It all started with a kayak

It was a fateful day in April when I had my fitness epiphany (I considered cramming the two words together to be clever, but fitphany doesn’t really sound all that inspiring or motivating. Now that I think of it, maybe it’s a word better suited to my embarrassing ‘aha’ moment). It was sunny and warm, which depending on how temperamental the weather is being, is unusual for April in Canada because even though we have four seasons, the stereotype about Canada being a cold, barren wasteland of snow came from somewhere.

I was at a friend’s house for a nature day, which typically involves wandering in the woods, spending time on the water, delicious food and the annual Christmas tree burning bonfire to end the day. She lives on Dog Lake which is wonderfully picturesque and makes me feel like a mole living underground in my basement apartment. We spent some time kayaking on the lake, a minor miracle given my lackluster swimming abilities and my unbridled fear of flipping the kayak, getting stuck in it and drowning in that picturesque lake, which oddly enough reminds me of a Margaret Atwood poem, “This Is a Photograph of Me.”

The experience was surprisingly pleasant until we got back to the dock…

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Last Stop: Validation Station

I wish I could’ve told sixteen-year-old me, “if you thought feelings of anonymity were bad when you were an angsty teenager with a persecution complex, just wait until your 20s.”

I attended a large university here in Canada that I both loved and loathed for various reasons. We don’t have the ranking system that distinguishes Ivy League institutions from state schools like in the States, but like all post-secondary institutions, each one has a reputation. Continue reading

Can Austen Survive Casual Sex, Reality TV and the American Midwest?

I’m a self-professed Austen devotee, which I owe largely to a first year English professor who, besides being a staunch feminist, is also a man of excellent literary tastes, his speciality being British Romanticism (the best era for literature ever, if you ask me). I also owe to him my lifelong love affair with John Keats. Thank you for forever jeopardizing any relationship I could have with a living, breathing man because I, go figure, am hung up on a dead one (but c’mon, have you ever read Endymion or “Ode to a Nightingale” or any of his letters?!).

The professor in question first introduced me not to the quintessentially ‘Austen’ Austen novels, like Pride and Prejudice or Emma, but to a short little Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey, which is both hilarious and still romantic despite its very deliberate and completely self-aware campiness. I worked my way from Northanger Abbey to Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion to Pride and Prejudice then to Emma (my second least favourite) to the outright miserable Mansfield Park, which I was forced to read in a seminar on 19th-century transatlantic slave narratives due to its brief references to Sir Thomas’ slave ownership and his travel to the West Indies (my least favourite).

In the minds of many Austen fans and book lovers in general, Pride and Prejudice reigns supreme as both the ultimate romcom and her crowning literary achievement. This brings me to my titular question: can Austen survive casual sex, reality TV and the American midwest?

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Return of the Long-Form Census

Today is epic for two reasons. The first: it’s Star Wars Day, folks. May the fourth be with you! The second: Canada broke the Internet. Okay, we broke the Statistics Canada website, but that’s still something!

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The Liberal government’s majority win and their promise to bring back the long-form census is basically Return of the Jedi writ large against the backdrop of the Canadian wilderness, subzero temperatures, maple syrup, hockey and Tim Hortons. No doubt aboot it.

(I was going to say that the much-discussed return of the census in Canada is Anakin to the awesome conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, but I thought that might be a little too punny and even more heavy-handed.)

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Death and Taxes

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

— Benjamin Franklin

I’m sure many people are familiar with this quote. Why? Because like most idioms, it is largely based in fact or speaks to a larger, maybe even universal, human experience.

For all you folks in North America, there is one season even more dreadful than the insanity between American Thanksgiving and Christmas (or just Christmas for us Canadians over here. Our Thanksgiving is in October) and that is tax season. Be it the IRS or the CRA collecting, tax season leaves most of us feeling a little rubbed raw. If we were sows, and the IRS and CRA were our greedy little piglets, our teats would be so dry and chapped from all the excessive suckling going on. Mercifully, we are not pigs.

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