A Toronto Transformation

A Moment’s Peace

Cemetary Angel in Snow (A moment's peace)Cemetary Angel in Snow

I can’t pinpoint exactly when time began to feel blurry.

Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it?

Whether it was two or three winters ago when my grasp on it started to slip.

I didn’t think about it too much then. Not when the pieces of the life I envisioned for myself seemed to be so effortlessly falling into place.

I thought we had an agreement, time and I. I thought I had it licked.

But of course, time cannot be beaten, and It damn sure doesn’t care if your plans fall through.

Now, as it whips by ever faster, a quick, clear stream I cup my hands to catch even as it rushes relentlessly through my fingers, I’m terrified of wasting even a drop.

But I don’t know what that means, exactly.

I don’t know how much of it is mine to control, how much I’ll have in the end.

I know there are things that I would like to do, given the choice.

I know I’m hardly ancient, but I also know now, how fast time can move.

My life is blessed, no doubt.

Is it greedy to worry about wanting things like a partner and a little family to raise, when I’m so lucky already?

Would it be foolish to keep letting time tiptoe past without actively trying to cultivate those things?

Which is more wasteful, to spend my time trying to capture a life that might not even be in the cards for me, or to wait passively for the things I want until it’s too late for me to enjoy them?

These are the questions that chase each other around my mind, even as I celebrate friends’ new loves, their weddings, and pregnancies. Even as I celebrate my own accomplishments in other areas.

So it was nice, Sunday night, in the middle of running errands, doing chores and trying to get myself ready for another busy week to dash out the front door into a world transformed.

Even my mind quieted as I stopped on the porch to stare at the snow, coming down in magic slow motion, the way it does sometimes, lit up by the streetlights.

I stuck my tongue out to catch a lazy flake and it really did feel like time stopped.

At least for a moment

Good News, It’s Friday!

Red leaves through Gothic window arch Well done on those leaves, mother nature.

It’s been a bit of a stressful news week (or weeks), particularly for those of us with an interest in issues concerning violence against women,

So, while I highly encourage all of you to pay close attention to even the most unpleasant current events, I thought it might be nice to focus on a little good news, and perhaps a baby animal or two that can make us smile this Friday.

Speaking of current events, in case you missed it, China and the US announced new targets to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate change. Hurrah! A step in the right direction.

Julien Blanc was kicked out of Australia, and thanks to #KeepJulienBlancOutOfCanada, our immigration minister is considering barring him from coming here too. Keep up the good work, and keep the pressure on, guys!

These fabulous Australian men pimped their ride into a free mobile laundromat for homeless people.

A Captain Marvel (feminist superhero based on Gloria Steinem) movie is in the works!

And, oh good gracious, just look at this rescued baby otter, eating snacks and making baby otter squeaks:

What’s made you smile this week?

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Blanc can Stay Home , Toronto has Enough Sex Offenders

slutwalk toronto protest sign "because we've had enough" Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault and violence against women

For just over a week, Toronto has been abuzz over allegations that Jian Ghomeshi, a much beloved CBC radio host who claimed to espouse feminist values, was fired by the station over allegations he had abused and sexually assaulted a number of women, which rose from 3 to 10 as the week went on.

The women’s accounts of the non-consensual and violent acts committed against them make for stomach-churning reading. And my stomach rolled all over again when I read and heard the reactions to the story. When they got wind that the allegations against him were about to be made public, Ghomeshi and the PR team he hired to help him weather the inevitable media firestorm posted his version of events on his Facebook page. He claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign by a “jilted ex-girlfriend” and that the CBC had objected to his private, consensual BDSM predilictions.

I was amazed to see how many people, many of them lovely and intelligent, took his statement at face value before the Star shared their information about the first three women to come forward. My Facebook news feed was sprinkled liberally with messages of support for the former Moxy Fruvous member.

I guess for some it must have been in part because people felt like they knew him after hearing his voice on the radio day after day. Many were all too happy to believe the “jilted ex” narrative, because I guess Jian has money and status and power and because as we all know, “bitches be crazy”?

But most disturbingly, I think a lot of people believed him simply because we do not believe rape victims. And even if we can be convinced that rape occurred, we still ask them what they could have done to stop someone from raping them.

Some people were genuinely baffled as to why this was the first time we were hearing about these incidents. They couldn’t fathom why a woman who had been assaulted would not immediately report it. If you are one of those people, tweets under the hashtag #beenrapedneverreported are required reading, as far as I’m concerned. There are unfortunately a million valid reasons not to report sexual assault, (in fact, when I think about it, I don’t think any of the people I know who have told me about being raped actually reported it) and you’ll find a heartbreaking number of them on twitter.

I think a lot of people believed/believe Ghomeshi without question even now, when ten women have come forward, and countless others have relayed their stories about his inappropriate and disturbing behaviour, because of all of these reasons. I think they believe him because of rape culture.  A culture where someone like Ghomeshi could convince himself that hitting and choking women who had never agreed to be hit or choked was well within his rights.

Which is why I was incensed to learn that the reptilian Julien Blanc, a “pick up artist” who gives online courses and workshops teaching men how to manipulate women  into having sex with them and posts pictures of himself #chokingwomenaroundtheworld to social media is planning to bring his disgusting misogynistic bullshit to Toronto in January and March of 2015.

Sadly, the choking photos are just the tip of the iceberg for this creep, who advocates approaching women on the street in Japan by grabbing the back of their heads and pushing their faces into your crotch. There are videos of him doing this and encouraging men in a seminar to do the same, because according to Blanc, “if you’re a white male, you can do what you want. I’m just romping through the streets, just grabbing girls’ heads, just like, head, pfft on the dick.”

He’s vile.

He and his company, Real Social Dynamics, are currently facing backlash in Australia, where venues have cancelled his seminars after widespread protests, petitions from the public and tweets sent under #takedownjulienblanc.

His company’s site lists two sets of seminar dates in Toronto in January and March, and while the venues have not yet been listed, I for one will be keeping an eye out, ready to petition whoever is hosting this creep to cancel any of his events.

Because if there’s one thing Toronto doesn’t need, it’s a man who teaches other men that choking women is a good way to get to know them.

Click here to sign a petition to shut down Blanc’s social media pages.

Little Luxuries – Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon

bite beauty matte crème lip crayon cognac Cognac, anyone? (Guys, I can’t explain to you how challenging it is for me to hide my toothy grin in photos.)

While I am not generally a full face of makeup kind of woman, I’ve always loved painting my face, and a trick I learned early on, is that even if you have no other makeup on, throwing on a little lipstick can go a long way towards making it look like you’ve put some effort in to your appearance. This is great news for me, because while I choose extra sleep over getting  up early for makeup application every single morning, occasionally a surprise midday meeting makes me wish I had taken a moment to make myself just a smidge spiffier instead of rolling directly out the door from my unmade bed.

bite beauty matte crème lip crayon brandy

Or perhaps a little Brandy? (seriously, trying to smile with no teeth is the most unnatural thing!)

For this reason I like to keep a lipstick or two in my purse at all times. And recently I’ve become obsessed with Toronto company Bite Beauty‘s matte crème lip crayon. Not only does it come in some seriously gorgeous high pigment fall colours, it’s made with edible ingredients, so I don’t have to worry that I’m slowly poisoning myself every time I forget I’m wearing it and devour a falafel.

So far I’ve collected Brandy, Aubergine and Fraise (it’s like My Little Pony all over again!). I’ve also been hoarding samples of Cognac and Truffle while I not-so-patiently wait for my local Sephora to restock them. bite beauty matte crème lip crayon cognac

Portraits: Emma Davidson

“Free at last!!!” – my teeth

Do you guys have any tricks for looking more put together in a pinch? What products are you obsessing over  lately? Tell me all your beauty secrets in the comments!

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10 hours of Street Harrassment is Sadly, Not Surprising

This condensed video of a woman walking around a city for ten hours in jeans and a t-shirt was originally posted on Hollaback’s website under the headline “You won’t believe how many times this woman gets harassed in 10 hours.”

I beg to differ. As a woman who does a lot of solo walking around the city, there is nothing shocking about this to me. I absolutely do believe it.

I love this video though, because I know a lot of people do not view street harassment as a serious issue. Even those of us who experience it on a regular basis become so conditioned to unwanted commentary on our bodies that it starts to seem like it hardly matters.

It matters.

Because even the strongest among us can have our confidence eroded over time, chipped away every time someone asserts his perceived right to tell us what he thinks of our bodies, what we should do with our bodies, and what he’d like to do to our bodies.

Facing this kind of objectification again and again is so discouraging and demoralizing, not to mention terrifying, depending on the context.

I know that I’m more than my body. I am a bright, compassionate, funny and strange whole entire complex human being. But it can be hard to keep that in perspective when strangers insist on reducing me to it.

Here’s hoping this video reaches some of the men who perpetuate this boorish behaviour and that they start to understand that, as I’ve said before, catcalls are not compliments.

Did you guys find this video surprising? How do you deal with street harrassment? I’d love to chat about it in the comments!

Three Years of Metamorphocity

"My head hurts, but I love you" graffiti, Queen Street West, Toronto

Three years ago I was in a state of transformation.

My heart was on the mend and I was eager to try out my new independent-woman-in-the-city grown-up wings. They were barely dry, but they were beautiful. I wanted to see how they worked in my new life.

And so I did.

I went to Spain.

I trained my neighbours to say hello to me.

I went on dates.

I dodged being drafted to a naked volleyball team.

I fell in love, hard.

Really hard.

And then I climbed back out of it, bedraggled, bewildered and shivering from that special kind of cold that comes from being discarded without grace or compassion by someone who has won your heart.

I took candy from strangers.

I took my dad to see Lady Gaga.

I documented the unfortunate life of a lovingly crafted, hilariously disturbing voodoo doll.

I marched in the Pride Parade.

I made a conscious effort to be happier in my own skin.

I got a new job (and a new diagnosis).

I learned to shuck oysters!

An evil dog ate my movie snacks.

Every day, this weird and wonderful city became more my home. And through it all I wrote.

I wrote when I was charmed and delighted by the city around me. I wrote my love, my curiosity, my anger, my humiliation. I wrote to grieve and to heal, to provoke, to entertain, to share and to learn. Sometimes I wrote just to make more space in my brain.

And finally I realized, I was writing because, no matter what I do during my 9-5, I’m a writer.

This city has changed me. It has made me bolder, and braver. It has given me friends I would never have known and now can’t imagine my life without.

This blog has changed me too. It has helped me get to know myself and introduced me to some amazing people. It has opened doors I would never have imagined three years ago. I’ve learned so much here in this wee cocoon of internet space.

Thank you so much for stopping by from time to time and being a part of the ride.

How to Make a Fall Leaf Bouquet

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial

Last weekend, while I was waiting for my clothing swap buddies to arrive, I came across a so-called tutorial for making roses out of leaves on Pinterest. As with many a “DIY” project, while the finished product looked lovely, the instructions were sorely lacking. Still, I muddled about and enlisted the help of one of the more artistically-minded swap attendees who made the mistake of arriving first to find me covered in maple leaves and washi tape and we finally figured out a technique that worked for us.

I thought I’d document the process step by step for any of you who are feeling the fall craft bug or whose tables are sorely lacking decoration now that the Toronto Flower Market season is over.

How to Make a Fall Leaf Bouquet

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 1. Start with one of your smaller leaves (leave the nicest, largest ones for the outer layer). Fold down all the points, coloured side out.

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 2. roll the leaf up tightly, points in.

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 3. Fold the second leaf the same way, and roll the first leaf tightly inside the second.

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 4.Repeat with two or three additional leaves, depending on how big you want the flower to be.

leafflowers5 5. To create the “petals” wrap one of the larger leaves around the rolled up leaves, keeping a tight grip on the base, close to the stems and letting the top roll in a little looser.

leafflowers6 6. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

leafflowers7 fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 7. wrap a little washi tape around the base of the flower.

fall leaf flower bouquet tutorial 8. Pop them in a mason jar, et voila! A cheap and cheerful fall bouquet for the table!

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Could You go a Year Without New Clothes?

vintage prom dresses at 69 vintage Toronto What do you mean I don’t need another frothy vintage prom dress?

According to a recent eye-opening and kick in the ass-ing review of my last three months’ spending, I could not.

Which, of course, immediately made me want to try.

To be fair, those three months included my birthday, when I was generously gifted some funds specifically to put towards an “investment piece” I’d been hemming and hawing over for about a year. Still, it was shocking to see just how much I actually spent on clothing in just three short months.

It made me re-examine my view of myself as a fairly financially responsible person. Because the truth is, while I’ve been patting myself on the back for being debt-free, I really haven’t been putting nearly as much money as I could, and arguably should, have been away for a rainy day.

Apparently, no sooner are my essentials paid off for the month, than I head out to spend whatever’s left over on food, clothes and a retrospectively inexplicable number of trips to Shopper’s Drug Mart. I’m like a moth to an optimum points flame. Half the time I just wander in there to see what’s on sale when I need to kill time.

Looking over my spending, not only was I disappointed in how little I had squirrelled away, and what a ridiculous amount of my paycheques was going to retail therapy and lazy food shopping, but I was dismayed to realize that I’d become such a rampant consumer.

When I think about the things I value most in life, of course, most of them aren’t things at all. They’re people, experiences, nature and feelings. And while there’s certainly room there for enjoyment of stuff, fashion stuff included, I was a little crestfallen to realize just how much stuff I was enjoying, and how that might be pushing aside the experiences I’d like to think I value more.

So, while I might not be ready for the challenge of going a year without buying a single new item of clothing that I’ve seen some bloggers sign up for, I am going to make a concerted effort to cut way back on my spending, particularly in that area and go from there. Even cutting my clothing budget in half for a year would be a significant boost to my overall savings.

Luckily I hosted a clothing swap this weekend, and snagged some great new-to-me stuff from my friends, so that should keep the spending wolves at bay for a little while at least.

Baby steps, you know?

Taken in shoes I already own, of course.

Are you guys big shoppers? Good savers? Could you go a year without new clothes? I’d love to hear any saving money/avoiding buying clothes tips you have in the comments!

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Five Shows to Curl Up With This Fall

Shows to Curl Up With This Fall via metamorphocity.com

As much as I love all of my autumn activities, sometimes there’s nothing better on a chilly fall day than curling up on the couch with my latest crochet project and some really good tv.

Borgen – A seriously fantastic Danish series about the complexities of government and the choices politicians face. It manages to be both real and really fascinating. As an added bonus, I expect to start understanding Danish any day now.

The Mindy Project – it never ceases to crack me up. Mindy is hilarious and I really dig Danny Castellano. I’m a sucker for a curmudgeon with a heart of gold.

Orphan Black – This show about human clones is so clever, suspenseful and well-written. It also features my lovely, talented pal Kristian Bruun and the phenomenally gifted Tatiana Maslany, who should win all the awards for her flawless portrayal of multiple characters. Plus it features my lover Toronto, as itself no less!

Utopia – If you’ve ever worked in an office where you dealt with the red tape and stunning inefficiencies of buerocracy or preposterous projects that landed in your lap on the whim of a clueless higher up, this Australian series will have you in stitches.

Top of the Lake – I watched this right after finishing True Detective, and actually liked this mystery/thriller set in New Zealand more. Elizabeth Moss is fantastic and New Zealand makes a gorgeous, fascinating backdrop for the show.

I’m still hanging in there with Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones despite the constant killing off of my favourite characters and I’ve put off starting the new Outlander series, because I really love the books and I REALLY love the books’ male protagonist and I’m worried the series won’t measure up to my own imagining of the stories, but I’ve heard it’s quite good too.

What are you guys watching this fall? Do you have an all-time favourite series?

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