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Showing posts from 2012

Behind the Curtain: My Writing Process

Every year I promise myself I won't get in this mess like I did last year.

Every year there's 2 weeks left of the term and I reach maximum stress levels, send frantic (and unnecessary) emails to profs, consume triple the amount of coffee, and have restless nights peppered with disturbing dreams where my computer has lost all my files or the paper is not actually about narrative complexity but consumption of social media in China and I have 35 hours to research and rewrite.

Every year.

Here is a glimpse into how my days look in these final moments of the term.

5:45 - Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

5:50 - Open eyes in a panic that I will sleep through the snooze alarm. Get up. Turn off alarm.

5:52 - Shower. Sometimes quietly sing a Christmas tune (as not to wake sleeping roommates), but more often not. Spend time groggily and exhaustedly think about what I have to do today.

6:10 - Get dressed. Usually wear some variation of novelty tshirt, cardigan, and scarf.

6:13 - Do makeup. Som…

25 Things I've Learned at 25 Years Old

Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of Thought Catalog lately; or maybe it's because I'm slightly obsessed with documenting things - quotes, books, nailpolishes - in numbered lists; or maybe it's because lists are easy to read (or skim). Whatever the cause, I've decided to compile some things I've been thinking about lately.

25 things I have learned at 25 years old

1. Math is important, but only some kinds of math: Oh the many nights I (and my dad) slaved over factoring and translations and graphing on the z-axis and y=mx+b! Torturous evenings, my friends, where I could never see the point. And I was right: I've never used this, and thinking about it still makes me feel inadequate and useless. BUT how I wish I had retained the simple but important math of fractions and decimals and percentages and addition. Let me tell you: there's nothing quite as embarrassing as handing in a tax form to your new employer that's several thousand dollars an…

Do You Fear What I Fear?: Or, the Unnecessary Christmas Homage Title

Sometimes, I am paralyzed by fear. Often it happens unexpectedly, and other times I know exactly when I'll freeze up. The things that make me scared are many and varied. Some of them are so benign that it's insane to even spend any time thinking of them; others are more real and raw. Here is a list of some of the things I fear, in no particular order:

ingesting cleaning productshaving an aneurismthat no man will ever fall in love with methat I will never fall in love with a manthat the man I love and the man who loves me will not be the same personnot being as smart as my peersmy professors not thinking I am smart or eloquentbeing too smart and seeming arrogant and aloofthat I will never meet Don Millertouching raw chicken; getting salmonella checking my bank accountspeaking in public to my peersa man like Mitt Romney being president somedaythat I will someday just end up alone in a rented apartment eating my way through tubes of Pillsbury cookie dough and writing blog posts to…

Bracing for Impact

I asked a friend the other day what they were most proud of in their life. After prolonged contemplation, they said they're proud of how they treat people.

That struck me as both beautiful and unexpected. It's a question I've never been asked, and, surprisingly, to which haven't really given much thought. I suppose if someone had asked me a few months ago, I would have said something school or work related, like winning a SSHRC or some review I'd written, or maybe even that Jian Ghomeshi had tweeted at me (3 times - I'm practically an internet celebrity).

But when I thought about it, I think what I'd say I'm most proud of is my independence. I have always been fiercely determined to be self-sufficient. It's not that I don't ask for help, or even that I see seeking advice or assistance as needy - on the contrary! I think knowing when you need help is evidence that you are wise, in tune with yourself, your abilities, and what you require in a part…

My One-Time Stint as a Beauty Blogger

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So, listen: I know this isn't a beauty blog. I know that some of you who read this might not be particularly excited by or interested in this post. And I understand that, and it's ok if you skip my post this week. I hope you will come back!
Now that we've eliminated the haters (because they've definitely gone), I wanted to post about my favourite makeup and beauty products. Reading beauty blogs and watching reviews, tutorials, and beauty hauls is one of my favourite hobbies. Consequentially, I've tried a lot of new products and found a few things that I absolutely love. So I'm going to blog about it!
Nail polish:

My favourite nail polish brand is nails inc. The first polish I owned from this brand was "london town," the magnetic gold-brown (top right). My mom brought it back as a surprise from Halifax, and I've been hooked ever since. I was especially keen on the brand because all of their products are named after streets or locations in London. A…

Ottawa Update #2 (Or: My Most Creative Title To Date)

I've been in Ottawa for nearly two full months now. I've gained and lost a roommate, had two paycheques, assisted in cooking a moderately-successful Thanksgiving dinner, and made and deleted an online dating profile, so I think it's time to check in.

These upcoming two weeks are the busiest on my academic calendar. Between being a TA and marking assignments, writing and editing and re-editing grant proposals, reading endless complicated articles, and preparing essays and presentations, I legitimately don't know how I'm going to finish everything I need to get done. And here I am, writing a blog post at 11:37pm. As you do.

I am frequently asked how I'm liking Ottawa, or how Ottawa is treating me, so I will tell you: I love it here. I like the weather; I have made new, wonderful friends; I like my room mates; I like the shopping and the food. In part because of Steve's connections and friends here, and in part because the sort of zeitgeist of Ottawa is suited…

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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Guys: she's back!
More than five years after the release of the seventh and final Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if you've been living without access to cable / the internet / a newspaper), Rowling has finally released another book: The Casual Vacancy! And this one's definitely not for children.
I purposely didn't read any reviews or even a plot summary of The Casual Vacancy before reading it. I didn't want to know anything about it, anything that might taint or distort my reading before I had even turned the title page. I wanted to have as pure of an experience as possible with the text. I wasn't sure if I should post a review so soon after its release (a week ago yesterday), in case others had the same feeling about it. So if you do: read no further! Stop here and go get The Casual Vacancy and read it and then come back and finish reading this post (because I do want you to read this post, I'll be honest with you.) So, let's …

On Birthdays: An Ode to Wheels on Her 24th Day Of Birth

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Today is my best friend's birthday!

I am very grateful that Wheels was born 24 years ago on this day. Since I can't be there to celebrate in person, I thought I'd dedicate a whole blog post to her on her birthday, listing some facts about the mystical and magical Melissa Wheeler.

1. She loves my cats, even though she is allergic. My cats love her. She communes with all animals and is, in fact, the squirrel whisperer (not pictured, but she is. Trust me.)




2. She is a hipster of epic proportions. This hipster-ness, while slightly affected, results in fun things sometimes, like playing trivia or bringing a ukelele along for a road trip or shopping at Urban Outfitters.



3. There is no one in the world who knows more about music trivia (except maybe Chuck Klosterman) than Wheels. Her knowledge spans decades and countries and she corrects my lyrics 98% of the time, and the 2% that she isn't she is holding back because she does it too much. She is useful to have on a trivia team…

The Love Of My Life: Confessions of Academic

On my 25th birthday, I had a quarter-life crisis. I had lived for one quarter of a century and what did I have to show for it? No house, no husband, no car, no job and no money. What on earth had I done with all of that time?

Of the 25 years that I have strolled this earth (or, perhaps more accurately, sat in a Starbucks drinking coffee, writing blogs, and laughing with friends), 20 of them have been spent in some sort of educational institution. Of course, the first 13 were not by choice, but the last 7 that I have spent in a post-secondary institution most certainly have been.

The other night as I lay in bed, scrolling through another article about communications theory while I could hear my friends watching a movie and laughing, I thought "Why am I still doing this to myself? Why am I paying to spend all day talking about theoretical issues and all night reading about them in preparation for talking about them again tomorrow?"And then, only as I begin my eighth year in un…

Sharing: Why I Can't Listen To The Radio Anymore

This may come as no surprise to most of you, but I am an extrovert. I always sort of knew that I preferred being around people to not, but I received absolute confirmation when I worked alone in an office for 8 months. Without constant interaction with many different people, I became sullen and cranky and sad. But when someone would walk into my office and have a lively discussion with me, my mood brightened instantly.

So it came as a bit of a shock to me when I learned that living with my friends is actually quite difficult for me.

I've essentially lived alone for the past two years. In Vancouver I had three room mates in the fall, but we hardly ever saw each other, preferring to cook alone and spend time in our rooms. By January there were only two of us left in the apartment, each with our own bathrooms and operating on completely different schedules, so I, for all intents and purposes, lived on my own.

When I moved back home, I lived in my parents' basement apartment. I mo…

Book Review Series: It's Not Me, It's You by Jon Richardson

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Remember when this used to be a blog about books?

Remember when I started a series about comedians's autobiographies?
Well, I do (vaguely). And I think I'll revisit that series today and write about Jon Richardson's bookIt's Not Me, It's You: Impossible Perfectionist Seeks Very Very Very Tidy Woman.
A little bit of background for those who have never heard of Jon Richardson or are unfamiliar with his work and comedy style: Jon is one of the team captains on my favourite TV show 8 Out of 10 Cats, a British comedy panel show. Jon's "thing" (his "schtick," if you will) is that he's single and has been for quite some time (8 years as of August 2011), and that no other human could be perfect enough for him. It provokes laughs on comedy panel shows and in his stand-up routine, but reading 200-odd pages of it gets pretty old pretty quickly.

It's Not Me, It's You was written as a continuation from a Valentine's Day submission to The G…

Arrival: First Thoughts on First Days in The Capital

Ottawa is the best. I've been here for a week now, so I think I can say that with complete certainty and authority on all things Capital.

I have had a great first week in the city. Of course there have been hiccups - my first experience bussing to Carleton, for example, during which I took two wrong buses and got caught in rain without a rain jacket or umbrella - but overall I love it here. In fact, I was thinking yesterday morning as I rode the crowded bus to the O-Train (a la Vancouver's Skytrain) that already I feel like I'm settled in Ottawa.
My first few days were spent unpacking my room, picking up a few things I needed, and traipsing around downtown. I saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the National Gallery on Saturday with my friend Jenn. She brought along some friends from her program at Carleton, both of whom spoke Russian, so naturally I adored them. I showed off my one Russian phrase, Jenn and I shared a cheese plate, and then we saw the Van Gogh exhibit. It was one o…

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!

I hate packing.

Case and point: I am sitting in Starbucks sipping a $2.09 coffee while two new suitcases lie at home, sprawled open on the bed and floor of my bedroom. The wrapping is still on the handles and there are reminders that they once lived at Sears still in the bottom of the case, yet there are purses and hats and accessories and one hoodie thrown carelessly into them. I spent three days deciding what DVDs and TV box sets I was going to bring in my travel CD case, and took another four to put the empty cases back on the shelf. There is a large box with a blanket in the bottom sitting on the floor of my living room, next to which is my jewelry box and iPod dock station ready to be wrapped in the packing foam that is currently acting as a rug for my cat.

I am leaving for Ottawa (henceforth referred to as "The Capital" as an homage to The Hunger Games because I am a neeeerd) in 8 days! That is soon. I realized how soon it was when my parents came into my room as I was…

Lights Will Guide You Home

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When I first met my best bud Wheels (birth name: Melissa Wheeler) 10 years ago, I quickly learned two things about her: she liked basketball and her favourite band was Coldplay. I was not a fan of either of those things, so we saw each other at birthday parties and city-wide youth group events, and that was pretty much it. Also I was a year older, so I was too cool and mature to befriend a youngster like Wheels.

However, at one fateful birthday party, I remember that someone gave Wheels a homemade birthday card that used Coldplay lyrics to compose a birthday greeting. I remember being impressed that someone took the time to do that, but also feeling that I would really like these Coldplay fellows if I gave them a chance. Shortly after, I bought their first two albums and listened, as is my standard practice, on repeat.
I didn't fall in love with Chris Martin & co. until the summer of 2005, however, when they released their third album X&Y. I had just graduated high school,…

Book Review Series: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

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It's been far too long since I've done a book review post. Right now I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series (because I miss him!), but I've read a few other books of varying quality and genre over the past few months and I thought it was time to talk about them.

This summer I've been drawn to biographies, and autobiographies of comedians in particular. It seems like it's a thing now for comics, comedic actors, and comedy writers to put out a memoir before they reach the age of 40, and there's been a mass production of personal recollections released in the past year or two. I've read 6 or 7 of these in the past year, and I thought I'd do a mini-series on comedians autobiographies - the good, the bad, and the unfunny. (I've already written a review of Ellen Degeneres' book Seriously...I'm Kidding. Spoiler alert: it's not good.)

I'll begin with one of the best:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Rape Isn't Funny: Why You And Everyone Else Should Be a Feminist

Recently I've become a raging feminist.

But wait! Let me explain!

The internet is an interesting world: a juxtaposition between a wealth of useful and helpful information, benign pictures of cats and 60s Spiderman reimaginings, and hateful abusive attacks on culture, gender, and sexuality. Usually I steer clear of these aggressive conversations, because I've realized that it is impossible to reason with the unreasonable, and usually it's just 14 year olds who want to cause trouble and swear online, so it's easy to not pay much heed.

But I've noticed more and more that women are still - STILL! in 2012! - not represented well /respected in the media and I've decided that my rights are something worth fighting for. I've wanted to post about this for a while, but I've been finding it difficult to both express how I feel about women in society in 2012, and understanding exactly what it is that has made me so outraged about women's rights in the past 3 mo…