Sep 17 2015

Hello!

It’s been a day and a half since I’ve last updated, eh? My apologies for being so atrociously lax in blogging. To say I’ve been busy is a bit of an understatement- I’ve been working my face off since teacher’s college as…you guessed it, a high school teacher. It’s a really tough job market for teachers, but the job market doesn’t realize that I’m a farm girl with a lot of hustle. I feel a bit sorry for the job market, really.

I’ve really missed writing here, though, and I’ve been scribbling down ideas for the past two years. Writing here is important to me, and I’ve made some changes to better reflect that. To all my dear 1.2 readers and devoted 1200 spammers, thank you for your support, and I look forward to bringing you The Height of Life- this time with more Height and Life-iness!

Cheers to you!

Kylie

PS: But seriously: I have lots of exciting features in store for you!! Brace yourselves!!


Oct 6 2012

Reflections on Teaching (the first of many)

Here at OISE (teacher’s college), we’re continually in a state of reflection.  I’m not sure I have ever done so much reflecting as I did this September, which is really saying something, considering that I spend most of my time in my head. Only Johnny Cash spends more time reflecting, but maybe not even him, since he did shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, and that strikes me as more of an impulsive-on-a-whim sort of personality.

One lesson that I am constantly re-learning is just how lucky I am to be here- not only at OISE, but just to be in the position where I have such a strong foundation that I feel confident in coming back to high school to teach to other people.  Every day I am reminded in so many ways that I am in a rare, privileged minority to have had the excellent educational opportunities, supportive parents and family, and outlets for creative expression I did. I consider it a part of my teaching mission to “pay it forward,” and act as an advocate so that other students access the same opportunities I did. My parents were very involved with their children’s education, and I gleaned from their example the importance of student-parent-teacher dialogue and collaboration.

I didn’t have the most wretched experience one could possibly have in high school, but I was far from popular, and often felt that I was on the outside, looking in. Regardless of one’s position on the popularity totem pole, I think adolescence is a time of profound alienation and shedding identities like a snake sheds its skin, as we all struggle to find belonging and carve a place in the world for ourselves. One of the key tenets of my teaching philosophy is that creating a safe. supportive learning environment is essential for students feeling comfortable enough to express themselves and contribute to class discussions. That my students treat each other with kindness is just as important to me as the acquisition of specific skills or knowledge. This understanding of the urgency of kindness will reinforce that they do have an obligation to the world, and that that code of kindness and respect will linger on long after the semester ends.

I like teenagers a lot, and I find that they get a bad rap sometimes. Older adults forget how energizing and anxiety-inducing it is to wake up in the morning and find that the world has changed, every single day.  That’s what being a teenager is like, I think.  That’s how it was for me. It’s a daunting thing to have to begin anew, every single day. I have always found that teenagers’ potential are consistently underestimated and undervalued by adults. That frustration already adds to the already-difficult situation of being a teenager. High school is already a difficult time (I mean, who entirely trusts anyone who had a blast in high school?!), and I would love to do my small part to remedy that misery.


Jan 2 2012

Welcome, 2012!!

HPIM0815Little Rabbit, Big Carrot

Happiest of Happy New Years to all of us! I was going to say that 2012 is upon us, but it has already barreled through the door.  Since I like to pretend it’s December 27th for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (maximum pyjama-wearing and holiday-baking-eating!), I generally feel a little sluggish and unprepared for the new year.  That might also be because I’ve been eating fudge every single day for the past two weeks.  It’s the candy of candy!

Even though I’m feeling a bit scatterbrained and fretting that my 2012 calendar isn’t up yet, I’ve been mapping out my visions and schemes for 2012 in the midst of the merry whirl of Christmas activities.  I usually hate change, and despair that another year has slipped away so quickly (maybe it’s all the fudge that’s responsible for the dramatics), but I’m ready for 2012.  Frankly, 2011 has kicked me in the teeth- -over and over- -and didn’t even apologize for breaking my retainer. Wow, what a year.  Worldwide, it was a year that we really stood up to the fight, and on an itty-bitty- individual level, I did, too.  Not in a political-economic protest sense, but just in living courageously in the face of some way-harsh-Tai adversities.  This past 2011 shall henceforth be known as The Year of Character.

To be sure, 2011 brought along some life-altering gifts: giddy, joyful reunions with both silver and gold friends, a dazzling and imagination-boosting trip to Las Vegas with my then-boyfriend and his family, a leather jacket that I’ve been pining for all my life (fine leather goods!! Yes!), as well as exciting work gigs like conference-planning for The Canadian Museum of Civilization, copy-editing and general-persnickety-ness for The University of Ottawa, and charmingly-enumerating for Census Canada.   There were newborn puppies, music that changed my world, the fact that I can still earnestly say that a song changed my world, unforgettable small moments of triumph, connecting with mentors and like-minded spirits, eternally-supportive family and friends, writing inspiration, watching the entire series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” romance, laughing so hard my face fell off, joyfully watching great things unfurl in the lives of my loved ones, and the smug satisfaction of having taken my vitamins regularly. I also discovered “Breaking Bad.”

Yes, 2011 offered heart attacks of happiness on a platter, and then it hit me over the head with it.  Plus, the grapes were mushy.  In no particular order, here’s the Airing of my Grievances: I started the year off with skin cancer surgery and skin grafts, and continued that enchanting trend into the Spring, where I had another skin cancer surgery on the lower rim of my left eye, immediately followed with reconstruction surgery.  While basal cells and cool scars aren’t new to the neighbourhood, this was beyond my comfort zone (er, if one could actually be comfortable when people are hatcheting away at one’s face for fun and profit), and I had to sidle up to some deeply-carved insecurities and fears about health and beauty.  The summer brought forth more skin cancer treatments, which kicked my ass more than I’d care to admit.  A favourite aunt and dear confidante of my mom was diagnosed with cancer for a second time.  We have a lot of reasons for hope, which is glorious, triumphant news, but the initial blow was deep and lasting.  Six years ago, she won, and we’re all visualizing another victory.  It was a year of major stresses for my parents and siblings, and it’s so hard to watch the ones you love suffer.  It was a year of many uncertainties and set-backs for my friends.   While I had an abundance of non-monetary opportunities, it was still a year of shaky and scarce employment for me, and the stress of that seeped into every little corner of my life.  There was an awful lot of slouching in front of my computer.  I didn’t manage to make major coinage, as I had hoped. There was a little bit (and even a little bit is far too much) of comparing myself unfavourably to other people.  Deliberate hermitude.   Fluttering worries pinioned to the pit of my stomach. And to cap off an agonizing November of silence, I was unceremoniously dumped…on my birthday.

So, December wasn’t all prancing around and Mariah Carey, but I still managed to have fun.  I was staggeringly mature about the break-up (after having written some melodramatic e-mails to my friends, obviously), and surprised myself with my humour and resilience.  After a reluctant dip in reality, I realized that this was definitely a blessing in disguise, and that the actions of others are in no way a barometre of my self-worth.  This entire year has been a test in building character, and I aced it.  I might be bruised and hobbling- and where the hell is my hat?- but my heart is open and my smile is so bright, we all have to wear shades.

The Year of Character taught me a great many lessons; pummeled me with them, to be more accurate.  The state of my life and the state of my world haven’t exactly been unfolding according to “plan,” and I’ve been angry about it.  Really angry, actually.  I didn’t really realize the extent of my anger, nor did I come around quickly to even recognizing these hastily-suppressed feelings as anger.  I sincerely believed that my guilt and anger at this arrested development (the upcoming AD movie was a massive bit of good news in 2011, by the by!) was important, because it would somehow “motivate me” and “keep me on track to my goals.”  Hmmm… O hai, Catholic guilt!

My new plan for 2012 is to let go of the plan.  I’m no longer wringing my hands over the way things were supposed to be.  I’m letting go of my anxiety-addled expectations that this must happen by exactly this arbitrary date, or I’m this doomed failure of a human being. To clarify, it’s not like I’m going to while away the days in pyjamas covered in a fine mist of processed cheese products, or just give up on everything.  I’m still aiming for a year of new love, happiness, health and mucho succcess, but I now realize that I can more easily achieve it by being extra-kind and compassionate to myself and others, and by trusting that this present moment is exactly the way things are supposed to happen.  Over-investing myself in an arbitrary plan, trying to control the uncontrollable, and punishing myself when things don’t work out is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness.

I’m launching a revolution against the tyranny of expectations, and my victory will be sweet.  Oh man, that sounded like a voiceover for a second-rate video game for 15-year-old boys, but my background is in War Studies, so I guess you should all just feel grateful that I haven’t made any “you sunk my battleship”-themed jokes.  Yet.

Yet.

whoihavbecomeYou…read my mind, PostSecret

So, what sorts of visions, goals, resolutions, major and/or minor epiphanies do you have in store for the newborn year?  I wish that your 2012 is nothing short of magnificent!!

Three cups of holiday cheer, and a cup of an unidentifiable liquid that was pushed back to the recesses of the fridge, to you!

Kylie


Oct 31 2011

Happy Halloween!!!!

dayofthedead

Oh, for the love of yams, how I love Halloween!! Our imaginations can run unbridled, and the night takes a spooky turn when spirits reach out from beyond the ether… Plus, free candy from strangers?! Sweet!!  What I really appreciate about Halloween is that the whole holiday is really about letting your inhibitions run free and indulging your inner child.  Forgo your sensible supper and give yourself a stomachache from too much candy.  Forget about your minimalist decor for one night, and litter the place with cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns.  Pretend it’s 1994, you’re a rather emo teen, and “The Crow” just came out.  Dress as silly or as scary as you’d like.  Recite “Hocus Pocus” word-for-word, much to the joy of your fellow movie-watchers (oh hey, last weekend!) Tell ghost stories, and then try sleeping with the lights out!  Like Anne of Green Gables says, be “deliciously scared.” Think about Samhain (the original holiday behind modern-day All Hallow’s Eve), your ancestors, and what messages they’d have for you today.  For a holiday that involves a lot of dressing up, it’s refreshing that Halloween doesn’t pretend to anything other than what it is.

What are your favourite ways to spend All Hallow’s Eve?

Three pints of apple cider and lashings of candy corn to you!!


Jul 1 2011

Happy Canada Day!!!!!

Happy Canada Day to one and all!!   Legend has it, as is foretold in the moose-hide scroll of our ancestors, that every Canadian must leave a bowl of maple syrup outside their doorways, or else Celine Dion will come in and claw out our eyes.  Mine are still intact…yours, too?  Excellent! Let’s celebrate, eh?

I don’t know if I can fully convey the sweeping majesty of our great land, but I’m pretty sure Robin Sparkles can:

tumblr_lnmyztqCWy1qat6lq

Much love and patriotic sprinkles to all,

Kylie


Jun 18 2011

I’m Internet Famous!! (No, Not Quite That Way…)

I made that joke to my parents, and oh were they ever weirded-out!  Almost as bad as the time when my sister and I were joking about downright-uncomfortable possible e-mail addresses, and my dad suddenly piped in with a horrified “Hotmail?  Hotmale.…?”

justaponyinthekitchen

Anyways!  This news is hotter than a hotmail, and more delightful than a pony waking you up in the morning.  The High Priestess of the Internet, the incomparable Miss Gala Darling, was concocting a series of articles exploring fashion bloggers and body image, and asked her readers for their thoughts.   I was intrigued, as I’ve thought a fair bit about the subject, and so I sent her a ridiculously-rambling e-mail outlining my thoughts on how the diversity at the grassroots level of fashion blogging isn’t being represented or rewarded at a more mainstream, highly visible level, how how the most popular, highly paid bloggers overwhelmingly skew white, slender, young and fairly wealthy, and how the Manic Pixie Dream Girl look that dominates fashion blogging at the moment is just as unattainable as the blonde Hollywood bombshell look.  Miss Darling kindly included my thoughts in her series, and I’d be thrilled if you gave it a read!  I’m honoured to be included with a whole host of thoroughly awesome and badass bloggers.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t completely elated and singing Queen songs to myself at the moment!!  Many thanks to Gala and all the other smart ‘n savvy contributors to this series!

HURRAH!!!


Dec 25 2010

Merry Christmas!!

maurychristmas

Hi everyone,

You’ll likely have noticed that this website (and this author) have gone into a bit of holiday hibernation.  I’m drinking fancy drinks involving chocolate, some sort of alcohol and more chocolate, feeling nostalgic for Christmases I likely wasn’t even alive for, and fondly reminiscing of Christmases that I mos’ def’ was alive for.  The beginning of this month was quite difficult, to be honest, and so I’m especially thrilled that all seems well with my little world again, and I sincerely hope that that’s the case for you, too.  This dreamy, slowed-down pace is not conducive to my mom’s schedule.  Her zest for the holidays is largely manifested in a perfectionism and over-achievement that could put Martha Stewart to shame.  Today’s itinerary included making approximately eleventy billion different types of muffins and washing the kitchen cabinets.  Festive! Jolly! 

This time of year is full of magic and all sorts of special, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming and rather stressful (more to come in an upcoming article), but may we all continue to appreciate the magical moments this season brings us and to keep the light in our hearts.

Merry Christmas, kiddywinks!

Much love and holiday cheer,

Kylie


Nov 25 2010

World’s Tallest Married Couple Not *That* Tall, But *That* Lovely

Tallest Couple

 

The Guinness World Book of Records has named Wayne and Laurie Hallquist- who stand at 6’10 and 6’6 respectively- the world’s tallest living couple.   While it’s perfectly lovely and decidedly badass to see couples with a significant height difference between them (especially any deviation from the sickenly-common “super-tall guy, super-short girl” combination), it warms the void where my heart should be when I see a super-tall power couple.   Aside from my parents, I’ve seen very few other tall-tall matches.  What about you?  The Hallquists met at a church social, where, predictably, the rest of the attendees immediately matched them up.  Fortunately, their connection went far beyond their height, and were happily married for seven years of (relative) obscurity before they decided to go for the Guinness gold.    While there are other couples who are taller, like basketball phenom Yao Ming and his new wife, Ye Li, as well as the 19th Century’s original tall couple, the fascinating Anna Swan and Martin Bates,  it’s likely that many would-be contenders simply don’t care for the extra publicity.

When I first saw a picture of the Hallquists, I immediately noted how graceful and elegant the pair seemed.  All long, unbroken lines and perfect posture, it was the shorter man measuring the couple who seemed a bit awkward and out-of-place.   It then struck me that “normal” is not a fixed, unchanging point, but a fluid concept that relies on comparison.  While many people who are very tall can feel a bit strange and ungainly while surrounded by people of average height (and the concept can apply to just about any other group, really), it’s not that they are actually strange and ungainly; they’re just measuring themselves against a particularly common point of reference.   These points of reference are ever-changing and can be applicable in a multitude of ways.    There is no definitive “normal” and “abnormal,” just a different series of reference.  As Morrissey says, “there is no such thing in life as ‘normal.’” 

And Morrissey’s always right- – *that* is a fixed, unchanging point.  

 

Much love,

Kylie


Nov 1 2010

Trick or Treat? Trick. Just Trick.

These stories raised me.  Not well.

These stories raised me. Not well.

Greetings, my dear ghostlings!! I wish you all a very spooktacular Hallowe’en!  I hope you’re getting up to much mischief and funnery, and that you’re feeling the buzz of a sugar high that won’t crash until at least mid-November.  Hallowe’en has crept up on us like a raccoon in a party hat, which is to say that it’ll be rooting through our garbage for leftover dip and discarded party favours while we’re out buying discount candy and mesmerized by sugar skulls the next day.

As a lover of all things strange and macabre, Hallowe’en is always a special holiday for me.  Let us count the ways: Good Girl Kylie delighted in the illicit thrill of partaking in a holiday that my dental hygienist mother loathed, because all the candy made my siblings and I act like hyperactive gremlins.  You can bust out the dance moves to Thriller and get looks of approval, rather than looks of “now-where-is-the-security-guard?” It’s a rare socially-sanctioned time to go on a terrifying candy rampage- and the candy is free! Even better, if you’re from an especially-friendly rural area, like me, where there’s an over-abundance of candy and fewer trick-or-treaters, your prime trick-or-treating years aren’t over when you’re 13.  I know this, because I went last year.  At age 25.  A friendly rural area helps, yes, but not having any shame helps even more.  Around Hallowe’en time, you can tell as many ghost stories as you can handle, and not seem creepy- because creepy is the point!  You get to be all creative with costumes, and even wear them to school! (One year, my mom made matching Peter Pan costumes for her and I- – treasured Hallowe’en memory, fo’ sho’- -and another year, in university, I was “Princess Diana: Business Casual.”  What are your favourite costumes?)  The history behind modern Hallowe’en is incredibly fascinating and enchanting, as are the different cultural interpretations.  To me, what really sets Hallowe’en apart from other holidays isn’t necessarily the spooks and the treats, but the pure, unfettered joy it brings.  It allows- -and demands- -that your imagination run completely free, howling and whipping around wildly as you struggle to hold on for the ride.   Hallowe’en is a holiday that’s completely about fun, and largely devoid of the obligations and and suffocating lists duties demanded of other holidays.  

Yep, Hallowe’en is completely about fun…until you have to pay a visit to my mom and the dentist chair…

To keep the atmosphere eerie and the shenanigans spooktacular, here are some of my favourite Hallowe’en songs:

Hocus Pocus- \”I Put A Spell On You\”

Rockwell feat. Michael Jackson- \”Somebody\’s Watching Me\”

Buck 65- \”Zombie Delight\”

What are some of your favourite Hallowe’en memories and traditions?  I wish you all an amazing All Hallows Eve, full of mischief and (a fun amount) of trickery!

Cheers to you!

Kylie


May 21 2010

Things I Love Thursday, May 20th ’10

irishpoochie

I’m afraid I don’t know who is responsible for this masterpiece of hilarity, but if you’re out there and reading this- -marry me?

Alright, folks!  Brace yourselves for the truckload of joy that is Friday’s edition of Things I Love Thursday.  A day late, but never a dollar short!  I only have myself and last night’s season finale of “Gray’s Anatomy” to blame.  WHOA.  SO FRIGGIN’ GOOD.  TRUST ME ON THIS, I AM WRITING IN CAPLOCKS.  I haven’t watched the show in months, maybe even years, but last night I was immediately reunited with my favourite Dr. Cristina Yang and the rest of the gang, and was sobbing like a regular within minutes.  Let’s get started on our weekly TILT joyfest before I start tearing up again and trying to blame it on imaginary onions:

* Lilac season!  Lilac bushes everywhere are in full bloom, and wafts of perfumed air are following me wherever I go (or so I like to pretend).  Why can’t we have lilac-scented deodorant?  Laundry soap?  Why does lavender get prime billing on the heavenly-outdoor-smells market?  All troubling questions, perhaps best saved for another time. 

* Classy, classy drunken e-mails from my friend.  He used the word “inebriated,” and even spelled it properly!  Most people can’t spell that word even when they’re sober.  A class above, for sure.

* Doing yardwork and farm chores, and being paid for them.  Hustlin’ like a sixteen-year-old, I am.

* Listening to angry-teenage-boy-music while doing said yardwork.   Less “listening” and more “rocking out” and “surly expressions.”

* Arranging a possible consulting position for yours truly… Ooooh!  More hustling!

* Delicious steak suppers and grilled veggies.  And a million chocolate fudge cookies for breakfast, lunch, brunch, lupper and dessert!

Alright, ’tis time for me to wind up my TILT list for this week (that’s a strange-sounding sentence, and I feel as though it should be said with an Irish accent).  What’s making you Irish dance (like our cat-friend Poochie) with glee this week?

Much love to you,

Kylie