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Women of the Week: Krista Bridge

Bullying knows no boundaries. It can happen to children in a schoolyard, to adults working away at the office and between siblings at the dinner table. In Krista Bridge’s new novel, The Eliot Girls, she draws from personal experience as she explores the various depths of bullying at a private school for girls.

The germ of the novel had been kicking around in the back of Bridge’s mind for years and stems from a time when she was a student at St. Clement’s, a private school in Toronto where bullying was afoot.

“It really was just something I’ve lived through and it really made me want to write about it because it’s such a key experience to the development to my own identity,” says Bridge. “It was something that went on every day, sometimes in subtle ways, not necessarily in big ways. And it’s such a huge part of growing up.”

Bridge eventually left St. Clement’s to attend a public school for the last two years of high school.

In 2007, when she was pregnant with her first son, Bridge became serious about writing the novel. After her son was born, she mastered the parenting skill of maintaining a regular naptime routine, which allowed her to write for an hour and a half each day, chipping away at the novel a little more as her son slept.

Not too long after she started to get the foundation for the novel, the theme of bullying emerged.

“I’ve been through bullying and I’ve been on both ends of it really,” she says. “I’ve been a bully and I’ve been a victim. I haven’t been a bully in any sort of terrible offence, but I think a lot of students occupy this kind of middle ground where they move between those roles. And, at least in my schooling experience, most people weren’t always the victim or always the bully. Although some people certainly were.”

Even though there are some parallels between the novel and her youth, at the end of the day it’s a writer and her fiction. George Eliot Academy is not St. Clement’s – it’s a fictionalized private school.

Even with such a strong theme of bullying threaded through, Bridge didn’t write it with a principled message in mind.

“I really wasn’t trying to construct a moral message. I really didn’t really have that objective at all,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about it from that vantage point of, you know, the social good. But I was really just thinking about it as a writer and how much that story interested me as something that I had lived through.”

She also looks into the lives of the educators, exposing their humanity and the way their private lives are reflected in the way they teach.

Bridge’s writing career began in 2002 when she had a short story published in Toronto Life.  She also attended the Humber School for Writers under the mentorship of Elizabeth Harvor.

“She was wonderful. She was so supportive, so helpful, so instrumental to my development as a writer in the beginning,” she says.

The program resonated with Bridge so much she decided to take the program for a second year, furthering her relationship with Harvor.

In 2006, Bridge released The Virgin Spy (Douglas & McIntyre), her debut collection of short stories. She was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Relit Award.

The Eliot Girls (Douglas & McIntyre) was launched on June 19 at the Dora Keogh Pub as part of the Fine Print Reading Series.

 

We need to talk: The worst words you can hear in a relationship

“We need to talk,” are probably the four worst words you can hear in a relationship, whether that relationship is friendly or romantic literally nothing good happens after that sentence.

Last week I said those words, not to Boyfriend, but to one of my best friends. I told her that it was time we had a chat about her insistence on returning to her ex over and over and over again. They broke up a while ago because they have very different views on relationships and several other reasons that are not mine to tell. The day they broke up I was there for her and I was there for her every time she took him back after that but there comes a point when you just can’t do it anymore. So I told her, after seeing her falter and slide back into their old routine, that we had to talk, now.

There is no good time to tell your friend that you hate her boyfriend, there really isn’t, but after the break up you should feel safe to tell her that she can do better. Shouldn’t you? Not when she keeps going back to the same guy.

But you can only watch your friends hurt for so long before saying something isn’t really a choice but a necessity; our friendship now has a rule, no more talking about her ex and I can’t be the shoulder to cry on anymore.

The whole talk was short but I felt terrible. I felt like I shouldn’t be allowed to comment on someone’s broken relationship when mine is going so well, like somehow I lost my right to say something when I met Boyfriend.

In the end I want my friend to be happy, that’s it. I want her to see how beautiful and talented she is; I want her to walk away from the man who’s only made her miserable and my opinion wouldn’t be any different if I were still single.  I’m thankful that my friends never let me go back to some of the guys I dated before Boyfriend; one night my best friends spent two hours talking me out of a relationship with a boy who had been awful to me but I had never been able to see it.

Sometimes we all need a talking to–not all the time, but sometimes–and it helps. Maybe I couldn’t make my friend change her mind about her ex but at least someone finally told her the truth, at least finally someone said, “We need to talk.” If it had to be someone, I’m glad it was me. I doubt my friend knows how much she means to me but I hope one day to be sitting at her wedding watching her in love and happy.

Love isn’t easy. Some people are worth fighting for and some just aren’t. If you’re not happy, give up the fight and go find someone who will love you, someone who your friends can at the very least respect.

Shannon Hunter: The perfect time to say ‘I love you’

There have been a couple of moments recently where I’ve realized that I’m not just in love with Boyfriend, I’m head over heels cartoon birds singing me songs when I wake up IN LOVE. But I still don’t know how to say it; probably because I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to find the perfect time to say the words, “I. Love. You.”

I don’t think there is a perfect time though, I don’t think that we need to be on the island with all of our friends, or on a trip to the beach or anything other than with each other; as many times as I’ve said it to the air for it to count he kind of has to be in the same room and within hearing distance.

I’ve taken to poking at him and saying his name but every time he says, “What?” I sing-song, “Never mind,” which drives him mad but it’s become an inside joke between us; it reminds me of The Princess Bride, never mind is my as you wish.

I was afraid before, afraid to wait the eons that exist between, I love you and I love you too, but now my fear is outweighed by my desire to tell him how much he means to me. I’m a lucky girl, how I ended up with someone who can make my heart speed up and slowdown in the same breath I don’t know. But I do know that I am a lucky girl. I never thought I would find someone who fit perfectly in to my life and into my heart.

I’m terrified that he won’t say it back, I’ve never been more afraid of anything, but I don’t need to find the perfect time to tell him that I love him, I just need to tell him. I can tell him when we’re making dinner, when we’re going for a swim at my pool or when we’re sitting on the couch watching more HBO than we probably should; because there is no perfect time to tell someone that your life is better with them in it.

So my life is better with Boyfriend in it and I need him to know that because the words are practically bursting from my throat, because saying it is better than not saying it, because even if he doesn’t say it back I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. But he better say it.

Maybe I’ll say it tomorrow, maybe I’ll say it the next time he wears the blue shirt that makes his own blue eyes sparkle, maybe I’ll say it the next time I fall asleep next to him after a day in the sunshine or maybe I’ll just say it the next time he smiles at me. I’ll never find the right time and nothing in life is ever perfect but maybe I’ll luck out and find a slightly more appropriate time than while playing video games or falling asleep.

Women of the week: ILana Tarutina

Music has always been a big part of ILana Tarutina’s life. She started singing in choirs at the age of 8, then started taking private vocal lessons and piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music. With the knowledge gained from this, she started composing and creating tracks.

“By the age of 14 I was writing my own songs and at 16 I got my first set of music production equipment and started dabbling with arranging and beat making,” she says.

Now, she owns ILE Records, a company that offers songwriting, composition, production, recording and mixing.
“I’m proud of myself for building my production studio from scratch,“ she says.

As a female producer, she is an oddity in her field. She is quick to recognize this fact, yet remains hopeful for change.
“Unfortunately in my industry, men still heavily dominate the role of a music producer. I’m sure that will change within time, as there are more and more female producers on the rise.”

Despite this amazing accomplishment, she is still incredibly humble and is quick to recognize that she is not a perfect fit for everyone.
“As far as me producing for other artists goes, it’s all about what the artist is looking for, sometimes I may be a good fit sometimes someone else may be a better fit. I know what I bring to the table, I know my sound and production styles and I am aware that it doesn’t suit everybody.”

Although her producing venture has been a success, she hasn’t given up on her writing, and cites that her goal “is to write great songs, be it for me or other artists.”

And, yes, she is still a singer—and an original one at that.

“I’ve been told that I have a unique sound, perhaps it’s because I use original sounds in my production, perhaps it’s because when I sing I have a Russian accent!”

As a female producer with a unique sound, it is safe to say that ILana Tarutina is one of a kind. She is also a fighter, which is why she made it in her industry.

“Anybody entering the music industry has to be resilient,” she says. “Expect lots of pit falls and disappointments and forget overnight success. To make it in every industry requires lots of determination and hard work, in music industry that is especially true since it’s 1000 times more competitive than other industries. A song can be an overnight hit, but the legwork to make that song can be years.”

Sound advice from someone who has spent her entire life in the field.

WP partying with Psy at the official MuchMusic Video Awards afterparty

Last night saw downtown Toronto again play host to the MuchMusic Video Awards and, for the first time, I had a VIP invite to one of the official after parties.

As the Canadian coordinator for MMVA co-host Psy’s dancers, as well as dancing in the show himself, my friend Ryan Scheel was invited to the official Universal Music Canada after party at Uniun nightclub.  Being Ryan’s BFF, I got to be his date for the event.  (Side note:  Ryan is attractive, single, and you can poke him on Facebook.)

When Ryan told me we’d be going to an MMVA after party the teenage boy inside of me got excited.  I remember watching the MMVA’s as a teen, imagining how amazing and lavish these parties must be; I fantasized about a room packed with celebrities, each of them able to be themselves as cameras were confiscated at the door.  This would be my chance to finally experience this from the inside.

We arrived at Uniun shortly after 12:30am and I took note of the limousines and absurdly long Lincoln Navigators parked around the block.  It seemed to be a good sign.  The bouncer at the front of the building gave us directions on how we would get into the club.  We made our way to a side door — how very VIP — and ventured inside.

At this point, I began to realize our night was not going to be what I had hoped and imagined for.

The massive nightclub was packed with people and in comparison to the blazers, bowties, and dress pants Ryan and I had worn, I spotted several basic Hanes-style white tanktops, a plethora of jeans, and even one sophisticated gentleman in track pants.

All I had wanted was to sit and watch Demi Lovato hammer back some Jager-bombs or see Avril Lavigne argue with husband Chad Kroeger over whose hair looked prettier in the nightclub light but it seemed that my night was going in a very different direction.

Disheartened, we made our way to the bar.  The booze may not have been complimentary but I certainly wasn’t going to leave without having a beer after I had schlepped my dressed-up self at midnight to a nightclub across town.

Sweating and unable to talk over the music, I made my way to the basement level of the club where the atmosphere was more laid back and the volume of people was closer to what I was expecting of a MMVA “VIP” after party.

After about ten minutes, I ran into a friend of mine, Mike Sleath, who is a drummer for various Canadian pop acts including Shawn Desman, Jesse Labelle, and Alyssa Reid.  We chatted about the MMVA’s and the fact that we were both doomed to wearing our jackets until we left the club for fear of revealing the sweaty mess underneath.  It was kind of a celebrity run in, I told myself; at least through association, anyway.

The basement level began to get busier, and I was introduced to many of the dancers from earlier in the evening.  Most of them were finalists on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and the pretty redhead was the winner of season 4, Jordan Clark.

Okay, so they weren’t exactly big name stars, but at least I’d be able to tell people I’d met someone at the party.

A circle began to form and one by one the dancers entered into it, showcasing their incredible, toned bodies and sensual dance moves.  It was like being in a scene from the latest Step Up movie.  Part of me felt the urge to jump inside and show them what I can do — which is pretty much just gyrate off beat like I’m having a seizure – however I smartly decided against it.

Someone grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “That’s Psy in the white shirt.”

Sure enough, 6 feet in front of me was the man who had been viewed more than a billion times on YouTube.

I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and readied my camera in hope of something awesome happening.  And then it did.  Psy broke loose of his minder and jumped into the dance-off circle.  I began recording, in spite of his minder’s best efforts to stop anyone from capturing the moment.  By the time he tried blocking my lens, I’d already posted the 7 second clip online.  Thanks Vine.

 

Shortly after, Psy was hurried out of the club.  It made me sad; the poor guy had just finished working his butt off at the MMVA’s and wanted to blow off a little steam.  Yes, people had their camera phones out but he wasn’t doing anything inappropriate.  He was simply dancing with some of the talented people who had help make his performance such a success.  It was hardly reason enough to cut short his fun.

The dancers seemed even more energized now and the party continued.  I locked eyes with an attractive blond who mouthed “hi” at me and I realized this was Matt Marr of SYTYCD and Glee fame.  I tried several times after that to put myself in his line of sight to see if he’d flirt with me again.  He did not, which makes me think he probably thought I was someone else the first time around.  Quel dommage.

Around 2am I felt it was time to call it a night.  I had a brief text conversation with my friend Dan Sadowski, front man for The Little Black Dress, about joining him at Danny Fernandes’ MMVA after party but the cry of the street meat vendor seemed way more appealing.  Sorry Danny.

In all, it was an extremely fun night and a fantastic experience but it certainly wasn’t the evening I had dreamt about.  The thing I’ve now come to realize is that with the number of parties happening in Toronto after the MMVA’s, the chances of finding a single party filled with wall-to-wall celebrities is non-existent.  But maybe I’m wrong, and I’m happy to allow the teenage boy inside of me believe that in a secret party venue last night, a list of Hollywood starlets got together with Rob Ford and smoked, um, a ham.

 

You can follow Simon on Twitter at @ScottishGuy for all the latest updates on the sweaty messes under his blazers.

WATCH: Bedroom turned into princess paradise while roommate is away

When Tom, aka Redditor Twoverend, was overseas for two months his housemates set to work changing his normal, drab bachelor bedroom into something a little more pink.

All his buddies set to work transforming every aspect of his bedroom from what a regular guys might enjoy to something more fit for a 7-year-old princess loving girl might enjoy. Their rationale being that since he is English he loves the monarchy, and their duty was to get to work setting up a new fairy princess kingdom for him to arrive home to.

Complete with imitation crown moulding, collages of photoshopped princess photos of Tom, paintings of fairies, and pink lace as far as the eye can see it is safe to say their mission was a success.

Watch the video for Tom’s reaction upon returning from his trip at 1:30 in the morning.

Below are some photos of the transformation.

Check out Tom’s full photo album here.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Win tickets to see Bon Jovi!

Are you living on a prayer that you’ll get to see Bon Jovi live in concert? Well, after criss-crossing the globe on his Because We Can tour he’s coming back to Toronto and Women’s Post has a pair of tickets to give way to a lucky reader. Put on your copy of What About Now, book off November 1st,  then enter our contest today.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Friday, June 28th, at 2 p.m.

CONTEST CLOSED

RECIPE: Chickpea tacos!

There’s a good chance your first thought when you hear of chickpea tacos is “Ew, who’d want to eat that?” But trust me on this. They are amazing.

What you need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 package of taco spice
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil (how much is up to you)
  • Hard taco shells (blue corn if possible)
  • taco fixings (lettuce, onion, tomato, salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole)

Take a can of chickpeas, rinse them, then put them in a bowl.  Evenly coat the chickpeas with the taco spice, garlic, lime juice, water and oil. Bake them for 20 minutes. Cook the taco shells for 10 minutes.

Take them out of the oven, add your fixings.

I actually found these because I said chickpea to someone in an e-mail. Gmail picked up the word (as it scans your e-mails for keywords and directs ads at you based on these) and promoted a recipe link to me. For the record, this recipe is the only reason I am okay with Gmail reading my mail.

 

I Picked You

Last weekend Boyfriend and I got into a bit of a tiff. I had jokingly said, “Let’s talk about our relationship and the future and be all romantic and stuff.” To which he responded, “We don’t need to talk about the future. We’ll just keep having fun and petting kittens and being together.” Aside from noticing that we tend to speak like children of the internet on a regular basis, I was a little put off by the idea that he just saw the future as same old, same old and never moving forward because that is definitely not what I want our relationship to be.

Having grown up in a household where yelling was how most discussions happened I am always a little nervous to have a real discussion because I don’t like yelling and I don’t like fighting. Because of this, I avoided having a conversation about why I was upset and I just let it sit for a day. The next day Boyfriend came over and insisted that we talk because I had been acting “weird.” And he needed to know why. So after a lot of avoiding I finally told him why I was upset and his response made it all better.

When I told Boyfriend that I was upset because I was afraid he was just passing the time with me and it wouldn’t matter if I was me or any other girl he responded by saying, “Shan, I picked you. I could have been with someone else but I wanted you, I picked you.” So we’re not perfect and it isn’t easy but we picked each other and even if the future is uncertain I think it’s worth figuring it out together.

I wish I wasn’t so afraid of confrontation. I can do it at work, in interviews and on twitter but when it comes to someone I care about it’s really hard for me to say what I think when I’m upset. I’m afraid that with one wrong turn he’ll leave me because everyone who came before did. But that’s kind of how it works isn’t it? All the ones that came before were wrong because you have to wade through all the bad relationships to find the good ones.

Whatever happens in the future with Boyfriend I know that he chose to be with me and doesn’t want to be with anyone else and for now I’m happy with the plan for the future which is simply to keep being happy and having fun. Eventually we’re going to have this conversation for real and without all the interweb speak, except that there totally will be interweb speak because we’re nerds of epic proportions. At that point we’ll have to see if we’re ready to go in the same direction because a year from now I’m going to want to live together and in two years I’ll want to think about other options for our future.

For now the future is a little bit uncertain but at least I know I have someone who gets the joke when I ask husky owners if their dog’s name is moon-moon.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.