Bye, Bye Birdy
In May of 2017 I came back to Toronto for the summer. For the previous two years I had held summer jobs and frankly, I hated them both. That summer, I was 18 and I wanted a job downtown. I wanted something new, something I wouldn’t hate. So, I took a handful of resumes to Toronto Eaton Centre and handed them out to every retail establishment I could.
As I plastered the mall with opportunities, I found myself at American Eagle. I had never been a frequent shopper – or even a shopper there at all. I was a religious wearer of BDG jeans at the time and my only real interaction with the company was my collection of Aerie underwear. However, my cousin had worked at American Eagle in the past and didn’t hate it. Plus, I needed a job. I walked into the store with no familiarity of the product, no understanding of the company values and a handful of resumes filled with irrelevant job experience. I left the store with one less resume and an interview scheduled for later that afternoon.
Four and a half years later, I find myself leaving my “summer job”. If you asked me-of-2017, I would viciously deny that the store in the basement of the Eaton Centre would become as integral to my life as it has. That job funded my first album. It allowed me to live in Vancouver. It kept me employed during the pandemic. It provided me with the experience I needed to get a new job I am more than excited to start.
However, that doesn’t mean that I am more than excited to leave. I understand I initiated the launch, I was the one who sought out and found a new job, but there are thing I’m leaving behind that I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss meeting so many people. I helped young girls get ready for their first day of high school. I shopped with children who were taking a day off from chemotherapy at Sick Kids. I shopped with trans individuals who were buying their first items of clothing that represented who they truly were. I helped stylists for movies, people find clothes for their first job, and tourists on vacation. I got to speak German and French and American Sign Language. Additionally, I met a handful of Karens who provided me stories for Tik Toks.
I’m going to miss learning the hard life lessons. Growing up my dad said everyone should work in either service or retail. It makes you a better person, he said. It will teach you life skills, he said. And after a near half decade in retail, I can thoroughly agree. You learn to be kind to others, particularly those working in service and retail. You have a greater appreciation for our friends working minimum wage jobs and expected to perform at 100% all the time. You learn to appreciate hard work, because nothing says hard work like a Boxing Day shift at the Eaton Centre. You learn to appreciate money. When you work hourly, you look at all your transactions thinking about how worth it something is. “Is this sweater worth 5 hours of work?” or “Is this Starbucks worth 30mins?”.
I’m going to miss working with clothes. Growing up, clothes were always an important part of my life. Most of the people in my family respect and talk about fashion and style. We watched TV shows and read magazines and curated closets that represented how we wanted the world to see us. It only makes sense that I thrived in an environment where a passion for style is necessary. I’m going to miss helping customers style pieces. Getting people out of their comfort zones. God’s honest opinion, I’m going to miss my associate discount.
And of course, I’m going to miss the people I worked with. Retail environments have a high turnover of people, so I worked with an infinite number of people over the last 5 ish years. I worked with people who have become close friends of mine, people who got me through the days where I swore I was going to slam my head in a fitting room door. People who became a sounding bored for real life problems and listened to me talk about my sisters over and over again. But I also met people who made me grow. People who I butted heads with and had arguments with and frankly, I’m not going to miss that much but I appreciate them all the same.
So, all in all, I’m excited for my new chapter. I greatly appreciate the opportunities I’ve had over the last year and the lessons I learned working at that store. I greatly appreciate all the free clothes I’ve gotten in the last year and I will shed a tear for that loss. Although, I know I’ll be back. One day soon I’ll need a pair of black skinny jeans because the world will get over their bizarre aversion to tight jeans. And I’ll have to walk down to the basement of the Eaton Centre, and some bright-eyed new associate will come up to me and ask me that question that every American Eagle associate has burned into their brain: How do you like your jeans to fit?
…or maybe I’ll just order online…
From me, with love, to you,
The Chicken Finger Rule
A little over a month ago, my sister and I were coming back from my aunt’s cottage. My younger sister and I have an agreement that driving on the highway must involve a fast-food pit stop, and for this particular adventure we had settled on A&W because – in my sister’s opinion – they have the best chicken fingers. So, my sister and I sat in me mom’s car (vroom vroom) and we ate our respective chicken fingers.
Of course, when eating chicken fingers, you have to talk about how amazing chicken fingers are. And in discussing the food, I said, “Wouldn’t it be disappointing to date someone who doesn’t like chicken fingers?” Which would be disappointing. There is something oddly wonderful about eating fast-food in the front seat of a car.
I think a lot about red flags and deal breakers when it comes to boys. More because it’s a fun topic of conversation than anything else. But also, I think it tells you a lot about a person. For example, my cousin loves old movies and old music (not that old, but old-ish), so she finds it a bit off putting when someone doesn’t listen to old music. She says that in the long run, they likely wouldn’t work out.
Which brings me back to chicken fingers. I think it might be a red flag if someone doesn’t like chicken fingers. More importantly, if someone thinks they’re too good for chicken fingers. It’s not even that chicken fingers are my favourite fast-food. I would probably pick poutine 9 times out of 10. But I would never kick chicken fingers out of bed. I want someone who can sit at a dirty old pub or a roadside McDonald’s and bond over a box of McNuggets.
ver have, whether or not I ever eat them again. I want to eat Indian food so spicy that I reconsider every life decision up until that point. And whilst on these food adventures, I don’t want to drag around a significant other that tries to order chicken fingers at every turn.
And thus, the chicken finger rule was born. A window in which there is the correct appreciation for chicken fingers. You want to date someone who will eat drunk nuggets with you, but also not try to order tenders while out for Korean food. The chicken finger rule.
It might seem trivial, to place so much importance on chicken fingers, a food which I rank behind poutine, burgers, and nachos. However, the chicken fingers represent a bit more than chicken fingers. It’s more about the person’s attitude towards life. You want someone who can be messy and silly and enjoy simple Big Mac, but also feels comfortable eating squid ink and reading a wine list. I guess it’s all about being flexible. It’s all about going with the flow and being able to take life as it comes, with all weird and wonderful adventures. It’s all about finding someone to eat chicken fingers with at a roadside A&W.
From me, with love, to you,
P.S. This is my second dating theory that is based around fast food. If you want to read about “getting Big Mac’ed” that’s below 😊.
Things That Ariana Grande Taught Me
When I was 17, I was driving with my at-the-time boyfriend. I was (obviously) picking the music and (obviously) belting at the top of my lungs. It was the summer of 2016, and I was in a pop mood, so I played the laundry list of hits from that summer:
And OF COURSE Into You by the tiny icon herself, Ariana Grande. My boyfriend and I had listened to that song 300 times at that point in the summer, so when it came on I said, “I love this song!”. Usually, that would have been the end of the conversation, however, this time my boyfriend decided to make the side comment of: “You only like this song because it makes you feel hot.”
Immediately I felt myself recoil. I turned the music down and tried to justify why I liked the song for reasons other than feeling hot. I talked about the production and her voice and that it was just a fun song. I wanted more than anything to validate my love for the song in a way that wasn’t “It makes me feel hot”.
Granted I haven’t spoken to this boy in a hot minute, but I can guarantee that if I brought this moment up, he wouldn’t remember it at all. For him it was likely nothing more than a passing comment. But it stuck with me. It’s 5 years later and I’m still thinking about it. I wish I could go back and say, “Yeah, what’s your point?”. But I didn’t say that.
I remember feeling really gross when he said that. His comment made me feel self-absorbed because God’s honest truth is he was right. I liked Into You because it made me feel hot. It made me feel powerful and confident in a way that I was unfamiliar with. When I was 17, despite being a size 4, 6ft tall and having great boobs, I hated the way I looked. Like many teenage girls, I was grossly dissatisfied when I looked in the mirror, and for 4 minutes and 4 seconds, Ariana Grande made that feeling go away.
unattainable standard for me to achieve. It felt like my Everest, and I became frustrated that nobody saw me that way. On the other hand, I desperately didn’t want to be seen that way. All the girls I had known who had been called “hot”, had also been called “slut”, “skank” and “whore”.
It became a lose-lose situation. I wanted to feel like a goddamn smoke show, but I lived in fear of appearing slutty. I had associated the positive confident feeling of feeling sexy, with the negative name-calling of being slut-shamed. I didn’t know how to have one without the other. When my at-the-time boyfriend called me out for feeling hot, all I heard was the negative connotation that I had associated with the word.
Now, at the wise old age of 22, I understand that feeling sexy isn’t just about the way you interact with the people you’re attracted to, but it’s about the way you interact with yourself. How do you interpret your own sexuality? How do you carry yourself? How do you portray your confidence? You can feel like a sex symbol and never hop into bed with anyone, or you can hop into bed with everyone. The point it, you get to play out “sexy” in the way that you deem fit.
Into You is still in my heavy rotation of songs. It’s a kitchen dance party, highway driving, getting ready for a date kind of song. And do you know why? BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEELING FUCKING HOT. And there’s nothing wrong with that feeling. There’s nothing wrong with feeling desirable, despite what I previously believed. I still don’t get called “hot” that often, it happens sometimes but not regularly. I still get “pretty” and “cute” and “beautiful” more than I get “hot”. And I’ve come to terms with that. It doesn’t really matter how other people interpret my appearance, what matters is how I feel.
From me, with love, to you,
Growing up, I was a proud, born and bred Canadian. There are these old photos of my sisters and I, covered head to toe in Canada-Day-themed temporary tattoos. I love Canada, my family is here, my home is here, I’ve travelled this country more than anywhere else in the world. But I’m really privileged to have this viewpoint, to look at my country and see it with rose-coloured glasses. A do-good country in which people are seen as equal, because it’s not true. We are not a unicorn-country, built upon equity. Canada, my home, is flawed. From it’s conception it could never be equal. It’s not that this country has fallen so far from the place that I saw as a child, it is simply that the country I saw as I child never existed.
And I’m disappointed in Canada. I’m disappointed in my education surrounding the indigenous communities. That my education was diluted to make Canadians feel better about the atrocities committed by the people that came before us. I’m disappointed in the systems built that benefit me and people that look like me, while not being equal for marginalised communities. I’m disappointed in a lot of things, but most importantly I’m disappointed in myself.
That I didn’t get involved in the conversation sooner. All those times I didn’t ask more questions or work to learn more about the peoples my country had villainized. I’m disappointed that I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable about the nation I identified with, so I didn’t engage in the conversation as much as I should have.
Because it’s uncomfortable to admit that you are wrong. And it is uncomfortable to admit that the country you live in is not the same for everyone. That my experiences, not matter how great and opportunistic, are not equal to those around me. I should be uncomfortable. I should sit in the discomfort and use it to motivate change, use it to motivate education. Use it to be an ally for others.
I am a Canadian. I was born here, and my family is here. I love the flavour of maple syrup, I eat poutine probably too often, and I make jokes aboot hockey and moose. But I don’t get to be that person, that Canadian, if other people don’t get to be too. I don’t get to act like the world around me is equal, because it isn’t. Every week, I run past 215 pairs of shoes on the ground outside the provincial parliament building to remind me of this.
And I don’t know how to fix all these problems. I’m not going to come out here and say I know the solutions because I don’t. Better people than me have tried and continue to do so. But I want to be in the conversation, I want to be part of the solution. I want to work towards that fictional country I loved as a kid. I am Canadian, and I want to find a way to be proud of that again.
From me, with love, to you,
Lessons From My Oma
My Oma is fucking hilarious. She is this teeny tiny German woman who despite moving to Canada in 1960, still has an accent. She tells us stories about when she moved and she was a young woman living in Toronto, learning to adjust to the culture and just trying to make a wage. She worked a couple jobs when she moved, but the job I hear the most about was her time as a waitress at the El Mocambo.
The El Mocambo is an old live music venue in Toronto, it opened in 1948. My Oma waitressed there when she was younger, and my god does she have stories. Additionally, my Oma was (and still is) a very beautiful woman. More importantly, my Oma knew she was a very beautiful woman. All the waitresses had to wear little black dresses and according to my mom, for the day and age they were pretty scandalous.
I was about 14 or 15 when I started hearing about my Oma’s time as a waitress and she would tell me that she earned a lot of money working there because she was pretty. And then she would turn to my cousins and me and to tell us that we were also pretty girls, and we should know that. We should act like we’re pretty, because it will get us farther.
Being a snot-nosed teenager, I was very unsure about my Oma’s proclamation. First and foremost, my Oma is blind as a bat, so her judgement of appearance is…questionable. But also, what did it mean to “act like a pretty girl”. It kind of felt gross to think about. Act like I’m pretty? Ich verstehe nicht. (cc: I don’t understand). However, hindsight being 20/20, I’ve realised what my Oma tried to (and continues to) tell me: Be a little obsessed with yourself.
I’m not saying be a narcissist, but be a little bit of a narcissist. Fuck, I’m a bit of a narcissist all the time. I want to be a musician, I need to assume that people find me interesting and talented enough to spend money on me, to spend time on me, to invest in me. I post photos of my food on social media. I make the assumption that I am so important, that people want to see what I eat. I have a blog, I assume that my opinions are so important that people will want to read them. Little bit of narcissism.
We’ve talked about it before, but you have to be a little bit into yourself to get through life. You are going to spend the rest of your life with yourself, you may as well enjoy your own company. Be able to watch movies and take photos and eat by yourself. Enjoy yourself enough that alone-time feels valuable.
Moreover, it’s okay to be a little obsessed with the way you look. You don’t need to love your body every second of everyday, that’s an unrealistic standard to set. But love yourself more than you don’t. Every now and then look in the mirror and go “Damn, who’s she?”. 1000% my Oma still looks in the mirror and goes “Wow I look good”, and my Oma is blind.
Be obsessed with your skills. When someone asks you “what is something you’re good at?” tell them. Don’t be the person who sits in the corner of the room and says “nothing”. Be bold about the things you’re good at; I know I’m a good songwriter, a good baker, a good skier. It’s not a bad thing for me to know those things or say those things out loud. Particularly, because those skills are the result of hard work. I’ve been skiing since I was three, my parents put me in lessons and I worked hard to learn to ski. There have been many baking incidents over the years that have resulted in tears (the Christmas cinnamon bun incident of 2015). I work with other people and practise writing songs. I’m proud of those skills so why wouldn’t I admit that?
Now, it’s important not to put others down. Don’t prop yourself up on the backs of others. That’s when confidence becomes arrogance and *vomit*. It’s important to love spending time with yourself, but don’t avoid spending time with other people. Remember to love the way you look, but don’t compare your looks to other peoples’. Know your strengths and be proud of them, but don’t use those skills to belittle other people. If anything, use them to help and teach other people. Be confident, be a little bit self-obsessed. Just don’t be an asshole.
When my Oma says “act like you’re pretty”, she means to be confident. My Oma is an objectively nice looking woman, she’s blind and deaf and has a language barrier, but she was stunning and has aged really well. And there is not a thing in the world wrong with my Oma being confident about her looks, with her taking pride in her appearance. My Oma wants my cousins and I to be confident. To take pride in the things we know to be true. She wants us to enjoy the person we live life as.
Sie möchte, dass wir wissen, dass wir sind „damn treats“.
From me, with love, to you,
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