(Not) Back to School Blues

In the midst of back to school chaos I have found myself sort of stunted both muse-wise and life-wise. I am taking a hiatus on my….career? Not really, I continue to work on my theatrical career let it be writing, networking and reading up/researching on the theories that I love. I guess my career isn’t on hold, so what is, exactly? My academic career for sure, but I feel as though I need to break through this metaphorical barrier of “Back to School.”

This “breaking through” began on Thursday when my mum rushed into my room after visiting Wal Mart and buying my 13-year-old brother’s back to school “last minute” essentials (which happened to be the most essential: backpack, pencil case and shoes) with a small handful of bits and bobs and a smile. Leave it to my mom to not let anyone feel left out, and after describing her “haul” of Kyle’s things she handed me the things she had bought for me.

“These are your back to school things,” she had said, and handed me a small box of fancy new sharpie pens, a cute green and white polka-dotted notebook, and (my favourite) Chef Michael Smith “Family CookBook” (which I knew was on sale and regretted not buying earlier this month). I started to cry, because these weren’t the traditional B2S materials, but they were perfect for me.

The sharpie markers embody my need to write boldly on everything at the moment. The back of my door (see my post on Inspiration Boards) is covered in sharpie marker lists, and I write most of my to-dos, post-its, and various other things in these markers. As I embark on a new theatre-journey with close friends I believe we will take these sharpie markers and use them to our advantage in a few weeks’ time where we will decorate, brainstorm, and showcase our creativity with them as they were born to do.

The notebook, which now sits to my left at my newly organized desk, is pink on the inside, and is honestly the most writing-inspiring notebook I’ve received since my twentieth birthday. It has crisp clean pages, and is completely blank. I think it is bound for lists (as most of my notebooks are) and I just know that inside of it I will put to-do’s, to-buys, and to-writes. It is inviting, and that is all I needed today.

Except for the cookbook. The cookbook that I had flipped through while waiting for mum the last time we were in Wal Mart and found a tasty looking salad, and had debated going back to pick up, it was on sale for pete’s sake why didn’t I just go for it? I am really into exercising my cooking skills lately, and would like to expand a bit more, and Chef Michael is my absolutely favourite chef for his at-home atmosphere and his dear love of deliciousness. I want to be good at making something, anything, and this cookbook was another addition to why I needed to get back on taking care of me instead of worrying about taking a break.

Thanks mum, it really meant a lot to me.

To anyone who is going back to school this week I wish you the best of luck! The first week is always the best, because you snip off the new tags off your clothes, you get to open your binders and notebooks for the first time, and you don’t hate your teachers at this point in the semester. To those moving onto jobs or new ventures: you are inspiring and lovely and I hope everything is exactly what you wanted or is bringing you to where you want to go, if it isn’t, make it happen! And to anyone who is like me, and is in sort of a stand still and needing a bit of motivation: take it from me that it is not going to be easy to accept that you are standing still, but remember and try to realise that IT IS OKAY. You are allowed to BE YOU for a while, so enjoy it, embrace it, and be fabulous.
Xx Jess

Dining Controversies

I have had a love-hate relationship with food for a long time. Sometimes I love to go out and have food with my friends, but that honestly is seldom. Going out to eat for me is a hard thing, not only is it expensive but I usually am sick from the amount of sodium that is used. I’ve had my gall bladder removed and have hard time digesting anything too greasy, and to be honest I enjoy a home cooked meal with friends just as much as going out. If I only had to go out when we went to a steakhouse where I could eat a baked potato, veg out on the couch and watch tv and then sleep then that would be wonderful, the perfect way to eat out (not healthy, do not actually do this if you want to be healthy) but it seems as though everyone wants to go out these days.

There’s a whole twenty-something culture about going out with friends for sushi, or for nachos, and talking and chatting and catching up with someone, but in all honesty you are so distracted and it is in such an un-intimate space that it seems as though the pressure to eat healthy, not spend too much money, and still keep a close-knit conversation about your life going that it makes more sense to go to the grocery store beforehand and invite someone over to make food. Call me old fashioned but I enjoy actually doing things with the people I care about.

Working together, laughing about mistakes, making memories, are worth more than going out sitting down and exchanging stories in public. Given that is one way of comradery that is fun at times, but I want variety and I want genuine moments. I feel pressured to act a certain way in public let it be the panoptical effect of society or just how I act in a restaurant, but I would rather have you over, make a nice salad and watch Love Actually (a real occurance that happened just a mere week ago) with peppered out-dates. This goes for any relationship, but I find that friendships sometimes get stuck in the out-for-a-meal-or-drink cycle, which can get expensive and…boring.

Hope this rang some bells for you, it grinds me sometimes, but I have challenged myself and my friends to make our food more or at least buy and eat at home, this way you are both/all in a more comfortable setting and you have the ability to really spend time together.

Xx Jess

A Comfortable Education: Passivity and “the Birds and the Bees”

I think I’ve been thinking too much about this rape culture issue that swirls around my social media and lately has been targeted by the newly released nail polish that detects the date rape drug when painted on nails. It is rather sad to think that we must create a defense team against rape, instead of say do what Kelly Oxford (who gets bashed daily for her voicing these opinions) advises we just “teach boys not to rape,” as a solution. It is a simple and smart solution indeed, why is there no sex ed about rape in middle school? Maybe there is where you went to school but we just learned how to deal with puberty and how to put on a condom, there wasn’t much about what happens after sex or abuse. That being said I was in the public school system nearly a decade ago learning all of these things.

I think what bothers me the most is that talking about it has become so taboo. I can’t talk about masturbation to my girlfriends without someone cringing, let alone openly talking about feminism or rape culture with people close to me. Yes, there are some who feel comfortable enough to talk openly about anything really, but the majority of people in my life avoid the topic or flat-out ignore me when I bring up the topic of this nature. How can we sit around and watch the VMA’s where Nicki Minaj can sing a euphemistic Anaconda song about penises and we can talk about how big Kim Kardashian’s bum is but the moment we talk about real things that happen to real people surrounding sex people literally cringe?

I have come to think this way because of my fortunate humanities education in a liberal university academic setting with talented and smart and eloquent professors who spoke freely and strongly about the issues that mattered most to them and ultimately me. I was able to be in open seminars about religion, sexuality and racism. I was able to be in classrooms full of smart, outspoken peers who felt comfortable to also share their thoughts. This began when I was eighteen, and that in my opinion is far too late.

My teenage years were wrought by relationships with boys, girlfriends, exploring and experiencing sex, misunderstanding feminism and finally in my final years of high school being introduced to confidence and feminism by a wonderful teacher (who I remain friends with today). I just feel like so many things are “Taboo” when we are younger that we cannot accurately learn. Young people should be able to ask questions and get accurate answers that are appropriate for their understanding of the world around them. I find it hard to believe that without those caring and supportive seminars during my undergrad if I would have come to such an open minded place, and that scares me.

Yes, teach young boys not to rape, but teach them what rape means, what saying yes and no means, and teach it to girls too. Teach them about sexuality, and hardships, and do not scare them away from sexuality or other massive topics that can be overwhelming when you are oung. I understand that the fear of overwhelming children is the reason that we don’t dump the world’s worries down on them at once, but I believe that having a comfortable and informative environment to learn about the world around you is essential to being able to have a critical thinking mind.

Xx Jess

A Love Letter to my Shoes

Sometimes while in the mall or various high street shopping areas I would and will lust after shoes. I will look at them, I will talk about them, I remember when we went to Harrods in London and I saw mint green flats for around seven hundred pounds and I just couldn’t believe a pair of shoes could ever cost so much. Needless to say, I have a lot of shoes myself but I stick to under a certain price, usually seventy Canadian dollars for non-leather shoes, and if I can help myself then under fifty for seasonal wear. This brings me to the point of this post: I bought affordable, brown, beautiful, cosy OXFORDS the other day.

I think that is purchase has brought me to my style plateau. I once bought wing-tipped women’s flats from the same store and got compliments on them constantly until they were wore down to the point of a large hole through the entire sole of the foot. These Oxfords are readying themselves for the same wear. They are perfect, and were perfectly priced, and are comfortable and totally worth the FORTY FIVE dollars that I paid for them.

I think I have an addiction to classic shoes from my classic movie state-of-mind. Pretty in Pink showcases Molly Ringwald in Converse and Oxfords, which are two of my most prized shoes (in addition to my black light floral print dock martens and my knee high brown leather boots from London) and they will remain that way until I can wear them no longer. Shoes, it seems, are a stable and reliable part of my life.

As they should be, really. I mean, we have to wear shoes nowadays to look normal, which is a reasonable cultural assumption, but also shoes protect our feet and connect us to the ground. Sorry to sound yoga-hippy-dippy here but I did an entire “ground” yoga practise yesterday where I spent five minutes slapping, rubbing, and massaging my feet in order to ready them for a connection to the ground, and if our shoes are what connect us to the ground then why don’t we treat them with the same respect? They are worth spending money on and taking care of, they are what help us walk around comfortably, they are a statement but above all they are essential to everyday life (for vertical walking people, that is).

I have been told recently that I have too many shoes. I have accumulated a dear collection to me over the past handful of years that I have been able to go out, buy and choose shoes for myself. It is one thing to buy your own clothes, jeans, the tarticles and pieces that accompany you through everyday life and say more about you than what you might think, but it is liberating to literally give yourself the article of clothing that allows you to get from point a to point b. Those Oxfords have already taken me across the city, and I expect to take them a far way as well. The relationship I have with my shoes may be love-hate at times of long-wear, but for the most part it is one of those relationships where you are grateful to have one another, or so I would assume.

Xx Jess

Ps.I sincerely promise to write about more interesting things than shoes and salads in the near future.

Post-It Project

About two years ago prior to my travellng adventures began I was having a particularly self-conscious moment and my boyfriend at the time made me list things that I liked about myself and keep going. This technique seemed dumb at the time, but since that day whenever I feel angry at my body or at something about myself I try to list things that I like about myself. This has propelled me to this project.

Everyday I am going to treat myself as if I am writing a loving pick-me-up card to one of my best friends (something that I do whenever I feel like someone around me might need it) and write one post it in the same fashion… with something loving, supportive and caring towards myself. This project is to make a step towards positive feeling directed inwards and confidence so that I feel a bit less…down, on myself at any given time. I will have a small wall of growing reassurances and reminders that I am fabulous.

I challenge you to do it too, if you’re feeling into it.

Xx Jess

Frowns: A Flaw in High Fashion

While on vacation the past weekend (and a bit) I snuggled up on the front porch in the bright sunshine with a coffee and a beautiful, glossy, new British Vogue. I only treat myself to a larger, British Vogue once in a while as they are expensive (silly imports) and so this was a special occasion indeed. I went to open the thick pages when something striking popped out at me from Posh Spice on the cover: a frown. Flipping through the pages I found that most of the high fashion, light-on-the-lipstick-hard-on-the-eyebrows fashion models were indeed frowning, and the stark jawline dictated the entire issue.

Is it so hard to smile?

Maybe I am a naive admirer of the High Fashion world instead of a participant (who spends six hundred dollars on a green wool coat anyway?) but I know what attracts be to the mag and what doesn’t. I love the idea of beautiful, strong fashion designs and advertisements screaming at me to appreciate the art. I love the pages full of pictures (to a blind girl that is everything) and I love the trends of the season that are showcased in a creative and beautiful way. I aspire to organise anything as beautifully as any Vogue I’ve come across, but what I don’t understand is their objective.

Is High Fashion’s objective only to entice their audience to buy their clothing? Because if so, then my great friend’s term of “resting bitch face” sure seems to come close to describing the clientelle of every Dolce and Gabana, Bvlgaria, and dozens of other adterts in such magazines, because each model glares down at you from their very high horse.

I actually appreciate models for being able to stand up in the clothes that they do…

But if High Fashion’s objective is to display the clothes artistically (and let’s be honest, even if I am the only Vogue-grubbing girl in the world who hoards every issue who classifies it as art then that is an objective anyway, in a way) then how hard would it be to make an article of clothing look good while smiling? I would usually consider myself an ordinary girl and I feel intimidated by the models on these pages because they seem to always be…if not unhappy, then intensely absorbed into whatever they are doing.

Intensity is beautiful, but so is genuine emotion, and it just seems too fake to believe that a Burberry trenchcoat would make someone so unhappy while they walked among a large valley with a huge horse and beautiful man.

Even when my favourite issue of Teen Vogue (I said I’ve had these for a while, okay?) where they displayed Emma Watson pre-pixie cut in beautiful and extravagant dresses in a garden I thought I’d see at least a small smile, but everything was a serene, “calm,” and intense frown.

I could just be an outsider admiringly looking in at a world so far away from my curvier, bold-lipsticked position, but I think it would do Fashion good to allow a runway model to smirk even while she walked down the catwalk, or allow the Covergirl Victoria Beckham’s eyes glimmer as she stood in her kitchen as she is probably quite happy in her position. And maybe, again, I am speaking out of an ignorant perspective. I’d just like to see someone crack a smile.

Because ordinary people do smile, even if our lives aren’t as glamorous.

xx Jess

Not Back To School and Other Terrifying Realisations

This coming September is the first Back to School season in seventeen years that I have not had school to look forward to. You read that right, seventeen years of nonstop education. I’ve spent the summer moaning about not working, about being bored of (ha) writing every day and drinking coffee at random times through the work week. I have just in the past week or two settled into the fact that I have not worked this summer and enjoyed it, but now that the fall season is creeping up on me I am finding my B2Skewl anxiety appearing as well.

I want to buy new binders and a pencil case and usb-drives and new jeans and shoes again. It is somewhat liberating to think that this will be the first year in so long that I don’t need those things, but I think I didn’t realize how scary that thought actualy is. This is the truth, right here: despite how busy school has made me in the past, I love learning.

I have decided that I don’t need school in particular to learn, but I need the motivation to learn, and with this acceptance I will continue to learn. I am still looking at courses, the formal education system of course becomes attractive because it looks better on paper than saying “I created a kick-ass play and learned the entire time!” But I plan on doing that as well. I want to create, and make mistakes, and pick myself back up.

One thing that I’ve lost sight of last month and wanted to re-iterate to anyone who may be going back to school or not is that you don’t have to be happy every moment of every day to be happy. I forgot this during the curcial summer months. I wanted to be having spectacular, full experiences so that I could get the most from my summer, but what I have realised is that I needed to take a break, I needed to force myself to stop thinking academically in order to appreciate what I had gone through. This meant that I was not happy every moment, and it is still a hard process, but I appreciate my seventeen-year-long educational journey (it isn’t over let’s be real) and am now appreciating the unique experience of alone-time in my own creativity.

Great things come from unexpected hardships, it seems.

Not saying that not working for a summer is a hardship, but I think the hardest part has been accepting that this was just a part of my journey, and that it may not be over but it is what I do with it that counts. What use is a summer off without beaches, writing, coffee and netflix? Or is that just me?

xx Jess

Salad: Is it Worth it?

The short answer of course is yes, salad is always worth it. Here are a collection of stories and experiences that I have endured for the endearing “salad.”

While backpacking in a foreign country I PROMISE you that you will miss food from home. Even if you LOVE THE Italian pasta, or the Mexican fajitas, you will miss your food from home eventually. While in Germany I had been enjoying heavy beers, sausages, SourKraut, and a handful of other delicacies when it just became too much and I craved, yes you guessed it, a salad. We were hvaving dinner in Colognes and I ordered a Caesar salad. I thought this would be a safe bet, I mean there was a slight chance it would come with an anchovy sitting like a king on top but those were removeable and I couldn’t handle another deep-fried, greasy meal. So when teh salad arrived (sans anchovy, thankfully) I was too excited to eat it. After one bite however something was off. The leaves were…warm. There was melted butter covering my precious salad. Leave it to Germany to somehow manage to weigh down a salad.

While on a family trip in Florida post a very invasive eye surgery my family and I were at a fancy restaurant that had a rooftop view of the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld. I remember it well, my brother ordered Mickey Mouse Macaroni which had Mickey Eared-pasta shells, and I ordered a caesar salad (I do order other salads these two stories are particularly caesar-dressed) so naturally when the salad appeared before me I picked up a leaf and put it into my mouth. Remember when I mentioned that some fancy caesars come with anchovies? Well, this one did, and since I had just had my eye surgery I hadn’t noticed much of anything, and to my distaste (literally) an anchovy was now sitting on my tongue, half chewed. Needless to say, that fancy dinner may have been on the salty side, and I have been skeptical of salads ever since.

For the most part in recent years however most salads that I have ordered out or made in with friends and family have been magnificent. Just yesterday afternoon a good friend and I made a spinach salad with plain leaves, grape tomatoes and cucumber with the tastiest dressing that just filled us up and encouraged us to not only have a small plate of nachos for dinner but feel good about eating leaves! Salads are great for that, the leaf eating, the vegetable intake.

My dad and I actually enjoy making salads without leaves lately. Just putting zucchini, cucumber, tomato, cellery, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatos, olives, anything that can be chopped into small, bite-sizes and covered in olive oil and balsamic vinegar gets put into a bowl and devoured. Salads in this regard have changed summer meals for us, as we spend a lot of time making these salads and in a flash they are gone. A great companion for any meal, really.

During the winter last year we tried to make one of these leaf-less salads that was big enough for our extended family, and so naturally it went into a larger bowl than usual, and since we were having company the fridge was full of various other supplies and we had nowhere to chill the salad (it is best chilled, we say) and so out on the back porch it went to cool, it sat in a small divet in the snow. Oh the Canadian winters, we always find use for the snow when it comes to hosting dinner parties. Let it be the salad, or even the beer.

You may wonder why I bother with these stories of salads. Well, as it turns out, lots of people don’t actually like salad. I like to think its delicious and a good way to get your veggies, but also there are so many different ways to think about them. I have had good and bad relationships with salads but for the most part, the bigger part, the part that stays with me, keeps motivating me to try new things and keep going. Who cares if no one else likes them? I’ll order a salad-or make one-any day.

xx Jess

Sweat Stains

Sixth grade was the beginning of my lifelong journey into womanhood (which I would argue actually began when I realised and identified as a girl when I was a child but I mean what can ya do) and my body began to change and so my mom and I went shopping for clothing that would make me comfortable. We went into Reitmans, which is a store for (sorry mom) middle aged women to buy chords (at the time in 2003) and other random articles that were sort of strange for an eleven year old girl, but I wore none-the-less. I also took to adidas track pants and GAP sweaters, which basically covered up anything that I was uncomfortable or conscious about.

The other girls in my class talked about Sitches, or American Eagle, clothing stores that were a bit old for us but they had older sisters who took them there and I had been extremely jealous.

Fast forward to the following year when I was wearing (surprise) jeans and a GAP sweater when a boy asked me why I wore sweaters every day. I replied with “they’re comfortable,” to which he replied, “but don’t you want to show off your body?” Well, no, I didn’t, but since a boy had asked the question I was motivated to wear only a tshirt the next day—one that I had bought from the elusive Stitches. This day had been particularly warm, and being a pubescent young lady I was sweating (I laugh now since I continue to sweat well into my twenties) and it was a bright pink shirt, meaning that the sweat was visible.

I should give a short background of sweat in my life to this point. The elementary and middle school I had attended had been a cruel place for preteen girls at the time with light grey gym tshirts and red shorts, which meant that if you DARED to break a sweat during gym class (which, some girls boasted in the dressing room, they never sweat and were perfect princesses from day 1) then EVERYONE saw and you were a hideous monster. This lead me to, no joke, wearing TWO of these grey shirts, a camisole and a training bra to every gym class to mask the fact that I was a NORMAL PERSON and sweat when playing basketball, dodgeball, etc. and I would change in the one stall in the dressing room so the other girls wouldn’t see. This changed come highschool but for my middle school years where it seemed like every other person my age didn’t sweat, didn’t have curves, didn’t need a training bra it was a lonely time to have sweat stains, especially when boys were finally noticing us girls.

Back to my story, that pink shirt inevitably had sweat stains because it was HOT OUTSIDE and only ABNORMAL NOMADS refuse to sweat on a hot day, and some “cute” boy had come up to me breaking away from a group of laughing boys and asked “are those sweat stains?” Um, yes, they were, and I snapped back in my sassy twelve-year-old-defensiveness “Yes they are, its hot.” And I went back to my GAP sweaters. Boys can be cruel, so can the heat, other girls, but those sweat stains haunted me well into my high school years.

I refused to buy coloured clothing, I bought only dark grays, blues, purples, and black coloured shirts, which was fine because that (luckily) was the style. Besides, I could wear scarves and cardigans and jackets to cover up the stains. When I made it to fitness class in eleventh grade not only were the gym clothes a normal colour like WHITE but the other girls were visibily perspiring! It was like a new world for me, a world where other girls sweat. Gone were the years where my sister and I tried hundreds of different deodorants, spray ons, baby powders, to prevent us from sweating now the other girls were doing that too! It was (cool?…maybe not cool) okay to sweat. It had been a long journey but I had made it!

Then the bar scene hit when I came of drinking age and man did girls sweat on the dance floor, and now I am comfortable with it. My girlfriends and I can chit chat about it, different deodorants and home remedies, how to not sweat on a date has always eluded me, (just don’t touch me!) I was back in my middle school preteen body screaming DON’T TOUCH ME while actually hoping they would like me. (dating is hard).

I don’t think I will ever be able to be “proud” of my sweat stains, but I have learned a lot in the eleven years since that “cute” boy (I know his name and everything but I have him on facebook and can’t out him here for..well I don’t really care way to be a dick Danny) had made me feel absolutely revolted by my sweat. People do it, everyone does, its healthy, even, and I’ve learned that if someone can’t handle that they shouldn’t be in your life anyway. But what life do you have in middle school really? Your friends are just competitors in the race to be cool, to be noticed, its not until md-highschool (in my experience) where you overlook the bullshit that comes with comparing yourself to others and realise that people are people and sweat stains happen to everyone and you all should just be blind and get over that (eh, my experience, eh).

Hope this inspires someone to buy a coloured shirt today, I am sure proud of the bright colours I sport today.

xx