"Blogging isn't journalism, it's graffiti with punctuation."

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Check out my latest essay in @VICE: Nicole Arbour’s lack of satire

vicenicolearbour

My latest essay has been published in VICE, about the ragebait videos of Toronto cheerleader Nicole Arbour: we all know she’s racist, misogynist, and a fat-shamer, but she also loves to hide behind the banner of “satire” to get away with her bullshit. This piece is about her lack of understanding of what constitutes satire, and also, why comedy is so important and relevant when done right.

Also, I get to talk about her asshole.

 

vicemostpopular1

It’s also one of the more popular pieces on the VICE network as of right now, so that’s pretty rad.

Some new details about her have emerged since publishing this piece (which I won’t get into on ye olde blog), and I’m getting a lot of private messages from people who have worked with her and know her, who say they can confirm some allegedly criminal behaviour on her part. Toronto is a massive metropolis but it’s small enough that everybody knows everybody somehow, and if your shit smells, people are gonna talk about it. I don’t address this controversy in my piece, but it’s interesting to note and keep in mind.

Anyway, enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out Christine Estima dot com if you want to read more of my published works, included many more of my VICE essays.

NewWEbSite!

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MERRY CHRIST(ine esti)MAS: 2015 Year In Review

The essence of drama is conflict. I had a lot of both in the past few years, but 2015 was oddly light and serene. I hustled my ass off, pulled every string, worked and LIVED, and received very little flack from the universe. 2015 was THE YEAR.

I started the year in New York City where I was housesitting. On a chance invite from a friend, I attended a Moth Storytelling event. I had been listening to the Moth podcast for years, and this was a story-slam event, meaning I could put my name in a hat and possibly be called up on stage. I threw my hat in the ring, decided what I would say while I was waiting in line to get into the venue, and wouldn’t you know it….

SPOKEN WORD

Live Storytelling and Spoken Word means a lot to me and I continued to do it back home in Toronto at Raconteurs:

Storytelling is an extension of writing to me. It feeds my need to tell stories and also to be a ham. I also discovered that working out ideas on stage proved excellent for cultivating written story ideas. 2015 was also the year of–

Chris Writes All The Things

Editors this year were like, “Hey Chris, do you want to publish stuff? HERE, HAVE ALL THE PUBLICATIONS YOU LIKE.”

It was like payback for many years of only publishing maybe one or two pieces every 6 months.

Of course, this wasn’t by fluke. I busted my ass, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and got rejection after rejection, but my acceptance rate kind of skyrocketed this year. I actually found myself in the odd position SEVERAL TIMES this year where I had to reject one publication because another had already bought my piece. I was selling pieces so quick, in some instances, I had to turn people down! I ALMOST sent them the lame boilerplate rejections they had sent me for years, but nahhhhhhh.

SELLING STORIES

 

The first piece I sold this year was actually an academic essay which I sold to Palaver Journal based out of a southern University. I finished my Masters Degree ten years ago, but I can still flex my chops when I need to.

Then I sold my first piece to VICE, which was really exciting because I had been reading them since 1998 and am a huge fan, so it was great to see my pieces go across the VICE network and do really well.


vicecanada

Then I sold them another piece
vicesecond1

And then another
vicethird

And then a bajillion more…
fhritpheader

I found out one of my short stories made the long-list for the prestigious CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction Prize, and they profiled me on the CBC website!
IMG_7218 cbc canada writes

Then I sold a short story to GRAIN when they wanted to buy another story of mine, but I had to turn them down because another journal had already bought it, so they asked for anything else I had, and snapped up this piece right away!
grain1

And then I cold-pitched METRO News Canada and they printed my piece in the centrefold:
metro

And then EVENT published one of my Nonfiction stories in this issue:
event

My bio is a BOSS-ASS BITCH
event2 (2)

Then I sold a travel writing piece to VERGE Magazine:
vergesnippet

And just a couple weeks ago, another one of my serious essays about sexual harassment and the experience of reporting it to the police was published by my old friends at AufBau:

And this isn’t even all of my publications! Just a cross-section! I also sold three more stories whose publication dates are imminent, like TOUTE SUITE, dropping in a few weeks soon! So expect to read more from me in the new year!

Speaking of HouseSitting

This year, I did back…

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back housesitting gigs.

These pictures aren’t even all of them. In total in 2015 I did ELEVEN housesits in 12 months. Considering that 4 of them lasted more than a month, and one of them lasted almost 3 months, that’s a lot of housesitting with snugglecats and dogs and not having to pay rent.

Last name Win, first name Epic.

And it’s not over yet. I’ve been housesitting for years and years now, so why stop in 2016. Starting in January, I will be housesitting in VIENNA!!

I haven’t been to Vienna since that first European clusterfuck trip in 2005 (here are some posts about that trip…. gosh this blog is old). I was last in Austria in 2012 for my Eurail Extravaganza, but I missed out on Vienna, so I’m super excited to spend a lot of time there this Winter.

I want to to everything Viennese, like eating strudel served by Michael Haneke on a harpsichord.

I’ll also be swinging through London, Prague, and Amsterdam, so the great tapestry of adventures I’m trying to build can continue!

Hey, You Never Know

One of my main mantra’s of 2015 was “Ask and you shall receive.” In the past I’ve refrained from asking for what I wanted because I assumed the answer would be no, or, more likely, I felt pretentious for even asking. Like, who the fuck are you Christine? You got some balls asking for that.  That changed this year, when I realized that the worst thing that could happen was they’d say No. And if that’s the worst-case-scenario, it’s pretty surmountable. So with that in mind, I figured no-guts-no-glory. I’m a writer, so my income is limited (obvi). The amount of funds I can allocate to quality of life (movies, music, theatre, concerts, performances, dance, festivals, etc) is extremely limited. So what did I do when I wanted to go to an event but couldn’t afford it?

I asked for free tickets.

And I got them.

BOOM.

This year, just because I asked, I gained free entry to the following:

Once: The Musical
-National Ballet of Canada performance of Sleeping Beauty
Deadmouse: The Musical 
Basquiat exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario
-secret alt-J concert
-the Stars of the Lid concert at the Unsound Festival
Joel Plaskett Emergency concert
Bettroffenheit theatrical play
-several Toronto International Film Festival movies, including
Homesick,
Disorder/Maryland,
Bang Gang,
Summertime,
Son of Saul.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Everyone knows I’m a huge flea market person (and this year I joined the super secret but now highly coveted collective of BUNZ Trading) so this year I procured a lot of fantastic antiques at bargain prices, and sometimes, for a few tokens or a bottle of wine.

I already had a typewriter, but I still went ahead and got myself a second one. Because reasons.


My two bee-yoots, side-by-side

And then I got a rotary phone. It’s a necessity in the modern world.

And then I finally hooked up speakers to my record player, so I went on a vinyl-buying binge, and got some gems like Duke Ellington (click the little volume button in the bottom right of the vid to listen!):

and the master Django Reinhard!

With these new gadgets, I am now able to open a sassy new office… in 1979.

Speaking of Music


I went to some kick-ass concerts this year. In years past I had grown a bit tiresome of concerts (I had been a music critic for about 5 years and now I have a touch of tinnitus…) but, I guess… YOLO

This year saw me at:

-Kiasmos
-alt-J
-Chilly Gonzales
-Stars of the Lid
-Hauschka
-Joel Plaskett Emergency

alt-J!!

alt-J!

I want to stuff Kiasmos into a bong and smoke them.

 

And, my, the new music I discovered this year!

FAV SINGLES OF 2015 include:

-“Emotion” by BORNS

-“Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate
-“Landfill” by Daughter

-all tracks by Tycho
-“All Clear” by Aidan Knight
-“Let it go” by Saint Saviour

-“Black to Gold” by Dear Rouge
-“Them” by Nils Frahm

-“Pretty Pimpin” by Kurt Vile

And the Oscar Goes To…


I saw a lot of films this year, and even reviewed some during TIFF for VICE. Here are the ones that haunted me long after the credits rolled:

-VICTORIA

-The Daughter

-Son of Saul

-Homesick

-CitizenFour

-Disorder/Maryland

As you can see from this list, I am not really a mainstream/Hollywood/wide-release film person. I prefer indie cinema, the ones that make the festival circuit. They usually have no money behind them and therefore can take more risks or tell stories we don’t normally see. So you can take your Chris Nolan/JJ Abrahms/Michael Bay clusterfuck and order it on DVD. Yawn.

Get Busy Livin’

As I said, I started the year in New York (housesitting). I also traveled to my hometown of Montreal (housesitting), and just recently I went to Miami (housesitting). But I really wanted to exercise my passport, so I bounced down to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for a Mayan Adventure!

I made a short film about my experiences, I figured it was more fun than posting a bunch of touristy photos. I call it GET RICH OR DIE MAYAN. Enjoy!

To thine own selfie be true

I’ll end this post with the one thing everyone really wants to see:
BEST SELFIES OF 2015


I don’t really post selfies anymore, but I do take them from time to time. Here are the ones I took and never posted!

Remember, you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Happy New Year 2016, munchkins.

SEE YOU IN VIENNA!

Check Out My official website

Don’t forget to visit ChristineEstima.com for more!


TorontoVerve featuring my Resting Bitch Face

As I hinted at last week, I was recently interviewed and photographed for fashion blog TorontoVerve and the post has gone live. I talk about my love of typewriters, and also about my writing philosophy: what motivates me, what I like to write about it, how it provides catharsis, and how all writers need to HUSTLE! And it features my beloved 91-year-old typewriter that I blogged about here.


The photographs are pretty punk-rock. I know I’m not perfect, but hey, LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE.

Check it out over at TorontoVerve, and also check out the last time TorontoVerve profiled me back in 2012.


TorontoVerve sneak peak!

Last month I did a wee little photoshoot with TorontoVerve at Ashbridge’s Bay. We collab’d on a previous shoot back in 2012 and it was nice to reconnect. We both had some great ideas of what kind of themes and images we’d like to explore in this shoot, and we brought them together: typewriters and lakes! Fun fact: the water was so icy cold, we had to keep running to shore every 5 minutes because our feet were going hypothermic. Here’s to fashion, err’one.

I like to think my face in the above photo says, “You interrupted me.”

Or perhaps, “I give zero fucks.”

And this one says, “Enjoy my resting bitch face.”

The full post with all the images is coming soon but a preview-sneak-peak has just been posted. Head over to TorontoVerve and check it out, and also all the other great content posted there daily!


The All-New ChristineEstima.com 10-Year Blogiverary!

NewWEbSite!

If you’ve bookmarked this site as christineestima.wordpress.com, it’s time to update your links! I have a whole new website up and running at ChristineEstima.com! It’s my professional, sleek, clean, and fresh-to-death new corner of the internet**. You’ll find details of who I am, my career as a writer and author, my published works, the media coverage I’ve garnered, what others have said about me, recent performances, and yes, a link to this beloved blog of mine.

I started The Spadina Monologues TEN YEARS AGO in April 2005, and while most of my contemporary blogger friends from that time lost interest and abandoned their spaces, I kept mine going with an unusual degree of tenacity. In ten years, a lot has happened! There were First Publications, Artistic Awards, SO . MUCH . GLOBAL. TRAVEL , social media campaigns and amazing parties and experiences, and I somehow managed to keep catching the attention of the media and press. . . and through it all, of course, there was Street Art and Graffiti!

In 10 years, I have travelled to more cities and countries than I can actually remember. 89 stamps on my passport. I have lived in 12 cities around the world. I have had lots of ethereally-beautiful moments, and lots of disappointment … and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I am still going to keep this blog alive and continue to update it, so do check back often. The updates may be dialled back a bit and perhaps not as frequent as the summer of 2012 when I was blogging THIRTEEN TIMES A DAY (it was New York, gimme a break), but there will be fabulous content nonetheless.

So please update your links and visit the new home of Writer/Author/Purveyor of Awesome Christine Estima!

**Redesign and development by Corbin Smith, whom ya’ll should hire for your web design/development needs


My #Polska14 Adventure Begins Today!

As I type this, I am running to catch my flight from Brussels Charleroi Airport to Warsaw Chopin! As I previously blogged about, starting today, I will be in Warsaw, then to Lodz and finally to Poznan to blog and tweet about Poland’s history, economy and environmental protection as a guest of the Polish Ministry of Economy!

I haven’t been to Poland since 2006 so I’m extra eager to see that wonderful country and people again. Here are some snaps from that epic 2006 European Extravaganza:

The old town of Warsaw at dusk. From what I remember, the entire old town was understandably destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising and the duration of World War II so they actually rebuilt the old town using pre-war photographs as a guide!

I loved the colours of the city.

And the breakdancing! The city was so alive with fervour and energy.

For years, this was the best photograph I felt I had ever taken. Those people at the end of the alley walked by just as I plunged down on the shutter, and it created a very haunting moment. I look at this photograph and I see a lot of flaws now, but I always am reminded of how I was discovering my photographic style and Warsaw helped facilitate that.

After a lot of sleuthing and getting lost a bunch of times, I also found all by myself the last remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall. Built by the occupying Nazis, this wall cordoned off an area of just 3.4 square kilometres that held over 400,000 Jews. Just think about that for a second. Imagine in Toronto, the space between Harbord Street to the CN Tower inhabited by 400,000 people. That’s insane. Of course, most of the Ghetto and the wall were destroyed by the war and of subsequent redevelopment, but there is still a small section standing, and on this particular day in the summer of 2006, I had it all to myself.

Touching the wall was something else.

I hope to have more adventures and eye-opening experiences over the course of this trip, and I’m very humbled and grateful to have been chosen to participate!

And even better – I’m bringing along one of my favourite people ever: Anny Chih! Many of you might remember way back in 2009 when both Anny and I were Top 50 finalists in the global Best Job in the World campaign. We were strangers from opposite sides of the country united through that experience, and we became great friends! We’ve explored Vancouver, New York, and Toronto together, and there’s no one else I’d rather explore Poland with 🙂

Keep an eye on this blog and on the Twitter hashtag #Polska14 to keep up with all of our Polish activities!

See you guys soon in Warsaw!

Dziękuję!


I made the front page of WordPress!

wordpress

WordPress likes to promote some of the hottest and most interesting blogs on their server, and my lil blog The Spadina Monologues was chosen as their first pick for Street Art!! This is a big deal, because not only was I featured on WordPress’s official blog, but they also sent out a newsletter to EVERY SINGLE WORDPRESS USER featuring my photographs.

I was wondering why my stats were going a big crazy.

So hello to all of my new followers and readers today! You have excellent taste.

This blog is almost exclusively about street art and graffiti, with a tinge of event-coverage and travel-stories, so if you liked what WordPress had to say about me, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the rest of this blog.

Let us celebrate this wondrous event by adding “Wind” to “Hair.”

wind in my hair on Make A Gif

Shameless?

Yes.

Unwashed hair?

Also yes.

Fanks WordPress and fanks to you, my munchkins, for your support 🙂


#BlogHop! Confessions of a Fiction Writer: A Cautionary Tale

 

Recently I received a charming invitation to “blog hop” about my writing experience. How it works is: a blogger/writer blogs about their writing process, and then nominates three other blogger/writers to do the same… and so it goes. Oh the blogs you can hop through in this network!

I was nominated by writer and editor Rachel Stuckey to blog it like it’s hot, a challenge I would never shy away from, and so now you get to read an insight into my life as a writer. If you’re a writer like me, or you’re interested in becoming one, hearing about the writing processes and habits of other writers is always invaluable information that you an apply to your own process.

I’ve done this before, a few years ago I was an invited panellist at my alma mater York University to speak about my experience in the writing and publishing industry. Here’s a clip from that lecture, where I was telling the students how to go about getting funding and grants for their creative writing projects from Canadian funding bodies:

A lot of the other writers in this blog-hop are travel writers, which I am as well, but I also do fiction (novels and short stories), playwrighting, spoken word, music/film/theatre/book reviews, academic essays, interviews with notable personalities, and basically anything remotely related to writing that interests me, so I cover a lot of bases.

Anyway, enjoy my insights and writing-foibles!

What am I working on/writing?

I recently finished writing my second novel! I have been editing it with the help of some outside eyes and also in conjunction with my literary agent, and it is ready to be taken to the next level. I don’t want to talk too much about this on here because I feel like it will jinx it, but  when the “next level” has been achieved, I will blog the snot out of it, trust me. I have also been working on a whole bunch of short stories and have been submitting them to literary journals which, as any writer will tell you, carries a long waiting sentence before you receive word of acceptance or rejection. So while I wait patiently, I have already begun brewing in my head the concept for my next novel! Novel number three, here we go. This one will involve some historical figures and a lot of research, so for the foreseeable future, you can find me living in the library. Ah, Old-Book-Smell. How I love thee.

 

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

My literary agent told me recently that the reason why he was so eager to sign me to his roster is because I am a “fearless” writer. Everybody wants to be a writer. Everybody wants to write the next great novel, but most of the time, they don’t want to take the chances necessary to achieve such goals. My writing, first and foremost, has a distinct voice. I spent years crafting my style, my form, my content, and my voice. For some writers, all that stuff comes naturally. Not me. I am not naturally gifted like Kerouac or Keats. I have had to work for every writing-coup I’ve ever had. The structure of each sentence is a BIG DEAL to me. So when it comes to what I write about, and my style of writing, I have to be provocative, and take chances, and let the story go to places that make even me uncomfortable. There’s no point in writing if you’re not willing to be vulnerable.

Why do I write what I do?

Great question. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me why I write fiction.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a storyteller. I used to love crafting up little narratives in my head as a little girl and then telling Mum about them. When I was in Grade 4 and our English teacher gave us the assignment to write a short story, everyone turned in about 4 pages worth of writing. I turned in 40.

I always had my nose in a book, and would get huge book deliveries from Scholastic (remember Scholastic!!) every few weeks. I couldn’t read enough, most of the time. And I always felt the urge to tell stories, especially when new concepts and ideas would pop into my head. I always preferred making up the stories, rather than telling true stories, so fiction naturally became my weapon of choice. By the time I was 12 years old, just the sight of a sharpened pencil and a huge stack of crisp loose-leaf paper would get me all giddy.

I guess I enjoy the freedom that fiction affords. The freedom to completely own the story that you tell, and the characters therein. I love the ability to fashion wild scenarios, and explore all the dark facets of human behaviour when stuck in such scenarios. Non-fiction and memoir have to be true and grounded in reality. Fiction is beholden to neither. That is just too tempting for such a dreamer like me.

When I got my first professional publication at the age of 18, I never looked back. I was hooked.

I double-majored Theatre Studies and Creative Writing in university, and returned to both subjects for my Masters degree. Since then, I have been published in literary anthologies, literary journals, travel anthologies, daily newspapers, weekly alternative magazines, glossy mags, national and international reviews, academic reviews, and even an encyclopedia. I’ve had about five plays produced, and I’ve lectured and performed at academic and creative conferences around the world.

How does my writing process work?

I actually have a strange writing process. Firstly, I absolutely need to write my first draft by hand.

Even though I type faster than I write.

Even though this means that I have to go through mounds and mounds of notebooks filled with messy scribblings, and arrows criss-crossing all over the page.

I cannot just stare at a blinking cursor and start to write. I need to have a pen in my hand and paper before me. I think this has to do with the actual act of writing. I see it as a violent act. The violence of pressing the pen nub into the paper and scratching your words into its surface, forever defacing it. There’s something about the Violence of Writing, as I call it, that is required for me to tell a good story.

Secondly, I can’t write at home. I need to be out in public.

Maybe because writing is such a solitary and isolating experience, that the sheer presence of others makes me feel less alone.

Maybe because there are too many distractions at home (like bed and Facebook….. mmmmm, Facebook in bed….sooo tempting).

Maybe because my stories are usually set in urban areas, so it requires me to be situated amongst the populous to inspire the descriptions about life in the metropolis…

Maybe because the word Writer is synonymous with Coffee Shop, and therefore one is always apt to find themselves amongst other writers down at their local latte-hole.

Who knows? All I know is that I’m weird, man.

 

Who’s next?

I nominate Fran Harvey over at Bookworms and Coffee Monsters because she’s just gotten her first poetry publication and is ON FIRE at the moment with writing and submissions and can surely offer some keen insight into her work and process.

Onto the next blog-hop!


I’m one of View The Vibe’s cultural tastemakers

I was asked recently to be interviewed for View The Vibe, an online magazine that profiles Torontonians in the food, beauty and cultural sectors. It was a fun little interview where I talk about travelling, writing, and crying into my lattes (sort of). I also use the word “ejaculate.”

*tumbleweed*

. . . . . .

YOU SEE CHRISTINE, THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Anyway, check out the interview here! Enjoy and leave a comment 🙂


Ermahgerd! I’m returning to Europe with Eurail.com!

Some MORE exciting travel news to announce! This has been in the works for a little while now and I’ve had to keep a lid on it, but now I’ve been given the green light to tell all of my little munchkins!

I have been selected by the good people at Eurail.com to blog, tweet, vlog & photog my way across Europe, armed with some wanderlust and a Eurail Global Pass. I have to hit up at least 12 cities in my favourite continent within 30 days, along with the challenge of posting daily about the adventures I’ll have, the people I’ll meet, the wonderful places I’ll see, and relaying some tips, tricks, and advice about rail travel.

But there’s a catch (of course!):

I have to live on €15 a DAY.

A DAY, PEOPLE!

Eurail.com will provide me with the rail pass and the funds, I just have to use the funds EXTREMELY WISELY.

FINALLY MY PARSIMONIOUSNESS IS BEING PUT TO GOOD USE!

Many of you are probably thinking you could never travel on such a tight budget. Well, as the most frugal backpacker on the planet, I am here to tell you that yes you can.

Many people don’t travel because they think they can’t afford it, that it is a luxury reserved for the rich and idle. I know from years of travel experience that, as long as you rely on your resourcefulness & ingenuity, remain flexible, read the fine print, and pre-plan, you can have an amazing holiday adventure that costs less than a day’s wage. And guess what, you don’t have to skimp on luxury or security (or hygiene, haha) just because you’re not paying top dollar.

I’m going to start this European extravaganza directly after my Thailand & Cambodia Situation (which I have tentatively dubbed The SituAsian. See what I did there?), so expect a more detailed plan of attack around mid-November.

 

So how did I score this deal?

Many of my long-time readers know that I work hard to have a social media presence. Interacting and engaging in social media has not only rewarded me with writing gigs (yay paycheques!) but also with a quality of living I wouldn’t normally be able to afford (I always say that if I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t have become a writer).

Everything from VIP music performances (DeadMau5, Dragonette, Estelle, USS, et.al.) and Toronto International Film Festival galas (barf!), to major travel opportunities.

Ford lent me car so I could take a road trip to Montreal.

Karikuy Tours sent me to Peru so I could climb Machu Picchu.

And Via Rail put me on the cross-Canada train from Toronto to Vancouver, culminating in my lecture at the Social Media Week Conference about my experiences.

And by the grace of Twitter, that’s how I managed to be selected for this opportunity as well. A little over a month ago, I saw this below tweet pop up in my feed.

It generated a lot of discussion in the travel circles, and I noticed a lot of travel bloggers vying for the gig. I ruminated on this opportunity for a few days before finally getting in touch with them and making a case for myself. I had a lot of ideas, and of course a lot of travel experience, so I knew if I were chosen for this I would definitely be able make the experience worthwhile & exciting.

After about a month of discussion and negotiations (they raised it from €10 a day to €15 a day! PHEWF!), Eurail.com chose me for the experience!

ERMAHGERD! TERVERL!

I will be revealing more details about this cross-European extravaganza around mid-November. Right now I have to divert all my efforts into preparing for my Thailand-Cambodia-SituAsian (I’m sticking with that name, I don’t care what you say).

In the meantime, munchkins, I hope more of you will be encouraged to push yourselves out of your comfort zone & experience something new!

Get cape.
Wear cape.
Fly.


SEVEN years of The Spadina Monologues!

I can’t believe I’ve been running this blaaaaag for SEVEN FUCKING YEARS. I’m either tenacious, dedicated, insane, or I just have a lot to say.

I started this thang in April 2005 after my one-act play called The Spadina Monologues was staged at the New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre in Toronto …. I think I started it as a way to just promote my writing, to talk about my experience of living in the city, to talk about my life through storytelling and prose … but most of all, it was just an excuse to write every day.

It has morphed over the years from writing experiments, personal stories, and self-promotion into theatre and film critiques, travelogues, backpacking, travel photography, adventure activities, street art, graffiti, and urban culture.

This blog has seen me get my first publications and theatre productions, seen me backpack all around the world, seen my fall in love, seen me fall spectacularly out of love, seen me move to the other side of the planet for a few years, seen me star in a reality TV show, seen me partake in global campaigns … and seen me be super boring sometimes when I talk about drinking coffee or buying skirts or other bullshit I have been known to blog.

Lately I find talking about myself super-lame. Instead of talking about my life, I talk about urban experiences and people can still get a sense of who I am through the things I choose to cover on here. Pretty much the same thing. Fanks to all my readers who have stuck around through the good and the clusterfucks. You guys are the ruling class.

Anyhoo, here’s to another SEVEN YEARS!

(good gawd)

BLOG IT LIKE IT’S HOT!

(Photo by Chris Luckhardt)


on hiatus

“But whereas a girl of nineteen draws her confidence from a surfeit of attention, a woman of twenty-nine is nourished on subtler stuff. Desirous, she chooses her apéritifs wisely, or, content, she enjoys the caviare of potential power. Happily she does not seem, in either case, to anticipate the subsequent years when her insight will often be blurred by panic, by the fear of stopping or the fear of going on. But on the landings of nineteen or twenty-nine she is pretty sure that there are no bears in the hall.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night


blog it like it’s hot

click on the above image to check me out in today’s Street Style section of BlogTO. BlogTO is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) Toronto-centric blog out there (along with fellow high-ranking blogs Torontoist, Now Toronto, and The Grid) …. and the trolls who scavenge through the Street Style comments are infamous for their brutality. BRING IT ON, i can take it! (ha, no i can’t. total fragile ego right hurr).

but the best way to respond to internet trolls is to kill them with awesome. case in point:

i love how my wifey and i ended up juxtapositioned next to each other. it’s KISMET!

fanks to Paul Hillier for being such a fun photographer!


I like being weird. Weird’s all I got. That and my sweet style.

never met this guy before in my life, but this tweet was most welcome! read more about my running ethos here.

and for the record, it was a Raider’s hoodie that an old boyfriend from high school left at my place that I claimed as asshole tax. I love that hoodie. and I can’t even remember that boyfriend’s name. It had to have been one of the jocks, surely.


this one time, on the internet …

late last night i tweeted this, and i broke the internet.

then this happened:

and then this followed:

until i somehow became the top tweet in the category:

unlike old twitter where you could see exactly how many people RT’d you, new twitter doesn’t allow you to see beyond 100 RTs, so i have no clue how many times this was RT’d. by the massive cornucopia of mentions that were vomited all over me in the period of a few hours, i’m going to estimate it was somewhere hovering around the 500-600 mark, but really, who knows.

my follower count jumped well over 3,000 too.

tweets of mine have gone viral before (see here and here for previous examples) but those occurred by and large because a celebrity RT’d me to get the ball rolling. in this case, i couldn’t find a celeb or an influential tweeter who RT’d me. so i guess i struck a nerve.

in any case, hello new readers and followers! you have excellent taste.

now shut up and show me your tweets.


foxymoron

“Girl you’ve got balls……I have been following your blog for a few months….Very enjoyable, I like your attitude about what you want to do……Clear one thing up, I am not hitting on you, although if I was 40 yrs younger it would be a good idea………I like looking at blogs of young people and especially attractive young ladies, as you are…..Much better than young men……Most of the people I go to lunch with are young ladies. I like being around young people…….And a young attractive young lady with balls is very entertaining.
I really was going to write you a while back when you were talking about being bullied by a classmate. Scott I believe……Christine I have no idea what you looked in grade school but if it was bad you sure grew out of it….Just because a person has tits and a vagina does not automatically make them attractive to me…..You are on fine looking lady…..I saw a pic of your Mother, I am older than her, so again this is not interweb sex . I am just an old shit and wanted to say hi and how I enjoy watching your life on the web……
I saw you mention something about a health issue…..I hope it is nothing serious…..Have you posted about it?
Just keep on being you and having a good life……………….
Be well

-(redacted for privacy), Kansas, USA

fanks dirty old man! i have a soft spot for dirty old men, it would seem. they’re sweet, in a pervy kind of way. they fall in love with me, i turn them into friendly father figures who can soothe me about my life when it seems in shambles, and everybody prospers.


bloggers can’t be choosers


“blogging isn’t journalism, it’s graffiti with punctuation”

The Toronto Star recently profiled Deadboy, who, as most of you know, has been a friend of The Spadina Monologues for months now, and I’ve always profiled his work. In the article, The Spadina Monologues got a brief but important mention in reference to Deadboy’s work and my profiling of graffiti. Check out the article, because I’m pretty sure this means I am now a Toronto graffiti authority. Called it.

My panel discussion, Brands, Agencies, and Influencers Unite, at the Social Media Week conference went really well! There was easily 100 people in attendance, and they were all live-tweeting almost every point we made.

that’s darren on the left, our moderator. him and i had plenty to chat about, as we’re both playwrights and theatre nuts. bruno is sitting next to me, we took the Via train together and shared so many experiences that by the time we got to this panel, we were ribbing each other with our elbows like old chums. he’s mah boy! next to bruno is stéphane from the NFB, and not pictured is Yves from Via Rail, who took us all out to dinner afterward. Loved them all!

first they introduced the videos that bruno and i made about our train experience, and then we began to talk about brand-agency-blogger relationships.

i was able to make several important points that i’ve been wanting to express for a while, since my life as an “influential blogger” or whatever began.

#1: most of the daily pitches i receive from brands or agencies are clearly cut n’ paste with my name jammed in at the top

#2 most of the pitches basically say, “please do my job for me. FOR FREE.”

#3 these agencies or brands will mass-email-blast their pitches to a cornucopia of bloggers, rather than actually doing research into the bloggers they’re pitching, nor understanding whether or not the pitch will be suitable for these bloggers.

#4 I blog about graffiti/street art/culture-jamming….and travel/adrenaline junkie activities ….. and theatre/film. so why am i getting pitches about Mattel’s new barbie and ken dolls? or Dunkin Donuts’ national donut day campaign? or vodka tastings? Those are beyond the voice of my blog, they don’t fit with my ethos, and my readers wouldn’t give a toss about those campaigns.

#5 brands and agencies should be more concerned about pitching to influencers whom they actually want to build long term mutually-beneficial relationships with, rather than EVERYBODY for a short period of time.

according to the panel’s program, i now am the NFB’s co-director with Stéphane.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST. I GET STEPHANE’S PAYCHEQUE THIS MONTH. IT’S IN PRINT!

s’okay, my nametag was correct.

Via Rail put me up in the posh and luxurious Opus Hotel in the heart of trendy Yaletown in Vancouver. my room was so lush. when a  single gal with an orgasmic rush of energy is given a sexy, mojo-enhancing room like this, there’s only one thing she can do.

opus hotel

what did you think i meant? get your minds outta the gutter!

or back in the gutter?

in the morning, with the sunshine pouring in through my massive window, i knew i was going to have a classically cool Vancouver day.

Opus’ communications manager left me a lil’ gift and an awfully kind note at the front desk too. he had heard me speak at the panel the night before. fanks Jer!

i decided to only wear black and white all day.

i let my personality fill in the colour.

summer 2011 is officially over. this was an exceptionally difficult summer.

i quit my job. i went through a heartbreak. and then received a bad health diagnosis.

i will not miss this summer at all.

Yet despite all of that, happiness still abounds in my life.
Life always finds a way.


#VIAyvr: travelling on Via Rail from Toronto to Vancouver

I just got off The Canadian! I boarded at Union Station in Toronto on Thursday night (the 15th), and spent three days and four nights weaving through the thick green forests of North Western Ontario and Manitoba, then zooming along the flat amber prairies of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and finally the lush and ornate Rocky Mountains of British Columbia.

The colours beyond the train windows were glorious, and they dazzled my eyes with so much beauty, it almost hurt my heart.

I’ve ridden the rail networks of Europe and Asia extensively, so I know what makes an enjoyable journey, and what makes a hellish one. This journey was luxurious, relaxed, and such a wonder. You can fit Europe within the borders of Canada, but unlike Europe, you won’t need a passport to make this journey. At each stop, the terrain changed, the people and communities changed. No two cities or town or hamlets or villages were alike. This is an amazing country we live in, and we need to explore it more, on top of exploring other countries.

We all love to fly and save time, but last year when I flew from Toronto to Vancouver, I never saw or experienced what I did on the train. I got to see what most people just pass over.

The world is a massive place, and I feel sorry for those who spend their entire lives in one place. That would be an awful waste.

The food on board was something I wasn’t expecting! Included in the price of your berth or cabin (I had a cushy cabin all to myself!), you get three squares a day, and they weren’t something just thrown together and microwaved (I’m looking at you, Europe!). I’m talking sumptuous hearty meals that I often couldn’t finish, the portions were so hearty and rich!

My single cabin had it’s own bed, chair, sink, loo, electrical outlets, towels, toiletries, a fan, and even little chocolates left on my pillow!

And the great thing about long rail journeys is the people you meet! I met some other like-minded travellers who were looking for adventure and taking adventure of everything Canada has to offer. Each night, I would encounter someone new.  There was one interesting fellow from Victoria who cycled from Victoria to Halifax this year, and he’s 57 years old! He left Victoria on D-Day, and arrived in Halifax on the anniversary of 9/11. Talk about an adventurer!

Recognize the bloke in the middle? That’s Omari Akil Newton, who stars in Blue Mountain State, a huge hit on the Spike Network. Him and I spent many nights yapping it up in the dining car, he was totally cool, and a fellow West Island native too (we grew up in the same small town of Kirkland Quebec!). Even celebs  take the train.

This was the journey of a life-time, one that I won’t soon forget, and I’m so grateful that my wanderlust and thirst for adventure facilitated such an experience! Tonight I’m talking on a panel at Social Media Week Conference here in Vancouver about the journey. So if you’re about, here are the details! I’d love to see your faces!

Remember what St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


the more i know people, the more i love the smiths


i leave today! Via Rail is putting me on the cross-canada train from Toronto to Vancouver (with a brief stop in Jasper, Alberta) to blog, vlog, and live-tweet the train experience, and upon arrival in Vancouver, I will be speaking on a panel for the Social Media Week conference. The panel is “Brands, Agencies, and Influencers” and we’re discussing how to build personal brands, the relationship between brands and bloggers, and the ethics therein. if you’re gonna be in Vancouver on September 19th, register to hear a sistah speak here!

most of you know that i’m a huge travel junkie, so being able to explore my own country as much as i’ve explored others is a huge opportunity, one that i couldn’t pass on. it takes a bigger woman than me to refuse such a generous offer.

i’ve travelled the european rail networks extensively, and i swear by them because they’re fast, they’re efficient, and they’re inexpensive. i’ve always been a critic of our canadian rail system, so this experience is the opportune time to prove me wrong.

time to whip out my backpack and load it up with travel essentials. tell me, what does one wear to a panel discussion? business casual? i have my pencil skirts and blouses buried somewhere.

more importantly, what does one wear on a train for three days? Via Rail has set me up in the swanky sleeper touring class cabin, where i will apparently get my own shower, and my meals prepared by a kickass chef. i get my own cabin as well, NO SHARESIES!

when i rode the rails in europe, I always had to settle for the 4 bed or 6 bed couchettes shared with complete strangers who snored, had screaming children, or yipped out the window at every train platform we crossed.

one time, when travelling for over 24 hours from lisbon to budapest (it’s a fricken lonnnnnng train ride, with stopovers in paris and vienna), there were no couchettes left, and i had to sit upright in a compartment with 4 others all night. it was THE WORST.

in india, you didn’t even get a separate compartment. you just slept right out in the open, no curtains, no privacy, and everything at risk of being stolen.

anyway, ADVENTURE TALLY HO!

see ya on the west coast, suckas.

*   *   *

speaking of Social Media and influence, I tweeted this on the 10th anniversary 9/11:

as you can see, it was RT’d by more than 100 people, which actually happens quite a lot on my end, but that number was probably increased when it was RT’d by my main man:

now i finally know what celebrity tweeters have to endure.  some people were INCENSED by those nine little words. amazing how one little pacifist sentiment can incite so much furor. some of the messages i received in response to that tweet were ripped right out of Team America, surely. most of them were xenophobic and racist comments directed toward arabs and muslims, i might add. twitter really is the only refuge for the scoundrels.

hey everybody! got an opinion? you should post it on twitter.

PEOPLE WILL SHIT THEMSELVES.

I worked at the CN Tower during 9/11. I quit shortly thereafter, as did everyone else. I don’t just mean employees, I also mean guests and customers. Towers became taboo.

“Hi Christine,

Let me introduce myself…i’ll go by the name stikki peaches…its my street artist name!
I was sent your link from a friend of mine which knows about my work, and i just wanted to say thanks for the appreciation, exposure and love for what i do, and what other artists do. I’m the ” What if Art ruled the World? ” guy. 🙂 
Unlike a lot of street artists…i like to raise a question, universally, and throw it out there, and its been quite funny, cool, interesting to see and hear what ppl think, either on the web ( blogs ) or with ppl i may meet when actually wheatpasting one of my stencils. I try to keep a really low profile, but sometimes where i chose to lay my art down, isn’t actually the most secluded places. I guess it makes it more exciting. Anyhow, again a big thank you, and if you’re ever in the St-Laurent area again, check out Bernard street, i got a couple of pieces put up around the alleys there too. Little Italy as well.
 A la prochain…Take care.
With luv…SP.
( This message may self destruct in 3….2…1…ok maybe it won’t but whatever…) “

i’ve been blogging about Deadboy‘s street art and graffiti for months and months now, and we talk often.

guess who i finally met?

YES YES YA’LL.

Deadboy had informed me a few weeks ago that he had been asked to participate in the street art showcase  which drops in toronto on september 24th, and the official media announcement was last week at City Hall, so i went to support the man in the mask.

 i actually didn’t realize he was the one in the mask until he waved at me and came over to say hi. seeing as how we’ve never met before, and i have no clue what he looks like, i just assumed he was someone else. as he got closer, i looked at his mask and was like WAAAAAIT A MINUTE, that’s the mask used in his street art!

anyway, we spoke for about an hour, and the press conference was actually super interesting. turns out the Street Art Showcase has received invitations from Bristol (banky’s hometown) and 5Pointz in Queens!

imma be out of town on the 24th (going to Peru!), but you should definitely check out the showcase. follow them on twitter for updates. support Deadboy, tell him Estima sent ya.

speaking of City Hall….

..and another one…

see what i did there?

lol.

interesting viewpoint.

do i think that graffiti and street art is vandalism?

the short answer to that is no.

the long answer is FUCK NO.

another brilliant and colourful Spud bomb, right across the street from MuchMusic.

CHRISSY MAD! CHRISSY SMASH!

i’ve not blogged about the Good Bike project lately, because there are just soooo many bikes to cover, and i see so many of them, i doubt i could ever photograph them all before they’re busted or ripped up. but this one on queen and spadina caught my eye because it had a name on it.

the Good Bike project ladies put Jane Jacob‘s name on another bike, so i’m wondering if Isabella Angel is an activist like Jacobs?

site specific work is the most ingenious work.

i love the idea that someone saw that sewer hole with the pylons and envisioned something else for it, something that is clever and provocative and colourful.

*   *   *

speaking of colourful, i was invited to the Diet Coke TIFF fest this year.

i went last year, and as you can see from my blog post at the time, it was a much smaller affair, just our little twitter crew. we all fit into 2 limos at the time. now the Toronto twitter crew has grown so much such that the attendance was easily over 500.

i didn’t bring my camera but raymi‘s photographer colleague made up for that.

there’s ameet off to the left. we met last year when he used to date a friend of mine, but we kind of run in the same circles, so we bump into each other from time to time.

this looks inappropriate.

raymi says she looks like sharon stone in this pic.

and i look like rachel weisz.

our movie would be box office poison.

my friend paul wrote a round-up of the night’s events for The Grid, and decided to link up one of my tweets about the night in the article (go to 10:30pm, and the hyperlinked “REALLY” in brackets at the end of the paragraph).

i stand by my love of veggie poutine, dammit.

and hey, i write for The Grid too, ya know.

Estelle was brilliant, and i managed to elbow my way to the front.

she’s so gorgeous.

and her shoes were fierce, miss thang.

reg and i were made into flipbooks. watch this video until the very end, where i vent my frustation in caption-form.

*   *  *


i meandered by a venue last night that i shouldn’t have. i saw the scooter and took off running.
go away. please go away.