An Open Letter To (Young) Canadian Women About Winter

Dear Canadian Women (especially all you younger ones),

It’s cold outside. That’s a bit of an understatement, but that’s the gist of it. The water on the ground is frozen, there are piles of snow everywhere, and standing at the bus stop is agony, because it’s cold. I am telling you because you’re giving me the impression that you don’t know this. It seems that you missed it somehow, and are instead convinced that it’s a balmy 25 degrees.

I think that might be because your brains are frozen. Literally. On Tuesday night, we had a large snowfall. I don’t know if you noticed it, but it was a Big Deal. 25 cm fell, buses were cancelled, and children shrieked in glee because they didn’t have to go to school. I personally tramped to work in less than suitable footwear, and can tell you first hand that there was a lot of snow, because my feet got really wet. Since then, the temperature has stayed constantly below zero. It’s been bearable, but it hasn’t been pleasant. This is a typical Canadian winter.

So where’s the winter gear, ladies?! So many of you are tramping around in the snow without hats on, or with unmitted hands stuffed into pockets , or with an exposed neck! Then there are the girls who wear Ugg style boots (I own this type of boot, and can vouch that they are NOT waterproof) or the most crazy among you forgo boots altogether and wear SNEAKERS! In the snow! What is up with that!? Do you have a grudge against your toes or something? I mean, when I realized that my current winter footwear was less than adequate for current weather conditions, I rushed out to buy the biggest, warmest pair of boots I could find. Immediately. If your feet are cold, the rest of you is cold! If your feet are wet, you risk getting sick, your feet smell, and it’s just unpleasant! How could you put yourself through that? What is driving you to chill yourself like an alcoholic beverage? Is it because of BOYS?

Listen, here are the facts. Canadian women are beautiful. There is no doubt about that. You are all beautiful, trust me. And boys know that! They know that even if you’re wearing a LOT of clothing! Today, I watched two men openly check out a girl wearing a puffy Canada Goose Parka and gigantic Sorel boots. I was thinking, man, those boots look huge, and the guys were thinking wow! That girl is hot! Because wearing a lot of clothing can’t diminish your beauty. If anything, you look better. You look sane. You look like the kind of girl who won’t be walking around in summertime without ears because she lost them to frostbite.

I know your pain. I know that a hat can destroy the hair you spent twenty minutes ironing flat; that mittens make it impossible to text; and that your feet look larger in your boots. But I don’t think that these are sufficient reasons to freeze. And looking good for men (and other women) also isn’t a good enough reason to freeze. You deserve to be warm and comfortable, just as much as a man in hulking boots and a toque and a scarf and giant man gloves. I mean, they’re not forgoing any of these things for you (actually, guys are pretty bad about winter gear too. But I think it’s for a different reason. I’m not a man, but I’m pretty sure they’re trying to maintain some image of manliness that involves never getting cold and being immune to the elements. Maybe I’ll write a blog post on it: Dear guy, put your hat on, you’re still a man!).

One final note: I know, “but everyone else is doing it!” This is simultaneously the worst and most powerful reason. If the girl next to you isn’t wearing clunky boots, then a) she looks better than you (supposedly) and b) wearing boots is uncool! No one wears them, so why would you? This is a social mentality that derives from our incessant need to blend in and adhere to social norms. But these social norms could easily be reversed if everyone wore clunky boots. Then everyone looks “stupid” and wearing hats or mitts or ugly boots is cool and socially acceptable! Heck, if it really caught on, even hat hair could be cool (ok, that might be stretching it).

There. That’s all I have to say on the subject. Please please please, for the sake of your noses and toes and fingers, put on some winter gear! I know you feel bulky, but you’ll also feel warm, and that’s what matters. Winter can be really fun, but it’s not when your feet are frozen and your hands can’t move and your ears are about to fall off. So put some clothes on: the inner mother in me is begging you!

Sincerely,

A girl who personally loves wearing a hat

Awkward Boot Shopping

I went out to get some sturdy boots for winter. And I happened to go to one of those strange shoe stores where the salesperson kneels by your feet and unlaces the boots for you and everything. Now, I’m not comfortable with this practice on the best of days (I think having to kneel next to someone’s feet is extremely demeaning), but this particular occasion was especially unfortunate.
The whole reason I went to buy boots in the first place was because my current boots were absolutely soaked through after the last snow fall. So for a full day and a half I stomped around in wet boots. This was rather unpleasant for me, but it also had the added side effect of making my feet smells absolutely horrendous. Wet feet (like wet dogs) just do not give off a pleasant odour. Due to a lack of any other winter gear (hence the boot shopping trip) I had no choice but to marinate my feet until they were ripe and probably strong enough to smell from a kilometre away.
Cue this poor salesgirl kneeling near my feet and offering me boots to try on. Yes, bootS. I tried on SEVERAL pairs. Every time my foot came out of a boot, the odour would escape from my socks and waft upwards to assault my nostrils. As she was sitting significantly closer to my feet, I’m quite sure the smell was strong enough to induce gagging. She was extremely pleasant but I guarantee that she was holding her breath the whole time. It’s too bad we don’t tip our shoe salespeople, because I would have been VERY generous. I can only hope that the commission she earned off my very expensive purchase was enough to compensate for the trial she endured. And I’m never going shoe shopping with wet feet again!

A Letter About Loneliness and Social Media

Dear Friends,
This isn’t a fun or entertaining post, but it is a post worth writing (and reading). Transition periods are hard, and I am experiencing this first hand. Relationships deteriorate under the pressure of separation and differing life experiences. Graduating means losing a lot of friends to moves, and a lot of friends who are still in university and experiencing different things. And it’s interesting to see how social media plays a role in that feeling of loss.

Steve Furtick says “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” I recently watched this video (I’ll admit, I found it on Facebook) and it reminded me of the superficiality of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all those other social media outlets. The advice given on business sites is “keep it positive!” No one wants to read negative posts. People put their best face forward on social media. Anything negative or unhappy is swept under the rug, because no one is interested in hearing about that. But the superficiality of social media is having a negative impact on people.

So here’s a real moment. This definitely isn’t from my highlight reel. This is my behind-the-scenes tape and I’ll admit it: I’m lonely. I’ve forgotten how to be comfortably alone with myself. I’m convinced that because it looks like everyone else is out there having a good time, I should be too. That I need to constantly surround myself with people at all times to be whole. I’ve forgotten how to be vulnerable in person, and I love the delete button in text messages as much as the next person. I want to be this perfect person, who always knows the right thing to say at the right moment, but like the video says, that isn’t reality. That’s why I like the video. It’s a really strong reminder at a time when I’m very down. It gives me a little kick and says, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Loneliness is almost a societal trait in our ultra individualistic culture.

That’s why I think vulnerability is so important. It’s an art I haven’t mastered yet, and in a social media world, it’s one that seems to be dying. That’s a real shame, because being vulnerable with other people is a powerful thing. Just ask Brene Brown. Even though it’s hard, being vulnerable has worth. Too bad our social media doesn’t really offer much in the way of vulnerability.

In spite of the video on loneliness, I don’t expect that people will suddenly revolutionize their actions on social media. I doubt that vulnerable statuses will start popping up all over the place. Because that’s the reality of social media, I just wanted to let you know that if you are lonely, you are not the only one. I wanted to remind you that social media is a facade and people aren’t really what they appear to be. And I wanted to encourage you to read Facebook and Twitter with a grain of salt. People aren’t presenting all of themselves. Don’t compare your every day to people’s Facebook day, because those things will almost never be equal. Be honest with yourself, and get off social media. Meet people at their everyday, because I think it will make you feel better about your own.

Sincerely,
Someone who wants to remind you that everyone else is struggling too

Friendzoned

Sitting in Tim Horton’s, eavesdropping on the conversation behind me. The people are talking about random close moments they’ve had with their friends. Then one girl bursts out “OMG there’s -insert guys name here-, he’s so cute, like the BEST friend of life, and I came home the other day and he had stacked all my teddy bears into a tour and written “I love you” at the top. And I was like, that’s soooo cute! He’s so nice!” Meanwhile, I’m sitting there listening in and thinking ‘that poor poor guy is so friendzoned!’

Math is Hard Sometimes

I bought a coffee at Quickie today for 99 cents. With tax, it came to $1.04. I gave the clerk 3 quarters, 2 dimes, and 2 nickels. He counted my change, looked up at me and said “This isn’t enough.”
I asked to see the change, figuring I’d forgotten a quarter or something. But there was enough there.
“See,” I said, pointing to his right hand, where he held my three quarters. “That’s 75.” Then I pointed at each coin in his left hand as I went: first dime “85″, second dime “95″, first nickel “a dollar”, second nickel “a dollar-five.”
“No,” he said, and pointed to the two nickels. “This is 10 cents. That’s not enough.”
“Yeah, it’s 10 cents,” I said, and proceeded to repeat myself: ” So, 75, 85, 95, a dollar, a dollar-five.”
“No, these are 10 cents,” he said, pointing AGAIN to my two nickels.
“OK, yeah,” I said. “That makes it 75, 85, 95, a dollar, a dollar-five.”
“No,” he repeated. Pointing to the dimes and the nickels in his hand, he said, “This is thirty cents!”
“Yes,” I agreed. “It is. So 75, 85, 95, a dollar, a dollar-five.” (in hindsight, it was pretty clear that this strategy wasn’t working, and I should probably have tried to math some other way.)
“No, it’s not enough,” he insisted. Thankfully, at that moment, his manager came over and said, “how much?” and then counted the change. “She’s right,” he said.
I thanked them and got the heck out of there, thankful that there was a manager around to confirm my math! Seriously though, this is the guy they have handling their money??