Why I disapeared from school

Why did I take a year off and leave a program I not only enjoyed, but excelled at? It wasn't simply a matter of "needing time away" or "saving money for other years". The reason wasn't even wholly to do with travel- which is what I'll be doing.
The reason why I left school was to find myself.
Yeah, you're smirking. What a cliche; the rugged traveller who journeys to distant lands in search of inner knowledge.
But I'm not a monk-in-the-making, no where near, actually.
The explanation is simple: I didn't feel comfortable being comfortable. I didn't feel safe being, well, safe.
Let me clarify this jumble of non sequiturs for you.
Since I was young, I have moved from home to home, country to country, and school to school on an annual, if not more frequent, basis. I have thrived in change and welcomed the new- and expected it. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the reason behind my trouble with long- term relationships. I just pull out emotionally and convince myself that, hell, there are other guys out there, anyway. Which is true, but...I digress.
Growing up with so much anxious change has made me accustomed to it. It's Like a person adjusting to a tap's nightly drip-drop sound, realizing that without it, he can't sleep anymore.
So after another botched longish relationship, I realized it was time for me. I need to find myself, and be truly happy with that person. No one else will ever wrap me in a false sense of stability. It's ignorance, and for me this doesn't mean bliss but rather a temporary numbness.
Instead of festering in a slow-motion involvement, being completely at the mercy of another, there blooms a need for thriving in the foreign, with only myself to answer to.
So, in short, I left a perfectly suitable program because I felt uncomfortable knowing that my life would play out exactly as I was planning in my head? You bet your ass I did.



There is no doubt that Starbucks is a major contributer to our landfills. Just look at any garbage can within close proximity to the ubiquitous mermaid logo and you'll find it full of their cups.

I was surprised when I brought my used Starbucks cup from the morning into the same location that same day. I just wanted to refill it with coffee but I was greeted with confusion and stares. "Are you sure you don't want a new cup? It's no problem for us, " mentioned one barista.

I was just trying to re-use, you know, one of those "Three R's" we were all taught in elementary? The manager even huffed that I should always mention the syrup before my order, because it's an extra charge. Since when did a company worth billions become so cheap?

After a five-minute explanation and an acting out via hands, I received my re-filled cup and left with just a little more piece of mind.

Yeah, I can be doing more to stop crap from entering garbage dumps, but it's a small addition to my recycling and public transit use.

But exactly how much waste does Starbucks spew?

In 2003, Starbucks emitted 295,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere. However, Starbucks locations in the U.S. alone have doubled since then. The company has yet to release an up-to date report on their carbon footprint. Also, the company decided to ignore an additional 81,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted when transporting coffee materials and disposing of solid waste, such as coffee grounds and cups.

But what about the revolutionary 10% post- consumer fiber cups of theirs- or the 60% recycled sleeves?

It's better than nothing. The motive behind these changes, implemented in 2006, are not what you may think. "We're facing environmental risks posed by climate change that could negatively affect many aspects of our company, including our ability to procure coffee," says Jim Hanna, environmental affairs manager at the Seattle Starbucks.

For this corporation, climate change equals less coffee being produced and unpredictable product. Also, as the bodies of water dry up, so will the supply used in the production of beans.

Keep in mind that the "eco friendly" sleeve saves Starbucks 1 million dollars in packaging costs per year, since their disposable cups would no longer need to be doubled up.

But no one is a stranger to the fact that the Starbucks company produces so much waste and is motivated solely by profit. It's just one of many. Edward Thurlow said it best circa 1800:

"Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked?”


Me, Myself and I

It's been almost two full months since we parted ways. I'm not only getting stronger in myself but also learning my lessons...

Boys and girls, you do not want to endure the pain of a breakup only to experience the same devastation weeks, months, or years later with someone else. Certain things must be thought about and understood before the thought of getting over an ex even enters your mind as a possibility.

What were my lessons? I can recap them easily because I've already done so in a journal (it's not a diary)!
-> Recognize the red flags before jumping in head-on. In my specific situation, red flags included, but where not limited to: his inability to talk about problems/ issues and his blatant knowledge of that fact, he came from a broken home, his mother was insane (seriously, she has a dual personality something or other). Oh yeah, and he had cheated on all of his previous girlfriends :)
-> Never move in together within the first three months of knowing each other. This is evidently a big one, not to mention now obvious.
-> Never, ever, ever place someone else higher than you on the importance ladder. It isn't being selfish, it's being honest. Sure, the guy may have deeply rooted problems, but does that mean that they are more important than yours? I'll give you a hint...no!
-> You can't help him. You can try, but it's him that has to do the changing/ see a psychologist/ deal with his issues.
-> Avoid him if he's insecure- even if he won't admit to it!
-> Understand the pros and cons of this relationship. What did he teach you? How did he make you happy/ sad? Is there a particular type of guy that he was and should you make an effort to stay away from this "brand" of guy in the future? By answering some of these questions, you can recognize what you need from a future love thing. It also keeps you from thinking self- destructive thought like...why did he break up with me? Will I ever find love again? What is he doing right now/ does he miss me?

Consider my lessons learned.


I am the Most Random Person You Will Never Meet

Today, I was channeling Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I put on a flowey dress with flats and pulled my hair back into a bun. I walked out the door with the latest Elle, fully planning on visiting a few secluded art galleries and drink a venti latte.

Then I got my face pierced. There is basically a disco ball on my lip right now and it's so tragic...but I hate it! When I can change it to a smaller stud, I will be happy, but right now the left side of my face is disappointed by the new arrival. So much so that my mouth frowns. A lot.

But that could also be because I woke up in a bad mood- pesky nightmares about relationships and lost love...And then the rest of my day was spent lazily lying around. Then again, it was more like one of those days that I just wanted to be on my own. No family, friends (sorry), or strangers- no matter how interesting or good looking. Just a Me Day.

My therapist always asks why the piercing? You see, I have another in my lip from about six months ago.

I couldn't answer her question then and I can't now.

The thought process, if you can even call it that, went a little like this: "Ooh, maybe I should check out that tattoo place for some cool ideas for my own body inking...well, I'm not getting a tattoo today because I need to book a consultation and bring in the picture...hey- maybe I'll get something pierced!"

Unfortunately, there really was no logic in between the idea of getting inspiration for a body design and allowing them to slide a stick into my lip. I truly thought, "what the hell?! Why not?" If there's anything about myself I'm constantly amazed at is this spontaneity and lack of the fear gene. With those, however, also comes carelessness. But, hey, I'm only 20, right?

Got milk?

I'm eating oreo cookies without milk. It's a little strange and I feel unsure. Shouldn't I be dipping these babies in something?
I tried my usual technique of twisting them apart and licking the icing. But then its icing overload and there isn't a cooling refreshing liquid to wash down the chocolatey goodness. So then I just bit into the thing as a whole.
It just. Doesn't. Taste right.


The Age Debate

Remember in high school, when it was the epitome of cool to be seen with someone- anyone- from the grade above? Your popularity points sure went up. And conversely, you would never think of actually having a friend who was a grade or two below yours? And, strangely enough, it makes sense. At that age, youth go through puberty and all the other fun stuff, so not only are hormones off the wall, but students are being divided for the entire day.

We even had a "Seniors' Lounge" and anyone not in grade 12 would be dead. Not from anything physical, but from the cruelest of art forms: gossip and taunting. In other words, you were bullied till it hurt.

The point is, age difference was a big deal. And now that we're all older and (hopefully) more mature, what has changed and what are the new rules? Is there a "Seniors' Lounge" of the dating world?

For example, why is it that some men in their 30's are perfectly comfortable dating someone much younger while others avoid the 20-something range? And at a certain point, does age really matter anymore, as far as dating and mating is concerned? Or is it simply that as the age gap grows between a couple, the more likely that it revolves around sex?

Understandably, it's beyond dangerous and a crime for a young high schooler to be dating someone in their 20's- even if it's early 20's. But the sticky age range is when both people are 20-40. The kids that have hit puberty become teens who experience emotional growth and maturity. For the most part, everyone's at the same level once they hit legal age land. And this is where the confusion begins.

If there is a large age-gap between dater and datee, does that mean that there will be more discrepancy in the relationship? Girls mature faster than boys until about the age of 23. Then some crazy stuff happens. Interestingly enough, boys hit their sexual peeks in high school, whereas for women it's around the 30 age range. Can anyone say cougar? The more rapid maturing of girls will inevitably lead to them dating more mature people of the opposite sex, more mature then the average same-age male who still lives with his parents in the 'burbs.

The attraction to an older (preferably moneyed) man hits some ladies around the 20's. Not necessarily for marriage, but for a good time and to feel like they're being "taken care of".

There is this ever-present image of Anna-Nicole Smith and Mr. Moneybags whenever the issue of dating and age comes up. Maybe because age has a lot to do with money.

My friend *M is the epitome of this mindset. She is a harper for a man with money, connections, and some good looks. Age doesn't even factor in. When I told her the story of the balding man I met at the TIFF party, she counselled me to "use it and lose it!" This is a motto she utilizes effortlessly in her own life. So maybe the age thing varies from person to person.

Another person would argue it's more than age. Factors like money, looks, personality, and power come into play. But all of these things are developed as someone grows older, wiser, and all that jazz.

I'm seeing older guys just because of the experiences I've had with men of my age group. They ended poorly. I'm hoping that Mike will be different mainly because he's older- exactly 16 years older.

Just joking! He's 26. And the most important thing is that he is stable. It isn't something that I'm consciously looking for right now, since I'll be travelling for a year and I am definitely not looking for anything long-term and committal. Most certainly nothing that would define love.

Stability is something that all women secretly look for. He can be sexy and dangerous, but if he's a nomad at heart, it won't go anywhere fast.

But that's for another day. For now, I'm discovering whether I can sit in the Seniors' Lounge, or if I even want to.


The Sleez-tainment Industry

As I peeled my fake lashes off, the tacky glue refusing to let go of my skin, I'm glad to be home. By myself. Sans random guy.
After one night of working in the entertainment district, I've had enough. I've had enough of creepy guys, of bitchy girls, and drunk crazies. Oh, and especially of guys trying to get me to work for them. No, thank you, I'm not interested in having you buy me a drink and giving you head in the bathroom. Now move on.
75$ for 3 hours is good money for handing out flyers, so in fact I may come slumping back to Richmond Street another night. But for now, I can feel my skin crawl from the night that passed. The worst part of the night wasn't being oggled and hooted at by strangers or sidled up to by Mr. "if-I-wasn't-getting-married-I-would-so-do-you". The night was overshadowed with the overwhelming feeling that I wasn't good enough. Maybe that guy would've taken a flyer if I was skinnier, blonder, or taller. The manager approached my friend first, maybe he thinks I'm ugly?
I believe that it's exactly this mode of thinking that leads to the Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan look. Females go out and think that they aren't good enough. They feel competition from even their friends, so they fake n' bake, bleach their hair, and get implants. Why? So that when they go out, they can be confident in the fact that every guy in the place wants to sleep with them. This is silly because 1) guys will fuck anything that moves and 2) so what?
It matters because we are obsessed with what other people think and view ourselves as others view us. Self-esteem goes up with compliments and stabs at hooking up every weekend. Conversely, it also goes up with accepted requests for a night together and sex. So everyone's a happy camper.
But not really because the girl goes home to some shame and ample fuel to stoke the Superficial fire and the guy is just reminded of his ex girlfriend and hurts.
Or maybe not- that's just how I see it.
I'm happy I recognize I'm more beautiful without caked on makeup and revealing clothing;that I don't have to be with a man (in any kind of way) to feel worthwhile. I go out and I have a choice- it's not a do or die every weekend. I'm happy to go to Clubland once in a while, but after a night, return to reality.
A reality where I am as natural and true to myself as possible, because in the end, that's the only person left to answer to.


Hitting the Stars

Actually, more like hit and miss. The date part of tonight was a hit. The party afterwards- not so much. Mingling is all fun and well when you actually know the people in the room, but when the elevator dings open and the youngest person you see has a receding hairline, you are in trouble. Never mind that it's a film fest party and Brad Pitt is staying in the same hotel. But no star sightings tonight, sadly. Except for one, which occurred, incidentally, away from the party- but more on that later.
Making the best out of any situation is starting to be my trademark, so that I did. Not only did I give away my (fake) phone number three times, but I actually gave someone my (real) number! That would be the first and last time. It's not that I expect the guy to do everything, but if he's interested, then he'll go through "all the trouble" of asking for the digits. Himself. Because he's a big boy.
I don't blame myself, though. The guy was Greek and had more than one motorbike. Can you say hot? Which he wasn't. But what he lacked in height and grace he more than made up for in...bikes.
The highlight of the night came beforehand, during the one-on-one with guy part. As in sexy company, live music and great food. Oh, and a bottle of wine. That always gets the conversation going.
What made it better than the other guys I've seen so far in the past few weeks? He knew where he was headed in life. I'm finding that a huge turn-on when chatting with men. Motivation and drive drives me.
Needless to say, conversation flowed as easily as the wine and before I realized, we were gone. Did I mention the bike...no? Well there is a bike involved. Tonight it was substituted with a black racer due to the weather, but there most definitely is a neon green Kawasaki Ninja included in this picture. And next time, I'll get more acquainted with that lean green riding machine.
Dating realization at this point: ok, it's not that bad. And I'm not giving up on guys yet, either, as my prior claim of asexuality to my friends may have suggested.
Whenever the inevitable question of what I'm looking for comes up, I find that the easiest answer is to smile, toss the hair, and giggle. Seriously, boys and girls, I don't even know.
That would be a tip akin to one Paris Hilton, whom I caught earlier tonight, would procure. Regardless of what you think of her as a person (trashy slut or converted angel?) that's one gal who knows how to escape from something unscathed. Sex tape, anyone?


Packing up and saying goodbye.

But Im not thinking about that quite yet. First I need to buy supplies, make a sleeping bag and- oh yeah- get the actual ticket to India! I'm not thinking about the goodbye part until it actually happens. And then my body will probably be in such shock that I wont even register I am on a plane half-way across the world until I'm at the hostel at said location. Friends and family and dog. And toilets. Those are the things I am expecting to miss the most. But maybe something random will come up- like tampons. I mean, do they even have those in Chennai?
But instead of scaring myself, I should focus on the goods, those including seeing the trip as an adventure, an opportunity, and a change. Solo back-packing is known to have some fun impacts on people. I don't think I'll turn into Mother Theresa, but I will see and experience things that I will never forget. Who knows- maybe I'll meet a new best friend or the love of my life? Or maybe the monkeys will be the most lasting memory.
Enough guessing, it's time to jut go already!


The Dating Diaries: Creeps

Meeting people on-line has a negative stigma surrounding it. Every person on the Net is seen as a potential predator hiding behind a mask of anonymity. And this mistrust is well founded, as demonstrated by the amount of media focused on the dangers of meeting someone from the Internet. It makes sense, since you don't really know the person on the other end of the conversation. For all you know, Mr. cute blonde university student you are chatting up could be a sixty-year old man sitting in his basement petting chickens.

But however unappealing and frightening that scenario would be, there is still something exponentially worse.

Think about knowing someone, spending time with them, and feeling safe around them, only to be taken advantage of and manipulated.

I met Shik* at a friend's party. He seemed normal, "seemed" being the pro-active word. I wouldn't say that I was attracted to him, since he was definitely not my type, but he made me laugh and the conversation flowed. I found out about his past, family and we chatted about common interests.

He added me on Facebook a week later. Since he was going to "delete his account", I gave him my number.

I found out he rock-climbed and I thought it would be a great opportunity for a a new partner, since my brother doesn't go as often as me.

He picked me up in his brand new black convertible one night and took me out for dinner, drinks, a festival, and a concert. All in one night. Then he drove me home- keep in mind I live half an hour out of his way. By this time, I suppose it was obvious that he expected something back, and it wasn't in any form I was ready to give. I still held to the idea that he was in it for a good time, sex not included. Included rhymes with... deluded- coincidence?

A late-night party was in store for me the next day. Unfortunately, I had nowhere to go. My choices: go home via "vomit comet" (the TTC's Yonge St. late night service bus), pay 30$ to stay at a hotel with friends, or sleep on my friend's kitchen floor. I chose none of the above. An idea formed in my non-too-practical mind. I rationalized that since I would be staying out until 5, I just had to kill time for a few hours until the subway started running in the morning. All of my friends would be sleeping as soon as they returned to their respective lodgings and I needed someone to stay out with me at that dangerous time of night...

Shik was more than happy to oblige. Before I left my place that night, we made plans to meet up at 5 a.m. (post-partying) to eat at Fran's. My night was set and my gut was at ease.

A night of party madness ensued. Needless to say- best night in a while. I called him at 4:30 from the club where I was at. He told me that he was too drunk to go out and didn't "feel" like food anymore. He continually complained that he wanted to stay home. I felt a little iffy. Had he planned this all along- to trap me into a one night stand? Maybe if I played like I was going home on my own, he would oblige to take me out. After all, this was someone I thought was upstanding.

I asked what he proposed. You can guess the answer. Something along the lines of him paying for my taxi to get to his place and a night of "chilling". This really should have set off alarms in my head, but all I could think was how much my feet hurt in these pumps and how I just wanted a warm sofa and a glass of water...

I arrived at around 5:00 a.m. and went up to his condo. Brand new, fully furnished, one bedroom, wood floors, big screen T.V. and computer. Very nice. I exclaimed such before making a bee-line for the sofa. I settled in for the night- on the sofa.

"I think I'll sleep here tonight" I yawned, after some initial stabs at light conversation. He looked disappointed and his eyes bugged out slightly, as if to say 'after all that, you're not even going to sleep with me?!' He let out as much, continually hinting to his bed, and outright blurting out a few times "my bed is super comfortable and big. I'm not going to try anything, but it's, like, there." I'm so sure that he was worried about my comfort and not his penis.

After 20 minutes of grinding it into his head I was not going to sleep anywhere near him, he let up and slumped into his bedroom...leaving the door open.

I couldn't and wouldn't sleep. My eyes were dry, but I couldn't close them, and when I did, I didn't feel the pull of sleep. I stayed up for hours like this. What disturbed me more was him coming out of his room on a few occasions to just walk around the apartment. Now that I think of it, he was most likely checking if I was asleep. But the reason for this was slightly different from what I had initially thought.

I opened my eyes and the sun streamed in. He was snoring in his bedroom. I stayed in my position, thinking of the best way to leave. Now. Before I could move a limb, he came out of the bedroom. With my eyes closed, I hoped I looked like I was sleeping. He stood un-moving for a while before going into the bathroom. This was my chance! As I quietly slid the covers off of my legs, I heard something that no one wants to hear from such close proximity. This guy was having some serious stomach issues- and the toilet got the brunt of it. From his ass.

I bolted for the door, my shoes and purse in hand. As the shower was turned off, the front door clicked shut. I was out. I didn't walk- I ran- to the elevators, pushed the button three times in anxiety and slammed myself in as soon as the door opened. I was free!

I never called him again. This experience gave snapped me back to reality and gave me some newfound self-realization. The reality part is that most guys are just after sex, not friendship or a relationship. I wasn't after either with Shik- just a good (paid for) good time. Which I got.

The realization part involved me knowing that I am not looking for a relationship. Or for a sex-buddy. But somewhere in between. What do you call that- oh yeah, dating. For now, I'm just starting to view the dating arena as a confusing one since everyone is after different things. But at least now I know exactly what I want and to avoid something I don't need.


Things I love Part deux

I like buying cute lacy panties and coming home and lounging around in them. It's like getting school supplies in Elementary school, except they're sexy school supplies that will make boys smile.

Love Don't Cost a Thing

In my dating adventures, I've stumbled upon a popular website- Lavalife. If you haven't heard, Lavalife is an on-line dating and connection community of over 600,000 members actively "exchanging over 1.3 million messages every day". What sets it apart from other dating websites is the way in which it is set up. Members can join either a relationship, dating, or "intimate encounter" community- or all three. So people looking for steady committed sex, random sex, or kinky one-time sex can all find what they're looking for.
But I didn't find what I came looking for. Maybe it was the fact that I could never find the function I wanted. Or it could have been the twenty-four dollars/ month hidden fee. I say hidden because after taking the time to write a profile, upload a photo and browse to contact guys in my area, I couldn't send a message to contact any of the potentials because I need to be signed up. Apparently, me being on the site doesn't mean me being able to use it.
I refuse to pay any amount of money just to chat to a guy that I could meet anywhere outside my home. It's like paying to breathe. I can meet these guys at the rock-climbing place I frequent, or Shopper's Drug Mart, or the library... the list really does go on.
Lesson learned- don't be suckered into paying money to meet guys just because the main page of the dating site is a picture of a beautiful model-couple kissing. You will not be magically transported into her place. Sorry.


The First

Not only should it be made illegal to post misrepresentations of yourself online, but also compensation should be offered to those affected. A few night ago, that would have been for me. Meeting people from the internet isnt the smartest thing to do, but I try everything once, so there I was at Bathurst at 7 waiting for my knight in shining armor. If you didn't get the sarcasm, stop reading now.
So he doesn't know where the fuck he is and blames it on me. "Uhm, I'm on the East side of Bloor, right at Pizza Pizza".
So I tell him I'm there.
"Are you THAT bad with directions?" he says, exasperated for no clear reason.
Clearly this one isn't the most charming of guys. I give him the benefit of the doubt. I meet him with a smile and his first words include something about him being mad at me for being late, expressed in a way that made me doubt his sexual preference. Ok, maybe he's just nervous.
Well, Mr. Nervous walks 1 foot ahead of me at all times, maybe because in his home country that is not considered rude. Come to think of it, I think it's rude everywhere.
We arrive at the "best place for dessert" or something like that. Converstaion flows easily. Except for his occasional usage of the word "gay" and "retarded" to describe something unappealing, it goes without a hitch. Then the server comes over. He barks out an order, saying he wants an iced tea- then he orders water for me. No pleases or thank yous over here. I'm pissed. I dislike the idea of anyone being disrespected like that, and my sympathies went out to that waitress.
Converstaion resumes. I become wicked, poking fun at him. Unlike the meal, his reaction is less than appetizing. He cringes, goes silent, has no response, and provides me with a lack of laughter. It's like I take away his pride with every joke. Seeing this reaction, and keeping in mind my feelings (or lackthereof) for this guy at this point, I continue to slyly berate him.
He finally interrupts me with a question- what is my zodiac sign. Shit- does it matter? I tell him this. I have no time for little boys playing at Casanova. I'm desperately hoping for him to wisen up. No such thing happens. He guesses- maybe I'm a gemini, I mean, he IS getting a gemini vibe from me. The only twins he's getting a vibe from are the pair under my shirt- and it's called lust.
He finally figures out I'm a cancer. "Oh, that's too bad. We'll never be good together". Wow, I figured that out an hour ago with the first words excliamed from your mouth.
I improvised and told him I had to leave right away since my friend was in dire straits. He bought it and we walked to the subway. After the ackward hug, he began to pull my face into his. I coudn't duck my head fast enough; he slammed into my forehead. I stated imply that I didn't kiss on the first date. He looked as if I had taken away his manhood. Oh wait, I don't care.
In a nutshell, that is my first encounter with an on-line guy.
Lessons learned so far: ask for several recent high-res pictures, avoid guys wearing long leather piss-catcher shoes, and leave before things get ugly. The end.


Quote of the Day

"In our country, we do sex. But we don't want to talk about it and that is why we have a billion population."

-Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss

This was in regards to some controversy within India surrounding a new policy on teaching sex education in schools.

Dating Blog

So this is extremely played-out. But I have always wanted to do one of these things and since I'm single, I guess I ll give it a shot!
Observations so far: never, ever, ever create an account on Meetmeinto.com unless you want 30 messages a day from guys who call you "hun", "sexy" or tell you that you are "lkn fkn sexy2 fuck". I mean, does that even mean anything? I'll tell you one thing- it's good for a random hook-up. There are lots of cute honest guys amidst all the horny jerks. But you have to ask yourself what these fine, upstanding gentlemen are doing on a website like that to begin with. Hm...
One of these friendly, funny, nice guys added me to msn. After some light conversation, I told him that he didn't seem too involved in the convo (his last 3 messages were one-word answers to my questions). "I want to fuck your brains out". Ookay. I decided to have some fun. "What do you want to do to me?" I playfully asked. " I want to eat your pussy. Can I?" Not a fan of cyber sex, I must have set a record for how fast I blocked and deleted him.
Since I seem to be going through a partying-and-bored-if-not phase, I logged on to find some cool guys to club with my girlfriends and I. You can guess that I've found them. Now we'll have to wait until next weekend to see if that goes anywhere. I have a feeling it's going to get interesting.


Why haven't I posted this yet?

“Bush, Harper and Calderon- Money, Fear, and Fortresses” reads a slogan hanging at the front of the room. The “Stop the SPP coalition” is a small gathering of less than 100 people, swelling to well over that number as the night went on. The four main speakers have a wide variety of backgrounds from author to secretary- treasurer. They have all gathered to discuss one thing- putting a stop to the SPP.

The SPP, or Security and Prosperity Partnership is the joining of North American countries; Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It was launched in March 2005 to facilitate trade between these three countries, as well as unite them in anticipation of a safer North America. It “provides the framework to ensure that North America is the safest and best place to live and do business”, as the official website reads.

What I am constantly being told at the conference, however, is that it means nothing more than money and power for North American governments and private corporations. It also means the exploitation and racialization of Mexican workers, as well as the Canadian government placing a lower priority on its own citizens than Americans.

What does this mean for you, not only as a resident of Canada but as a student? Don’t expect fair treatment at the border if your name doesn’t end in Smith or Jones.

In all seriousness, our oil supplies are expected to dry up within 10 years. Our government has already signed a deal to export 60% of our oil to the U.S. However, the fine print reads that once we begin to export, we can’t stop or decrease the amount of product crossing the border. This means that in case of a shortage, prices for gas would go up and an expansion of the oil mines in Alberta would be necessary to meet demands. The environmental impact on our country would be tremendous if this is to be the case. Same story with fresh water; there is a limited supply within Canada and once it’s nearly depleted, strict restrictions will be put into place on the amount of water you can use. Not to mention how much more you’ll be shelling out for your hydro bill.

The meeting left me with a feeling of dread. How could this be happening right under our noses and yet no one has bothered to take serious note? My worries were only deepened by what I found on the official government website for the SPP (www.spp.gov). There was a Myths vs. Truth section which housed myths such as “The working groups and SPP documents are a secret and not available to the public.” This one in particular bothered me because it is a subtle play on words: the documents, those that are written at least, are available to the public. The crucial thing, however, is that what’s said in the meetings is not. If these governments claim to be so open with information surrounding the SPP, then why go to such extreme lengths to keep the media out of the discussion room?

Another noticeable idea on the site was something that’s been prevalent in the media ever since 9/11. The word terrorism is often used to invoke feelings of unity; it’s us vs. them, whoever “they” may be. The word finds itself in the official government website for the SPP: “…keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade.” One of the speakers for the night, Villegas, described that one of the goals for the pact was to harmonize border policies. No-fly lists have already been synchronized, and we all know how much racism is a part of those after 9/11. This “opens the door for discretionary powers” argues Villegas, because people at the border could simply be turned back because of the way they look. If the officials face opposition, then the migrant can face the charge of being a terrorist and threat to the country, being denied entry forever. As a result, people are less willing to come into Canada and the U.S. for fear of the new border policies. The hard facts verify that there has been a 40% decrease in immigration since the implementation of NAFTA, a predecessor of the SPP that has similar principles.

Rogelio Cuevas provided a first-hand account of the SPP’s methods. He was held in a prison and tortured for fifteen years, accused of terrorism. His crime was activism; speaking out against the injustice that people face in his country. The impact on the Mexican people is clear by Cuevas’ point of view on trade agreements: “Everyone is trying to take…what is ours- what is our right to have”. Combining Canada’s security policies with those of the other two North American countries only means that the horrors inflicted upon Cuevas can happen to anyone. Any innocent outspoken individual- even a student- can just as easily be held by the government. Cuevos believes that the SPP will only legalize such action.

Bush will be in Montebello, Canada on the 20-21 of August to meet with Harper and Calderon. “We should all be extremely worried when Bush comes to Canada” warns McQuaig. In response to Harper’s press release in which he argues that Canada should export so much of its commodities to the States, McQuaig furthers that “…It’s tragic because all that we have to represent our interests is a guy who thinks it’s self-serving to protect [Canada’s] interests”.

If so much of the Canadian government’s attention is being divested into trade and so-called security, then what can we expect in terms of education and healthcare. This question was answered with some bad news. The synchronization of America’s healthcare regulations with ours has already begun with the raising of accepted pesticide levels on produce coming into Canada. Although this allows for easier and more trade, it also signifies a lowered standard of healthcare. More pesticides means more illness and general health problems for the population.

Hassan Yussuf , Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, warned that we are about to be colonized by the U.S. With the amount of homogenization taking place between the two countries, this scenario is not unimaginable.

If you are imagining a “V for Vendetta” scenario with the people fearing their government and not the other way around, you may not be too far off.

The meeting ended on a positive note as many individuals prepared to mobilize. McQuaig summed up the feelings for everyone: “there is no reason for Bush to come to Canada”.


I just ate half a bar of 75% chocolate and I'm settling in to watch "300" for the third time this week. Ah, the bliss and simplicity of comfort food and hot bodies.
When you work 6 days a week, it't the small things that count and make you content.


I just watched, what is safe to say, the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life. Sunshine isn't the kind of movie title that would hint at a doomed space mission, gory deaths and a crazed captain. And yet it brought all of that- and more. I wasn't frightened by the flash scenes or moments that made me jump. That's the kind of fear that you laugh at yourself for moments after spilling your popcorn all over your date. What managed to seep into my mind and remain there, even now, one hour after coming home from the theater, was the backdrop: space.

The vast un-ending and, therefore, unimaginable thing that is outer space. Not even the blackness was creepy, for there was plenty of blinding white scenes to counter that. It was merely the infinite stars, planets, and unknowns that kept my mind reeling and my heart pounding.

For some people, these jitters are irrational. Beyond earth is just a conglomeration of more land and gas masses that float in some kind of cold soup. And the fact that it goes on forever doesn't need to be understood- who cares and who thinks about it? But I think it extends beyond space and into our psyche.

There is a prevalent fear in our society of the unknown and incomprehensible. This includes people and their behaviours, world catastrophes, and death. Death is the most important as it eludes us every time. There are no doctors, psychologists or examiners in this field that can explain exactly what happens after death. There are theories and hopes, but no facts. This scares people because there is nothing to compare it to; no past experiences can render any hint at what to expect. It's also frightening because it's eternal. Nothing on earth is never-ending, everything always comes to a conclusion. The human mind can not even imagine what forever would be, not theoretically and not when it comes to a more physical environment like space. We can understand the idea of forever, but we can't grasp the full picture: what it would be like to exist in it or see it.

I argue that the dread towards the everlasting can clearly be shown in stats of the percentage of church goers before, during, and after 9/11. Individuals flocked to holy institutions, either renewing their faith or suddenly feeling inclined to have faith. Many felt that the world was ending and this was the final symbol before God would descend onto earth. It would be hard not to believe that if deeply affected by the attacks. The smoke, fire, and chaos would fuel any doomsday theory. Some believed that it was all predicted by Nostradamus and it was a sign that his following predictions were true, as well. It ends with the world dying, if you are interested.

So people were scared for their lives and about something else. The resounding question seemed to be, if I die, what will be next? Will I just stop there, my mind gone and my body useless- no more thought patterns coming out of me- simply hit a big blank wall? To deny the eternal nothing would mean to want something more. Individuals hoped for something more and this hope led them to the church. The amount of worshipers would soon return to normal levels once things calmed down and people could push the idea of eternity to the back of their minds.

But it's always there. One only has to look up to the sky at night to regain that sense of foreboding.

I'm never seeing another space movie again.


So Sick

Being subjected to an entire day lying in bed isn't so pleasant when you're having cold sweats and are unable to breathe through your nose. Air can't come in but stuff definately comes out. So Once I was bored of sleeping- yes, it can happen- I got up to flick through the tele and see if anything could drag my attention away from my sickness. I found something by chance: a documentary about one of the organizers of the deathcamps in Nazi Germany being helped and safe-guarded by Ireland and the church. Can you imagine a room full of cardinals and bishops doing the Nazi salute? The program had several pictures to help my imagination.
I guess Christians were very anti-Jewish at the time, even though they address basically the same God. Now before any Christian or Jewish fundamentalists can get all up in my grill and point out the exact differences in belief, the religions are much closer than, for example, Christianity and Islam or Judaism and Taoism. Many of their core teachings are the same and let's not forget, we're all people on this earth.
What makes an entire group of people hate and want to commit unsepakable humanitary crimes against another community? The church seemed to think that it was all about God, that this was a repetition of the Crusades. It sounds alot like them, a peoples falling to the will of God; being almost completely wiped out for the sake of differing religions and in beliefs. That's how they must have justified it, by convincing themselves of the righteousness of the deathcamps and how so many children should be imprisoned for their false and heretic beliefs. I wonder what the church might say now if given the opportunity to explain their aid of Nazis, especially ones so pivitol to this group's power.
Althought the documentary was informative, the key questions that I had went largely unanswered. But these are more philosophical questions, maybe even biological, the I have always asked when the subject of the holocaust comes up. How was it possible for this to happen unabated for so long? In historical texts and in records, it seems as if the rest of the world just turned its back to the suffering to millions of people.
After the war, the Allied liberators were shocked at the treatment of Jews in the concentration camps. Many of them were traumatized for months and some for the rest of their lives. It must have been even harder to look into the eyes of these starving and battered individuals and come home to a comfortable lifestyle, knowing that your country was not doing anything to help these disenfranchised people.
What must have went through the minds of Hitler's forces when they inflicted tortures upon people of all ages and even burned some alive? It horrifies me that individuals can be so cruel and, for a lack of a better word, evil. To think that a well-known organization had such a large role in harbouring war criminals only makes the situation worse. The church has millions of followers world-wide, people who put their faith in the actions of this community because they feel that it represents Christ. But even for someone who has read the bible from a normal individual's point of view, I never found any mention of Jesus killing a Jewish person. There is also no mention of inflicting horrors upon every woman, man, and child who chooses not to believe in Him. Did I miss something?
And yet Christianity remains a powerful entity in our society. Past sins seem to have been either forgiven, forgotten, or both, by its believers. It scares me to think how much influence the Christian church has over everything from our government to media.
Now excuse me while I look up religion conspiracy theories.


Priests in California Child Molestors

And the church finally addressed the issue today after being slapped with a 660 million dollar lawsuit by hundreds of people accusing several priests in the area of abuse. In the documentary "Deliver us from Evil", it's estimated that 10% of all graduating priests are pedophiles. And they calculated this from the number of abuse cases that were actually recorded. Many abused people never come forward. They often feel ashamed or blame it on themselves.
The chuch would have to either confront the issue head-on or pay up the 660 million dollars to the victims. Of course they chose the money and stayed mum. They would, after all, have alot of explaining to do. Literally hundreds of cases have been swept under the rug and forgotten by the church- bu the victims will never forget. What is going on with all of the cases that have been reported to the church? Are the offending religious officials still in power and working with people? If past cases are any indication, the answer is yes.


Do the Scarf Thing

To many, the dark scarves with the checkerboard pattern that "hip" youth are never caught without these days is just another fashion trend. But to others, it represents something else entirely. The accessory in question is the Palestinian head scarf (keffiyeh). It’s worn around the neck here and sold by the dozens in a plethora of colours at your local Urban Behaviour. Teens and young adults don it as a fashion statement. The earliest adopters wore it as a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian people. In the middle east, the keffiyeh is used like a baseball cap here- it keeps out the sun, heat, and that pesky sand. It has no religious, political, or ethnic affiliation."It doesn't mean anything over there", claims Ali, a Pakistani familiar with the garment. It is only because the design is synonimous with that part of the world that it has been adopted by Canadian peace-demanding protesters and supporters of Palestine. Yaser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader, was often identified in the media by his keffiyeh.
In the West, people are divided on whether the garment has any significance at all. A mode of rebellion that was quickly adopted by the mainstream- sounds a lot like grunge. Others tie one on because it looks cool. These are the kids who would wear a KKK shirt if it was in Seventeen. Still others maintain that it is a symbol of support for Pakistan’s efforts. No one seems to realize that wearing a keffiyeh can be seen as misappropriating a differnt culture. The wearer is knowingly or unknowingly using a foreign garment to identify an entire group of people. Can anyone say orientalism? You don’t see a single native rights protestor enveloped in a feather headdress or wearing beaded moccasins everyday because they choose that item to represent native culture.Many ambitious bloggers, however, claim that it is a garment of terrorism.
For over fifty years, Palestinian territory has been occupied by Israeli people. Not only by forces, but families, as well. Yaser rightfully wanted that territory back for his people- and took every opportunity to claim it. Although his tactics have often been deemed extreme and violent, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. An award offered to a man who had yearned all his life to reclaim his people's territory. This isn't how the Israelis see it. Many argue that he was nothing more than a terrorist. This thinking disregards the real effort he made later in his life on reaching a peace agreement with Israel.
With all of the debate around it, we will surely catch more of that familiar scarf. On every street in the city. For a long time to come.


Religion's Problem Starts Young

I went to my brother's high school graduation today and was in attendance for the first three speeches. One of them managed to piss me off. He attends a Catholic school so I expected some religious overtones in the words spoken. But there is a point where Christianity starts to exclude and negate other people and the second speech exemplified this very clearly.
The speaker pointed out that only in a Catholic school, where everyone is bound by the holy spirit can there be a good community. She cliamed that other ordinary public institutions with no focus on religion makes it difficult to reach out to peers. She shone a spotlight on religion that would make any zealot proud. Many in attendance nodded their heads and whispered in agreement. Do her words have any truth to them? No. There is no conclusive proof that a focus on God is somehow going to bring people closer together. I get an image of a cult, with people undeniably following a path that invloves excluding homosexuals and, largely, women. Of course a focus on a single idea will bring people together. That's why soccer teams are often close knit on and off the field. Fashion editors spend time amongst other stylish individuals. The Christian God is not the only thing that brings people together to form a strong community. If anything, it condemns some of its members, allowing entry only to those that fit the mold.
From my own experience, I have found that private Catholic schools breed a deeper sense of community, but this had everything to do with the limited amount of students in my class (50) and nothing to do with the spiritual. Because many of the students in these schools hail from middle-class to wealthy parents, there is already a segregation in play. A community that does not even open its doors to would-be-members is already an unsuccesful one.
With this closeness also comes many hardships, however, such as cliqueness, and a tendency towards drugs and alcohol. The cramming of religious views down our throats left many needing an escape. This often came on the form of anything illegal. Our parties were some of the most dangerous. Hard drugs were often present and experimented with by many. Alcohol flowed until people passed out. Many people I knew turned to sex, violence, and occasional shoplifting. For some reason, students at my high school craved an escape from our strict monotonous days at a religious private high school.
Now as an agnostic and a skeptic, I view the Christian church as more of a social institution than as representing something to be believed in. It is something that keeps hope alive in members of a society. It is needed in hard times to keep up morale. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their gods and deities to pray to during the worst possible time: war. This reliance on the supernatural echoes today, with people flocking to churches after the 9/11 disaster. Everyone thought the world was going to end and they wanted some assurance that they would atleast live on in a next life.
Religion, to me, is not the "guiding path to righteousness" or a guarantee for harmony within any given community. If the holy wars or suicide bombers are anything to go by, religion can be seen to cause more harm than good. In the end, however, it is up to an individual to decide what they wish to believe- or not to believe.


Long lost friends

I met a young man in high school named Diego de la Puente. He was a bit troubled, but nonetheless he drew me into his aura of friendship over the period of Grade 11. He was shy to most people but opened up to me about his past troubles. I was able to relax around him- one of the only people who had this power over me, since my early years were full of wearing masks. Together, it felt like it didn't matter what other people said or thought. And if you were ever painfully self-conscious then you understand what a blessing this would be. What I am trying to say is that we were best friends. That is, of course, until my move to another province.
On Canada Day 2004, I boarded a one-way flight from Victoria, BC to Toronto with my family. I recalled the night before. I was holding a going-away party at the beach and had invited all who were dear to me. As I was getting ready, Diego called my cell phone. He informed me that he wouldn't be coming that night and in a rushed voice wished me a safe trip and a happy new life in T.O. I heard the dial tone. When I tried to call back, the same female voice informed me over and over again that the number was no longer in service. I shrugged and hopped into the shower, expecting the number to work the next day.
But it didn't, and never would. Even 2 months later, as I sat in my new house in Newmarket utterly alone I still couldn't get through to him. He had simply vanished.
It's hard to describe exactly how I felt. At first I was shocked; a year-long friendship down the drain! He had discarded me like a piece of scrap metal, not guarded like the gold I thought I was worth in his eyes. After putting so much trust into him, he had abandoned me, and at a pivotal point in my life. I needed him during my difficult move and he wasn't there.
But after the anger dawned a slow understanding. Why else would he have left me in such a hurry if he hadn't felt upset about something himself. Maybe something that he blamed me for. All of the rumours about him liking me as much more than a friend flooded back from my memories. Those times I had caught him staring at me grew significant, and physical contact was always remembered as charged. God- how could I not have seen before what was so obvious in retrospect?
My now ex-boyfriend was a constant bother to him, spreading rumours and thereby hurting me, aswell. I was labelled a slut and a flirt, just because I had a close male friend. I never cheated on my ex with this guy but that didn't stop my ex from spining stories fuelled by jealousy. He could never be half the man that Diego was. I didn't leave my former boyfriend because I thought I loved him, which I see now as need and comfort. I know that I had a chance at real happiness in high school with Diego and only regret allowing my ex to control me.
Later, I found out that Diego moved to Alaska as a result of a certain legal situation. I still keep his secrets. I know that he would never distribute mine. I hope that he is well and his life has finally regained a sense of normality. I only wish him happiness. If he ever reads this, I hope he wished the same for me.



The eco-craze has reached its height. Ad campaigns urge the average citizen to ban SU.V. s, utilize the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle), and "FLICK OFF". The message has found its way into your friendly neighbourhood grocery store.
The new eco-friendly canvas grocery bags at Loblaw's seem like a good buy. They're made from 100% recycleable materials and ensure that less plastic is spewed into our environment. What's not to appreciate? But noone notices the fine print- it reads a familiar line; made in China. So keen on being green, it seems we have over-looked other important global issues. Not to push aside global warming and environmental concerns, but there are situations in the world that are not being focused on. They should be. This duty for inquisition doesn't lie with only citizens, but moreso the governments. We can strive towards energy efficient perfection but the earth would still be a mess.
You know what they are- the American war in the Middle East, the genocide in Darfur, workforce abuses in Asia. And what about problems closer to home: child prostitution, poverty, street violence? The number of people living with AIDS is only growing. It would seem unfair to push all of these important issues aside to focus our sole attention on global warming. I know what you're thinking, " If we don't stop poisoning the earth now, we'll all die and all of the above things become irrelevent".
To disregard the threat of our extinction is ludicrous. It is possible, however, to devote attention and demand change on more than one critical topic at a time.
Statistics say that even if all individuals pitched in to lower gas emissions, reduce energy use and conserve water, it would hardly make a dent in reaching the goal amount of reduced pollution. The main reason for this is that our main source of energy is from burning fossil fuels. This accounts for more of the carbon dioxide in the air than any other human act- exactly 80% of the contaminents that cause air pollution. And if that wasn't scary enough, it contributes to more than 88% of the greenhouse gas emmisions that cause global warming.
Factories and oil rigs account for too much of the gunk that's driving temperatures up. Who is in charge of these monster corporations? The governments of the world. Whether it's Stephen Harper allowing the earth destroying oil drilling in Calgary or Hu Jintao opening doors for even more fur farms in China (which ooze harmful chemicals into land, air, and water), people are responsible for becoming informed and involved if they want to make a difference.
You've heard it before- do all that you can locally, but think globally. If we want to make progress on anything, the decision makers need to hear the concerns loud and clear. The last time I checked, Canada was a democracy.


Working in Kensington Market has made me feel different. Maybe it's the laid- back nature of the 'hood, the funky imports scented with inscence or the interesting people that come your way. I would think it's alot to do with the latter. People make a community, plain and simple. If you think that's obvious, I have to agree, but this fact is often misunderstood. Many begin to label certain countries as "war instigators" or "human rights abusers" when it isn't the citizens we should be concerned about, but the government or ruler. Racism, prejudice and the hate that follow can all be traced back to a mistaken belief about a certain race, belief, etc. What you read in most papers is true (despite frequent exagerations and wrong information), but you can't take eveything you read as a new life mission. Yes, many Hutus killed thousands of Tutsis in the Rwanda genocide, but this does not mean that it is now "right" to discriminate against a Hutu individual. Justice is not being served by you in any way. Although many members of this group were involved in the mass murder, not all were. Don't think of every group as a large collective brain, with no discrepencies between individuals. They all form a distinct community, whether based on ethnicity, age, gender or something entirely different. Every single member owns an original perspective. Kensington market has had its fair share of criticism when it comes to the types of people the area usually attracts. From addicts to illegal immigrants, this sliver of Tdot life is known for something, and it aint suger-coated. But this place feels like home to many and the environment breeds a strong sense of togetherness. The individuals that work, live and play here further that feeling daily. When you have a place that feels like an escape from daily grinds, you go there. And in a place where individuality is as rampant as the good eats, one has to think twice before judging an entire group based on limited perspective.


FLICK OFF for the Birds

I was putting up posters East on Eglinton when something extraordinary caught my eye. In retrospect, it really shouldn't have been so shocking and yet as I taped up yet another advertisement, I couldn't avert my eyes from it. I kept thinking that if I looked away, it would clamber up and fly away. But it didn't.

Yes, it was a bird. A pidgeon, actually. The most common sight on the dingy Toronto streets, besides garbage. Some people view them as vermin and disease carriers, but did you know that they are a strain of the highly regarded dove? Talk about living in someone else's shadow.

And yet people don't even blink an eye at the sight of a crippled wing or a puddle of dried carnage on the road. It's just the reality of city life. I admit that I have tried to harden myself to these "realities", but I am only human.

It was even harder that day. The pidgeon was fully formed- it had obviously not been run- over. It lay still on its back, vertical to the curb. Alright, you're thinking, a dead bird- get over it! But it did get mt thinking...

How did it die? Now this is important because it brings up a slew of problems inherent in our city. I recalled FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program). This association addresses the issue of countless birds slamming into the windows of high-rises and either dying of shock or broken bones. Lights are needlessly kept on over night in many buildings for aesthetic purposes. Birds can't see their own reflection and can not distinguish the glass from the sky. They fly head-on into the glass.


Am I a Celebrity Yet?

I was in front of H&M at Dundas checking out the new line designed by the Queen of pop herself when a CBC reporter asked me if I would be willing to answer a few questions about Madonna's clothing line. The final question she asked was "why do you think there is such an appeal for celeb-endorsed clothing?" It got me thinking.
What is the key difference between the majority of clothing in H&M and the new line that Madonna is fronting? The quality is the same, it's still made in China/Malaysia/ (insert exploited third-world country here). The material is the same, since a drastic switch of cloth would raise the price to a level of unattainability for the average mall shopper. And finally, the style is the same- no arguments here, please. I know her designs may look more "urban" or "clean-cut" or whatever other fashion adjective, but if they weren't branded with her name, a shopper wouldn't be able to tell the difference. So, finally, what makes people go ga-ga for guys and gals from the hollywood set?
When Stella McCartney came out with her line for H&M, I admit I was one of the first people in line. I wanted those silk and wool sweaters! They were cute, affordable, and I knew they were designed by someone I admire. But here's the main difference- whereas Stella McCartney is a designer endorsing this retail giant's line, Madonna is just a celebrity doing the same thing. She simply doesn't have the knowledge, skills, or experience to make a "good" line of clothing. So if we aren't buying for quality when it comes to celeb-endorsed stuff, what are we buying for?
The key issue is more psychological than rational or tangible. It has to do with advertising and our media-driven culture. I don't deny that I have fallen prey to a few agonizing trends simply because Hollywood's flavour of the week was wearing them. Our society's image that celebs are the epitome of beauty, style, and everything else valued by the human race is what makes their lines of goods so attractive. If we wear their clothing and douse on their perfume, we are that much closer to attaining their "perfection". If you are getting the image of millions of moths zipping around a lamp, you aren't too far off. It has been ingrained in our minds that purchasing and collecting more of the latest and greatest goods will make us happier and more attractive. Clothing is something worn everyday and it's the best medium to show people what you've got. That's why those ugly brown Louis Vuitton bags exist- so that chick on the subway can tell the world how much money she has.
In short, by purchasing her clothing, we are purchasing a part of Madonna and the style, popularity- maybe even the botox-injected looks- that come with it. Because, admit it, when your friend asks you where you got that cute bodysuit, you say "Madonna, by H&M", why not add in that star-spangled name? I guess you have to ask yourself whether you're buying something for what it is or for what it's advertised as.

Don't Call Me a Pretty Face

After reading an article recently about Saphia Khambalia, a Ryerson student who is in the running for Miss World Canada, I was dissapointed. While I don't abhor the idea of beauty pageants, I disagree with trying to intellectualize them, as the runner-up tried to do. Claiming that she is a feminist, Saphia blasts common stereotypes, including the patriarchal, objectifying and looks- focused nature of pagaents. What you get from reading the article is an unconvincing attempt at arguing these opinions with faulty reasoning. Several things are true about beauty pageants. They are not musings but undisputable facts. Saphia claims that they are only myths.
Stereotype A: Beauty pageants are not about beauty. That's like saying Fish sticks aren't about fish, so I'm going to avoid mentioning the irony in that stereotype. Saphia points out that she has become a more media-savvy woman and that the experience was "career-enforcing", that it's not just about being a model in a ball gown. Ok, so contestants have to attend conferences, dinners and interviews. One small thing- the first and foremost requirement is that you have to be good looking. Is that a parallel in any way to the feminist way of thinking? She admits "all of my time is consumed by the aesthetic of the business...we are judged primarily on how we look...before we are judged on our abilities", only affirming the role of these pageants. Stereotype B: Beauty pageants objectify women. Rather than refute this claim, Saphia only offers her own experience. "It's true, parading around in a bikini and heels is objectifying..." Her argument implies that "the risque Victoria's Secret Models" do it, so why is it so bad that I'm doing it? It's not necessarily bad. But in doing so, you forfeit any argument that a beauty pageant is anything but what it's name implies. Also, you send the wrong mesage out to impressionable youth watching the program. This perpetuating image could be the cause for 12-year-old girls watching their calorie intake so they can look like the woman on T.V.
Stereotype C: Beauty Pageants are Patriarchal. Saphia flexes her feminist muscles by alleging that, through the competition's system, she has become more empowered and capable. It's interesting that there are beauty competitions for women but not for men. Think about it. Isn't the scenario of women strutting in front of a panel of judges objectifying enough, regardless of whether men are even in the picture? If it was empowering to women, there should be other ways of determing which lady would be the best ambassador and role model. Testing smarts, beliefs, values, and personlity is more important than how attractive you look in a bikini. If it wasn't patriarchal, the entire event would never have started in the first place. Why would women fathom a show where the contestants strut in bikinis?
She argues that her rhetorical skills in front of an audience are comparable, and often better than, those of a prime minister's. However, the prime minister has much more pressing and delicate issues to discuss than what his chances are in a beauty competition.
What angered me about this article was not so much the flaw in argument or the irrefutable nature of the topic. Here are the words that Saphia concluded with: "...the pageant system is a very realistic reflection of the paragon for today's woman...[and] is far less at fault for training women to fit this standard than the public in the outside world is..." The media is influential in building women's perceptions of themselves. It just so happens that the Miss Universe pageant last week had over 1 billion viewers tuned in. If not beauty, these events focus on building media attention.
By no means am I blaming solely the pageant or it's contenders for the lame standard of beauty or the objectification of women in our society. It is, however, adding to the problem. And to claim that it is at fault merely for reflecting an image of "woman" as already existent in culture is a futile argument. Would this romanticized vision exist if not for programs like "Miss Universe"?
Show me a healthy-sized contender, or one with braces. You can't because they don't exist. Does that mean that these women aren't as beautiful or capable as their "Miss. Whatever" counterparts? I'll leave that for you to decide.

Oscar Night- What are you Wearing?!

Pre- Oscar shows are usually riddled with the raspy "Who are you wearing" of a certain plastic-surgery loving interviewer. But the question at the 2007 Academy Awards should have been "What are you wearing?!" In other words, the dresses, although daring, often left one confused.
This year, Ryan Seacrest takes up the role as host of the pre-Oscars, and succeeds as a less entertaining replacement to our previously mentioned host. On to the fashion...
New mommy Maggie Gyllenhaal is as cute as a pumpkin- so what sucked her into an unflattering satin blue feather-duster? She is the first A-list celebrity to arrive on the red carpet, and demonstrates that not all dresses tonight will be as "safe" as at the Golden Globes.
Cameron Diaz is a trooper for coming out to the Oscars sans-date, this being a major appearance since her unfortunate breakup with Justin. I have to say something nice, so I will comment on her gorgeous hair, a yummy chocolate hue. The colour contrasts perfectly with the white of her dress and her beach-tan skin. As for the dress, the collar reminds me of an over-sized "Quaker Oats" man collar. The dress' short front and longer back is reminiscent of a 90's Las Vegas wedding dress. What was Jay Manual thinking when he said this was a "come back from the Golden Globes"? Do you smell something burning? I think someone's pants are on fire.
Jennifer Hudson glows in an earth-tone number. A wise choice, as the material and cut of the dress flowed right over any troublesome areas. Which is why it saddens me that she covered the top of this success with an intergalactic silver cut-off jacket. The eye is automatically directed to the sharp edges and tin-foil coating of the mini- top, rather than down the clean lines of her dress.
One person stands out for me so far; Jada Pinkett Smith out-shines her Oscar-nominated husband in a mustard-gold dazzler. The corset top gives her that enviable hourglass shape. The classic satin falls to the floor and adds a regal look to this red carpet arrival. The yellow of the dress works wonders with her skin-tone.
You've got to hand it to J.Lo, her red carpet choices are extremes year-after-year. This time around, her dress misses the mark. The collar is over-the-top, in a bad way. Looking at first glance like a senior out for a night on the town, La Lopez must have 5 pounds of hair spray to hold that bob in place. The bejewelled heavy stones on the collar weigh down her breezy Grecian inspired dress. This just goes to show that, even with millions in the bank, style just can't be bought.
Speaking of old ladies, Gwyneth Paltrow looks the part with her bland terracotta costume and bright red lipstick. She is naturally gorgeous and doesn't need to smudge on such a garrish shade. Her body, even after popping out a child, is enviably slim. But the dress washes her look out and the lipstick only cheapens it.
Kiki Dunst continues this ghastly trend with her feathered and glittered-out blue dress. It has a mesh collar up to her neck. Need I say more?
And the award for cutest dress on the red carpet has to go to Anne Hathaway. That bow on her strapless gown is, well, adorable. But that's possibly the most positive thing to be said about her look tonight. The fabric looks like a satin curtain and the cut was less than tasteful. She looked sexy and fresh in Devil Wears Prada. Did the devil miss her soul and suck out her style instead?
Rachel Weitz looks like a shining Greek goddess. She doesn't need the necklace, though, as the detail on the strapless top dazzles enough. But her lipstick is too dark! It looks goth, not classic- something she should have gone for. Weisz poses easily in front of photographers. How could you not when you're a yummy mummy dressed in eye-catching silver?
Nicole Kidman. So sad. The shade of red is a classic with her porcelain skin and the hair and makeup is flawless, as usual. The puffed out bow crouching on the shoulder? Not a fan.
The most beautiful woman in all of Hollywood, at least in my opinion, is Penelope Cruz. She looks the part tonight with natural make-up, a body-hugging blush-shade dress, and that dark chocolate hair. Per-fec-tion.
Another hot carpet-walker tonight is Reese Witherspoon. This newly single gal amazes in a long and lean deep purple dress and a sassy new haircut. I am obsessed with her dress; the cut, the layers, the surprising colour choice. Don't even get me started on the make-up. A true red-carpet pro.
We can't leave the guys out of this one just because the ladies are the focus. That's discrimination.
There isn't much choice in outfits for the red-carpet walking man, but two caught my eye. Djimon Honsou was a stunner. And not just because the man is insanely attractive. Donning a dark suit (not exactly black, but a close cousin), he towered over Ryan Seacrest as he was badgered with embarrassing schmooze. His jacket was lined with slim satin, but not too much of the glossy fabric which would tackify (sure, it's a word) his sharp and sleep look. I didn't even mind the orange hued sun-glasses, they only added to his interesting appeal.
Al Gore was pure class in a suit by Calvin Klein. Proof that it's not emissions causing global warming, but Al Gore himself.