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Sophie Gregoire Trudeau: Too Confident, Would Be More Likable If She Had No Self-Esteem

Dislcaimer: This was originally going to be a handful of tweets, but there ended up being too many. I’ve literally done zero research, so it’s all a combination of opinion and things I remember from recent media hullabaloos about SGT. 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau seems to possess the ability that all wives of famous-for-being-handsome powerful political figures seem to possess*. The ability to unfailingly piss off a large portion of the general public by trying her best to survive the barbed and gendered targeting of the media against her.

There’s nothing like being the wife of a political leader to bring out the internalized (and explicit) misogyny in CBC Facebook commenters.

Since before the election of Justin Trudeau in October 2015, Sophie has been in the media’s spotlight–at first largely for her fashion choices. It seemed like the media was looking for a Canadian Kate Middleton; they wanted to fondly envy/critique her clothes and make little jealous jabs about her heartthrob husband. There was some buzz about her charity work and her feminism, but it mostly about how hot a couple her and Justin make.

Of course, as soon as SGT started doing things other than wearing nice clothes, the good ole internet commenters popped up to remind everyone that wives of political figures ought to be policed for their every action.

Using nannies, requiring more staff, singing at certain events are all things that can be critiqued, and those critiques can be critiqued.

SGT is by no means perfect, and no one is letting her forget that.

Heaven forbid that a public female figure think she’s capable of anything other than mistakes.

So when Sophie stood up at the Press Gallery dinner and sang a tongue-in-cheek song about those things that the media and public won’t let her forget–nannies, extra staff, singing, and attention-seeking–at the same event where Justin Trudeau implied Obama gives him wedgies and Tom Mulcair gave zero fucks, you can guess whose joke received the least online appreciation.

People are generally unforgiving when women attempt humour at public events. Humour is for men. Women who attempt to be funny (especially about themselves) are just desperate and want to be perceived as likable. Obviously.

What did surprise me was this comment, posted by a woman on the above Facebook post of a CBC article about the Press Gallery dinner, paired with a video of Sophie’s singing:

This one has too much confidence & someone please cut those puppet strings. I remember the P Trudeau days & Margaret [**] was all about getting attention as well. Need to tone things down a bit…

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via the Star

If you scroll through the comments, a fair share of them lean on the side of “oh look what an annoying, attention-seeking emotional lady human ugh get her out of my royal sight.”

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is a person with a lot of traits. Because she’s a human. She makes mistakes and has flaws and can be thoughtfully critiqued from political/feminist standpoints.

Being a woman who is “too confident” is not a flaw. I’m not even sure it’s possible for a woman to be too confident. I’m not even confident posting this on my teeny corner of the internet.

Thanks to our friend the patriarchy and its super fun binary gender system, there’s a lot of things one has to have/do/be to be accepted by ~*society*~ as a Successful Woman.

You have to be beautiful, intelligent, composed (no one like a hysterical woman), friendly (to everyone including the media), socially aware wives and mothers who make the best decisions to personally and independently care for their husband and children while maintaining some sort of career.

It’s easier when you’re a middle/upper class able-bodied white cis lady who’s married to the most politically powerful dude in Canada, of course, but there’s still a lot on that list you gotta fulfill to be a Successful Woman.

When you’re also the wife of an important white dude, if the patriarchy thinks you messed up, you get a nice big spread in some national newspaper/newscast/news oulet for evverrrryyoonnneee to see and weigh in on.

Being a woman is hard enough in a system that devalues femininity, and it’s a bajillion times harder for many marginalized women in ways that it isn’t for people like Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.

Anyone who either is a woman, knows a woman, or has watched a Dove commercial knows that confidence and self-esteem in girls plummets when she hits puberty and enters into the arena of patriarchy-policed expectations of womanhood.

Confidence in women is often construed as bossy, bitchy, attention-seeking, shrill, or fake. SGT and other women who are public political figures–the women who appear to have the most confidence–face criticism for their actions and words in ways that imply that confidence in women is impossible without doing it wrong.

So Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has confidence. That’s worth something. She’s setting an example for girls and young women that confidence is strength and humour and that it can be used to mock the patriarchal and capitalist media that devalues women on a daily basis.

She is able to use her confidence to survive the public, political life she shares with her husband and children. The fact that she sung a song about the media making fun of her singing is not only funny, but super gutsy.

sophie-1.jpg.size.custom.crop.850x567
Cliff Owen via the Star

Like the laughter of women is hugely political and important, the confidence of women is political and important.

SGT is not perfect in her role as a human. She is not a perfect feminist. She is not a perfect anything, because that’s how our horrifying species works.

But she is confident, and confidence is one of the many, many things women should not be tearing down each other over. Women have yet to receive the gift of too much confidence, so in the meantime, appreciate her sassy-ass parody of the version of herself that the media/CBC Facebook commenters believe her to be.

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Greogire Trudeau
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via Huffington Post

*Margaret Trudeau, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Sarah Ferguson, ’90s Hilary Clinton

**I’m super interested in the constant comparisons between the mothers and wives of political figures (Margaret Trudeau/Sophie Grégoire Trudeau; Princess Diana/Kate Middleton) in terms of their relationship with the media. SGT has received a lot of “like mother-in-law like daughter-in-law” comments for being attention-seeking, vain, embarrassing, much like the comments Margaret Trudeau received during and after her marriage to Pierre Eliot Trudeau. If you find any articles about this, please send them to me!

2016.

Hey 2016.

I’ve been waiting for you.

I’m afraid of you, a little bit. You’re all fog and mist and muddled reflections in waters that never seem to settle.

I don’t know what you’ll do to me

–where you’ll take me

–who you’ll throw across my path

–who will fall off if the path is rough

–what art I’ll see

–which landscapes will becomes the most familiar

–whose smile will be my favourite.

There’s a lot I don’t know about you, 2016. You’re a tall, dark, handsome mystery.

We have things to do, you and me.

Little things, mostly.

Westminster Abbey
This lanky, exhausted, bedraggled Libby got to see Westminster Abbey in 2015.

2015 was the year of big, strange, weird, wonderful, messy things.

2015 gave me a massive push from behind.

I tripped through 2015. But it was the almost-not-quite-a-face-plant that I needed.

I’m grateful for 2015.

You, 2016, I think you will be a good transition year.

A transition to where or what, I don’t know. But that’s why I need you.

 

– Resolutions –

I make resolutions every year, 2016, and I never keep them. They loll around on my bedroom floor until February, and they usually end up kicked under my bed.

Resolutions are my biggest dust bunnies.

This year I’m making small resolutions. If they end up under my bed, they will be mouse dust bunnies, not mammoths.

Tiny, tiny resolutions. So tiny they’re cute and a little bit disconcerting.

  1. Write a sentence every day (other than on Twitter).
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Read (at least) 15 non-university required books. Preferably diverse ones. 
  4. Go on a solo road trip.
  5. Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie.
  6. Finish a painting.

So here I am, 2016.

Have at me.

 

 

Etta and Otto and Russell and James (Can. Summer Reading Challenge Week 1)

Week 1 of my Canadian Summer Reading Challenge has ended.

I read Etta and Otto and Russell and James, the debut novel by Emma Hooper. I’ve been wanting to read this book since this interview popped up in my Twitter feed earlier this year, and I finally went out and bought a hardcover copy a few weeks ago. The concept of the novel appealed to me right away, from the moment I read Emma’s interview.

After reading reviews online and watching book vloggers from various parts of the world review it, I knew I had to read this quirky, Canadian novel. Following (guess who) Etta, Otto, Russell, and James, the 305-page book offers the readers a fresh, surreal, almost fantasy experience in watching 82-year-old Etta walk from Saskatchewan to Halifax to see the ocean.

I finished Etta and Otto and Russel and James. #amblogging #canadianreadingchallenge

A post shared by Libby (@libbysometimes) on

Living in mainland Nova Scotia, I’ve always been a mere hour’s drive away from the nearest beach, basin, or waterfront. My maternal grandparents loved the ocean, which my mother inherited, and sea shells, sea glass, and star fish have always been a part of the interior decor in my grandparents’ house and mine. Even though the ocean has never been a large financial or traditional part of my upbringing, I’ve always had access to the ocean through day trips, stories, and beach-themed bathrooms. Sometimes I forget that not every Canadian has a relationship with the ocean that I’ve grown up with.

My grandparents loved the ocean.

Etta’s desire to see the ocean for the first time in her eighty-two years of life is something I’ve never experienced, and never will, and it was lovely and enlightening to follow her desire across the majority of Canada.

Jumping back and forth from past to present, the novel blurs conventional storytelling in a beautiful, complex, confusing way that I thoroughly loved. There’s a lot of blank spaces for the readers to fill in for themselves–or maybe they’re left blank simply because it doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t have to make sense, it just is.

The relationships between the characters are not defined so deeply in the novel so the reader knows exactly who they are and what they’ve gone through together. We’re given tidbits, teasers, and hints to keep us guessing. As Emma said in her interview,

“It’s meant to drift in and out of understanding a little bit, and it’s meant to make the reader not work but be involved so you can’t just sit back and be totally passive and just skim through on a surface level.”

We see little windows into Etta, Otto, and Russell’s past, but we miss the sixty-plus years between the time the war ends and Etta leaves for Halifax. We don’t know what happened between Etta and Otto, Etta and Russell, Russell and Otto. We’re left in the dark like a bystander rather than the intimate experience we as readers are used to having with the characters.

I really loved this novel for its unique format and style, and its habit of twisting cliches so you barely even notice the cliches, and I know I’m going to read it again. This is one of those books where you know you missed something the first (second, third) time around.

*Update: quick note on the end of the novel I forgot to add. I’ve heard mixed things from different people about how they feel about the novel’s end. While there is no obvious conclusion, and it’s left in the hands of the reader, there is a clever link to one of my favourite lines in the book. “It’s a loop, Otto. It’s just a long loop” (pg. 304). The book’s end could be its beginning. You could read it again and again in a long loop. Which I probably will.

So one week down, fourteen(ish) more to go! This week I’ll be reading Great Village by Mary Rose Donnelley.

Canadian Summer Reading Challenge 2015

April is the cruellest month.

There’s final papers, spring blizzards, sleep to lose, food to stress eat, and exams to study for (maybe even oral exams, if you’re a lucky student of the University of King’s College).

But it’s done. It’s over. I survived my first year of post secondary education at the oldest chartered university in North America.

I read hundreds of books from 2100 BCE to the 21st century. I read Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, de Beauvoir, Kant, Heidegger, and Arendt. I read until my eyes hurt and my brain stopped absorbing information.

During this year, as I squinted at the musings of many different dead white dudes mainly from central Europe, I began to miss the Canadian voice. The comforting, familiar humour, kind will, dependable dry wit, patriotism-inducing, big city buzz and small town silence of the Canadian voice is one I grew up with.

In recent months years the amount of Canadian authorship I’ve consumed has dwindled, partly because I have less free time than I used to, and partly because I’ve been trying to get as many pretentious-sounding classic novels under my belt as possible like a good little history nerd.

I’ve never read a Margaret Atwood novel for Pete’s sake. What kind of monster am I?

Over the winter I decided that summer 2015 would be dedicated to reading Canadian-written books (with special effort to read Canadian authors who are women and/or people of colour and/or Atlantic Canadian).

I hope to conquer one book a week until the end of August–this should put me at around 15 books (taking away one week for when I’m in the UK, and another for to allow for laziness the potentiality of day trips that will take momentary precedence).

Each week I’ll either write a blog, a series of tweets, or maybe EVEN A VIDEO WHO KNOWS? sharing my Canadian reading experiences. I don’t want to say I’ll be writing solid reviews for each one, but I’ll definitely share my thoughts about each little Canadian literary nugget that finds its way into my hands.

I also caved into getting an Instagram account, which I plan to be using as a visual extension of my blog. I’ll be posting what I’m reading as well as general attempts at making a square of pixels aesthetically pleasing.

Ashley's staff pick. Book 1 of my Canadian Summer Reading Challenge.

A post shared by Libby (@libbysometimes) on

I’ve compiled a tentative list of the authors I want to read, some for the first time and some to revisit, but none of these are set in stone, in part because I’m not yet sure what books I’ll have access to. I’ve already bought two books, but before I buy more I need to be reunited with my dutiful library card.

Sadly I am made of neither money or Canadian fiction.*

Do you have any reading challenges this summer? If you’d like to take part in the Canadian Summer Reading Challenge with me (or a more/less intense version of it), please send me a link to where you’re posting your progress, or leave comments/tweets to let me know what you’re reading and how you’re doing!

Happy reading!

If you have any suggestions for books, please leave a comment or tweet/Instagram me.

*If you’re a Canadian (especially Atlantic Canadian/woman/person of colour) author and you want to send me a copy of your book in exchange for a review, please send me an email at libby.maire@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter! 🙂

An open letter to Anastasia Steele (and others)

Dear Ana,

dear anaYou don’t know me, but I met you recently. And I realized I’ve been surrounded by girls like you for my entire life.

I haven’t read the entirety of your story yet. I read 370 pages of a book written about you, called Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m going to read the rest of it soon, but by the time one a.m. rolled around, your story was making me a little nauseous and upset. I spent my mostly-sleepless night thinking about you, with a knot of worry churning in my stomach. And I realized that since I’m not your friend, that I can’t text you or call you, I needed to write you a letter. There’s a lot of things I want to tell you, Ana.

We have a lot in common. We’re close to the same age, we both love classic British novels, don’t have enormous amounts of money, and live quite simply. We both have the ability to trip over empty air and we both blush when confronted.

We both have never been in love or a relationship, and we both don’t really see it in our near future. We, along with millions of other women, have succumbed to society’s unwritten rule that to be desired we have to be as beautiful as a twentysomething A-list Hollywood actress.

On page 24, you say “I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.” When Christian Grey leaves after you have coffee together, you think “What was I thinking?” assuming that someone good looking and upper class wouldn’t be attracted to you. On page 92 you say, “God, I hope I don’t let him down. He’ll find me lacking in some way.” Page 188: “Could I feel any more inadequate?” These are just some of the many, many, many instances, Ana, where you express your insecurities about your worth as a woman in the first 370 pages of the book about you.

Like you, there are millions of girls who think they aren’t good enough based on their appearance and/or their previous sexual/romantic experience. Modern culture has constructed a timeline of milestones that need to be followed in order to be considered normal: first boyfriend(s) in middle school, first broken heart(s) in high school, lost virginity before/during/after prom, first one-night stand during frosh week. These are basically designed to make us feel left out if none of these happen to us.

By the time we reach our age, Ana, without having a significant other, we are faced with the horror of the next ten years’ worth of our friends’ Facebook engagement announcements. Judging from popular movies, TV shows, and books, our reaction is supposed to be distraught, bitter, alcohol-induced, and followed by a series of one-night stands.

Being single in our society is portrayed as a terrible omen. And you’re not the first, or the last, to wonder if there’s something wrong with you because you aren’t being chased by mobs of Colin Firths and George Clooneys–or anyone at all.

fiftyshades-gallery_0 copy
They made a movie about your book, Ana. I wish your story had warranted THIS tagline.

Ana, just because you’ve never had a boyfriend doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. Of course you are. From what I know about you, you’re nice, generous, smart, and it’s relatively fun to be your friend.

Please don’t validate, or invalidate yourself, based on your relationship status, Ana. You are an individual, not an extension of someone who wants to have sex with you.

Regardless of whether people flirt with you, want to date you, want to have a one-night stand with you, you are a person. One entire human being. You are not less of a person because you are single.

It’s okay to be single and happy. It’s okay to be single and lonely. It’s okay to fall anywhere in between, with happy days and lonely days tossed together like trail mix. It’s okay and normal to be insecure, but this does not mean you are unworthy of good things.

Like many young women, Ana, I’m worried you fell for the first man you are insanely attracted to regardless of his personality. I’m worried that movies, TV shows, and books have too greatly romanticized the idea of a young woman falling for a broody, hot-and-cold-mannered, rich man who inexplicably turns out to be marriage material. We’ve grown up in a world of Mr. Darcys and boys who pinch you in class because they “like you” but this doesn’t mean falling for a now-rude, now-polite person is healthy for us.

Of course there’s something magnetic about a man who is charming and warm one day and cold and distant the next. He’s dangerous to like because you never know if he’ll like you back–and when he does like you, oh, that’s the best feeling, isn’t it Ana?

But he’s not always the healthiest man to love, especially for women who have never been in love before.

This is what I’m worried about, Ana. Unlike most young women, you are the main character in a franchise that has (for some reason) become incredibly popular. It seems as though you jumped into a rocky relationship with a man based on sexual desire, and his behaviour on nearly every page is very, very, questionable. I’m not talking about his sexual tastes–honestly, the healthiest times you two interact is when you’re getting it on. It also seems like it’s the only time you actually like him. Maybe this will change over the course of the books about you, but even if your relationship does get healthier it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unhealthy in the first 370 pages. This is why I’m writing this letter.

I really hope you learn to love yourself, Ana, and make healthy choices for yourself.

Elizabeth_I_in_coronation_robes copyYou aren’t worth any more or less by being single or being in a relationship. Need I remind you that Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, and according to their Wikipedia pages, Anne and Emily Brontë (whom you mention you enjoy), never married? They remain some of the most famous women in history. They’re totally valid and worthy, right? So why do you think you’re not?

I think that more emphasis needs to be put on female strength rather than the apparent innate need for a significant other to validate our very existence. I love that you get to have lots of orgasms, because let’s face it, the media doesn’t really show female orgasms as a real thing, just an elusive myth.

But no offense, Ana, you’re kind of a disappointing role model. I wish you were’t, because there are so many women who feel the same way as you. I really want you to be strong, autonomous, independent, and healthy. And I want you to know what is good for you and what’s not, and when to walk away from something that is unhealthy and harmful. These are the kinds of women we need to be spotlighting in “romance” novels/movies.

It’s important to be your own best friend. Think of your closest friend. You know how beautiful and kind and smart they are from your perspective? I want you to learn to see yourself this way. I want you and women (and everyone else), to be content with yourself, to know you are more than your relationship status, and to be able to look at yourself naked in the mirror and think yes, I am pretty dang beautiful, and I am totally a human being worthy of happiness, whether or not that means being in love or in bed with someone or being single.

I don’t need someone to tell me I’m beautiful to know it. Yes, it’s nice to hear it, especially on days I’m feeling sad or lonely, but most days, most days I already know I’m beautiful–not to mention awesome.

So, dear Ana, and all of the women like you, I hope you grow to love yourself as you are, and not wait until your Colin Firth (or Jamie Dornan) comes along to sweep you off your feet. He might never show up, anyway, due to lost connections or unfortunate coincidences, so it’s best to love yourself as you are now. And if you don’t, maybe it’s time to start.

Thanks so much for reading this, Ana. I’ll be thinking of you. And when I meet the Anastasia Steeles of the world, I’ll be trying my best to show them what I have tried to show you in this letter.

Love,

Libby

14 movies with strong female characters to watch on Valentine’s Day

(Alternate title: 14 movies with strong female characters to watch on Valentine’s Day instead of Movies that Portray Women as One-Dimensional, Subject to the Sexual Dominance of Toxic Masculinity, and Lacking Physical/Emotional/Sexual Autonomy.)

Welcome to my third annual Valentine’s Day blog post.

To summarize what I have said in years past, February 14th is a commercialized “holiday” that celebrates the societal pressure of exchanging expensive objects and/or feelings and/or bodily fluids. Basically I think it’s dumb.

I’m not hating on celebrating love here, don’t get me wrong, but I think commercializing love and creating a culture where happiness is based on whether or not you have a significant other is downright ridiculous.

It creates an environment where love and sex are glamourized without being discussed in educational ways.

Valentine’s Day is a great time* to talk to the people you love (and/or random strangers!) about consent, healthy relationships and safe sex. Have discussions about feminism, marriage equality, intersectionality, and LGBTQ+ issues. These are vital when it comes to maintaining the healthy relationships the media keeps telling us we need.

Love and relationships are more diverse than the media lets on, and it is important to bring these discussions to the table with your partners, parents, children, friends (and almost literally everyone else).

With movies like Fifty Shades of Grey hitting theatres on Valentine’s Day, it’s especially important to talk about consent and the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. For this movie to be released on Valentine’s Day–the most “romantic” day of the year–it should not go unnoticed that this film (and its sequels) is causing debates about manipulation, abuse, consent, and BDSM.

These are good conversations to have.

Valentine’s Day is also a perfect day to support portrayals of women in media that are actually, you know, awesome.

So instead of spending $50 to see a movie where women are yet again diminished to nothing other than a submissive, vulnerable, materialistic, sexual being, why not watch a movie starring some strong women in the comfort of your own home?

People are perfectly capable of existing without a romantic relationship, in case you thought you were going to crumble into dust because you’re single. No worries. You are not going to crumble.

So as per internet tradition, I’m providing you with some alternate ideas on how to spend your V-Day, whether or not you’re spending it with your partner, your parents, your friends, or your cat.

This year I’m going to throw some movies at you starring badass ladies who don’t need no man.

Or even if they have a man, they are not entirely dependent on him for literal survival.

1. The Hunger Games

Katniss not only faces the physical and psychological challenges of the Games, but also society’s obsession with beauty and romance. She kicks ass (literally and metaphorically), fights perceptions of material beauty, and literally overthrows a government with the help of some very badass female and pro-female characters.

2. Mary Poppins

A business woman who takes no crap from no one, Mary is a sharp-witted realist who don’t need no man and just enjoys their friendship. (Suggested by Cassie.)

3. Little Women

Jo March, her sisters, and Marmee have been my heroes from childhood. Unconventional, independent, and unafraid to defy society, they are all talented, autonomous, and role models to those around them. Ripe with female relationships and highlighting female strength, just watch it. Please. (Suggested by Cassie.)

4. Elizabeth the Golden Age

She’s a warrior. She’s unmarried. She doesn’t need sex, romance, or a man in order to rule as the greatest monarch in British history and kick patriarchy’s ass in the process.

5. The Messenger

How often do we see a woman pull an arrow out of her own chest?

6. The Help

I don’t recall any moments where these women backed down because the patriarchy told them to. Not to mention teaching girls about self-esteem and the value of treating others as equals. (Suggested by Jordan.)

7. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

In which total of three (THREE) female characters are formidable business women who balance sky-high careers with relationships, family, marriage, and politics. (Admittedly they are all white, heterosexual, and cisgender women…but I mean, it’s a start and still deserves a pat on the back because this is still far too rare a sight in film.)

8. Mulan

Because Mulan.

9. Frozen and/or Brave

Yes I went there. No you cannot see Frozen or Brave too many times. And Elsa, Anna, and Merida make up quite the matriarchy if I do say so myself.

10. Jane Austen movies

Because who doesn’t love sassy, fierce, independent women ahead of their time? (Emma suggested by Sarah.)

11. The Iron Lady.

Because female politicians. (This is on my personal to-see list.)

12. Clueless

It’s based on Jane Austen’s Emma who is one of the most badass female characters in classic literature. Sooo. (Suggested by CassieSarahJordan. I haven’t actually seen it, yet. If this many different people suggested it…the people have spoken. Also read this article).

13. The Color Purple

“It’s a movie with such strong female characters and how strong they freaking are. The support they give each other defines the way women should treat each other.” * *

14. Thelma and Louise

“So many feminist overtones. It re-scripts typical gender roles of society and it’s in general a great film about strong and capable women, and the struggles they face.” * *

*It’s always a good time to talk about these issues!

**Jordan kindly offered these brief descriptions since for some reason I have yet to see Thelma and Louise or The Color Purple and I feel like these are important to include.

~

I only posted 14 movies…well, because Valentine’s Day is the 14th. I know there are more movies out there, so leave them in the comments below or tweet them to me @LibbySometimes!

2014’s V-Day Post: 28 Things to do on Valentine’s Day (Illustrated with Harry Potter Gifs)

Country mouse in the city (WINTER EDITION)

Nova Scotian winters have a notoriety for being unpredictable, messy, and invoking the good humour of its residents. As someone from a rural area, my experience with snowstorms entails school cancellations, Dad plowing the driveway and section of the dirt road with his little Kabota tractor, and sitting clandestinely around the warm glow of the wood stove, waiting for the snow to melt off the internet antenna so we can check Facebook to hear the news from neighbours throughout the community.

This is the first urban snowstorm I’ve had to endure (the last snowstorm class was happily cancelled and I stayed curled up in my little apartment all day). No, today was my first venture out into the Arctic city.

Living five kilometres off campus, I foolishly thought I could hop on my regular bus and make it home before dark.

gcyjp

LIES.

Rookie mistakes.

I’m not going to continue whining about the weather because we all know exactly what it’s like if you live in a place where it snows in excess.

I am, however, going to marvel about the wonderful things that happen when you walk through Halifax during a snow storm.

The two buses I attempted to travel on were stuffed full of people who had shared weather and bus-related jokes with me at the bus stop. The bus drivers were so cheerful I wanted to hug them, and thoughtful enough to let people off in the middle of traffic with the promise that if they saw them later, they would pick the enduring traveler back up.

After making the executive decision to get off the bus following twenty minutes and twenty metres of distance achieved, I headed out into the final frontier.

[I would like to take this moment to apologize to my boots for calling them bulky and ugly.

You are perfect, Boots, don’t you ever change. Your steadfast tread protected me from the snow-covered sidewalks that had deceptively hid their icy intentions underneath. Your thickness prevented the mutiny of my toes from my feet. You keep doing you, Boots.]

Chances are, if you’re walking because the buses are stuck in traffic two kilometres deep, other people have also abandoned ship bus. These people become your allies, your companions, your Fellowship of the Ring. They become Viggo Mortesen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, John Rhys-Davies, and Elijah Wood.

Because guys with beards get even better looking when tromping through the snow like a wild ranger, amirite?

These companions are the only living things you can see within visible distance (which, to be honest, isn’t very far).

By the time you leave backed-up traffic behind, there are no cars heading into the city, and the roads are empty and the sidewalks are ankle-deep in snow. I opted to walk on the road, something that is the only option in rural areas anyway, but occurred to me might not even be legal in the city. (Can someone please tell me if I committed a crime or not?).

Viggo Mortesen and Orlando Bloom stirred up a conversation a few metres in front of me. “When did you start?”  “Around five.” “Oh, same.” “Do you want some water?”

At this point it’s dark and everyone I encounter is red-cheeked, sweaty, and panting because let’s face it, Halifax is literally just one giant hill and snow is damn hard to walk in if you’re not an athlete or in possession of snow shoes.

On a flat stretch I caught up with Sean Bean, who had passed me on a particularly steep hill due to my lack of physical strength and fullness of bladder. (Sidenote: use the bathroom before heading out into a snowstorm). He asked me how long I’ve been walking (an hour and half since my departure from campus) and I asked him where he started from. We both chuckled tiredly at his remark about it being good exercise, wished each other luck, and went separate ways where the road split.

Elijah Wood was carrying two bags and lugging a suitcase on wheels up a hill as I was going down. He joked about his travels as we passed. I hope he got to where he was going to, and that it’s less blizzardy there.

IMG_20150202_180904265There is a moment, when your companions are gone and you pause to take a breather, that you realize how quiet it is when there’s no cars. You can actually hear the snow falling. You can hear silence, something that in the city you feared was lost and only available in weekend visits to the country.

So thank you, Halifax. Thank you for making a massive mess of the roads and turning the most good-natured people out of the buses and to the snowy trails to each individual’s Shire, each person’s home. Thank you for providing a little bit of companionship during my ninety-minute trek, and for the moment of peaceful silence in between the snowflakes.

Thank you for #stormchips.

And I will thank you even more if you cancel classes tomorrow. 🙂

Safe travels everyone!

SALE SALE SALE

From December 1 to January 1, my 2013 anthology The Night is Starry will be $12.00 (plus shipping if you want it shipped).

They make great gifts for grandmothers and bookworms in general, and if you’re interested in supporting a local, self-publishing, university-student author, this is your chance! If you want them signed with a personal message, well, that’s pretty easy for me to do, and your grandma might find it cool she has a signed book.

DSC_3588
SALE SALE SALE

This is the last batch of hard copies of this anthology I plan on having printed, and there are about 20 copies left. I would love to have them sold by the end of 2014 so I can move onto my next hard copy writing project.

Profit from these last copies of The Night is Starry will be going towards my trip to the UK in 2015 and towards the printing of my next publication.

If you’re interested in buying a copy (or more than one!) you can email me at libby.maire@gmail.com and we can arrange either a pick-up location if you live in the area, or have it shipped to you. 🙂

Xoxoxo,

Libby

10 gift ideas for one university student from another

Despite the fact that Christmas is still more than a month away and that I hate the over-commercialized monstrosity that November 1st-January 1st has become, Christmas is beginning to be unavoidable. I bought eggnog on the weekend, I’ve caught myself humming Christmas carols, and I started mentally saluting those who have decked the sidewalks of the city with the first tricklings of twinkle lights.

Christmas is coming, and along with it, a slew of online pieces declaring the best thing to get the X in your life. Most of the items on these lists are cute but costly, and the lists of adorable DIY gifts are oriented to talented people who have time.

University students have neither an abundance of pocket money or the time to make something thoughtful for the important people in their lives at Christmas. While I don’t completely buy into the idea that everyone IS COMPELLED BY THE BLAZING PITS OF CONSUMERISM HELL to give presents to absolutely everyone they know ON PAIN OF DEATH, I understand the desire to give your friends and family something for the trouble they go through in simply knowing you.

So here we are, you on that side of the screen and me on this side. Hi. Thanks for still sitting there. You must be pretty cool.

Finding gifts for your family will be a little easier–you’re likely more willing to spend what little money you have on the people who created you and are responsible for your survival up to this point. But what about tes amis? I mean, you love the people in your tutorial for That One Interesting Class You Have, and you still feel like the members of your high school gang are your beloved homies, but you can’t buy cute things on Etsy FOR EVERYONE.

And with finals taking place just before Christmas, you’re going to be too busy sleeping studying to make a hundred decorative clay owls.

Here are a couple gift ideas for your fellow university student. 😉

1. FREE BACK RUBS.

Seriously. University is stressful, and everyone is tense and tired by the time the end of the semester rolls around. Maybe they’ll return the favour. This could be a bonding experience. Or maybe it could be creepy. Mostly it’ll be awesome for them. Maybe they’re cute and this could be your chance. LOLOL.

2. FUZZY SOCKS.

Dumbledore and Dobby got it right. Socks are awesome. And cheap (thanks, Dollarama). And come in a variety of colours and patterns. Not to mention super practical because winter is coming and chances are, like you, your friends have yet to invest in a pair of decent winter boots. This makes socks all the more welcome.

Master has given Dobby a sock!

3. COFFEE/TEA DATE.

Take your pal to a cute cafe (or Tim’s–never undervalue Tim’s. Tim’s can still be cute) and buy them a hot beverage. It’s like three bucks, two if you don’t get a latte. Your company is the real gift here. If you really wanna treat someone extra special (high school homies, what up? Long time no talk except on Facebook!) bring them back to your apartment/dorm and MAKE them tea. Cost goes way down. Also you can cuddle and talk about things that ought to not be discussed in public.

4. TOILETRIES.

If you go to Costco and buy a ton of soap, set aside a chunk for a bro. Us new adults, we’re not used to remembering to buy that stuff, so if you distribute some no-name toiletries to your friends a few less people will have to wash their hair with Sunlight Oxi Action dish detergent until next grocery day. Just put a bow on it.

(Bonus points: toilet paper. It’ll seem like a joke gift, but it will be put to use.)

5. CONDOMS?

Could also be perceived as a joke gift. Also very much free at your university’s student union. This is the cheapest and lamest of the cheap and lame. But hey. You never know. VOILA.

6. PAJAMA DANCE PARTY.

Recommended location: public place.

Recommended music: soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Recommended attire: Santa pajamas or Star Lord costume,

Fun guaranteed. Film it. Post it. Become an internet sensation.

7. BUILD AN OLAF TOGETHER.

Everyone loves building snowmen, and for many of us it might have been awhile since we birthed one of those snowy creations. Snowball fights may or may not ensue. Weather dependent.

8. MASON JARS WITH STUFF IN THEM.

Or other kinds of jars. Like Kraft peanut butter jars. Throw in a bunch of stuff and decorate the lid with a bow and their name.

Ideas for “stuff:” tea bags, chocolate kisses, hot chocolate mix, candy canes, (or even condoms or socks).

9. ANY VARIETY OF CHEAP FOOD, BASICALLY.

Crackers, Mr. Noodle, Tim bits, Dollarama chocolate. A mini jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. I’m sure they’ll eat it, because you know you will.

10. DO THEIR DISHES.

Lol I’m kidding. It’s Christmas. No one wants to do dishes. Take a nap together.

Remembrance Day is my Favourite Holiday

Remembrance Day is my favourite holiday.

It’s not like Christmas or Valentine’s Day or Halloween when our hyper-commercialized society explodes tenfold and everyone feels obligated to empty their pockets for toys and baubles and decorations.

Don’t get me wrong: Christmas is a great time of year to celebrate family and generosity, Valentine’s Day is a sweet idea in theory (although heart-shaped pillows and pink singing monkeys are a little unnecessary); Halloween is very practical in terms of keeping demons away. But these holidays are defined by trips to Wal-Mart and Target, credit card debt, and retail competition. Consumerism takes over, and I hate it.

Remembrance Day is my favourite holiday.

On Remembrance Day, there is no materialistic hunger or pressure to buy the perfect gift or have the best decorations. Remembrance Day has remained true to its original purpose: to set aside one day to purposefully remember what we should remember every day of the year.

November 11th has always held a particular resonance with me. As a child I raptly listened to the Last Post and the recitation of Flanders Field, watching the parade of local veterans and reading the names on the cold cenotaph.

The unity I’ve experienced with my community–and others across the country–on November 11th is the most intimate, touching, and emotional thing I’ve ever experienced. I wrote in a short story once that on Remembrance Day it’s as if we all stand in a glass dome thrown by the torch held by the soldier on the cenotaph, and no one wants to be the first to break it.

It’s my favourite holiday.

I was going to continue to write about how Remembrance Day is the best holiday, the most meaningful, and least commercialized.

I was going to write about how Christmas is celebrated from November 1st to January 1st, and how Halloween dominates the entire month of October–yet Remembrance Day gets one day, and perhaps you can count the ten days leading up to November 11th.

I was going to write about how important it is to celebrate Remembrance Day every day, to take the time to notice your local cenotaph and make conversation with your local veterans. I was going to write about all the things you already know.

This year Remembrance Day will be different here in Canada. It will be a little more real, a little more heartbreaking, and a little more proud. And by a little, I mean a lot.

So instead of writing 1000 words of everything you already know, I’m going to leave you with these:

Remembrance – Veterans Affairs Canada

The Royal Canadian Legion

Veterans’ Services | Capital Health

Fallen Canadians | National Defence | Canadian Armed Forces

Canadian Virtual War Memorial – Veterans Affairs Canada

Canadian Fallen Heroes | In Memoriam 

CBC: Remembrance Day 2014 -Show us how you will remember – #HowIRemember 

WW1 Remembrance Projects 

Canada and the First World War | Canadian War Museum

Canada and the Second World War | Canadian War Museum

Canada at War

In Flanders Field

The Cenotaph – a short story by Libby Schofield

If you have any other links or images you think I should include, please leave a comment, email me, or DM me on Twitter.

If you have written or created an online tribute for Remembrance Day and would like it linked here, feel free to send me the link and I’ll include it.

Please attend a Remembrance Day service if you can, and take a moment of silence on November 11th to remember.

                                    Lest we forget.

Help: How does one run a writing workshop?

Dear writing friends,

During the summer I was recruited to run a four-hour writing workshop (aimed mostly at teens) in October. It’s October. The workshop is a few weeks away, and while I have some ideas, this will be my first time. I’m new at this. Any and all advice (regarding exercises, do’s and don’ts, anything at all!) from you lovely people will be welcomed and received with great enthusiasm. Please feel free to leave a comment, message me on Twitter, or email me at libby.maire@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Libby xxx

Photo by yours truly.
Photo by yours truly.

Country mouse in the city

Country mice, my brothers and sisters.

Having spent the entirety of my life surrounded by woods, fields, golden rod, and camouflage and/or plaid shirts, the jump from rural Nova Scotia to Halifax has been a bit of a culture shock. Where are the barns? Where are the farmers? And what are these “crosswalks” you speak of? Thai food? You can get that here?

There are so many people.

People everywhere.

(Shut up, I know Halifax is a small city.)

It’s different here.

I’ve interacted with more strangers in a month than I have in my entire life. I’ve met a bajillion people, some of them on the bus (s/o to the lady who bid me good day), some of them on campus (day students represent), and some of them around the city as I walk from bus stop to bus stop (s/o to the Newfoundland couple who waited forever with me).

 

Everyone is busy, walking fast with purpose behind their smartphones and really cool sunglasses. There are so many young people. I’ve never seen so many people between the ages of 18 and 26. Everyone is attractive and hip and apparently we’re heading back to the late 1990s/early 2000s in fashion (I’m not sure how I feel about that). All hail grungy band t-shirts.

No one here wears camouflage. No one. It’s bizarre. The ratio of camo-to-plaid-to regular clothing in my hometown is something along the lines of 23:15:2.

Kids in the city walk to their bus stops by themselves without fear of being mugged or stolen (country students like me are scared of walking by ourselves in daylight because someone is obviously going to steal a fully-grown adult in a street with 100 witnesses).

The houses are extremely close together. People don’t have yards. (Growing up in the literal woods, this is weird for me to grasp.) The air smells like fast food, car exhaust, and butted out cigarettes.

I miss the smell of golden rod and asters and the earth exposed when corn crops are harvested. I miss the smell of fresh lumber and the woodstove.

flowers
At my country home I have a field of wilde flowers in my backyard. #oscarwildepuns

Buses.

Buses suck.

(If you follow me on Twitter you’ve no doubt been made aware of this).

Until I moved to Halifax, I have only been on a public bus once, when I was little and my cousins took me to the Discovery Centre. Let me describe to you what it’s like to take the bus from the perspective of someone who grew up isolated from civilization.

It’s a giant metal tube full of suspiciously oozy smells that may or may not be wafting from the dozens of people crammed into it. You have to sit next to people (touch them) who in the worse cases, smell like they’ve never showered and sing to themselves, and in the best cases smell nice, leave you alone, and don’t make shifty eye contact (also sometimes the gods are nice and you sit next to an attractive guy with a beard and a lunch box and he gets off at the same stop as you). If you’re terribly unlucky, you sit in a wet seat (sometimes on a day when it hasn’t rained in a week) or have to stand and hold onto those sticky yellow poles for dear life.

Some bus drivers are cranky. Some are hopelessly friendly and I want their energy. At least one of them looks like Stanley Tucci.

You also have to pay attention to where you are, because you’re brand-spanking new to the city and you know nothing, Jon Snow. Google Maps is your lifeline. You sweat (partly from being in a nerve-wracking tuna can, but also because what if you end up in New Brunswick by accident???). You have to decide how early to pull the slimy string-thing — too early or late and you’ll be walking. Then you have to figure out how the doors open. Some of them open for you, others you have to wave idiotically at, and others you have to push like the little brother you never had.

Buses are always either super late so you have to allow an extra 45 minutes before class just to ensure you’re there on time, or they are super early, so you miss it and have to wait for the next one. Goddammit guys, make up your mind.

Also, traffic. In the country traffic consists of two cars, three trucks, and a tractor (sometimes with a manure spreader).

Giant stone columns are a very pretty trend here. Stone columns are VERY Fall/Winter 2014.
Giant stone columns are a very pretty trend here. Stone columns are VERY Fall/Winter 2014.

Don’t get me wrong. Halifax is pretty cool. Walking downtown makes me crave to see it as it was 100, 150, 200 years ago when everyone wore top hats and the harbour was full of tall ships and you could buy candy for like a penny.

I love the contrast between 100-year-old buildings with stone Grecian-esque pillars and the blue-glass office towers next to them, and the old townhouses with chipped pink shingles like a ruined manicure next to that. There’s so much history and culture, both old and modern.

Art is a thing here. It’s everywhere. Festivals and random sales on the sides of the roads and poetry readings.

I can walk two minutes and buy a coffee, something I could never do before. The fact that there’s so many shops, businesses, and general PLACES is still overwhelming.

I’m going to university with people who share my interests and love of learning. My professors are amazing and so deeply intelligent I just kind of sit through lecture with my jaw on the floor, drooling on the notes I should be taking. My mind is in a perpetual state of blown-ness.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “The country is cool, but you can’t spontaneously buy $8.00 cheesecake there.”

Have any of you made the leap from rural to city life?

Women’s rights — and omg look at her butt.

This is the kind of blog post I have to pump myself up to write, so at this point I’ve watched Nicki Minaj’s music video for Anaconda approximately fifteen times (and counting) and needless to say I’m getting a little crazy, cranky, and tired.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I want you to watch Nicki’s Anaconda video. You might be scarred, fair warning. Then come back and we’ll talk about women’s rights and butts.

Back? Okay. Timeline.

Beginning of time-1900s: Female sexuality has long been stigmatized by society, and seen as an evil and shameful, preventing sexual freedom and promoting continued sexism.

1907: Annette Kellerman was arrested in 1907 for wearing a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit at a beach.

1916: Kellerman was also the first major actress to appear nude in film, in the movie A Daughter of the Gods.

1920s: Flapper girls illustrated sexual freedom, seeing non-marital sex as natural and normalizing the idea of casual courtship – flapper girls were some of the young people who attended the “petting parties” of the 1920s and popularized the idea of foreplay.

1925: Women were by law unable to divorce their husbands on the same grounds as men were able to divorce their wives until 1925.

Wartimes: As the majority of the male population went to war, the number of women working in Canadian industry went from 57 000 to around a million within five years.

Pre-1969: Unavailability and illegality of birth control prevented women’s control over their own reproduction, and birth control was illegal in Canada until 1969.

1989: The Supreme Court of Canada decided that sexual harassment was a form of sexual discrimination (for reference as to how recent this is, 1989 was also the year Taylor Swift was born — that is way too recent).

2010-2014: In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for her advocacy of women’s right to education.

From the time they are in Grade Six to the time they are in Grade Ten, the number of teenage girls who identify themselves as self-confident drop 22%, and half of all girls wish they were someone else.

Of all reported sexual assaults, 82% of victims are girls under the age of 18.

One poll in Amnesty International UK in its Stop Violence Against Women campaign was reviewed by the Daily Mail:

A third of Britons believe a woman who acts flirtatiously is partially or completely to blame for being raped, according to a new study.

More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing, or is drunk, the study found.

One in five think a woman is partly to blame if it is known she has many sexual partners, while more than a third believe she is responsible to some degree if she has clearly failed to say “no” to the man. 

Let that sink in, and then back to Nicki Minaj

Women have worked their asses off (no pun intended) for the right to drive a car, wear pants, own land, have a career, divorce their husbands. Women are still fighting for these simple rights all over the world. Women are dying.

Women have fought society for decades for the right to their own sexuality. It wasn’t so long ago when fathers, husbands, and brothers literally owned a woman’s sexuality. In many places, they still do.

The fact that many women in the world can sexually express themselves is wonderful. I am very pro-sexual freedom, confidence, and expression. I think women of all ages should be able to be happy with their bodies and have control over their sexuality. 

But here’s where the area gets grey. 

There’s sexual empowerment, the act of having the power and confidence to use one’s sexuality for personal enjoyment/equivalent.

And then there’s sexual objectification.

Everyday Feminism blogger Melissa Fabello writes about the difference between objectification and empowerment: “Sexual empowerment is active. It’s ownership. Autonomous. Self-serving. Objectification, on the other hand, is a passive relenting of control. It’s powerless. Self-sacrificial.”

Some will argue Nicki Minaj’s racy music videos are her exercising sexual empowerment. Maybe she is. It’s great she’s confident enough in her body to share it with the world, especially a world where for so long skeletal models were the most dominant “role models” (I use the term lightly). She isn’t the typical tiny, thin-hipped, rib-showing singer/model/actress. Great. Go Nicki.

Some will say she’s being objectified in her Anaconda video, but not by men, so it doesn’t matter, right? 

This isn’t about Miss Minaj. She’s a public figure. Millions (billions!) of people around the world can watch her videos. The fact that she might be exercising her own sexuality is kind of irrelevant at this point since everything she creates belongs to the public. It’s how art works. It belongs to the people.

When Nicki, and others in the industry, portray themselves in ways that turn sex into a commodity available to buy (buy the music! buy the music video! buy her concert tickets!), it’s taking us back too far in the history women have had to overcome. Commoditized sex isn’t healthy. Nicki’s video isn’t portraying her or any of her backup dancers in a sexually-free way. They have become nothing more than sex objects, human sex machines designed to bring in views and cash and apparently pleasure men.

How does this affect girls and women around the world?

Worldwide accessibility to technology like the internet and television makes witnessing sexual objectification of women in media unavoidable. The social implications of such exposure to male-controlled displays of impersonal sexuality are severe. Girls from a young age are faced with these men-pleasing sex machines in media, in their movies and television shows and music videos.

How can a girl live up to sexual standards of society, while the public think she deserves to be attacked if she is seen in a sexual or vulnerable manner?  It has become normal for a girl to receive unwanted sexual comments and advances from acquaintances and strangers alike. 

With song lyrics like “my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun,” a depressing amount of music is telling young women what is desirable and what isn’t. Speaking as a young woman, it’s very normal to desire to be desired — and with music videos, movies, and commercials describing and showing us what’s hot and what’s not, it’s easy to see why low self esteem, eating disorders, and dangerous thinspiration movements are rampant among women, especially teens.

So the fact that maybe Nicki is expressing her own sexual confidence doesn’t really matter. She can exercise that right on a less public platform where she won’t be subliminally telling millions of girls that to be sexually desired by men they have to have massive butts they need to shake in people’s faces. You are more than a butt, ladies. You are more than sex appeal and “something he can grab”.

You are a person. You are a personality. You can express yourself sexually and otherwise. And women have come a long ways to say that. Let’s not spoil that by telling our girls that to be desired they have to be Nicki Minaj.

 

 

 

Notes: as always, my opinions. You’re free to share yours. I also very pointedly didn’t include a picture of Nicki Minaj in her Anaconda video because I don’t want to spread the message of seductively shaking your butt makes you beautiful.I have the references for all the stats I wrote above; if you want them I’m happy to provide them if you leave a comment below. I’m not a professional historian, so if I have a stat wrong, I apologize and will fix it if it comes to my attention. I’m very pro-female sexuality and male sexuality. I believe in equal rights for both genders and I think both men and women need to be more aware of what effects sexual overexposure in media have on children, boys and girls. You’re all awesome. Xox.

 

In the Village: EBSNS supporting young artists

“Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed home and thought of here? Where should we be today?”
― Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop is one of those poets few people know about, but there’s no particular reason she isn’t a household name. A writer who went on to earn international acclaim, she spent some of her childhood living with her grandparents in Great Village, NS. I’m not entirely sure why every Nova Scotian isn’t yelling her name from the rooftops, but Great Village is one place where Bishop is praised and raised proudly to the lips of many of the people I’ve talked to.

I first became involved with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) three years ago when I entered their writing contest for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival, celebrating the poet’s 100th birthday in 2011. The contest revolved around the theme of home, an homage to the fact that Bishop’s own writing often reflected back to her childhood in Great Village.

I was pleased and honoured to find out I was one of the winners of the contest, along with several others in different age categories. As a wee, shy fifteen-year-old, reading my short story at the festival in August 2011 was daunting, but there my love of reading to others took seed and began growing — plus I met Laurie Gunn and Sandra Barry of EBSNS, author Sheree Fitch, and took a poetry workshop with Anne Simpson. This time spent in Great Village among passionate poets and painters, along with other young writers, was the first big push in continuing the idea of turning my writing into a career (still entirely not sure how to do that, but heading that way nonetheless).

In 2013, the EBSNS published Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, a collection of all the winning entries from the contest. The launch was once again an inspiring experience, and one of the first times I was able to see my work printed in a legitimate printed form you could, like, buy.

When I got an email from the EBSNS inviting me to read at the new cafe, In the Village, of course I jumped at the opportunity. The afternoon featured several young artists (poets, painters, writers, and actresses) with a connection to Bishop: Maria Duynisveld, Laura Sharpe, April Sharpe, Anneke Stroink, and myself found ourselves at the microphone in St. James United Church. The talent I heard and saw today once again reminds me that I am far from alone in the prospering front of young artists.

For Maria and I, this was a flashback to our participation in the Centenary Festival three years ago and a reflection of how we’ve changed since then; Maria shared this reflection in her reading.

What the EBSNS has done for me and other young artists is remarkable. As I’ve written about in the past, I’m a strong advocate of supporting young writers and giving them the opportunity to have their work shared with the public and with other artists of a similar age. It’s hard being taken seriously, and the reward of seeing the genuine emotional impact our work has on others is what young artists need to keep pursing their goals, dreams, and talents.

The importance of receiving such support is paramount to young people. They need to know their work is good, valued, accepted, and cherished, or someday they might stop doing what they love. Many people write or paint or act for themselves, but having the chance to be supported by those working and volunteering in the field, or even just as an enthusiastic patron of the arts, can be the difference between a hobby and a career.

The support from those I’ve met as a result of my interaction with the EBSNS is some of the support that has done the most for me and my pursuance of my writing career. Thanks to the EBSNS, I’ve been published, had the opportunity to share my work multiple times, have met some truly wonderful, kind, supportive people, and have firmly established that I’m headed in the right direction. Merci beaucoup, mes amis!

For more information about the EBSNS, Elizabeth Bishop, and Great Village, please check out these sites!

The Elizabeth Bishop Blog

The Elizabeth Bishop Society

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia

Poems by Elizabeth Bishop

 

Behind the scenes of “The Carpenter”

cover12Last week my short story, The Carpenter, was published on Smashwords and has since been downloaded almost 200 times. 

The Carpenter was a story I wrote as a Christmas present for my mother, and was inspired by our family camping trip in summer 2013. We were hiking in Kejimkujik National Park and were surrounded by these massive, ancient trees that blocked out the majority of the sky and towered far over our heads. My dad, forever the captain of Team DIY Carpentry, routinely stared up and with stars in his eyes would say, “Look at the beautiful lumber that would make/I could make an entire set of chairs out of that tree/Look at the wooooood.” 

I commented on how instead of seeing the trees he saw lumber, and in my mind I saw a carpenter walking through the woods, and instead of seeing the forest he saw only furniture growing out of the moss. The carpenter intrigued me. How did he get there? What was he like? What was his story?

It took me a long time to get around to writing this story, but I’m glad I did. It was a lot of fun to write, to imagine who the carpenter was and who he could have been if his life had gone differently. There’s still a lot I have to learn about the carpenter and what he did in those seventy years the story takes place in, but I’m almost more fond of him because I don’t know everything about him, and I think readers might feel the same way.

If you would like to read The Carpenter (it’s a very short read!) you can head over here where you can download it in essentially any format possible. Feel free to leave a review or a comment. 😉

 

Cheers!

Lib

10 things I’ve learned about life since graduating

I honestly considered leaving the rest of this blank, but then I would be lying, kind of.

A couple weeks ago, I graduated. I tossed that silly graduation cap in the air (and then couldn’t find it, so the guy behind me gave me the extra one he caught) and embraced all my teachers and friends for a final, emotional goodbye.

I then didn’t sleep for 36 hours, and then napped periodically until I could function like a normal human being again.

But I have learned some things in my thus-far window of time where I am not a high school student and not a university student.

1. I learned that eating a jalapeño pepper at 4:30 am does not help any of the systems in your body, but rather hinders all of their functions.

2. In getting a job right after my return from zombie-ness, I learned that getting up at seven in the morning is when other people usually get up. I haven’t yet learned how to do it easily.

3. Showering and eating take up ridiculous amounts of time.

4. Keeping maintenance up on social media is hard. Hello.

5. Keeping in touch with friends requires effort, or else they (or you) will slip into the void.

6. I’m bad at managing my personal time.

7. It’s important to be friendly.

I don’t understand this reference but it made me laugh.

8. MANAGE YOUR MONEY.

9. There are people smarter than you. Also less smart. Sometimes both. But they might be interesting to have a conversation with. 

10. Listen to everything Winnie the Pooh ever taught you because the 100 Acre Woods gang knows what’s up, I swear they are the wisest characters to ever exist.

Also, some fun stuff because I’ve been neglecting you:

English Afternoon and The Carpenter, two short stories by yours truly, will be published next week. (Link to be placed here when available.)

Why we need ugly heroines. 

A Pride and Prejudice board game.

This super awesome video about self image.

Ten Poems to Change your Life by Roger Housden.

A really fun song to jam to this summer. 

50 Things You Didn’t Know About Halifax (OSCAR WILDE WAS IN HALIFAX GUYS).

How is your summer going? 🙂

libby rambles about feelings with gifs

**this is not my typical type of blog post. you are now entering at your own risk into a zone of experimentation and sleep deprivation**

 

 

 

 

i should really be in bed right now, i really should, because i have to get up in the morning like most people and do things like most people and you know, just be a person, because that’s important.

but i also have this nice little piece of the internet with my name on it, and it’s here for me to use, so here i am, flirting with midnight like the saucy rebel i always knew i could be. see this lack of capitalization? total rebel.

i’m going to take some creative licence with my tiredness and ramble on more than i usually would, because usually i like my online presence to be somewhat dignified, or at least controlled ridiculousness — but i am far from dignified or controlled right now, and that’s okay.

high school is done, which hasn’t really hit me yet. i finished my last exam, harassed people into signing my yearbook, and kind-of-celebrated by sleeping in on a friday morning, wherein followed a whole lot of loud music in an empty house whilst wearing a ginormous knitted sweater. because that’s an important detail here.

i’m done. well, not really. there’s still other high school graduate-related things to do, like prom, graduation itself, safe grad, and of course, avoiding all the parties the Class of 2014 will be (and is currently) partaking in. i’m figuring out what life will be like without going to the same building five days a week for the majority of that day. friends will be moving on, i’ll be moving on, new friendships will be attempted, i’ll need to learn how public transit works pretty soon, i need to make actual life decisions, and i can’t decide what is the scariest out of those five things.

i’m in an anxious state of nerves, angst, excitement, and frankly, exasperation. i’m on edge. this isn’t how graduation is supposed to work. i’m supposed to be standing in the sun roof of a car going through a tunnel, screaming about being infinite and such. or maybe i’m getting that mixed up with something else.

this frustration is aggravating. i hate being frustrated. i’m a firm believer that personal happiness is more or less the main goal in life. i’m the type of person who tries to be happy even when maybe i’m not. i’m the type of person who wants everyone to be happy with themselves, even if i really dislike them as a person. happyhappyhappy. be happy dammit. i know happiness is more complicated than just deciding to be happy, but help yourself out. you’re the only person you have left when everyone else has gone home.

 

ordinarily i like to identify myself as a pretty self-confident person, and i retain that sense of self. just, i’m kind of drowning here. not drowning to the point of certain death, just enough water to fill my lungs that it makes breathing more difficult than it should be.

so between trying to find a job, preparing for prom/graduation, searching for the reason of my existence, and resisting the urge to fan-tweet Phillip Phillips, things are a little chaotic under this total serene image of utter calm.

i am 100% okay, and so is everyone else, they just don’t know it yet. there are bigger things we’ll encounter later that make post-graduation feelings of anger seem like kittens playing in really soft toilet paper.

so i’m okay. i’m excellent. and so are you. time for bed now.

good night.