21 April 2015

Desert of the Mind

from the movie Badlands
nataliekucken tumblog

sleep-talkk tumblog
smalltownghosts tumblog
by Taraneh Azar

Tavi by Petra

from Petra Collins's instgram
from a Petite Meller mv
by Mike Mandel
by Mike Mandel

from the movie Badlands
Petra and Tavi


Lately I've been digging the concept of the desert - desert as a place and desert as a state of being. Of course, there are all kinds of physical deserts: sand deserts, snow deserts, empty concrete lots with weeds poking through the cracks. Places that make you think of road trips and wind-blown hair, but also vast, almost overwhelming emptiness. Places that never seem to change. The mind can be like a desert too. When you feel stuck, exhausted, emptied of everything. Barren of thought. Or maybe you have thoughts but every time you reach out to hold onto one, it wiggles away into the sand beneath your feet. You get the sense that things are moving along without you, but you can't see them and can't call out to ask them to slow down. You're not sure if everything isn't a mirage. But mirage or not, you have to keep going. Gotta keep on keeping on. Because every desert has an ending. All roads lead somewhere.

14 March 2015


Lately I've been going nearly blind from spending so much time on the internet. I've been accepted into two graduate lit programs, and I've been driving myself crazy trying to figure out which school I should go to. I can see the pros and cons of both, but I'm terrible at making decisions. And neither school was my top choice - I'm on the wait list for my top choice, an MFA program as opposed to just a masters, but at this point I've given up hope of getting in there. For days and days this is all I've been able to think of, my eyes going blurry and tearing up from all the time spent staring at a screen, comparing course offerings and faculties. Every time I think I know what I'm gonna do, I change my mind. And then I change it again. And again. I wake up sure, then go to bed unsure, kept from sleep for hours, debating with myself. And in all of this I don't even feel happy about getting into grad school. I love learning, and I'm happy to be going back to school, but this doesn't feel like an achievement. It's just par for the course. Which sounds snobby or unappreciative, but I don't mean it that way. I just wasn't raised to be proud of things like this. I was just expected to do it and so I did it.


The only other major thought I've been capable of is wondering how I can better utilize the internet for my writing. Since it has become clear that pursuing a Creative Writing MFA isn't something that will happen in there near future, I figured that it would be wise to start sharing my fiction on the interweb, to get feedback, to get my work out there, to show the best of myself, to stop feeling jealous of people who are doing what I want to do. But I don't quite know how to go about it. There's Wattpad, but people have to register to be able to read stuff. There's also always a blog, of course. The basic Blogger format doesn't feel right for what I have in mind, so perhaps Wordpress would be better. But I'm always worried about copyright issues, and then I end up doubting the whole idea. I know that there aren't any physical literary magazines that are right for what I do, and I'd like to have as much creative control as possible, so a blog would make the most sense, right?


Whatever happens in the future, I get the feeling that I'll be using this blog less. Not that I ever used it a ton. I'm not sure that this kind of blogging is my thing (whatever kind this is). I worry constantly about saying too much and too little. I worry about an audience that I'm not even sure exists. Which isn't a logical thing to do. How can you share and withhold simultaneously, and then still feel good about what you've done?

Needless to say, I never know what I'm doing. :P

9 March 2015


from the Museum of Inuit Art wordpress blog.
I am a big fan of the AHS series, but at times it can be quite problematic, and not always in the ways you might think. I watched the last two episode of the Asylum season yesterday, and one moment in particular stood out to me: Kit explains to Lana that, after he rescued Jude from the asylum, and after the children took her into the woods about "healed" her, that Jude taught Kit's son Thomas to sew, and that she took away Kit's daughter Julia's dolls and replaced them with trucks. Perhaps some people wouldn't think anything of this, but it really bothers me. I hear this kind of thing a lot, the "raise girls and boys the same" mentality wherein people believe they are being progressive by not allowing their daughters to play with dolls or kitchen centres, and such things. But how is it progressive? Isn't it still saying that one mode of play is more proper/useful than another? Why is playing with trucks more valuable than playing with dolls?

There is a lot of misunderstanding about how kids play with dolls, or what it all means. It tends to get viewed as a form of "preparing" (or assimilating) young girls for motherhood. (And what do trucks do, prepare boys for lives as truckers?)
This assumes a lot, such as:
                 a) that there are only two genders (the way people talk about toys is usually very cis and hetero-centric in general)
                 b) that boys don't also play with dolls and vice versa,
                 c) that toys/play are the only way in which children learn stereotypical gender roles, as if they don't permeate all of society, and
                 d) that children play in ways that adults understand.

Let's look at when children play "house." I think that a lot of adults assume that kids play house in a 1950's nuclear kind of way. From my own childhood experience and from seeing other kids play, this is definitely not the case. When I was a kid, as the oldest of three children, I was usually the one to call the shots. I was the leader of play (PLAY ENCOURAGES LEADERSHIP SKILLS AT A YOUNG AGE, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?). And my ideas of play hardly went into the direction of nuclear family units. With our kitchen centre, we would play things such as restaurant or soup kitchen (I can speak for the latter, but the former is probably really popular among kids, CHILDREN PRETENDING TO RUN THEIR OWN BUSINESSES USING PRETEND FOOD). Toy dolls would act as customers. If we pretended that the dolls were my own children, they might be adopted children, and I was usually vaguely a single mother. Sometimes we would be pioneers forging a life in the rough wilderness; sometimes we would be cave people, sometimes we even reenacted the sinking of the Titanic (KIDS EXPLORING THEIR OWN IDEAS ABOUT HISTORY, TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THEIR PLACE IN THE WORLD). We, mostly I, would often build elaborate forts, which would act as our house or a hotel or a haunted house. Sometimes we just played school - with myself as the teacher not because of my gender but because I was the smartest - and I would attempt to teach my sister how to read (SOCIAL INTERACTION, HELPING PEOPLE LEARN). Playing house, in all their weird ways that kids do, is a way of acquiring a lot of social skills and a way of exploring one's interests.

It's also a way of telling stories.

I played with doll houses until around age 16. I had a fairly elaborate setup of Playmobil, an entire village, populated by possibly a hundred little Playmobil people. Each one of them had their own name and personality. I played with them endlessly, by myself - no one else was allowed to touch them. It was my own world where I was in control. I could do whatever I pleased. It was like storytelling without writing anything down. And I have no maternal instincts, let's be clear. I'm not the mothering type. I don't want children, definitely don't want to give birth. Nor do I want to get married. Even if I did want those things, it would be an insult to me that society assumes I want them because of the toys that I played with as a child. Kids don't play with visions of their future adult-hoods tainting their eyes. They play with one thing in mind: play. Imagination. Adventure. Exploration. Story. FUN.

I would also like to point out the fact that, when it comes to historical artifacts from cultures around the world, dolls are among the most common of toys. They are relatively easy to make, and each culture throughout time has had their own unique method of production. And they often look so fantastically different. Because a great thing about dolls is that they can be made in one's own imagine. No matter your skin colour, gender, body shape, ability/disability, a doll can be made that looks like you. Yes, the major companies of the West have done a poor job of being inclusive, but there are a lot of independent toy makes today who create all different kinds of dolls, from a doll with the proportions/appearance of the average teen girl to baby dolls whose facial features resemble children who have Down syndrome. So, what does the devaluing of dolls mean?

Mostly, the reason people place less value on dolls/stereotypically girly play is because of sexism. (Though there are also racist/white privilege aspects to it as well, which I don't personally know enough to write about.) Undeniably it is so. These days, anything associated with traditional femininity is often seen as weak, vapid, useless, unintelligent, undesirable. As if you will be less of a person because you played with dolls.

It's like the phrase "strong woman." I find that phrase redundant. Strength is implied in the word "woman." I have never known a weak woman.

Let kids play with whatever they want. I used to play with rocks and cutlery. Does that make sense? No, because it is not marketable. Ultimately a child's imagination will always overpower consumerism.

2 March 2015

Tuff Enough

photo by Terry Tsiolis
photo by Dennis Stock

Emily Browning in God Help the Girl
Winona Ryder

via speak-low tumblr

via timebomdtown tumblr

Tavi by Petra Collins

Lana Del Rey by Bella Liederberg

still from The Craft

Johnny Depp
Julian Casablancas
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in Fruits


James Dean by Phil Stern
from The Sartorialist

photo by Michael Rougier for Life 

photo by Michael Rougier for Life

photo by Ken Light

Pink Ladies still from Grease

Joan Jett and Kathleen Hanna

Natalie Wood by Ralph Crane for Life
Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell

Matt Dillon in Rumble Fish

still from The Outsiders

Blue jeans, white shirt, walked into the room you know you made my eyes burn.

1 March 2015

Recent-ish TV Wind-up/down (spoilers)

From the season premier of Survivor and The Amazing Race to the season one finale of How to Get Away with Murder, this has been somewhat of a "happenin" week for tv, so I wanted to take some time to write out my thoughts on stuff.

American Horror Story: Hotel?
Perhaps the biggest tv-related news of the week was the announcement that Lady Gaga will be starring in the next (and still supposedly final) season of American Horror Story, likely stepping into the kind of role that would previously have been reserved for Jessica Lange (whose participation in season 5 has never been totally confirmed or denied; personally I think she should at least take a small role, even if only for one episode). While I know a lot of Gaga's Little Monsters are probably pleased about this, I don't know how I feel about it. I'm not particularly a fan of Gaga, nor do I dislike her, but I've never seen her act in anything besides her own music videos, so I have no idea how she would do in a more demanding role. I'm reserving judgement until October, when the series starts up again. Though I am intrigued by the reported theme of "Hotel," which will obviously be playing off things like The Shining and Psycho/Bates Motel. There's a lot of room for spookiness and creepiness there, and it will work well for the ensemble-based story style of AHS. Oh course, not matter what they do, I'll be excited for it. But, if this is their final season, let's just hope they got out with a bang rather than a fizzle.

The Walking Dead
We're a few episodes into this half of season 5, and it has been pretty interesting so far. I've got no problems with it. What I do have problems with is the way some fans are reacting to certain things. Specifically, the negative reaction to the recently introduced characters Aaron and Eric, a gay couple. When I first saw last week's episode, I didn't think anything of their relationship. I mean, what is there to think? Plenty of other characters have been romantically involved, so this seemed no different. It bothered me that we had more characters with similar names (Aaron + Rick = Eric; Carl and Carol; Dale and Daryl; like, come on) but besides that I was more focused on figuring out whether they can be trusted or not. Unfortunately this sentiment isn't shared by everyone. I don't delve much into what people say on twitter or anything, but I've noticed that there are a lot of people getting all hot and bothered over two guys kissing. I really just don't get it. It's 2015, people. 2015! Ugh. But I am glad for the increasing amount of LGBTQ representation on tv, and it's extra good in the case of The Walking Dead because a) it's an extremely popular show and reaches a lot of people, and b) the show isn't specifically about romantic relationships, being homosexual isn't the plot, they're just two characters within the larger scope of the story and they just happen to be gay. Just like in real life when the zombie apocalypse happens!

The Bachelor

With just Whitney and Becca left in the game and the Women Tell All special airing this Monday, another season of The Bachelor is winding down. And I must say, it's been a surprisingly decent season. I mean, anything, ANYTHING, would have be better than Juan Pablo's disaster of a season, but when Chris was announced as the next bachelor, I did have my doubts. He didn't really stand out in Andi's season. He seemed like a nice guy, sure, but besides that, the only notable thing about him was that he's a farmer. And I guess that hasn't really changed with him as the bachelor, but it's been hilarious watching him squirm and stumble over his words every time one of the women asks him something difficult. And the women themselves have been fantastic, super entertaining. A good ratio of craziness to sarcasm. I mostly only watch The Bachelor because there's nothing else that airs on Monday nights (though I believe The Following with Kevin Bacon starts again this Monday, though that show has just become more and more convoluted since the end of season one). But it's telling that I actually watched the show this time around, as opposed to just flipping back and forth, waiting for the rose ceremony. A number of the women were quite open about their past experiences with relationships, as well as with their insecurities. Normally they just stick with vague stuff, but they have been refreshingly articulate this season. For example, on Carly's one-on-one date with Chris at the crazy love-guru place, she said something like "I know I'm not the most beautiful woman in the room, I know I'm not very pretty, and in the past my insecurities led me into a bad relationship with a guy that didn't care about me, because I thought I couldn't do any better, but I can, I deserve to be loved, I deserve to have a loving relationship." I don't remember hearing anyone say stuff like that before. So it's been an interesting season, though I still can't get over the fact that a good number of the women are around my age, some even younger. It's just weird because when I watched the show when I was younger, they seemed to distant from me, like the way the were as women was like an abstract concept. But now I'm the same age as them and it's still abstract......Anyways, I don't really care about what happens in the end. I wish them all good luck in love and life and whatever, but I don't care who gets engaged to who. Mostly I'm just interested in seeing who will be the next bachelorette. Personally I'm hoping it's Kaitlin (Canadians represent!). She's both down to earth and edgy, not to mention hilarious, and I feel like they would have to come up with a good group of guys to suit her. Usually, the guys are pretty dull. They're just like, "I work in business marketing, my hobbies include exercising and working out." Boring. Is that attractive to people? I don't get it. It's just so basic. Like pick up a book, expand your mind, six packs are useless. But yeah, it'd be nice if they got some cool guys for a change.

Kinda getting bored of this show. It's just the same thing over and over again at this point. "Oh, another alien-insect hybrid creature! How original!" Yawn.


Another season of Survivor has commenced, this time with the White Collar vs. Blue Collar vs. No Collar twist (and very happily there is no Redemption Island or Exile Island). The twist feels very stereotypically American, and doesn't totally make sense because several of the contestants seem like they could fit in multiple categories, but whatever. The twists often come to nought anyways (though I did enjoy Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, which seems somewhat similar to this season). It's the game-play that matters most to me, and it bores me whenever everyone is like "let's just be friends, let's not scheme," though thankfully there's always at least one person who is a troublemaker and starts messing with stuff just to make things interesting for themself. Anyways, it's only been one episode, so there's not too much to say yet, except........what up with all the white people? Like, there are what, two visible minorities? And So got voted off (which also seems to be a weird pattern - I feel like visible minorities, especially WOC, get voted off first a little too often). (Extra sucky for So: she and her sister were originally set to participate in last season's Blood vs. Water, but had to quit the day before the game started due to a medical emergency.) Though of course I'm sure there are other non-white players, people might be mixed, etc. But I still found it very odd that there's just, like, so many white people. Especially compared to something like The Amazing Race, which, while I don't religiously watch it, always seems to have a good mix of people (the twist this season is a bit silly, but whatevs, at least we know some people will be engaged by the end of it).

How to Get Away with Murder
To quote the 10th Doctor: "What? What?! WHAT?!"
The season finale was CRAZY. Oh my god. Like, the first season overall has been really good, perhaps slow at times, and slightly confusing with all the time jumping, but still so super polished and slick and intriguing. It's one of those shows that come along every so often and just blow you away. And the season finale, my god. I don't even know. I was shocked. Just never suspected that to happen. For every question it answered, I've got like five new questions. Oh my god. To everyone who hasn't watched this show, WATCH THIS SHOW.

Ah, Glee. What to say, what to say. I was a fan for the first couple seasons, but then all the relationship stuff got confusing and no one seemed like a geek/loser/weirdo anymore, so I stopped caring, but upon hearing that the series was going to end, I started watching again. And honestly, this season did start out all right. Rachel's fall from grace worked as an intro, the new group of students seemed interesting and they've got a lot of talent, but then.....they started focusing on relationships again. I'm sorry, I just don't care about Britney and Santana's wedding plans, and while Sue's scheming around "Klane" has been funny to watch, it was kind of unnecessary to have the whole side plot where Kurt and Blane try to date other people. Like, we all knew how it was gonna turn out, so why prolong it? And then, what the heck was with this week's episode? Why is there a child in New Directions? One of my most despised tv tropes is the spoiled bratty child, so I am not happy about all of this. The only good thing is that, with most of the old timey relationship drama out of the way, we might actually be able to get to know the newer characters before the whole thing ends. And they are great characters (as opposed to the last group of new people, whom I hated, they were like sock lint). Jane is just plain fantastic, Roderick is a phenomenal singer, Spencer is hilariously ridiculous, and the twins are lovably nutty. So let them do stuff already!