Brooke Bentham <3 | #29

I’ve been in love with this song for so long, and I never thought I’d really understand what it meant.  I love the haunting bits, the small breaks, the way that I do and don’t understand what it means.  But I do, and there’s nothing else to say other than I am just happy it exists out there in the atmosphere, because I trust that hope is something that people experience together, no matter their relationship.

xx Jess

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Self Care: Breathing | #28

This week has been charged with overwhelming hysteria, on my part, because there is a frazzle in the air. Appropriately, I ended my stress week in Sassafraz, over a great meal with one of the best people on the planet. After eating and drinking and laughing, we faced the rain to spend an hour and a bit inside the largest, most beautiful Indigo books.

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We found the Bowie TIME magazine, and I finally found the John Keats poetry book that I’ve been waiting for for…well, for a very, very long time. Finally, Ode to Psyche is mine.

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After returning home I ran a bath, poured some champagne, turned on a new romcom on Netflix and snuggled in the bubbles to read my vogue and breathe. That is the best part about life, that we continue to breathe, it is the running thread that knits our memories together. What can you rely on? Your breath. Taking that in in moments of stress as well as moments of peace is extremely important to me, because it connects those peaceful moments as a memory, as something to recall in moments of crying into your coffee early in the morning mid-week, there is breath, there is peace, you are not okay now but it will come.

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It will come.
xx Jess

Saturday Morning Relationship | #27

I do love mornings.  I love breakfasts.  I love the way that the air is cold, and crisp and new.  I love the light early on, when its just new and brightening, not stagnant like the afternoon.  I love the smell of coffee, and yawns and pulling the sheets to my chin before being able to get up.  Fighting off the urge to clean or write or get to the to-do list, to just sift through Twitter and laugh out loud and breaking the morning silence.  I love mornings, I do, I am in a relationship with the mornings.

I would consider myself a morning person.  Lately I must be accompanied by a coffee, but I do love to get up and listen to my YouTube and drink coffee and watch the sun lighten the sky.  This morning I spent the first two hours of consciousness in bed watching the FFiles (post coming soon…with my thoughts…of the first season, upon first watch) and then made a lovely breakfast and read vogue while listening to some internet women, which you can see above.

Living alone has changed mornings for me.  When I am at my parents’ house I am used to spending the morning with a coffee and a mimosa and football with my dad and mom, big breakfasts, noise, talking, laughter, phone calls, multiple showers in succession and brunches or lunches out.  Here, I spend the morning in silence.  I wake up to nothing and no one, and that’s very different.

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I’ve been trying to do yoga in the morning to ground my body and help my seminar-ridden body get a bit of time to lay on a mat and not sit in a chair reading/writing.  I didn’t do yoga this morning, but I’ve not felt so comfortable in a long time.  I don’t have any plans until this evening, and not being rushed is the best part of mornings when you live alone.  No fight for the shower, coffee machine, milk, etc.

How do you spend your mornings?  I made two eggs with avocado for breakfast and a small piece of baguette, no apple this morning but I’ll be having a few early this afternoon.  Breakfast is a bit standard for me right now which has become boring and I am looking to explore some different breakfast options that are healthy, energizing and quick.  I’m going to be trying some stove-top oatmeal this week…We shall see how this is.

Happy Saturday, folks!

xx Jess

 

The Women of Youtube Who I Love | #26

I am constantly impressed by the women of youtube who decide the content of their channels to be whatever they want. I love me an occaisionaly makeup tutorial, but these women who review books, who talk about video games, who create communities of sex positive people and who encourage you to be great and fabulous make me smile to the umpteenth degree, because I feel like they are also in turn a part of my own community, so I wanted to share these wonderful women with you.
Rosianna:

Estee:

Hannah (and her family, the Michelaks):

Sanne:

(I listened to this video while I worked on this post, UGH, I just love her voice.)
Laci:

Now these are just a handful of the wonderful women that I spend my days with, but they are the ones that I thought you may not have heard of, or saw in passing but didn’t take the chance to go and listen to them or watch their content. If you can’t watch all of the videos on your YouTube subscription list, take a looksee at these wonderful women once in a while, the content never fails, they have great and powerful voices, and contribute to a positive community.

xx Jess

Accessible Theatre in Toronto | #25

While planning on staying at The Other D Symposium at the University of Toronto for the entire day on Saturday, Antje sent me an email from Theatre Passe Muraille saying that there were two free tickets to see their show ELLE in the afternoon of Saturday, and it was their first relaxed performance so I might be interested. I was very interested and am so lucky to have been a part of this performance, not only for the beautiful, and powerful play, but for the integration of accommodative performances in Toronto.  I want to explore this and make suggestions here.

First, this was a “Relaxed Performance” which was intriguing because I have heard of them before, but was curious as to how they would work.  When we arrived we sat down beside the thrust stage on the left, close enough for me to see the intricate yet simple yet, and as the show was about to begin the artistic director Andy McKim and the director Christine Brubaker talked the audience through the lighting and sound cues, and the nature of the performance where we were encouraged to get up and walk around if need be.  These Relaxed Performances are for any sensory disability, so that audience members do not feel confined in their seat, and can get up to walk around if they need to.  I really appreciated this experience, after the performers were introduced, the entire piece was so powerful and captivating that I didn’t notice when the sound cues were less prominent, or the house lights were still up, if anything I was trying to imagine what the actress, Severn Thompson’s face would look like during her beautifully crafted scenes.

I was also thinking critically about Theatre Passe Muraille’s new accessibility initiative and how they have been advertising it and reaching out to different companies.  Cahoots Theatre is putting on a new production called Ultrasound this spring, which I am very much looking forward to despite it being entirely ASL and for the deaf community, I am fascinated to know (and hopefully can write about in these journals!) my experience of a theatre piece created specifically for the deaf community, and alternatively try and create something similar for the blind community.  I believe that a project of this nature helps accommodation but also outlines the work that we have to do as theatre artists to be inclusive at all.

I was thinking specifically during ELLE about audio-description, because I was speaking to Jivesh Parasram over email about an audio-description plan and my interest in pursuing a similar project to Ultrasound that would turn into a handbook for theatres to support creators and audience members with the targeted disability.  That being said, I believe that there is a way that we can approach audio-described performances in a creative way that would engage the community, and respond specifically to a blind or partially sighted patron’s needs in order to erase barriers of intimidation to attend the theatre.

As a side note these suggestions are from my own personal perspective in order to give a starting off point, but also from conversation that I’ve had with other blind theatre patrons on the malleability needed for audio description and people with varying degrees of vision.

  1. The ushers at Toronto theatres are usually volunteers, who come for the show once for free and stand at the door for the others. I wonder if there is room to have volunteer audio-describers at performances.  This would work in the context of a Relaxed Performance such as the one I attended on Saturday, January 23, because the environment was less strict on sound and movement, and the patron in need would feel more comfortable asking “what is happening?” “Is she standing/sitting/etc?” instead of involuntarily holding a headset and having to navigate the prescribed descriptions from there (which is my experience with the Stratford Festival’s audio-descriptions)
  2. If we are looking at further integrating and making this a common experience, I believe that we could establish a community of accommodators, of guides, of ASL-translaters, who are like a pool of ushers, who would attend the theatre and sit with the disabled patrons and translate/describe while needed. I believe that might be difficult for ASL (although I think that ASL is easier and cheaper to achieve than audio descriptions in a “regular” performance) but in particular, I have a hard time seeing people’s faces, but can see bigger set and body movement, if I had someone who was designated to sit with me at the theatre, and I could ask them questions such as “is she smiling?” then I would feel included in the performance, without feeling as though I am at a totally separate performance for “my people,” although those days can be empowering in their own right.
  3. To build on my first suggestion, I am aware that there are ASL performances, and at the Stratford Festival they have 3-4 Audio-Described prescribed performances, meaning that there are a limited amount of performances that people with these disabilities (and same with the limited number of Relaxed Performances as well) can attend comfortably. Is there an opportunity for the theatre community to cultivate and integrate these accommodations into their regular seasons?  Sundays are usually Pay What You Can performances, why can’t something like Tuesdays be Accommodated Performances?  If we are sticking to the designated segregated days for people with disabilities to feel comfortable in the theatre, that is.
  4. Finally, and maybe this is idealistic here (but I truly do not believe so) we as a community reach out to realms of disability when training, when looking for new work, when trying to sell tickets to shows, and when auditioning for shows. In my experience the barriers that exist between people of the blind community in particular and attending/getting involved with the theatre is that we feel there is a physical barrier.  We have limited, low or no vision, but we have brains in our heads that are valuable and can consume theatre, we just need a little bit of a different approach.

While thinking about what I was going to write about I feel like I could’ve made some suggestions in the after-the-show talk, but I needed to think.  These ideas are clearly in development, and I do believe there are more creative approaches to audio-description that are out there that haven’t been considered because no one takes the time.  Audio-described performances on headsets are not compatible with everyone who needs things to be described to, and so I wonder if there needs to be more thought for people with low or no vision.

I will officially offer myself up, consider this my application!

 

Link to ELLE: http://passemuraille.ca/archives/current-season/elle

Link to Ultrasound:  http://passemuraille.ca/archives/current-season/ultrasound

xx Jess

Where I’ve Been: 24 Years | #24

Yesterday my family came down to Toronto to celebrate my birthday with me, and after trying to stay at one restaurant we ended up at the Duke of York, a small pub that had good beers and good food.  We are the kind of family to need an atmosphere where we can laugh and eat with our fingers without feeling like we are alone?  So this was the place for us.  Amidst good conversation, I got my birthday meal of steak, Caesar and fries and a Fuller’s beer, which is a prequel to the amount of English beers that are about to be in my future when I head there for mywinter break.  Afterwards, we had some tarts for dessert.  My brother and sister really dug their toffee pudding, but I got a milk chocolate salted caramel tart, shown above, that was so delicious I just sat there looking at it for a while.  I am not a huge cake person (unless it is mccain deep dish, cold from the freezer, eaten out of the tin with a fork) so small little treats like this are perfect.

And then on the way home from the bar later, I picked up a bag of chips, which I just remembered aren’t finished and I should hide them because I will eat them all in the first half of this week with all of the stress I have!

After the celebrations are over (kind of, I have more this week, prolonged birthday celebrations!) I have been reminded how important it is, not just for the birthday girl, to celebrate on birthdays.  They are special days, and when things are tough its nice to be acknowledged and taken care of, and have people offer for you, and celebrate as a community, come together, and forget the woes of the days around and just focus on the good things, the good times, the laughter, the boys, the mixed messages, the bruised hearts, the gay-lean as Tita would say, and anything else that comes with that.  There is nothing more fun to me than a no-stress environment, drinking a champagne sangria, with good people who keep conversations going without even trying, and smiling.

Birthdays are for smiling, and I smiled a lot yesterday.

Where have I been lately?  I’ve reached my twenty-fourth year of life, and I have decided to be healthy and happy and embrace the work that I love to do, the people that I love and want in my life, and do.  Just do.  Just be.  Because there is nowhere better than where I am right now.

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xx Jess

Princess vs. Reality | #23

 

Once Upon a time…no, that’s not right, that’s never right or enough.  One day a long time ago a young girl sat down to watch a film.  This film was about a princess who was locked in a tower and needed rescuing.  You see, in most princess films the princess gets herself into these situations, by merely making one mistake or by someone overtaking her, controlling her, or kidnapping her.  There is always an expected hero, someone to climb the tower and slay the dragon.  There are some films about the princess inspiring the hero to slay, to climb, to save her, but is that it?  Is that what life’s supposed to be?  Must we wait until we inspire someone to come after us?  Or how about the princess sits for a while and cries and swears and writes her stories on the wall of the dungeon, and then thinks.  If she’s in a dungeon thinking, why not find her way out?  Not possible?  Then wait for a hero, who would realistically be semi in-shape but also unfocused, and call out to him:

“Hey!  Friend!  This tower!  Its over here!  Also, bring a rope so we can get out of this place!  I know how to climb!  I can strap you to my back!  Thanks mate!”

And instead of it being one-sided, instead of the princess clutching the back of the hero’s back down to the tower and jumping off, graciously kissing him and marrying the next day, all ideas of grandeur are slain, and she shakes his shaking body off, grabs his sword, asks for back up, and they slay the dragon together?  And then probably go for a glass of wine and get to know each other before kissing etc.,etc..

We need a modern princess story that teach something a bit more courageous for women.  Princesses have been known to be giving, caring humans who expect grace and respect from the men around them.  But princesses are flawed too, so why not have more Disney films, more cartoons, displaying all kinds of choices and kinds of women, break down the castle walls and welcome you into my office, my restaurant, my hospital.  Are these stories any less interesting?  We could raise the stakes in any of them.

There can still be fantasy, hell, bring a dragon into the hospital.  Slay it, and its body turns out to be a cure for cancer? HELLO HOLLYWOOD U’VE GOT GREAT IDEAS RIGHT HERE.  The head doctor would have to be a woman though, or it would have to be an office with family doctors that was made up of all women.  You don’t think that’s realistic?  My family doctor’s office only has women doctors.  By chance, because they exist and have great stories.

I was thinking about this a lot because of literature, because of a few plays that I’m reading, because the other night after work I got home and fell asleep watching Enchanted, and I realised the princess always has an evil woman after her, an evil man after her, and a few men either oppressing her or saving her.  With Frozen as the expection most of the supporting women roles in princess films are eroding the female relationship with other females, because they don’t aim to build up but to tear down the princess.  They accuse them, question them, instead of trusting them or encouraging them.  Why aren’t there more Queens?  GIVE ME SOME QUEENS.

And, my last point, which was said so wonderfully by Canada’s current Prime Minister JTrud, we should be encouraging our young boys to explore stories about women too.  And young girls exploring the adventurous stories as well.  Teach them respect equally, less segregation, and encourage it as a parent, sibling, auntie, friend, teacher…the only way to have our children have the courage to be strong, kind and giving people is to show them stories of other strong, kind giving people like them in a medium that works for them.  You can teach by example, by being a strong and giving person and hope that they inherit that, but a colourful film that can be watched multiple times with a princess who reads books and has glasses and kicks ass? How is that not powerful for both girls and boys?  For anyone?

xx Jess

The Eve | #22

There is nothing I love more than coming home after a jam-acked, busy day in the cold than to draw a bath.  What does that even mean exactly?  To “draw” a bath?  Anyways, I love to throw in some bubbles, light my favourite little candle and set u Sex and the City on a chair beside the tub, glass of wine in hand, and watch a few eisodes and forget the world around ,e.

I love getting out of the tub and hearing it drain while the last episode fades, my housecoat on, lighting a second candle beside my bed.  When that epiode is over I love to embrace the silence.  The hum of the fridge, the rush of cars outside.  I forget that I live alone sometimes and there’s nothing but me, just me.  So its nice to not have anything but me for a little, no hone, no computer, just a quiet house for a quiet me.

Some eole call these evenings pamper nights, I have been singing “Birthday Bath” to the tune of that “Birthday Sex” song that came out a long time ago.  “Don’t neeed no, candles or cake just you body to make your BIRTHDAY BATH!” the words are a bit different but the sentiment is the same:  I am relaxed, in my favourite state of mind and body:  alone, warm (but the air is cooling me down), wine, sex and the city, candles…It is hard to find something more serene than that for me.  After a brilliant day, with another coming u tomorrow.

Today was even more lovely because it was amplified by inspiration.  There isn’t anything better than finally, finally, after weeks of trying to write or come up with an idea or a start to a paper, than getting hit with a great idea mid show or mid conversation.  Both happened to me today, and although I wanted nothing more than to whip out my phone and email myself these thoughts in my head I sat and enjoyed the moment.  That brief inspiration solidified my great Birthday weekend, and moments before my 24th birthday I am reminded, again, about the cool life I am leading right now.

Life is cool.

xx Jess

 

 

Independent Woman |#21

 

I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings
Girl, I didn’t know you could get down like that.

Indeed, you did not, because independent women do not broadcast their independence everyday. They don’t talk about the two weeks a month when they feel like their uterus is going to grow to the size of a pumpkin inside of them and implode. They don’t talk about the headaches, fatigue, mood swings, uneasy cramps, and maintenance those weeks take. They don’t talk freely about the cost of tampons, chocolate, a size larger of pants/bras/underwear essential for comfort, or the laundry list of other things in our heads. Not even that, but independent women do all of this while thinking it is not okay to talk about it openly in public. We get made fun of for awkward conversations on dating websites not instigated by ourselves, and are expected to love our bodies every minute of every day without a second thought.

The best part about being an independent woman? Despite the things that we deal with on a daily basis, we have heads on our shoulders that help hold us up. What I wanted to say here is that we can’t always hold ourselves up, sometimes it serves us well to open our mouths and talk about the things that are trying so hard to break us down.

xx Jess