Monday, 31 March 2008

Let's not be shy

It's tough to be a feminist these days.

Has anyone else noticed this? Has anyone else noticed the looks people give you when the f-word is mentioned? When you make a comment about the gender imbalance clear in a novel or discussion of a historical event? I have espcially noticed this this year. In English, we read one of the few contemporary novels on the reading list through all of high school: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read this book a few months before the class started, just to get a head start on the reading list. I immediately read it again. And again during the course. I loved it. I was so excited to discuss it with my class.

Unfortunately, what could have been a great discussion about women's issues and the values that Atwood is discussing in her speculative fiction, the class quickly became about criticising the main character's values, as well as the feministic values of Atwood. Note that "feminism" became a dirty word in that class.

Hello girls! Do you not believe in equal opportunities for men and for women? Yes? Then YOU ARE A FEMINIST. And no, it doesn't mean you need to stop shaving or wearing a bra, it doesn't mean you have to be a dyke, and it especially doesn't mean you have to hate men.

I have read a few articles over the past few month discussing what has happenned to women's lib in this millenial* generation. Old bra-burners write in editorials to magazines poking fun at consumer feminism and wondering what happenned to all their hard work. Well here is what happenned: every generation makes it their goal to rebel against what came before them. This generation saw only the hairy armpits and the braless boobs that came before and said "No thanks". A generation of women gave their daughters freedom in an attempt to empower them and then watched them go right back to the Barbies and plastic, dress-up high-heels. Feminism came to mean hippies and communes. Sleek, hairless, small-waisted, big-chested, "bootylicious" bodies became the way of the "future". Kind of sick, right?

So this is where I came in. To life, that is. I was a Barbie kid; I can't even count how many I had. I had a pink room and dressed up like a princess, sucking in my stomach to imagine curves on my eight-year-old-frame. I read any fashion magazine I could get my hands on and wondered about boyfriends and lipstick. That's what being a girl is all about, right?

Well, no. Not really. After years I spent years of low self-esteem and tagging along with my peers, my mother read an add in the newspaper for something called "Moondance." I don't remember exactly what the add said, but there was a picture of a girl with long hair, arms raised in the air toward a huge crescent moon, and below it something about "No mirrors. No pressure." There was a teenager in the add. I was twelve. I volunteered right away. I had no idea what to expect.

I can't remember it very well, due to a horse-back riding incident a few weeks later that concussed me and (I'm convinced) robbed me of valuable memories. Anyway. I do remember walking in and seeing a few other girls, some older, some younger, some skinnier, some bigger, and looking around at the old classroom and wondering "what am I in for?" Moondance was a brainchild of Ann Pitman, a beautiful woman with grey hair that wore her wrinkles more gracefully than any other person I've ever met. After our mothers had been shooed out, Ann had us stand in a circle and she put on some music. She told us to move. Most of us didn't move. I think I blushed bright red and tried to sink through the floor. Ann watched us a moment, then quietly she told us to listen to the music and listen to our bodies, and dance. At first it was hard; we all wanted to make sure we looked good to everyone else, but then we closed our eyes and something incredible happenned. We danced. At the time I had no idea how amazing and incredible this was, but now I know that that time changed me immensly.

Over the eight-week session we make masks, we sewed pouches, we read goddess stories, we danced... including dancing a maypole one day, and then interpreting it. We'd sit in a circle and pass a conch shell around talking about dreams and goals. My confidence level went way up. The best part was that it started a growth in me that continues to this day. And I truly believe Moondance was where my feminism started. That's where I learned that feminism is cool. It is so freaking cool.

At school some people only know me as the girl with dyke-y hair, or the girl on the improv team but what I want everyone to know is that I am a feminist. I give myself that label. Whether it's a class discussion of a book or a conversation about current events, I make sure to be a strong feminist voice. I get poked at more because of it, sometimes, sure, and sometimes I mess up -- I'm still learning my own voice and beliefs. But I want to do it in case someone else is thinking the same things but doesn't have their voice yet. I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not afraid to be labeled a feminist.

PS: My improv necklace is the symbol of Avalon. I wear it every day now.

*apparently this is the label for my generation. 83-93. ish.

Monday, 24 March 2008

In the Moment

Here she comes, on her palanquin on the back of an elephant

My bleaders,*

When you started reading this blog, you likely thought this would be the heartwarming story of a young teenage girl and her daily adventures. You know, My So-Called Life style. Only without hotties like Jordan. My life has actually been woefully sans hotties for a while now. But I digress.

Anyway, when you signed up for this blog, you likely had no idea how much improv you would encounter. I know; when I joined the team, I had no idea myself. It's quite shocking. We're in this togethers, dear bleaders. I hope that this turn for the improvised is one you're all cool with, because it will be priority numero uno for a while now. It does eat some of my blog time (read: most of), however, it's kind of the most awesome thing I've done ever.

I do know the quality of my blogging has suffered of late, as well as its frequency. I'm going to try to work on that. Try really hard this time. So bear with me.

Bascially, I am incredibly, wonderfully happy. I grin when I wake up in the morning and I feel all tingly and excited even though there is a kind of big knot in my stomach when I look ahead. This is because WE'RE GOING TO NATIONALS. This is at once the most exciting and stressful thing ever. But also, how cool is that? We're a brand spanking new team, our first year improvising together, and we take second in the Ottawa tournament, which, I must say, is a fairly high-level tournament. We lose by only 13 points to the team that won nationals last year, a team which still has many of its key players (Canterbury. Ok, ok, I know Andrea. But you're supposed to be on my side.)

The night did not start out well. We led with a Theme event, which we all hated. Theme is not fun to start with. We were flustered, we were not coming up with great aspects of the theme... it was a tricky one. The whole team was feeling the pressure after that to kill it. Our second event was the last of round two, which meant we watched 8 scenes waiting for our next event. We played character, and asked for a characteristic and an occupation. We got "intense" and "orchestra conductor". That scene was awesome. We ran into intermission with grins on our faces. Jake took the main character and killed it. I can't even explain it to you. I think I have a video of part of it. I'll see if I can find it and I'll post it.

After intermission, we played what is quite possibly the best event we've ever played. It was our Story. For weeks, we've been playing story as a horror movie style, asking for a location and adding music. It's been going really, really well. On Friday, we started playing around with a new ask-for: a fictional country, like Snoreway, or Brussia . But we weren't sure if we should change. All day Friday, we hung out and wondered. All day Saturday we kept talking about it and then forgetting, back and forth. Finally, waiting backstage twenty minutes before the show, we had to decide. We went for fictional country. We hadn't yet done an amazing scene with that ask-for, but we had this feeling... like a gut feeling that it could be so good. So we went for it.

Luckily, the refs understood that we didn't want "Candyland" or something like that, and we got "The Democratic Republic of Zombia". We turned into our huddle and grinning. Alex did a wonderful job and I think I smiled the whole way through. That's what happens during a scene that just feels so good.

So we get to do this for three more weeks. Three more weeks of delayed homework, three more weeks of daily practice, three more weeks of John and Ms K, three more weeks of these amazing people I never want to let go of. Three more weeks. What more could I ask for?

For now, I will go back to procrastinating and start planning an outfit around my second place medal for tomorrow. As Ms K said, ride the wave.

*blog readers = bleaders

Saturday, 22 March 2008


Me (to Davis): I feel like we should make out now.
Bora's Robo voice: yes... yes... doooo iiiit.

Basically, tonight is the night. THE night. The night of the Canadian Improv Games Regional finals: Ottawa tournament. And I'm performing.

Tuesday night was our night for prelims, and we were psyched. Now, I don't want to sound cocky here, but we kind of knew we were going to finals. I mean, we're superstitious drama kids, so we knock on wood constantly (ow, my knuckles) but really, we are a pretty good team, and we kind of know it, insecurities aside. I never got that nervous feeling with you're so freaked, you're excited, you want it so badly and waves of nausea keep washing over you. Today is a different story.

We did pretty well on Tuesday. So well, in fact, that we were tied for first all week, even over the national champ team. But who's really keeping track, right?

So today is the big night. If we place top 3 today, we are going to Nationals. Now, all it means is we move from performing at the NAC studio to the NAC theatre, we don't travel or anything, but it's NATIONALS. I have never felt this competitive in my entire life. I want this. We want this. Mostly, I want to go out on stage and feel that feeling that only comes from doing amazing improv. Tuesday we did OK; I know we can do a million times better. We're so close, I can feel it.

In other life news... I have none. Well, not true, many things are going down, many semi-huge things, but I can't handle all that right now. There's so much stress, I can't do it. So I'm living in improv land for now, because I know I can handle spending the better part of this weekend with my team and my coaches, I know I can handle putting my heart on the table and sharing with with my improv family, I know I can handle pouring out my soul onto the NAC stage to make the biggest and best scenes we can. I can handle that. The other things will hit me later.

If you want to come, tickets might still be available from the NAC box office, but often this show sells out fast. Maybe you'll be able to come see us at Nationals *knocks on wood* .


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

I'm going to drink your milkshake

A few ideas about tonight:

-I love my improv team.
-being on stage is awesome and amazing
-I can't believe I said the funny line at the funny time
-NEVER NEVER NEVER McDonald's again
-Milkshakes are key
-John Wishart will always make me cry
-I want to do even better on Saturday
-I want to make Nationals
-I never want to lose my team
-I love my improv family more than anything else in the world
...everything else is inconsequential.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Lips and Eyes

Here is a piece I wrote for my school's creative writing journal. Eric Williams, the editor, designed the whole layout, which I think is pretty cool.

The piece:

Lips and Eyes

Lips and eyes
Tell them to behave and they mightfor a while
but while one is open, the other one closes
since only one will work at
they worked together well
ordering the changes
they saw that it was good
and when they saw that it could use some work
the eyes told the lips
what to say and the lips told the world
what to do
and each held the other's counsel
like a smooth round stone
in the palm of your hand
in a slow, winding stream

but then the eyes, they had one idea
and the lips they had another
and both seemed to forget that
they have a common mother
and the world got so confused
because they would both refuse
to set each other
The eyes see how it is
and the lips can taste it too
they both know just how
it's got
around here.
So the eyes let out their sadness
silent torrents to the sea
and the lips show their regret
rolling thunder in the dark
A blundering song of unity rings out to the world
a tale of woe and sadness all of us have heard.

You're my Saturday, Cause you're my number 1.

If you were to walk past the field at my high school, first you would see that it's filled with like six feet of snow. You would then notice that in one corner of the field, the perfect coat of snow has been disturbed by what looks like nine figures.

I wish I'd had a camera.

Because we're crazy improv kids and we do crazy things, when Bora walked into the drama room with his head covered in snow, no one was too bothered. Until he told us all about how he'd climbed the fence and then he dove into the snow. And then we all decided we needed to go and see. Which turned into all of us diving into the snow. John said "The lifeguard in me is very concerned." But still, we dove (yes, dove) into the snow. Somehow we really didn't end up very wet, though we did it in T-shirts.

Tomorrow is regional semis. I am so nervous, but also, not so nervous. I am completely in love with my team and with improv and I just want to go do it.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

"Cliquot" and "Nantes" -- Beirut


When we arrived in Paris, we'd all been traveling many hours. I was feeling really, really gross, and really, really tired, and was still apprehensive about being away and missing improv. The first thing we do is get free time in my FAVOURITE part of Paris, Montmartre. I didn't even know we were going to get to visit Montmartre, so I got super excited. The minute we stepped into the metro station, I smelled the metro, and I was so, so happy. I remembered that smell as if I had been there yesterday. I think I will have to go live in a city with a metro system, because I love the metro.

So we got off the metro at the Montmartre stop and climbed up the road where I bought a scarf last time and we climbed up to the parc space where Sacre-Coeur is, a huge cathedral. There were these french people carrying some wine, and one bottle broke and spilled all over the road. This made the English student in me really happy and took many pictures to caption "Dickens in real life!"*

We climbed up to the top and looked out at the view and listened to some great musicians and then wandered around and ate crepes. I made sure to sit back, take few pictures, and revel in being there. I love being in Paris.
I made sure to buy a scarf in Montmartre, as always, and I wore it the whole time we were in Paris. The next morning, my roommates and I got up early and went to the boulangerie nearby and bought baguette. We were the only ones who did this, and it became our morning ritual. It was nice to be out in Paris just us, away from crowds. The rest of the day was packed with a rushed bus tour, (which was like the trailer that makes you want to see the rest of the movie) and a visit to Versailles, which I hadn't seen, and which was AWESOME. I strolled up and down with Nick, pretending to be the dauphin and dauphine. We put our noses in the air.
That night we visited the Eiffel Tower, and I will advise anyone I know who goes to Paris that they must go up the Tower at night. It's the best way. All the monuments stand out because they're lit up and you can pick them all out. But it's colder at night. What a killer wind.

We got back super late from the Tower and boat ride up the Seine, so the next day we were all exhausted. We also found out we had 2 hours to go and visit the Musee D'Orsay, the Louvre or Notre Dame. I picked the Louvre and I wandered around in the sculpture area in Danon wing, and then headed to Richelieu/Sully to cruise past Winged Victory and Venus de Milo on my way to large-scale french paintings (which were all awesome). The rooms they were in were almost better than the paintings -- they were so cool. If you're ever in the Louvre, check out the rooms, not just the art.

After that, we headed to the Gare de Lyon to take the TGV (Tres Grande Vitesse) train to Provence.

*Tale of Two Cities, people.

That's what she said

I just woke up from 14 hours of sleeping, when, according to the rules of jet lag, I should have gotten up earlier. It's 8pm Barcelona time right now.

So I fussed, and I worried, and I stressed, and I second-guessed, but really, this trip was the best idea I've pretty much ever had, after dropping orchestra this year. Brief highlights from each city will follow as well as some select pictures. If you want the full babble, we will have tea. I missed tea.

Overall, the trip was just so much fun. I haven't been on a school trip since grade 8 when the band when to Toronto and they taped us into our rooms at night. A trip when the teachers are just as excited as the students is even more fun. It was a little annoying to be one of three grade twelves on the trip, and even more annoying that they stuck us on the bus with the grade nines. My iPod got an amazing workout in Provence when we'd travel by bus at least 3 hours a day.

About halfway through the trip, I discovered that one member of the tour, a grade 11 student from my french class who hung out with us (we were quite the fab four at the beginning of the trip) had a crush on me. A rather large one. Which made things super awkward for a while there, until I made some grade 10/11 friends and ran away. Really mature way to deal with my problems, I know.

And those grade tens and elevens? I made some really good new friends. I guess that happens when you spend so much time with people. Lord knows there were many, many crushes and couple made during the trip.

Now, I am back to real life and need to get some homework done. If I feel like procrastinating, I'll tell you all about Paris.

Monday, 3 March 2008

On Lesbians

Now, something a little more lighthearted after that last post. Here is the best sketch of Ellen Page hosting SNL from last week. All through the episode, it was like "Ellen. I'm waiting for you to be amazing!" And then finally it was great, in this last scene.

-notice how the audience just doesn't know how to react sometimes, should they laugh or is it not funny? kind of deal and it's gold.
-So many moments of "haha it's funny" but at the same time it's like "so much truth in this".
-cute short haircuts indeed
-I have a huge crush on Ellen Page*
(PS note to Jen: after that scene, my sister turned to me and went "Like... Grrl!". So way to go you, for educating my sister. Someone had to do it.)

Also, instead of relaying the very interesting dream last night, I'll just post the meanings I found in my trusty online dream dictionary, because really, I think that's enough.

To see a mansion in your dream, symbolizes your greatest potential and growth. You may feel that your current situation or relationship is in a rut.

To dream about sex, refers to the psychological completion and the integration of contrasting aspects of the Self. It may indicate repressed sexual desires and your needs for physical and emotional love.

It's all connected, people.

*Watch this. Start it at two minutes and you'll have a beautiful moment of Ellen Page being on the red carpet and acting like a real person. So much crushing.

Swallowed by a whale

Preface: I had a mindfuck weekend, this is what comes out of it. Just to warn you.

The Decemberists are the only people keeping me sane. Those and the seven other members of the improv team plus John and K, the coaches. Improv is just so much more important than school, right now. Not just improv as in training and doing well at regionals, which is very important, but also... improv is life. It is. Improv is being on stage, creating a situation, and living it. Through improv, I have learned to be better at life. No, really.

Improv is so different from normal acting. If you're in a play, you're assigned a character. In the process of putting on a play, you can take hours to explore the character and discover the backstory, feelings, insecurites... on stage, in improv, you literally have seconds, so what you have to do is find an aspect of yourself or of someone you know really well and play that. On stage. In front of people. You learn so much about yourself that you didn't know, on stage. I have learned more about myself in these past months and weeks in improv than I have in seventeen years. And I think I've also gained more confidence in myself. Improv makes me itch to get out there and live my life. I want to -- even if I don't feel ready.

On Saturday the team had a practice, but I couldn't be there because I had work (which was boring). Saturday night, some of the team hung out at Davis's empty appartment*. John even came with us, though he is older and infinitely cooler than any one of us. We played drunked catchphrase, which was awesome, and John told us stories of improv.

After most everyone had gone home, four of us stayed over, including John. By this point no one was thinking clearly at all** and we got to the nitty gritty bits. At one point, John pointed to Davis and I and said "Because there are two of you, you need to decide who is mom and who is girlfriend." I had this moment where I knew she was girlfriend and I was so, so jealous, just because I thought that was so much more important. But John continued, "Evey, I think you've got to be the mom. Because I think you've got one to draw from." That moment was everything from the past weeks coming to a head and suddenly, I was crying and I was mad at my mother. I was just so angry with her, for making me feel awful every time I walk in the door of my house, for trying to help with uni applications but just not actually helping at all, for making me feel so tied down all the time, for making everything better for seventeen years but not being able to anymore, for teaching me for years that she is the leader and I need to follow her, but I can't anymore. Mostly I'm angry because she is an incredible mother -- but I can't have her as such anymore. I can't follow her, I can't have her cleaning up my messes. I have to do it myself, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to not be her baby anymore.

John said, "It's just as painful and heart breaking for her as it is for you."

Up until that point, I had played terrible mothers on stage. Not very good at all. I'd put on a voice, and do the motions; because of that, I'd play very shallow moms. And it was because I was afraid to play my mother on stage. I was afraid to play what I know, because I was afraid of what I'd realize about her while on stage. I'm still a little afraid, but now, I really want to do it.

Since that late-night, altered-state revelation, my mom and I can't talk anymore. I don't know how to interact with her anymore. It is so hard.

I owe so much to John for bringing this and a million other things up that night and making me think. As Davis said, John has had a bigger impact on my life than I can possibly know right now. And I'm glad for it.

I haven't really been able to do homework at all since that night, I've been so preoccupied with thinking. I didn't go to school today -- I stayed up late with my cousins talking and then slept in and only went to improv. Improv is my real education right now.

All I have left to say is mom, if you found this somehow and are reading this, please don't bring it up with me. Don't talk to me about it. Employ it in your life however you see fit, but I need to sit with my thoughts for a while and figure things out. And I have to do it myself.

*Davis's mom's boyfriend moved in and has this empty appartment until April, so we hang out/party there. We're teenagers, what can I say?
** I'll leave it at that. John is from Montreal -- use your imagination.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Mr Postman, do you have a letter for me?

I have had a mindfuck of a weekend. No, really. Just one of those weekends where you know you're never going to be the same after.

Last week was the week from hell, but I'm done applying to uni now. Let's hope I get in. Time to live.

I re-painted my room. It's exciting. Here is a before video. I forgot you can't just rotate a video and shot it completely the wrong way. It's really trippy this way. I'll shoot the next one right way up and you can pretend I used to live sideways and now I live right way up. Notice the seventeen-year old rosette wallpaper.