Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sick Of It, Sure!

Day 16 - A Song That You Used to Love But Now Hate

(Hate is such a strong word.)

I should preface this entry with the statement that I adore Michael Buble. He is funny and sultry and smart and Canadian and a great singer. But when I got his first album, as I am wont to do, I listened to it on repeat. "Fever" was my particular favourite, largely because the song had been a hit on American Idol  a season or two earlier. In any case, I listened to it so much that I've become weary of it (yes, weary) and I've deleted it from my iTunes library.

(I still love you Michael!)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Don't You Ever Interrupt Me

Day 15 - A Song That Describes You

This song needs no explanation or introduction. It is my theme song.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't Stop!

Belated posting! I spent the weekend trotting all over Vancouver with Jeanette, eating ice cream and watching comedy and buying things at IKEA, as well as finishing school work and packing! AHH so much to do!

Anyway, onto the song challenge, because that's what really matters.

Day 12: A Song From a Band You Hate

Since my high school days, I've hated AC/DC. My friends really liked Led Zeppelin and AC/DC and other bands from the 1970s. I tolerated their music, even enjoyed some of it, but I always hated AC/DC. Whenever they come on the radio, I turn it off immediately in order save passengers and other sharers of the road from my angry rampage.

Day 13 - A Song That is a Guilty Pleasure

The movie Fame was painful. It was poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly directed. Even the song and dance numbers left much to be desired. But as soon as I got home from the film, I bought Asher Book's "Try" on iTunes. It's such a sappy love song, but I can't help how much I love his voice.

Day 14 - A Song That No One Would Expect You To Love

Ke$ha; or, as Principal Figgins calls her "K-E- dollar sign - HA". I think she's a terrible singer and an even worse role model; I think she's vapid and a vacuum cleaner of intelligence. But man! can you dance to TiK ToK!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Hold Up A Light For Me

Day 11 - A Song From Your Favourite Band

Again, how do you choose? I have lots of artists that I really love - Billy Joel, Josh Groban, Adele, Feeder, Starfield, downhere, and et cetera. I suppose if I had to pick a favourite band, I'd choose Take That. If we were in England, I'd be teased and harrassed for liking a band that peaked in the early 1990s, fell apart when Robbie Williams left, and are now back as 40-somethings with a cheesy pop style. But I love them. I love their two latests albums: Beautiful World and The Circus.

"Hold Up A Light" is my favourite song from The Circus, and my favourite Take That song, I think.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Can Haz Nap Time?

I've posted 50 blogs! This is a monumental moment in my life history, as I've never stuck with a blog or journal for this long. Happy anniversary to me!

Day 10 - A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep

I can't say any music makes me fall asleep, but I remember when *NSYNC's No Strings Attached album came out, I listened to it every night when I went to bed. I would hit play and by the time track 4 came around, I was usually sound asleep. It just so happened that the song "Just Got Paid" was lucky number 4, and I hardly remember any of the songs after it on the album. So I suppose this song was just uninteresting/stupid enough to lull me to sleep every night for the better part of seventh grade.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's Dance

Day 09 - A Song That You Can Dance To

This is pretty much a no-brainer, let's be real. If I ever want to just "break it down," which I do quite often, I listen to "Safety Dance" and "Forget You" - the Glee versions of both. The Glee version of "Safety Dance" is 10 million times better than the original, PLUS it's my favourite moment of Glee ever. "Forget You" is amazingly catchy, and I love Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holiday.

Get your groove on!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Ode to Luce; Or How I Became a Post-Feminist

I'm not a feminist.

I used to say that about myself all the time. I would resist the label because I imagined that it went along with the extreme belief that women should be more powerful than men, that they should never have to wear bras or bear children or wear dresses. I am very pro those things. I also believed that being a feminist meant that you had to believe that men and women are exactly the same, and therefore should be treated as exact equals in all things - sporting events being a prime example. And I don't think that's true, so I adamantly denied the title.

I took a course in literary theory and criticism in my fourth year at MUN where I had to give a presentation about a feminist theorist. At the time I was displeased, to say the least, and begrudgingly began studying feminism.

I was assigned Luce Irigary's article "I Love To You." At first I rolled my eyes the entire read-through, and then I started studying about her work, her philosophy, and post-modern feminism. What I learned was eye-opening and inspirational. Irigary, along with many of her contemporaries, is an essentialist, which means that she believes that there are certain characteristics and traits that are inherently linked to the biology of being male or female. However, she believes that this does not excuse a societal norm that treats these differences as one being more or less important than other. Instead, she believes in an acceptance and equality regardless of gender, race, or sexuality; in other words, gender shouldn't be a factor in determining your value or importance in society. It shouldn't be seen as something to overcome; rather, gender should be understood as an part of your being but it shouldn't have any influence on jobs or rights and freedoms.

Hmm. This was a kind of feminism I could get behind.

As I reread her article, I became intrigued and inspired. Basically, Irigary writes that the sentence "I love you" denotes a relationship of power where the subject (I) performs the action (love) to the object (you). She says that this does not show a balanced relationship between the subject and the object, because the object does not have a choice to accept the action; the subject is in total control. She suggests that the sentence "I love to you" gives the object a certain amount of space from the action, allowing them the ability to accept or reject the action. She writes "The 'to' is an attempt to avoid falling back into the horizon of the reduction of the subject to the object, to an item of property." She finishes her essay with a beautiful thought:
What we particularly need is a syntax of communication. For communication amounts to establishing links, and that is a matter of syntax. Thus: how am I to speak to you? And: how am I to listen to you?
I think Irigary's essay is interesting because it has made me re-examine the way I use language. She doesn't mean that we should, literally, stop saying "I love you." I think she's saying that we need to re-examine the norms of our speech and writing patterns. What kind of patriarchal system has been instilled in my speech that reinforces imbalanced notions of power? What kind of expressions do I use that promote one gender and belittle the other? What commonplace diction still suggests that sexuality, gender, and race is something that has to be acknowledged because it is "different"? How can I change the way I think and the way I speak so that equality is the norm and binary opposites are a thing of the past?

So I guess I'm a (post) feminist. But I won't be burning my bra any time soon. 

Day 08 - A Song That You Know All The Words To

In grade 3, Dance Mix '95 was all the rage. I remember going to a birthday party where we played statues to "Saturday Night Dance" and we all did the Macarena. We had just gotten a CD player, and I somehow got a copy of the CD just as the fad was fading. I wanted so badly to fit in before the trend was over that I sat in front of the CD player downstairs for hours at a time, listening to "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I would pause it, rewind 10 seconds, and read the lyrics along with it. After a few hundred times of doing this, I would then play the song straight through and try to sing along without looking at the words. If I missed one, I'd stop the track and repeat the whole process from the beginning.

Needless to say, I memorized every word of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and now I really, really hate it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nelson Mandela likes Queen

Day 07 - A Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event

At the end of my month studying in England in June 2008, our group decided to get tickets for a once in a lifetime opportunity - Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party. The concert was a massive outdoor festival of music and celebration in Hyde Park with 46664 - Mandela's prison number - people in attendance. The concert went on for hours, hosted by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, and featuring musicians from around the world, including Josh Groban. Another one of my favourite celebs, Stephen Fry, spoke eloquently about the inspiration that Mandela has been around the world. Mandela himself, stooped with age but smiling like young child, spoke briefly.

At the end of the concert, the band Queen - or what remains of it - finished their set with "We Are the Champions." Previously, the song had mostly annoyed me because they played it over the PA whenever a sports team won something at my high school. But as I stood there in Hyde Park, the fading light kissing the faces of my new and dear friends with whom I had spent the most amazing month of my life, the entire audience holding hands and swaying together, belting out the lyrics "We are the champions, my friends / And we'll keep on fighting to the end / ... No time for losers / Cuz we are the champions of the world," I have never felt so simultaneously empowered and humbled. It was truly one of the greatest moments of my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I was out at Whistler this weekend with Steve and Paul, so I missed posting yesterday. There will be a post about that soon, complete with pictures, but for today I'm going to double post: day 05 and day 06 of the song challenge.

Day 05 - A Song That Reminds You of Someone

A lot of music reminds me of a lot of people, but for now I'll go with *NSYNC's "Pop." A lot of music from this time in my life reminds me of when Kayla, Jana, and I hung out all the time. In particular, "Pop" reminds me of Jana because she would do this chair-dance move during the chorus that made me laugh. A lot.

Day 06: A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere

Again, I have two songs. I've heard it said that the sense of smell has the strongest connection to memory, but I disagree; I believe sound does. I associate a lot of my adventures and important times in my life with the music that accompanied the occasion.

Coldplay's X&Y album came out the summer of the second year I worked at Camp Starrigan, so I associate a lot of that album with that summer and the people on the staff. In particular, the song "Talk" came on the radio one night when we were driving back to camp, and everyone was quiet, dozing from a long day, and the sunset was painting the sky, and it was a peaceful and beautiful moment.

"Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" reminds me of my summer in England. Every night when we'd walk back from the train station, I'd pass one of my earbuds to my friend Krysta and we'd dance back to our rooms, grooving to this, my "theme song." It was always late and people were always tired and cranky, but we listened to Mika almost every night and danced uphill. It's one of my favourite memories.


Friday, March 18, 2011

"Knot" For Me

Day 04 - A Song That Makes You Sad

There are two songs that I find almost impossible to listen to because they are so sad. The first is Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break." I find it so heartbreaking because the singer isn't begging his ex-lover to take him back. He doesn't even blame her for moving on; he takes total responsibility for their breakup. But even though it's been so long since she left him, he's still "addicted" to her, and he's just sad about it. It's just an honest ballad about loneliness and regret.

The second song that makes me wince when I hear it is Gershwin's "But Not For Me" from the musical Crazy for You. I remember listening to Jackie French, who was playing the lead in O'Donel's production of the show, sing this song with such passion in our dress rehearsal that I started sobbing in the Arts and Culture Centre during the dress rehearsal. The last line of the song is so raw:
"The climax of the plot / Should be the marriage knot! / But there's no knot for me"


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Everybody's Gonna Love Today

Day 03 - A Song That Makes You Happy

Again, an almost impossible task. Doesn't music, in general, make people happy? Anyway, I've chosen Mika's "Love Today" because it's my favourite song to wake up to in the morning, and it just makes me want to dance.

"Everybody's gonna love today, gonna love today, gonna love today/ Everybody's gonna love today, gonna love today/ Any way you want to / Any way you've got to / Love love me"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Bane of My Existence

Do you ever feel that something or someone was placed on this earth just to give you something to fight against? Something to keep you on your toes, to combat and from which to save the world?

For me, that someone and something is Barry Manilow and his music.

Day 02 - Your Least Favourite Song

For as long as I can remember, Barry has been a thorn in my side. His music haunts me. On one particularly bad occasion, I was lying in the tanning bed at the solarium (a task which I also detest; it's like lying in a heated coffin), and feeling hot, sweaty, fearing the eventual skin cancer, and all around miserable. I distinctly remember thinking "This can't get any worse," and as soon as that thought appeared, Barry's "Copacabana" came on the radio. And I couldn't escape!! It was torture.

It pains me to even look up this video, but here she is, my least favourite song. "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Favourite Song(s)

I think you can tell a lot about a person by the music that touches them.

I'm intrigued by this 30 Day Song Challenge that's cropping up all over YouTube. I thought that I'd carry it over to my blog instead, so I can update every day, plus include a legitimate post every few days or so. Also, I usually have way more to say about a song than I can fit into a Facebook post.

Day 01 - Post Your Favourite Song

I feel like this is a lot to ask of people, because choosing one favourite song is like being asked to not eat the last popsicle in the freezer when it's 40 degrees outside and the water has been shut off.

Anyway, I've managed to narrow it down to three songs that are staples in my music library:

1. "Crash and Burn" - Savage Garden.

Too bad that Savage Garden has ceased to exist as a band. Their album Affirmation is the soundtrack to my seventh grade. This song is one I listen to/send to others when things are not so great, as a reminder that we're not alone.

"Cause there has always been heartache and pain / And when it's over you'll breathe again"

2. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" - U2

I love the chorus: "In the name of love / What more in the name of love?" It's so hopeful and raw and acknowledges that love is the greatest weapon.

3. "Leningrad" - Billy Joel.

What would my favourite song list be without a Billy song? It's hard for me to choose one of his as a favourite, but I think Leningrad is really interesting and tells a story not often heard in Western music - that of an average Russian citizen's life after WWII and during the Cold War, and how they just want to have peace and happiness, but the culture of fear makes it impossible.


Friday, March 11, 2011

A Blog of Accomplishment... You Know, In the Future

I am going to make a list.

"A list of what?" you ask.

A list of things I want to do.

"Things you want to do when?" you query.

At some point in my life. Now, a year from now, in a half hour, in another dimension.

"Ok!" you respond, with gusto.

Things I'd Like to Accomplish Someday: A List
by Jillian Sexton

  1. Live in England for an extended period of time - four months, a year, 10 years. Doesn't really matter. But I want to live there long enough that I get to watch a full series of some British show from beginning to end.
  2. Meet David Mitchell - this is piggybacking off of the previous goal, but let's face it: if I'm going to live in England, I'm going to hunt down my favourite comedians. David's first on the list.
  3. Memorize ten famous poems and recite them frequently, to simultaneously impress and annoy people - on the list right now are "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," (T.S. Eliot), "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)" (e.e. cummings), "Ode to Autumn" (Keats), and "The Highwayman" (Alfred Noyes).
  4. Knit a sweater that I will actually wear - with like, sleeves and a neck hole and stuff.
  5. Learn how to make gravy as good as my grandmother's - Mom's is great, but Nan's is just divine.
  6. Meet Don Miller, and have him sign my copy of Blue Like Jazz - he is my favourite author, and that is my favourite book, and it would be a defining moment in my life.
  7. Also get Don to sign my copy of Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance - it's the first book he ever wrote, which is no longer in print, and this would also be a very special moment for me.
  8. Also, while this book signing is happening, figure out how to get Don Miller to marry me - hey, it could happen! I am quite persuasive sometimes.
  9. Read every book listed in Daniel S. Burt's The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels of All Time - so far I'm at 4. I've got a ways to go.
  10. Collect a lot of books so that my home library will be the envy of all - and so, you know, I can read whatever book I want whenever I want to.
  11. Handwrite all my favourite passages from books onto index cards and catalogue them - because I am a massive dork.
  12. Learn Russian - fluently.
  13. Run the Tely 10 in St. John's - gotta get rid of those shin splints first.
  14. Read the Bible from cover to cover - it's been a long process, what can I say?
  15. Get another degree - in the process!
  16. Name all subsequent pets, cars, and children after characters from Harry Potter and/or Russian politicians or intelligentsia - again, I am a massive dork. I really didn't need to remind you. Also, Harry Potter names are genius - click here to see what I mean.
  17. Learn how to sew well - a little darning is no problem, but hey, it'd be nice to sew my own wedding dress.
  18. Travel to every European country and try their local bread - this might take me a lifetime to accomplish, OR one very hectic summer.
  19. Publish a book - or something in a book, or an article or two. Essentially, just get published in something more mainstream than The Muse.
  20. Hike the East Coast Trail - in totality, or in parts. I'm not particular about this.
  21. Meet Bill Bryson; get him to sign one of his books - this might also be accomplished while living in England.
  22. Get a tattoo - not a particularly lofty goal, but one I have not yet accomplished.
  23. Visit China - hike along the Great Wall; eat good Chinese food (but not bugs and other questionable fare).
  24. Learn what it really means to forgive and forget.
  25. Go to Disney World - my father promised me a trip to DW before I was 12; I'm 23 and I've yet to be there. Someday I will fulfill my childhood dream of meeting Mulan, dancing with Goofy, and, more recently, visiting Harry Potter's wizarding world, right there in Florida!
I'll probably add more to this list, or take some away, or never accomplish any of it. Or all three!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"It was a long journey they set out on"

In grade six, the wonderful Ms. Glenda Ripley, teacher extraordinare with a passion for English literature, read aloud to our class from Kit Pearson's The Sky is Falling.

The story, set in 1940, centred on Norah Stokes, a 10 year-old feisty girl from Kent, England, whose parents decide to send her and her 5 year-old brother Gavin to Canada for the remainder of the war. Norah is devastated to abandon her country in its time of need, and terrified of leaving her familiar life for the big, safe, unknown Canada. When she and Gavin arrive, they are assigned to live with Florence and Mary Ogilvie, the first of whom is bossy and proud, the latter: timid and quiet. Norah struggles with school, making new friends, and overwhelming homesickness, and tries desperately to adjust to her new home.

As Ms. Ripley read, I fell in love with Norah. I fell in love with England and her experiences of war; I sympathized with her fear of meeting new people and trying to respect her new family; as she escaped into books with characters who always seemed to have the perfect life, I was Norah. I quickly found out that The Sky is Falling was the first in the Guests of War Trilogy, and I promptly took out the next two books from the library - Looking at the Moon, and The Lights Go On Again. Just after my 12th birthday, I bought the trilogy: the first book I ever bought for myself.

In an email to a friend I wrote about a month ago, I tried to summarize how I feel about the series, and about Kit Pearson's other works. Here is an excerpt:

I realize now how [Kit Pearson] is a practically perfect 9-12 adolescent writer, and I find the issues that her children face are things I dealt with when I was 12 and are still the same ones that I deal with now. I think that's sort of profound, because it means that we never really stop feeling how we did when we were a child. The things that scare us and give us joy and cause us to worry never really stop; they just change names and places. I seriously opened The Sky is Falling and started to cry when I read the first page, because it was like my entire youth readership, my love of history, my understanding of my country and the whole reason I am doing the MACL program was all because of that book. That book has shaped me and influenced my life more than any other novel.

I met Kit Pearson yesterday. She talked about her previous works - her inspiration for her stories, the writing process, the influence of her own life on her works - and then read from hew new book, entitled The Whole Truth, which is due out in Fall 2011. She then took questions, and we chatted about her publishing process, favourite characters, and future ideas for books. She then signed my 12 year old copy of The Guests of War Trilogy, took a picture with me, and listened as I tried to tell her how influential her work has been on my life.

And as I stood there, I thought of the epigraph at the beginning of The Sky is Falling. It's from a Russian folktale called "Alenoushka and Her Brother":

It was a long journey they set out on, and they did not think of any end to it.

I thought of how in grade 6, I re-read that line, realizing that there was a long path ahead of me. Yesterday, it was as though my life had come full circle. From a young, boisterous 12 year old, a passionate reader, who then traversed through the complicated high school and early university years where my passion got lost in the mess of needing to find a "real" career path, to a MA in Children's Literature student who opens the cover of the first book she ever bought and still gets completely enraptured in the story. 

Yes, it was a long journey, and no, I did not see any end to it. But as Kit's hand glided across the page and wrote in precise handwriting "Hello to Jillian!," I crossed the finish line. My journey had come to an triumphant end.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Rolling in the Deep"

You could've had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hands
And you played it to the beat

I've been listening to Adele's new album 21 for the past few weeks, and I love her more every time I hit play on my iTunes. The lyrics are from the first song on her album, "Rolling in the Deep." She's a jazzy soul singer from England, and she's just incredible. Check her out, and you will not be disappointed.

Thank you for all your helpful and thoughtful comments, Facebook messages, texts, and Skype conversations regarding my last blog post. I'm not much closer to a life plan, but I will be going home in April, probably staying in Newfoundland for the summer, and working out where life will take me in the fall. In any case, I'm still open to suggestions for making money / finding a career / general merriment.

In other news:
Two weekends ago I went to Galiano Island with two of my classmates, Stacey and Thea. Stacey's family has a house on the island, which is just in the gulf between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. There was a literary festival there, so we intended to stay at the house, attend a few sessions, do some exploring, and tackle our respective piles of school work. However, the weekend turned out to be incredibly cold, and we turned out to be excessively comfortable, so we spent most of the two days wrapped in blankets cooking, playing Bananagrams, and writing papers.

Stacey and I arrived by ferry on Friday evening. It wasn't late, but it was pitch black on the walk from the ferry to Stacey's car - the island is inhabited by 1200 people, so they haven't invested much money into streetlights past the ferry port. As we walked uphill in the rapidly dropping temperature, me lugging a very full book- and shoulderbag, I asked Stacey if she had brought a flashlight - I have very poor depth perception in the dark. She, seemingly reluctant, pulled out a headlamp, which provided enough light to ensure that I wouldn't step on a squirrel, should one run two feet in front of me.

As we trudged along the windy road in all but blinding blackness, Stacey began to tell me stories about her childhood romps on the island. She told me about the crazy homeless man with wild, tangled hair who lived down by the docks and who they thought was a murderer after children who walked alone in the evening; she introduced me to the forrest where wild sprites and fairies lived, who were sure to smite you if you didn't play nicely; she introduced me to the Murder Playground where she and her cousins used to fear the end of their young lives by "accidentally" falling on sharp objects.

It was at this point that I looked shakily over to Stacey, my breath caught in my chest, and squeaked, "Stacey, are you going to kill me?" I hadn't suspected any ulterior motives to her inviting me to her island refuge other than fun and friendship, but it occurred to me that I had failed to tell my parents where I was, and hadn't updated my Facebook status or Twitter feed. I could be easily murdered and no one would know where to find my body. It was the perfect crime.

Stacey assured me that she wasn't plotting my death - with a slight laugh - and the rest of the evening passed smoothly after picking Thea up at the ferry, eating supper, and settling down for a movie. As I was closing the blinds for my room, eyes bleary from half-dozing on the couch, I saw something that made my blood run cold: an axe, a big axe, right outside of the door to my room. I quickly sent a text to my loved ones, telling them where I was, saying goodbye, and requesting that my books be distributed to people who would appreciate them. I settled in for the night, at peace with my probable fate of another unanswered disappearance.

When I awoke to find that I was not dead the next morning, the rest of the weekend had a nice sheen to it. We had a really nice, relaxing time, working and sleeping and eating and playing board games. The island is beautiful and Stacey's house is right on the water, so we spent a lot of time waiting for whales. They never came, but we did see plenty of birds and maybe even an otter. We came back on a Sunday evening to a snowy Vancouver; I was just thankful that I had made it back to the mainland.

Good times on the West Coast!