Taylor Swift’s reputation

It’s been a couple weeks since T-Swift’s newest album was made available on streaming services and I can’t stop listening to it. I’m not sure why. I trash-talked the singles non-stop, and my first listen of the album had me laughing out LOUD, but here I am, listening to it on repeat, singing along, and kind of liking it. Taylor Swift reputation cover art The most ratchet album art of the 2010s.

Now, I’m not a diehard Swiftie. But I came up on Taylor Swift. I remember the first time I heard “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops on my Guitar” and how it felt like she was talking directly to me. Her experiences were my experiences. I was fifteen when she released “Fifteen”. I was 22 when she released “22”. When she was heartbroken, I was heartbroken (at least, it felt that way). I followed her from country to pop and now I’ve followed her to whatever she’s doing now. And I don’t know what I expected from this album but I do know that whatever this is doesn’t cut it for me.

I know most of the words to most of the songs, and I belt out the lyrics when I’m cooking or showering or walking down the hallway. I dream in these lyrics. And some of the tunes have grown on me–“This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is an unexpected banger and the Hozier-sounding “Don’t Blame Me” is surprising and good–but I guess that’s what will happen if you listen to it enough. Proximity plays into what we like more than we give it credit for (I’m remembering the huge crush I had on the guy I worked with a few years ago. He had a mushroom cut and never ironed his shirts. I found it all very endearing.). The point is, if you spend enough time with something… it’ll grow on you. Like mold.

I wanted from this album what I’ve got from every other Taylor Swift album. Just two things. The first? A song to belt out when I’m heartbroken. Give me a tune to crank up in my car and drive around at night, chain-smoking cheap cigarettes and crying and singing off key. The second? A dance bop. Something to jump up and down to and drink champagne to and scream the lyrics to with my gal pals in the club (as I’m re-reading this, I realize I no longer own a car or go to the clubs… and it makes me wonder, have I outgrown Taylor Swift?). This album half-fulfills half those needs. I’m left wanting something more.

The back half of the album is actually okay. (And the front half is growing on me, too. Proximity, mold, see above). Lots of those songs were co-written with Jack Antonoff (if you don’t know who he is, you better find out because he’s amazing) and you can hear his influence on songs like “Getaway Car” and “Dress” (two songs I’m low-key obsessed with). The bouncy pre-chorus in “Getaway Car” is particularly Bleachers-esque. I immediately liked this song and I think it’s ’cause Antonoff’s sound is such a clear influence.

In most of these songs it seems like Taylor Swift is trying to sound like just about anyone but herself (sometimes this works but most of the time it fails in a big way). And yeah, I know, I know: the old Taylor is “dead”. But, geez, when I listen to songs like “End Game” and “Ready for it…” do I ever want her back. And don’t even get me started on “So it Goes”. I can’t believe that song made it on the album because it’s an absolute auditory assault. Tunes that bad should be illegal.

Honestly, it seems like Taylor Swift was too damn happy when she made this album. I’m not the type of person who romanticizes the misery of artists. I don’t think you need to be sad to make good art. But maybe you need to be sad to make good pop music. Even in the semi-sad song “Dress” things turn out alright and that’s just not the Taylor I’m used to (and that’s definitely not the life that I’m used to). T-Swift’s music is supposed to speak to my soul and reputation has left me dissatisfied. Like, I look at my favourite Swift song of all time (possibly her best song… ever) “All Too Well” and it’s just perfect. It speaks to the longing and loss and other soul-crushing aspects of almost-love. That’s Taylor Swift’s wheelhouse. And I’m not saying she has to recreate “All Too Well” over and over and over again… but I feel like thematically that’s what her fanbase (me, myself, and I) is jonesing for. And seeing as I never get what I want romantically (most of the reason why I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift’s music in the first place, let’s be honest) the least she could do would be to give me some crappy sad pop music to ugly-cry to.

reputation is fun. But I wouldn’t say it’s good. I can’t help but compare it to 1989 or RED, both albums that showed her pushing against her comfort zone and breaking through. Those albums rock. This one won’t have that lasting power. It’s fun, but it’s going to be fleeting.

F*CK YOU

I want to write about what happened to me but I don’t know where to begin.

I start. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Over and over again. I wonder is this right? Am I getting it right? And sometimes I wonder if I’m even allowed to say what happened, if that story even belongs to me… because, to be honest, I’m not sure what parts of myself I even own anymore.

I guess I’ve always been a giver. I give a lot. And I like to do it. I like to be the soft person I am, the one people trust with their secrets, the one who people rely on for help, the one who people run to when they need someone to lean on. I know that makes me vulnerable, sometimes, kind of, but I like that vulnerability because it makes me feel necessary. I know those parts of myself make me an easy target for predators, but I don’t ever want to feel like I need to change (become harder, more closed off) in order to protect myself from people who shouldn’t even be preying on me in the first place.

Right?

I’m reading Hunger right now. It’s great. I’m so glad Roxane Gay had the courage to write it because sometimes when I’m reading her words it feels like she’s held a mirror up to myself. And it makes me feel a little bit more okay about being the way that I am. About being a lot soft and a little afraid all the time. She was able to put words to her trauma and it made me think that maybe one day I’ll be able to put words to mine too. Not now, not soon even, but maybe eventually. The book is complex and I like that. It’s made me realize that I’m allowed to be complex, that I’m allowed to be conflicted, that I’m allowed to be a full human, a full woman, even when it seems like there are plenty of people in this world who would like to take that away from me. These are the people who use me for parts. Like stealing a car, stripping it down, leaving the useless chassis behind. These people are mostly men, but sometimes women too. Although I can’t blame these women because they are doing what they must to survive: behaving like men.

Maybe the reason I can’t write about it is because it’s not one thing but a series of things. Dominoes. If I push over one I push over them all and if I push over them all and they topple and fall then I will just be left with a pile, disorganized, on the floor of my brain and I won’t know how to clean it up.

That’s the thing, I guess. These experiences accumulate. Like a snowfall in spring and you think it’s not going to be so bad, that it will melt when it hits the ground, and some of it does. The snow turns to water on cement but it clings to the branches of trees and the brown brittle grass and you go to bed and the next morning everywhere is slippery and frozen and white. And if you back out of your driveway a little too slow you’ll get stuck and if you back out a little too fast you’ll slide into your neighbours garbage cans, and both those options suck. So you better be perfect.

That’s what it’s like when you’ve been abused. The first time it’s awful and you might not even realize how bad it is because you’re just a kid and you’re with an adult you trust. Then it’s a few years later and you’re a few years older and you learned that your body is nobody’s body but yours and you’re supposed to tell someone you trust if you’re being touched but what if the person you trust is the one doing the touching? Then it’s a few years later again and you’re in high school now and you don’t know how to connect with men unless you’re naked and they are too. And then more time passes and more things happen and a dating app tricks you into thinking that you’ve got all the power and it is your body and you’re doing what you want with it but you know it’s not actually your body when you’re drinking warm root beer Schnapps just so you can handle a thick tongue jammed between your dry lips and clumsy hands fumbling in the dark for the clasp on a bra you decided not to wear and the awkward stumble from couch to bed. And afterwards you cry driving home when you shouldn’t be driving home but you can’t stay there. And more time passes. And you meet a man at a club and he invites you back to his place and says you can sleep in his bed and you do (but you don’t sleep, really) and the next morning he tells you he has a girlfriend and you sit behind the steering wheel of your car and you cry because you don’t understand why nobody loves you but everybody uses you. More time passes again. And you meet someone and he seems interested in you and you decide you can be interested in him too. And you start dating him and decide that he is supposed to be safe but one night when you’re tired and he isn’t he rolls you over and grabs you and pushes against you and takes something that I guess you gave so freely that he just assumes it belongs to him now. And you wonder if that’s what a relationship is supposed to be like because you have no idea what it means to be with someone. And more time passes and you move away and think you can leave everything behind. You learn to protect yourself. You gain weight. You insulate yourself. You wish that you could rip off all your skin and be someone completely different, someone stronger. You surround yourself with safe people. You try very hard to disappear (and you almost succeed). You avoid straight men, because you’ve learned those are dangerous men.  And this means you’re almost surprised when you get groped in public by a man, when his meaty palm pushes against your round bum and the slippery slide-y fabric of your slacks feels too thin against the peach lace panties you decided to wear that day because you thought it’d be nice to feel special. You want to scream or throw up or both but you don’t because you’re a professional. So instead of surprise you feel shame that you let your guard down, and then you’re reminded of all the times that all those men took those pieces of you and neglected to give them back. And you’re angry because that’s not the way you’re supposed to feel and that makes you a bad woman and a worse feminist and why can’t these men just keep their goddamn hands to their goddamn selves?

I’ll sum up those experiences in one neat stack of words. Men have hurt me. Over and over again. And I wish they’d fucking stop it.

 

Workin’ on my fitness

I’ve been in a battle with my body since I was 10 years old.

I looked down at my legs and saw my bulbous calves and thought “This is fat” and fat is bad and I am fat and I am bad. And that circular thinking has plagued me since then, eating away at self-esteem and body image and making me hate myself.

I used to look in the mirror and see a person staring back who wasn’t me. Who was like a caricature of me, like those ones artists in parks draw where your head is too big for your body and all of your flaws are over-emphasized. That’s what I saw, and that’s what I thought all of you saw too. All of the worst parts of me, front and centre. It didn’t matter if I was smart or kind or funny. What mattered was that I was fat.

I thought this way for a long long time, longer than I want to admit but I’m going to anyway. Up until about a month ago, I hated myself and my appearance so much it was all I could think about most days. The way that the waistband of my pants cut into my fleshy love handles, or my side boob squished out of my bra, or my thick arms rubbed against my thick core. And don’t get me started on my thighs–just gross. I thought about all my parts and the way that they didn’t fit together right. I was wrong, I was fat, I was ugly, I was awful. It was awful. It’s time consuming and depressing to think of yourself this way, trust me. And it’s hard to do anything when you can’t stop thinking about the sound your pants make when you walk and your thighs swish together.

I decided to do something about it. I’ve tried to “do something” about my weight countless times before. And I mean that. I’ve lost track of the fad diets and the workout plans and the weird smoothies I’ve drank. I’ve starved myself and I’ve binged and I’ve starved and I’ve binged so many times that it actually just felt like my normal diet. It’s strange now to eat three solid meals a day because for over half my life I just didn’t feed myself properly. It’s terrifying to consider.

I took charge of my body by hiring a personal trainer. Her name is Katelyn and she works at Studio 4 Fitness in downtown Victoria and she’s amazing. I talk about her all the time and I still don’t think I can do her justice here. She’s just, she’s great. People ask me what she does and the answer I usually give is “A lot of counting.” She keeps track of my exercises and counts my reps and makes sure I hinge at the hips and not the knees. She tells me to look at my form in the mirror and square my hips and keep my shoulders in the right position. She grabs mats for me to exercise on, she carries weights when they are too heavy for me to carry myself, but most importantly she tells me I’m strong. She tells me to keep going. And the other day she told me I was beautiful and you know what? I believed her. I felt beautiful for possibly the first time ever in my life. Drenched in my own sweat, glasses fogging up, frizzy hair pulled into a tight top knot, I thought “Damn, I do look good.”

Because I wasn’t thinking about what I wasn’t. I was thinking about what I was. Am.

I am strong. I have legs that are thick with muscle and that carry me from point A to point B to point C and back again. I have baby muscles in my arms, and when I flex I can kind of see them… but when I am carrying my groceries home I can definitely feel them. I have a core that is strong, and even though my stomach may never be flat and rippled with abs… my balance has improved so that I can walk up stairs without gripping the hand rail for support. I sleep better. I eat better. I am better.

I mean, it’s nice to fit into pants with a button and zipper again, but I think this is about more than just looking good in a pair of jeans. Honestly, that feels like a happy bonus. What it’s about is feeling like I belong in my body for the first time ever. Feeling like I can take up space. Feeling like I’m working with my body and not against it. Feeling like… just feeling happy to exist.

I know that you can’t buy yourself a body. That exercise is hard work. That loving yourself is hard work. And I know that I am a work-in-progress, always. And for the first time ever, I’m okay with that.

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If you’re interested in working with Katelyn (or any of the other awesome PTs at Studio 4), you can contact the gym here. Or, if you just want to check out the facilities, you can check them out at 715 Yates St in Victoria, BC. Everyone who works there is so nice, and they offer all sorts of classes, and the gym is located in this great older building in the heart of downtown. I love everything about that place.

And just so you all know, this post is in no way sponsored by this gym or Katelyn, I’m just really, really, really happy and I needed to let that out.

National ice cream day

I love ice cream in all its forms. In a cone, in a cup, in a milkshake, in a float. Deep-fried. In sandwiches. On a stick. Dipped in chocolate. Whatever way you can conceive of serving ice cream, I’ve probably had it that way and I’ve probably really enjoyed it.

I love it all. So in order to celebrate this glorious day I thought I’d share a few photos of me enjoying my favourite treat.

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Me, enjoying a couple of scoops at my own risk on the beach at Lake Koocanusa Campsite & Marina

 

Me, just before I dove into some delicious soft-serve from The Cone, an ice-cream-shaped food truck in Edmonton, AB.

Me, just prior to enjoying two scoops of goat cheese and fig from Kid Sister, a shop in Victoria’s Fan Tan Alley that sells locally made ice cream.

 

 

 

Me, teetering on the edge of the Pacific enjoying “The Danny”: soft-serve topped with a scoop of one of the sixteen flavours Jackson’s Ice Cream Float offers.

 

Me, just before cracking through the chocolate-y shell of this locally made drumstick from a teeny tiny gelato shack in Stanley Park.

 

Me, getting ready to devour my first dipped cone from Chocolats Favoris on Government Street in Victoria, BC (it was strawberry soft-serve dipped in cookies & cream–yum). 

 

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Me, about to try Victoria’s Cold Comfort vegan ice cream for the first time.

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Me, trying Cold Comfort ice cream.

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Me, pleased with Cold Comfort ice cream. I’ll definitely be buying a pint (or two or three) from this place in the future!

 

paradise found

A friend just recently came out to the island to visit me–I mean, I was a stop along the way as she road-tripped with her boyfriend for a romantic mini-vacation, so it wasn’t all about me, but the point is she came to Victoria and we all hung out and drank on the beach and watched for marine wildlife and just had an awesome time.

Live footage of us having an awesome time in Vancouver

Being this happy is great, but also terrifying. It reminds me that I’ve lived a long time without ever truly feeling it–at least, not for long periods of time. Or at least, it wasn’t that happiness that manifests from within. I’ve felt joy multiple times in my life. I’ve been happy. But it’s been a reactionary happiness; it’s as a result of a trip to Hawaii or a good grade or a night out with friends. It’s not the kind that is self-sustaining, one that bubbles up and lives somewhere inside you. I imagine it’s located just underneath your sternum… close to your heart.

I thought about my journey this past year. This past year is important–not the year 2016, but the minutes and hours and days between July of last year and now. A year ago, I hit rock bottom. Emotionally and physically I was despondent–I was stressed out, I was unhealthy, I was trapped in a fake relationship… I was trapped in myself. I’d convinced myself that this was okay. That this was the best it was going to get. That this was what being an adult was about–a little bit of happiness sprinkled over a whole bunch of shit. I was convinced I was still growing and changing. And I was still growing–as people we are always growing in some way. But like a plant that needs repotted, my roots were banging against the edges of myself, curling back in towards my centre… and never going anywhere.

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Our view from the beach, featuring the Pacific Ocean and setting sun.

So, I broke up with the boyfriend. I sold my car. I moved to Victoria. I started university (again). And once I was allowed the space to expand, it seems like I broke through the self-imposed barriers and became the best version of myself. Granted, I get to go to the beach every day. Yes, I am mostly unemployed. But it’s about more than that. It’s about giving myself the permission to be, to grow bigger than myself, and to just be happy. I know, I know… happiness is an intangible thing, how do you know you have it? I think it’s like that whole love thing where you know it when you feel it. But, there’s also been changes in myself physically that embody these emotional shifts.

I don’t wear foundation anymore (unless I want to). I used to be the girl who needed to have the perfect face and the perfect hair (there was one night I was almost in tears before going to the club because I thought my hairstyle made my head look square–it was a whole thing, I’m not proud of it) but now I put less pressure on myself to adhere to what I’d previously held up as the standard for perfection. This isn’t a knock against girls who do wear makeup, I still like to beat my face every once in a while, but it’s just something I’ve personally noticed and attribute to being more comfortable in my own skin.

I’m a heck of a lot more comfortable with the physical space I take up. I used to be self-conscious about my size–my big ass seems to always be getting in the way. And now, I’ve embraced my curvy physique in a way that is healthy for me. I mean, yeah I like to work out. And yeah, if I lose a few pounds that’s fine. But if I gain a few pounds that’s also fine. What’s most important is that I’m healthy–my heart is tick-tick-ticking, my lungs are inflating and deflating at an appropriate pace, and I can do like 60 push ups (in intervals of 15), so I feel pretty good about all that. Granted, I have my hang ups–like, there’s this pair of vintage Levi’s I thrifted about a month ago that I desperately want to get into, but I’m not going to let some old denim without any give make or break me, ya feel?

Happy girl, post-dip-in-the-ocean at English Bay.

I’m not all caught up on what men think about me. This is one of the best things about being happy, to be honest. Even though I’m aware of the male gaze and all the crap that comes with it, I still couldn’t help but be effected by it. I wanted to be “hot” and I put a lot of energy into doing things I thought would achieve the desired “hotness”. Now I know the hottest thing to be… is myself. I’ve always been a total babe, now I’m just letting myself realize it.

Me eating an ice cream and living my best life in front of Munro’s in Victoria.

And my relationship with food has taken a total turn for the best. It’s one of the largest manifestations of my newly uncovered happiness. As someone who will always be in recovery from disordered eating, the way I eat is always gonna be about more than just food. It’s an emotional relationship, one based around more than energy and calories and health. I mean, this is a girl who didn’t eat anything with flour or sugar in it for over a year because I’d convinced myself those were bad foods. I still feel guilty when I eat bread sometimes. I’ve noticed a shift, though, in my thinking. Food is no longer a product of shame (at least, not all the time). Food is energy. Food is also joy. Yeah, sure, I’m still a binger (I did eat an entire Black Forest Cake not too long ago and I’ve been known to chow down a whole bag of chips in a single sitting) but it comes with a different level of guilt. It’s never like “I ate all this food and now I’m fat and no one will love me!” it’s more like “Wow, what is going on with me that I felt the need to binge?” and I examine my emotional state and I try to re-connect the pieces of myself that have fallen apart. I no longer worry as much about fitting in to last summer’s shorts; I worry about fat encasing my internal organs and shutting them down, or getting diabetes, or not being able to walk up a set of stairs.

It’s not about being thin… it’s about being happy.

Every time I make a wish, I wish for the same thing. Each time I blow out birthday candles or find an eyelash on my cheek or see the clock strike 11:11 or catch a shooting star smearing across the night sky, I make the same wish. I wish for happiness. It’s a wish I’ve been making since I was a little girl. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to spill the wish–that makes it lose its magic. But this time around, I think it’s okay. Because it might have finally come true.

One last shot of paradise. The view from the top of Mount Doug aka PKOLS in Victoria.

 

Adjusting expectations.

I started this summer break the same way I’ve started all summer breaks–with a bang. And a whole lot of ambition. I’ve always had a tendency to bite off more than I can chew (literally and figuratively) so of course I wanted to do it all this summer. Explore every inch of my new city. Get in shape (finally). Write 1000 words a day. Eat a healthy and sustainable diet. Put a dent in my reading list. And things started off well enough… but then that thing happens that always seems to happen when I pile my plate far too full: I burnt out.

I had a very productive three weeks–I was working out EVERY day. I was getting up before 10 AM (that’s early for this girl). I was eating all of the food groups. I was writing. I was reading. And I think I was happy. But about 10 days ago it all came to a very abrupt halt.

One morning, when my alarm clock went off I just couldn’t get up. I hit snooze once twice three times before turning it off. I slept half the day away every day for about a week. I didn’t go to the grocery store except to buy a black forest cake which I promptly polished off in three sittings (dinner, midnight snack, and breakfast). I stopped exercising and even though I was forcing myself to write… I don’t know that I created anything that doesn’t completely suck. It’s unsettling to go from one extreme to the other like that. It pissed me off, to be truthful. And I spent a couple days eating cake and beating myself up (for eating the cake, for sleeping in, for sucking, for just being me). It’s a brand of negative self-talk that I’m unfortunately very familiar with, but after a full 48 hours of treating my brain and my body like a trash can–I stopped it. I realized that I might not have had the ability to take myself for a run or to do my dishes or to wash my sheets or to buy groceries… but there was nothing wrong with that.

I mean, was I living in filth? Yes. Did I die? No.

I realized that I needed to adjust my expectations. I was trying to do too much at once. And there’s nothing wrong with that… It actually was working for me, I thought. I was feelin’ fit and writing stuff and eating good meals. But it wasn’t sustainable. At least, not for me. Now might be a good place to point out that even though I might be mostly unemployed, I’m taking this summer to write the first draft of my Master’s thesis project… and that’s no joke. I’m also TA-ing for a spring course. And I’m in a workshop group that meets once a month. So, there’s more going on in my life than might be seen on my Instagram.

So, I decided to prioritize. What is important to me? What’s most important to accomplish this summer?

First, I needed to give myself a break. Second, I needed to clean my apartment. Third, I needed to write.

So I did.

And as a bonus I’ve been going to the beach everyday–it’s been proven that being next to large bodies of water boosts your mood AND your creativity, so I think of it as therapy, almost.

Working on a large project has changed the way I look at my writing and at my life. I used to be very conscious of perfection. Anything less than perfect was a fail… and failing was bad. But creating such a thin line between success and failure is limiting, both personally and creatively. Art is not the pursuit of perfection. And the end product isn’t more important than the process of making it. I will have ups and downs in my creative process, but one doesn’t negate the other. Both will contribute to my eventual success.

Failure is not a bad thing. It’s just another opportunity to try. And that’s all part of the process.

Me at the beach being a big fat failure and loving it.

The Oilers and the Playoffs and Me

Very few people seem to care about hockey on the West Coast. It’s not like at home where hockey is a lifestyle, woven in to the Edmonton identity alongside cold weather and seasonal road construction. In Edmonton, you see people wearing hockey jerseys year round. I’ve seen people transporting hockey gear on public transit and I mean even I’ve shot a puck at a net before (I’m the athletic equivalent of a pylon). Hockey is important.

Things are different on the island though. People here like baseball and soccer and recycling. I’m sure there are fair-weather Canucks fans who’d jump on the bandwagon if that team ever gets good again, and Victoria does have a WHL team that made the playoffs this year (Go Royals!), but still, nobody seems very excited about the ol’ game of stick-puck. So when the Oilers made it to the post-season this year and I was really excited about it, that excitement fell on mostly-deaf ears.

It was weird.

I’m used to hockey being a point of conversation. You know? Kind of like the weather. Even if everyone isn’t watching the games everyone usually has an idea of how the team’s doing. It’s plastered all over the city in different ways by different people. Edmonton loves the Oilers. Like, really loves them (even when we hate them, we still love them). I don’t know if there’s a group of fans who loves their team more than Edmonton’s fans love the Oilers. Even at the ugliest points in the club’s history, the arena was selling out. Heck, during this year’s playoff run the arena was selling out when the team was playing AWAY games. Like I said, hockey is important.

I’m sad that I couldn’t be home to experience this playoff run firsthand, but luckily for me this time around Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat exist so I was able to experience it all vicariously. And I cried, oh how I cried, at each post and tweet and short video. They were tears of longing and joy. It made me miss my city. It made me miss belonging and being a part of something larger than just myself sitting in my den drinking too much and shouting at the Sportsnet panel. So, I booked a flight home for June. I couldn’t get away sooner than that and I had faith that my team would go all the way. Because I always think they’re going to win, every game. And sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong, but regardless I believe it every single time they play. I was wrong last Wednesday when the Oilers dropped Game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1. And it bummed me out, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t want this season to end–I don’t think any Oilers’ fan did.

I know you might be thinking that it’s just a game, it’s just hockey. And you’re right–it is a game, and it is hockey. But it became more than that to me. It’s been almost nine months since I moved to Victoria and it’s been a hard nine months. I’ve had to make all new friends and learn how to function alone and get used to a brand new city. These are all exciting things but they’re terrifying things too. Sometimes it was all too much to handle and I really missed home and I was sad and I was lonely and I just needed that feeling of belonging. And in those moments I could turn to hockey. I could turn on Sportsnet. Or I could listen to 630CHED online. Or I could turn to Twitter and read tweets from the Edmonton Oilers and the fans. I sometimes would just watch the video–you know the video? The one that they play before the games on the jumbotron? Yeah, that one. I’d just watch it and cry because I missed home so much. Hockey made me feel like I was still connected to my hometown and the people in it.

So, last Wednesday, when that final horn honked and the game was over, I was sad. I was selfishly sad. Because the thing is, watching the playoffs was the most fun I’d had watching hockey in a long time. And the Oilers had a great season. And it was refreshing to watch meaningful hockey again. But I didn’t want it to end before I made it home in June. Because I wasn’t ready to let go of hockey… because it felt like letting go of home.

I also just really, really, really wanted us to beat the Ducks and wipe that smirk off Getzlaf’s face. But hey, there’s always next year!

I feel better about it now–it still stings a bit, but the pain has mostly faded. And I still have my trip home to look forward to in June and I’ve realized that even if there won’t be hockey to watch, there will still be plenty of people talking about the Oilers online and that might be just enough to fill the void. At least, it’ll hold me over ’til the pre-season.

I might not have hockey to plan my life around anymore, but I’m glad that the Oilers let me hold on to hockey for a little bit longer at a time when I needed hockey the most.

 

if we’re going to talk about it, let’s talk about all of it

Hi, it’s me. Remember me? The girl who thinks often about this blog but never seems to have the time to write. Well, I’m back (for a bit) because I kept thinking about something today. Thinking and thinking and thinking, and wondering, and wanting to write. So here I am.

Today’s January 25th. In Canada, we call that #BellLetsTalk day. And it’s a real important day for all Canadians, especially those who live with mental illness. Today is a day I think about my own battles with my brain (depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc.) and I think  of all the people I love, and their battles too. And, it’s on a day like today that I wonder: is it enough, yet? Have we normalized mental health enough? The answer of course is no. I know this because of the movie Split that just recently came out. Have you heard of it? It sounds terrible. I don’t think it’s going to be awful because of the actors in it (I quite like the British actor fronting the film) and I don’t think it’s going to be awful because I don’t like psychological thrillers (I forced my parents to rent a stack of scary films when I had my tonsils removed in grade 7) and I don’t think it’s going to be awful because I hate everything all the time. I think it’s going to suck because it demonizes mental illness in 2017. 2017. This year. After all the progress we’ve supposedly been making, Hollywood comes along and shits all over it.

And I’m actually pretty upset about it. I don’t like that this movie makes a person with a valid mental health concern into a monster. That’s not fair. It’s not fair to the people who suffer from that condition. Isn’t it enough that they’re terrified, trapped inside their own bodies? Isn’t that enough? Why push it so that now everyone around them is terrified, too?

It’s bullshit.

Depression is important to talk about. Anxiety too. Eating disorders. Obsessive compulsive. Schizophrenia. Bipolar. Borderline. All of the above and many more.

So what can you do? Well, open lines of communication. Be willing to discuss all sides of mental illness. Know when to get help for you friends and family. Know when to say when for your own mental health.  Stop using ableist terms like “crazy” “insane” and “mental” to describe things that aren’t any of those things. Oh, and boycott that awful film. If you want to watch something about mental illness, check out the mini docu-series Don’t Call Me Crazy on Netflix instead. It’ll open your eyes to all sides and all types of mental health.

Talk about it. Talk about it. Talk about all of it. And listen, too.

 

Interested in reading more pieces about #bellletstalk and/or mental health in general? Look no further than here, below.

oilersnation.com/2017/1/25/bellletstalk

MuscleMemory

NYE 2016

I love New Year’s. I know that a year is a socially constructed segment of time (based, of course, on scientific research on the Earth and such) and I know that you can make change at any point in time (socially constructed or not) but there has always been an air of magic around NYE.

It’s the culmination, the anticipation, of a whole year of stuff being wiped clean. A fresh start–the illusion that you can leave a whole year behind and start anew is kind of empowering (even if it isn’t exactly factually true).

My best friend and I used to take this moment in time to reflect on the low points of the year past. It was a kinda funny, kinda self-deprecating, mostly self-destructive way of looking back on how we’d grown… and ways to continue to grow in years to come. It was like reverse resolutions–planning what we wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) do based on what we’d already done (although, Julia’s reverse rez’s were always products of the universe; I was always better at shooting myself in the foot than she ever could be). Anyway, we don’t do that anymore and even though I desperately miss her (especially this time of year) I can’t say I miss the wallow-fest this practice enabled (mostly for me).

I’m taking today and tonight to reflect on what 2016 meant for me. I had some ups (getting in to grad school, moving to Victoria, etc.) and some downs (the whole  relationship thing was kind of a bust) but this year  wasn’t really so bad, overall. It reminds me of all the things I want in life. And let’s me know that I’ll have to hustle to get them. 

So, here’s to 2017—the year of the hustle. Happy New Years to all (and to all a good night). 

being a woman.

It’s November. And there is a lot of work for me to do. But something happened yesterday that I can’t get out of my head.

I was harassed for the first time–not ever, but the first time in Victoria. Harassed on the street by a stranger. I was waiting at my bus stop downtown, across from Tomley’s Market, where I’d just bought canned beans and ground beef, three stalks of celery, and some tomato juice. My phone had died and instead of cruising social media I was standing, thinking, staring into nothing, wondering, “Should I put chick peas in my chilli tonight?”

And some toothless asshole strolled by. He said something offensive to a girl waiting with me, and she did what women do when men are assholes–she ignored him. And then he turned his focus to me, the girl in a long Eddie Bauer raincoat and a tight topknot.

“Sexy bun,” he said, thrusting his pelvis towards me and opening his mouth into a gummy smile. I stared straight ahead. My jaw clenched, my face warm with shame. Shame at being objectified. Shame at my reflex to smile, because that might make him go away. Shame at feeling powerless. Shame. Shame. Shame. He continued to stand in front of me, too close. I wanted to take a step back. I wanted to wind up and sock him in his empty mouth. I wanted to protect myself. But I walk that thin line of being a bitch, when a man is just paying me a compliment.

So instead I slid my eyes over from nothing onto him. A dead stare into his happy face.

“Have a good night,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a situation with a man like that. But this is the first time I’ve said anything like this about it. Normally, it’s a funny story to tell girlfriends and we can laugh at the shared inside joke. But this time, I’m mad. Madder than usual. I’m mad that I can’t go back to that bus stop, now. I’m mad that I’ll have to hoof it an extra block or so just to feel safe. I’m mad that I felt unsafe in the first place. I’m mad that he laughed. I’m mad that he called my bun sexy. I’m mad that he felt entitled to not only objectify me, but then wait for a goddamn response. I’m mad that I couldn’t do anything about it, and I’m mad that the next time I find myself in that situation, I might feel that exact same way. I’m mad at myself and I’m mad at the world and I don’t know what to do anymore.

I want to say that I’m done with being polite. But that’s not enough. And it won’t be enough on a darkened street. I want to say I’ll take a defence course, learn how to SING Miss Congeniality-style. But that’s not enough, either. Because for every knuckle I bust (in the event I land a punch on a misogynistic jawline), there will be another asshole in line. I am not enough to protect myself. And when that realization hits, anger dissipates. And I’m just sad.

I wish I had a happy ending for this, a subversion that twists the narrative back in my favour. But I don’t. I do, however, welcome suggestions on how other women deal with this behaviour. If you have any tips, tricks, or handy maneuvers–let me know. And if you have any stories you want–need–to share, pass those along too.