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Buying presents for parents is hard. Like, trying-to-decide-what-to-watch-on-Netflix hard. Like, 2048-hard. Like, Ryan-Reynolds’-body hard.

(May or may not have spent too much time picking a shirtless Ryan Reynolds picture.)

(May or may not have spent too much time picking a shirtless Ryan Reynolds picture.)

While buying presents for parents is hard, it’s always worth it when you find the perfect gift. Perfect gifts in general always feel like a lightning-bolt to the head, and you just know. After seeing different “childhood photo recreations” on my perpetually repetitive Facebook newsfeed, I couldn’t stop thinking about how hysterical some of my childhood photos are, and how hard my mother would a) laugh, and b) cry… well, I couldn’t resist. My amazing mother retired from CIBC after 38 years, and even though she said no presents, who ever listens to their mother? (Truth: I do. Just not this weekend). She’s the most supportive, generous, kind person and making her cry-laugh through a dozen photos is the least I can do to make her as happy as she’s made me.

I got back to Windsor on Wednesday morning, and spent the next five days scrambling and lying (pooooooorly) to try and get to the different locations, people, and items in the pictures. I’m pretty proud of the result, and can’t wait to recreate the recreations 20 years from now. Love you mama.

Homemade Dixie cups? Check.

Homemade Dixie cups? Check.

Thankfully, we only moved houses once.

Thankfully, we only moved houses once.

Guess whose shirt is actually a pair of tights?

Guess whose shirt is actually a pair of tights?

19 years later (and Jenn looks the same).

19 years later (and Jenn looks the same).

Just wait for the blooper reel.

Just wait for the blooper reel.

Two bite brownies, chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, and green food coloring. Creativity, man.

Two bite brownies, chocolate sauce, strawberry jam, and green food coloring. Creativity, man.

We even found a boat.

We’re on a boat.

Born to ride.

Born to ride.

Half-inflated water wings because no way are those getting past my wrists otherwise.

Half-inflated water wings because no way are those getting past my wrists otherwise. Other than that though, nothing’s really changed.

The MOST coached photo, for sure. "LEFT ARM! OTHER LEFT!"

The MOST coached photo, for sure. “LEFT ARM! OTHER LEFT!”

Propped on a pillow, balanced under a garment rack serving as the backdrop, laying across a chair and a bowflex machine.

Cheeky baby.

One of my favourite pictures ever.

Personal verdict: flawless.

Twenty years later.

Twenty years later. Again, look forward to the blooper reel.

Finalement.

Finalement.

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I don’t know if it’s a joking-is-easier-than-acknowledging-something-uncomfortable thing or what, but I’m a little scared of people lately.

intervention

Several times in the past week, I’ve shared a story of street stalkers, bar creeps, and cat callers to a different person or group of people, and received very different reactions from each. One thing that scared me, however, was the general response from my male friends.

“What are we supposed to do?”
“What do you expect?”
“Well, that’s what you get for being a hot girl”

are you fucking kidding me

Now, I’m friends with good people. I associate myself with people I respect and enjoy, and these sentences without context seem pretty severe and unkind (to me at least, but apparently I’m in the minority here), whether purposefully or accidentally.

But seriously?

“What are we supposed to do?” WALK THE FUCK BY. You can check someone out and think all the nasty things you want, but are you so uncontrollably motivated by aggression that you can’t keep it to yourself? You don’t know what else has happened that day, that week, or over their life, and there’s no reason to push a stranger’s buttons.

“What do you expect?” This one is almost my favorite. What do I expect? This seems like women should expect men to be inconsolably unpleasant and degrading, captives to their testosterone and nothing more, and that you’ve accepted this as well, and that’s about the saddest thing for the future that I’ve ever heard.

“Well, that’s what you get for being hot…” Yeah? We’re going down this road? This feels like dangerous territory, entering into slut shaming and “asking for it.” One thing I will say is that nobody deserves to feel any shame for calling people out. Control and free will are nothing to be ashamed of. This is not any sort of request to watch what you say around women; changing relationships and walking on eggshells isn’t a solution. The point that needs to be acknowledged is that it shouldn’t be a reflex to slut-shame in the first place.

STOP

Nobody understands being a woman and you don’t have to, you just have to understand how to be a decent human person to the rest of your species. A good start would be to replace the offhand twistedly backhand compliment remarks with ANYTHING ELSE. There are less insulting ways of trying to compliment a girl than telling her she’s worth a stalk or a rape.

By calling people out on offhand reactions that aren’t okay, even just once, a thought is instilled in the mind of the uninformed, and a step is taken in the right direction.

Rather than teaching your kids not to go out late at night for fear of rapists and muggers and crazies (oh my), teach them that people shouldn’t attack people at any time of day. Teach them respect, for both men and women and personal humanity. Raising a new generation of genuinely good people, even if it’s just in your own family line, could change the world.

 im just sayin

Be happy, be free,

Sydney

1. The Inquisitive Guy.

There’s one on EVERY street corner. I’m starting to develop a repulsion with eye contact. Eye contact means conversation, with these ones. For whatever reason, they do not read my impatient wheel-rolling in place and staring daggers at the crosswalk countdown as a “DO NOT TALK” sign. They do not see the giant set of proper headphones that encase my ears and entrap my wind-tangled hair. They do not sense my aura of rushed impatience and lack of time. They want to talk. About rollerblading and the weather and the traffic and current events and honestly, I am all for being social and engaging but there is a time and place and it is not while I am wearing wheels on my feet.

fuckoffsilverlinings

2. My roommates, and basically anyone I actually know.

I can’t stop particularly well, especially while I’m moving quickly, so when I encounter people I DO actually want to talk to, I usually whiz by before a) I can catch who they are, or b) words can be exchanged in any way. Plus, my music is loud enough to drown out people, but not cars, so I rarely talk on the way. (Have you ever rollerbladed to like, really, really good rollerblading music? It’s powerful shit.)

3. The wide-eyed foreigner that says nothing.

blank stare

can i help you

4. Pick-Up Line Guy

Oh man, it’s not even entertaining anymore. I am on wheels. I am wearing headphones. I usually am going somewhere, and I am often late. I am very sorry that you caught me at this inconvenient time, but opening with “Hey baby, roll on over here,” or “Check out the wheels on those heels” isn’t really improving your chances. Stop being creepy

prepared to fight

5. The expansive wall of friends that feel compelled to walk in a line and take up the majority of the sidewalk.

bloody accident cat in hat

6. The troupe of small children.

They’re almost too cute to be annoying, but if I catch the midday field trip rush, it’s not the easiest of paths to travel. It’s also incredibly distracting, if you live in a mind like mine, where “BABIES!” pretty much erases any other functional thought.

baby eating

7. The really, really cute old lady that commends you on your initiative.

Exceedingly different from The Inquisitive Guy, The Really Cute Old Lady is just too cute to complain about. Although, she does eat up a few seconds of forced conversation through my headphones that I really didn’t want to have to wait for.

littlemermaidhairpff

8. The wasted guy/girl/group.

Okay, there are certain streets I don’t take on Friday and Saturday nights. And when these people find their way onto the main roads, there’s not much I can do. The packs grow as the night goes on, people get really impressed, really easily (apparently a pair of roller blades makes you the centre of the drunk-people universe), and they pretty much stop moving.

jlaw who are you people

9. The guy that moves out of the way, the wrong way.

I am not just being picky. If you’re going to move out of the way of a rollerblader, PLEASE, look where you’re walking, and don’t leave the cobblestoned, cracked side of the pavement for the girl on wheels. I can manage weaving through people alright, but when people unpredictably jump in and/or out of the way, it doesn’t end well. For an accurate depiction of the sidewalks of Queen Street West, please see the GIF below.

dance

10. Everyone.

Rollerblading downtown is really stressful. It’s like Mortal Kombat mixed with Mario Kart, but the bombs are cars and the chance boxes are traffic lights and the coins are potholes and the rainbow road is actually all gravel even though it looks alright at first, and the mushrooms are hobos and the other cars are everywhere and it doesn’t really help that I don’t know how to stop.

clumsy bambi

1. That really fucking awesome thing that happened six months ago that I’ve had to relive every time we get together because you haven’t managed to get out of the house since then. Do something, or at least stop making me constantly listen to a story I was part of.

2. How “horrible” your parents were/are, when they’re beautiful, awesome people who funded your education and taught you how to pour beer properly. Say thanks.

3. Television shows you KNOW I haven’t watched yet. WE HAVE HAD THIS CONVERSATION FORTY TIMES. I’M STUCK AT SEASON FOUR AND IF YOU RUIN BrBa FOR ME SO HELP ME GOD.

4. The bags under their eyes. I’m definitely guilty of this one, but damn, we’ve all got ’em. Get over it.

5. Intense explanations of video games. If I didn’t ask, I don’t want to know.

6. How great their free laundry is. Shut it, bitch.

7. Discussing people’s number of sexual partners like it defines them. Please get over it. Some people meet The One right away, some of us have to work a little harder. Don’t judge. #slutpride

8. How “over” Facebook you are. Honestly, you’re probably not going to actually stop using it, so just stop.

9. Really, really detailed stories from your past. Especially if you’re trying to give me the names of every student in your high school. Especially if we went to drastically different high schools. Or similar high schools.

10. Any diehard opinion you have that I will have no impact or difference upon. If you’re not hearing, I’m not listening.

11. Financials. Whether you’re more broke than me, rolling in it, or breaking even, I don’t need to know the in-depth results of your latest credit check. And seriously, don’t complain about being broke if you’re gonna spend money while you’re at it.

12. Gangnam Style.

13. How much winter sucks. I hate it. SO much. But I’m starting to only hate it because of the constant flow of negativity. Snow can be pretty too!

14. Their level of activity. This is entirely up to you, so JUST GET UP. If you’re complaining about weight/health/etc, chances are, there’s something you can do about it.

15. Their pets. Sorry, but I like, really, really don’t care. Especially if it’s a shockingly low-resolution photo on your iPhone. How do you even get shitty pictures on an iPhone anymore?

Follow me on Twitter here.

1. Getting your period when you really need it. Whether it’s a week before your big birthday weekend or a vacation you’ve been waiting all year for, getting your period ahead of time means having one less thing to worry about. Suddenly, traveling, going out, dressing up, and stripping down are easier, more convenient, less stressful, and all-in-all, much more enjoyable. On the other hand, waiting for a period in the midst of a pregnancy scare (whether big or small) makes you appreciate the monthly little devil you never knew you would miss. Nothing is worse than having to deal with your period at an inconvenient time, except the inconveniences that come when it’s late.

2. The perks of being a bra wearer. Bras are one of those things that only women can fully comprehend. Switching from a back- to front-clasp bra is like switching a man’s iPhone from English to 汉字/漢. The entertainment factor in trying to stay in the moment while he fumbles with the clasp like it’s a straightjacket, or Pandora’s freaking box, is priceless. Practically a representation of woman itself, the bra is strong, supportive, comes in a million different shapes, sizes, and colors, and (like women’s ability to multitask) are multifunctional as pockets, wallets, pillows, and more. When we’re not complaining about them, we’re taking advantage of them.

3. Successfully completing a proper ponytail on the first try. The amount of time I spend redoing a ponytail/braid/other, only to give up and flick on my straightener to fix whatever was the problem in the first place… is unpleasant. Lady high-fives all around to those who can properly toss their hair back on the first try. On a related note:

4. Taking down a ponytail and not having “the bump.” You know. Well done, girl.

5. Getting goosebumps in the winter and not giving a damn because your legs are hairy anyway. Whether it’s a myth or not, getting goosebumps and feeling your hair follicles prickle after a fresh shave is one of the most frustrating lady-problems. But for at least one period in the winter, we have the satisfaction of wearing pants for long enough that our leg hair grows out, and goosebumps make little difference. Freedom to shiver and freeze in the winter without having to concern yourself with the prickling climbing up your ankles is priceless.

6. Hating and loving everything about your half of the gender species. Periods, babies, boy troubles, bras, boobs, skirts, thongs, high heels, moisturizer, jewelry, men, sewing, assumptions, douchebags, freckles, yoga pants, ponytails, bobby pins, there’s a million upsides and a million downsides, and a million opportunities in each.

7. Going out and knowing you look great. Showering, drying and doing hair, putting together your outfit, your face, your plans, and seeing that a) it paid off, and b) it’s over. The satisfaction of being DONE getting ready, and getting to actually show off what you’ve been preparing is incomparable to anything else. Whether it took you ten minutes or a few hours, the satisfaction is all the same.

8. Being able to basically do… whatever we want. We are free to settle into girly movies (every girl has a spot in her heart for guilty pleasure classics like Bring It On, Dirty Dancing, The Notebook) with the carefree knowledge that nobody will judge us. Trashy music from Ke$ha can be your secret – or not-so-secret – anthem, and we can stand our ground: this music was made for us. Gay clubs, straight clubs, unless it’s a specific men’s only night, we’re pretty much welcome anywhere. Being a girl definitely has its downfalls, pressures, dangers, and curveballs, but there’s so much fun to be had, I can’t imagine being anything else. Plus, I feel like growing a penis at this stage in my life would just be like, super inconvenient.

The word “slut” has gotten so diluted over the years, used for so many different meanings, it’s hard to know what it means anymore. Most people hear “slut” and go straight for the negative, a trampy girl who has slept around. UrbanDictionary’s top definition defines slut as “a woman with the morals of a man.” Women everywhere are taking back the word “slut” for themselves, and as a fellow slut, I’ve joined the fight.

On January 24th, 2011, a representative of the Toronto Police stated: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. Come again? NOTHING, no matter what she was wearing, where she was, or what she was doing, justifies victimization. Slutwalk Toronto is a group put together of people who have had enough, “moving away from intolerance, and toward education.”

IMG_1858

Slutwalk is a movement of people taking back their sexualities, and taking back the word “slut.” People should be able to wear what they want, when they want, without having to worry about violence or being taken advantage of. The walk was organized in 2011 to fight back against the shocking remarks made by a Toronto law official, but has grown to so much more. When I attended in 2012, the amount of support and love around you was incredible.

slutty

Personally, I attended the walk as a victim. I am finished with shame and I am finished with victim blaming, and the walk was my first step toward fighting back. I was raped when I was fourteen and it was not my fault. I did not ask for it, I said no, and it still happened. People always apologize, can’t believe something like this could happen… but it still happens, every day, and doesn’t get reported, acknowledged, or often taken seriously at all. It’s all attitude, and that’s why I’m writing.

slut2

Take a movie like Silver Linings Playbook (no spoilers, I promise!). One of the main characters is constantly referred to as a “slut,” as she had an admittedly promiscuous past. Rather than apologizing or letting herself be shamed, she takes hold of her sexuality, saying “There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, but I like that, with all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself?” Having control and free will is nothing to be ashamed of (Yet another reason to LOVE Jennifer Lawrence – proud slut).

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Allegations have been made that men cannot control themselves, and should simply be blindfolded around women as a solution. Sound ridiculous? It’s just a ridiculous as blaming a girl’s outfit for getting her raped, and that’s not as uncommon as it should be. Limiting the freedom of men is just as useless as limiting the freedom of women, and claims like this are obscene. Women should be able to act and dress as they please without fear of assault, and men should be able to accept “no” under any circumstances. Men are not clamorous savages, they understand and function as humans do, and they cannot be blameless because “she was asking for it.” Sit in on a single guest speaker at the Slutwalk post-walk, and you’ll understand. People have been through absolute hell, and people can’t keep letting it happen.

IMG_1848

My story is one of request. A request to attend this year’s Slutwalk, to give it a chance. A request to men, to think before you act. A request to women, to remember that you do have control. And a request to the general public – rape jokes aren’t funny. Next time you make one, look around. There’s at least one pair of eyes on the floor, probably the eyes that need the most light.

Follow me on Twitter @sydney_neilson for updates, posts, and more.
Follow @SlutWalkTO on Twitter and Facebook for walk updates, info and more.

#realmendontrape
#consentissexy
#slutpride

silver

1. Jennifer Lawrence. Since her 2011 Oscar nom for the indie hit Winter’s Bone (readily available on Netflix, just saying), it’s only been a matter of time til every person on the planet loves J.Law as much as I do. Not only did she take to The Hunger Games perfectly, but her solid roles in the X-Men franchise, romantic chops demonstrated in Like Crazy (also on Netflix, a beautiful, relatable, engrossing mush-fest of a love story with Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones), and general approachable girl-next-door image have propelled her to the forefront of magazines all over the world.

JLAW covers FLAWLESS

2. Bradley Cooper. The Hangover, Limitless, Wedding Crashers, a dozen other awesome roles, and he’s People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Seriously. ‘Nuff said.

bc

Also, his character is really into working out. Which, you know, bodes well for people who like watching Bradley Cooper get all sweaty, and, yeah.

3. The book is different, and just as awesome. The changes in the film are totally valid, and – as someone who watched the movie, then read the book – reading the book doesn’t ruin the movie, and seeing the movie doesn’t ruin the book. Matthew Quick has a fresh, interesting, perspective form of writing that is easy to follow, but a great piece of literature.

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4. It’s one of those movies nominated for a million awards that you won’t have to sedate yourself to sit through. This movie is all about the human experience, perspective, and people. It’s hard not to find someone to relate to, and its incredible cast is honestly just a bonus. I loved The Kings Speech, but it’s not usually something I’ll pull out on movie night. It’s funny enough that guys can sit through the romance, it’s serious enough to hold your attention, and mmmmmmmmmmm Bradley Cooper.

5. David O. Russell. Awesome thing about David O. Russell #1: He was an executive producer on Anchorman. Awesome thing about David O. Russell #2: He directed 2010’s The Fighter,  and 2004’s existential comedy I Heart Huckabees. With a track record like that, Silver Linings is another gold star on his portfolio.

6.  Seriously though, Jennifer Lawrence. Vanity Fair called her “uncensored,” “unguarded,” and “a human being, [rather] than a well-coached witness.” It’s her uncensored-ness, her imperfections, and her general quirkiness that sets her apart. She’s quirky in a way that people appreciate – candid and honest, approachably beautiful, and adorably imperfect. It’s her endearing imperfections and lack of polish (seriously, these are all meant in the BEST way possible) that made VF title her the world’s “Most Desirable Woman” on the February 2013 cover.

One more reason to love J.Law:


“My nickname literally is Jeff Bridges.”

Watch the Silver Linings trailer: