Thursday, April 10, 2014

Waving a white flag (from my couch)

When you injure yourself badly enough, you are not just limited physically, but your mental state takes quite a blow.  What's worse, is sometimes the physical and the mental team up, and you are not much more than a blob on the couch, figuring out your timing between now and when you have to pee.

In late November, I had won the lottery for the Toronto Fringe Festival for their 2014 season.  I already had a few notes down for a play idea, and, based on the timeline I had when I wrote my last play, I had more than enough time to create my new show.  When January came around, I didn't have much more written, but I still wasn't concerned.  I have always been one who thrives under pressure, whether it came to deadlines in school, or troubleshooting on site for events and work, I am in my element.  However, by the end of the month, I was in a full leg brace, trapped on the couch and stuck with noting BUT time.

And that's when I became trapped.

There I was, sitting on the couch, leg propped, with a cup of tea and a blank screen and nothing coming to mind. I had no motivation, no inspiration, and no direction.  I could barely decide what to watch on Netflix, let alone brainstorm plot points and dialogue.  The last time I wrote, I had a full work schedule, dealing with stresses of life and otherwise, so I mastered the art of time management.  I would go to the laundromat and write between loads, I would have endless notes in my phone I wrote on my commute to work, I had scribbles in between notepads at work, I would edit pages as I packed boxes for my move.  I even created a scene when I suddenly had to take a trip to Ottawa for a personal matter.  I somehow found the time to write a 60-minute play when my free moments were sparse at best.

When I was sitting there with an endless amount of free time, I had nothing. I had no drive, no spirit, not even any real excitement about being able to write again, because I was still trapped on that couch.  I couldn't go outdoors safely because of the weather, I could barely bathe myself, I was sore, exhausted, and concerned about how badly I had hurt myself.  The one time I did try to go out, I ended up hurting myself further.  I essentially became a bummed out bum with not much else to do but wait.  I know it may sound like I'm whining, but when you're trapped in a basement apartment trying to maneuver  your next bathroom run, it can bring you down.

So, with all this time time and not much writing, I had to come to a very upsetting crossroads: I could try to push through and have a mediocre (at best) show for fringe, not up to my standards, and lose money and (self) respect in the theatre world, or I could drop out of Fringe, getting 50% of my application fee back, and letting another company in that were more prepared and would have a better chance of success. Dropping out, although better in the end, was a huge blow to my confidence.  Even with the pressure, I couldn't pull through and complete my task. I had failed myself.  I had created a goal for myself, one which I had succeeded in before, but this was a first for me in a very long time.

Yesterday I officially sent in my withdrawal to participate in the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival.  The process was a lot easier than I thought, but the gravity of it has not set in.  It sucks, but it's better this way.  The show I'm working on, even though it isn't close to being a final product, has become something more personal than I thought it would be.  It's something that could be really good, even if only for me. 

Admitting defeat and accepting my own failures is not something I will ever get used to.  I've always been far too stubborn and bull-headed to admit my own limitations.  This time, however, I'm actually  glad I was able to see the big picture.  Sometimes you need to also accept the bullshit that comes into your life.  I was not expecting to hurt myself, and I was not expecting to have these troubles.  But they happened, and I have had to adjust my life and change plans, because, well, shit happens.  You have to take life as it comes, sometimes you can succeed, some times you can't but you definitely can accept the wins and losses as they come to you.  I think this is that 'delicious ambiguity' Gilda was talking about.

Is this that thing people call 'growing up' and 'maturity'? Because it's weird.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ramblings from a cripple admitting defeat, and accepting help

When I was little, my mum told me that my phrase of choice was one of defiance, usually said behind my pigtails with my arms crossed.

“I can do it myself!”

As soon as I figured out how to French braid, I was always fighting for my independence. I could pick out my own outfits, tie my own shoes,and braid my own hair, even though I had to take breaks and let my arms rest.  Before Beyonce was even wearing training bras, I already had the anthem for independent women down pact.

Fast forward 20-ish years, and I am writing this blog post four weeks into a dislocated kneecap injury, barely able to do stairs, sit properly, or even use the washroom without it being a full event, exhausting and overly dramatic.  Since I injured myself a month ago, I have been stuck, trapped by my own injury.  I've been stuck at home, needed help in and out of bed, been fed, taken care of, and been treated with kid gloves. 

Now being the independent fool that I am, although I was grateful for all the help, I tried to do things myself. I got dressed, figured out how to bathe, and I even ventured out a few times.  Of course this is when the BeyoncĂ© in me gets kicked in the teeth.  I ended up falling down some stairs and hurting my ankle, as well as hurting my knee again (I fell so hard I bent my brace) and putting a really nice dent in my pride. 

After that nightmare, I was quickly swept up by my awesome parents, and taken back to my hometown where I hid away for a few weeks, being fed home cooked meals, watching Disney movies with my nieces, and consistently and comfortably medicated as needed.  Although this sounds awesome to most, I have to admit, this was probably one of the lowest points I have ever hit in my 20-something years on this rock.  I was officially helpless, unable to support myself, take care of myself.  I had officially become more dependant on others than my 18-month old niece, and it  sucked.  

I had gone from paying my own bills, creating art and helping out my friends and peers, to being spun on my head and having others help me.  I didn't like it.  In fact, I still don't like it.  I learned very early, from school, from people I have encountered, and from jobs that I have glad, that if you don't take care of yourself, no one else will.  I am fully aware, especially with the amount of help I have had since I have hurt myself, that this is a load of crap, but it is programmed into my brain.  Along with this, that brief stint in Catholicism in my youth has programmed me to help those around me and to lift them up if they are are down, or need help, in many way possible, because that is the good thing to do.  Basically, I'm a dummy who doesn't know the concept of give and take.  

So, once I got myself into this mess, I didn't really know how to process people offering their help.  My logic was, if you wanted to help me out, my brain immediately believed that I was putting you out of your life and I was now a burden. AND GOD FORBID I WAS BEING HELPED BY SOMEONE ELSE.  My brain couldn't handle it. Of course, any offer I received, I responded with the cordial "thank you for the lovely offer" or "you're too kind, but I should be fine", ignoring the fact that walking further than my couch to the toilet was exhausting and painful.  It wasn't until I was blacking out and vomiting from the pain did I finally concede and allow someone to take care of me.  In the end, it took a very painful stumble down some very painful stairs to knock some sense into me.

I have now been back in my own apartment for a full week, dropped off with clean laundry, a full fridge, and parents comfortable enough to trust that I won't fall down a flight of stairs again.  I have only gone out a few times, and I have been cautious of time, weather, and finances, since all are now huge factors in my life.  Since I've been back, I'm still struggling with the whole 'let people help you' thing.  It's still an incredibly foreign concept to me.  The fact that people are not only being nice to me, but offering their help, friends and strangers alike, is absolutely alien to me.  I have started to accept it slowly, but having someone I have never met before offer their seat on the bus, or let me go ahead of them even though I am obviously slower than them, or offering their help is like watching a baby talk or a hamster strut in a tuxedo (that commercial weirdos me out).

I am still a ways away from being back to my normal self.  I still have physio to start, as well as results to await, finding out if I screwed myself up worse than I thought, and need a scope, or, (bite my tongue) surgery.  Until then, I will take things slowly, and I will learn to accept a hand and say thank you. I will learn to be weak and let someone else be strong for me.  I will learn that I can't always do it myself, and letting someone help you is not only normal, but what people do.  We help each other, we let ourselves be helped, and we accept defeat, no matter how proud we may be.

So this is where I say it, and I am incredibly grateful to be able to say it.

Thank you.  Thank you to everyone that has helped me, thank you everyone that has offered help, even if I politely refused, thank you everyone that, wished me well, wished me luck, or even said hi and reconnected with me after all this happened.  To be honest, being as isolated as I have been these 4 weeks, gestures as small as a Facebook post or a simple Instagram like on my silly Simpson day-to-day updates have meant more than you will ever know.  I am getting better slowly. I am becoming my normal self slowly. And knowing that I have that support with every update, photo, and occasionally bummed out post means that I'm being supported the to the end, even if I'm not always ready to accept it.

I couldn't do this by myself if I tried, and I'm thankful for everyone who ignored me when I said I could.


Monday, January 6, 2014

REPOST: Drunken soup for a cold winters night


Since it's so damn cold in the city, and if you're not cold, you're probably sick AND cold, this soup seems to be extra comforting and soothes every ailment, ache or shivery quake you may have.  This recipe is also easily adjustable. The photo below is more like a stew because of he amount of rice I added. I suggest trying it as the recipe asks,then adjusting in the future.

So I've had a LOT of people asking for this recipe. Below is the official recipe. However, keep in mind that I've made this recipe so much that I just adjust it to my own liking. I call this my drunken soup because of the amount of
Alcohol I put in it!!

Have a look at it. Anything in brackets is what I do to it for my own enjoyment. Try the actual recipe and try my version. See which you like!

Sherry Wild Rice Soup

2tbsp butter
1tbsp-1/2 cup minced onion (I like to use red onion to give it more colour, but any regular onion works)
1/4 c flour
4-5 c chicken stock (I end up adding a cup more, just because I add so much rice)
1-2 c cooked wild rice (so I like my soup thick and lumpy. I end up adding close to 4 cups. Add as much as you want, depending on how thick you want your soup)
1/2 tsp salt
1c light cream (again, I add a bit more because of how much rice I add
1/4 c dry sherry (yea... I add a lot of booze. Between 1/4 and 1/3 of the bottle... If you like numbers, no more than 1/2-2/3c.It'll burn off, don't worry)
Parsley or chives, minced, for garnish  (optional... I've never used it)

Melt butter in a saucepan, add union and cook til golden. Blend in flour and stock, stirring constantly until thickened. (I never measure the flour. I just add it in as i go. If you think its too runny at the end, add flour at the end, but pre-make it in a pan with butter. Wen you add this pre-made mixture, itll bend in better!)

Stir in rice and salt and simmer 5 minutes (I like to add in any leftover rice water too, it helps
As a thickener. I also put in the rice SLIGHTLY undercooked. It'll finish cooking in the soup)

Blend in cream and sherry (LOTS OF SHERRY!) and simmer until well heated. (i like to let it simmer for 10-15min, keep stirring so it doesn't stick to the pan. Take it off the heat and let it cool to warm/room temperature if you're not sering it immediately, this will mature the flavour)

If you feel fancy, garnish with the parsley/chives when served.

If you find the flavour is bland, add more salt and add pepper but be very careful with the salt. If you find it's too strong, add some sugar. This will soften the bite.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monthly Tasks: Restaurant speed dating! (I have a wonderful relationship with food)

So last month was Restaurant month. I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new spots and new foods I had yet to experience.  Here's a brief review of each one, nice and simple:

Hawker bar - amazing dumplings and chicken. Each cocktail is like an art of delicious mastery. I just wish there was a few veggies with my meal. Rice and meat is awesome, but I could've used something green to go with it

Sweet Lulu - you create your own Thai dish. I had no idea what I was doing, but I made mine with tofu, veggies, peanut sauce and basil leaves. Amazing flavour (but I was definitely nervous I made a mistake before I finally tasted it) the portions are obscene, in the best way possible. They have stuff for those with allergies, diet restrictions, and I think that includes gluten, vegan, and eggs.

Greek in the Village - sigh. It just wasn't the Ottawa-loved Greek on Wheels. Their take out sets the bar too high for everyone else. There was not enough colour or veggies in the meal, it looked thrown together and lazy. Someone bring me Greek on wheels to find comfort in.

Tacos el Asador - such a small little spot, with tiny communal benches and no AC, but so much deliciousness. I had the chicken and the fish tacos. They were fresh, soft, and not overwhelming or dull in flavour! Even their sodas (in snazzy glass bottles) made it feel like a nice little escape This will be a new haunt for sure. 

Pho Orchid - this was my first experience with Pho. I really don't know why I haven't done it before. I tried it on a rainy day and it was the perfection of comfort food. Broth, noodles, beef (veg available) noodles and alfalfa. Be careful of the surprise tripe in some dishes. 

Java Joe - They had great salads, but they somehow found a way to mess up a BLT. If you go, stick with salads. That's as exciting as its gonna get.

The Pump - only had an app, which was their bruschetta. I was fine enough, the bread was nice and the tomatoes were fresh, but it looked thrown together and messy.  As always, beer am it better.

Easy Brunch - amazing little spot with veg, vegan and gluten-free options. Their breakfast burrito was amazing and hot sauce was at the ready, which is exactly what every breakfast needs. Plus eating next to Steve McQueen posters makes everything taste that much better.

It was about time I tried some of these places. I tend to get into comfort-zones with my restaurants, so this months resolution was a necessity. I hope to try some new spots after this. If anyone wants a diner date, drop me a line, I would definitely be down for a new spot to try.


Monday, June 10, 2013


This month is my nxne goal.

My goal is to try to see shows I wouldn't usually see. Luckily, my work as an intern has me off to comedy, film, and a few in-stores this week. I'll post a bit when I can, but it should be a good week! If you're looking for stuff to check out, follow @nxne and myself @janeovision to see what's what and what's good this week!

Hope everyone has a great NXNE. Remember to eat, drink, and drink water before bed. NXNE is a struggle enough when you're on no sleep. Trying it hungover is no fun at all.


Rant: Gay is not the word you are looking for.

When I was in high school, I had a classmate confide in me. He was being bullied by some of the jocks at the school. They were teasing him, calling him names, harassing him in the halls.  We had agreed that simply ignoring them wasn't going to work, so, the clever teenager that I was, I suggested throwing it back at them and stand up to them.  I suggested phrases to cut them down a peg, clever one-liners to put them in there place.

"And if all else fails, just call them gay!"

The second I said this, I saw his reaction and regretted it.  His face fell, sank into the pain that he knew all too well, and immediately I had realized what I had done.  I was well aware that my friend was public about his sexuality and was not ashamed or trying to hide it.  But in that moment, I was smacked in the face with how deeply words can hurt.

In my high school, we all used words like 'gay' and 'retarded' in the painfully common negative context.  I even heard people using 'Jew' in a negative manner. I won't go into the grisly details, but I'm sure you can figure out what came out of the mouthes of babes.  And we were never corrected. I do not remember a single time in my high school career where I had a teacher correct or reprimand us.  The environment we were raised in turned a deaf ear.  It was not until that moment with my friend that the world I was growing up in was wrong.

There are several words that have been banned or considered inappropriate, racist, derogatory, or just plain bad. Words like 'gyp', the N-word, the C-word (depending who you're talking to) are just a few that are now rarely used in common language without full knowledge of the hate and anger behind it.  For some of our parents, they had to learn and retrain themselves not to say these words.  I myself had to do the same thing.  To this day, I still have moments where the wrong word will slip out. 

It's been over 10 years since that day I was set straight. 10 years where, in society, the idea of what homosexuality is, how common and normal and accepted it has become, and how it's not weird or creepy or scary, not dangerous or bad, it's just who they are. In my 10 years since this realization has occurred, I have met and become friends with many people, gay and straight, bi, trans, a-sexual and otherwise, and they have been just that: my friends. Their sexuality is their business and we simply respect and love each other as people, and what we do in our personal lives is what we do, and you can enjoy your life. I'll do what I want, you do what you want, just treat me as you would anyone else. I don't care if you're WHATEVER you are, I'll be more pissed off if you're a dick to me than whether you prefer peens over vajays.

All these things have happened. People are proud of who they are, they are being recognized by their government (albeit slowly... California, get your shit together!) and they can celebrate, not only on a pride day/week, but every day.

These things have happened. We have moved forward so much in 10-15 years... But we still use the word 'gay' as an insult?

In the past month or so, I've seen posts online, on various websites including my alma mater (which I will remain nameless. if you know me, you probably already know what school this is) with people DEFENDING their right to use the word 'gay'.  I'm sorry, what? You're defending these of a word that is insulting a group of people because you want to cut down your bro? And you think that's ok. You think because its 2013, we've all matured enough and that the use of that word is not insulting this community.  I have to ask you, and I'm being completely sincere when I say this: are you new?

What if I see you doing something stupid or acting erratic and I call you a 'popped collar douche bag'? Or you're chickening out of a dare and I yell 'don't be a blonde!' What if you're tired and want to stay in, and I ream you out, calling you a 'lame responsible adult'??* * *. Hell.  What if I use the N-word? That's been a long time since slavery, it's got to be ok now, right? After all, there aren't parts of the world where racism is rampant, with crosses being burned on lawns, and white-only proms are still common place.


Let me answer this question for you. I'll repeat it enough that maybe it'll burn into your underdeveloped brain:

No. No no no no. No no. No. NO NO NO. NO. No. No no no no no no no no no. Umm, yea no. No no. N no no. Yea, no. No, absolutely not. No way Jose, nein, niet. Non. Nay nay. No. Wrong. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Wy are you even thinking about it? The answer is no. No. No no no. Not in a million years, not if you paid me. Not in your life. Not in my life. Not on your mothers life. No. NO. Nope. No no no no no no. Why are you still thinking about it? i said no. No. No no no. No. Just no. Stop it, I said no. No. No no no, no no. No. No I said no. No. Nuh uh. No.  WHAT DID I JUST SAY? NO!!

I don't care 'how far we've come' or how much society has grown in the last 10, 15, 500 years. It is still not ok. People are still getting the shit kicked out of them because they are holding their partners hand while walking down the street. Innocent people are still getting stabbed and beaten to death at bars because they are being true to themselves. People still can't get married in certain parts of the world because they are not considered a 'legitimate couple' because a 'real marriage is between a man and a wife. Children are being disowned by their parents because they don't fit into their perfect mould. People are being hunted down and killed because they love who they love.

Being different in today's society is not easy. You have to be careful who you love, how you love, and who you tell. Those that have accepted themselves have to fight the entire world to be accepted. They face persecution, assault, legal issues and limitations on their freedom because they don't seem to fit in the mould of their environment.  Things have changed a lot, it's true, but it's not done. We still have a long way to go. We have to keep fighting for acceptance and freedoms for every person in the world. We have to push to change the minds of those who think otherwise.  We have to work to make it safe for everyone in society. Gay, straight, or otherwise.

When we use the word 'gay' to insult our pals, we don't help anything. By using this word as a negative, we are pushing the stereotype that this way of life is wrong or bad.  By using this word to insult people, we are simultaneously insulting our friends, our family, or maybe that kid who is scared to come out to his peers, because who he is is considered an insult on his own life.  Using the word 'gay' or 'faggot' is bullying that already nervous teenager and suggesting that their future is not future at all. Your choice of words hurts people. It could lead to someone getting bullied, battle with depression, or worse, your words could lead to the death of someone innocent because you made them feel worthless.

I don't care if you are straight, gay, or something else. This word belongs to no one but the people trying to put others down.  This word describes your emotions or your sexual orientation. It does not describe your jackass friend who won't take that last shot at the bar.

Whether its 2013 or 2525, the word 'gay' should not be used to put people down. It's wrong, it's inappropriate, and it makes you look like an ass hat. 

Kindly knock it off.


P.s.To my friend in drama class 12 years ago, I'm sorry. I was an ass hat. I'm trying to be better.

* * *let it be said that I know these insults are also not all that appropriate. I'm blonde, I'm sometimes lame and stay in on a Friday night, and sometimes my collar pops when I'm not paying attention.  It doesn't bother me when you call me these things, but it may offend others, so watch your damn mouth, jerk!* * *

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring has sprung... And I'm becoming an adult?

It's May! It's spring! A time for fresh starts and new opportunities and fresh adventures.  I have completed my time at Humber college, I have passed everything (pretty decently I might add **cough**HUMBLEBRAG**cough**), I have made some great contacts in the industry  (April goal-CHECK!) and I'm on to new challenges.  I have started my internship at the City of Toronto, working on city events including Doors Open Toronto, Canada Day, and the big one, Nuit Blanche.  I'm also working with NXNE and social media, I'm back to work more, I'm training for a 5k in June, and I'm trying to get sewing and patterns ready for friends and possible business.

 I'm once again remembering far too late that I tend to take on too many things.   Since I've been done school and started on all these projects, I have had Rey little time to breathe.  It seems I had more time during hell week to eat and sleep than I do now!  I remember 2 weeks ago when I was so excited to get to the park and drink beer and hang with friends and have my wild bartending drunkard life back!  Up until 6 am! Drinking on rooftops! Partying in tiny apartments! Biking home at dawn!  Baseball games! Pool hopping!!! I identifiable bruises and scrapes!! Drunken bonding!! SUMMER!!!!

And yet, even though I'm already missing baseball and park hangs, and I still have yet to get my bike tuned up, I'm excited with the future ahead. I'm working on huge events and with amazing people.  People will see the work I've done. These projects aren't just for marks, but for life and for a successful end result.  Even my attempts at running a 5k are for some sort of success and goal in sight.  There will be times for bike rides and baseball, for drunken nights and infinite dance parties.  There just have to be a few sacrifices made, I have to pick my battles.

Oh shit. Is this me becoming a grown up? DOODIE! FARTS! PENIS! POGS AND COOL RANCH DORITOS!!

Phew. That's better.

I also have another goal this month: I have to try 2 new restaurants a week.  So far this has not worked out so well, but luckily there are tons of restaurants  around I can hopefully catch up quickly enough.

That's it for now. I have to go fulfill responsibilities and junk. I might watch Game of Thrones while I do it though.  Balance, people.