Art

Two bars of a song I’ve never heard before passes and the first thought I have is “I am craving a new world.”

This strikes me as a bit strange, but music moves me to think things sometimes as all art does.  Walking through art galleries, experiencing a powerful performance, or reading strong words by strong humans makes me—no, inspires me.  And not just inspiring me to write my own plays or novels or paint with my fingers or mind or whatever, but inspires me to continue to be dedicated to this world. To be alive, to strengthen my relationship with living.

We forget this sometimes.  We forget about the things that keep us alive, the things that reign us in and anchor us to the reality that we cherish and believe.  Those dark days, those days that are remarkably small and weak for us are the days that we can look towards the next and hope that something glimmers, that a bar of music inspires you to love the world around you for a few moments, or finding a photograph on tumblr that latches you into another world and helps you dive into life again.

Art is powerful, but only because we are responsible for wrapping our minds around the work and doing the alterations in this home, this life.  I am thirsting for a new world of dreamers and leaders and innovators.  This world exists, and is out there, but sometimes I have to take a break from it to remember its there.

I am tired of this world of awful humans coming out of the woodwork.  I’m tired of a world where people you thought you knew turn out to be assholes or liars, or people you cannot trust.  I trust that this world is pulsing with life, but also that it is consumed by waves of disbelief and pain.  How can we overcome this? How can we reach our hands across oceans or through barriers of ignorance to make the changes we want to see in a new world?

If you believe it, act it.  If you value it, stick to it.  And if you love it, work for it.

I think what resonates the most with me about art and its implications in the world around me is that it explores passion and care in ways that only the artist knows and understands fully, but invites others to experience the passion and love one feels.  I trust in art that there is honesty somewhere, that there is purpose for one person somewhere and if that is the lifeline that they need then that is enough.

Someone once told me they created art to live, that it saved them, that it anchored them back to purpose and passion, and for that one person I am grateful to art for roping them back in, and for keeping another heart beating for this world.

So as long as I am here I will appreciate the art that finds its way into my ears and brain, because there is something addictive to good, beautiful, powerful art.  It inspires me, it inspires me to keep moving forward, and to challenge myself to find representations of my own passion, care, and love in the work that I do.

xx Jess

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Mini Break: Montreal in Mid-July

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Coming home from Montreal, on a train, brings back memories similar to coming home from Europe.  Maybe not the entire trip, but for sure coming home from a smaller trip like Ireland or Brighton, you leave the simple oasis of a city unfamiliar to your own and slowly slug back to reality.  For me, right now, as I start this post, I am listening to an audiobook and sipping a glass of red wine in a blissful air conditioned carriage, bumpy and bright, cool and calm.  It is less like Europe now I think, heading back to Toronto, but that is only because Toronto is now my home, and I do not feel bitter upon my return but feel…”recharged.” “Recharged” in parentheses because I still need a bit of a sleep, but my week is due to be productive and full, my mental state however feels recharged, so if there was a way to be half recharged then that is what I am by. By mid-August I hope to get back up to the green light to start everything all over again.

A few highlights from the trip would be wandering around Old Montreal with my good friends as I won’t be seeing one of them for a long time, and then entering a courtyard nirvana to have some sangria and poutine, and then eventually adventuring north to find some good bagels.  We never went out for breakfast but slept in (as it was vacation) and have a bagel with good juice and a small coffee, as well as guac and cream cheese, apples, bananas, it was basically just a lovely morning every day in an air conditioned, quiet, dark room before heading out into the heat.

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Saturday was rainy, which we only managed to get wet for five minutes total as we hopped from coffee shop to bar to hotel and back to dinner, finding beverages and snacks and most prominently wine, and ultimately ending the day off with some fireworks at the old port.  It was a cooler day, which was welcomed happily by two little intoxicated Ontarians all day.

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Sunday was warmer, and we set out in the quieter neighbourhoods to have coffee and wander the beautiful houses and streets before waiting in line at Schwartz’ Deli for some tasty sandwiches and, again, more importantly PICKLES.  We ate in a small park and ended up just finding more beers and ice cream before heading back to the train where we rode business class to have more space and a comfortable trip home to Toronto.

Travelling to Montreal is always a bit strange because it is like home but not, there is always something a bit different…not quiet, not challenging, I know enough French to get by and I am a nice enough person to be patient when we get lost, but there is something fun about being in an unfamiliar place that makes every moment, every uphill walk in the sweltering heat, every photograph, every laugh, every loud or quiet minute just a bit different than those that I remember in Toronto.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I will be back in November and again a few times next year for conferences and visiting good folks so if there is anything I took away from this trip is smiling, regardless of how I feel, to smile and to breathe in and remember there is a quiet moment in every minute.

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xx Jess

Calgary Vibes

Good morning friends,

I am writing to you this morning from my sweet “hotel” aka dorm room on the University of Calgary campus in Calgary, Alberta! What a cool way to start this post, because really I’ve been wanting to write something but things don’t always get done. There’s yoga to be had and a final mammoth paper to finish, but today I am in Calgary. The non-humid, delicious coffee-totalling city that, despite having only seen literally forty minutes of campus life, is wonderful.

It could be because Ontario is currently in a huge heat wave nonsensical flood of humidity and there is nothing but fresh, albeit mildly wet, air here, it could be because this trip feels like a cool academic retreat/holiday somewhere new, and it could also be because I slept for the first time in a few days last night being so jetlagged and so breathing fresh cool air with my coffee after being well rested realy has just hit me in a wonderful way, a way of wonder, if you will.

I am in Calgary for Congress, and more directly the Canadian Association of Theatre Research conference, which begins tomorrow and follows on until Tuesday afternoon, to which I will then take a bus to Banff and spend nearly two days loving my life near mountains and good friends. Ah, the academic’s life, full of spending the only morning you have off in Calgary editing, transcribing and reading, and also planning on doing more reading in the evening, and then planning out your budget for the journals/books that will come upon registration for these events.

Jenny (my room mate and I’d like to say good friend from the Drama Centre at UofT) dropped the book bomb yesterday: every academic publisher brings their books to congress. We had a good twenty-five minute conversation about where I’d put these books and we finished on I’d have another carry on for the trip home full of them. I will update you later.

This is so exciting for me, to be on my first “lurk and learn” in the professional academic world, and I have some great birds who’ve taken me under their wings to introduce me to the people and show me the ropes, its een a good day settling in here.

The next five days might be exhausting, and long, but I am positive they are going to be full of beautiful and fascinating panels and conversations had by people researching important things for our culture. On the brink of sounding sentimental I hope that this begins my life long presence at conferences such as these; where the people are smart and nice and welcoming, the food is present, and the books are abundant. Oh, and maybe the ideas that are generated are brilliant, as well.

xx Jess

On Finding Creativity

I was walking around campus yesterday amongst the beautiful tree’s and the beautiful people and sunshine, and looked up at a fully blue sky with a stark white cloud, and smiled. I am in love with life again.

It hasn’t been a problem, really, that I lost the love for life. But I lost some true and important things in my life. I have always been confident in my ability to triumph through hardship, but this term has tested me in terms of my academic worth and merit, and that has subsided. I belong here.

Creatively I’ve been in a mental block since last November, struggling to be creative or fun or anything that I love about creating things. Something shifted a few weekends ago when I brought out some paint and just did it. I’ve always wanted to paint, and now I want to buy a bigger scale paitning situation and get to it. I am going to. I started working on creative fiction again, and poetry, and reading. Oh I’m in this amazing book club with these amazing, brilliant, interesting women. I am so proud of the people in my life for what they are doing, and I am proud of myself.

I am proud of hard work, people! It doesn’t matter if you do forty five minutes or twelve hours of hard work a day, I am so proud of it. Every single human in my life is spending time doing hard work lately, and I try and appreciate those moments and humans as much as I can because everyone deserves to feel proud and appreciated for the work they do. Wow. I just, love, hearing about everything everyone is doing. Sure its inspirational for my own creative, academic, social, and mental work…but it is just so nice to see people working hard and thriving.

Things are hard working but not all positive in the fekkledfudge camp. I try hard every day to be motivated but despite loving things again things are hard. I have listened to the same music over and over, I’ve watched the same shows over and over, I’ve been working through things one block of time at a time in order to get through this moment of hard work for myself, but I am…thriving? Surviving? Are you?

How do you get through it all? I think I’m interested in hearing about how others get through things. Do you set aside time to play piano on a sunny day between meetings and errands? Do you watch your favourite film on repeat (one of my oldies)? Do you play video games or drink copious amounts of coffee? I could tell you all of my coping mechanisms, I’ve been known to create lists for blogs advising on how I get through and how YOU COULD TOO! But in reality I don’t really want to share today, I was just writing in my physical journal and thought maybe it’d be nice to hear how other people get through. I like to put BB cream on and go outside. I like being outside. This is a new development of living in Toronto, where do people like to go outside?

Do I expect a response? No. Do I hope you think about your own coping mechanisms? Absolutely. Knowing what works for you is essential during times of hard work. And if you’re one of those people who constantly does hard work (everyone? Yes?) then you deserve to know more than everyone else. Do you eat ice cream at midnight because that’s your only lone time? I envy your metabolism and love of cold treats, and also send you kudos because you deserve that ice cream.

We all deserve a break in whatever way we wish.

xx Jess

Winter Term in Review: 2016

Having finished the first two out of the five major finals I have this term (with two more completed by the end of the week) I thought now would be the time to reflect. Academically I believe that I have melted into my own this term after the few finals I accomplished last term being handed in early January and having creative anchors I made it a goal this term to remain creatively engaged in academics this term nd have achieved that goal.
Having hit a groove with academics and a routine with reading this term also brought some challenges when it came to mental health and limitations. We made a joke in the Student Lounge not too long into this second, colder term that Graduate Schoool was essentially a Boot Camp for students to push their bodies, both mentally and physically, to the limits and then see how far they could gamble with pushing them a bit further. This Boot camp, when it came to working in fast-paced (but amazing) environments for my Production Assistantships, as well as travelling solo to England for the first time, all the while trying to mediate between mood swings and heavy boughts of anxiety left me a bit lost at sea in my own mental health.
Which was nonexistent, and not voluntarily so.
Luckilly I have a golden support system. I have calm and patient folk about, a few in particular, who listened and held me together and helped me hold myself together, so that I can safely say that my toolkit, my toolbox for life, that I usually have packed to the brim for everyday use, is going to go through a safe and pragmatic change this summer to prepare for my journey into dotoral studies.
Beyond mental health, my eyes have been opened by the world around me. This term has brought a cold, strange winter in two continents for me. It has brought new ideas for writing and new ideas for life. I value my life, my friends, in a shifted perspective that I am grateful for. Academia, it sems, is a good place to be situated when I want to challenge things that I would otherwise be disappointed with but not know how to go about making change.
Change can be made, but someone has to stand up for it.
So as I step into a few new Leadership roles I am grateful for the strong women in my life. My mom, who has shown me how to volunteer and be strong in a leadership position. Jen U, who has guided me through nearly seven years of non-profit work, programming, and all things between. Without naming everyone it has just been fairly obvious to me that I am made up of the strong women in my life, their ideas, their passions, and there is nothing like saying I AM NEXT and I CAN DO THIS to be motivated to be just like them.
And now, as I crack my window a small bit, listening to David Bowie on a cool Monday morning, thinking of the things I must get on doing, I look forward to a POWERFUL summer. Powerful, power, strength. My word for 2016 was strength in all forms of the word. Mental, physical, passionate strength. Is it fair to say that the summer can only bring good things? Maybe, or maybe it just brings opportunities to establish and explore what strength is for me.
This winter term, however, has me clinging to the strength that I do have and have developed with the help of others and my sheer willpower to continue on, because for that I am not only grateful, but proud of.
xx Jess

Cool to be UnHappy

Why is it uncool to be happy?

 

Or maybe it isn’t uncool but it is trendy to talk a lot about the process of finding happiness.  I’ll get there someday.  Maybe next week. When this project is over. When I lose ten pouds.  When he loves me. I’ll e hapy later, right now I’m content.

I get it, I’ve spent a lot of time not trying to be happy but trying to survive, but in all realness that’s the goal, isn’t it?  Not to look good at get 1000 likes on Instagram. Not to be published.  Not to become the youngest CTO in the country. The goal is to be content, happy once a day every day, right?  Isn’t it?

I was recently on a trip abroad, and I was happy once a day every day.  Multiple times a day  more like it.  Happiness accompanies us on the subway, it drips into cocktails with girlfriends or quietmoments before the alarm in the morning with a cool breeze.  Happiness doesn’t need to be documented, and it doesn’t need to be broadcast, but it does need to be acknowledged.

I’ve had this obsession with smiles for a long time.  When people are super into loking fierce, or beautiful, I wonder what they think happens when they smile, because smiles are ferociously attractive.  They signify happiness, contentness, good feelings, or, in most cases: strength.

Strength comes to us when we don’t need it, when we do, and when we don’t think we can.  I think that’s how happiness is too, I wonder if they are more connected than we believe or give them credit for.

I’ve had a rough few months dealing with some mental illness issues personally, and even though there have been harder days than others, and moments of despair, I have…may not found happiness, but I’ve found strength, and light, and warmth.

I am grateful for knowing what happiness is like, and to have strong, great humans in my life to smile with.

 

xx Jess

Better Than Nothing | #35

I’ve been listening to this song since my first time in Europe in 2012, when I ws floating around London for the first time, when I was confused, when I wasn’t sure what anything really was there or how I felt. Sarah Jaffe remains one of those amazing, influential beautiful people whose words are sad and hard and full and hollow at the same time. I listen to her, loud, in headphones, while I walk places, and I am strong.

xx Jess

Bits and Bobs and Pirelli | #20

I’ve been at this blog for 20 days and I haven’t had much time to just sit and blab, so hey!  Let’s blab!  First thing’s first: I need to grab something to eat or I might just keel over.  I am back, it has been ten minutes and I have eaten a snack of champions:  an avocado, a crumpet with Nutella, and a banana.  I know that sounds crazy, but trust me it was delicious and exactly what I needed.  I cleaned my apartment tonight and it feels so lovely, and I’ve just sat down to write to you all, its been a busy start to term.

 

But its been actually really good.  Late at night, when I’m walking home from the theatre, and I’m exhausted and pms-ing, I am grumpy and mad and too tired to function, and just want bed and don’t want to go back to school.  But, I do, in the mornings, and I smile and am so happy to be here.  So grateful to have this structure and support system around me.  I don’t think we acknowledge enough the people who support us, so thank you if I’ve leaned on you this week, you can lean on me anytime!

 

As for other bits and bobs, there’s a lot going on that I could talk about.  I could ramble on for an hour or three about the papers that I’m currently editing, because in the void of creativity that was my theatre company I have filled with academic papers about things that I love and I care about and are cool.  I am also in a writing workshop course for school where I should be working on my play, but as for right now that’s on the back burner until next weekend, where I’m going to dive in headfirst.

 

It is exactly (almost) three weeks until my trip to England for reading week.  I am hping to take a bit of reading, but mostly just my sense of adventure.

 

The one thing that inspired me to write this post was this link that I came across randomly on facebook about a month ago was Pireli’s calendar for this/next year, it doesn’t matter, but its this amazing photo article of influential women in the world today dressed in whatever they want, so some of them are naked or in their underwear or just in a power stance in their power suits being their powerful selves.  I clicked on this link tonight hoping to be inspired to write some feminist response to media, but instead its inspired me by way of strength.  Its inspired me to aspire to be a powerful woman in the power stance of my choosing.

 

Here’s the link:   http://pulptastic.com/pirelli-put-the-boobs-away-and-did-something-amazing/

 

This week seems to be moving at a glacial pace, so I want to internalize my own power stance, really focus on that, breathe into it, and mebrace it as I turn TWENTY FOUR this weekend.  As my new year begins, and I celebrate with great friends and family, I am reminded of all the things I have accomplished and done in my twenty four years so far on earth, and am confident that the next twenty four are only going to bring amazing things.

 

As busy or stressed that I get, I cannot forget the quality of my life, and how lucky I am, and I am just so happy.

 

xx Jess