She creates. She is a creator of worlds.

One of my best friends in the entire world just published her first book.

CPR

It’s called Pedal.

And all of you should read it.

Because it is brilliant.

Today I sat down and read it in one sitting.

By the time I got to the last ten pages my heart was racing, and my face was flushed.

Upon turning the last page, I could no longer keep in my hot, fat tears – my heart swelling with unbridled happiness, with fierce incredulity, and overwhelming awe.

I first met Chelsea Rooney nine years ago in the fall of 2005 when were both admitted to UBC’s creative writing undergraduate program.

Right away I recognized her to be the most talented writer in our class. I’ll never forget reading her first short story in our fiction seminar. To say that I was blown away is a major understatement. I was so fascinated and moved by her writing that I read the entirety of her first workshopped story over the phone to my mother.

Her mastery of the written word left me galvanized and inspired. She made me want to produce magic of my own.

Besides (or perhaps because of) the beauty and depth of her prose, I was also enthralled with her as a person.

A couple of years my senior, she just seemed so epically cool.

I remember her showing up to class one day with one of the Styrofoam coffee cups from The Deli – a take-out eatery in the basement of the university’s student union building that offered a seemingly arbitrary cornucopia of pseudo-healthy options for the student on the run. Always one to buck the trends, my most frequent purchases at this establishment were hot chocolate and giant chocolate chip cookies.

I had just assumed that she too (along with everyone else in the world) would be drinking Deli hot chocolate. When she laughed gently and corrected me, stating that that she was, in fact, drinking coffee, I quaked.

Of course she would be drinking coffee. She was way too cool to drink hot chocolate.

She also wore long maxi skirts, and mid-drift baring tank tops, and eschewed bras, and make-up, and every time I looked at her I just thought, “I want to be just like her.”

While friends, we never really formally cemented our friendship until we both stayed on at UBC after completing our undergraduate degrees. She, as an MFA candidate in the writing program, and myself as  a political science MA.

We’d eat nachos and drink diet coke every Wednesday afternoon at the campus’ newly erected, and over-priced Irish bar.

We would sit in a corner table and laugh and laugh until our stomachs felt they might rip in two.

Five years on, we still do this.

Both laugh and eat nachos.

Only now we walk more.

And I drink coffee.

If I could tell you one thing (other than to purchase her book) it is that Chelsea has the most beautifully expressive eyes.

They reflect and refract the infinite wisdom and wonder that shape a magnificent human being.

I often find myself getting lost in their splendour, these wise, limpid pools of possibility.

And wonder what story will surface next.

CandV

Don’t let me turn to sand and blow away

Sometimes I hear a song and I am overcome by a sense of nostalgia so strong that I feel as though I might never recover.

I know this can read a little dramatic (and hyperbolic) – but it’s true.

I’ve been listening to Spoon’s new album quite a bit, and every time I get to the last track “New York Kiss”, it’s like an electric current of memories (memories of which I cannot even remember living) shooting straight from my brain to the deepest recesses of my heart.

This in turn produces two very unique and separate reactions: I am overcome by both a manic, academic urgency, and a mellow, practical satisfaction.

The competition between these dichotomies is stiff.

My first inclination is to press pause on this hyper, whirling world of ours and take stock of all of the ideas, dreams, and goals currently percolating inside the depths of my brain.

My immediate urge to write, to run, to play dress-up with every outfit hanging in my closet, to phone up every loved one (not only current but also long-lost) and tell them how much of an impact they have made on my life is only bested by my paralyzing and chest-clenching fear that I am not doing enough with my life.

I SHOULD BE DOING MORE (I say to myself.)

On the other hand, hearing these songs make me want to snuggle up and hunker down. I want slowly read through the dusty, tea-spattered pages of my life’s chronicle, feel the curled edges of each aging page and smell the faint traces of sunshine, grass, gravel, and rain that have helped make up the thoughts and words for each entry and each day.

I just want to sit and re-live. To feel. To breathe in the years and marvel at all the miraculous things I have done with my body and mind.

But most of all to feel all of the love that I have given and all the love that I have received, and allow my heart to beat just that little bit faster at the thought of all the love that has yet to be.

IMG_20140926_190405717~2

The naked truth

So here’s a thing.

Up until two days ago, I wore foundation or concealer (or some combination of both products) every single day (give or take a glitch or two in the algorithm that is my life) for the past fourteen years.

FOURTEEN YEARS.

That is over 5000 days of wearing makeup; makeup that covers up and paints over my natural skin tone, my freckles, my pimples – everything that makes my face, my face.

I wore this makeup on runs, to the beach, to work, to work out, to school dances, to graduations, to family dinners, to the grocery store, to job interviews – I wore it everywhere.

And two days ago, I stopped.

I thought – enough is enough.

I am twenty-eight years old.

It’s time.

This is very representative of how I operate in life. I won’t do something until I have completely made up my mind.

However, once the decision has been made, I will never renege, and I will never look back.

I first started wearing “pressed powder” when I was thirteen years old. I had just started grade eight, and I was very self-conscious of the patch of acne that had sprouted atop on my forehead over the past year.

I wanted to make a good impression, so what better way to do this that spackle six dollar Cover Girl all over my skin?

(The answer: be really, really funny.)

Grade nine brought even worse skin, so I graduated from just the powder, to bottle foundation (that I supplemented with the powder.)

Looking back at photos of myself from that time, I can only laugh. I wore so much of this product that I looked practically a ghost – pale as anything, with super dark red lips, and thick black eyeliner.

I was pretty much a dead ringer for one of the Twilight kids, only ten years too early.

Over the years, my use of foundations and concealers has waxed and waned.

I wrote previously on how this tied directly to my eating disorders – in times of health I used less because my skin was much clearer, and in times of sickness I used much more.

But even at my happiest I always used it.

Everyday.

But two days ago I was out at the park, running myself ragged, doing my favourite combination of sprints, push-ups, pull-ups, squats (and all their ilk) and I just felt so incredibly strong- so alive and powerful.

So confident.

So much so that when I arrived home and showered, I stood in the bathroom and just stared at myself for a long, long time.

For many years, I would do this same thing, but in a highly critical sense. I would scrutinize everything about my body – my skin, my hair, my teeth.

I would pick myself apart, and leave the pieces scattered, broken on the floor.

But this time, however, I marvelled.

At the strength of my muscles, and the glow of my skin; the length of my hair, and pulse of my heartbeat.

And I thought – I will face the world as I am.

Which is not to say that I won’t wear any other makeup ever again.

I love playing dress up too much for that.

But I won’t wear any more skin cover up products.

I’ve got a strong enough foundation as it is.

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Today. Post-run. Strong.

I could do this all day long

So.

Of late, Canadian politics have been going through one heck of a WHAT THE CRAP IS THIS!? phase.

Toronto’s mayor is smoking crack, and when he’s not doing all of the drugs, he’s firing all of his staff.

Our senators are being audited up the yin yang due to their outrageous expenses.

The Prime Minister’s (now former) chief of staff cut a $90,000 personal cheque TO ONE OF SAID SENATORS, before resigning after the entire country found out about what he’d done.

SPOILER: The country wasn’t pleased.

MPs are now leaving the (ruling) Conservative Party, while others are being welcomed back – because HEY! It turns out that in the end they didn’t need to comply with that breathalyzer?

Good grief.

Oh, and yesterday it was revealed that Nigel Wright – the aforementioned  former chief of staff to ol’ STEVIE HARPS (our PM) – had control of a secret fund while he was working in the Prime Minister’s Office.

This was, of course, at the same time that he cut the now infamous $90,000 “personal cheque” to disgraced Senator Mike Duffy.

Damage control. UR DOING IT RONG>

Now, the bright side of this last (bonkers) revelation, is that after it came to light, #PMOSecretFundPurchases began trending on twitter.

People immediately started coming up with the funniest (and wittiest) jokes about what this fund was actually being used for.

Now, being the HUGE Canadian political nerd that I am, I couldn’t stop myself from joining in on the fun.

So may I present to you, what just may be, my finest work to date.

Disclaimer: This probably won’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t live in Canada, or follow our politics.

tweetsTo everyone else – ENJOY!

The politics of the situation

Yesterday my province went to the polls to vote in a new government.

In the end, only fifty-two percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot.

FIFTY-TWO.

I feel sick to my stomach.

I cannot understand why someone, ANYONE would consciously abstain from exercising their right to vote.

I cannot, and I never will.

The importance of being politically active was instilled in me at a very early age.

I still remember the 1993 Federal election like it was yesterday – enthralled at how a Progressive Conservative majority could shrink to only two seats in the space of one day; incredulous (and nervous) that a party, whose sole raison d’etre was the Quebec secession from Canada, managed to win official opposition status.

It was the beginning of Jean Chretien’s tenure as one of Canada’s longest serving prime ministers (Mackenzie King holds top spot), and the first time I understood the utter depravity a political party will stoop to when it comes to election attack ads.

And I could not wait until I was old enough to take part.

Ten more years, I thought to myself.

Ten more years and I will help make a difference.

At only eight years of age, I understood just how important these events where – not only for Canadians as individuals, but as a country, as a collective whole.

I understood that if citizens did not take the time to 1.) understand what it was they needed from a government, and 2.) educate themselves on what candidate and/or party best represented those needs, then they were doing themselves (and their country) and tremendous disservice.

So now, twenty years later, when I look at the numbers released yesterday, I despair.

And when I am bombarded by all sorts of self-righteous excuses from those who didn’t end up voting, I rage.

–          I’m so busy.

–          I’m not interested in politics.

–          All politicians are the same.

–          All politicians are awful.

–          My vote wouldn’t even make a difference.

BLAH BLAH BLAH.

And then I laugh.

I laugh, and laugh, and laugh, because if I don’t laugh, I will cry.

Or punch a hole through my wall.

Okay.

Let’s just call a spade, a spade, shall we?

People, on the whole, don’t vote because they are apathetic, and chose to remain uniformed.

1. The world we (are privileged enough to) live in, allows individuals constant and unrestricted access to information – on the economic, political, social, and cultural climate of our province and country – and if they gave a hot damn about any of that they would take advantage of this information and educate themselves.

Seriously, it’s called Google, and it is great.

So in the end, I don’t care how busy people claim to be, because there is enough time, and an overwhelming number of resources available to help them figure this stuff out.

2. Don’t tell me all politicians are the same.

That is one of the silliest statements someone can make, particularly if they have already admitted that they consciously distance themselves from their province’s politics.

Unless you are living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Somalia, or Belarus, (or “insert country whose elections/elected officials are defined by overwhelming corruption/State sponsored fear-campaigns” here), there is most likely an individual that is more in line with your views and needs than all the other potential candidates in your riding, and that if elected could help make your life/community/city/province a slightly better place.

3. Also maybe next time remember that you are not in fact living in a country dominated by censorship, violence, oppression, and corruption, and remember how lucky you are to even have a choice when it comes to the election of your governing bodies.

And then once you remember that, remember your vote does count. Not only when it comes to the actually counting of the ballots, but because by voting have you given yourself agency.

You have given yourself a voice.

And I cannot think of anything more important than that.

Ooof.

Writing this has left me exhausted.

There are so, so many other problems I see with the BC electorate and encompassing institutions.

No proportional representation.

Elections run off of slates/political parties (which essentially makes the whole charade a two-party game.)

The futility of running a “positive” campaign.

I just…I just don’t know.

And as I sit here, I can hear little eight year-old that lives somewhere deep in my heart piping up, telling me:

“Why don’t we do it? Why don’t we run?”

And I pause.

Because I don’t know if I’ve ready. If I could hack it. Or even make it out of the starting gate.

I don’t know.

But who knows?

Either way it’s something to think about.

Before, of course, I vote on it.