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

wellness


Bangkok Bronchitis

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Remember when I reported on my cold symptoms over a week ago? Well even after antibiotics, my situation got steadily worse. Then when I flew back to Thailand, marvelling at the skies…..

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…even though I was in an excellent mood, I didn’t realize just how bad my “SituAsian”-situation was.

I started coughing up blood. Not little specks of blood. Huge dollops. When I blew my nose, it was more blood than mucous.

I woke up yesterday morning in Bangkok, hot all over, weak, achey, bloody, and freaking out. I started bawling and spoke to the hostel staff, who took me to a clinic across the street. The doctor there said I have bronchitis. Even though I’m having no problem breathing (the symptom most associated with bronchitis), everything else seems to line up. He put me on a different kind of antibiotic, gave me some painkillers to soothe the cough, and told me to come back in 48 hours if I’m not feeling better.

Well, even if I’m not feeling better, I won’t be going back, because tomorrow I fly to Lundy-Lundy-Lundy!

LONDON!

I’m coming home!

I can always go see my old GP in London if I don’t get better. 2 weeks with this bug and two different kinds of antibiotics, I’m so OVER the medical profession.

What’s getting me down, more than this cold, is how it has ruined my last two days of my SituAsian. I wanted to do a day trip to the ruins of Ayutthaya whilst here, maybe do some shopping at MBK, or even check out the floating markets. Bangkok is a brilliant cosmopolitan city with so much to do, and here I am bedridden like a wimp. I keep looking out the window next to my bunk and feeling like I’ve ruined and wasted the end of my trip here.

I guess nothing is more important than ones health.

Oh and there was an earthquake in Myanmar and we felt it in Bangkok. I thought it was a noisy water heater.

I’m fine.


Long term travel for the solo woman

I am told all the time that I am brave for travelling the world on my own. Not by men. By other women. There are many like-minded women such as I, but this post isn’t for them. This post is for all the women who feel like they can’t (or shouldn’t) travel on their own.

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Deciding to go

Once the travel bug infects you, there’s no known cure. Case in point, I’ve been backpacking for 7 years and I see no reason to ever stop. So when you decide that there is so much more out there for you than just your hometown, there is very little that will stop you from eventually just booking that ticket, grabbing your passport, and taking the ride.

For me, it never occurred to me to ask my friends or partners if they wanted to come with. I’ve always been somewhat of an independent lass (aka loner …stemming from being a writer, no doubt) and have always booked my travel with just me in mind. However, I know I’m not the majority. For many women, they are only travelling solo because their friends or partners couldn’t join.

But deciding to go it alone is the best choice you can make. If you actually waited around for your friends to have the same schedule/holiday time as you, you’d never go anywhere. Your friends may or may not have the same finances as you, and above all, they may not want to go to the same countries as you. There’s no reason why you should sacrifice your dream-adventure to the jungles of Borneo just because your friends only want to do package deals to resorts in Cancun.

Safety

This is the most important factor for women when deciding to travel alone, and rightly so. The UN recently released a study on the status of women and declared that “women make up 70% of the world’s poor, only own 1% of the world’s titled land, and are discriminated against in almost every single country.”

However, none of this should stop you from seeing the world. It’s important to remember that you could equally be the victim of a crime in your own city as you could whilst on the road. You have to remember that people all over the world are pretty much the same– the good will do good, and the evil will do evil. It’s true that when I was in the Middle East and in Italy and in India, the men were relentless with the catcalling and the verbal harassment. But have I also experienced that in my hometown of toronto? Absolutely.

That being said, use the same good sense you would use walking home at night after work. Be aware, keep your purse zipped and in front of you (or use a money belt like I do under your clothes), don’t listen to your iPod because it will mask the sound of anyone getting too close, keep photocopies of all your important documents in a separate compartment from your primary wallet, and if you are the victim of a crime, know that it was absolutely not your fault.

Go to the police, then go to your consulate. Call your insurance, and call your mum cuz she’s probably worried sick.

Good rule of thumb– a heavy keychain can double as a weapon in self-defence. If someone grabs you, you can whip around and either slash them with your keys, poke their eyes, or hit them with the heavy keychain handle itself. When I walk home alone at night, I always grip my keys firmly so that, in any event, I don’t have to fumble through my purse looking for them.

As for catcalling, it’s tempting to tell them to fuck off or give them dirty looks for the obscene things they will say to you (and they will), but the only actual method that works is to keep your head down and ignore them. Let them call, let them get up in your grill, but don’t give them the satisfaction. They do not exist in your world, and don’t deserve to own real estate in your brain. Seriously ladies, just keep your eyes lowered, keep moving, and ignore.

Fear

Of course, it’s natural to fear the unknown. But that fear should propel you forward, not hold you back. You’re travelling in the first place because you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone anyway. The challenge is the best part.

Fear is temporary, regret is forever.

If I had listened to everyone who tried to scare me out of going to Kosovo or Bosnia or Peru or Turkey or Lebanon or India, I never would have had those life-altering experiences or met those wonderful people who are now my lifelong friends or witnessed those places and sites normally only read about in books.

People want to tell you that you can’t go somewhere because they’re too scared to go there. Don’t listen to other people’s ideas for your life. Take on board what you think is credible and sensible, but discard what is just projection. You’ll see that most of it is the latter.

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Loneliness

Another common concern for “all the single laydeeeeeez” is being lonely for weeks on end if you’re travelling alone.

That is a real possibility, and something you have to prepare for. If you’re not someone who enjoys their own company very much, reevaluate your travel goals, because it is inevitable that at some point, you may not meet anyone or talk to anyone for days.

But there are lots of ways to ensure you stave off loneliness whilst on the road.

stay in hostels– I know many of you don’t like the idea of dorms, or being awoken by the scrunching of plastic bags or late arrivals, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Everyone in a hostel dorm is there to meet people. They are more apt to chat, to wanna explore with you, to eat meals with you, and become your lifelong friend than your average stranger in a hotel. And not just the other travellers, I’ve even made lifelong friends with some hostel staff! Remember that lots of hostellers are solo travellers as well, and therefore are more open to chat and venture out on the town together. Hostels also offer more perks than hotels– free wifi, free breakfast, free bike rentals, free tours, free laundry, free dinners, free parties, guest kitchens, cheap drinks, and waaaay cheaper than hotels. As for being kept awake by dorm noise, invest in ear plugs and an eye mask. They have saved my sleepy ass more than once.

do day tours and trips — day excursions are always populated by like minded travellers who inevitably end up chatting and high fiving during your time together.

smile– it’s amazing what a positive attitude and an approachable manner can do for your social life. Just don’t smile at the catcallers.

take local trains, subways, and buses— great way to meet locals when you stop that handsome local man for directions.

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Local customs

Women particularly are more subject to local customs and societal pressures, especially when travelling. Sometimes we have to cover our head when entering a place of supernatural worship, and sometimes we are not allowed to even enter the country without our father or husband present. It’s always super important to do as much research as possible before venturing to another country, especially the laws and legal system. Lesbian couples married in canada could possibly not have their union recognized by other governments, and may be refused entry. Some cities have different subway cars for women and men. I even once saw a sign in India that said, “to protect the sanctity of this temple, women who are menstruating are not permitted to enter.” Of course, that temple had no problem allowing the wild monkeys of the area to enter.

Remember that you have a choice where you go, and only you know what you’re willing to put up with. If being forced to wear the chador is too much for you, then don’t go to Iran. If being forced to cover your entire body in wrapping before entering the San Marco church is too much for you, then dont go to Venice. Know your limits and travel accordingly. I used to get really upset by all the rules surrounding my body and behaviour, but instead of lashing out at the locals, it’s just much easier to not give them my tourist dollars.

That being said, if you are arrested in another country for violating one of their women-centric laws, sometimes there may be very little your consulate or government can do for you. You are subject to the laws of the country in which you travel, and just proclaiming, “you can’t do this to me, I’m a Canadian!” won’t get you out of trouble, or out of jail time. So if you go, follow their laws.

Good rule of thumb – even when going to tropical countries, bring a scarf, a long sleeved shirt, and a long skirt, just in case. Cleavage and belly-buttons are usually troublesome, no matter how much that rule irks me.

Canadian women

Always check the foreign affairs website for travel advisories, health risks, vaccination requirements, visa requirements, and more that the Canadian government compiles for every single country, and keeps freakishly up to date. They also publish a free handbook for women called Her Own Way – A Woman’s Safe-travel Guide.

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Pack like a woman

Lets be honest, even the most seasoned female hardcore backpackers have at least one vanity item. Mascara, a set of heels, a little black dress, a fascinator … Whatever it is, even whilst on the road, sometimes we like to look our best. And that’s perfectly okay. Don’t feel like you can’t treat yourself once in a while because you have to follow some guy-code of the road.

Here’s some of my packing tips:
– lay out everything you want to take with you on your bed, cut it in half, then pack. You only actually need half of what you think you’ll need. Trust me. The lighter your backpack, the better. You dont need a different bra for every day of the week, you just need a couple. You don’t need 7 bikinis, you just need 1. You don’t need that huge 500ml bottle of perfume, just the tiny 40ml bottle. Besides, airports always have free perfume and moisturizer samples at the duty free. Great for freshening up between layovers.

-forgo the wheelie suitcase and invest in an amazing backpack. Despite appearances, backpacks, when worn correctly, don’t hurt your shoulders or neck or back because all of the weight actually sits on your hips. Wheelie suitcases are horrible for going up and down the staircases of subways and airports and train stations that have no ramps or elevators (aka most of the developing world). With a backpack, you are entirely mobile and have your hands free.

-lock up every access point in your checked and carry on bags. Baggage handlers notoriously have sticky fingers, as do the bus operators in Asia who like to sneak down to the luggage compartment whilst you’re asleep and steal your hardware. Keep all your money, documents, passports, iPhones, iPads, camera, jewellery, etc in your carry-on luggage, and never let your carry-on out of your site, even to go to the loo. When out on the street, thieves and pickpockets will try to distract you whilst they unzip your daypack and steal your camera, so keep it locked even on the street. When flying through the States, make sure your locks are TSA approved, otherwise they will break open your locks at your expense. Bastards.

-the local pharmacy or chemist will have anything you need: tampons, canesten, tweezers, vagisil, whatever. So don’t overpack, or freak, if you didnt pack them. Some places, like the UK, offer free condoms and birth control pills, so you can still enjoy your holiday romance if you aren’t prepared. Some over the counter medication you’re used to at home may not be available in another country, but they usually have a comparable substitute. For example, there’s no Tylenol (acetaminophen) in the UK, but there is paracetamol.

-you’re allowed to bring your makeup with you, just as long as your makeup bag doesn’t outsize your carry-on bag.

-any clothes you pack will probably get dirty and smelly, and possibly ripped or ruined, so don’t bring any expensive threads or things you can’t live without. Good rule of thumb- pack onesies. They take up less space than separate tops and bottoms, and look fricken cute.

-theft is a real problem in hostels, and you don’t know who has a key to your dorm, so if you have space in your backpack, carry a pac-safe backpack protector. When I first bought this, I thought it would just collect dust in the bottom of my pack. Seven years later, I can’t travel without it. I’ve used it in almost every single hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and I’ve never had anything stolen.

-if you’re carrying more than 15 kilos in total, you’re doing it wrong.

While you’re on the road

I always say that travellers who expect every country they visit to resemble their own had better stay home. Sure, the buses don’t run on time, and the nightclubs close earlier, but just remember where you are! And how jealous all your friends back home at work are! You are the luckiest woman in the world. And you gotta get in the spirit of things!

Remain positive, go with the flow, and don’t let anyone ruin your fun. You are not beholden to or obligated to anyone you meet, so if they shove their rain cloud of doom in your face, leave them behind in your dust. Kill them with awesome. Your trip, your way!

And remember the wise words of Mae West, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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This is how I pay it forward

Something strange happened to me last week, which propelled me this week to bleed. Literally. But it didn’t hurt. In fact, it felt pretty tingly.

Here’s what happened.

Last week I was headed to an event in my grandmothers car. Lately I have had a distaste for driving. I prefer public transit and cycling, but because I live uptown, when I’m in a hurry or running late (which is often), I grab Sitto’s car (“Sitto” is Arabic for granny) and zoom downtown. Transit would take about 1hr 15mins, and cycling would take 90 mins to 2 hours (and leaving me rather sweaty in my cocktail dress and pumps). Driving takes maybe 20 minutes, but I have had several bad experience with traffic cops and traffic court lately that makes me hate getting behind the wheel.

What I hate most about driving is looking for parking. It’s expensive and it’s hard to find. Luckily on this evening I found a spot in a parking lot on the first try, but as I approached the metre to shove in my hard-earned twoonies and loonies, I noticed something strange.

Here in Toronto, when you fill the parking metre, a computerized ticket slides out the bottom and you place it on your dash. As I exclaimed to no one but myself how expensive the price of parking was at this particular lot, I noticed that a computerized ticket was already sticking out of the bottom slot.

I retrieved it and visually scanned it. Usually people discard their expired tickets in and around the metre, so I was expecting more of the same.

But no.

This was a ticket that had been fully paid for, and just left there. It hadn’t expired. In fact, it was valid until 7AM the following morning (12 hours later at this point).

WOO HOO! FREE PARKING!

Sometimes, people who swipe their credit cards in the metre think that because it’s taking so long to authorize, the transaction didn’t go through, and abandon the metre. So I scanned the ticket to look for credit card details.

There were none. This ticket was paid for in cash.

So there were three explanations. Either the person who paid for this ticket was horribly inept and baffled by a simple parking machine with clear instructions stickered to it, or this was part of a sting operation/hidden camera show to catch people red-handed taking other people’s parking tickets … or, this was some kind of pay-it-forward act of kindness from another person in my little city.

I spent about 5 minutes looking all around and over my shoulders for an unmarked cop car or a hidden camera crew to no avail, so I ruled that out. That left either someone’s stupidity or someone’s kindness.

And because I like to believe in the inherent kindness of strangers à la Blance duBois, I chose to believe the latter.

I put the ticket on my dash and enjoyed free parking all night.

I kept thinking about this for hours and hours after the fact. Well into the next day and night. It even kept me awake.

I like the pay-it-forward ethos and practice, although I haven’t actually put it into action, as far as I can recall, since I lived in Quebec as a little girl and left money purposefully behind in a park so that some other kids might find it.

I was jonesing for another opportunity to pay it forward, but wasn’t sure how.

 

As you guys know, I am embarking in a few days on a huge transnational extravaganza to Asia and Europe, so all of my money is currently being funnelled into those activities. So my pay it forward would have to be something beyond the realm of consumerism.

Besides, as the late great John Lennon said, you can’t buy me love.

I struggled with what I could do for days until one night I was engaging in my usual night time ritual of watching Christopher Hitchens debates on YouTube whilst doing Sudoku (both are exercises in improving your brain power, believe you me), when Hitchens proclaimed in one of his debates that his admiration is reserved for people who do good for their fellow human beings for the sheer joy of giving, rather than those who do it in exchange for prosthelytizing about their religion or out of fear of hell and the wrath of God. He said that one of his ways of doing such good was to give blood. He said that it was something that gave so much to your peers, whilst not really taxing you at all seeing as how your body replaces the blood anyway.

So at 11 o’clock at night, I called the Canadian Blood Services, made an appointment, and a few days later went into one of their clinics and donated a pint of my blood. I also signed up to be on the donor list for bone marrow and stem cells.

Okay, maybe the paid parking was just left there by a neurotic space-cadet who had no idea how to navigate even the simplest of tasks. If that’s the case, then they are probably horrible drivers. Horrible drivers cause accidents. Car accident victims almost always need blood transfusions.

The system works.

If you’re reading this, please consider this your invitation to pay it forward in your own way to your community.

And if you do, please let me know how you get on 😉

 

***The first photo at the top wasn’t actually taken as I donated blood. That was taken back in 2008 when I was hospitalized for three days for acute tonsilitis and glandular fever in London, England. You can read all about that clusterfuck here!


Love me till I’m me again

In a few days, my Thailand-Cambodia-SituAsian and my Eurail.com campaign begin, which will see me travelling, exploring, and adventuring away from home until at least 2013. And as this year turns into the next, I realize that I have just endured the hardest 12 months of my life thus far.

Avid readers of this blog will remember this post from August 2011, just over 13 months ago, from the same week that Jack Layton died. That day I was diagnosed with a scary medical condition – dyplastic cells with the ability to become cancerous.

Since that day, I have been cut, bled, swabbed, examined, biopsied, cell-scraped, blood-tested, ultra-sounded, reduced to tears whilst on the examining table, and pumped fulla immune-boosting pills.

Last week I had another one of my regularly-scheduled examinations at the hospital, and my doctor said that after having so many negative lab results (“negative” meaning “no occurrence of abnormality or cancer”), I’m in the clear. My body has fought this thing and flushed the dyplastic cells out of my body.

She had predicted my body would do this anyway, but she had said it would take two years. My body did it in one.

I’m relieved, I’m elated, and I can stop with the dress rehearsal of my life and actually resume living it. The hospital is still going to monitor me for certainty’s sake, but I only have to go in every six months, as opposed to every other month.

It could have been so different. Almost all of my friends who have also been diagnosed with this have had to have emergency surgery to remove the cells. What’s even more worrying is how many women this affects.

I haven’t really spoken about this condition on here over the past year, mostly because I feel like people’s medical history is a private matter. But I will also say that far too many women are not going for their annual check ups because of apathy. If caught early, dysplasia is almost entirely treatable and curable.

If left untreated, it becomes a killer of women. Worldwide it kills approximately 253, 500 people a  year. Remember, dysplasia has no symptoms,  so just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

If I hadn’t gone for my annual check-up, I would still be in the dark. As would all of my friends who had the surgery, who would now be fighting for their lives.

Yes, this is my public service announcement post. There is nothing more important than your health, everything else can wait. Just make the appointment and go.

I’m talking about this now because my upcoming backpacking-extravaganzas are the epitome of living life, of loving life, of having new experiences, of meeting new people, of seeing the world, and the  never-say-die-run-til-you-drop joie de vivre.

Armed with good health, you can do anything.

Mae West once said, “You  only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

‘Course, comedian Jamie Lee once said, “My body is like my temple . . . because sometimes my Rabbi is in it.”

L’chaim, my little munchkins!


the juror

EDIT: hey CBC Ottawa!

I see you reading this post like every flippin’ day! if you want to know something, just ask! stop making me paranoid with all the stalkin’! hee!

i wasn’t selected to serve as a juror, so i can now talk about it.

a few weeks ago, i received a summons from the attorney general to attend jury duty selection. citizens of canada are chosen at random, so anyone can be required to fulfill their civic duty as long as they have never been convicted of a serious criminal offence, are legally sane, are medically able to, aren’t in law enforcement or lawyers, and are 18 years of age.

usually, when people get jury summons, it’s not for a particular case, but for a wide range of cases that they may or may not be selected for. however, this summons was for a particular case, and in it, they provided me the name of the defence and crown lawyers, the two accused, all of the witnesses, and all of the police officers involved in this case.

the reason i was given the names of everyone involved ahead of time was so that i could confirm that i, in no way, knew any of the people involved. if i did know any of the people involved, that would be a conflict, and i would immediately be dismissed.

i was summoned for the First Degree Murder trial of Jermaine Gager and Corey Smelie who are accused of shooting Darnell Grant in 2008 in the Jane & Finch area. Grant, 31, died at the scene. at the time, gager was 18 years old and smelie was 20 years old. they have spent the past 3 years in jail awaiting their trial. back in 2008, they were charged with second degree murder, but since this was now a First Degree Murder trial, i guess the crown must believe they have evidence to suggest this murder was premeditated.

i showed up at the superior court of justice on the morning of january 26th. gager and smelie were sitting in the dock in the courtroom as justice steven clark brought the court to session to commence jury selection, which gager and smelie are allowed to attend and partake in the selection process.

there were about 300 other people summoned to serve for the 14 juror places, so i knew going into this that the odds of me being selected were slim to none. justice clark began reading out a long procedural lecture on how things worked. there was a lot to take in.

when it was read out that gager and smelie were charged with “first degree murder, which is a violation of the canadian criminal code,” my stomach dropped and i felt sick to my stomach. shit just got real. surrounded by the government and law enforcement, i suddenly felt the full power of the authorities around me, their ability to revoke all your freedoms and rights as a citizen, and incarcerate you for life. extremely petrifying stuff that i am having a hard time articulating.

if gager and smelie are found not-guilty, they still have spent the past 3 years of their life in jail, and this trial will no doubt be the defining event of their lives. who could ever get over such an event?

we walk around the city all day, enjoying the sunshine and our freedoms, and we never think (or perhaps, we refuse to confront) that at any moment, we could either be dead, or behind bars. i have never been around violence of that extreme nature. never in my life. i’ve never been around guns, really. i’ve never even seen a gun, unless it was on the holster of a police officer. i have never been arrested, and have never been in jail. being confronted with criminality, especially in this degree, scared the living daylights out of me.

gager and smelie each stood up to plead not guilty to the charges, and then the 300+ potential jurors in the court room were called out by their appointed numbers and vocations, and divided into groups of 25. i was called at random to be in the 4th group of 25. group D. we were told to return the following day, the 27th, at 10am to be interviewed by justice clark, the defence and the crown. we were told that if the crown or the defence said CHALLENGE during our interview for any reason, that it was not a personal attack on us, they were just applying their knowledge and experience, and that they could challenge any juror for whatever reason they wanted.

i returned the next morning, and after being shuffled from room to room to room (even at one point being sequestered in a room all by myself, which really fucked with my nervous nature), i was summoned into the court room.

the only people in the court room were the crown attorneys, the defence lawyers, the two accused, justice clark, the stenographer, a court reporter, a few bailiffs, and some unidentified people in plain clothes sitting in the juror box.

i was told to stand in the witness box.

i handed justice clark my completed juror questionnaire. he said, “good morning, how are you?

“good morning, i’m doing well thanks.”

he looked over my questionnaire, and in his booming but friendly voice, he quipped that i was only the second person in all the jurors they had interviewed to notice that the form accidentally had a duplicate question on it. in my brain, i wanted to say something cute, but i refrained because my nerves were going off and my knees were knocking.

he said that the trial might start on monday, and if i had a conflict with that should i be chosen, they could work around my schedule.

the bailiff then approached and asked if i wanted to be sworn in on any of the holy texts sitting in front of me. i saw a bible and a koran. there was a few other books there (which i’m assuming were the torah and perhaps an eastern religious text) but i didn’t look. i immediately rejected, “absolutely not!”

so the bailiff said i could give an affirmation.

the court reporter asked me to give my juror number which i recited aloud. then she read out a statement which basically stated that i was affirming to tell the truth to the best of my abilities.

i said, “i do, yes.”

justice clark then looked at the unidentified plain clothed people sitting in the juror box, and a woman there said she had no objections. i am assuming she was perhaps a juror foreperson? or someone who helps in deciding along with the attorneys who can serve on the jury. i never found out who those people were.

the stenographer was sitting right in front of the witness stand (where i stood), and she was sporting a huge afro. it was at this point that i noticed the crown attorneys, who were sitting in front of the stenographer, kept leaning to the side to see me. they couldn’t see me behind the stenographer’s afro. i found this internally funny, but was too petrified to laugh, or even acknowledge the smiles emanating from that side of the courtroom. from where i stood, i couldn’t see the accused gager and smelie.

the defence attorney who had a shock of white hair and a small low ponytail approached the podium and wished me a good morning. i smiled back and said the same. he then read his question out to me, which was: given the nature of the trial, did i feel that my judgement or my impartiality would be affected by the issue of race.

through all the sugar-coating, he was just asking me if i was a racist.

i guess i wasn’t expecting that question, because i inhaled sharply. i then stuttered, “oh gosh” and then managed to say through my disbelief and shaking voice, “n-n-no.”

i recall some nervous giggles in the court room. my nervousness was perhaps charming and endearing to everyone else, but this here pipsqueak was about to die of nerves. i was shitting myself.

absolutely shitting myself.

the defence lawyer smiled and walked back to his bench.

the bailiff then instructed me to step down from the stand and to walk in front of the stand, and face the two accused.

i couldn’t see them before because i was so short. so as i stepped down on the floor, gager and smelie stood up.

we faced each other across the court room. i looked them both in the eyes, not knowing which one was gager and which one was smelie. they were so tall (or i’m just redonkulously short). they didn’t smile. they had massive dark circles under their eyes (3 years in prison, 3 years in prison….), and i had no idea why this was part of the juror procedure. their two defence lawyers stood on either side of them and had warm smiles which contrasted sharply with gager and smelie. the first defence lawyer said he had no objection. the second defence lawyer said she had no objection.

then the crown attorney, who was still sitting behind his desk, simply said, “challenge.”

justice clark then said, “okay thank you, you are dismissed.”

and the bailiff showed me out. in fact, i think i sprinted out of there, because i don’t remember leaving exactly.

once out the doors, another bailiff confirmed i was dismissed, and that i won’t be called for jury duty again for another 3 years at least.

i literally threw my hands up in the air and squealed THANK FUCK!

i have no idea why the crown attorney said challenge. everyone who was directly in line ahead of me was also challenged, and everyone that came directly after me as well was challenged.

as i walked away from the bailiff, i stumbled over to the opposite wall, dropped my bag, and had a nervous breakdown.

my heart was racing, my legs were failing, and my lungs were heaving. i tried dialing my mother’s phone number but my fingers were shaking too much, i literally had to hold onto the wall and steady myself.

i have no idea really why i was so nervous. the whole legal proceeding scared the shit out of me. weeks ago when i initially received the summons, i thought it would be super cool to serve on a jury. i’m a writer, i thought, i can mine this trial for storylines. and it’s an experience! and it’s civic duty to boot.

but considering how petrified i was in that court room, i know now that i would have made a horrible juror.

i probably would have cried the entire time, especially during family member’s tearful testimony, or viewing dead body photos, and so on.

and because jurors aren’t allowed to talk about the trials, i would have probably had to cut off all my friends and family for the duration of the trial, retreat into my mind, get all depressed, and have zero support.

i would have been a nervous emo-wreck of a juror.

thank fuck for dismissals.

i finally managed to pull myself together, and walk down the escalators to the main floor of the court house. there, i finally called mum’s number and told her the news. but even after i got off the phone, got all my gear, and was ready to leave, i couldn’t walk.

scrambling, i found a bench in the main lobby, and shrank into the seat.

i was immobilized for 20 minutes. i just sat there … staring at nothing in particular  … thinking nothing in particular. lawyers, bailiffs, jurors, and crown witnesses sauntered past me in slow hazes. footfalls echoed. cell phones rang. elevator doors opened. voices echoed.

finally, slowly, i managed to stand up, and i inched my way to the exit. it had been snowing all morning, a big fat christmas-like snow, but now the sun was coming out. removing myself from the whole thing, i pushed through the revolving doors. standing on the other side, i tilted my head back, and for a very brief moment before running to catch the streetcar, i enjoyed the sunshine on my face.


but there’s no release, no peace, i toss and turn without cease; i can’t get no sleep

i’ve had insomnia for over a week.
kill me now.


a note about my hair


me, ash, and reg at the HipUrbanGirl Cookies & Champagne party. CHARLIE’S ANGELS!

I remember seeing a documentary years ago about the hair industry. Basically, women spends thousands of dollars on their hair each year, and most of that money is spent on buying locks of human hair that is glued onto their scalps. Interestingly enough, the East is the main exporter of human hair, and the West is the only market. It only flows one way. No one in the East is buying hair from the West. India is usually the main exporter. Maybe Westerners are plagued with thin, limp hair that refuses to grow, and that’s why they feel the need to put their scalps through such torture just for long hair. Talk about high maintenance ladies.

I get a lot of comments about my hair (mostly from allegra, bless her heart). They range from compliments to questions, and the frequency of these inquiring comments has increased, so I’d like to address a few things here:

#1 Yes, that is all my own hair. No wigs, weaves, clips, nothing, nada. Just my hair. I don’t believe in being fake, and everything on my body, from my hair to hips to lips to fingertips is bona fide.

#2 Yes, it’s naturally just that thick, full and strong. It comes part n’ parcel with my ethnicity. But while being half Portuguese and half Lebanese has blessed me with a nice mane, it does have its drawbacks. Namely, if I didn’t take care of myself, I’d have a unibrow and a lil’ girlie moustache. Frida Kahlo ain’t got shit on me.

#3 Yes, I style it myself. I don’t bother wasting money on hair dressers. I get my hair cut by professionals maybe once a year, but other than that, this is all my own work.

#4 Two words: hot rollers.


wilderness on the rail path

i love jogging along the rail path because the air is fresh and the art is free. i get a lot of people visiting this blog who hate street art because of what they THINK it stands for, but i betcha they’d be hardpressed to find hatred for this.
someone wheatpasted beautiful images of wild animals all over the rail path, and they’re arrestingly beautiful and ardently lovely.

since i was jogging, i didn’t do my usual investigative probing to find out who did these animals, i didn’t want my heart rate to drop. so i don’t know which artist is behind these, sorry guys.
d’oh.
a deer.
a female deer.

(see what i did there?)

i’ve blogged before about how much i love to run and jog, but i just can’t get enough of it lately. it’s not even really about physical fitness or the desire to stay in shape anymore. it just makes me feel alive, like if my mercury is rising then i’m somehow closer to zen.

like if i’m jogging in the sunshine through the city, then i’m taking full advantage of my life and not wasting my youth.

i guess . . . maybe . . .  it’s my ritual to celebrate being alive, i suppose.

on this particular jog, i ran for 75 minutes and 7 kilometres. i only stopped because i needed water.

ME! HARDCORE! MEEEE!

I mean, look at how lovely this is. And the fact that it’s democratic and free for everyone to enjoy makes it worth that much more to me. Also, i think just FINDING this stuff adds to its value, because it’s like you stumbled upon an urban secret only a few people will ever have the privilege to know. You’re in on the joke. High fives for us.

sorry for the crappy Blackberry pics, i couldn’t get good angles A) because i was jogging in place and B) there was a huge tractor trailer parked that was blocking all the good photo angles. I’ll go back with a camera at some point. Get to the rail path, hombres!


the problem is, i don’t drink

Oy!
Jason!
Take me to bed or lose me forever!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, just make with the penis already.

I was invited to this invite-only party called Canadian Club Speakeasy. Supposed to riff of of Boardwalk Empire, everyone got all dressed up like they were in a 1920s bordello and drank free Canadian Club all night long.

But I’m teetotal.

I get invited to these things all the time. Brandy tastings. Wine tasting. Vodka parties. Open bar parties.  I don’t usually go to them, unless I know that everybody I know is going to be there. And, as expected, this time they were. So fuck it, I’ll go have a laugh with my crew and tear up the dancefloor. But then the awkward conversation happens when someone wants to clink glasses and they realize I have nothing in my hand.

There’s many reasons why I don’t drink a drop, and since that always SHOCKS the shit outta people, let me explain why.

#1 I don’t like the taste of alcohol. That’s the number one reason and the over-riding factor for everything. I’ve tried lots of different flavours and kinds of alcohol, and it all tastes like battery acid to me.

#2 It’s expensive. No wonder you guys are broke all the time. You spend it all on booze. I’m a starving writer, son. I don’t have the extra cash flow to blow on something I don’t even like the taste of.

#3 It’s unhealthy. It destroys livers, brain cells, and turns you into a fat slob. In addition, it is directly related to an increased risk of many types of cancers, specifically breast cancer in women. When you’re trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, every single nutritionist or doctor or dietician will tell you that the first thing you need to cut out is the brewskies. Not even wine. That urban myth that a glass of wine is good for you is utter bullshit. As you all know now, I have been enduring a bit of a health crisis lately, and I don’t need to aggravate an already bad situation.

#4 It makes you act like a fucktard. People get away with the most horrific of behaviours because they hide behind the banner of “I was so waaaaasted, maaaaaaan. Don’t blame me, I don’t remember a thing. Blah blah fucking blah.” That’s not admissible in a court of law, nor in a Court of Chris. I understand that some people drink to relax and to release their inhibitions. Fair enough, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t have any inhibitions. I’m already on eight most days, if I’m drunk I’ll go up to ten. You don’t wanna see me on ten. It ain’t pretty.

#5 I’ve only realized this last point recently, but I think I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. I don’t like stumbling around, having a foggy brain, not being able to concentrate, and vomiting my guts out. I’ll leave that kind of leotarded behaviour for the adolescents.

Given my outgoing nature, people are always shocked that I don’t drink. Maybe they think I’m a party girl, maybe they just assume writers need to have dependencies, who knows. And I usually get mixed reactions – some people are outright insulted that I don’t drink. One guy called me a Mormon and insisted I didn’t know how to have fun.  Then again, some people really respect my principles.

And if I don’t have my principles, I don’t have anything.


L-I-F-E-G-O-E-S-O-N you got more than money & sense my friend, you got heart, and you go in your own way

smile like you mean it

 little chrissy looney-tunes has spent 2011 figuring things out.

i’ve never really had a bad year before. not as an adult, anyway. once my life moved beyond adolescence, life just kept getting better and better. this year, it felt like something was off. i may be a punk rock survivor, but the closest thing to success this year was falling into the spiral of editing my book. to a writer, the truth is usually no big deal, but this year, it was a pendulum.

luckily, september came with montreal, vancouver, and peru blessings.

and then this month, i got the results back from a very scary and painful biopsy…. all clear!

the tail-pipe of this year is finally exhausting breathable air.

turn around, chrissy.

inhale.

and say something.


love is a poverty you couldn’t sell

you will learn to survive me.

you send me messages of support, and i feel, for the first time, like i can hold onto something for as long as i want.

but the noose buried in my rib-cage has started hissing. friction keeps tightening it around my guts. it hangs my bone marrow.

bathurst and dundas

bathurst and bloor

toronto has very few cobblestone streets left. the streetcars and the old brick façades in the west end hint at footprints long since filled in with liquids. then you walk through parkdale with your brother from another mother and spot the capsule, evoking fob watches and quellazaires.

parkdale keeps her secrets in the diamond grit.

the language the city uses to control the streets of the annex can be translated.

near Bay street and Elm, they were shooting an episode of Covert Affairs as i walked past. the supervising police officer, schleppin’ on the corner, paced over this find without even realizing it.

or maybe he did, and was trying to wear it down with the soles of his shoes (for obvious reasons).

either way, i squeezed next to him to capture this… what do you call this?…perhaps, concrete art?

street art by nature has a short shelf life, but if it’s blasted into the concrete of the quiet sidewalks that we never look up from after a traumatizing week, the aim might be to keep it around a while longer.

now you won’t be able to stop seeing them. this was Bay near College.

Bay near College. this was an exciting find, because i had heard of the “post no bills” stencil making the rounds, but i didn’t know it was here in toronto.

you MUST have seen this Kill Facebook colourjob at Queen and Spadina.

social media encourages apathy.

so what?

dude riding his bike backwards. he was heading right for me when i snapped this shot. as he passed, i said, “nicely done!” and he flashed me his pearly whites. i giggled like a tween.

in trinity bellwoods park.

when i discovered this, i said to michael and mel, “if i had could shag any animal, i’d choose an owl, because no matter which position you took it from, you could always get eye contact.”

AWK.

WARD.

things around here will get back to normal at some point, guys.

soon.

a fingers-crossed promise.

bear with me.

i’m inching toward something that, once, was rain, but became fragrant and light.


listen to the abstract

i have pre-cancerous cells.

i am rotting from the inside out.

luckily, my mother has put me on a protocol.

the next six months will be interesting.

and all this, a mere 24 hours after this:

i am jack’s broken heart.

he said, “Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.”


there are flat clouds moving across the sky right now, shaped like the faces of people i used to love.

i am going to stare at them for the rest of the day.

if i stare hard enough, maybe i can make them disappear.


#BuytopiaSpaTreat at Vikaspa

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Spadina Monologues graffitigasm to delve into something frilly and girly.

I was invited, along with Val and Stephanie, to experience Vikaspa, the Yorkville spa celebrities go to when they come to Toronto to get massages and manicure-pedicures (Natalie Portman, Kate Hudson, Annette Benning, Robert Downy Jr. and Hilary Swank are all customers).

Treated with champagne (I don’t drink, but I sure did enjoy the pleasant, conversational joie-de-vivre of the staff), us little ladies were pampered, courtesy of Buytopia Toronto (Twitter @BuytopiaTO), with luxury massages and mani-pedis.

I’m usually quit the scruffy, no-mess-no-fuss kinda gal, and I’d NEVER had a pedicure before, so I chose the mani-pedi option. They massaged my tender tootsies, lathered me up with oils and moisturizers, then shaped and polished my toes and fingers with a blood red varnish of my choosing.

My technician said she didn’t really have to pumice anything on my feet because they were so soft and undamaged. She was all, “do you get pedicures often?” And I was like, “never.” And she was like, “Your feet are perfect!” And I was, “Sweet!” And she was all, “Aww.” And I was all, “Huzzah!” And she was all, “Bless.”

Anyway, BuyTopia is launching a deal with Vikaspa this Thursday, where if you sign up, you can these treatments and more for massive percentages off the regular price, even 50%-90% off. Click here to get this deal. You’re welcome.

Love that nail colour. It matches my Blackberry! …… Why are you giving me that look?

See ya in the steam room!


beating of a million drums, the fire of a million guns, mother of a million sons: civilization

this week was Bike-To-Work Week, and as someone who regularly has bikegasms and cylejaculations, i was writing a bajillion essays and articles about it, many of which caused a serious amount of controversy.

the first was an essay i wrote about why i don’t wear bike helmets, even though i am afraid of being hurt in an accident, and it caused a bit of a clusterfuck (look at the comments!)

the second was an interview with james schwartz, who blogs at The Urban Country, who says that bike helmets actually scare people away from cycling altogether. he says he won’t wear a helmet until motorists and pedestrians do too. he was brilliant to interview, and if you look at the comments section, it really does raise some people’s ire.

***

my friend zach has posted the top 150 twitter influencers in toronto (according to Klout), and guess which lil lass made the top 150!

klout has never been immune to controversy, their ways of scoring influence, communication, interaction, and engagement are very arbitrary, and many people feel like they should be on that list, or higher in the ranks. the last time i checked my klout, maybe six months ago, it was much higher, like 64 or 65, but your score fluctuates with interaction. i think it’s pretty cool that in the 2+ years i’ve been on twitter, i’ve managed to leverage my crazy-ass-rantings into something that people actually pay attention to and read and want to follow. it’s pretty fun. but it’s also not something to put too much stock into. the argument that these klout scores create elitism and “stars” amongst a democratic platform like twitter is justified and has merit.

that being said, i’m kinda chuffed to have made the cut. brag brag brag, sorry (not sorry) i promise i won’t let this go to my head (not a guarantee).

when i posted this news on my facebook, i said ” I don’t know how much stock I should put into this, but this is pretty shits n’ giggles:)

then some asshole who i know peripherally decided to assert his holier-than-thou pedantic musings of my perceived hype-believin’. it’s fucking incredible how people go out of their way to make you feel inferior. here’s the exchange:

like seriously, what was the point of putting that remark on my wall? if you want to just sweep in and shit all over people’s parades, why don’t you find a bunch of emo hipsters with neurotic insecurities to shark-attack, because…

I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF MY AWESOMENESS.

for all his “i’m not snarky” protestations, his facebook status said otherwise, which read “shut the fuck up about your Top 150 klout”. but what really made me laugh was what a fucking hypocrite he was-  if you look at the comments on Zach’s original post, that same egomaniacal prima-donna who can only gain satisfaction from pointing out the shortcomings of others, was WHINING that he wasn’t included in the Top 150! i shit you not.

call me crazy, but not only does he have a chip on his shoulder, he wants to make sure other people feel shit about themselves for their recognition (albeit small & centralized recognition).

such a shame, ‘cos every time i had met with this guy in real life, he was totally cool, and seemed rather humble. once again, the internet allows for people’s true assholedom to emerge.

i went to Hip Hop Karaoke on friday, my first time there ever, although it’s a toronto institution. i can’t call myself a hip hop connoisseur, but luckily, it seemed like the crowd (save a few) had only a popular knowledge of hip hop, rather than an actual underground organic appreciation of it. no one sang any songs by artists i hadn’t heard before. and despite what 8-mile might tell you, the crowd was a varied demographic.

phil and i had been practicing our song for two weeks. TWO WEEKS PEOPLE, i was listening to it on a loop every morning while i dressed for work, on the commute, before i went to bed. i wanted to get this shit down. if you’re interested, this was the song we did. i did macy’s part (obvs), and phil did mos-def. that’s a lot of lyrics to learn.

the previous evening, phil and i had gone to a park and sang the song while people walked their dogs or ate on park benches.  the evening had long fallen into the velvet-black of night, and we were still getting our tongues tied in the nooks and corners of it. some things came easy, other aspects were tentative and a bit slippery (am i still talking about the song?)

anyway, we went on around 1:30am when it was mostly the true hip hop fans left. stage-performance awareness set in, and we KILLED IT. we fucking murdered that song! last name WIN, first name EPIC! all the notes and lyrics and timing that we had fumbled over before just somehow stepped in line.

diggs, who recorded it all on video for us, told me the next day that he was really impressed with my performance. he said something along the lines of “i’ve seen a lot of people go up there, and i work in music so i know talent, and you were phenomenal” which of course made me feel super chuffed with myself (even though repeating it here makes me seem self-absorbed, which i refuse to admit to, although i seem to have no problem admitting it to you people).

frankly, i was more excited for phil. when we rehearsed, he had some timing problems and missed a few cues, but once we performed it on stage, he OWNED that shit. he was confident, he was enjoying it, he let go, and his performance was inspired. it was totally hot to watch.

when we finished the song, i started jumping up and down, giddy as a school girl,  and we smashed into a hug.

hip hop karaoke, people.

you don’t know what you’re missing!

aw. bless.

the next day, we cycled the humber valley bike path, which i’d never done before. i was so used to the don valley river path, or the lakeshore path, it never occurred to me to check this one out. it’s pretty amazing. some parts are paved, other parts are pretty rough-hewn and dilapidated, but the scenery along the river is like something out of a henry david thoreau poem. the sun burned like brimstone on our backs, forcing popsicle breaks.

sweat burned my lips into a smile.

when you’re having a punch-drunk time, other people from your past can sense it. earlier this week, a person i had barely dated  text messaged me. when we were hanging a few months ago, he was sweet, warm, and most importantly, unpretentious. he took me out for my birthday, which was lovely.

that was followed by two weeks of radio silence. so i figured, okay, he’s gone off me for whatever reason, good thing it ended before anyone’s feelings got hurt.

then out of the blue, he texted me, gushing with compliments, and an invitation for another lunch date.

i was confused, but i agreed, figuring maybe the dude was just busy or not attuned to proper etiquette following a kiss (although, considering he’s 41 years old, he should know better).

so he takes me out for lunch again, and it’s all lovely and what not. but then at the end of the lunch, he says that classic guy cop-out.

“I just don’t have the time to give you the attention you deserve.”

YAWN.

ya, ‘cos i can’t read between those lines.

dude basically made it crystal clear that he wasn’t interested in dating me or anything further than that. so i wrote him off AGAIN.

Iwent on my NYC extravaganza, came back to begin work at my new position….and that was all two and a half months ago. i haven’t even given him a second thought since i wrote him off, because there was no point. that was a dead end.

on facebook, i noticed that he’s remounting his one-man cabaret again in a couple weeks.

and then this week, out of the blue, i get this text from him , “hey gorgeous lady! how the eff are ya? R u around? wanna have lunch next week?

OH LUCKY ME.

 am i allowed to roll over and thank my lucky stars now?! you’re not sending me mixed messages at all, i don’t find your behaviour confusing, and i don’t think you’re jerking me around either exclamation point.

forget the 10 weeks of radio silence, and the blatant i-don’t-want-to-date-you  sugar-coating. i don’t have a life, or a job, or other men interested in me at all. watch how fast i drop everything just to be in your good graces again. oh, and let’s not forget that your show is just a few weeks away….i mean, i don’t assume AT ALL that you’re merely contacting me so i’ll either blog or tweet about your show, and try to get more bums in seats. oh no! thought  never crossed my mind at all.

you had your chance. NO THANKS.

to quote amy winehouse, what kind of fuckery is this?

i found another sheppard fairey! this one is a different version of his andre the giant obey sticker, but i saw this one many times on the streets of alphabet city whilst in NYC, so i know it’s his. WIN.

last week i blogged about this deadboy poster i found on queen street near augusta. this morning i wake up to this email:

“Hello Christine, deadboy here…
Thank you for the very kind words about my work on Queen St. West! You understood exactly what I was trying to get across… And in answer to your questions, Yes and yes… But I won’t bore you with details. Love your blog!

I’m having my first solo show that runs from June 3-30.. I can send you more info if your interested.

Hope this letter finds you well…
Warm regards,
deadboy

www.wix.com/torontostreetart/deadboy
(still working on this site…)”

YES I MOST DEFINITELY AM INTERESTED! how exciting!

check out his site people, the dude is wicked talented. when i get more info about his solo show, my munchkin readers will be the first to know.

also included in last week’s blog post was my discovery of a series of Mayor Rob “Fordzilla” Ford wheatpaste’s around town. the first one i found had the fat-godzilla mayor eating a streetcar (in reference to our mayor trying to destroy our sustainable public transit). the next one had him eating a spraypaint can (in reference to his war on street art and graffiti). earlier this week, i was walking through kensington market, and what do i find?

Fordzilla is eating a bike, in reference to his hatred of cyclists, and his assertion that if you’re a cyclist and you get hit by a car, it’s your own damn fault. i love how someone wrote on this Fordzilla “300 lbs of fun!!” because seriously, if rob ford actually got his morbidly obese ass on a bike once in a while, maybe he wouldn’t be a stones-throw from death. i can’t believe this fat, leotarded, mentally-stunted fucktard is our mayor. someone else drew in his hand the CN Tower. maybe the next Fordzilla wheatpaste i find will have him eating our tower as well?

FORDZILLA artist dude, you are my new hero. SERIOUSLY, i said this last week, but you need to contact me, you are fricken brilliant. let’s be friends!

don’t mind if i do.


talk qwerty to me

welcome! i have found another way to waste time. huzzah!

now i’m the most wordpressiest wordpresser who ever wordpressed.

i use wordpress at work all day long, so there are many features i’m already acquainted with, but for the most part, i’m confused by it. Blogger is more user-friendly….in that, it’s idiot-proof. works well for a nOOb like me.

i will keep my old blogger up, so that people who have outdated links will find their way here. also, even though i imported all of my archives to wordpress, the import has caused them to double up (raymi has the same issue with her archives), so it’s a bit messy, with wonky formatting.

i used to redesign my blog once a year, but my previous purple design has been up since 2008. so i was overdue for a change. i have pretty much all of my old features up here. if you’re looking for the blogroll, it’s located in the links tab up above. my bio, my writing portfolio, my media coverage, it’s all pretty much here….just needs a bit of a clean up.

i don’t like the photo uploader wordpress has. i can upload several photos at once, no problem, BUT for whatever reason, i can only embed them in the post ONE AT A TIME. zomg pain in the ass, way to kibosh my wordpress-buzz.

so until someone tells me how to get around that, i’m going to continue to upload photos to picasa and just embed the links here.

thoughts, comments, and tips for improvement are all very welcome, as everything you see on this site at present was designed solely by me, and i barely know what i’m doing.

also, i’ve activated my domain email address -> christine@christineestima.com

dunno why i never activated it before, it came with the domain i bought.

prince wills and kate were hanging around “queen” and spadina (how apropos).

back off bitch, he’s mine.

what a similar photo. reg can be my kate middleton.

this was taken at Foursquare Day festivities . . . some sweet gifts were handed out, one being a hot red protective holder for my blackberry, it was pretty sweet, seeing as how i need one and didn’t even hafta pay for it. then later, i won a gift certificate to the sewing studio, which i’d never heard of before, but hey, i have some skirts that need hemming, might be fun to try it out. i’m holding up my winnings above with zach, reg, tony, sacha, john, and lauren‘s boyfriend whats-his-name.

 

oh good gawd. when horses are this lame, they shoot ’em.

i’m a chris,  he’s a chris . . . it’s chris squared.

brennan is the king of cool

i was trynna pull a geordie laforge here, i don’t think it quite worked

like glamour shots

was interviewed about my foursquare activities for a yet-to-be-seen vid. i look like a snobby venomous cunt in this shot, but trust me, i was adorable in the video.

i voted today at an advance polling station. since today is a holiday, i knew i’d have the time. may 2nd is a work day and i’ll probably be too whipped to make it out to the polling station. i arrived at the voting booth located in a catholic school, only to realize i wasn’t wearing a bra.

see! voting is sexy.

most torontonians are hearing about bullet for adolf now, a new play written and directed by woody harrelson that he’s premiering exclusively here, and not at some big monster theatre either, but at unassuming hart house. i knew about it way back in january when they announced that they were only casting non-union non-equity actors. i figured i might as well submit, didn’t get asked in for an audition, but considering the way i look and what they were looking for, i kinda understand why.

it’s produced by a couple friends of mine, and the entire cast is on my facebook. in addition, i attended this is our youth a bajillion years ago when woody harrelson directed it at canstage. i knew he was a great director, but i didn’t know what his writing skills were like….all of this compounded in my absolute NEED to see this play.

i bought my ticket well over a month ago, way before all these chumps now clamouring for tickets. i paid full price, and of course now, all the discounts for arts workers (me), tweeple (me), facebook friends (me) are coming out. pfft. whatever. i’m over it. booking so far in advance scored a wicked seat. row A seat 13..AKA FRONT ROW CENTRE. lots of leg room, no one’s head in my way, unobstructed view, felt like i was in the action.

i put a stupid little copyright on these photos, just in case anyone felt like stealing. anyway, the play was really funny! i was surprised, it was really well written, go harrelson. although it’s not the greatest piece of comedic theatre i’ve ever seen, i was humbly impressed, and i was actually expecting the worst. i think what made this play was the performances. specifically, i was blown away by david coomber as “clint” and billy petrovski as “dago czech.” brandon coffey was also note-perfect as woody’s alter ego “zack.” but specifically david coomber was a talent that i was not expecting. he was absolutely flawless, impeccable comic timing, acting chops like i’ve never seen. mark my words people, that dude is going places.

during intermission, an equity actress made a flippant remark about non-union talent that was so typical of the industry. she said that essentially she was shocked non-union actors were so good. stupid thing to say. you can’t measure talent like that. besides, paris hilton is a union actress .  . . remember that next time, will ya, when ya wanna shoot your mouth off.

the play started with woody harrelson popping up over the speaker and telling us to turn off our cells. cute. and away we go. the play weaves theatre with film sequences and 1980s nostalgia. it’s essentially a retelling (with bits embellished here and there) of woody’s time in texas working construction, the friends he made, the racial binds that gripped the time, and a really cool old german guy with a gun.

some of the best lines were about child molestation (‘sexy kids’) and about abstract art (“it’s someone’s lack of imagination asking you to apply your own.”)

it’s about love, it’s about life lessons, it’s about friendship, and it’s just a hella-funny story.

there was a talkback after the show, where woody and the cast answered questions from the audience. here woody is saying “thanks fer comin’, tell yurr friends!” in his thick southern drawl. woody loves toronto, he’s here all the fricken time, so i don’t think torontonians are particularly starstruck by the sight of him anymore. he does yoga shows here, he does vegan events, pot events, and like i said before, plays. toronto is the kind of place where celebs come because they don’t really get hassled here. we’re too polite to try to chat up a movie god. either that, or we just don’t care.

anyway, you should go see this play!

there were lots of celebs and media and notables in the industry the night i went, so surely it will be like that all through the run.

layne’s in town for a month. we’ve managed to hang out twice so far, and it’s always like we pick up where we left off. we try to stay in pretty constant contact over email anyway, so it’s easy to always launch right back into things. but it’s hard having a best friend live on the other side of the country. hell, i moved to london, then he moved to the land that time forgot (aka sasquatchenon aka saskatchewan). long distance friendships take effort, and we do our best. last night we had dinner at queen mother, then walked over to canstage to see the cosmonauts last message to the woman he once loved in the former soviet union (fanks ashley for tickets!)

that title is asking a lot from an audience, i think.

anyway, some of the cast members are my friends, so i was excited to see it. layne had sat in on the auditions last year and had read with the actors, so he sorta knew what the play was about.

it was . . . interesting.

how to sugar coat this?

it touched on some interesting notions of longing and technology and relationships . . . at least, i think.

sigh. it was bad. it was just bad. the first act was like watching paint dry, the second act picked up a bit in steam, but it was terribly flat like gwyneth paltrow’s singing voice.

i mean, raoul was great, but raoul’s always great. he’s an actor you can bank on. it was just surprising, seeing as how canstage’s season this year has been STELLAR. from fernando krapp, to the andersen project, to studies in motion, to the middle place, i have been consistently impressed with matthew jocelyn‘s choices.

now, not so much.

i hate saying this cuz i’m always encouraging people to see more theatre. but i suppose in order to know what good theatre is, you have to see a lot of bad theatre.


this was written on the wall at work. it accurately describes the content that i’m writing, the audience who reads it, and basically, myself. totally femmebitious fembot….i’m eFEMMEral (see what i did there?)

i’m so femmebitious that i’m the last one to leave the office every night. once i locked up at 9:30pm. i’ve only been there two weeks, but i’m really busting my hump, i want to learn everything, and i feel like my perfectionism is holding me back. i need to write more content in a day, but i keep lingering over phrases and words and sentence structure, i can’t just let things go.

the office already presented me with my business cards, which was pretty nifty. i’ve been to a couple events already, representing the publication, handing out my card, networking, trying to find story ideas. everyone so far has commented how cool my card is. #win.

speaking of work, i was sent by them this week to get a reiki treatment, and then write about it. and write i did.  my editors told me they thought it was a great article, but i think i came across a tad bitchy.

either way, it’s a funny piece about reiki and how, even though i’m all about alternative therapies, this was just a hill of beans.

read it and enjoy!

first wordpress blogpost done….only took me 12 hours.

hashtag fail.


i’m moving to new york cause i got problems with my sleep

yes i CAN wiggle my ears! suck it, haterrrrzzzz!

more of my articles have gone live up on BlissTree. I’ve been writing my fingers off, and it’s kinda great to feel carpal tunnel whilst simultaneously delivering so much content on a daily basis, gets me motivated to do so much more writing. i have so many ideas! i’m oh so hire-able! this article I wrote called Eat Pray Burn was a lot of fun actually, it’s about how wealthy white women are more prone to melanoma, according to a new study!


this article was also rather fun because i was scoffing at all these news studies that essentially tell people good news about their bad habits. in Scare Tactics i poke fun at an article that says old people will die if they try to workout or have sex!

this article i wrote on Potassium Iodide is more of a news-y article, documenting the recent radiation scare from Japan and how Canadians are buying up all the Potassium Iodide pills from the shops out west

i also wrote a really cool essay about last week when i was sick and a Drug-Free Experiment i did….basically, instead of relying on over-the-counter cold meds to get through the cold, i took nothing but natural supplements, and had some interesting results. read on, pilgrims.

 i leave for New York Cittttt-Aaaaay on sunday, i’ll be staying at the Coward Johnson’s (aka friend’s couches) and i’m so superfunhappyballs about it that i’m bursting with fruit flavour (taste the flavour).  i’ve done almost next to no planning for it either. all i know is i have a ticket to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one day, a few off-off-off-broadway shows i kinda wanna see another day, and some graffiti-artist-street-art-areas i deffo wanna scope out for a scoop…

….other than that, i am at liberty.

 i am going to write and wander and be a flanneur and be the most anonymous ghost in the city where everyone walks and everyone talks.
astoria, brooklyn, and williamsburg, you are about to get the Estima-Bump.
or as nus likes to call it, “Incestima’d.”

that being said, i dunno if i’ll have the time to blog before i leave.
so this friday, i want you all to show up at 7pm at the Tarragon Theatre to see me in a musical! it’s part of the paprika festival, it’s called Alligator Tears, and i play the town gossip (how apropos). I sing A LOT with a few solos (kill me now), and tickets are only $10.

 all the info you’ll need is here 

 photo by rob kempson, during rehearsal for Alligator Tears, you can see my un-make-up’d mug in the background
also, i’m not gonna talk too much about this because i don’t want to jinx it, but last week i was telling a friend about a big audition i heard about that’s happening this saturday in toronto. now i’m not an actor by trade (although all evidence to contrary, lately), but i do enjoy being in a play or musical every now and then. i do about one a year (and believe me, that’s plenty). anyway, it struck me as i was trying to encourage my friend to go the audition (he refused), that i should be saying this to myself.  i thought, “why don’t i go? i’ve got stuff prepared… might as well give it a go. will brush up on my audition-skills. have a giggle.”
considering this big audition is probably gonna cause huge line-ups and half of toronto’s hopefuls will be there, i am under no delusions that i have shot in hell, especially since i’m leaving for NEW YORK CITTTT-AAAYYY the next day, but hey, even gretzsky said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” so yes,  i’ll be there early in the morning, freezing my vocal chords in the unseasonable march-sadness weather, but imma be there nonetheless.
wish me luck! (don’t say macbeth)

RIP 





your heroine went to three amazing press screenings last week for upcoming films. these are serious givin’r movies, mark my words. i was really impressed, because lately the only things i’ve been invited to are bullshit hollywood wank-fests.

the first was west is west, which is the long-awaited sequel to brit classic east is east.

then there was the LUMINOUS certified copy, which earned juliette binoche (love her) a best actress award at Cannes

finally it was family-friendly heartwarming drama win win starring montreal-hard-on-boy paul giamatti

you will have a hard time finding flaws with these three vastly differing but immensely rich films. go see them when they open. YOU’RE WELCOME.
also, another thing imma remain tight-lipped about (but am very optimistic about my chances) is an opportunity that has just arisen for me to stay in the south of france this upcoming fall at a chateau and blog for them with some funding. if i can organize inexpensive enough travel there (and secure the grant-attached writing gig i’m applying for in conjunction with this opportunity), this could really be something.
wish me luck! (don’t say tartuffe)
et c’est parti. 
on y va à new york 
à la prochaine, toronto!

>i’m moving to new york cause i got problems with my sleep

>

yes i CAN wiggle my ears! suck it, haterrrrzzzz!

more of my articles have gone live up on BlissTree. I’ve been writing my fingers off, and it’s kinda great to feel carpal tunnel whilst simultaneously delivering so much content on a daily basis, gets me motivated to do so much more writing. i have so many ideas! i’m oh so hire-able! this article I wrote called Eat Pray Burn was a lot of fun actually, it’s about how wealthy white women are more prone to melanoma, according to a new study!


this article was also rather fun because i was scoffing at all these news studies that essentially tell people good news about their bad habits. in Scare Tactics i poke fun at an article that says old people will die if they try to workout or have sex!

this article i wrote on Potassium Iodide is more of a news-y article, documenting the recent radiation scare from Japan and how Canadians are buying up all the Potassium Iodide pills from the shops out west

i also wrote a really cool essay about last week when i was sick and a Drug-Free Experiment i did….basically, instead of relying on over-the-counter cold meds to get through the cold, i took nothing but natural supplements, and had some interesting results. read on, pilgrims.

 i leave for New York Cittttt-Aaaaay on sunday, i’ll be staying at the Coward Johnson’s (aka friend’s couches) and i’m so superfunhappyballs about it that i’m bursting with fruit flavour (taste the flavour).  i’ve done almost next to no planning for it either. all i know is i have a ticket to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one day, a few off-off-off-broadway shows i kinda wanna see another day, and some graffiti-artist-street-art-areas i deffo wanna scope out for a scoop…

….other than that, i am at liberty.

 i am going to write and wander and be a flanneur and be the most anonymous ghost in the city where everyone walks and everyone talks.
astoria, brooklyn, and williamsburg, you are about to get the Estima-Bump.
or as nus likes to call it, “Incestima’d.”

that being said, i dunno if i’ll have the time to blog before i leave.
so this friday, i want you all to show up at 7pm at the Tarragon Theatre to see me in a musical! it’s part of the paprika festival, it’s called Alligator Tears, and i play the town gossip (how apropos). I sing A LOT with a few solos (kill me now), and tickets are only $10.

 all the info you’ll need is here 

 photo by rob kempson, during rehearsal for Alligator Tears, you can see my un-make-up’d mug in the background
also, i’m not gonna talk too much about this because i don’t want to jinx it, but last week i was telling a friend about a big audition i heard about that’s happening this saturday in toronto. now i’m not an actor by trade (although all evidence to contrary, lately), but i do enjoy being in a play or musical every now and then. i do about one a year (and believe me, that’s plenty). anyway, it struck me as i was trying to encourage my friend to go the audition (he refused), that i should be saying this to myself.  i thought, “why don’t i go? i’ve got stuff prepared… might as well give it a go. will brush up on my audition-skills. have a giggle.”
considering this big audition is probably gonna cause huge line-ups and half of toronto’s hopefuls will be there, i am under no delusions that i have shot in hell, especially since i’m leaving for NEW YORK CITTTT-AAAYYY the next day, but hey, even gretzsky said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” so yes,  i’ll be there early in the morning, freezing my vocal chords in the unseasonable march-sadness weather, but imma be there nonetheless.
wish me luck! (don’t say macbeth)

RIP 





your heroine went to three amazing press screenings last week for upcoming films. these are serious givin’r movies, mark my words. i was really impressed, because lately the only things i’ve been invited to are bullshit hollywood wank-fests.

the first was west is west, which is the long-awaited sequel to brit classic east is east.

then there was the LUMINOUS certified copy, which earned juliette binoche (love her) a best actress award at Cannes

finally it was family-friendly heartwarming drama win win starring montreal-hard-on-boy paul giamatti

you will have a hard time finding flaws with these three vastly differing but immensely rich films. go see them when they open. YOU’RE WELCOME.
also, another thing imma remain tight-lipped about (but am very optimistic about my chances) is an opportunity that has just arisen for me to stay in the south of france this upcoming fall at a chateau and blog for them with some funding. if i can organize inexpensive enough travel there (and secure the grant-attached writing gig i’m applying for in conjunction with this opportunity), this could really be something.
wish me luck! (don’t say tartuffe)
et c’est parti. 
on y va à new york 
à la prochaine, toronto!

i’m a bad babysitter, got my boyfriend in your shower. ooh! i’m making six bucks an hour!

i have been working on so many freelance writing assignments lately. so much so that my Online Writing Portfolio required a massive overhaul!

i think my fingers have lost all feeling. pencils worn down to angry inches. laptop keyboard letters rubbed off in frenzied fury. deadlines deadlines deadlines! the life of a writer is never easy but it can be exciting….exclamation point.

check out my film review of the latest adaptation of Jane Eyre, starring smoking hot Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell. my two wet dreams packed into one cinematic nocturnal emission.

also check out my film review of When We Leave, a german-turkish film that stars former porn star Sibel Kekilli, of Head-On fame (gegen die wand!)

i also wrote a DVD review of Room In Rome . . . two lezzers + one boiled cucumber= bullshit drama. shame on you Julio Medem!

i’ve started freelancing for BlissTree, a health-related blog for women over 30. nothing cutesy and sparse use of exclamation points. i’m not 100% sure if this freelance gig is locked-down, i think there’s still some negotiations to be had, but they’ve published three of my articles already, so i’m hoping more assignments are around the corner….

 my first blog for them is Exercise in Bed: Sex is Good for You! WARNING: MAY CONTAIN A DILDO-BOMB AND A STRAP-ON ASIDE…..NSFW. or is it??? hmmmmm.
secondly, i wrote a blog called Is This An Eating Disorder? which explores how far women will take their portion control and meal plans in the quest for perfection….and on the flip side, how forgetting these rules can damage your health. if you’re skinny or if you’re fat (which applies to everyone, i think), please read and comment!
finally, this blog is a bit more of a personal essay, i wrote The Vegetarian High Protein Low Carb Experiment: A Cautionary Tale. it explores where vegetarians get their protein, and also how the low-carb thing is a bunch of shit.
i don’t just write, fyi…. 
i sing! i act! i kibosh everyone who dares step into my spotlight!
 i’m like lana turner, but with talent.
boo-yah.
case in point:
i’m in a staged reading of a musical called Alligator Tears, which is part of this year’s Paprika Fest. today’s performance at 1pm  is free, and on the 25th the performance at 7pm is only $10 (it’s a benefit for the fest) so if you miss todays, please come to the benefit. I play Jeanette the town gossip, and I sing A LOT in this and have a few solos, so come check me out. The show is at the Tarragon Theatre, and if you click on all of those fricken links I just embedded you’ll find all the info you need. Hope to see you at the theatre!

allegra and I, going all lezzer at #loserkaraoke on St Patrick’s Day. Mild concern? Humbug.

i love cracking masculine codes.

i’d like to hang out more” means “i want to have sex with you.”

come over and we’ll watch a DVD” means “we’re having sex.”

…and, of course…

i don’t have the time to give you the attention you deserve” means “a relationship with you? dream on.”

just call a spade a spade.


>i’m a bad babysitter, got my boyfriend in your shower. ooh! i’m making six bucks an hour!

>

i have been working on so many freelance writing assignments lately. so much so that my Online Writing Portfolio required a massive overhaul!

i think my fingers have lost all feeling. pencils worn down to angry inches. laptop keyboard letters rubbed off in frenzied fury. deadlines deadlines deadlines! the life of a writer is never easy but it can be exciting….exclamation point.

check out my film review of the latest adaptation of Jane Eyre, starring smoking hot Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell. my two wet dreams packed into one cinematic nocturnal emission.

also check out my film review of When We Leave, a german-turkish film that stars former porn star Sibel Kekilli, of Head-On fame (gegen die wand!)

i also wrote a DVD review of Room In Rome . . . two lezzers + one boiled cucumber= bullshit drama. shame on you Julio Medem!

i’ve started freelancing for BlissTree, a health-related blog for women over 30. nothing cutesy and sparse use of exclamation points. i’m not 100% sure if this freelance gig is locked-down, i think there’s still some negotiations to be had, but they’ve published three of my articles already, so i’m hoping more assignments are around the corner….

 my first blog for them is Exercise in Bed: Sex is Good for You! WARNING: MAY CONTAIN A DILDO-BOMB AND A STRAP-ON ASIDE…..NSFW. or is it??? hmmmmm.
secondly, i wrote a blog called Is This An Eating Disorder? which explores how far women will take their portion control and meal plans in the quest for perfection….and on the flip side, how forgetting these rules can damage your health. if you’re skinny or if you’re fat (which applies to everyone, i think), please read and comment!
finally, this blog is a bit more of a personal essay, i wrote The Vegetarian High Protein Low Carb Experiment: A Cautionary Tale. it explores where vegetarians get their protein, and also how the low-carb thing is a bunch of shit.
i don’t just write, fyi…. 
i sing! i act! i kibosh everyone who dares step into my spotlight!
 i’m like lana turner, but with talent.
boo-yah.
case in point:
i’m in a staged reading of a musical called Alligator Tears, which is part of this year’s Paprika Fest. today’s performance at 1pm  is free, and on the 25th the performance at 7pm is only $10 (it’s a benefit for the fest) so if you miss todays, please come to the benefit. I play Jeanette the town gossip, and I sing A LOT in this and have a few solos, so come check me out. The show is at the Tarragon Theatre, and if you click on all of those fricken links I just embedded you’ll find all the info you need. Hope to see you at the theatre!

allegra and I, going all lezzer at #loserkaraoke on St Patrick’s Day. Mild concern? Humbug.

i love cracking masculine codes.

i’d like to hang out more” means “i want to have sex with you.”

come over and we’ll watch a DVD” means “we’re having sex.”

…and, of course…

i don’t have the time to give you the attention you deserve” means “a relationship with you? dream on.”

just call a spade a spade.