Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer-style Five by Five

1) For my friend’s bachelorette party, we went to the beach and filmed a Spice Girls music video. There was much attitude, leopard print, and semi-inappropriate dancing in front of strangers and their families.

2) I broke into my own house last week. Least graceful thing I’ve ever done in a skirt.

3) At my friend’s wedding, I caught a third of the bouquet and then dropped that shit because I have no immediate plans for marriage and the other two girls looked like they might eat me.

4) I got sick the day before our biggest summer festival that I co-organize at work. We did an hourly raffle all day, both days, during which I handed out germs and misery in the form of raffle tickets, and ate too many granola bars because they were there and you can’t sneeze if you’re chewing.

By the end of the weekend, I was so out of it that I had to take the entire rest of the week off work to recuperate. I watched two seasons of The Good Wife, painted my nails repeatedly because I could not smell the fumes whatsoever and discovered that the ringing in my ears got worse when I tilted my head to the left.

5) My sister asked me to make a blue, heart-shaped cake for her friend’s birthday, which sounds great, if a little odd, until you see the final product:

Top: Original on Internet; Bottom: Our version - happy birthday!

We’re a classy household over here.

Imagine this was posted last Christmas, okay?

My sister dropped me off at my friend’s house much earlier than I’d planned. There was snow and slush everywhere, and I was still wearing my fancy outfit for our family picture, including skirt and non-waterproof shoes.

I knocked on the front door as my sister drove off. My hands were already cold and pink. No answer.

I knocked again, then phoned my friend’s cell. She answered, half an hour away at a Christmas tree lot.

My grandparents live one block over so I figured I’d walk over, have tea, change into my other outfit, and then come back later. No problem.

It was only a one block walk, but have you ever walked one block in sopping shoes and tights, through slushie snow, carrying a stuffed purse full of clothes you can’t wear yet, wondering how long it takes to get frostbite on your toes? It’s a long walk.

I made it to my grandparents, imagining tea and chocolate biscuits and warm carpet, and then they didn’t answer the doorbell.

So I rang again and peeked in the window. No lights, no movement.

Well, shit.

There was nowhere else to go so my wet feet and I headed around the back, through the gate, to the garden. My grandfather has a beautiful garden that was entirely covered in snow, except for the porch.

I had to get out of my clothes. I needed to get dry, and get dry now.

So in the back of my grandfather’s garden, huddled in the partially covered porch, I stripped off my tights and shoes, and changed into pants, socks and boots.

For any neighbours who may have glanced out their window at that time, I am very sorry. Very sorry.

I didn’t have a jacket but I had a light sweater so I sat on the back of the porch, overlooking the snow-covered garden and rocked back and forth while singing along to country songs on my iPod. Country songs know all about misery.

I texted my sister for some sympathy and she thought it was hysterical. Just as I was considering some form of self-cannibalism (approximately twenty minutes had past; I was desperate), I heard noise and realized my grandparents had arrived home, and got a text from my friend saying she was home too.

At the same time, I stopped myself from crying from joy, mostly because I was afraid the tears would freeze even though I know that’s not possible because they’re salty. Delirium had set in.

Then we went to a kids indoor carnival and I played with guns.

The end.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring 2013, otherwise known as the semester without a show

This semester I studied human trafficking, advanced corrections, communities and crime, and psychological explanations of crime.

That’s a fancy way of saying three seminars and a first-year course.

Human trafficking was interesting because the whole class focused on misinformation and the lack of human trafficking and what that actually means. But mostly it focused on the prof’s dissertation.

My corrections class was unfortunate. Despite the interesting subject, the prof was such a newb. He’s the only prof I’ve ever had who’s given our papers back immediately before professor evaluations. Also, next person who says group project is getting punched in the face.

Communities and crime. In case you’re wondering what this class is about, so am I. The end.

My last class, a Psych-Crim hybrid, was fantastically easy. Bring on the PowerPoint notes! I wrote the paper in a day, the final in an hour, and then officially became a Crim major. And it only took four years!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Five by Five

1) I hate it when people post pictures of their new tattoos on Facebook and it takes me a minute to realize that that’s not their arm I’m staring at…

2) On my paper, the prof wrote that it was “beautifully written, and a pleasure to read.” And that it was short and underdeveloped, but hey, beautifully written and a pleasure to read!

3) At the skytrain platform: “So, didja hear about those stabbings on the skytrain?”

No, strange man, I had not. Excuse me as I back away slowly.

4) At my very last exam, I wore a pretty summer dress, anticipating the relief of the end of school. I finished the exam, prof wished me a happy summer, then I skipped out of the classroom only to discover that it was snowing outside. Snowing! SNOWING!

5) Today, I sang Les Mis like a boss. That’s right. Like a boss.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

We're gonna be the greatest aunts.

My 3-month-old niece (oh hey! I’m an aunt now!) got hiccups so my sister and I brainstormed all our favourite cures and how they could be misconstrued as child abuse:

- Frighten her.
- Hold her upside down and make her swallow water. 
- Suffocate her (temporarily).

I think she’s stuck with hiccups.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fall 2012 - Shit My Teachers Taught Me

During this semester, the TA (teachers assistants) union went on strike repeatedly, stopped reporting grades, and caused general confusion and frustration. I have no particular stance on unions except that not getting my midterm mark until finals may have resulted in Hulk-like behaviour. (If we wanted to see our marks, students could put in a special written request to a union who does not represent us who would then consider for six to eight weeks until giving us the marks we need to graduate. Maybe.)

My classes were Intro to Sociology, Quantitative Research Methods, Qualitative Research Methods, and Prostitution.
Yes, I said prostitution. Yes, everyone makes me repeat that.

Intro to Sociology
I am so glad Crim is not a sub-set of Sociology anymore.

Final project was to "be creative" on a posterboard. Because apparently posterboard is still an acceptable means of reporting knowledge.

Moving on...

Quantitative Research Methods in Criminology
My prof liked to point out fancy words (like "bivariate regression" and "kurtosis") that we could use in casual conversation with our parents so they'd feel like we're actually learning stuff. I've already forgotten what those words mean but I plan to keep using them.

My tutorial was named "Raspberry”—as opposed to "Tutorial #4"—because we were awesome and sleep-deprived like that. Someone gave the TA a bottle of raspberry Smirnoff during the last tutorial. Isn't university great!

At the final exam, my nerves were making me queasy. Or maybe it my hang-over. Either way, the prof stopped and asked if I was okay because he had a girl faint once and it was real pain for him.

Qualitative Research Methods in Criminology
Every time my Jamaican TA said "faculty" it sounded like "fuc-ulty." That is all I learnt in this class.

Oh, and transcription's a bitch.

I also wrote a 20 page research project that consumed my life for a month. I was so relieved to hand it in, until I got it back and it was full of red marks correcting my "misuse" of commas. Except there was no misuse. I know my commas. Tsk, tsk, TA Marker.  

Prostitution in Canada
Fighting to get into this class was so worth it. The prof is one of the few Canadian experts on the subject, plus he’s super old, British, and swears constantly. His favourite “argument” was how without prostitution men would explode! He would act it out. Classic.

I loved that the class had such a specific topic. I feel like I understand the whole issue now, not just as the textbook or the professor sees it. I also wrote a 15 page paper on what I think Canadian prostitution law should be that took every fiber of my student-being to write but that I’m actually quite proud of now. And it got an A!

The prof laid out all the marked papers just outside the exam room and when I picked mine up, I noticed that the one beside it had “prostitution” misspelled in the title. The prof had circled it and written “ouch...”

Did you know that if you are discussing selling/buying sex with someone in your home and the curtains are open to the street that that is illegal? But if you shut the curtains, it’s not?

-          Prostitution is legal in Canada.
-          Prostitution law in Canada has no clear purpose and is horribly contradictory.
-          Prof’s second favourite “argument” was that women don’t buy prostitutes because they don’t want to pay for a lousy service. Heh.

And that’s what my teachers taught me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The “Dream” Cast

Five days after Mikado closed, I got lost in a forest trying to find my audition location.

But I got a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream! I’m Peaseblossom and Fairy. I think I do fae better than human. Too much glitter as a child?

Also, did you know that an entire Shakespeare play can be read in one go? That it does not have to be broken down and spread out over a semester? And that it can be fun? Someone needs to tell the English departments asap.


Rehearsals were held at an old camp with a big grassy field surrounded by cabins. June flew by because I had all of two rehearsals, and then rehearsals (for me, at least) began in earnest in July. The cast was an odd mixture of G&S people and former students of the directors. And all were extremely good-looking. Am I allowed to say that? I’ve never been in such an attractive cast.

My scenes were mostly with the Fairy Queen and the other three fairies. We also had two dances—choreography was killer indoors without A/C—and one song that we created ourselves using a background track and a shorter version of Shakespeare’s lyrics.

There was a lot of music in the show. I’m not sure what soundtrack they used, but most was quite light with a Celtic feel. The fairy entrance music got to the point where we’d wake up—leap up—just hearing it.

When we were able to, we rehearsed outdoors on the grass. So freeing! And dirty! But freeing! Fairies do much better with space to play and frolic and the show became more cohesive as larger chunks were played out at once.
Unfortunately, working outside meant working with outside noises. Once during our lullaby, a group of motorcycles drove past. During one of Helena’s speeches, an airplane flew overhead, a truck drove past, and a nearby train blasted its horn. She paused for each, and kept going.
We did a photoshoot in costume on the beach for promo shots—fun but a little awkward as it was one of the first rehearsals and the fairies didn’t all know each other. One picture was of all five of us—fairies with Queen—jumping off a log and “flying.” As I learned much, much later, the other four were going for a floaty look, whereas I went for a spread-eagle look. Sigh.

We also practiced using “magic dust” for the scenes with spells. The only characters who got mic’d were Oberon—the Fairy King—Titania and Puck, and only when they were saying spells. It was a cool effect but glitter in the eye still sucks. A couple different types were tried out and a couple different cast mates ended up with glitter permanently embedded in their skin.
During our first full-costume rehearsal, there was a thunderstorm. Drenching rain, hissing wind, shining lightning, the whole shebang. Suddenly the magical scenes became so much more magical. And awesome!
…Especially since I had a ride home that night. Most nights, I took two buses each way, about an hour in transit. This was only bearable since two—sometimes more!—of us took the same route and there was a Tim Hortons halfway through.

This was my first real play and my first Shakespeare, so I was getting nervous. My scene with Puck opened with me dancing and being silly until she interrupted me. To be honest, dancing and being silly—silently—was my favourite part of the scene. But the rest of it was still fun. Puck’s miming of acorn cups always got a laugh and we were plain goofy.
Meanwhile, the lovers scenes were becoming more and more established. The amount of lines they memorized—and understood—was crazy intimidating but it made so much more sense with their physicality. There was a fight scene between Lysander and Demetrius where they bitch slapped and pinched and punched and then attempted to canoodle with Helena. And all of Helena’s scenes were spectacular. Girl could recite a grocery list and still have presence.
There was a slight hitch when Demetrius showed up at rehearsal with half—just half!—of his hair shorn off. Right side of his head was shaggy. Left side was bald with bangs. This was eventually solved with a surprisingly realistic comb-over in which everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the stage managers sent out a stern email about appearances.
A few weeks before opening, the fairies had a make-up rehearsal in which we all met up at a school and played with glitter while back-combing our hair. The directors wanted untraditional make-up, more animalistic than girly. I ended up with a firebird on my nose—gold and brown wings—with peacock circles on one side, and golden, glittering fake eyelashes.
And did I mention glitter? And more glitter? And—oh look! More glitter!

Since the society was brand new—Midsummer was their first show—we didn’t know how ticket sales would go. But within days of tickets being released online, all five shows sold out completely! Over a thousand tickets!
On the Sunday before opening, we got to rehearse at the venue for the first time. It was spectacular. The stage was built outdoors on the edge of the beach, under a great big white tent so that the audience could look past the actors at the water.

The greenroom was another tent blocked off by potted trees, with corners curtained off for changing and plastic interlocking flooring with bottles of glitter hairspray everywhere. The outside, where the audience members would come in towards the main tent, was decorated with flags and candles and signs with fancy old-English-style writing. Considering a week beforehand it had been nothing but a gravel lot, it was startling pretty, especially during sunset. The only downside to the venue was, alas, the port-a-pottys.
For that rehearsal--the last normal rehearsal--I came straight from work, which made for the start of a long week. I was nervous because we were days from opening and I was still getting the same note from the directors since we’d begun: be louder. For months, every rehearsal, same note; and it was wearing on me that I couldn’t seem to improve.
Tech Rehearsal (Monday)

At tech rehearsal, we had bigger problems than projection. Some of the Rude Mechanicals had taken to playing and experimenting onstage during their scenes, instead of what the directors had preferred in earlier rehearsals. This caused some issues since playing made the show longer, and because the amount of physicality meant that deviating could be dangerous. Also, kinda unprofessional.
…which led to friction between actors which led to tech rehearsal being stopped entirely. Drama!
Eventually, things were tentatively worked out and rehearsal resumed amidst considerable tension and gossip. The gossip was typical, but the tension was new.

Dress Rehearsal (Tuesday)

At dress rehearsal, relations amongst the cast improved, while I fretted over shoes and lines. I was wearing soft jazz shoes, that are really just cloth with elastic overtop. I wore them in Mikado, but here we were walking outdoors on gravel  and it was uncomfortable, sometimes painful.
The costumers couldn’t do anything about my shoes or the gravel, but I was able to talk directly with one of the directors about projection. Specifically, my lack of projection and why am I such a failure. She gave me some pointers and reminded me that I’m up against an ocean.
That night I didn’t feel nervous. My scene went great. It felt great. I projected the crap outta it, as loud as I could, and at intermission, one of the directors told me I’d nailed it.
Ready for Opening Night!
Opening Night! (Wednesday)

We got a standing ovation!
Our first real audience—who all had real sunglasses. Their gorgeous view of the stage in front of the water was hindered by the full blast of the sun at sunset, so everyone was given a pair. It worked fine, but for us on stage, it made them all look like secret agents.

I almost—but didn’t!— slip during one of the dances. The stage is particularly slippery because it’s dusty and our jazz shoes have become increasingly less stable as they become smoother with wear. In one dance, I have to run all the way around the stage, a big circle where I run behind Stumpy-the-Chair, right at the far edge of the stage.
The stage is six feet high and does not have a railing. Or a safety net for clumsy fairies.
I did not fall, thankfully, although I did do a wacky arm movement for balance. Running around the edge will now be considerably slower...

We also experienced the singular experience of Hermia’s burping. Hermia—a very sweet woman who wears an elaborate blonde wig for each show—gets nervous before and during shows and it makes her burp. Loudly. It’s actually quite impressive for such a loud sound to come from such a petite body.
Second show (Thursday) 

I made the ‘projection team!’ During a pre-show group talk with the directors, they pointed me out as being one of the loudest in the cast. Finally!

We did a group warm-up, the fairies ran through our lullaby harmonies, I ran through my mini-monologue, and Helena, Hermia and Puck squatted and made very low frog sounds. Everyone has their own warm-up. Don’t judge.
My costume was easy as I didn’t have any changes during the show. It was a green bodysuit with “seaweed” all over it (but I am not a frog and will not respond to ‘Froggy’). The lovers and their entourage all had to change into formal wear for the last act however, and the rude mechanicals had to get into their play-within-a-play costumes. The fairies helped by putting lipstick on a man and helping the lion get his roar on. Always fun.

This show was particularly nerve-wracking as my sister and our choreographer were coming. But it went well! No major slip-ups and I projected the hell outta that stage!

Third Show (Friday)

Another sold-out crowd, another standing ovation!
It’s a little weird sitting side by side with my boyfriend while we both do our make-up. I guess that’s show business, but it’s still weird. Once when I was half-way through my make-up, with mostly browns on my face, he turned to me and said, “You look like I beat you.”

We did our group warm-up, which ended with everyone shouting “came in her eye!” before separating. Immature maybe, but it’s an actual line in the show.
Not actual lines include a game sometimes played while everyone did their make-up: replace a word in a line with ‘butthole.’ Also immature. Also fun. (“Now the hungry butthole roars...” “You juggler! You canker-blossom! You butthole!”)
The lovers had a bit of a flub during their scene, when a line was missed and the rhythm stuttered until they got back into it. It was a tiny flub, but Shakespeare is so particular that there’s no ad libbing possible.
Near the very end of the show, Puck has a monologue where she whispers spookily, “Now the hungry lion roars, and the wolf howls at the moon.” Tonight, she said, “Not the hungry lion roars,” and immediately a speedboat off on the water started up its engine making a huge roaring sound! So perfect it sounded rigged!
After the standing O, we ran offstage after the bows, into the greenroom, and everyone danced and chanted, “Bergomask!” over and over again until we were happily exhausted. A perfect ending to a great night!
Fourth Show (Saturday)

It was much breezier tonight, meaning more waves and therefore more background noise to overcome. But fewer mosquitos!
With the wind came some angry clouds but—luckily—no thunderstorms. Even light rain would make the show difficult as there’s no cover between the greenroom and any entrance to the stage. But any lightning would mean the whole show would have to be canceled because our tent is held up by lovely metal poles.
The audience was absolutely fantastic, very responsive. They laughed right at the start of my scene with Puck and again at Puck’s acorn cups. They’re funny moments but it’s the first time the audience sees fairies—any fairy—so often they don’t get many laughs. But not tonight!
Puck was played by a woman—not entirely uncommon—who was incredibly flexible and could contort herself into the oddest positions. She clapped with her feet, leaped fearlessly, and made a green spandex bodysuit look good (I know, I didn’t think I could be done either). The bows were originally staged to have the lovers bow last but this was changed after a few shows—on recommendation from the lovers—that she take the last bow. And from the audience’s reaction to her, they agreed.

Unfortunately, during the last act during the wedding entertainment tonight, one of the lovers’ goblets of water was knocked over. There wasn’t much water in it, and nothing they could do about it at the time.
In itself, not a big deal. Until us fairies came on after them to dance, and one of us slipped. Not me! She was up in a snap but the thud gave it away. In other news, we got a review praising the entire show, including the fairies lullaby for our harmonies!
Closing Night (Sunday)

The end is nigh!
We got to set super early for the cast photo and so we could do our make-up in the squishy greenroom (seven mirrors, twenty odd cast members…) in peace. I ended up spending most of the afternoon talking with my Fairy Queen, who’d I gotten to know fairly well, and taking many, many pictures.
The stage manager played 90’s rock hits over the speaker while our other stage manager danced with us—spontaneous dancing was her specialty—as we got ready. My hair doubles in size when I backcomb it. Sad, yet impressive.
During the show, we can hear what’s going on through the speakers and we can sneak behind the tent and peek through to watch. I usually only watched a few scenes a night, depending on when I was ready and what else there was to do. Some of the others played Headbands backstage, and Philostrate used to read Plato (and she finished it too!).
There were a few scenes that I just loved to watch. The opening where Theseus chases the giggling Hippolyta onstage and attempts to steal her apple. The lovers fights—between Lysander and Demetrius, and between Hermia and Helena—were so much fun and a prime example of why Shakespeare should be seen and not just read (ahem, every English department ever).
Near the beginning, Helena tells Dementius that she is utterly willing and would be happy if he treated her merely as a dog. It’s a scene I never particularly liked until Helena brought out her puppy dog eyes and looked so adorable imitating a cocker spaniel that how could you not want her! There was also a scene where Lysander—under a spell—takes a look at Hermia and is so disgusted with her that he almost vomits as he exits. Priceless.
The play-within-a-play scene was utter ridiculousness. I still don’t know what ‘loam’ is and suspect the others don’t either, but it must be impressive. Plus, the Wall got both his ears kissed by men. Always fun. Meanwhile, the Director character mouthed along the lines with the actors in the corner, the lion roared, the man used falsetto, the woman (but not the woman character) snapped, and Bottom died. Insanity.

A wonderful way to spend the summer!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Things That Make Our City Awesome:

- The woman at the bus stop with the massive white furry teddy bear plopped beside her. Size of a small child. Everyone else standing around as if that's totally normal. Just another day, just another teddy bear.

Things That Make Our City, uh, less Awesome

- Um...

...but seriously, you should have seen the size of this teddy bear!

Friday, January 11, 2013

(This is what happens when I save something as a draft and a year goes by before I see it again...)

My day started so well.

Statistics. Today's class wasn't so bad since the midterm is Thursday so all the prof did was review and remind us to stay calm. He's very soothing like that. He doesn't get gruff till the results are posted and everyone protests the marking scheme.

Then I walked outside and was greeted with this:

My bus drove for all of ninety seconds before pulling over. Driver walked out. I sat there. Driver walked in, said we ain't going no where till the salt truck goes down first, so I went to get some coffee. Sometimes I think they really didn't think it through when they built a school on a mountain.

My boot was feeling kinda funny, but it wasn't until after the bus made it down the mountain and the skytrain made it all the way back, that I realized why.

I went into Emergency Shopping Mode (that's the best mode, FYI) and bought a new pair of flats. Then I took my beloved over-the-knee boots that had gotten me through the winter and threw them in the trash. It was bittersweet.

In my next class, we spent two hours watching a movie about the '60s. I took notes about hippies, the Beatles and birth control pills. Why do I go to school again?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Five by Five

1) I spent an hour this morning moving thousands of dollars worth of paintings into a washroom. Ain't art grand?

2) When my doctor walked in, I automatically asked him how he was and he said, "Better than you because my blood work ain't all over the place." Well, shit.

3) On my way to an audition, I got lost in a forest. Again. How come this keeps happening?

4) Walked into Step class drinking Starbucks. Something's wrong here.

5) I feel bad for making the eye doctor wait while I'm crying, dabbing Kleenex and blinking frantically up at the ceiling. But at the same time—you stuck a needle in my eye. An actual needle. In my actual eye. You can gimme a minute. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I have a 4.0 GPA, have read all of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry, and have been referred to as a walking-talking-dictionary.

And it took me twenty minutes to assemble this box.