are a base, they neutralise the acid in your stomach and you don’t feel quite as much like garbage the next morning and you can actually get things done. (I don’t know if this is necessarily school-related, but it seems applicable in this context)
4) Take a language course
Looks good on a resume. Always a useful skill.
5) Write every assignment down
Seems obvious, but it is so worth the 15 minutes it takes. After you get all your syllabuses (syllabi?) at the beginning of the term open them up and get a piece of paper. Write down every assignment, test, quiz, and midterm you have in chronological order. Stick it up on your wall, somewhere hard to miss, and as things get moving in the term start crossing them off. So many of my friends have mixed up days for midterms, forgotten assignments until the night before or missed quizzes altogether. This method has kept my head on straight for the last 4 years, so 10/10 would recommend.
Most of your profs are nice people (some are not nice people who will make you want to light their office on fire and use your broken dreams and scantron cards as kindling). Your profs are people with kids, with families, with their own life problems, who understand university is a hellhole and none of us know what we’re doing. So, just ask. If you need an extension, just ask for it. If you need extra help, ask for it. Don’t know your rights from your lefts? Just shoot them an email. You all know the state of my mental health. Sometimes, things come up, so I always email my professors and let them know and 9 times out of 10 there is a solution to the problem. Things can get moved, grades can get reweighted, even small quizzes or participation marks can occasionally get brushed under the rug. Don’t abuse their kindness but pick your moments and just ask. Takes 10 minutes to write a nice email, but it can take hours out of you to stress about something.
7) Pick your courses out carefully
Don’t be the idiot who hits fourth year and is missing a required course from 2nd year. In addition to the 1 professor, make friends with at least 1 academic advisor.
8) It is okay to not know things
This could be an entire post in and of itself. But I learn and relearn and relearn this everyday. When I graduated high school, I thought I had things figured out. I worked hard, got good grades and I saw myself as smart. But then I hit university; I learned new things everyday, I made bad decisions more than I did good ones, and I felt stupid all the time. It felt like this part of my identity – “being smart” – was stripped from me and it was unsettling. However, it wasn’t that I was no longer smart, it was that I no longer knew things. I just needed to be smart enough to figure them out. I spent four years not knowing things and figuring them out and that’s okay. It’s okay not to know the answer to a question, which room your class is in, what to do with your degree or if you’re even taking the right degree. It’s okay to feel dumb, as long as you realise that you’re not.
So, those are my lessons. My words of wisdom to pass on to you and for you to pass on to others. It’s not everything, but definitely a start. Maybe I’ll write some more or maybe you’ll have to learn them for yourself. That’s what university is all about. Learning to make mistakes and I’m not going to rob you from all of that.
From me, with love, to you,
I went to the beach the other day. My sister and I lay a blanket out on the sand while we talked and read books. We let the sun burn off all our stress as we dug our toes into the sand. Apart from the occasional comment, it was unusually quiet for the two of us, who are generally loud enough to annoy the people around us, even with social distancing in place. I, being unprepared for how warm the day was going to be, wore all black and roasted in the heat.
I took a break from reading and strolled the 20 feet or so to the waters edge and walked until the tide pulled at my ankles. Usually the water is cold and sharp, but it wasn’t. It was soft, like when you flip over your pillow and press your face against the cool. The water came in and wrapped itself around my feet and then went back out to sea, back and forth, back and forth. And I stood in the water and thought.
I thought about one of my first nights alone in Vancouver when I went to the beach with a bunch of strangers and put my feet in the water. The view was different, but the water was the same. I remember making idle flirtatious remarks to boys I had met and thinking about my boyfriend back at home. How much I wanted him to be there with me. We sat on the beach as nude elderly men took their last couple strolls before fall came, yielding the nude beach useless. Four years felt like such a long time back then. The idea of making it to the end of the four years not only seemed improbable but impossible. The future beyond those four years felt like fiction.
I thought about the nights I spent crying. And the mornings and the afternoons and evenings filled with tears. Teardrops and raindrops until everything was soaked. And the grey fog billowed into my life and no matter how much I tried to air everything out, my entire life was shrouded in grey fog. I remembered the panic and the isolation and fights on the phone with my parents, with my sisters, with my boyfriend. I remember the moment I realised that this relationship I had cherished and loved was not what I wanted and soon it was going to end. I remember feeling lonely.
I thought about the nights I spent drinking. The bad ones that ended in tears and boys saying mean things. The ones that I wish I could take back. The times I embarrassed myself to the point that my stomach turns if I think about them. The ones where my mouth was faster than my brain and I said things before I realised I was saying them. I also thought of the good ones, the girls’ nights on the floor of my apartment. The parties at frat houses until 3 in the morning, the nights at bars filled with boys we didn’t know but would come to know. The nights that turned into stories. The nights that lived on in glorious infamy. The nights that were filled with the best worst decisions and the worst best decisions. Dancing at the Yale until we couldn’t stand and drinking at the Roxy with the greatest people.
About the studying. The long nights at the Life building and hours spent at Olive and Ruby. Mind maps, practise exams, and notes written out until my hands were calloused. The concepts I didn’t understand, the concepts I will never understand. All the exams I beat and all the exams that beat me. Going from over stressed, to under stressed to possibly the perfect amount of stressed in four years. Yelling about TAs and professors that made me want to pull my hair out. Confiding in TAs and professors when I didn’t know what else to do. The hours spent course selecting, degree mapping and trying to find electives. Papers and labs and midterms and lectures. The time in lectures spent online shopping or posting Instagram stories. The classes I missed. The classes that my friends helped me catch up in. The dissections of invertebrates and brains and the fucking Morris Water Maze. Counting the ages of hockey players and trying, for the love of all that is good, to figure out the 7 long term causes of chronic stress.
I thought about my sorority. Crying in the chapter room the day I after I ended my relationship. The surprise party at my sister’s house. Watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race after Songfest practice. Deep chats in fraternity bathrooms. The times I pulled my hair out about holding a position and the times I cried when I didn’t get one. Senior meetings planning events that would never happen, losing everything so swiftly at the last minute. Running in on Bid Day and seeing my big sister. Taco dates with my big and veggie dinners with my little.
I thought about boys. The breakup. The recovery. The worst first dates ever filled with of out-of-line questions and long awkward pauses. The ones I picked up at bars and led to the worst surprises. The Hinge-boys, the Bumble-boys, the Tinder-boys, the frat boys. Kisses in my living room that turned into nothing, and kisses in my living room that turned into the shit things. Getting ghosted and shot down. Shooting people down. Chickening out right at the play and looking back and wishing I had the guts to follow through. The friends I kissed and definitely shouldn’t have. The friends I didn’t kiss and should have.
I thought about my friends. My beautiful, wonderful friends. The loud sex talks in public that make people turn their heads. The time the soup appeared and then disappeared without any of us noticing. The night of the wedding crashers. All the times they were there when I cried in my apartment and realized I didn’t have to do it alone. Walks through the park and along the sea wall. The Halloween party we weren’t 100% sure we were invited to. Shopping and watching movies and curry at the Delly. Screenshots of so many conversations from so many people. Drinking at 3pm on Winter Classic. And. So. Many. Group. Chats.
About my sister. Mini eggs and wine and Whole Foods gummies. Walks along the beach, study dates, dinners. Semis and formals and pre parties. The times she saved my butt and all the times I called her when I had too much to drink and the time I definitely had alcohol poisoning. Hockey games we didn’t understand. Birthday cakes and birthday dinners and bottles of champagne. Cuddles and hugs and so much gratitude for having her in my life.
About all the times I spent alone. And not a bad alone. But a good alone. Aritzia Warehouse Sales. Walks on campus, reading in the sun. Trips to different bakeries and meal prep Fridays. Dance parties in my apartment and standing in the rain just because. Learning and growing and changing and being better than I was.
So, I stood on the beach and I looked at the mountains and the cloudless sky. And I thought “thank you”. Thank you to every person I have met in this city for changing my life so immensely. For the people I will talk to everyday from here on out and for the people I don’t really ever want to talk to again. You have all had an impact on my life and got me to today. Because although those four years felt so endless, they’re ending and I’m returning to Toronto. Permanently? I don’t know. But at least for now.
I watched the ships stay stationed in the water and I thought about how grateful I am. Grateful to have learned what I have learned. Grateful to see four seasons of cherry blossoms and to survive four rainy winters. Grateful that I have a degree (even if I'm no where near knowing what to do with it). And of course, to have so many reasons to come back.
So I pulled me feet from the water, finally cooled, and walked back up onto the beach. This is a pretty great life, isn't it?
From me, with love, to you,
I spend a lot of time on social media. Half is for mindlessness, half is for music.
I do the same things that the rest of you do. I get caught up in dog photos on Instagram until I call my dad at 3am and ask him to get me a puppy (not my shiniest moment). I scroll through memes of old TV shows. I embrace the gen-Z in me and watch Tik Toks. But I also work a lot on social media.
What does work look like on social media? Scrolling through my own feed, my own stories, my own highlights. Making my page look aesthetic, or at least trying to. Redoing my blog, filtering my Facebook posts, responding to comments, updating bios, tracking analytics, projecting growth. It’s kind of half numbers based (analytics) and half people based (interactions).
The numbers stuff can be tedious, but I’m a little obsessed with it. Along with being a huge superhero dork, I also am low-key obsessed with Microsoft Excel. I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets. But it’s the interactions aspect of my life that takes the bulk of my time. All the notifications of comments, likes, shares, messages. And most of these are from people I don’t know personally, new people. I mean my friends still comment and like and share and message. But a lot of it is new people. And I’m not complaining. If I didn’t want new people interacting with my profiles, I should just set everything to private or even better shut all my accounts down. If you don’t want people knowing things about you, get off the internet.
However, after the last three years of working with social media I have developed a system to interact with people. Not every interaction is the same, but there are some patterns. You need to create categories to streamline your life. As much as it’s my job I don’t want to spend my entire life online. I don’t want to spend my entire life living through a screen, so I categorize.
#1: There are the kind but meaningless but kind comments. Single emojis. The word “nice”, “cool”, “pretty”. They don’t mean much but they’re an ego fluff and I appreciate y’all.
#2: The promo interactions. Messages asking for a follow back, comments from brands asking for a collab, direct messages asking to check out someone’s new Soundcloud track. Some of them you respond to, others you don’t. When I first started, I responded to every message, every comment but I ran out of time. I do want to say though, don’t knock the self-promo people. I do it. You have to put yourself out there if you want to get noticed, so good on you for doing it. Keep chugging along.
#3: There are the people who get blocked. The people who use social media when they should be using Seeking Arrangements. The number of times I check my messages in the morning and wake up to dick pics in my inbox. Please keep that shit in your pants and out of my dm’s. The people who message me saying they know where I live, yeah no, FUCK THAT. The people who are just a little…too interested in me. The stuff you screenshot to send to your friends and go “Sorry Scott, not out here trying to get murdered.”
#4: There are the people who have questions, long comments, the people who share. The people who are genuinely interested in my content and they brighten my day. The messages about my music, my blog, my covers. The questions about how I write or why I write. Stories about their lives. And this is genuinely why I stay on social media. Why I use social media. To keep me connected to people through music. It’s part of the thing that motivates me to keep sharing, and a huge reason why I’m in love with my job.
#5: And the last category. The “I Hate You” people. I love these people like I love G&T’s in the summer and honey in my tea. These people are my bread and butter and I am eating this shit up. COME AT ME CHILD, I AM PREPARED.
At this point, I expect you think that all this time on my lonesome has made me lose my marbles and to that I say, not possible. Those marbles rolled away a long time ago, I can’t lose something I already lost. However, these people bring me joy. First of all, I don’t get it. If you hate my content, just find something else on the internet. You can literally find anything. If you hate what I do, why waste more time on my page by commenting or messaging? Plus, it’s not like I’m Ariana Grande, you don’t have to actively avoid my content. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else. You will likely never stumble across my shit ever again.
Secondly, it’s so angry and it makes me laugh. The “I Hate You” interactions are never: “I don’t enjoy this”. But real hateful. People are getting offended that this 21-year-old white girl had nothing better to do with her time than post another Billie Eilish cover. Why? I’m not sure. But they are and it makes me laugh.
Lastly, it kind of makes me super excited. I remember my first bad interaction. I filmed a YouTube video with no voice and missed so many notes. It was a brutal video. But I posted it anyways because I was just desperate to get content out. And somebody commented “bad”. That’s it. “Bad”. I knew it was bad. I was aware of that. But this comment didn’t make me upset or cry or even take the video down. Because it was kind of liberating. I had spent so much time in the bubble of friends and family saying “this is great” that it was nice to see that I was reaching other people. People who were going to give it to me honestly. And I was ready for the big kid pants.
I love all interactions (okay, not necessarily the dick pics. Dude, I wake up to this shit. I don’t want to start my day like that). And I will always send love and laughs to the people who send me hate, but my favourite interactions will always be the people who are looking for connection, reaching out with kindness. They make me smile, they brighten my day and are a little compass telling me I’m moving in the right direction. That being said, I appreciate the bad interactions as well. They remind me to work harder. They remind me that I’m not doing this to make other people happy, I’m doing this to make me happy. And most of all, they make me laugh. And we all need to laugh at social media sometimes.
It can be so easy to get caught up in social media and let it be something that defines you. And not even consciously, but on the unconscious level where you just want people to like your content. And it can be mean and brutal and kind of upsetting to scroll through sometimes. But isn’t it better to laugh at the people sub-tweeting you and commenting shady shit? Isn’t it better to laugh when everyone else is frowning? So yes, I laugh when people send me mean things, because what else am I going to do? Get upset about one bad comment? Spiral because what makes me happy doesn’t make everyone happy? Nope. Not today.
So, the more mad you get, the more I know you care enough to comment something mean. The opposite of love isn’t hate. As The Lumineers said, “the opposite of love’s indifference”, and I’m going to tell you right now, y’all are anything but indifferent. So. I guess all I have to say is:
I love you too.
From me, with love, to you,
Isolation has given me a lot of time to contemplate. To think about the last four years. To write. To study (but I’m not really doing that, as far as I’m concerned school is over). All the thinking and contemplating has led me to one conclusion: I spent too long putting things off.
I kept waiting for these “right moments” and “next times” but you don’t always have the liberty of waiting. I was supposed to have more time than this and I had planned to fill that time with all the things I was putting off. And I don’t mean my actual plans. I don’t mean going to formal, or philanthropy events, or partying with my friends. I’m talking about all the times I said, “I’ll do that later” and I won’t get to. All of the “next weeks” and “another times” that kept me from actually doing the things I wanted to do. And for that I’m not disappointed at the virus or the world, but I’m disappointed in me.
I should have gone to the beach more. I live in a city by the water and I don’t think I used it to its full potential. I went a bunch, but not as much as I should have. I should have lived on those beaches. I should have a “regular spot” where I sat and watched the ships, where I looked at the mountains. There should have been more mason-jar glasses of wine with my sister and relaxing with my friends. Why didn’t I walk the paths along Spanish Banks more? What was I waiting for?
I should have travelled more. I wanted to go to Tofino. Not even to surf but just to relax and get out for a little bit. Maybe try surfing and fail miserably. I wanted to go to Nanaimo and try all the Nanaimo bars my stomach could take. I wanted to learn the tricks of the trade from the source and just eat my way through that town until I was comatose in an Airbnb with my friends. And the Okanagan. I live near one of Canada’s wine capitals and I didn’t go. I didn’t booze up on a porch looking over a vineyard with my girls and I cannot imagine a good enough reason for me to have put that off into infinity. My sister and I never sampled wines while she spewed wine-facts at a very impatient sommelier. I never even really travelled Vancouver. Why didn’t I hike more in North Van? Or vintage shop around Main Street. Why did I waste so much time in the bubble that is UBC?
And skiing. I have a Whistler pass and barely got up to the mountain. I kept saying “next weekend, next weekend, next weekend”, but there are no more next weekends. I just shipped home all my ski stuff and I’ll be skiing the tiny hills that are Snow Valley, Moonstone and Blue Mountain. Never heard of them? Exactly. I’m going to take my beautiful Rossignols and drag them over man-made snow in Ontario and the icicle that is Quebec-skiing. When is the next time I’m going to sit on top of 7th Heaven, on a clear day, and just watch? Watch the mountains. You can see the whole world from up there. On a nice day, the world just stretches on for miles, mountain after mountain until the horizon curves out of sight.
I should have just told people how I felt. I kept waiting for the next party, the next night out to try and make a move but I never did. I spent, no, I wasted so much time trying to read into signals and figure out what people were thinking and now I’ll never know. I’ll never get answers, and I have questions. Why did we stop talking? What did it mean when you wanted to hear me play? Did you know that you hurt me when you did it? And even if I got the answers now, it would never be a satisfying ending. It’s not like I could see them and talk things through, it would be dm’s and unread messages and missed phone calls. I just should’ve shot my shot. But it’s so easy to talk a big talk and so hard to execute. (Y’all, if boys read my blog their heads are fucking REELING trying to figure out who those questions are about. Are they all for one person? Are the for different people? YOU WILL NEVER KNOW MWAH-HA-HA.)
I should have seen my friends more. Yes, my close friends, but also all the people I meant to grab coffee with and catch up with. Girls in my sorority, people from work, people from class. I should have seen them more. Made them more of a priority in my life. Yes, school is important, but I should have made more time in my life for people.
I should have done more stupid shit. I did a lot of stupid shit, but I should have done more. I should have just lived. Just done things for fun. Jumped in the fountain at UBC, danced like a maniac at bars, laughed until I peed myself, drank until I said, “I’m never drinking again”, done it all again the next Wednesday, and kissed the wrong boys (kissed the right boys?). I shouldn’t have thought so much about what other people thought about me. Because, honestly, I’m never going to see so many of those people ever again. I should have just lived more of life.
And I think about that last day, the last normal day, before all this started. It was my last day of university, which of course I didn’t know, but I would have done it differently. I would’ve hugged my friends when I saw them; I don’t know when I’m going to get to hug them again, or even see them in person. I should have invited more people to come to my show that night. I kept saying I’d invite everyone I knew to one of my shows, but I kept chickening out or worrying that people would say, “no” or wouldn’t come. But it was one of my best shows, and I wanted people to see it. I should’ve closed the bar down with my sister and drank with her friends and flirted with the hot bartender (holy shite what a fine-looking man). We should have gone home and got UberEats until we literally couldn’t fit anything else in our tummies. I should’ve but I didn’t because I kept saying “next time”.
This virus has taught me something. That life in its current state is fragile. I’m not saying, “live like there’s no tomorrow” and go try meth and cheat on your significant other and quit your job. There very much is a tomorrow. I’m just saying you don’t know what that tomorrow will look like. Nobody can predict the future, and if you think you can predict the future, well…we’re just not going to open that particular bag of cats.
I guess what I’m saying is I’m going to take this as a reminder to live with intention. To stop putting things off and just take advantage of more opportunities. To just live. Yes, it such a simple message, but it’s so hard to execute. And I’m sure I will have to learn and relearn this lesson many times over my life. But I’m going to do my best to live it, and hopefully I won’t need another pandemic to remind me.
From me, with love, to you,
If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been writing this post since October 2019. So, it’s gone through quite a few iterations. But after about 3,000 drafts, I’ve finally concluded how I want to tell this story.
A couple disclaimers: I understand everyone has different experiences being in a sorority, but as with most things on this blog, this is just my opinion. Also, this is not going to be about my experiences with fraternities. Fraternities are icky, their floors are covered in old beer and empty vape pods. For the remainder of this post, we’re talking about my sister-folk.
I’m writing this in hope of answering a few questions:
And in answering all these questions, this is going to be a long one. So, strap in:
I joined a sorority in my first year of university. Right out the gate. My biological older sister was in a sorority and she wanted me to go through recruitment so badly. And if I’m being honest, I thought the whole thing was a pretty stupid. I had this picture of Sydney White, House Bunny, white girls in tennis skirts and polo shirts which didn’t really seem to fit the life I wanted in university. But I love my big sister and I thought going through recruitment would put her at ease.
Even though I caved to my sister’s wishes and signed up, I was still more than hesitant to join a sorority. However, with every passing day at UBC it seemed like a better idea. UBC is big and I was feeling lonely. The girls I had met through my sister seemed a-okay, and I was having some extreme difficulties meeting people on my own. So, I drank the Kool-Aid and joined a sorority.
During my time in recruitment, I was this timid 17-year-old with self-esteem and confidence issues. I hated everyone but I hated myself more. I was depressed and anxious and had convinced myself I had made all the wrong choices in my life up until that point. But I sat in what would be my chapter room and looked around at women who were leaders in their community. They were confident and gave life their all and had no shame in who they were. I looked around the room and I wanted to be them. And looking back, that’s why I joined a sorority. I didn’t like who I was, and I wanted to be something more.
But why did I stay? We’ll get into that more later, but a lot of people join and drop. And there are a multitude of reasons to leave (as there are a multitude of reasons to stay): it’s expensive, it’s a time commitment, they just don’t feel like it, they dropped out of school. But I stuck with it. For four years I attended chapter meetings every week and put my best foot forward to be a part of this organisation. I will admit, part of it was self-competitive-ness and I didn’t want to feel like I was giving up. But also, a lot of me wanted to stick with it. I had made a promise, I had committed myself to these women come hell or high water and I intended to see that promise through.
2. What did I love?
I loved the leadership opportunities. At 19 years old I raised nearly $30,000 for my sorority’s charity as the philanthropy chair. I was given the chance to create my own fundraiser; people will continue to run it year after year and I can look back and say, “that was me”. I was able to go to international leadership conferences and speak to women making serious impacts in their respective communities. I was learning to delegate and manage a team. I learned to live in a democracy and navigate the challenges of working with personalities different from my own. I learned to connect based on values and ideals. I learned from those women and I can only hope at least one of them learned anything from me.
I loved ritual. I can’t tell you what we did or why we did it (shhhhhhh, it’s a secret). But I loved knowing that I share these secrets with tens of thousands of women around the world.
I loved the structure it provided my life. For my first year of university, being in a sorority got me out of the house and gave me things to do with my day. Mandatory events and chapter meetings and social gatherings all seemed frustrating at times, but they kept me sane. My sorority kept me connected to the real world when everything else was a blur.
And all in all, I loved the women. They are badass. I got to cheer them on as they ran marathons, started their own businesses, and applied for med school. I got to see people grow and change over the course of my sorority experience. Yes, we butted heads and not everything was rainbows and unicorns, but I love those women.
3. What leaves…room for improvement?
As I said, not all rainbows and unicorns.
Being in a sorority made me want to pull my hair out sometimes. There were days where I woke up and thought “Holy fuck, I can’t deal with this.” I mean, stick a bunch of girls in a room and we are bound to create drama, you’ve seen Mean Girls, right?
There was no burn book, no Gossip Girl website, no pillaging through the village and making people wear red “A’s” on their chest, but 20-year-old girls can definitely stir shit if you ask them to. About what you ask? Anything. About semi, about t-shirts, about parties, about something that really (if I’m being honest) didn’t matter. But it’s hard to see that when you’re in the thick of it. During my time I got upset about stupid things and when I look back, I think, “You dumb bitch, why did you lose sleep over a [insert inane topic here]?”
But you do, because at times being in a sorority was all-consuming. Your social life, your leadership activities, your academics can all get tangled up into Greek-life in the blink of an eye and sometimes it was too much.
The last thing I want to say on room for improvement is managing expectations. I joined my sorority and expected this instant feeling of “home”, an unrivaled connection among women sharing the same values. But that was so unrealistic, I was meeting strangers. There is no way we could immediately be best friends. Although I went on to make close friends in my sorority, it took me a really long time to feel comfortable. And still, as a senior there were times I felt out of touch with the girls in my sorority, I just learned to manage it better with time as I had such a strong network outside of the sorority as well.
4. Would I do it again?
Fuck. Yes. Did I want to pull my hair out? Uh-huh. Would I do it again? Yep.
I said earlier that I joined my sorority because I wanted to be something more. And I am now. I cannot give full credit to being in a sorority, but I would be daft to ignore the role they played. I don’t shit daisies made up of my sorority colours, and I don’t wake up going “Holy gee, my sorority sisters and the sun and the moon”. But I’m happy. I’ve met girls that will love me to the ends of the earth, and they’ve proved that time and time again. They come to my shows and talk to me when I have panic attacks and love me even when I’m a goddamn nightmare. Some of them proofread this post.
I became confident. I was constantly in a room full of 100 women with 100 different personalities and a million things to say. So, I needed to know how to be confident in myself to match the caliber of women I was with. It wasn’t sink or swim, but if I wanted someone to hear me, it was on me to make sure I was being heard.
I met bookers and photographers and musicians through being in a sorority. The reason I have this website is because I am a sorority girl. I have my career solely because of being in a sorority and I will never be able to repay that debt.
And yes, it was frustrating and yes, it wasn’t perfect, and yes there are days where I woke and couldn’t remember why I was supposed to love the organisation I was committed too. But isn’t that the way life goes? Nothing is only good or only bad. And all in all, being in a sorority was far more amazing than it was anything else. If I had to go back…actually if I got to go back, I don’t think I would change anything because it all made me who I am, and I’m a damn treat.
There are some words of wisdom I would like to leave behind for people in sororities or people who are looking back on their experience. Firstly, there will be times where being in a sorority will take more than it gives. I felt that in my last year, but you need to remember to feed the organisation that fed you, otherwise it can’t go on to support anyone else. Secondly, please, please, remember to be kind to one another. People have this preconceived notion that you need to be best friends with all 100 women in your sorority, that’s a lie. You can’t have 100 best friends, nobody has that social capacity. But be kind. Just ask how her day is going. Reach out. Tell her a funny story. Just be kind. And finally, buy at least one size up in recruitment t-shirts. At least.
And in spite of all this, I still know that being in a sorority is not for everyone. Frankly, I’m not even sure I’m a fan of the Greek System in spite of being a fan of sororities. I just wouldn’t be so quick to shit on the idea of sororities. I almost did but thank goodness I had an older sister who dragged me into recruitment. So, if you don’t have an older sister, the thing I would say to you is to go through recruitment and try it. Have an open mind and just see what happens. If you hate it, then you know, and you will probably meet people in recruitment who also hate it and then you have a new friend and a funny story. And if you love it, maybe in four years you’ll be telling your friend about how that crazy girl from that tiny blog got you to make a really amazing decision.
From me, with love, to you,
So as many of you know, coronavirus (I only read that word in Cardi B’s voice now and I am both grateful and upset that video exists) has swept across the world like the wind from hell and everyone is inside right now. All. The. Time. I understand that these are stressful times. Everyone is dealing with the financial, social and health-related impacts of the virus differently. I’m just going to take a moment to let you know what’s rattling around in my head.
I lived with one roommate from the States who moved out very quickly after things began to escalate, for fear of not being able to return home when the borders closed. It was an accurate assumption, however it left me in my apartment alone. Yes, my dad’s head is somewhere exploding because he’s thinking “If you tell them you’re alone, someone will come murder you.” No stupid, because to murder me, you would probably need to get within 2 metres, and that isn’t proper social distancing.
So, something you should probably know about me, is that I’m pretty good on my own. As a child, my parents always joked about the juxtaposition between my sisters and myself. While they thrive in the company of others, I definitely need my alone time to unwind. So, over the first three days things were going just dandy. Quarantine was a new thing. I had Netflix, books, puzzles, homework, and music to keep me company.
However, things came to a bit of a head on my 4th day alone (7th day in quarantine). As many people have, I got life ripped out from under me when quarantine began. Classes went online, social events got cancelled, everything I had been planning for months was gone. Erased. I was supposed to visit my sister in Toronto (nope). I had a formal for my sorority coming up (nu-uh). I had lunch plans, girls’ nights out, study dates and date-dates all lined up in my life (no, not happening, cancelled, and no sir-ee).
At first, I was mad. I made that pretty clear from the get-go. I was angry that I had put all this work in, but quickly I started to realise everyone else was in the shitter as well. My friend’s sister probably won’t get to go to prom. My Oma is in an old folks’ home in which she’s no longer allowed to leave her room. My situation is pretty trash, but everyone’s situation is trash.
So, I started to settle and it just kind of became a mundane annoyance in the back of my head.
It also felt surreal. Everyday felt like I was living in a dream. Have you ever had a dream where you realise something is off? Like you’re sitting in your apartment and a purple rhinoceros comes out of your bathroom and asks to borrow your shaving cream and you go, “Fuck, that’s weird”, but then you wake up. And once you wake up you realise how weird the dream actually was; how did you not realise it was a dream? Like your apartment was in black in white, or you had goat legs, or you were on your couch with your boyfriend Shawn Mendes (a girl can dream)? Life felt – and still feels – like that dream. I keep looking up expecting to see my purple rhinoceros and I wake up to the panic of realising I’m late to my PSYC305 class. But I don’t wake up because this is the real world now.
Anyways, so it was my 4th day alone when everything hit me. My sorority has this tradition to wish off the graduating class. It’s super cute and people write us letters. Anyways, for years I had been imagining how I would get my letters, what it would be like to be with my graduating friends and reading them in chapter meeting. Although, as I read my letters, alone, on the floor of my apartment I finally realised something.
This is it.
This is how I end four years of school. How I end my time in a sorority. How I end my music career in Vancouver. How I end living in the same city as my big sister, as my friends. How I end all my relationships, all my memories, all my time in Vancouver. Alone in my apartment.
And I started to cry.
At first, they were kind of quiet tears. And then they weren’t. They were big, ugly sobs. Because I had worked so hard to get here. I had a real “underdog” story of almost dropping out of school, overcoming mental health, getting my grades up, making friends, pursuing my career as a musician. And all of that boiled down to the next three weeks alone on my living room floor.
And yes, I like my time alone, but it’s starting to take its toll. It’s starting to wear me down and cabin fever is setting in, although I’ll take that over COVID-19 fever any day. And I’m losing motivation and I’m finding it harder to do things I love. Because not only am I alone all the time, but I have nothing to look forward to. My mental health is predicated on the fact that I have a life that I love but if I’m being honest, I don’t love this life right now. I don’t love having to leave Vancouver before I’m ready. I don’t love that I haven’t had a handshake let alone a hug in over two weeks. I don’t love that sometimes I just start crying in the middle of the day and I don’t know why.
I’m trying really hard not to come across as conceited or self-centred. But it has taken all my effort over the last couple years to get to a place in my life where I run my mental health more than my mental health runs me. But I can feel the pieces start to fall out of place and I’m wondering how much longer I can hold the picture in focus. And how long it will take me to get everything back in place if I slip.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start walking around hugging people, because I understand this is for the greater good. I get that this isn’t about me. And I’m staying home for the same reasons you are. For the healthcare workers like my mama, and my cousin in New York. For my Oma. For people that are immune compromised. For the hundreds of thousands of people that are still out there everyday even though we all get the luxury of keeping ourselves safe. I’m staying inside because I’m not selfish. But I’m sad, and I’m allowed to be sad.
I don’t think there is a solution to this. But I wanted to get some stuff off my chest and for some reason was the best way I know how, because maybe someone else is looking at their computer and thinking “This sucks”. Which it does. And if you’re doing that, and you’re reading this, don’t worry. I’m on your side.
From me, with love, to you,
So, like I’ve been saying on social media I wrote this song forever ago. But as I’ve been doing with all my songs, we’re going to break down what got me to write it.
Rainy days and Thursdays are meant for your room
When you break up with someone, it is wildly overwhelming. I wrote this song a month or two after my first break up. But it wasn’t the first song I wrote about that break-up. I wrote probably a dozen songs about the same situation; about our relationship, about how I felt wronged, about how I was heart broken. But every song seemed empty, and none of them made me feel any better. They were just fractions of how I was feeling, and they left so much unsaid.
I wanted to write the song. I wanted to write everything down, get everything out and walk away.
Now we both know, that I loved you more
There were a couple goals I had when I was writing this song. I wanted to tell everything, from beginning to end. I didn’t want to feel the need to write anymore. I was so tired about writing sad love songs. I was beginning to feel like Taylor Swift. And I didn’t want it to be angry. Because our relationship wasn’t angry (our breakup was a little fiery though). I wanted a song about the relationship. In hindsight, I think I was trying to explain to myself why I was so upset. Why had I let him hurt me? Why did it matter so much? He kind of had to, at the time I loved him and that was going to shape me.
The song also preserved all my memories. I think there are parts of our relationship I would have forgotten if hadn’t written this song. I think I would’ve forgotten the naps on my couch that made me feel safe and the endless card games (even when I was too tired to play so he would play with my little sister). I was so blinded by how mad I was about the breakup, I wanted to remember that it was actually an amazing relationship.
All of my life contains pieces of you
The memories I have turn me black, turn me blue
I sat on this song for so long because it’s really personal. Both emotionally and literally. I didn’t know if people would be able to relate to it. But I started playing it at shows and I think as much as people weren’t relating to “strawberry kisses” and “betting on the world” they were relating to this idea of having to untangle your life after a breakup. And I was.
I wanted a song that embodied the feeling of loss. All my memories from those 2 years related back to this one person who was such a centralised point in my life. And that’s what I’m happy people are relating to. The idea that memories that once brought you joy can become painful. That feeling of needing to move on even when it seems impossible. I’m sharing this song not as a hail Mary pass at my ex but as a hope that some broken-hearted person will listen to it and go “yup. That’s how I feel.”
When I start to slip, I still count to ten
To say the least, my ex and I are on bad terms. But this song reminds me that when we were together, it was pretty great. Was it perfect? That’s a dumb question, if it was perfect, he wouldn’t be my “ex”. I took a lot out of the relationship and I think that at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. You can only ask to grow from your situations. Nothing more, nothing less.
I love this song because it did exactly what I wanted. I wasn’t a-okay after the breakup for a really long time. But this helped get me there. This was the last song I wrote about him. I got it all down. I’ve thought a ton about writing about the breakup. Writing the nitty-gritty. But I think that anger is something I’m going to keep to myself.
I can’t write more songs for the boy, who won’t love me too
The video of "The Boy" is up on YouTube now! Please go watch it and I appreciate all your feedback! Thank you guys! Keep safe!
From me, with love, to you,
Yep, we’re beating a dead horse.
I know everyone has “COVID-19 info” coming out their yin-yang right now. Economically, politically, socially, it’s all anyone talks about. Meme pages are filled with toilet paper jokes, food bloggers are talking about how to stock your pantry and every “location tag” on Instagram says “quarantine”. But in light of all this, we all need to keep moving forward. The world will keep moving and you can’t sit around waiting for the day we all get to resume normal activity to pick your life back up. If I’m being honest, knowing the toll this is taking on the world (even just financially) it’s going to be a while until the world is 100% normal again.
So, in hopes of moving forward and not staying stagnant, let’s talk about school.
Trust me I am the last person who wants to talk about school right now. All I want to do is nap and watch Netflix and drink a glass of white wine while I blast music in my kitchen. But I’ve made it nearly 4 years at UBC and I’m not going to let this virus derail my degree. I’m better than that.
But with the lack of structure and frankly no idea what the future is about to look like, it’s hard to stay motivated. I woke up at 10:30am today, ate breakfast and went back to bed. I’m not the poster child for good study habits right now. But I’m setting a plan in place to try to get things back on track and I’m sharing it with you in hopes of getting 1 person on board.
(1) Study when you’re supposed to be in class:
A lot of lectures are now pre-recorded videos or video calls so make sure you’re still treating class time like it’s class time. Whether that’s taking notes on slide decks or listening to videos or checking in with professors, keep “going” to school. It’s going to be easy to get behind right now, so staying on top of lectures will make sure you’re not cramming when finals come.
Also, if you set aside regular-school time, then you’re going to add some structure back into your day. It will keep some normalcy. If you want, set up Skype or Facetime with a group of your friends and go through the lectures together so you don’t feel so isolated.
(2) Maintain a regular sleep schedule:
It’s really easy to start staying up until 3 am and waking up at noon, but a lot of your final exams are still going to take place at their scheduled times. If you have an online exam at 8:30am, you don’t want to get stuck taking it in your “middle of the night”. And if you spend the next three or so weeks pushing your sleep schedule, when finals roll around, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty righting everything. Plus, eventually the world will return to normal, and it’s not totally sufficient to be a nocturnal human. I know it’s tempting but try to sleep at normal times.
(3) Take steps, not leaps:
All of my profs uploaded all of their content for the rest of the year at once, and I almost shat myself. My first thought was “How the fuck am I supposed to learn this all on my own?”. But the thing is, it doesn’t really matter how I do it, I have to do it. So I downloaded all the lecture slides, videos and notes into one file called “Quarantine Files” and as I work my way through them, I delete them. Yes, I will likely have to redownload when I start studying for finals, but I’m treating it like a to-do list. Everyday I’m trying to cross 2-3 slide decks off my list, and honestly, it’s feeling more manageable.
This also means just making a genuine to-do list. Write it down on your phone, on a piece of paper, on your arm. My personal favourite is on sticky notes, because you can rip them down and crumple them up, which is super satisfying.
(4) Face reality:
This is it people. This is how I’m going to spend the end of my university degree. I haven’t cried yet, but I’m damn sure I will. And yes, my last post was angry, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that this is the way life is. It’s not fair, it’s not always fun, and in order to protect other people and myself this is way things are going to go.
I’m finally doing well in school and I’m not letting this change of pace affect that. I have 5.5 weeks left in my undergrad and I’m finishing it. I know that UBC is not going to hold my hand to the end of this (because they’ve never held anyone’s hand before), so I better make sure I have my own ass covered.
So that’s all I have for you, it’s no stroke of genius but it’s something:
I’m sure most of you have figured this out on your own. You’re pretty smart. But I also know someone out there is drinking vodka on a Sunday morning like it’s a Friday night, with stacks of toilet paper around them, talking to themselves like it’s the end of the world. And to that person all I have to say is get your shit together.
From me, with love, to you,
I really want to get something off my chest.
But before I do that, I want to recognise all the people that COVID has and is affecting. I know this is a serious virus; that needs to be addressed. I’m not going to be ignorant and say that it isn’t a big deal. Now, do I suggest we all start drinking bleach and prepare for the end of the world? No. This isn’t the apocalypse, this isn’t Ragnarök and we have yet to meet the four horsemen. Anyways, here we go:
I’m mad at COVID. And I know the virus isn’t a self-aware entity and that being mad is a futile thing, but I’m mad and I think I’m entitled to be mad. I’m mad that I’m at home instead of outside during Vancouver’s arguably nicest season of the year. I’m mad that I’m missing my last cherry blossom season in Vancouver. That it’s sunny out and I’m sitting inside because it’s the responsible thing to do.
It fucking tanks that school is online. There is a reason I have gone 8 semesters in university without taking an online class: I’m awful at online classes, I learn in person, by talking to people and studying with people. My finals seasons consistently involve 10-12hr stints with my friends, where we actually discuss and debate course content (among other things), and that’s what solidifies it in my brain. Not rote memorization. But how am I supposed to study with my friends when I’m supposed to be social distancing and staying 6ft away from other humans?
Plus, learning all my course content in the first place is going to be a nightmare. I don’t do well sitting on my computer and clicking through slide decks or listening to pre-recorded videos. I want to be in a lecture hall. I want to listen to the cheesy jokes my profs make about personality disorders and drug administration because I remember those things. I’ve been fine tuning and refining my study technique and I’m finally doing well in school but on my last set of finals I have to flip everything upside down. UBC is trying to pretend that it’s equal but it’s not. There is no way that this finals season will be equivalent to a real end-of-term and pretending it is seems kind of silly. I mean, I made it this far. Can’t I just get my degree and call it a day?
I’m angry that this is the way that I end my degree. Fourth year is supposed to be fun. I had so many events lined up, I was supposed to go to Ontario to party with my cousin and see my younger sister. I had my formal, skiing with my parents at Whistler, and end of year parties. My friends and I had plans to go out on the weekends and have movie nights but now everything squashed under the fear of contracting COVID. We had even thrown around the idea of a girls’ weekend in the States, but that’s obviously not happening anymore. I’m not going out and being 21 and making dumb decisions. I’m not making stories and kissing boys and playing shows and getting to live my last two and a half months in Vancouver. I’m sitting in my apartment and finding ways to fill my time. I’m already tired of watching Netflix. It has been 36 hrs of self-quarantine and I’m bored. How the fuck am I supposed to make it to the end of this?
And I’m tired of talking about this virus. It’s all anyone talks about. The entire world has come to a halt, there isn’t anything else to talk about. No celebrity scandals, sports teams, political issues. Everything has been wiped away from everyone’s minds and everything it COVID, COVID, COVID. Remember when we were all talking about impeachment or climate change or Meghan Markle getting booted from the royal family? Nobody is talking about TV shows or new songs or which celebrity had a nip slip. I would kill for 20 minutes of regular conversation. 20 minutes of COVID-free conversation. I don’t want to talk about how hand sanitizer is the new flex, I want my parents to stop sending me “Best Alternative Sterilizers” and if one more person talks to me about toilet paper I will go out and catch COVID just so I can give it to them.
And yes, I’m still aware of the dangers of this virus. I am in two different high-risk populations. Immune deficient and asthmatic. If I get COVID I am fucked. But I just want regular life. I want to stress about school and boys and the fact that my foundation and concealer always seem to run out at the same time. I have six weeks left before I need to become a big kid and I’m going to spend most of that time playing water pong with my roommate as we search the black market for Lysol wipes. So yeah, I get that it’s dumb to complain about something I can’t change, but to be honest, I’m really running out of things to do.
I hope everyone is actually staying safe though <3
From me, with love, to you,
People ask me why I am the way I am. All the time, my character is question and reflected upon. I do it to myself. And the only reason I can explain the way I am is the way I grew up.
I grew up among only women. I have a very estrogen dominant family. There are 11 grandchildren on one side and 5 on the other. There are only 2 boys, one on each side. Even all my close friends are girls. I grew up in choirs and musical theatre, both of which are female dominated activities. When I got to UBC I joined a sorority, just to top it all off. It’s not to say that I have no male friends now. But my life is filled with women, and that makes me the way I am.
My life is filled with kind women. My mom is the kindest person I’ve ever met, almost to a fault. She is the kind of person who feels your emotions alongside you. She told me that no matter what she does in this life, she will be happy if she is a good mother and she lives that everyday. She puts my sisters and me above everything and asks for nothing in return. If I asked her to fly to Vancouver tomorrow, I know she would, no questions asked. She listens to every story I tell her, even if she’s heard it before. She told me once she likes listening to me talk because when I’m in a good mood I get chatty, so hearing me talk makes her smile.
My best friend is the same. I speak the world of her because she is the world to me. Every bruise I wear I know she wears too, and I can’t thank her enough for all the love she has given me and the bullshit she puts up with from me over the last 13 years. For my entire first year and half of university she put my contact on “push notifications” because I didn’t have any friends in Vancouver, so if something went wrong while I was out here, I would have her to talk to. The women in my life are kind.
My life is filled with smart women. My god, that is true. The women in my family are so intelligent it’s intimidating; I grew up amongst doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, and engineers. But not only that, all the women in my family are smart. The kids in my family major in engineering chemistry, finance, and economics. Right now, I have one cousin getting her PhD in clinical psychology (at 22 years old I might add) and another finishing up her residency to be a doctor. Part of the reason I’m getting a degree in behavioural neuroscience is because I can’t go home with a bachelor’s degree in general arts, I would get sent back to school.
My friends at UBC are wicked smart. The kind of smart that makes me feel dumb. My friends are working in labs and getting published in scientific journals, while I’m getting published on my own damn website. Without them I would not be in school right now. UBC would have given me the boot ages ago, but they hold my hand and coach me through complex topics like autoreceptors on noradrenergic neurons and the default network in the brain (which is a lot more complicated than it sounds). The women in my life are smart.
My life is filled with badass women. At 17 years old, my sister moved away to travel the world. Life gave her an opportunity and she took it. She takes more onto her plate than anyone I know and handles it with grace. She values hard work and that shows in everything she does. There is nothing in her life that is halfway and that includes being an amazing big sister. She chairs the board of a charity, was the president of a women’s leadership group and is in an incredibly competitive program at UBC and I genuinely don’t know how she pulls more than 24hrs out of a day.
Both my grandmothers were and are badass. My dad’s mom was the breadwinner in an era when that just straight up was not a thing. And my mom’s mom not only lived through WW2 and survived but got stuck in soviet Germany after the war and had to escape under the floorboards of a milk truck. There is no story I can tell to top that. No matter what I do in this life, in any life, I will never beat “I escaped soviet Germany under the floorboards of a milk truck”. My life is filled with badass women.
My life is filled with funny women. My younger sister is the funniest person I know. She is the only person to make me pee myself from laughing. But she doesn’t make humour at the expense of others; she is witty and sharp, and it shows when she makes you laugh. She is a character actor and a stand-up comic and your favourite sitcom star all in one. I smile until it hurts when I’m with her and she damn well knows it.
My friends from Toronto are hilarious. I’ve laughed in my living room in stitches with a glass of wine and a handful of cards from “What Do You Meme?” telling stories of dates gone wrong. I’ve howled at kitchen dance parties and choir jokes and Indiana Jones drinking games. My friends make me laugh when the whole world frowns. My life is filled with funny women.
And I can’t imagine my life without these role models. I grew up knowing I could be anything because the women in my life were everything. They were stars in their own rights, and they taught me to shine like they do. The women in my life shaped me into the person I am, and they continue to allow me to grow. Anytime I am kind, smart, badass or funny, know it is to the credit of the women who raised me. It takes a village to raise a child, and they are my village.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I know unabashedly I am not the target demographic for rap music. Or at least, that’s what I’m told all the time. It’s not my top genre but I definitely listen to it enough to say, “I listen to it”. I think the biggest contrast is against my own music. My music settles very comfortably into the “singer/songwriter” category, maybe you could stretch it to say “pop” or even “country” but you would have to be deaf and dumb to say that my music sounds anything like rap music (you also wouldn’t want to hear me rap, it would sound like Kidz Bop). But I think listening to rap music has changed my perspective as a songwriter. And to explain that I need to go back to the beginning.
My ex was not musically inclined. During our relationship I introduced him to artists like Elton John, Billy Joel and The Rolling Stones, artists you could consider pop culture staples. He exclusively listened to Top 40 and rap music. I, on the other hand, grew up on nearly every style of music outside of rap. I listened to classic rock, country, pop, classical music, jazz, Broadway, folk, vocal music (like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, courtesy of my mama). Moreover, as a 17-year-old from midtown Toronto I felt I couldn’t (and had no right to) identify with rap music. I had this preconceived notion that rap was about drugs and money and women. But I quickly saw rap as a far more expansive genre than I previously had believed. It spoke of mental health, family troubles and unapologetic frustration with the world.
Up until that point I had seen singer/songwriters as these beautiful poets that went so desperately underappreciated. I couldn’t understand how people didn’t see the genius woven into Hozier’s first album. I didn’t get how people listened to Passenger’s music and didn’t see the overarching allusions to fear of drowning. And Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) is a damn icon. It wasn’t until I started googling rap lyrics and going through the process of understanding them that I realised how much I was missing out on.
My ex and I broke up (obviously, it’s kind of in the title “ex”) and I kept listening to rap. I kept listening to Drake, Kendrick, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg. My sister’s friends started recommending J. Cole and Joyner Lucas. I watched Straight Outta Compton and started listening to N.W.A. because I needed to know more. Rap music kind of pulled me in for reasons that other genres couldn’t.
It was passionate and frustrated and raw in a lot of ways that other genres couldn’t be. It thrives on confrontation; it’s the only genre to “battle” and be blunt with insults. Artists release singles and fill their albums with references to each other. Not to say every track is genius (Nick Cannon, The Invitation), but artists take anger and frustration and they’re turning it into something. Rap takes emotions that can be viewed as toxic and turns them into productivity. Think about Eminem’s album Kamikaze: the only reason we got that album is because he was mad at everyone for not liking Revival. It’s not to say that other genres don’t try to “battle”, but they get caught up in catchy hooks and melodrama with really poorly written digs (I’m looking at you Bad Blood by Taylor Swift). Or even worse, they take all that anger, all that frustration and get into Twitter arguments and subtweet each other.
And sure, you can argue with me that you can get angry country songs (Before He Cheats, Carrie Underwood), angry pop songs (Don’t, Ed Sheeran), or even songs that aren’t angry but give you that riled up, “fuck this” feeling (Back in Black, AC/DC). But there is something to be said about the structure of rap that gives it an edge on being able to capture this feeling of frustration.
And that’s the second reason I love rap music. The structure of it (or lack there of). Music of the recent past really loves this verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. And not all modern music sticks to this structure, Regina Spektor loves to play with new structures. Classic rock loved to play with this structure, which is why you got pieces like Thick as a Brick (Jethro Tull) and Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meatloaf). A lot of The Beatles sounds an acid trip, because it probably is.
But rap music doesn’t like to stick to rules in content or structure. Dr. Dre’s album Compton is insane; the song Loose Cannons has a full murder scene at the end. Childish Gambino’s Me and Your Mama is 6 minutes and 19 seconds of incredible because the entire thing is different and constantly changes. There are no rules about what can be included in a track. Darkness by Eminem has news clips and FEAR. by Kendrick Lamar has a phone call from a religious group (I think that’s what it is). You’re listening to more than just the same structure regurgitated into thirteen, three-minute tracks. It’s unique and crafted to make you think about things. There are other artists who are trying to break restrictions, like James Bay using small skits in the album Electric Light or Billie Eilish using The Office clips in my strange addiction, but rap breaks the rules constantly because it’s at the heart of the genre.
So, I guess when you break it down, there are two main reasons (other than for sake of listening to music): it is raw, and it breaks the rules. But the reasons I love it are engrained into its history. Rap was created to give a voice, to be an outlet. N.W.A didn’t write Fuck Tha Police because they were happy with their current situation. Kendrick Lamar didn’t put “This is why I say hip hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism” in DNA. just for shits, but because he had something to say about the state of culture. I’m never going to fully understand why rap music is the way it is, but I can appreciate it as a musician.
I feel like listening to rap has made me a better songwriter. It makes me think more about why I’m saying the things that I’m saying, it makes me think about the structure of my songs. Do I need a chorus? Do I need to same time signature in the verse and the chorus? Can I be angry, or do I have to hide behind metaphors and analogies to explain how I’m feeling? Don’t worry, you will never see me get anywhere close to trying to mix singer/songwriter music with rap (I’m not Ed Sheeran), and I’m not going to try to do a white-girl cover of HUMBLE. However, listening to rap gets me out of my bubble. Yeah, I still listen to primarily Hozier, Elton John, The Lumineers and KALEO, but Compton is on my “On Repeat” playlist on Spotify.
And I don’t know if you guys will find this interesting. I’m a huge music dork so I could talk about chord progressions and song structures until my throat is sore. But I’m hoping since I find it interesting enough to write about, someone finds it interesting enough to read about.
From me, with love, to you,
P.S. Thank you so much to Danni Olusanya for her help and insight into creating this piece
So it's been a long time since we did a good ol' fashioned update, so let's get her going:
I'm not going to go back too far because y'all don't need to know everything. So let's keep it simple.
Right now I'm in Toronto and it's been giving me mixed emotions all around. Even though I'm only here for the week, it's starting to hit me that my time in Vancouver is counting down real quick. I'm coming back to Toronto in May for the long term ("permanently" feels too finite) and as much as I am excited to be back with the baby sis and my parents, it's still scary. Plus there is something to be said about the loss of freedom in coming back home. I mean, it's not like I'm a raging party animal, but there are definitely some habits I might want to kick before I move back in to my childhood bedroom. Also, the last time I updated my room I was about fifteen, and needless to say it's not 2014 anymore, so she needs a bit of a remodel. I mean, painting my room has to be more productive than doing the standard girl-freak-out and getting bangs, right?
I'm about to get rocket-launched into the second half of this semester. Finals schedules are out at UBC and mine looks like the goddamn Nightmare on Elm Street. I thought UBC would give me a break considering it's my last semester and they've robbed me blind for the last four years, but nah, they decided to go out with a bang. @UBC, when I write my biography, do you want to to put the "fuck you" in all caps or lowercase? I have midterms coming out my yin yang and I'm just nearly keeping my head above the water. I know I said once that university is like having a "shirt pocket", but sometimes it's like getting kicked in the head, karate-kid-style.
Hmmmmmmmmm, what else? You can always assume the obvious:
-Still writing music
-Still playing shows (follow @victoria_staff for the updates)
-Still eat cookie dough for breakfast
All the healthy, normal things a 21-year-old girl should be doing. If you don't stir the pot a bit every once in a while, things get boring don't they?
Other than that, life is pretty static. I have some bigger-ish projects on my mind and coming up over the next little bit. But I'm not entirely ready to spill all the beans quite yet. All I can see is I plan on finishing school at the end of April and I'm not only hitting the ground running, I'm hitting the ground at a fucking sprint.
And I close this segment with a Netflix recommendation: Love is Blind
I never got into the Bachelor/Bachelorette and Love Island is too much content for a binge-watcher like me to healthily be exposed to. Love is Blind is a Netflix series in which people get engaged without ever seeing each other. Then they go on vacation, move in together and get married over the span of like 4 weeks. It is chaotic, it is a recipe for disaster, and it is my new favourite show. If you need something to take your mind off idk, wildfires, floods, viruses, government scandals and (if you're Canadian) protests, this is the medicine to heal that wound.
I know this isn't my usual dive into one topic, but I thought I would give you a small catch-up on what's going on in my life. If you want to see me live, I'll be at Blarney Stone on March 12th and I can't wait to see some new and familiar faces.
From me, with love, to you,
What's going on?
Here's a place where I'll try to keep you updated on what's going on in my life and with my music to keep you connected.