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5 Movies to Watch With Mom This Mother’s Day

In Arts, Life Stories on May 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

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For some serious mother-daughter bonding time this Mother’s Day, throw on one (or all five) of these movies!

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
This is hands-down my favourite mother-daughter movie! Ellen Burstyn and Sandra Bullock star as mother and daughter (respectively) who learn to overcome years of tension and distance with the help of Vivi Walker’s (Burstyn) eccentric childhood friends, the Ya-Yas. The movie is a bit of a tearjerker at times, and will definitely make you appreciate your mom so much more after watching it. (Bonus: it’s set in the beautiful bayou of Louisiana and features lovely southern accents.)

Stepmom
I watched this movie religiously during my tween years (and just realized that I haven’t watched it years so I’m totally digging it out this weekend). It tells the story of divorced couple Jackie and Luke Harrison (Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris) who are struggling to provide their children with a sense of normalcy following this big change. Jackie and the kids must also deal with Luke’s new, younger fashion photographer girlfriend Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Jackie’s terminal lymphoma. Amidst all the sadness, the family is able to bond and find peace with one another before Jackie’s death.

Little Women
I’m partial to the 1994 version but the 1933, 1949, and 1978 versions are all just as good. Like in Stepmom, Susan Sarandon plays the mother, so I think we can all agree that she’s one of the best on-screen moms ever. Based on the Louisa May Alcott novel of the same name, the film tells the story of the March sisters—Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst)—growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War. With their father away fighting, the girls must rely on their mother for guidance as they deal with the struggles of becoming women.

Where The Heart Is
I love, love, love this movie. I can’t explain why, but I do. The movie starts with a pregnant, 17-year-old Novalee Nation being abandoned at Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma by her boyfriend. For six weeks, she secretly lives in the store before giving birth to her daughter Americus. While in the hospital, she befriends nurse Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd)—a single mother with four children by three different men—whose struggles are also chronicled throughout the movie. Novalee moves in with Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a woman she previously met at Wal-Mart who becomes a sort of mother figure for her (her own mother abandoned her as a child). The movie ends with Novalee finding love and returning to the same Oklahoma Wal-Mart to get married.

Terms of Endearment
This movie may be from 1983, but it’s just as a relevant now as it was then. It covers 30 years of the mother-daughter relationship between Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma Greenway (Debra Winger) which, naturally, isn’t all smooth sailing. Aurora finds herself falling for ex-astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) while her free-spirited daughter struggles with a rocky marriage, an affair, and terminal cancer. Make sure you have lots of tissues on hand.

* Published on May 7, 2013 at She Does the City

Understanding the Effects of Victim Blaming and Cyber Bullying through Rehtaeh Parsons’ Death

In Life Stories, Opinion on April 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm
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Illustration by Meags Fitzgerald

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life-support following a failed suicide attempt. Depression led Rehtaeh to take her own life, but what led to her depression is heartbreaking and disturbing.

Facebook memorial page set up by her mother states that in November 2011, Rehtaeh was allegedly raped by four young boys while drinking at a friend’s house. One of the boys took a photo of her rape, which then went viral and spread throughout her school and community of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Rehtaeh was labelled a “slut”, shunned by friends, and harassed to the point of having to move out of Dartmouth to Halifax. She struggled with depression and checked herself into a hospital for six weeks after she began experiencing suicidal thoughts. Her rape was investigated by police but they concluded that there was not enough evidence to lay charges. (The case has since been reopened.)

What’s upsetting about Rehtaeh’s story (besides the fact that no one has been charged with her rape) is that victim blaming and bullying denied her recovery from such a traumatic experience. What’s worse is that it came at the hands of her attackers, peers, and so-called friends – not unlike the recent Stuebenville, Ohio rape case. The 16-year-old victim in that case had photos and videos of her appearing to be unconscious at a party posted online, and was blamed for how much alcohol she consumed on the night of the rape. While each case has had a different outcome, both raise important questions about the way society views rape and sexual assault, and the impact of cyber bullying.

Let’s first get one thing straight: rape is never, ever the victim’s fault. No one asks nor deserves to be raped and attaching the word “slut” to an attack encourages such beliefs. When these beliefs manifest themselves in the form of cyber bullying, they become dangerous.

There was no such thing as cyber bullying when I was growing up, and I’m thankful for that. Being without the internet made homework a hassle, but those who were bullied or teased at school were allowed some sort of peace from it all when the school day ended. If you’re a teen today, chances are you’ve experienced cyber bullying in some form, be it victim, bully, or observer. As Rehtaeh’s case shows, text messages, pictures, Facebook comments, and tweets can have just as much impact as – if not more than – physical bullying. All it takes is a click to destroy someone’s life. And while not every case of cyber bullying leads to suicide, some do, and that’s some too many.

It may be impossible to put an end to cyber bullying, but it’s not impossible to change people’s – specifically youth’s – approach to it. Let’s first recognize that cyber bullying can be a crime, particularly when it involves distributing compromising photos of a person or causing someone to feel threatened. It’s also important to understand that what you post on the internet is forever, living on in the form of screen grabs and retweets. Do you really want hurtful and embarrassing things you wrote about someone to pop up when, say, a future employer happens to Google you? No, you don’t. Not to mention the lasting impact what you post will have on the person it’s directed towards.

No lives should be lost because of victim blaming or cyber bullying but, as Rehtaeh has shown us, sadly, some are. If there’s one thing we can learn from her death, it’s that words can hurt just as much as sticks and stones.

* Published on April 15, 2013 at She Does the City

A word to the creeps

In Life Stories on March 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Nothing ruins a night out quite like a creep. You know the type: bad pick-up lines, unwelcome touching, general awkwardness/incoherence. We’ve all encountered them at some point and after experiencing three separate incidents involving them in the past week, I’m seriously dreading ever going out again for fear of being creeped on.

Some people are creeps by nature but I’m pretty sure that the majority I’ve encountered are just drunk guys behaving like creeps. Which is so much worse. I’m sure they’re fine upstanding young men under different circumstances but give them a few beers and a shot of whiskey and suddenly, you find yourself reciting the lines from a TLC song: “I don’t want your number (no); I don’t want to give you mine and (no); I don’t want to meet you nowhere (no); I don’t want none of your time (no).”

My first encounter of the week involved a guy complimenting my perfume and asking what scent it was. Innocent enough. I tell him and he asks me to smell his neck and tell him what cologne I think he’s wearing. I tell him that I don’t know and he says, “Me neither” with a wink. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! Did he really think that I’d be dying to go home with him in hopes of finding out what cologne he uses? First of all, guys, please don’t ever use this line (if you can even call it that) on a girl. And if you’re going to compliment us, don’t then direct the compliment back to yourself. If we’re at all interested, we’ll let you know.

My second encounter involved a guy inviting me to follow him and his friend to another area of the bar to dance. Again, innocent enough, but I shook my head because a) I have a boyfriend and b) I was already having a great time dancing with my friends. About 10 minutes later, he walks up and starts pointing at me while whispering something in his friend’s ear. Not wanting to deal with whatever this was, I had my friend inform them that they should probably move along. The guy then asks me if that was my boyfriend and when I tell him, “No, but I do have a boyfriend,” he proceeds to make out with a girl within elbow distance in what I’m assuming was an attempt to make me jealous. The thing is, the girl he was making out with and aggressively pulling the hair of (?!) was very wasted and so I was very much concerned for her. Guys: if we tell you that we aren’t interested, respect that and move on. Like, literally move on to another area of the bar. Also, don’t take advantage of too-drunk girls. Just don’t.

My third encounter was probably with an actual creep, but there’s still some valuable lessons there. I received a call on Monday at 8 a.m. from a guy who had been given a number by a girl he met on the weekend. Turns out, the girl had given him a fake number that turned out to be mine (lucky me). The conversation should have been him asking for the girl, me telling him he had the wrong number, and him hanging up. Instead, the phone call lasted five minutes because he refused to believe that I wasn’t this girl. At one point, he even asked if I lived on a particular street because that’s where this girl told him she lived. Still, the weirdest part of this phone call was the fact that he was calling her at 8 a.m. on a Monday.

That evening, I receive a text from the same guy that says, “Hi.” I inform him right away that, again, he has the wrong number. He then tells me he wishes it was the “rite #” [sic] and when I don’t reply, apologizes and says goodbye. A few minutes later, he tells me that I “did sound pretty sweet on the phone” and then proceeds to ask me out for a drink. I tell him that I have a boyfriend and I’ll have to pass, to which he says, “Iwas just saying, yes or no. If it’s no we just going leave it like this I won’t text or call back ok” [sic]. Apparently, this guy thought it was fate that he was given my number as a fake by some girl who obviously wasn’t interested in him and refused to believe that I also wasn’t interested. So, yeah, don’t ever assume that you can sway a girl you don’t know into suddenly liking you and please don’t ever be this guy.

If you’re a fellow who likes to hit the town, please know that creeps are not bad boys and being a creep is not being suave. If you can’t drink and flirt properly, don’t. You will have a far better chance at picking up/getting a date with/dancing with a girl if you skip the cheesy pick up lines and keep your hands off until they’re welcomed. A guy playing hard to get is always sexier than a guy trying too hard and chances are, if you’re trying too hard, you’ve entered the creep zone.

* Published on March 7, 2013 at She Does the City

I’m becoming my mother…and I’m embracing it

In Life Stories on March 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

The mother-daughter relationship is a complicated one. Mothers represent our first encounter with womanhood, but also our first rejection of it. For years, I told myself that I was nothing like my mother, firm in my belief that the only similarities between us were our genetics. I’m not sure when it began (truth be told, it was probably always there), but I am becoming my mother. And for the first time in my life, I’m embracing it.

Growing up, I always considered myself more of a daddy’s girl. I was the only one of his kids who shared his love of sports and sense of humour, and I guess I had that whole first-born thing going for me. It’s not that I wasn’t close to my mom, though—I feel very blessed to have had the wonderful childhood I did, and to have parents that are still together after 27 years of marriage. I’ve looked up to my mom my whole life, but for a good chunk of that time, I was afraid to admit it.

For all the changing I did during my teenage years—in my mind, body, and every aspect of my personality—I spent just as much time, if not more, rejecting the one person closest to me who been through it all before. In the back of my mind, I knew my mom was the ultimate resource for my venture into womanhood, but my adolescent self was too stubborn to admit it. I shudder when I think of how I would knock over chairs and scream at her just because she was concerned for my well-being. Or how the day I got my period for the first time, she was so eager to explain menstruation to me, but I told her I already knew everything and subsequently locked myself in the bathroom while trying to figure out how a pad worked.

I remember spending hours looking through her high school yearbooks from the ’70s, trying to grasp the fact that my mom was once a 16-year-old girl. They were filled with notes from friends about skipping class, with the words “hunk” and “babe” written beside the class portraits of the boys she had crushes on. The funny thing was, she was exactly the kind of girl I was envious of in high school: pretty, popular, and always dating older guys. But maybe that’s why I pushed her away.

Today, our relationship is nothing like it was during those years (thank goodness). I am no longer a stubborn teenage girl, but a 25-year-old who has embraced her own womanhood and has a newfound respect for the person who brought her into this world. I enjoy sharing details of my life with my mom and actively seek her advice because, hey, the woman has 27 years on me and knows far more about the way things work in this world than I do. I understand why she wants her living space to be clean, and why nothing is worse than a sink filled with dirty dishes, and the importance of stocking up on groceries. We share interests and mannerisms, and sometimes I’ll get off the phone with her and think to myself, “We are so much alike.” Like mother, like daughter, right?

* Published on February 26, 2013 at She Does the City

A timeline of my celebrity crushes

In Entertainment, Life Stories on January 30, 2013 at 6:26 pm
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Photo credit: Fuck Yeah JTT

I’ve left a long trail of celebrity crushes over the years, but the following are the ones I remember most fondly and who will forever hold a piece of my young, fangirl heart.

1994: Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT)

At one point in time, every girl was in love with JTT – and really, how could you not be? He was forever on the cover of Bop magazine and our TV screens; his baby blue eyes and lucious blonde locks drawing you in. I don’t need to tell you how great he was in Home Improvement, or how adorable he was in The Lion King, or how rugged he was in Wild America. JTT was the complete package and he most definitely ruled the 90s. (If someone can tell me where he is and what he is doing now, I will be forever grateful. I just want to know that he is still alive somewhere.)

1995: Devon Sawa

Like JTT, Devon Sawa was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed cutie who stole the hearts of many girls during the 90s. I was so unbelievably jealous that Christina Ricci got to kiss him twice, especially during that slow dance scene in Casper. The line “Can I keep you?” will forever make me weak in the knees. Just ONCE I would like someone to say that to me.

1996: Nick Carter

I remember the boy band era fondly. We girls were busy idolizing the Spice Girls and then, suddenly, the boy version arrived to sing sweet nothings to us and make us all giddy. Every girl had her favourite member and when it came to the Backstreet Boys, Nick and Brian had the monopoly when it came to young girls’ hearts (I remember one of my friends had a crush on Kevin and we all thought that was so weird because he was “too much of a man.”) I was a Nick girl myself and liked to think that he was only ever serenading me.

1997: Leonardo DiCaprio

So by now you’ve probably figured out that I had a huge thing for blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys back in the day. Leo was the first crush who’s face was displayed on my bedroom wall and I have very vivid memories of kissing his fake movie poster lips before going to bed. He was perfect in Titanic and while I cried throughout the whole movie, I cried most when his character disappeared into the ocean abyss.

1998: Rider Strong

Shawn Hunter of Boy Meets World was my first introduction to the bad boy. Cory was cute and all, but Shawn wore leather jackets and had floppy hair and came from a broken home. He was like this little lost puppy dog that you wanted to cuddle and take home.

1999: Ryan Phillipe

During middle school, Ryan Phillipe would greet me everyday from inside my locker. His sultry expression made it seem as though he was so in love with me and his frosted tips were 1000000x better than any 12-year-old boy’s at the time. I was definitely too young to understand most of Cruel Intentions when I saw it but I did understand that Ryan was sooo hot in it.

2001: Johnny Depp

I will never not have a crush on Johnny Depp because he is never not sexy. He’s one of those men who’s just like, “Oh hey, you thought I was good looking last decade? Well look at me NOW!” My crush developed after I saw Edward Scissorhands, which seems weird but is also a testament to how Mr. Depp can make any character attractive.

2003: Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie)

Seth Cohen may have had excellent taste in music, but Ryan had that whole Rebel Without A Cause-thing going for him. He had me at that “Whoever you want me to be” line and is probably the only guy who makes a wife beater look good. I’ve never consulted Marissa (R.I.P.) on the matter, but I’m positive that Ryan is a damn good kisser too.

2004: Julian Casablancas

Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) is one of the few people who can sing literally anything and make it sound amazing. His voice is the definition of sex and his image is pure rock ‘n’ roll: greasy hair, leather jackets, sunglasses. He’s mysterious; has terrific genes (his mother is a former model and was Miss Denmark in 1965, and his father is the founder of Elite Model Management); and writes beautiful songs. So yeah, he’s perfect.

* Published on January 10, 2013 at She Does the City

West Texas Holiday: a week spent in Marfa

In Life Stories on October 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I departed for a week-long adventure in Marfa. The decision to go to this West Texas town was a whimsical one; I’d stumbled upon it within the depths of the Internet and became obsessed. So, I surprised my boyfriend with plane tickets to El Paso—the nearest airport, some three hours away—and we spent the next month waiting impatiently. It’s taken this week of being back home to translate our trip because Marfa isn’t easily translated into words.

Basic facts about Marfa: it’s a small town in the West Texas Chihuahuan Desert with a population of 2,000. Renowned minimalist artist Donald Judd put the town on the map after he moved here in 1971 from New York City and since then, it’s become a destination for artists, ranchers, and people from all over. Still, it’s not for everyone. If the desert heat doesn’t get you by day, the bugs might by night. The town shuts down at midnight and some days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything open. But if you can survive this, you’ve found yourself something special.

I don’t know what we came here for exactly, but it was the people who touched our hearts the most. I met some of the friendliest, most interesting people ever here. A man from New Zealand traveling across America; a former New Yorker now Marfa retiree who took 30 minutes out of his day to tell us what to check out; a couple who invited us to a local goat (cabrito) roast where we were only strangers for a minute and people genuinely wanted to hear our story. Here, people will pause a phone conversation to say hello and ask you how you are. Here, things may look like a movie set but it’s real and it’s impossible not to fall in love with this town.

These are the places we stayed/ate/went:

Marfa Flyer: Owned and operated by Rachel Barr, the Marfa Flyer (which is really just her Ford Explorer) got us from the airport to Marfa. Rachel knows everything about the area and filled the three-hour drive with the most interesting stories. She’ll pick you up and drop you off at the airport and wherever else you please!

Prada Marfa: Not actually situated in Marfa and not actually a Prada store, Prada Marfa is an art installation surrounded by nothing (which is precisely the humorous point of it). Rachel told us that it wasn’t intended to be a permanent installation but people loved it so much that its creators decided to keep it there. She said they’ve hired an old hippie to maintain it, which includes replacing the glass after break-in attempts (the shoes and accessories are all nailed down).

El Cosmico: A hippie-esque campground thought up by Austin hotel maven Liz Lambert, El Cosmico—much like Marfa—doesn’t feel real. Here, you can sleep in a safari tent (our choice), teepee, or vintage trailer and see every single star in the sky, including the milky way. It features a communal outdoor kitchen, hammock grove, and a bathhouse wherein you shower surrounded by grapevines and the Texas air. The staff told us that people don’t usually stay here as long as we did but I would stay here for a year straight if you let me. (Beyonce also stayed here about a month before we did.)

Hotel Paisano: A national historic landmark, the Paisano is where Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson stayed while filming Giant here in 1955. Naturally, the hotel is covered with Giant memorabilia including a James Dean cutout and photos of the cast. We stayed for one night in room 223 where Dean stayed during filming and though we weren’t visited by his ghost, the dreamy photos of him on the walls did just fine.

Lost Horse Saloon
: Run by a cowboy and covered in Texan paraphernalia, this place is THE definition of a saloon. It’s a real locals’ spot where ranchers bring their dogs to hang out and people share stories around a campfire out back. Here is where you’ll see the true Marfa. The first night we came, we were greeted with dogs play-fighting and Cowboy Ty (the owner) shouting, “Howdy! Did y’all just get into town? Well, knife fight is at 9.” (He was joking, of course.) And then when we left, Ty gave me a hug and kissed me on the top of my head and we got invited to a local goat roast and my love affair with Marfa truly began.

Planet Marfa: Owned by Jon (a former navy pilot) and Aase Johnson—an incredibly sweet couple who met in Aase’s native country of Norway while Jon was stationed there during Vietnam—Planet Marfa is best described as a playground. The beergarden features games like bullring and ping pong, lanterns for nighttime, outdoor fireplaces, and a giant handmade teepee that makes for the most magical place to drink inside of. Definitely try Aase’s homemade pico de gallo and chat with Isabella, the couple’s pet parrot (who apparently freaked Beyonce out with a cheeky whistle when the singer stopped by).

Padres
: A former funeral home turned bar, Padres offers cheap beers, a games room, one of the best burgers you’ll ever taste, and a bar cat named Billy Jr. (his namesake is Father Bill, one of the owners). The first night we came here, Modest Mouse’s “World At Large” came on as we walked through the door and I knew this place was alright.

Food Shark: Open Tuesday through Friday for lunch, the Food Shark is a Marfa hotspot (if there is such a thing). Try their Marfalafel and watch their commercial. They also run the Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlor which we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to check out.

Boyz 2 Men: In Marfa, Sunday brunch means going to a breakfast taco food truck called Boyz 2 Men where you might just hear Boyz II Men.

Fat Lyle’s: The newest truck to the Marfa food scene, Fat Lyle’s was recommended to us by several locals. And for good reason. Their scotch egg is to die for!

Borunda’s: Here, we ate Tex-Mex and marveled at the 90s supermodel cutouts and Americana that covered the place from floor to ceiling.

Marfa Book Company
: This is the kind of bookstore you could spend all day in. They also host cool events like synthesizer workshops, lectures, and musicians.

Cobra Rock Boot Company: Here, Logan Caldbeck and Colt Miller build and sell their South Highland Boots—western-influenced lace-up boots that are cut, hammered, and stitched entirely by the couple. Logan is from B.C. and proof that even when you’re in the middle of the West Texas desert, you’re bound to run into a fellow Canadian.

Ayn Foundation: One of several art galleries in Marfa, here we checked out their current projects: Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper” and Maria Zerres’ “September Eleven.”

Other places we didn’t get a chance to check out but wanted to: The Chinati Foundation (contemporary art museum), Big Bend National Park, and McDonald Observatory (which hosts a Star Party on Tuesdays).

* Published on October 3, 2012 at She Does the City.

A round up of inspiring, quirky, and beautiful real-life weddings helps one girl get her I-Do-Groove back. (Warning: This post is addictive.)

In Life Stories on May 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I went through a brief period recently where I decided I didn’t want to get married, much to the dismay of my boyfriend of nearly six years. It wasn’t that I don’t believe in marriage, after all, I come from a small town where literally 99% of the people I know have parents who are still together and getting married and buying a house by the age of 25 is the norm. I think the issue was that I wasn’t inspired by the idea of the traditional church/here comes the bride/big gown wedding; I want my special day to be truly special.

Then the Royal Wedding happened alongside the launch of our wedding section here at She Does the City and I started to realize that, uh, maybe I do want to get married. Needless to say, much of my spare time since then has been spent getting inspired by others’ unique and quirky weddings and so, if I’m going to do this wedding thing, it HAS to be like one of these.

Playful Vineyard Wedding
Check it out here, and here and here.
The Location: Crane Creek Vineyard in Georgia.
The Dress: Knee-length with a ruffle bottom.
What I Love: The floral bridesmaids dresses, floral decorations, vintage floral plates… SO MUCH FLORAL! Oh yeah, and it took place on the most adorable vineyard ever.

New York Farm Wedding
The Location: Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.
The Dress: Knee-length and slightly shimmery.
What I Love: The handmade wedding invitations and complimentary tote bags! No one could possibly turn down an invite when it looks as cute and playful as these.

Bohemian Forest Wedding
The Location: A farm in Upstate New York.
The Dress: Long, flowy and oh-so-bohemian.
What I Love: The earthy, 60’s vibe! I can only imagine how much fun it would be to dance the night away in the middle of a forest.

Denim Wedding
Check it out here and here.
The Location: A very green field somewhere.
The Dress: A simple-yet-chic Oscar de la Renta gown.
What I Love: The denim dresses and suits paired with Hunter boots! Non-traditional attire ensures a wedding is just as memorable for the guests as it is for the couple.

Carnival Extravaganza Wedding
The Location: Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.
The Dress: Long and strapless with intricate embroidery.
What I Love: The fairy lights and carnival atmosphere! Seriously, how amazing would it be to go for a ride on a ferris wheel after exchanging vows amongst trees decorated with pretty lights?!

Hot Springs Resort Wedding
The Location: Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado.
The Dress: Long, strapless and classic.
What I Love: The scenery! Mountains of trees, roaming cows, tipis, cabins, hot springs, bonfires, fireworks… I want it all!

* Published on May 17, 2011 at She Does the City