Quoted

People think you have to know what you want to do with your life by the time you’re 19. Wrong! Or that you have to be in a significant relationship in your twenties. Wrong! It’s all just nonsense.

— Tilda Swinton

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I shared his piece in Stanford Medicine, “Before I go,” several months ago. I suggest you read it now if you haven’t already. When Breath Becomes Air is just as moving as I expected it to be, but I was surprised by the genuine lyricism of his writing. I’m only about halfway through, and I’ve already been brought to tears multiple times. It’s the kind of book that I struggle to put down. It’s the kind of book I know I will read over and over, returning to it for guidance and challenge.

 

Watching…

Hawaii Five-0. The remake. It’s gooooood.

 

Listening…

I’ve been on a major Chuck Berry kick lately. “You Never Can Tell” is a favourite of mine. And, no, the Pulp Fiction connection really has nothing to do with my love for the song.

Read This

Required Reading. I really mean that. Jennifer Aniston’s essay on Huffington Post blew up on the internet last week for good reason. She confronts the rampant body shaming of females in the press, the problems with “bump watch” tabloids, the utter ridiculousness of focusing on celebrity gossip given all of the other things that have been going on in the world lately, and what the hell it means to be a woman, famous or not, in a world that passively accepts what are often toxic views of womanhood. I want to scream this part from the rooftops: “Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.”

If you haven’t read it, read it. Now. If you have read it, reread it. “For The Record

Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done.  I don’t like to give energy to the business of lies, but I wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue. Since I’m not on social media, I decided to put my thoughts here in writing.

For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.”

Every day my husband and I are harassed by dozens of aggressive photographers staked outside our home who will go to shocking lengths to obtain any kind of photo, even if it means endangering us or the unlucky pedestrians who happen to be nearby. But setting aside the public safety aspect, I want to focus on the bigger picture of what this insane tabloid ritual represents to all of us.

If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance… a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood. We use celebrity “news” to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation. Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go? Is her marriage on the rocks because the camera detects some physical “imperfection”?

I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction. But I really can’t tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth.

[…KEEP READING…]

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It has been many many years since I first read this novel. It keeps popping up in my online readings and real life discussions, though, so I thought perhaps it was time to break it back out. In my opinion, it has one of the all-time greatest opening sentences: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

 

Watching…

Chicago Med. I caved. I’m watching it. I don’t know if I am as invested as I am in Fire and PD, but give me a couple more episodes and I may just be there.

 

Listening…

“Jolene” by Dolly Parton. And also the cover by The Little Willies. Because this song will forever be great, and this is hands down my favourite cover.

Read This

Required Reading. After the last week, after the last weeks, and months, and years, this poem strikes at my soul.

Plum Jam
Alisa Gordaneer

Everything is different this year
but jam still needs to be made
because red plums are thudding onto grass.

We celebrate, marking summers.
The year we added lemon. The year it didn’t jell
and we poured it over ice cream until we couldn’t eat.

You send the children out with pails, and their
arms strain against ripeness. Last year they were too small,
pushed plums into their own mouths.

This year, everything too much to contain:
garden overgrown, trees weighed down,
wasps drunk. Bees drowsy with boozy juice.

In the hot kitchen, I slice out pit after pit.
The big pot simmers, scent bittersweet.
You pull glass jars from the oven, sterile,

then ladle jam, pretending there is no such thing as news,
that I haven’t said what I couldn’t keep
from bubbling over:

Nothing is safe.
Not the jars in the cellar,
unopened from last summer.
to the day, not this earth or
the children humming with pleasure in the yard.

You offer me a
spoon, sticky with jam.
I have no taste for red turning pale.

(Gordaneer, Alisa. “Plum Jam.” Still Hungry. Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2015. 31.)

Quoted

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.

— Joan Didion

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace by A.A. Milne. While I was in London a couple months ago, I picked up a beautiful copy of this book to send my favourite tiny human for his birthday this month. It’s not totally age appropriate, but his parents can read it to him until he can read it himself. That’s how it works, right? (I’m child inept.) I definitely sat down and read through it before sending it off though.

 

Watching…

The live broadcast of the Branagh Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet. I have complicated feelings about this particular adaptation. Actually, no, that’s wrong. The adaptation is brilliant. Richard Madden played the least whiny, most emotionally powerful Romeo I’ve ever encountered (and with an injured ankle, no less!). Lily James played a hilarious, rebellious, teenage Juliet to a T. Having Derek Jacobi play a sadder, older Mercutio worked far better than I expected it to. I, however, have complicated feelings about the cinematic choices made in filming it for broadcast. I adore that I can go watch all kinds of live theatre and dance events at my local movie theatre, but sometimes it bothers me that my experience is mediated by filmic choices like zooms and pans and forced focus. This one was broadcast in black and white. Visually it was powerful and made sense. But I really struggled with it being a live performance broadcast in black and white.

 

Listening…

“Weak in the Knees” by Serena Ryder. Honestly, I’ve just been listening to the whole Is It O.K. album because it is ridiculously amazing.

Read This

I occasionally peruse the missed connections page on Craigslist. Sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s touching, sometimes it makes me mourn for the state of humanity. It is always inspirational for character creation. And there is something endearing to even my jaded heart about the fact that people think something — anything at all — can come from these kinds of posts. Ethan Kuperberg’s “Missed Connections for A-Holes” is honestly more up my personal alley. Like I would post one of these. That probably tells you a lot about me. Stop judging me, and read the piece. I promise it is funny.

I was at a coffee shop in Park Slope. You were sitting next to me, talking to your friend about how you’re a vegan but you secretly eat eggs. I really wish I had said something to you. Your voice was loud and distracted me from my work.

* * *

You: sitting next to your backpack on the Brooklyn-bound L train last night.

Me: super tired, holding onto the rail, standing up.

I asked you to move your backpack so I could sit down. You said you were getting off in “only one more stop.” I just nodded and looked away. I don’t know if you will ever see this, but if you do I’d love to meet up. Manners are sort of my thing, and I’d love to teach you some.

[…KEEP READING…]

In the Moment

Birds on a Wire GS Parlimentary Sunset Quelle Heure compressed Footbridge compressed Its a Jungle compressed Lancet compressed

Once upon a time I was the type of person who carried a dslr with her almost all of the time. Once upon a time I was also the type of person who intentionally went on walks just to take photos. Then two things happened. First, I moved to Ontario. I don’t know what exactly it was about this move that made me put my camera away more and more often, but whatever the reason, Ontario doesn’t inspire me to take photo walks nearly as much as Nova Scotia. Second, I got an iPhone. My previous Android phone definitely had a camera, but it wasn’t as good as the one on the iPhone, and so when I switched phones I started using the phone as my primary camera more and more often.

Phones also weigh a lot less than cameras.

One of the upshots of this is that when a perfect photo moment strikes, usually when the light is just right, I almost always have immediate access to a means for capturing it. Do I sometimes wish I had an actual camera with me? Yes. Does this stop me from busting out my phone? No. These photos inevitably end up on Instagram, occasionally Facebook. I’ve been hesitant to do anything else with them. But while the majority of my Instagram shots are pretty typical social media fodder, probably even subpar by most standards, occasionally there is one of these perfect moment photos that I am actually really proud of. So, here we are, I’ve started uploading my favourite phone photographs to the shop. These six are where I started.

 

Photos: “Birds on a Wire”, “The Sun Sets on Parliament”, “Quelle Heure Est-Il?”, “The Footbridge”, “It’s a Jungle Out There”, “Lancet”