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,
Hello love birds,
So. It’s that special time of year again, where couples dole out extra doses of PDA, singles take it as an excuse to eat too much chocolate, and people who are in casual relationships get really uncomfortable. Last year I talked a lot about the worst relationship advice I’ve ever gotten, which you can read right here:
But this year I'm going to talk about the love of my life.
I love my job more than anything in the entire world. And I understand that my music career is a blip in the microcosm that is your life in a greater social hemisphere in this crazy world. But for me it is literally everything. There is no microcosm, no social hemisphere, no crazy world scenario because my crazy world is my music career.
My life has come to revolve around this tiny blip and I’m watching it grow (slowly yes, but it’s growing). On January 1st of 2018 I had 667 followers on Instagram, on January 1st of this year I had 2949, and that number is changing still. And let me describe to you why all of this is so magical to me.
I spent my entire life knowing I wanted to be in music. To write music, to sing music, to just get my hands on an instrument. When I was really little, I told my dad I was going to be on American Idol (give me some credit, it was the early 2000’s and American Idol was still a big deal). I wrote so many crappy songs as a kid. I remember my parents got me this album from Melissa O’Neil (she won the 3rd season of Canadian Idol in 2005) and I pulled out the album artwork and look at it, and that was the first time I realised that pop songs are structured into verses and choruses. It was revolutionary to my tiny 6-year-old brain.
My older sister told me a couple weeks ago that she remembers me writing music at our old house when we were little. We had this monster of an old IBM computer that sat in our basement, and my mom would open up Microsoft Word and I would type songs out one letter at a time and if anyone came into the basement I would scream bloody murder and cover up the screen with my tiny, child hands.
I remember the first time I took my crappy songs and printed them out and brought them up into my parents’ room and made my mom listen as I sang a capella songs that had no meaning (my mom is a saint). I printed out pages of meaningless lyrics and sang out of tune songs over and over again until she told me it was time for bed.
My older sister has this crappy Yamaha guitar that my parents bought her at Costco. I still play it at the cottage sometimes. It was collecting dust under her bed, so after school when I got home before my sister, I would sneak into her room and steal the guitar. I taught myself using YouTube videos and chord charts online. I was 11 years old. And I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I learned to play the guitar because I wanted to surprise them. I wanted it to be my secret until I had something concrete to show them. I learned to play guitar specifically so I could write music. I had a sole motivation to learn that instrument, I wanted to be able to bring it around with me and play music that I wrote rather than having to sing a capella in my mom’s bedroom. That year I played so much guitar that when I went to piano lessons my teacher complained she could hear my fingers clicking on the keys because the callouses on my fingers were so thick.
I pulled the guitar downstairs one evening and made my entire family sit in the living room and I played them the first song I ever wrote on an instrument. It was called “One More Time” and it sucked, but it ended with this line that said “If our time is a candle, then the wick is a stump in the wax” and I kind of still love that line. Maybe I’ll use it again one day and you’ll all know where it came from.
When I was 13, I wrote my first good song. I played it for my two sisters at our kitchen table and when I finished my younger sister looked at me and said, “that one isn’t bad actually”. That song was 100 or Less.
The first YouTube video I ever posted was (oh this is embarrassing) A CUP SONG MASH-UP, the most 2013 phrase ever. I have since put the video on “private” because I think I would vomit if anyone ever saw it. But you need to understand that it took me nearly 4 months to convince my dad to let me post it on YouTube because he thinks social media is a recipe for disaster. (It is, he’s right, but I wanted more than anything to be online)
At 15 I spent July at a summer camp. I brought the Yamaha guitar up with me and played songs on the porch during “rest hour” while everyone else slept. I played slow and quiet covers of Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson while girls read in bunkbeds. I wrote Home that summer. At the end of July, I got in front of the camp to play it. It was maybe 150 people and I was so nervous I was shaking. I used to be afraid of jitters, but now I like them They’re kind of exciting, like butterflies before a first date.
The funny part is I still keep all my old lyrics. I have folders and notebooks and scrap papers all over my room. I keep notes on my phone and sticky notes and write in the margins of agendas. Because I’ve used lyrics I wrote when I was little and recycled them. If you’ve ever heard me play live, there’s a chorus you may have heard:
If this bus breaks down between where I am and you, I will find a way to walk…
And I wrote that the summer I was 15, the summer I wrote Home. I just didn’t know what the rest of the song would be yet.
And why this long-winded back story? Because I know for some people it feels like this whole music thing is some winging-it project, but it’s not. For me this has been not only a dream, but a work in progress since 6-year-old me figured out what a chorus is. It has been 15 years of writing music and piano lessons and musical theatre camp and choir competitions and vocal coaching and I can’t describe to you what even this little bit of movement means to me.
And here’s where we get REAL cheesy, so get out your nachos.
When I write music, everything makes sense. It feels like all my thoughts come in the wrong order; the beginning comes at the end, the middle comes at the beginning, and the end sometimes shows up in a different story. But when I write music, I get to clear all the space and place the thoughts one by one in the right order.
And if you’ve listened to me talk in person you probably get that because 99% of the time what I say is a tangent or out of place or from an earlier conversation. But when I write everything settles, and all the dust clears, and I can actually put words in the correct order and make something out of them.
So, I know I’ve said it before, but I again want to say thank you. Because I get to be in love everyday with this little blip. I just can’t wait to see it grow. Happy Valentine's Day.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
This one is again about boys, relationships, etc. I apologise if you’re getting tired of it, but it’s kind of the only life experience I have and the only thing I’m qualified to talk about. I did, however, try to incorporate as much "sports" into this post as possible.
In my personal opinion, there are only a handful of ways to really go out and find a partner. We’ve discussed dating apps at great length on this website and if you haven’t read that it’s right here:
But I’m going to talk about the other two primary ways I have met boys. (You might be meeting girls, or idk sasquatches, your sexual orientation is really none of my business, as long as it’s not kids or dogs, you do you.) The short game and the long game.
The short game: This comes up most often at bars. You see someone, you make flirty eyes, you usually dance and you hook up with that person at the bar or you take them home with you. It’s not specific to bars, I guess you could do it in broad daylight…but often a certain amount of intoxication is required to get someone to make the play right at the buzzer.
The long game: You meet someone in your life (usually in a sober environment), such as through work, through class, through a friend, through some hobby you share like underwater basket weaving. And slowly your relationship with this individual becomes more and more intimate until, BAM! It’s intimate.
**Please note: the long game doesn’t mean the relationship is long, but it’s a long warm up before you actually get to play. Moreover, the short game doesn’t mean the relationship is short, the warm up is short.**
And like most things in life, you can’t be good at everything. Most people have one strong game, because they’re very different sporting events. Usain Bolt doesn’t also dominate at running marathons. Some people are above average at both, but you don’t often win gold in both the short game and the long game.
Which one do I play? Long game. Because a) I don’t trust strangers and b) I’m garbage at the short game. I’m six feet tall, I dance like I just learned to walk and I’m a consistent user of Irish exit at bars. I play a garbage short game. Plus, every time I attempt to play the short game I end up with some horrendous story, like the time I got propositioned with sex to write a song (that has to be a weird musical prostitution, right? Don't worry I didn't do it).
So, I play the long game. I’m not amazing at it. It’s worked a handful of time, and that’s kind of in the rule book though. You can only play the long game a handful of times in your lifetime because it’s long. Plus, you can’t hook up with all of your friends, it makes your life too complicated.
And along those lines, I know that playing the long game gives me less hook ups than my friends who play the short game. Statistically it has to, it takes more time for me to find someone to play the game with. Plus, it fucks up my life quite a bit every time I play and it’s pretty exhausting to set up. I used to get discouraged, “why do my friends always have more successful games than me? Why am I so unattractive?” and it’s not that I’m necessarily unattractive. I’m not Gal Gadot, but I’m not Gollum either. All in all, looks doesn't even really factor into this equation. Because if you look back and read that statement, it's not that they have more success, it's just that they have more more. Are you still following? It's not that I have any less success, it's that my success is more intermittent. I mean we should be looking at batting averages, not hits overall.
But here’s where the true skill takes place. Play the game you’re good at. I’ve learned to play the long game better over time because it’s really the only game I have. If you're a kick ass in the pool, don't try hurdles. That doesn’t mean I’ll never win a short game, I mean, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s still win a game every now and then. Sometimes at a bar I throw a hail Mary pass right at the wire and score, but all in all, it’s not my strong suit.
So, my beautiful treats. If you are unhappy with your current situation. Try switching up your game. You may be more successful. Just because all your friends find the love of their life one way, doesn't mean you have to. Plus, if you pick someone up with a way that’s more compatible with your personality, they're probably going to be a better fit. I'm no relationship guru, but it’s worth a shot.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ladies. My she/her/her’s readers. Are you ever tired of being you? I am. I am all the time.
I’m tired of the little things. I’m tired of the way my bra feels when the wire digs into my sides and when I take it off at the end of the day and it has left small indents all over my shoulders and rib cage. I’m frustrated with strapless bras. They either pull all the air out of you and are reminiscent of corsets, or they fall down and are just a recipe for a nip slip. I’m tired of paying for tampons, bringing tampons around, forgetting tampons, and spending so much time thinking about tampons. Having to count days out until the next time I need a tampon. Tired of finding them everywhere when I don’t need them and finding them no where when I do. I’m done with breaking my favourite elastics and losing my favourite scrunchies. Or leaving the house and forgetting to bring hair elastics so you spend all day thinking about what you can use to tie your hair up. Or God forbid you use a real elastic band, which will never come out without using a pair of scissors and losing some hair. I’m tired of using bobby pins and losing bobby pins and getting stabbed by bobby pins. Or forgetting you had them in your hair and going to wash it, only to have to try and untangle the clump of wet hair and shampoo that is stuck in your bobby pin.
Tired of when you put on tights on and instantly put a run in them. And you just paid 10 dollars for those tights but you caught them on a toe nail and now they’re useless and you have to throw out 10 dollars because someone might actually see the texture of your skin and that’s why we wear pantyhose, isn’t it? And that’s just the little things.
And I’m tired of the medium things. I’m tired of the period cramps. The ones that wake you up at night and hurt so bad you want to vomit. The ones that make you sweat in class and clench your fists until they’re white and little crescent shape marks are left in your palms. I’ve seriously considered removing my uterus to make them stop because sometimes the cramps don’t stop. Fuck it, I’m just tired of periods. Of the ones that catch you off guard and the ones that show up a week late just to screw with you and you’re trying to do the math over and over again, while figuring out what might happen if you tell someone you’re late. What do you do? I’m tired of the label “feminist”. Because being a feminist makes me intolerable and not being a feminist makes me intolerable. Of everyone having an opinion over my opinion. Can we just make a new word? Let’s all just call ourselves, I don’t know, "sweet potato"? And "sweet potato" just means you want things to be equal because being a feminist is too hard when everyone keeps putting new labels on an old word and I can’t keep track of who I’m supposed to hate and what TV shows I can or can’t watch and which story I’m supposed to listen to. And from here on out I’m just "sweet potato".
I’m tired of being told that it’s good “for a girl” because what the hell does that mean? My skill level or intellect or determination is not something is defined by my ovaries, but by my experience and by my personality. If you want to say that I’m talented “for a beginner” or loud “for an introvert” that’s okay because those are valid reasons to be surprised, but “for a girl” is never something that should cross your lips. And that’s the medium things.
And I’m exhausted by the big things. I’m exhausted of walking on the well-lit side of the street. My feet hurt from taking the long way home, because the long way home is safer and I’m not an idiot. My hands hurt from holding my keys so tight when I walk. As if the small silver keys between my fingers will defend me because Lord knows my marshmallow-muscles are not going to be able to defend myself. I’m tired of being told, “You’re going to get the wrong kind of attention if you wear that”. Because I fucking paid for it so I’m going to wear it. Because I shouldn’t have to hide the fact that genetics gave me boobs and a waist because they did. I’m tired of the words, “slut” and “whore” and “bitch” because who has the right to label people that? I’m tired of being a prude for not going far enough and but a slut for going too far. I’m tired of trying to figure out which boys are the “good guys” and which boys are genuinely good guys. I’m fucking tired.
Because there are good guys. There are the boys who walk you home and get you Motrin for the cramps and keep tampons in their car for the periods that catch you off guard. And they get drowned out by the labelling of “good” vs. good and I've tried to figure it out on my own but I keep getting it wrong and I don't know what to do anymore.
And I don’t blame boys because I can’t. They don’t understand because they aren’t me. They can’t understand that the fear will drive you insane before the act even happens. They don’t know what it’s like to wear heels for 6 hours, or cat-called on your way home, or even worse, followed. They don’t know. So, I’m not upset that they don’t get it because how can they? And yes, maybe one day they’ll be on the wrong side of the street, but I can’t write for that experience because I’m writing for me.
And sometimes I want to scream and throw things but I’m worried that someone will call me hormonal. I want to talk about my feelings, but guys don’t do that so maybe I shouldn’t, and I want to ask for help but I can’t tell which boys are the right ones to be alone with. And writing this feels like I’m beating a dead horse because the women already know all this. The women already know about the mascara goop in you eyes and the cost of getting a wax and the feeling when nothing fits right and that moment when you’re in his apartment and you nearly stop to pray for a moment and say “please don’t let it be me tonight”. And maybe none of these things individually would break me, but they’re not individual. The small, the medium and the big things add up and crush your spine until you don’t just hurt from the cramps. And I get that we’re all moving forward, and things are getting better and yes, we all have it hard but I’m tired. I’m just tired.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
So, if you live under a social media rock and don’t know what today is, it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day. (Granted if you live under a social media rock, I’m not totally sure how you found my website.) A day to recognise those who struggle with mental health and reduce the stigma. I am very public about my struggles with mental health. My parents have always described me as an “anxious kid” and it’s possible I was always destined to battle my monsters. Nearly four years ago I was diagnosed with social anxiety, among other disorders, but I was having issues long before that
And over time I spoke with many professionals about this. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counsellors have all made appearances in my cycle of trying to find someone to help me. (I do have one consistent person I talk to now and she is an angel.)
Here’s my little disclaimer: Seek out professional help. The remainder of this post is not an excuse for you to not seek professional help if you need it. In the end, mental health professionals are the only people truly and genuinely qualified to help you manage these problems.
And yes, all those people were paid to help me. But, today, I would like to acknowledge all the people who get paid not a dime to help me and don’t waiver in their unconditional support.
I have an army of people in my life to support me. My family and friends are the true evidence that not all heroes wear capes. They take the brunt of my bad moods, panic attacks, depressive episodes, and just straight up intolerable behaviour. Today, I want to recognise them. Because as much as the mental health community suffers, and we do, the people who support us never get charities or 10K runs or fundraisers. They get a pat on the back and continue their day.
The people who truly and genuinely support those in crisis, not for professional reasons, but for love of the individual, are probably the only actual people in this world who get to make it to the pearly gates. Because it’s difficult; supporting someone can take the world out of you. Managing personal, day to day stress is exhausting, and then to tack on the struggles of someone else? Nearly impossible. But everyday these soldiers walk out into the world, bearing pains and battle scars of others
While there are the people who go to battle day in, day out with me – close friends and family members – I also want to recognise those who make small appearances and immeasurable impacts. Sometimes small gestures, small acts of kindness, can change everything. They can pull you out of your bubble and make you realise that all in all, the world is not a horrible place. The strangers who see you crying on a bus and ask if you’re okay. That not-so-close friend who honours your trust when you let them know that you’re struggling. The co-worker who picks up your shift when you can’t make it into work. All these people support the pillars of my mental health, and I bet they support yours as well.
Supporting those in crisis is mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially draining. I will spend the rest of my life trying to pay back the people who have contributed to my life and I don’t think I will ever be able to. How do you thank someone for changing your world? If you figure it out let me know. Because while I have found immeasurable strength on my own this is only to the credit of those who showed me that there was strength to be found.
So today, while we honour those who struggle with mental health, I encourage you to honour the individuals who support you. Let them know you appreciate their kindness, their ability to be strong for you in moments of weakness. Their love and care and consideration. Recognise them because they are worn too. Remember that every time you suit up to take on the world, they suit up beside you. They ride hand in hand into combat with you everyday and that is no easy feat.
So, here’s what I want to say:
Thank you. I am who I am because of you. And I would rather have nothing in this life and have you guys than have anything at all. You reminded me that losing doesn’t mean that there is no winning. You taught me to forgive myself and reminded me that I am worth my own love. Any success I have in my life I share with you. Thank you for long nights and early mornings; for bringing logic back into a world where nothing made sense. This is nowhere near the full appreciation you deserve, but it’s a start. You are incredible and please remember to take care of yourselves with the kindness that you have offered me. Thank you.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Liking someone is the worst. Like, really liking someone. You know, in that grade school way, when your friends would ask you if you like like someone? It's the worst. Having a crush is just a childish way to say unreciprocated feelings. And anyone who has ever liked anyone knows that unreciprocated feelings hurt like a bitch.
But how do you know that they're unreciprocated? In some ways you never really know. You can beat around the bush forever trying in interpret poorly communicated signals. You can dip your toes in the water over and over again trying to figure out what the other person meant. Did they mean to brush your hand? Do they see that memory as significant too? Do they miss you like you miss them? You can sit with your friends and reread text messages until you go blind trying to figure out if someone likes you, and you may never actually know the answer. You could just be two people running in circles never actually meeting.
Unless you shoot your shot. And for those of you who don't know the phrase, "to shoot your shot" is a verb and it means to just outright let someone know how you feel. To just ask someone out, tell them how you feel and pray to the good Lord that they say the same thing. I've shot my shot before. I did it with my ex, I called him while I was on vacation and just told him I was into him and if he felt the same way that was great and if not then that was okay too. I proceeded to immediately hang up the phone and leave my phone for two hours on "do not disturb". Why? Because part of me didn't want to know the answer, it was a Schrodinger's cat situation; if I put it out there and never heard the answer I couldn't receive a "no". I was quaking in my boots and I still get a little butterfly-ish thinking about it. I still get butterfly-ish if I shoot my shot today. Because what if you get shot down?
What if you build up the courage and you shoot and completely miss the target? And man, I've missed before. I've shot my shot and missed so bad. Like trying to hit a moving target, blindfolded, riding a horse. It hurts; it kind of takes the wind out of you. It's like a bad hangover, it rattles in your brain and makes your stomach turn and you keep thinking, "what if I waited? Maybe I jumped the gun and if I gave it more time they would've fallen for me?"
Being honest with you, they probably won't. And I hate saying that, because there have definitely been times in my past, my present and likely in my future where I've been waiting on a guys to realise I'm a damn treat. But they're never going to see me that way. And why do I want people who don't see me that way? I don't know. The older I get the more I think I know nothing. But if you've had enough time to develop feelings and sit on them and dwell on them and they haven't done the same thing, they probably won't. And it's not because you're wrong, it's not even because they're wrong, it's because...well I don't know. But sometimes people just don't work out.
However, back to my original point, you never really know where someone is at until you shoot your shot. And you could sit around waiting for them to shoot their's, but what good is that doing anyone? Plus, if you don't have the courage to shoot, why would they? And girls, we are the biggest culprits in this scenario. Yes, years of female suppression have led to a twisted patriarchy, and woot woot, go feminism. But we have to be honest with ourselves and recognise in this scenario, guys are really getting the short end of the stick. We always expect them to whisk us off our feet and ask us out. But if you won't do it, why do you expect them to?
But coming from someone who's done it before, trust me, it's better than waiting, because at least you know. If it's a yes you get to ride off into the sunset together and if not, it's closure. It's the closure that everyone is looking for. In the age of "ghosting" being a (somehow) acceptable form of dating etiquette, closure is more than most of us get. And sure, for a couple days you might wake up with an emotional hangover but in time I promise it will be better.
So what inspired this little rampage? The other day my friend shot her shot with a guy she's into. And I mean really shot her shot. And I was proud of her. She saw something she wanted and she went for it. She saw someone who made her feel amazing and outstanding (which she is) and she let him know. When it comes down to it that's the best thing you can do. Just do it (sponsored by Nike?).
So my goal for 2020 for all of you is to shoot your shot. Quit waiting on your feelings, go out there and take a risk. I know that's a big ask, but it's a big year. I've got some feelings I've definitely been sitting on and maybe I'll shoot my shot too. Hopefully this time I won't be trying to hit a moving target, blindfolded, riding a horse. I mean, aren't you tired of waiting around on people to tell you that you're special? You are a damn treat so go after the things you want and happy 2020.
From me, with love, to you,
I moved out west and took on the city as a child
Ladies and gentlemen,
I've talked a lot about living in Vancouver. And right now I love it; I will weep like a war widow the day I need to leave and that's for one reason and one reason alone. My program. Being in behavioural neuroscience constantly makes me feel like an idiot, I feel out of place and I am genuinely unsure how to incorporate it into a career that doesn't make me want to drink bleach. The program at UBC is really poorly designed, the content is interesting but so hard I might as well be reading it in Mandarin and half the time I'm so stressed I want to vomit.
That's when I met you, and nothing was the same
However, in spite of all the awful, being in neuroscience gave me my friends. In second year I was still struggling to be a human being and when I met a group of incredible women. I cannot describe to you how difficult I was to be friends with. I was a nutcase, I was flaky, I was not very kind. And I would love to blame this all on my anxiety, but a lot of it was on me. I knew I had mental health issues, I just simply chose to manage them in the worst ways possible.
But these women took me in. When I missed class because I was too anxious (which was a lot), they would send me notes. They studied before exams with me; they taught and retaught material until I had a vague grasp on the concept rather than just letting me walk blindly into a poor grade. They were and still are relentless in their support.
So I don't say 'thank you', cause that's not enough
But most of all, they made me feel normal. To so many people I was fragile but they never treated me that way. My bad decisions were still roasted beyond belief. They are not afraid to retell my embarrassing stories and never fail to point out my mistakes.
And I can't thank them enough. There is nothing I can do in this world to pay them back for the life they have given me. They made me feel normal when the entire world felt unfamiliar. It's more than that, they come to every show I have, they know the stories of my life inside and out, we still study for every exam together. I have spent an immeasurable number of hours with them and I truly and honestly wouldn't change that.
I will wear you on my sleeve wherever I may go
You took my worst decision and made it my home
I understand that in graduating and moving back to Toronto I run the risk of losing them. But I genuinely can't see that happening. And you can call me naive (which I might be), but I can no longer imagine not having them in my life. I truly almost dropped out of UBC many times. There were full months that I made plans to transfer schools, to move back to Toronto. But I didn't, because I was able to find a family on the other coast. Before them I referred to going back to school as "going back to school" and it wasn't until about the middle to end of second year I started referring to Vancouver as "home".
So yes, by moving back I may not see them as often as I do currently but in no way will I lose them. I created a second life in a second city and just because I leave doesn't mean I lose that part of myself. I'm bringing it with me into the next chapter of my life. It's like I said in my New Year's Eve post, I'm bringing me into 2020. And I don't think I would be the me I am right now without my friends.
All the love you gave me, here in the west
So, I have five months left in Vancouver before I need to be a big kid, and you can be sure I will use every moment of that. And for anyone who will be seeing me play, I've replaced the last song in my set list. I've been playing "Home" as my last song for as long as I can remember, and I still love the song. But I've outgrown that phase of my life. "West" is more representative of me, my life and my music. So get ready to hear it.
From me, with love, to you,
P.S. Listen to the new song below!
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel like we need to chat.
SO, over the last little bit this here public diary of mine has been getting a bit more traction. And in no way am I upset about this; I am so appreciative of all the people who have started/continue reading my posts. I remember when it was proposed I write a blog I shat all over the idea. However, with time, I've taken to it. I've always liked writing; writing stories, music, poems and, apparently, blogs. None of the stories I ever tell are fictional. I stick to the truth because that's the only way to get others to tell you the truth. And if I started bending stories in my more light-hearted posts, how would I have any credibility when I started writing about mental health or self-image or other more serious topics? I wouldn't.
However, this is all still my opinion. There are no citations, this blog is made up of personal anecdotes and the inner workings of my mind. But just because it’s my opinion, that doesn’t mean that I take it lightly. I send it to my sisters, my friends, sometimes my mom proofreads them. This post will be read by six people and rewritten four times before it makes it out to a public platform. Why? Because this blog is still part of my professional platform as a musician and I treat it as such, I never want to post something just for the sake of. I want to post something to say something. I write about mental health because I think it's important to talk about. I write about problems in my life because I want to let people know that I'm going through the same thing. I write about people because, well, everyone interacts with people?
But in light of more traction, I really should’ve seen recent events coming. Because with more with more traction, you risk offending more people. This public diary started off as only being read by my friends and family. People who hear me speak in real life. Who understand that I like to tell jokes. Who see the sentences I type and go "Oh and I know exactly how that is being phrased"; but people are now reading it who haven't heard me speak. And it make sense that they don't get that I'm making jokes because they have never actually heard me speak.
So, in hopes of clarifying old posts and future posts, we're going to break down two posts that I've been getting some…feedback… about, to make sure we're all on the same page from here on out:
Men are Trash: Okay. Boys. I feel like we just need to re-take a look at the tone of voice I used in this piece. I meant it purely and 100% in a comedic tone of voice. I don't genuinely think all men are trash, but “men can be trash” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Moreover, this post came from specific instances in my life. Reason #1 came from the story I told in the post. Reason #2 came from a conversation I had with my cousin. Reason #3 came from a boy I had been...friendly.... with early in the year. 1, 2, 3. And upon telling these stories to my friends, who were also interested in the XY chromosome individuals, I found they shared similar experiences. So I wanted to share this because I feel like maybe other people could relate.
I didn't write, post or repost this post to create a male-witch hunt. It's not the 1600's and witches aren't real. I wrote this post for my readers who were frustrated about looking for men and felt like they were constantly coming up short. I wrote this in the same way you commiserate with friends over drinks at a bar.
Men aren’t actually trash. They can be. So can women. We are all trash from day to day.
The Reason I Don't Want to Go Home For the Holidays: Also comedic, but I wrote this to let other students know that I was nervous to go home. I was nervous to tell my friends and family “I want to be a musician” because it felt like saying “I want to be a pretty princess”. Statistically, the odds are the same.
No, I don’t actually hate going home. The title was overdramatic to grab your attention (which I mentioned), and trust me, it grabbed attention. The point of it was just to identify how stressful it can be expressing overly aspirational career goals. It wasn't about the adults in my life, it was about the students.
So. I'm not going to take these posts back, because they’re my opinion. And you don’t have to agree with my opinion, because it’s mine not yours. But please remember, this isn’t a real, credible source of information, unless you want information about me. This is for fun. Read this for fun. Read this because you enjoy it, because you want to support me.
And maybe this is all my fault. I mix up my heavy and my light posts. But that's because this would be fucking depressing if I just talked about depression. If you guys want, I can start putting big notices at the top saying "sarcastic" or "serious", but that seems like a bit of a buzzkill doesn't it? I'm sorry if you got offended. But I’m beginning to learn I can’t make everyone happy. If I talked about puppies, people would be upset I’m not talking about kittens. If I talk about drinking tea, the coffee drinkers will feel left out.
Don't be offended by my opinion because I'm just a 21 year old who is using this website to vent into the open void that is the internet. But I can’t say that I’m going to stop writing, because it makes me genuinely happy. It makes me genuinely happy when people can find comfort in the things I’m saying, and they do. Or at least, they tell me that they do. I do these things because it relieves stress and life is stressful.
Growing up, my mama had one phrase in her arsenal she used over and over again:
"If it wasn't meant to be mean, don't take it that way"
And my mama is a very smart woman. Listen to my mama. This website is meant to be a fun place (maybe a little sad when I talk about anxiety...but mainly fun). So, treat it that way. But it can also be a discussion if you want. There's a comment section at the bottom of every post, so fucking go for it. I mean...I am.
So that's all I wanted to say. I'm going to return to my regular scheduled programming now.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
So it's the end of a decade and I'm unsure what to write about. I thought a lot about writing "what has changed in the last decade", however when I started jotting down ideas I realised that nothing is the same since 2010. In 2010 I was 11 and this year I'm 21, of course nothing is the same. So, moving on.
Reflecting on my last year seemed too mundane for the end of a decade, I could do that any year, I will probably do that next year. Or talk about the year ahead. But I did a poll on my Instagram and it turns out people are NOT a fan of New Year's resolutions. I even thought about "what got away from me in the last decade," but I was ELEVEN years old at the beginning of the decade, so the things that got away from me at the beginning of the decade were more like "recess" and "a long division quiz" than life experiences.
So, I was back to square one when I talked to my mama and she finally inspired me. What do I want to remember in 10 years? I mean, in 10 years I'm going to 31 and wildly famous so I might need a reality check (teeheehee). But in all honesty, I love my life right now and the idea of it changing terrifies me. I love it to a point that it's probably frustrating to hear me talk about it. I feel level headed and steady and, most importantly, happy. I would give everything to be 21 for more time than I have; but I don't have that option, so my only option is to try and take the best parts of my life forward with me.
I want to still have music in my life. Not even in a "my own music" capacity. I want my own music in my life, of course, but I just want to bask in the world that is music for the next ten years. I want it to be filled with kitchen dance parties, car ride sing-a-longs and shower karaoke. I want to hear new songs and remember old songs. I want new favourite songs, new movie soundtracks, new cover songs on my guitar, and even crappy, short-lived billboard-toppers. And I want to relearn old songs; I want to remember the lyrics to my favourite songs now. I want to watch music go from on-trend, to out-of-date, to a throwback. I want to keep writing about love and loss and life. I want all these things for myself for the next 10 years and I don't think that's too much to ask for.
I want my people. I want my girls from university, who have dragged my ass through school for the last couple years. The girls who have been life-changing in ways that are overwhelming to describe. The girls who come to every show and watch me grow and change in real time. I want my friends from home; from work, from school, from childhood. The people who make Toronto home more than any city in the whole world. The people who make sure I don't blow my brains out working retail. The people who spend more than their fair share of time listening to stupid boy problems. My cousin who provides me with more entertaining stories than any other human on this planet. My best friend who couldn't get rid of me if she tried and has taught me more about loyalty and kindness than anyone else in the whole world. My family. My mom who showed me what love is and reminds me everyday that I'm me and that's enough. My dad who taught me logic and insight and despite not always understanding the way I work, taking on the task of trying to figure it out. My sisters. Just, the most beyond amazing people who have no right being as incredible as they are. Some people meet a couple great people in their life, and my life is overflowing with remarkable people and I want to bring them all with me into the next 10 years. My life is amazing because I've made it amazing, but it's only worth having an amazing life if you have people to share it with.
And inevitably as 2020 comes to an end, I have no choice but looking at the last 10 years (I know I said I wouldn't but I'm doing it anyways). The 2010's taught me the most horrendous life lessons. I learned what it's liked to lose the people you love the most. I learned what it's like to lose yourself. To give up. I learned what it's like to want any life that is not your own. I spent years in a downward spiral, and learned the terrifying reality of my first heartbreak. I learned that the people you let into your life can hurt you the most, and that nobody will hold your hand in this world.
But in spite of the horrible and the awful and the cruel I would relive it all. I would live the horrors again to learn the lessons and to grow. I would experience the pain of lost loved ones again to have more moments with them. I would go through my first heartbreak one more time just to know what it feels like to be truly and genuinely loved by someone else. I would struggle with the hopelessness of mental health again teach others that struggling is okay. I don't want to forget everything I've learned, and everything I've become. I want to bring myself forward.
And going into the next decade that's all I can really hope for, music, my people and myself. And I know that I look at the next ten years with rose coloured glasses. As I get older and life gets more complicated, I can't expect things to stay the same. In fact, things will likely get harder and that's a near-guarantee. Life will, at some points, suck. But I know that no matter the bag of bullshit I find myself swimming in, that this life is indeed, pretty great. And I think for the next 10 years, if I can keep that in my back pocket, I'll turn out just fine.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
OKAY. Don't worry, I know you're all busy with your families but I wanted to get a little blurb out before New Year's Eve is officially upon us. I looked at my New Year's goals for 2019, which I made almost 365 days ago. I have previously reviewed them in the summer - halfway through the year - and it's time to see what I accomplished. Let's judge myself.
My goals in no particular prioritized order were:
1) Live a more healthy lifestyle
2) Grow my social media platform
3) Get better grades
4) Release new music
Four goals, 365 days. Shouldn't have been that hard...right?
1) Live a more healthy lifestyle:
Okay. So I somehow succeeded and shat the bed here simultaneously. I worked out less this year than I did in 2018, especially since I just don't work out at all, however I am eating a lot better. I eat a lot less fast food and a lot less sugar. So I think my net input is about zero.
I would have loved to work out more (okay, that's a lie, I should have worked out more). It just is such a low priority for me that I make time to do everything else before I workout. Write a blog post, write music, study, cook, sleep, shower, pamper myself, and get slapped in the face all rank higher than going to the gym. However, I've finally built up a lululemon collection and might want to start wearing it to do more than sit around the house.
2) Grow my social media platform:
I did see a lot of growth which I'm stoked about. I was a little ambitious in terms of the kind of growth I wanted to see, but I definitely was successful. My Instagram feed it my pride and joy, and it finally looks like one cohesive unit. I did create a teeny, tiny Twitter account which makes me cringe, cry and question all my inner thoughts to a point of insanity. But what's social media for if not to criticize yourself? I'll call that one a success.
If I'm being completely honest, I've seen the biggest growth in my website. I'm trafficking much higher numbers than I used to and people are responding to my posts. I don't do it for the positive feedback, but I can't say that I don't enjoy it.
3) Get better grades:
Y'all. Y'ALL. I fucking slayed it. Not to flex, but I got really smart this year and I have the GPA increase to prove it. Turns out if you turn off Netflix and study instead you actually do better in school. Fun fact.
4) Release new music:
I'm actually kind of on track here too. I wasn't able to come up with the money or time to produce a single because I'm still in school and need to pay for rent and groceries, but I'm gearing up for 2020 and when I graduate I plan to hit the ground running. I did get three songs out (Steady, I Just Want to Be Loved and The Train) which I'm incredibly proud of because being in neuroscience kind of screws me in the free-time aspect of my life. Moreover, the new music I've been playing at my shows have been performing really well. I am more than excited to release new music. It's more mature, more exciting and I feel like it suits me more. Get stoked. I am.
SO there we go, not everything was a glowing success (**cough** working out **cough**) but overall I hit most of my marks in terms of what I wanted to do this year. I just want to throw out there that I appreciate everyone who has watched me struggle through my four goals for the last year and I'm ready for the next year to get started. Now, get off your screens and go have fun with your families. That's my plan.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
So no matter what you celebrate, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the solstice, New Year's Eve, National Flashlight Day (that's a real holiday, I had to look it up), this is a "celebrating" time of year. And do you know what celebrating means? It means you're gonna be posting on Instagram in your cute little holiday sweaters and wearing red lipstick. It's Holiday-stagram time (it's not a thing, but I'm making it a thing).
And when you post these photos, I have one question for you: do you edit your photos? And no, I don't mean throw an Instagram filter on there, adjust the brightness and call it a day. I mean the real editing. Booty-touch-ups, acne erasing photos; the edits that make your legs longer and your face thinner. I'm talking getting rid of that weird bump in your sweater that makes it look like you have a third boob, but your friend didn't point it out to you at the time, so now you have to work some magic to de-third-boob yourself. Those kinds of edits. There are truly two and only two answers to this question: Yes or No. And I'm going to explain why both those are okay answers.
Disclaimer: I have fallen on both sides of the yes/no line. There have been days I'm appalled that people use editing apps and days I thank the good Lord he blessed us with app developers so someone could make FaceTune. So I hold no judgement in whatever you choose to do. Also, for the remainder of this post I'm going to talk mainly about women because if you couldn't tell, I am a woman and I only have experience with women things. I understand that body image issues are not limited to women, but I am limited to a woman's experience and I don't want to make assumptions. Okay, here we go.
Answer #1: Yes. This is the answer a lot of you may have, even if you don't admit to it. And in order to make you feel comfortable, I'm going to be honest. I edit some of my photos. Why? Because I look like I dropped out of the Biggest Loser a week too early, and there are days when that makes me really sad. And yes I GET IT. I could just go put in work at the gym and look better but here is the cold hard truth, I DON'T WANT TO. I have tried all the sports, all the workout classes, I have gone through phases where I am in good shape and I never get to that point that people keep telling me about. The "Oh! But if you go enough you're actually going to like it" place. That place doesn't exist for me and I would 2,000% rather go write music to de-stress than lift a bunch of heavy stuff in a sweaty gym.
Plus, I get a bunch of my photos from photographers and I don't know what they do to the photos before I get them. For all I know they could fine tune every hair in my eye brows. So yes, some of my photos are edited, And they're not always bathing suit photos or summer photos, sometimes I see a photo, mid-winter and I can't stand my legs. And I know that nobody will comment "you're legs look like two under cooked sausages", but I feel like people will think it, so I open up an app and make myself feel better for 20 seconds.
Is that wrong? In some ways yes and in some ways no. It perpetuates the stereotype that all women need to look one way and that can be really dangerous but at the same time if the world is hard and I make it easier for just a second, is that a bad thing? I don't know.
No: This is the easier stance to take publicly. The feminist, "we are all beautiful" stance that we want to take all the time, even when the going gets tough. And I take this stance a lot too, there are photos of me at my cottage in a bathing suit and I see them and I'm like a) I look super hot and b) this is me and I don't really care if you care, I'm stoked about me. AND THAT'S FUCKING AWESOME. I should feel great about me. I am a damn treat.
But don't get self-righteous about saying "no", because if you shame the women who do feel the need to edit their photos, then how does that make you any better than the societal pressure that puts her in that place? Let her do her. And I think that there are times that editing photos is okay. Story time:
This summer my sister and I went for a walk and I took some cute photos. Now the way she was standing in one photo made her dress pull in a certain way and it looked like...how do I say this tactfully?...It looked like she had a dick. So she chose to edit out the dick-looking-spot because it made her feel uncomfortable. (Yes, I had to get her permission to tell this story.)
Now, do I think this is a bad thing? NO. She saw something that was a little uncomfortable and didn't actually represent the reality of the situation. She chose to just go, "hmmmmmm....no I don't want to look like I'm hiding a Pringles can between my legs" and that is a-okay.
Maybe you feel really confident and my love, I am so proud of you, but not everybody else is. And in order to reach Lizzo-levels of confident some of us need to tell white lies to ourselves and that's okay every once in a while.
And yes, you can come after me and explain that this is part of a bigger systemic issue and that we're teaching young girls unrealistic beauty standards and I get that. I grew up in this world, I know how hard it can be. But we're not going to fix it overnight. It's going to be a long haul we are fighting an uphill battle. So for this Holiday Season I ask for one gift from the Yes-people and one gift from the No-people:
Yes-people: I get that it can be tempting to edit photos. I've caved before. But you look HOT. Do you know why? Because you're being confident about your authentic self when you post unedited pics and that's HOT. I have faith in you. You should have faith in you too. And I'm not saying don't edit any pictures ever. Cold turkey is difficult and change is a slow process. Just stop editing one or two? See how it feels and dip your toes in the water.
No-people: Do not take a big fat dump on my yes-people. They are trying their best and shaming them or belittling them for editing photos doesn't get us anywhere. Them editing photos comes from a long history of cultural pressure to appear a certain way. You can feel more than welcome to let them know that they look beautiful in real life, everyday. But please, help them take the steps they need to feel beautiful rather than ridiculing them for not feeling beautiful.
And how about this. From here on out I will stop editing photos. No matter how tempting it is to edit a belly or a thigh, I will scrap edits that perpetuate this toxic culture of "less-than" among women. Frankly, I'm a little terrified to do this because it feels so exposing, but asking for your honesty without contributing my own feels really hypocritical. It might not do anything because this is a bigger issue we're talking about but it's got to start somewhere. Y'all are damn treats and I hope you enjoy eating all the damn treats this holiday season because you know I will.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I'm sure the title of this post gave my mom a small heart attack. And fair, it's a little over dramatic. But it got you here, didn't it? It's less that I don't want to go home for the holidays, and more that there is a small caveat that keeps me from being fully immersed in the idea of going back to Toronto.
Because of this caveat, I would like to direct this post primarily at my older readers (and dedicate it to all my graduating readers). I know you're out there; my aunts, my uncles, my family friends, and the other individuals who have stumbled their way on to this page. This is for you. Okay, now that I've beaten around the bush enough, I guess it's time to release the tension and let you know why I'm a little hung up on this idea of going home.
When I go home for the holidays, there are a series of social events to attend. Traditions of Christmas parties and holiday festivities that I am so excited to participate in. I get to see so many people that I only see once or twice a year. However, considering I rarely see all of these people there is an obligatory amount of small talk that goes on. And adults love to ask a very specific question to university students:
So, what are you going to do when you graduate?
And I will answer it right now:
I have no fucking idea.
How "no idea"? Only the unique amount of uncertainty that comes with having a degree in a field you have no intent in pursuing. The kind of uncertainty that make you physically nauseous and you're pretty sure you just spent ungodly amounts of money to walk across a stage so a stranger can hand you a very expensive piece of paper. That kind of uncertainty.
And I’ve heard all the follow up questions. The most common being “if you don’t want to go into neuroscience, why are you getting a degree in neuroscience?” And to that I say, thank you reader, that is a very insightful question. However, I am not as insightful. At 17 years old, my infantile brain thought that I was interested in neuroscience when in reality, I was interested in the idea of neuroscience. Same way that I think gravity is a pretty cool concept and I love being secured to the earth, but I have zero interest in studying physics.
And sure, I could take my degree and try to go get a job in science. But what job? With what company? In what field? Being frank, a bachelor’s degree in science is in no way a legitimate degree. A BSc in the world of science is like a gold sticker on your test in elementary school. You had to do something to earn it, but in the grand scheme of things nobody is going to take it seriously. To do anything legitimate and lucrative (haha, just kidding there are no lucrative careers in science) I would need to go get a master’s degree.
Why don’t I get a master’s degree? First of all, I don’t know if you’re just sitting on $15,000, but I very much am not. My back account looks less like a phone number and more like a GPA. Plus, I’m not even sure what I would take my master’s in. Or what I would do with a master’s once I get it. I would just have another expensive piece of paper and no idea for a job. No master’s. Maybe at one point, but definitely not yet.
And if I'm being totally honest, I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. Music. I want to write and perform and work on my website because it makes me so unequivocally happy. It's the same reason I'm writing this instead of studying for my finals (oops?). I want to spend the next 60 years working on music and I would give my left kidney to do that. But right now, what I’m doing falls more under “passion project” then “sustainable career”. I want to write music more than anything else in the entire world, I’m just trying to figure out how to turn that into my real-life job.
So, yes. I am excited to go home. I am excited to see my aunts, my uncles, my family friends, and the other individuals who have stumbled their way on to this page. However, please, for the love of Christ himself on this holy holiday, do not ask me what I’m doing in May. I just told you my answer.
From me, with love, to you,
Ladies and Gentlemen, let's just get to the point. Men are trash. Boys are garbage. We should all just quit.
I spend a lot of time thinking about my relationships, and for a couple reasons. Numero uno: I have a nasty rumination problem. Ever since I was little, my mom has been trying to drill into my head "don't perseverate" but I do and it sucks. I think about things until I've twisted my brain into knots and all I can think about is "could I have done it better" and "what if I just did something different". My train of thought is a series of "what ifs".
Numero dos: writing music means that I'm constantly thinking about my relationships. I'm trying to work them into songs which I write and rewrite and take apart and put back together. I think about the details of my relationships, my crushes, my flings and try to see what is song- worthy and what is just a detail that I keep for myself (I have a public diary, I keep very few things to myself).
But that also means I've thought a lot about the boys (the word "men" is not really applicable) that have appeared in my life. And more often than not boys make me feel like a bag of garbage. And after pondering why, I have formally broken down the stance "men are trash" into a three-pronged argument (because three seemed concise).
#1: They say hurtful things.
Yes, I understand that girls can say way more hurtful things than guys, there have definitely been times I wish I could take back things I've said. However, men too, being so intelligent, can say things that hurt. An example? Picture this: 2nd year me is flirting with this boy at a party when my older sister (yes, we party together), comes up and says "hi". Promptly after she leaves he looks at me and goes "you know, compared to your sister, you're really doughy". And am I still dwelling on this? Uh-huh. Should I let it go? Probably. Will I? Nope.
And no I didn't go home and cry into my pillow and write in my diary, but it still chipped at me a little bit and it SUCKED. I understand he probably didn't mean it in a mean way, my sister and I have different body types, primarily because she works out and I eat oreo cookies for breakfast. I know this all to be a fact, however it still is a bit of a slap in the face to be called "doughy". Men are trash.
#2: They always assume you want more.
Okay, so a little disclaimer: I can come across as a lot sometimes (don't but we all). I don't do the whole "texting etiquette" thing, and I air on the side of high maintenance. These qualities mean that I can come across as a touch abrasive. I know these things, I'm working on them, but these innate parts of my personality will always been sewn into some of my actions.
If I text my girlfriends everyday, they don't care. They know that I'm an idiot, and need that kind of attention. HOWEVER, when I text a guy, let's say, every couple days, they assume I'm in it for something more. Or if I make out with someone at a party and then text them a week later they assume I'm looking for a deeper commitment. I spend 99.999% of my time moving back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver, I'm in school, I work, plus I have to run this whole website/music thing. I can barely see my friends and pass all my classes at the same time. Where in the Lord's name would I fit a boy into this equation? News flash. Girls are allowed to want casual relationships as well.
I have had multiple boys assume I'm looking to settle down with them because they've decided to read into signals that aren't there. But unless I've explicitly said "I want a relationship with you" you're probably not the one I've got my eye on. Remember, I'm really blunt. And yes, at some point I do want a relationship, I want "the dream". Husband, kiddos, house with the picket fence. But do I want that with Chad from Sigma Apple Pi? No. He still thinks it's okay to put "can shotgun a beer in 3 seconds" on his resume. Men are trash.
#3: They CANNOT (I repeat CANNOT) keep their mouths shut.
I have made a habit of sharing too much, I publish my life on the internet. So that means the information that I do keep to myself I value very highly. It all started after I broke up with my ex. I went on a date with this guy in a fraternity and, being in a sorority, he and I had a lot of mutual friends. The date was really meh, not a lot to write home about, but it was my first date with someone not-my-ex so it was kind of a big deal. The next day, everyone and their cousin knew about this date and it was exhausting. If I did not explicitly tell you something, I probably (definitely) don't want you to know.
So, when I...get intimate...with boys, in any capacity, I always ask them not to tell anyone. Not because I'm embarrassed, but because I don't need everyone knowing everything about my life. Yet, for some reason boys feel the need to gossip like the cover of a TigerBeat magazine. It's nobody's business but my own and the boy's, yet they treat it like everyone should know. I mean I get it, I'm a damn treat, it's hard to keep such things to yourself, but please do so.
Plus, these boys always think I'm never going to find out that they told everyone. I'm not deaf, and if you couldn't keep it to yourself, why do you expect anyone else to? Like I said, men are trash.
So, that's why I can't deal with the Y-chromosome right now. Essentially, they can't do anything right. However, my sexual orientation dial is set very much to "men" and I'm stuck liking idiots who still classify booty-calls as dates. So there is no life lesson to this, no special piece of wisdom I can share with you because I'm still figuring all this out. So good luck ladies, and happy hunting.
From me, with love, to you,
LADIES AND FREAKING GENTLEMEN. I did it.
I somehow made it another 365 days on this earth, I circled the sun and lived to tell the tale.
So yes, today is my birthday and that means I'm saying auf wiedersehen to 20 and guten tag to 21 (and more importantly it is my champagne birthday because it's my 21st birthday and the 21st of November so I'll be drinking bubbly for the next 24 hours).
I've been mulling over a lot of different ideas for what to write for my birthday. Last year I wrote a very "classic-me" post about all the things I've learned and all the sentimental crap that comes with being as wisdom-y as I am. And I kind of thought about doing that again, but I post about learning things all the time. I did a life-lesson post at the end of the summer, I did one recently about self-love and one about mental health before that. My website is a series of unsolicited advice, and didn't think I needed to dole out anymore on my birthday.
And in thinking a lot about this last year, I've realized what an amazing year it has been. Being 20 was the best year of my life. And not everyday was perfect, lots of days weren't, but weighing all factors, this year checks most if not all of my boxes for an "amazing year".
So in attempt to highlight this amazing year, I'm going to share my top 20 moments of being 20. Some of them are lengthy and require stories, and some are very brief and easily explained, but I hope this helps to explain why this year has been so amazing. So buckle in, because we're counting down (I did my best to order them, but it was very difficult):
#20: When Johnny Reid shared my Instagram post on his story.
Just absolutely surreal.
#19: Celebrating the Raptors win.
Toronto sports are rarely something to rally around, I always will, but they're often a bit of a let down (I'm looking at you Maple Leafs). However, this summer, Toronto celebrated Raptors in 6 and it was kind of incredible. Every game was its own tiny celebration, and everyday its own little party. Toronto was a ton of fun leading up to the Raptors winning game and I'm so happy I got to be home for it.
#18: Working with BeaYOUtiful
My older sister is a chair for a non-profit based in Vancouver. BeaYOUtiful works to support young girls in a series of issues; social media literacy, body positivity and stress management are all on the curriculum for young girls who take these classes. This year I was able to participate in their Inspired by HER conference last January, as well as be a guest speaker during one of their 6-week classes this November. I got to teach young girls how to write music as an outlet for stress and it was so rewarding.
#17: Performing at VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto.
Growing up I sang in a private sector choir in Toronto, VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto. Last year, the choir's repertoire was based around Canadian songwriters. As part of their final concert, they invited back choir alumni who went on to write music, and yes that includes me. VIVA! gave me so much as a kid, and getting to come back and perform as a solo artist was not only rewarding, but I got to see all my old conductors and friends who went on to work with VIVA!
#16: Voting in my first election.
Y'all know how passionate I am about voting!
#15: Drinking Games with My Cousin
My cousin is one of my best friends, and we both enjoy gin probably more than we should. One night when I was in Toronto she came over. We have both seen The Italian Job with Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg enough times we could probably recite the movie script from start to finish. However, after realising the movie isn't on Netflix as we had expected, she and I settled on watching The Losers with Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans and playing a related action-movie-drinking game. It quickly descended into chaos, we both lost complete track of what was going on and spent inordinate amounts of time talking about how attractive Idris Elba is.
#14: Walking the Seawall.
One of my closest friends abandoned my last year to go live in Australia for a couple months on exchange (obviously very devastating). When she got back we walked the seawall around Stanley Park in Vancouver and caught up. She told me about her trip, I shared all the horrible life decisions I had made without her around for constant guidance. Our little adventure ended with hot chocolate and getting on the wrong bus to try and get back home. Little bit of a road bump but not a bad person to get lost with.
#13: Skiing during Winter Finals.
Last winter finals my Dad and younger sister came out to Whistler with family friends of ours. Just the break I needed. Granted I spent more time studying than on the hill, my family-oriented personality will always ask for more family time in my life.
#12: Long walks in Toronto with my Best Friend.
I love walking. It's one of the many things that make me a weirdo but thankfully my best friend shares this little quirk with me. We don't live in the same city during the year and we don't get to see each other a lot during the summer because her work schedule is insane. But a couple times this summer we would take 3-ish hour walks and catch up and joke. We also planned my wedding at one point so you can't say they weren't productive walks.
#11: Work Parties.
I work retail in downtown Toronto, and we regularly get drinks after work. All the regular things, talk about nightmare customers, gossip about people, share dating stories. There was one particular night I made my coworkers take tequila shots after a particularly long day at work. I go back to my job every time I'm in Toronto not for the job, but for the people.
#10: Getting my Full License.
You can read all about this in my post from this summer!
#9: Seeing Avengers: Endgame on Opening Night. And then Again. And Again.
What can I say? I'm a huge dork.
#8: Watching Cody Ko with my Mom.
My younger sister and I had been making jokes regarding the "That's Cringe: Girl Defined" video on Cody Ko's YouTube channel. We kept trying to explain the joke, knowing that most of Cody's (and specifically Cody + Noel content) wasn't necessarily something I would want to watch with my mom. But after poorly explaining the joke multiple times, we decided to just watch the video. Quickly my mom, my sister and I got sucked into a wormhole of YouTube - the only way to watch YouTube. We spent the whole life laughing as we showed my mom how entertaining the commentary side of YouTube can be.
#7: Canuck's Game with my Older Sister.
Earlier this term I was given free tickets to a Canuck's game and immediately invited my older sister to go with me. Let me preface this - neither of us had any idea how hockey games worked. We weren't even sure how long the game was. We had assumed "free tickets" meant nose-bleed tickets, when in reality we were 8 rows from the action the whole night. There was an awkward moment when my sister cheered for the wrong time, but other than that I think we pulled it off?
#6: Dinner with my Younger Sister.
My younger sister and I spent a lot of time together this summer. I had a lot of difficulty picking my favourite moment with her this year. But I think it was one night when she and I went out for dinner to this Italian restaurant by our house and came home and watched....yes you guessed it.... Avengers: Endgame. She had spent all summer watching every Marvel movie in order, and this not only was such a fun night but the culmination of all her hard work over the summer. Plus I finally had another person to nerd-out with.
#5: Releasing "The Train".
I love releasing new music and the positive feedback on a song I had laboured so intensely over was so incredible. Read more about "The Train" below.
#4: The Halloween Pre-Party.
I have the most amazing group of friends at school. But this is the first year we don't all have classes together and one of my friends is on co-op so we don't all see each other that often (at least at the same time). On Halloween we decided to go to a house party and pre at my friend's house. We tried to make cocktails but after poorly organising this endeavour we all just brought hard alcohol. These girls are the most incredible people in my life and finally getting to see them all at once for the first time in forever made my night.
#3: An Impromtu Beer Pong Tournament.
My cottage is located in the middle of Butt-Fuck-Nowhere. Meaning, when it rains (which it rarely does), there's not a whole lot to do. You're 45 minutes from town and you can only spend so much time huddled up in the cottage before cabin fever sets in. This summer at the cottage I had my best friend at the cottage and my younger sister had her friend from volleyball and her family at the cottage. So we had 8 people at the cottage on a rainy day. At around 3pm, we started to get pretty bored when we decided to have a beer pong tournament. We developed a "March Madness" style bracket and played game after game of beer pong. So fun, so random, and my parents got way too competitive.
#2: The Boodle.
One of my best friends in Toronto is Filipino and this summer she invited a group of friends to participate in a boodle (yes it's a real word). It's a tradition that originated in the Filipino military in which a ton of food is piled on banana leaves in the middle, and you eat as much as you can with your hands. Not only was the food amazing but it was hilarious. We just ate until we couldn't eat anymore and joked and laughed. Plus, that night ended up being quite influential on the rest of my summer (but that's a story for another time).
#1: Thanksgiving at the Cottage.
My dad has worked so hard to turn our cottage from a hoarder's nest into a second home. And as you can see from my Instagram, I love the time I spend in New Brunswick. I grew up spending summers there, and to now be able to return and see my family on the east coast is incredible. This was the first time I saw that part of the country in the fall and not only was it stunning, but it was so incredible to get to see my family (immediate and extended). We are a rowdy bunch of drunk idiots and in spite of the nearly 10 hours of travelling it took to get there, I have no regrets.
So that was my year. And yes, I saved some favourite moments for myself, some quiet moments I want to keep and some times I laughed so hard I almost peed. But that's what this year was. A collection of amazing moments. And I'm terrified for 21, but I'm also excited. Who knows, maybe next year will be even better?
From me, with love, to you,
Fun story time: I'm in a sorority. I've been in a sorority for four years and every year we throw a semi formal in the fall and a formal in the spring. These two events are the bane of my freaking existence. Not because the events themselves are bad. There's okay food and overpriced drink,. it's a standard event. But the culture surrounding the event makes me want to stab myself in the carotid artery.
Let's start from the beginning. At the beginning of every semi and formal season we make a set of slides. The slides are essentially: Here's a photo of me looking hot, here's my name, my age and a sexual pun. However, I don't have "hot girl" humour. I very much have boy humour. Self-deprecating, poop joke, I-just-farted humour. So making those slides is a pain, it's something so outside my comfort zone, and makes me so uncomfortable. And yes, you can get your panties in a twist that we make slideshows, but get off your high horse. I've been asked to semi based on the slides and so have so many people. It's a useful way to get your foot in the door in terms of introducing yourself. They're also usually super funny.
Okay, so after you make yourself a slide. You have to find a dress. I am 6ft tall, so ordering a dress online is a fucking nightmare. I have ordered many a dress only to try it on and realise you can see my butt hole. Not cute. Butt holes are not public property. Plus I'm super poor. I'm a university student. We're all super poor. And every year I say I'm going to re-wear an old dress but I get sucked into buying a new dress because everyone else is. Yes, this part is kind of my fault for getting sucked into peer pressure, but I'm complaining about it anyways.
So you've got your slide, and found your dress and you think the worst is over BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Dates. You have to find yourself a date. If you have a significant other, this is super easy. You shoot your boyfriend/girlfriend a message saying "semi is on this day, be ready" and you're set to go. But if you are chronically single - like myself - you have to go out and find yourself a date. Often I have taken my sister, but that kind of feels like taking your cousin to prom. And I could take a female friend, and I have, but it would be nice to have the option to take a boy. You know?
And sure, I could take a boy still, but boys suck and men are trash. The last time I took a boy he tried to sneak a mickey of vodka into the event and almost got us kicked out. Also, if you bring a boy you risk riding that weird line of "are we going to hook up?" and that grey area can be exhausting.
The event itself is fine. I love getting dressed up and looking fancy and taking pictures. But it's usually a mediocre night in which somebody drinks too much, somebody makes out with someone they weren't supposed to and all the usual drama that occurs when you put a bunch of 20-year-olds in a room. But you spend most of the day of semi getting ready and the next day you don't get a whole lot done cause you're generally hungover.
So you come out of the event stressed and even more broke than you were before, but for some reason I can't not go. I want to go to these events and I have fun and spend time with people I legitimately see three times a week anyways. And sure, this is a first world problem, and yes I'm complaining about nothing, but semi season is such a thorn in my side. So, my semi is rearing it's ugly head, my "semi diet" still has me looking like a pile of shitty mashed potatoes (pale and lumpy) and I have to pick my date by Monday. I'm real close to bringing a cardboard cut out of a celebrity and just getting to eat twice the amount of food.
Anyways, I hope your fall is going well and if you too have a semi formal, good luck.
From me, with love, to you,
I am a damn treat.
Have you heard me say this recently? It has become a bit of a catch-phrase of mine and I drove my entire family insane over Thanksgiving weekend as most of my speech was littered with this phrase. And although it started from a place of sarcasm, it kind of became non-sarcastic (unsarcastic? dis-sarcastic?) with time. I AM a damn treat. However, don't worry, this isn't going to be about me going on this rant about how amazing I am. We're going to dive a little bit further down this rabbit hole or why I started including this is my day to day vernacular - and why you should as well.
I spent a lot of my life thinking that I was less-than. As a teenager, I sought validation from people around me; I thought that to love myself, I needed others to love me. It was exhausting, I oozed desperation and self-loathing. I aspired for better in the most self-destructive ways and created insecure relationships with people willing to abuse the fragile state I was in. Not to mention this perpetuated my anxiety beyond belief. "Hot mess" doesn't nearly describe the way I was living. I had people who loved me, but they felt like exceptions to the rule, I felt like I didn't deserve them.
And then to top it all off, I got into a relationship. I dated this guy who was wonderful but I shifted all my self-worth into the foundation of this relationship. I was enough because I was loved by someone, because someone else saw me as enough. But what happened when that relationship ended? I was shattered; nobody loved me anymore and therefore I was unlovable. I had placed all my value in something that no longer existed. I spent the next three months literally flinging myself anywhere, on anyone, trying to patch up the hole in my life where my relationship should have been.
Now this next idea is credited to Daniel Schloss (go watch his comedy special "Jigsaw", 10/10). I loved myself at a whopping 10%, so anyone who cared about me at 20% loved me TWICE AS MUCH as I loved myself. TWICE. It felt like the sun and the moon, until you actually think about all the things you like 20%. Here are the things in my life that I like 20%
I would love to tell you that I had this "light bulb" moment. This sudden realization that I was better, but I didn't. I would love to tell you the key to self-love is spinning around three times and jumping up and down on one leg and then TADA! Self-love! But it happened. Slowly. With time, I realized that I was caught in this loop. I was anxious because I needed others to love me and because I was so stressed about what other people thought, nobody wanted to be around me. The things that made me great were overshadowed by the things I hated about myself. This dependency on others also allowed me to shift blame in my life. Nothing was my fault because I was nothing, I was only what other people made me, so my faults were their faults. All good things were just a lucky shot and all bad things were someone else's problems.
But like I said, with time I shifted my values. I started taking credit for my actions, both good and bad. Being responsible for the things you do means that you are the sum total of your decisions. (See my last post). Taking responsibility for the good things was easy. Taking responsibility for the bad things was hard.
A prime example is grades. If I did poorly on a test then I had to think, how hard did I actually study. Did I give it my all or some half-ass attempt? Because if I gave it my all, if I could confidently say that, then there is nothing else I could do and I had to be proud of myself for the mark I got. But if I didn't use all my resources, TAs, office hours, extra help, then the shitty grade was on me. It was my responsibility. Frankly, I'm still learning to do this. I'm still learning to take responsibility for the bad things, because it isn't easy. But I'm learning and that's what matters.
And once you are the sum total of your actions, you are something. You have tangible evidence of the things that you are. You are the job that you got because you interviewed well and you put the hours in. You are a friend because you treat those around you with respect. You are, you are, you are. And I began to realise, I am a lot of things. I am a baker, a singer, a sister, a friend, a student, a writer, a philanthropist. I am all these things because I went out and I made them true, and nobody in this world can take those things away from me, because they're mine.
You don't need to love yourself 100%. Loving yourself 100% at times can be bad as well, it can stop you from changing and growing and being better than you are. Right now I love myself at about 80%, which isn't ideal but I'm getting better. I still have things I want to work on, but I'm on the right trajectory and most importantly, I'm proud to be who I am. There are still days I look in the mirror and I'm unsure, but 80% is a hell of a lot better than 10%. And for someone to be my sun and moon they need to love me at at least 80%. And to put that in perspective, my list of things I love at 80% are:
So I am a damn treat because I made myself that way. I took an 18-year-old girl with chronic panic attacks and a self worth lower than the pits of hell and made her into a young women who is about to graduate university (should all go as planned). And yes, the world will throw things at me that are out of my control. I cannot control the weather or time or the actions of those around me, but I can control me and that is enough. I am enough. And I am a damn treat.
From me, with love, to you,
I talk a lot about mental health. I hope that talking about it will normalize mental health for at least one person. Maybe just one individual will hear everything I'm saying and, for them, life will be a little bit more manageable. It is also really easy to talk about mental health in the past tense. I struggled with my mental health, I worked hard to get better, I had panic attacks. However, a lot of these sentences would remain true in the present tense. Progress is not a straight line; a trajectory from start to finish. Progress is twisted, it loops back on itself until you're not totally sure where the beginning ends and the end begins. But this past-tense-retelling of my mental health is only half the story.
I have great days and I have bad ones. And I want to talk about the latter half of that sentence. The Bad Days. It would be so much easier to brush them off and pretend they don't happen. Shove the handful of the Bad Days I still have under the rug, smile for the cameras, and make a happy-go-lucky post about taming your demons. But that's not being honest, so here goes nothing:
I still have Bad Days.
I still have panic attacks. I still can use negative coping mechanisms. I still have a less-than-amazing grasp on all my triggers. And that's because as I change and as I experience new things, I need to learn new things about my illness. I still can't do a lot of the things I want to do. There are certain areas of my life where I am less-than fine and I can't stand it. It's make me angry thinking that I have to put up with social anxiety. I hate playing the game of life with the cards I've been dealt because sometimes it feels like everyone has a winning hand and I'm trying to play poker with a deck of cards from a fucking Uno game.
And I would love to say that there is some overarching life lesson to this. That I could wake up tomorrow morning and be cured of the illness that my brain gave my body. I want to wake up give you some answer to the questions you've been asking. But there aren't direct answers, because if I had the answers, I wouldn't have the problems. I would love more than anything to to pull some "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" bullshit and say the answer to your issues is "42", but that's not the reality of the situation.
The only thing I can say it keep moving forward and be honest with yourself about where you're at. I have lived nearly 21 years on this planet, and I am not wise in any account, (I still consistently make the mistake of setting my alarm for 7PM instead of 7AM) but I know your life is a collection of decisions. And some decisions you make will be dumb (I climbed up on a garage roof while I was drunk and fell off) and some decisions will be great (setting an actual sleep schedule this year after 21 years of my mom pestering me about it. She was right. Moms always are). But as long as you're trying the best you can to make the right decisions, nobody can fault you. So yeah sure, I'm playing poker with a bunch of Uno cards, but I'm going to play the best hand I can because nobody is going to re-deal me in just because I don't like my cards. I'm going to keep moving forward because I actually don't have the ability to move back. October sucks. It gets rainy and cold and Christmas seems like a long-haul from here. So take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Even if you're going two steps forward and one step back, you're still moving forward.
From me, with love, to you,
Attention: If you bleed maple syrup, represent the true, north strong and free, and spell the words "colour", "favour" and "neighbour" with a "u" (how intended), this post is for you.
I try to keep this website politics-free. Why you ask? Couple reasons. Firstly, every orifice of this world is crammed with people's misinformed political opinions about this rally or that protest. The world of politics has become a landscape of "he-said, she-said" and I want to stay as far as possible from that. Secondly, my opinion should not matter to you. I am a singer-songwriter, not a politician. I'm not even fully sure how our government works. If you asked me about the true and real differences between a province and a territory, I would give you some bullshit answer like "it depends on how far north they are" (that is not true, I have no idea what the actual differences are). My degree is not in political science, it is in neuroscience. We could have a pretty in depth conversation about your dopaminergic system, but I can't tell you a whole lot about the House of Commons. And finally, my political opinions are nobody's business. There is a reason we vote in private! It's private! I'm allowed to hold my opinions, you're allowed to hold yours.
HOWEVER, I am going to get a little preachy about a particular government/politics related event that is oot and aboot right now (if you didn't read that in a Canadian accent, I can't help you). THE FEDERAL ELECTION.
Ladies and lumberjacks, I know that we are not as flashy with our elections as our southern neighbours (I mean they're already having debates and they're election isn't until 2020, American politics baffle me), but there is no way you have not heard about our election. I would bet my goddamn toque on it.
On October 21st, Canada will be holding its federal election in which every Canadian registered to vote will be given the opportunity to elect a representative for their riding. Every riding is a seat and the party with the most seats will represent Canada, and the representative for that party becomes Prime Minister. Just in case you weren't sure what you were doing, there's your TLDR.
One of the greatest nuggets of wisdom my dad ever gave me was "If you don't vote you can't complain." And holy Barenaked Ladies was he right.
No matter where you stand on the aisle, vote. I don't care if you live in Punkydoodles Corners or Sober Island (yes my American friends, those are true Canadian places), go vote! We are lucky enough to live in this hockey-loving, poutine-soaked country where voting is a right and not enough people take advantage of it. And Canada wants you to vote. Between absentee ballots and advanced polls, Canada is giving you the chance to vote so please for the love of Bryan Adams and Ryan Reynolds, VOTE. If you don't then you genuinely don't get the right to complain about the state of the world. You're getting the chance to make a difference and have a say in your future so please TAKE IT. I don't care what your political opinions are, I don't care if you think Trudeau is one fine piece of Canadian ass or you want him to go back to teaching, just please go vote.
And take this opportunity to make an educated vote. Don't vote for someone because that's what your friends are doing. Research who is in your riding and find their opinions on the issues that matter to you. Please do you research, and please look somewhere other than Buzzfeed.
So, I apologize for all my beautiful Canadian references, but I needed to spread this nugget of wisdom with y'all.
And in case you didn't get it: fucking, vote.
From me, with love, to you,
Hello friends. Let's cut right to the chase. Dating apps.
Like any 20-year-old single girl, I have fallen prey to these apps. Tinder, Bumble and Hinge are all on my phone and I have spent an embarrassing amount of time swiping through face after face of random strangers. Girls' nights in often includes phone swapping and gossiping about the occasional familiar face that pops up. Even though the purpose of these apps are to find people, for some reason every time I open one up I feel inevitably lonely. I feel worse when I shut the app than when I opened it. I can't count how many times I have deleted these apps, only to re-download a couple weeks later.
So why? Why run back to something that makes me feel so lackluster? I'm pretty great, just in case you didn't know, and I can get a bit preachy about loving yourself. But everything holds some logic and there are three main pillars that support my argument to keep these apps. I'm not saying that they're good reasons, but they're all I've got: Culture, Entertainment and Hope.
It's important to be seeing someone. The stories about previous hook ups and exes are almost just as much a part of young adult culture as the actual hooking up and dating. Swapping battle stories about bad first dates and awkward sexual encounters happen so often I'm not even sure who's heard what story, and most of my friends feel the same. And if you're unsure that this is true, think of how many times you've referred to a boy in you're life not by his name, but by an event that happened. "You remember that boy from last Friday?" or "Is this the boy from that date you told me about?" are common place in conversation. We want to talk about boys; it doesn't make us shallow or boy crazy, it makes us human. But back to the apps.
These apps have become as common place as men themselves. Having the apps keeps you in the conversation. When the stories are just as important as experiences, you need somewhere to get those stories, and dating apps do so three-times over. Having the apps keeps me in the loop and I'm not willing to give up that foothold.
The apps are meant to be addictive. If they weren't, they wouldn't really be that successful. First of all, the swiping is a little therapeutic in that repetitive, senseless kind of way. Secondly, the instant gratification. When you match with someone, it's that little burst of flattery. There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive. But the high doesn't last long, because you're not actually fostering connections. Swiping for the sake of swiping becomes dull really quickly. You have so many meaningless conversations about slightly-witty lines in over-constructed bios and everything feels disingenuous. It's different from meeting someone through a friend or at a party, because you're regular people having a regular conversation rather than trying to time responses to texts that your friends have analyzed.
And FINALLY, it's kind of entertaining to receive just absolutely disgusting pick up lines on Tinder. I do screenshot them all and save them in an album on my phone called "Worst of Guys". True story. Can confirm.
Now this one is super obvious. PART OF ME KEEPS THE APPS BECAUSE I LIKE BOYS AND WANT TO FIND ONE THAT LIKES ME. <-- Is that wrong? Hell no. I'm 20 and I'm single! And as much as being 20 and single is fun because I can use these apps and tell funny stories and go on awkward first dates, the goal is ultimately to not end up single. And not in a mellow-dramatic cat woman, spinster way, but I see what my friends have with their significant others and think "Yeah, it'd be nice to have that". I've been in a relationship before, and pros definitely outweigh the cons if you're with the right person. And frankly this whole finding-me-a-man thing is not going quite as easily as rom-coms make it out to be. So fuck it. I'm on dating apps.
So there we go.
Culture. Entertainment. Hope.
Not the most amazing defense for keeping something in my life that makes me feel kind of meh, but it's the only argument I really have. And yes, I can feel my feminist phase coming on again, and I will likely scrap these three apps from my phone soon, only to re-download on my next girls' night in when conversation switches from school to boys. I guess I'm throwing this out into the world just to see if anyone else feels the same. I mean I'm not going to be writing a song about this anytime soon/hopefully ever, so here's the outlet I'm using to write about it. What do you think?
From me, with love, to you,
I see the train coming, I feel the urge to move
So, for anyone has seen any of my social media pages over the past little bit, you may have seen a new song that I released: "The Train". And continuing the tradition I've had over the last little bit, I'm going to break down my song and explain to you some of the intricacies I've woven into this little beauty.
I wrote this song about the stress of instability of knowing that your current situation is a disaster.
This summer, I spent some time with a guy and we both decided that it wouldn't last past the end of the summer. I had to go back to school and he lived in Toronto. It was complicated; we spent so much time trying to make up rules to prevent us from being in a real relationship, out of fear that at the end of the summer someone would end up broken. But did we care about each other? I like to think so. Were we vulnerable? Definitely.
And I hope that we know what we're doing,
I hope that we've thought this all through
And we kept seeing each other and spending time together and tangling ourselves further into this situation. Knowing in some capacity we were going to get hurt (maybe me more than him,). At times I just wanted confirmation that what we were doing wasn't a mess, because honestly sometimes it felt like it. It felt like I was gearing up for this thing to come crashing down on top of me.
I would listen to all of your nonsense once again
But I had fun. I had so much fun. And for the first time in a long time I liked someone and they liked me back. I know that sounds childish, to have this "crush" on someone, but sometimes you can forget what it feels like to have this mutual affection for someone. That reciprocation of feelings fills you up and every once in a while you need that feeling.
I wrote "The Train" to try to explain it all. The confusion, the heart break, the frustration. The train metaphor started off almost as an inside joke as I tried to explain to the guy what it felt like to be anxious, and before I knew it, the anxiety I had tried to explain was manifesting itself in this weird and upside-down relationship.
Then you cut the ropes, with nothing to say
And left me alone, to wait for the train
This is one of my only songs I've ever opened back up after finishing it. The original version didn't have the bridge or final chorus. I didn't really understand what I was doing because I had only ever seen and been in conventional relationships, which this wasn't.
And that's the problem with unconventionality. There are no rules. You don't have to obey standard relationship etiquette; you can just quit when you want to because there are no promises to uphold.
And I hope your worth the pain
"The Train" is about the conflict of wanting to live in the moment now, but wanting to protect myself later. Of seeing the disaster coming and assessing the risks, and sticking to the tracks anyways. Getting hit by the train was the price I was willing to pay. Just standing where I was and looking forward, essentially thinking "this better be worth it, cause at some point this is going to fucking suck".
I love this song, and I'm so appreciative of all the positive feedback I've been getting, both in person and through social media. Thank you so much! And if you haven't seen, I entered this song in a competition, so I've put a link down at the bottom where you can vote and support your girl.
From me, with love, to you,
Just in case you guys didn't notice, today is the 2-year anniversary of the release of my album, The Blue Book Project. Obviously, over the last two years things have changed. It would be concerning if things hadn't changed. But usually, I take moments like this to reflect back on a period of time that has passed and how I've grown and what I've learned. However, I'm changing it up a bit.
I'm using this time and this amazing platform I've been given to say thank you. So often I reflect on what I've done, it can get lost in the process that there are other people in this relationship. That I can only do the things I do so long as there are people to receive them.
For two years I have been figuring out what I'm doing. Trial run after trial run of designing a website, writing a blog and trying to figure out what to post on Instagram. Trying to find photographers and booking shows. Writing music and picking what's good enough to share has all been up to me. And I've made mistakes. I've posted the wrong edit of a photo, got times mixed up for events and forgotten the words on stage. I'm learning and so many of you have been so patient as I iron out the life I'm living and I am so appreciative. I can guarantee that I'm learning from my mistakes, just as I can guarantee that I'll make more.
I want to thank anyone who over the last two years has liked, followed, subscribed, or shared anything. The people who watch every YouTube video and the people who watch only one. This thank you is for the people who like and comment on Instagram posts, and put up with my mediocre if not embarrassingly dad-jokey captions. You make what I thought was a pipe dream seem possible and I appreciate you so much more for it.
And I want to thank a couple people specifically. My mom and dad who have given me a safe home in which I feel welcome to pursue my dreams - no matter how ridiculous. Who pick me up and dust me off after I've fallen under the weight of all the things I thought I could carry on my own. I want to thank my younger sister, who has listened to my songs in all stages of write ups, and comes to nearly every market to help me pack up and lug my equipment around. My older sister, who comes to every show and drags everyone with her. Who cheers the loudest and sings along whenever I'm on stage. To my amazing friends who come to shows and have quickly become my biggest cheer leaders (even if that means they make me perform impromptu concerts at their birthdays). I want to say thanks to all the individuals who have made an appearance in my songs - whether or not they know it.
And FINALLY, I want to thank anyone - stranger or friend - who has voiced their support to me. I was stopped in the hallway by a friend the other day who told me she reads every post on my website. Or the girl who recognized me at my job in retail after seeing me at Brickworks Market. Anyone who ever asks me about music, or congratulates me after an event. You stoke my fire to keep going and I am so grateful for all the love I receive.
I love you all and here's to another amazing year.
From me, with love, to you,
.Hey girl hey! So summer 2019 is coming to a close and I thought I'd check in with everyone and drop some pearls of wisdom courtesy of my personal life experience.
The last four months have been full. As much as life seems static at times, if I actually think about landing in Toronto four months ago, I can't really begin to explain all the things I've done between now and then. So let's take a moment to reflect on some of the little tidbits of knowledge I've stocked up on this summer.
1) Sometimes a failure is just a delayed success.
This one comes courtesy of my driving test(s). I have always been shitty at taking driving tests. Always. My first driving test involved tears and sweating and many apologies for not being able to parallel park. I obviously failed that test. I would go on to fail my next test on a technicality before getting my learner's permit on the third try. Out of fear of repeating my previous mishap, I delayed getting my full license all of last summer - despite my dad (my harshest critic) saying I had become a very good driver.
So, as I wanted to get my license before the 5-year Ontario deadline expired (I would have had to start all over again) I attempted to get my license last Christmas but was turned away due to a broken taillight.
This summer, was my summer. Even though the thought of driving tests still caused a rumbling in my stomach, I was on a time crunch and was not fucking around. I practiced and prepped and drove the area where my road test was supposed to happen and I felt ready. But (as you can probably expect), I failed that road test as well. I called my dad in tears and he told me "What the fuck, don't cry, just take it again" (which was very much expected of my dad if you've ever met him).
So, a little over two weeks later I was back on the road with slightly calmer hands. I had already failed once, it couldn't get a whole lot worse. Thankfully, (third time's the charm) I passed and got my full license.
Now this rambling story may have led you to believe that I should not be allowed to share the road with the rest of you but it reminded me of the classic "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" because that's what I did. I went after something I wanted and ultimately succeeded. Yes, there were some failures along the way, but now I never have to take another driving test in my life. So keep both eyes on the road, cause I'm out there now.
2) Not every idea has to be a good idea.
Now I have to admit, this idea is not mine. This lesson comes from a certain man-friend.
He and I were talking about a song I had written. I was really excited about the idea, and had spent a really long time tweaking and moving parts around till it sounded the way I wanted it to. My mom had heard me banging around on the piano for about a week when I finally pulled her upstairs to show her. I played the whole thing out for her and turned around expecting to see a proud mama, however, she was a little "meh" about the song.
I was so frustrated, I felt like I was holding a new single and she took a big dump on my idea. Looking back, I was definitely asking for an ego fluff, not a legitimate opinion. So I messaged my man-friend (and all of his wisdom) and he responded with two things: One, it's my song so if I thought it was good it shouldn't really matter; and two, people with good creative ideas also have bad creative ideas.
And the concept that I could have bad songs was terrifying. A song that I laboured over could absolutely suck, no matter how much I cared about it. It was then that I realized, there was a point in which all my songs were bad. I have a secret file on my computer filled with garbage from when I was nine and didn't understand the difference between a chorus and a verse.
No human being will be brilliant every moment of every day. I've been setting unrealistic expectations for my writing, thinking I am only going to pump out hits, which we all know is impossible.
P.S. I reopened that song up and reworked it, definitely one of my favourite new songs ;)
3) Work and fun are not mutually exclusive.
As I've mentioned, I've worked in retail for three summers in a row
And in the past I have worked my little booty off, picking up double shifts and babysitting and running from job to job to try to save all my pennies (or I guess nickels since Canadians don't have pennies anymore). But every August hits like a a brick and I burn out, spending the last month of summer bitter about a job that has no relevance to my field of study, feeling like I missed out on summer vacation.
So this summer I took a step back, I picked up less shifts and made sure I took time every week to recuperate (Oh my God a work-life balance, who is she?). I drank the booze, had the girls nights out, and most definitely felt the hangovers; but somehow never burnt out at work.
And to my surprise, I saved more money this summer than I have in previous summers. Yes sure I spent money on drinks and dinners etc. but I didn't spend so much money on buying lunch at work because I had time to meal prep. I didn't spend as much money buying clothes, because I wasn't as stressed (yes, I am an avid user of retail therapy).
I was able to have an enjoyable summer, while saving a lot of money for Vancouver. Like I said, the two are not mutually exclusive.
So those are my three lessons. Yes, I learned other things such as: don't get an IUD and go to work the same day (the cramps will kill you). Or, some people are always going to be assholes (that one is courtesy of a past man-friend), but those two seemed pretty self-explanatory. I felt like these three were the most valuable to share. In 1 week I will be back in Vancouver and my life with be a whirlwind all over again. Goodbye summer, hello school. Can't wait.
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.