The Science Stigma

Since middle school, my mind was set on a career in science. It seemed obvious at the time – I was good at it, liked it well enough, and it proved how smart I was. Going into science felt like giving a million middle fingers to the dumb blonde stereotype, like the feminist career choice, the thing true intellectuals pursue. While my friends hung their self worth on their appearances and clothes, I proudly nailed mine to academics. I would write every test cold blooded, do my math homework in PEN. No mistakes here, bitches.

My system worked pretty well for a few years. Zits and other nasty outcroppings on the stippled surface that is my face never really bothered me. I never obsessed over boys or sandals. This isn’t to say that doing any of those things is inherently evil and suppressive; they certainly are neither. But in my case, my academic goals took precedence over personal, and the unreasonable standards I set for myself soon became a sort of security blanket. Instead of spending time with my friends, I would work in the library alone, writing out study notes and googling practice tests. I became dependent on my grades for a shot of self-confidence, a boost of energy and motivation. Then grade 11 started, and along with it, functions. Having done well in math the years before, I felt pretty set.

I failed the first two tests and was completely blindsided – I’d never failed anything before. I did everything they tell you to: got a tutor, came to every class, asked questions, took good notes, did all my homework. But I still struggled. I’d never had to work this hard before for such mediocre marks. I started to wonder why I was forcing myself to take all these classes I hated, when I had so many other choices. Why did I push myself so hard in a direction I didn’t enjoy? Why bully myself into taking courses that bored me? I passed math with a mark in the low eighties, relieved to finally be done with it.

That winter I heard the author Junot Diaz give a talk at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival. It blew my mind. He was so smart, so well spoken, so funny. Hang on, I thought. He’s about as far from science as possible, and he may or may not be the smartest person I’ve ever met. I started to realize that science isn’t everything and that one person’s predisposition is no better than another’s. So this year, I dropped Advanced Functions, Calculus and Chemistry. I know that continuing to force myself through math and science “because it’s the right thing to do” will only make me hate it even more. It’s not a lack of capability – it’s a conscious decision to do what is right for me. I think I owe it to myself to take courses and paths that excite, interest and intrigue me.

Since changing my schedule at the beginning of this term, I’ve thought a lot about my decision. I don’t regret it, but I do still doubt myself. Did I limit my career possibilities? Well, probably. Did I ‘close doors’? Mmhm. But I would have been unhappy living those potential futures, working my ass off in a class/career I disliked. That said, I’m still very conscious of marks and put a great deal of effort into my current courses. Now, however, my academic achievements feel like part of much bigger picture. I have room to breathe, as cliche as it may sound.

There exists this attitude, one which I obviously used to subscribe to, that smart people go into science, or that science is the right thing to do if you want to be successful and happy. Neither of those statements are at all true. If science makes you happy, do it. If it doesn’t, if you can’t even imagine doing it for the next 40 years of your life, then get the hell out. Don’t waste your time. I know it can be hard to take that leap, to move into a completely new academic paradigm, but believe me, if I can do it, so can you. Don’t let yourself be swept up in the notion that you have to do anything, or follow any certain path because it’s the ‘right’ one.

Across the Internet Today

Across the Internet today – a bunch of links to stuff I’ve been spending a little too much time on recently. I’ve got a big, well-researched article coming out on Thursday, so I thought we could start the week with something a little lighter. Let me know what you think!

1. Ashlae and Thom’s crazy beautiful wedding photos, which they just published on Ashlae’s blog Oh, Ladycakes (one of my favourite food blogs, btw).

2. Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s new show on Netflix. Ever since watching his first few specials, I’ve been a huge fan. Already 7 episodes in.

3. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – the recently released memoir by Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney fame. Well written, all over the place in the best way possible, exhilarating and humbling to read at the same time. Highly recommend.

4. Beautiful Amsterdam apartment – my Mom and I are going to Europe over our March Break for a girls trip! We just booked our Airbnbs and are swooning over the terrace, view, bathtub of our apartment in Amsterdam…man, oh man.

5. The best turtleneck ever – Man Repeller featured my long-standing favourite J.Crew turtleneck, friend to hip teens (me, me!) and soccer moms alike. So many colours!! Perfect under t-shirts and evening gowns! The turtleneck: hide your hickies and showcase your sick layering skills with one slick garment! Versatile.

6. Oh She Glows’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins – yes, the miniature gourds are about to abandon us in favour of wreaths and snow and pies and shit, but I will never abandon gourds. Or muffins, speaking of delicious things. So this recipe looks perfect. So crumbleh. So pumpkineh. Planning on making them tonight.

7. The Future of Fashion with Alexa Chung Series 1 – like many teenage girls before me, I worship at the altar that is Alexa Chung’s personal style. How does she manage to look good in rainboots and overalls?! I’d look like a small Irish farmhand named Jess going to milk some goats in the rolling hills of my grandfather’s farm or something. Anyway. Chung takes viewers through the fashion world from an insider’s point of view, exposing the challenges and diversity (or lack thereof) in a field often written off as frivolous or bitchy. I’ve seen every episode.

What have you been obsessing over lately?

An Accidental ‘Digital Detox’

A month or so ago, I lost my phone and, due to an extreme bout of laziness, put off buying a new one until at least two weeks later. Throughout that period, I was completely disconnected (besides my computer). I suddenly found myself with so much more free time, plus no defence mechanism in awkward or boring situations. Instead of burying my head in the proverbial sand that is my Instagram feed, I was forced to interact with my surroundings and – gasp – the people in them. All of a sudden I was driven to strike up random conversations with random strangers! The horror.

Admittedly, the first few days were pretty tough. I found myself reaching into my coat pocket, fingers groping for the familiar slick metal, whenever I was alone. At the bus stop, in the hallways, waiting in line at Shopper’s Drug Mart, at the hairdressers, waiting for my friends in the school lobby…I would normally always be on my phone. After a week or so, I started to get used to this weird new feeling. Isolation suddenly felt like a blessing; I could see and think and breathe without all the pressure of knowing. By the end of the two weeks, my thumbs were rejuvenated.

But when I got my new my new phone, oh so shiny and pretty in it’s little white box, it hooked me again within hours. Suddenly I had so many things to do! So many articles to read and so much random shit to Google! My phone became a magical portal to a land of practically Biblical milk and honey – shoe shopping, Man Repeller, food blogs, all these things right there, in my pocket, during boring-ass history class. I used it feverishly the first couple days, like a kid stuffing themselves on Halloween night, fearful that their parents may take away their candy the next morning. Is that such a bad thing? I asked myself. Isn’t it a good thing to want to stay updated, to be in the loop? Well, according to a study from the United Kingdom’s University of Glasgow, not so much.

The study found that students who were “emotionally invested and extremely active” in social media had lower self esteem, a higher likelihood of anxiety attacks, and worse sleep quality then their earthlier counterparts. In my own limited paradigm, this makes sense to me. If I watch Netflix before bed or check Instagram on the toilet at 2 am, I will often struggle to fall asleep afterwards. Although I try to  limit the time spent on social media, especially when with friends, I do find myself drawn to checking the number of likes on a picture or watching people’s Snapchat stories. My friends search for Wifi passwords like bloodhounds whenever we go out and if, God forbid, someone forgets their phone, they fidget all night, always asking to be shown the picture everyone else already seen, to piggyback on someone else’s device. The digital world, at least for our generation, can feel much more real than the tactile one. The perennial question, that so many have posed before but that still isn’t definitively answered, is whether this constant connection is hurting or helping us and our relationships, both with ourselves and others. What do you think?

Quotes from Canfam

Since I changed my schedule so late in the year, I ended up in some courses that I never would have originally chosen for myself. I had to join whichever classes had space, which in mid-September, isn’t exactly a good sign. This semester I ended up in Canadian Families, a social science course that – you guessed it – studies Canadian families. Literally. Some parts of the course so far I’ve found fairly interesting; discussing life course theories and the evolution of the modern nuclear family. Today we start our new unit, Intimacy in Relationships. Reading between the lines of the course outline, its pretty much all about good old sex n’ love. Joy!

My teacher doubles as our school’s rugby coach and is a huge Patriots fan. He’s a total chad, but a sweet guy and a decent teacher overall. That said, I don’t think anyone could make the upcoming material anything but…awkward? I’m not sure what to expect. Class discussions of past relationships? A who’s who of school sexual gossip? I’ll keep you updated.

In honour of today’s new unit, I decided to post the list of quotes I’ve been carefully gathering throughout the last months. People in my class say some pretty funny things, in or out of context. Read through them – maybe they’ll give you a feel for the class atmosphere or something. Maybe the aura of my wacky Canfam class will connect with yours in a magical beam of sunshine and happiness! Or not. Let me know.

On zip-lining…

“It was really scary. I broke my nail.”

On parties…

“My grandma walked me to the door. She knocked, and when no one came, opened it herself and walked in. She yelled at this random girl walking by ‘This is my grandson! Take good care of him!’ Then she left. I thought everyone would hate me, but I was like a fucking rockstar. Everyone was jealous of my Grandma.”

On Uber…

“I’m all about Uber.”

“I took my first Uber this weekend. It was not as cool as I thought it was going to be.”

On love…

“You’re falling in love, that’s great, but don’t forget about your other responsibilities!”

On finding your zen…

“Self-reflection is like, the most important.”

“I really recommend that everyone finds thirty to sixty minutes in their day to meditate – it’s so soul clearing, you know? And also do yoga.”

Jealous yet? I’m sure there’s still room.

A Lazy Girl’s Guide to Feeding Herself: Breakfast Edition

Let’s say you’re home alone. You wake up in the morning and everyone’s already left – your parents are at work, your siblings at school. Sick!

You’re out of cereal. You’re out of milk. You’re out of pretty much everything you can dump in a bowl and then your face. Shit. You end up eating raw bread with some chunky-ass marmalade because you can’t even find the fucking on switch for the toaster. You also can’t find normal person condiments.

If you’ve ever found yourself a situation like the one described above, know this: you are not alone! And that we are going to fix this. This is the first article of our new series – “A Lazy Girl’s Guide to Feeding Herself” – which will hopefully teach you some basic, easy recipes. We’re starting from the bottom (insert Drake joke here), with breakfast. Believe your health teacher: it is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it!

  1. Apple Pie Oatmeal
  • 1 apple
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • splash of maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup quick oats (or more if you extra hungry)
  • 3/4 cup water/milk/non-dairy milk

First, chop up your apple. You can peel it too if you’ve got time. Toss said apple into a small pot and add the cinnamon, roughly a 2 teaspoons of maple syrup (but it’s up to you) and about a tablespoon of water. You don’t have to measure either of those things. Carpe Diem. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the apple looks soft and yummy, about two minutes, stirring every now and then. Dump in your oats, then your liquid. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook until the liquid is totally absorbed. If you’re feeling classy, spoon it into a bowl and eat. If not, spoon it right into your mouth. That’s right.

2. Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1 handful frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup milk/non dairy milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons chia seeds
  • splash of maple syrup/agave/sweetener of choice

In a bowl or jar, combine the chia seeds, maple syrup, and milk. Stir to combine. Toss in the blueberries and give it a quick stir. Now place the jar/bowl into your fridge. While you do your makeup/shower/walk the dog/pack your bag, let the mixture sit. In about 15 – 20 mins, it should be nicely thickened up and ready for consumption. If not quite pudding like in texture, let it sit a while longer. Enjoy!

3. Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups frozen fruit of choice (fresh is fine too, just add some ice)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of spinach/kale/greens of your choice
  • 1.5 cups liquid (milk, water, etc)

Add all the ingredients into the base of your blender and puree! If things get clogged up, add some extra liquid. No biggie.

How Not to Be an Asshole: Party Edition

We’ve all met them – the loud, destructive, drunk people with no respect for personal space and/or property. For some reason, they always seem to show up uninvited, or worse, one of your friends brings them along. WHY GOD?!

Now, let’s be real. If you’re a little too out of it, it can be hard, or impossible in my case, not to end up acting like shithead. And that’s okay – sometimes. Just, for the love of your social life, try to keep your drunken alter ego tamped down as much as possible.

So who are these assholes? Let’s take a walk through A-town.

1) Drunk guy who does not take a hint

He can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that no, you don’t want to dance right now, and no, you really are okay just hanging out with your friends. If he’s extra fab, he may try to talk to you for a long time over really loud music, resulting in a lot of yelling and face spitting. Run, buddy, run. *This guy could actually be predatory, so please be careful and ask for help if he really is harassing you and you feel unsafe. *

2) The Emperor’s New Clothes Seamstresses/Seamsters (?)

Basically, they go around flattering the shit out of everyone. They might also be excessively touchy, flinging their arms around you and sighing a lot about how awesome and pretty you are. They are likely to either A) fall asleep on you, B) use you as a gossip springboard, C) cling to your arms for hours, or D) prevent you from talking to any member of the opposite sex without being incredibly awkward. Fun!

3) The Fuckboy/Fuckgirl

They really just don’t give a rat’s ass. They’ll smoke up on your couch, despite the obvious signage asking guests to step outside to suck up some cancer, mosh all over your living room furniture, raid your room, steal your sister’s lipgloss, break stuff, and worst of all, eat your snacks.

4) The Sloppy Maker-Outers

Yay for you! You’re kissing someone! Please do not it somewhere that’s not a foot from my nose. Thanks.

5) The Sloppy Drunk

This is the most pathetic archetype of all, but the easiest to pity. Sometimes it’s not their fault! And sometimes, when you step in a puddle of warm chunks, you want to kill them. This is the group that needs the most help though, so if you see someone who really does look out of it and sick, get them some water and call them a cab (or their parents)!

If you’ve ever been in one of these categories, don’t feel too bad. I’ve definitely checked three of the five at various points in my career as a hard partier. If you don’t go to parties very often, congrats on all your preserved brain cells!

Dear Diary…

I am fortunate in that I go to an amazing arts high school. We have a drama program, a music program, a dance program, a visual arts program, and a literary arts program. I, along with two of my best friends, are in the literary arts program. We’re the smallest of the five, tucked away upstairs in a sunny room with big windows. I love it! I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the fact that this is my last year. I still feel like the thirteen year old kid I was when I auditioned! On the bright side, I definitely do not write the same.

Our first assignment in lit this year was to write a humour piece. Any kind, any length, any subject, and present it in a  “format that fit the content” . The following is an excerpt from my assignment, ‘Dear Diary’, which was the diary of an eight year old girl. I bought a tiny journal with a little padlock and key to transcribe the entries to and used my big loopy handwriting. It actually ended up looking like one of my old childhood journals! Let me know what you think.

Dear diary,

Guess what it’s fall and i am excited about it yayayay!!

my favourite part of fall you might be wondering is thanksgiving. my favourite part of thanksgiving you might be wondering is food. my favourite part of the food you might be wondering is grandmas pumpking pie. ooohhh so yummy whenever anyone eats it they make a big groan and hold their bellies and i have to eat really fast otherwise uncle nathan will say hey! you don’t need more pie and take mine but fuck to uncle nathan to quote mom hes a shitbucket mooching loser

if i was a pumpkin i would bake myself into a pie and then eat it. and i would tell uncle nathan to STAY AWAY from myself the pie. if i am the pie can i still eat it? my answer is yes. haha.

bye

Dear diary,

this weekend i saw bend it like beckham  at Emily’s house and to be honest it was the best movie i have ever seen. i loved it like thissssssssss much. and fyi I’m going to be an even better soccer player hah! 

do you know what i love more than the soccer movie though?

Emily’s brother.

he is tall like a light on a stand and smells like kind of socks but i like socks a lot so thats good he is smiley like a frog he is not super hairy like emilys dad which is good because that would not be fun to kiss he is SUPER AWESOME

bye 

Dear diary,

today mom got into a car accident and hit a pole with the front of the van and she said SHITBALLS so loudly and i laughed and so did heather cause she was coming over for a play and mom said QUIET in scary witch voice so were we quiet but also still laughing because what kind of a word is shitballs?

bye

This assignment really challenged me, especially at first when I was trying to generate ideas. Humour writing has always intimidated me, but somehow, it’s the genre I find myself most drawn to. It can be difficult not to rely on the crutches of stereotypes and cultural insult, and even more so to write humour that has meaning or purpose beyond entertainment (though that itself is important!). I wanted to explore humour through the lens of a population that most people find serially annoying/confusing: preteen girls. Often the butt of jokes in popular culture, depicted as a generation Justin Bieber psycho fan girls or Jonas Brother worshippers, their lives and the intimacy of that awkward age, of growing, never seems to be documented or even discussed. I remember being the age of my character so clearly – everything seemed black and white. Something was awesome and magical or it was deadly horrible. I was confused about so many things! No one wants to talk about sex or love or “mom vs dad fighting” with an eight year old. No one tells them their thoughts and dreams and concerns are valid or important. Society values little children, sweet babies and toddlers, then it moves right along to sexualizing teenagers and young women. I wanted to look at how the in-betweeners see the world and the world sees them.

In the past year or so, I’ve gotten pretty into watching/reading comedy. I admire female comedians especially, because not only do they face the regular criticism, but they also must handle the intense scrutiny that comes whenever a woman steps into the spotlight. Amy Schumer, for example, is one comedian that I’ve loved ever since her show on the Comedy Network first came out. She recently wrote, produced and starred in the hit movie ‘Trainwreck’ and won a Peabody for her show, but what made headlines this summer were not her great successes, but the dresses she chose to wore when accepting these awards and her “brutish” demeanor…Schumer wrote a skit for her show poking fun at this issue, but also drawing attention to it; speaking to the wide gap between how women in comedy are treated compared to their male counterparts. I’ll link the skit here, in case you’d like to see it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxeb1cORMu4, and here’s the shorter trailer for it as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA_Gd92Pfr0

My objective, in writing this diary, was to walk the line between funny and meaningful, or do the best I could to balance the two. The entries, while funny, also speak to the weirdness of being a half kid, half teenager and examine the various emotions and confusions of that age, in a way that is approachable and interesting. 

What did you think?