Adventures in corset (stays) making, pt 2.

Hoo boy. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea but I honestly can’t think it was me?

I’m now distinctly remembering a video where Abbey Cox says “I mean, it’s not sweatpants!” about historical clothing and honestly, I should have just sat with that for another year.

So here’s the thing. I’m never going to wear these regency stays out of the house. I don’t do costume parties and get togethers and I mean honestly who knows how many years it will be before it’s safe to do such things if it was something I wanted to do. I’m doing this for the experience. Which is why I have it in my head that I am going to handsew everything.

(I’ve predicted this project as going like this: Obsession: where I hyper focus and do so much so quickly and I burn out. Discouragement: where I realize that I actually have to put a lot of work into this even when my brain stops making the chemicals that come from shiny new things. Procrastination: where I put it off and eventually forget about it. Continue these steps until my obsession drive kicks back in and tells me to just use a damn sewing machine.)

So, if it’s for the experience, then I should at least try to be authentic about it. Which means, I should try to make it as personalized for me as I can. Which means, another mockup.

(Still going to sacrifice another tattered pillowcase at this point because, I am still me. These are my flaws.)

So I spent today tracing the pattern pieces (yes, I was avoiding it but lol sucks to be me). I compared them to my measurements that I took on a diy tailor’s tape (IE, a long piece of paper made out of my kid’s art paper roll) and the markings that I made on my mockup and tried to alter them as best as I could without doing anything drastic. In reality, I raised the waist and bust gussets, lengthened the hips, and took in the gussets in ever so slightly. It doesn’t sound like much but I have no clue what I am doing so it took me a long time to figure it all out.

Pattern pieces cut and laid out across a carpeted floor

Now it’s time for me to pull out my sewing machine that I was so convinced I was done with and see how badly I fucked up. Probably a lot but we’re going to at least try and hope.

Adventures in corset making (or more accurately, stays)

It started the way so many terrible decisions start— social media. I, innocently posting about my incompatible love of corsets and hatred of jeans, unleashed the wrath of the internet.

Now here’s the thing, I love historical costuming! I just don’t get why costume tubers hate when heroines complain about corsets in movies. I mean I understand that it has a lot of implications that are problematic, but like, haven’t the past two years taught us that no bra and sweatpants are a thousand times better than bra and jeans? Be honest.

And it’s not like they didn’t “know” any differently. As a recent nightgown convert – trust me – they knew freedom and comfort!

Anyways, as someone obsessed with history and historical fashion, I now obviously needed to form my own opinion with the help of minimally leaving my house for going on three years and counting now. Because I’m not entirely certain I would never obsess this hard if not given the perfect storm. (Okay no yeah, I would have, but I also would have told myself to stop obsessing and moved on. Eventually. Also, it’s not my fault my antidepressants make me impulsive!)

So why not a true corset?

Honestly, a few reasons. Stays seem more comfortable and an easier project, for one. For two, yes , I’ve absolutely read and watched entirely too much Jane Austen. And also, I have a regency body (minus the up to the chin boobies. I can pad all day but they are what they are and it’s okay.) I’m simply not the squishy beauty that will get use out of a corset. Seven year old me is very, very disappointed about it but we’re doing what we can with what we’ve got. (Without having the chore of making extra padding to fake curves.)

So. I bought a kit and pattern from Redthreaded. And I’m really quite excited. I got to work cutting out the pattern (blasphemy, know, but it’s one size so I’d rather not trace it?). And I made a mockup– out of all things– an old, tattered pillowcase.

No, I know this is not what I should do but here’s the thing: I’m a pretty boring body shape. I’m more concerned about lengths because my torso is short and my hips and legs long than how wide everything needs to be because my measurements are pretty much what’s on the packet. I did want to get a feel for what I was doing before I do it with very expensive coutil fabric. I’m cheap. And lazy. And there’s a pandemic! Also, yes, I overestimate my skills by like a hundred. It’ll be fine.

Dog lays on floor on top of pattern pieces laid out.
My puppy was v upset that I was doing anything other than pet him. Quite rude of me honestly.

My lazy mockup was pretty quick to do which only made me hate myself more for not doing it properly the first time but self-hatred is an old friend so again, everything’s fine.

Did it do the job? I mean honestly it depends on what job you mean. Width wise, hah, not at all. Length wise — I guess we’ll find out. Pattern and instruction wise? Oh yes very much. I guess this is the part where I realize how deep I’m in it. ( Very, very deep. SOS.)

Foraging for dye stuffs

After weeks of too-cold (even for me) temperatures, the weather finally broke and I made it to the dog park with Lu, our lab. Now, not to brag, but our offleash park isn’t a sad patch of grass with a square chain link fence but a multi acre multi use park with fields and forested trails surrounded by the Fort Sask river. Yes, it is my favourite place. And yes, my dog is ecstatic about that.

Snowy landscape with lots of bare trees and the sun low in the distance
Dog park views

Well, I recently decided I needed to learn to spin my own wool. And my dive last year into local plants and their uses has me on the lookout for the handful of local plants I actually know at all times. And well, a fun winter one that’s easy to spot is red osier dogwood whose bark just happens to be a good dye material.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now I’m not knowledgeable enough to go stealing twigs from shrubs in the dead of winter and I definitely don’t want to do harm. But luckily it’s a dog park, and there was an abundance of dogwood twigs everywhere just waiting for me. I may not want to do harm, but I’m not above taking advantage of curious pups and letting them do my dirty work for me.

A mittened hand extends over the snow holding a bundle of red twigs
Doggos love the dogwood

So, I collected as many twigs as I could and when I got home I cut them up as small as I could before my fingers froze off. My dog helped by chewing them into bits, at least he told me he was helping. I packed a jar with the branch pieces and clean snow (and let it melt and packed it again etc) then left the branches in the jar to soak. The goal is to have enough yarn spun to experiment with this dye by the time its done soaking (about 2/3 weeks from my quick googling) which okay, is pretty hopeful of me but I’m nothing if not naive.

Stop saying “unvaccinated”– the word you’re looking for is “anti-vaxxer”

I get it, living in an area with more than enough vaccines for everyone but only 69% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, I’m frustrated as fuck. I have a kid who isn’t old enough to be vaccinated and we only go into public indoor places when absolutely necessary– like the grocery stores and the dentist (which is possibly the most terrifying pandemic experience to date). I want this shit to be over, yesterday. But it’s not. And with Delta variants on the rise and a Premier that has just… fucking disappeared (fuck you, Kenbabes) my daily floor cries are starting to take up a considerable amount of time in my day that I just don’t have.

But here’s the thing, every time people express their frustration at the “unvaccinated” and say a variation of “but who cares if they die, they made their choice!” it is problematic as fuck.

Unvaccinated is still the majority of the world, as nations are hogging vaccines for their own citizens and sending their leftovers that their privileged citizens won’t take (like AstraZeneca because of blood clot risk) to countries that need our assistance. These countries need our assistance in the first place because we’ve colonized them and decimated their infrastructure, and now we’re colonizing them further by limiting their access to vaccines. (I’m writing this living in Alberta, Canada; I hold dual US-Canadian citizenship and both nations can trace our fuckery to good ol’ England.) The unvaccinated are people who are watching their friends and family die while we whine that it’s hard to breathe in a mask.

Unvaccinated are children under twelve, who have no access to a vaccine. And no, I don’t want to be consoled that kids don’t die “as often” as adults and don’t have long covid “as often” as adults. My acceptable number for dead and disabled children due to something as simple as wearing a mask and distancing myself from others is zero. Anything above that is a blatant disregard of our responsibility as adults. These kids are here because of us, we chose to have them. It is our job to protect them. Anything less is unacceptable. What kind of a society sacrifices our kids so we can eat at a restaurant?

(And maybe you personally don’t have children, but we as a society depend on children, yes you have an obligation to protect them even if they aren’t yours.)

Unvaccinated are people who are unhoused or have been discriminated against by the medical profession. People who have reason to be afraid due to past experiences. People who don’t have the ability to find out how to get a vaccine or why they should want one. We cannot tell everyone to get vaccinated and then ignore how much our healthcare system discriminates. How unaccessible it is to so many in our communities.

Yes, there are people who are loudly opposed and spread misinformation about vaccines. Those are antivaxxers. They absolutely need to be stopped and prevented from spreading their dangerous stories. Absolutely. But the way to combat them is to stop misinformation. It’s to have vaccine requirements to access non-essential services. It’s to have consequences for politicians who downplay a dangerous, global pandemic (Kenny, Hinshaw, and Shandro for example.) It’s not to say “fuck it, let them die.” They aren’t the only ones suffering from their choices. Allowing them to spread covid in our communities is allowing them to put our most vulnerable at risk. They don’t deserve to die, and saying they do allows them to infect others.

Being okay with someone dying because of their circumstances– whether it’s because they’re old or disabled or have some other condition is eugenics. It is not okay. It’s also not okay for you to want people to die because they hold a different belief system. Consequences for putting others at risk– absolutely. Die? No.

Ugh but same thing, you might say. I mean anti-vaxxers, what’s the harm in using unvaccinated? Because every time you do, you feed into this narrative it makes it okay for the media and politicians and people in power to say “oh 90%* of people dying or hospitalized from Covid are unvaccinated” (*hypothetical, made up percentage to make a point) and for the collective response to be “phew, as long as they deserve it.” What percentage of those unvaccinated people are children? What percentage of those unvaccinated people had systemic barriers to receiving the vaccine? How much of those deaths and hospitalizations are our fault as a society for not demanding better? Why are we as a society okay with anyone dying, especially when we can so easily and simply solve the problem (hi New Zealand, please let me in)?

And death and hospitalization aren’t the only concerns either. There are people experiencing long covid. People whose lives have been significantly impacted by covid who don’t count as a horror story because they weren’t hospitalized or killed by it.

Words matter. I understand a lot of people are trying their best and are fucking exhausted and frustrated and terrified. I am too. Which is why I want to take a second to let you know why it’s a problem when we say “unvaccinated” when we mean “anti-vaxxer” and why we need to do better. We can do better. And we can demand better from those in charge. I hope you’ll join me in doing so. Contact your reps on the municipal, provincial, and federal level (or whatever levels of government you have where you are). Tell them you won’t accept this. Any attack at covid that isn’t done with global cooperation is going to be ineffective. Stay safe.

Random Thoughts about Random Books

I love books. And I love talking about books. But taking my reading observations online scares the shit out of me. I hate reviewing books on TheBookReviewingSiteThatShallRemainNameless. I feel like conversations about books should be fluid and changing and writing them down on the internet only to be forgotten but immortal and not really discussed terrifies me. IDK what I’m going to think about the book five years from now! Maybe I’m just grumpy. Maybe it wasn’t the right time for me to read it. Maybe I’ve grown since I read it. Plus, what if I make the author sad?

But I do love talking about books and I feel like in this little insignificant corner of the internet world there’s little chance of me pissing too many people off. (read at your own risk, I guess) So here’s to doing scary things and sharing some thoughts about some books I’ve read this year. (And I’ll try to keep it updated to be an ongoing list.)

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson – (audiobook) I am going to say upfront I don’t know where the science is, and I imagine this is a book for people with a very specific cultural background. However. It made me feel so much better. If you were the kid who was always being told you were too sensitive or dramatic, who struggles to this day because of those things, who had parents who were good parents but didn’t meet your needs emotionally, or treated you like a mini adult, this is a book that kind of reaffirms everything you already know but don’t feel like you deserve to believe.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler – Why would I read this in the year 2021 while all of Butler’s predictions are quickly becoming our reality? Because nothing has made me feel more sane in my life. We are on such a dangerous path, but Parable made me feel like even at the end of the world there will still be hope. The only part I found hard to swallow is that somehow Canada will be saved from the US’s future when we as a country are so determined to follow the US’s lead. Other than that, this book is so eery I would wonder if Butler had a crystal ball but I know it’s just that she was paying attention.

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi – I happened to grab this from the hits to go shelf at the library before local covid cases skyrocketed and I am so glad I did. A story from the perspectives of a mom and her twin daughters, returning to Lagos and about healing a family trauma. Deep and beautifully written. And also the descriptions of food will make you hungry.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimon – (audiobook) I checked the dates and this is how I imagine Neil doing this: Ooh Chris Hemsworth is hot. Tom Hiddleston is hot. Damn I will be neither. I know! I will use my writing talent to write the book and then play them both in the audiobook! Nothing but respect. (also I want a version that focuses on the goddesses because too many annoying dudes just trying to marry off everyone idk idk)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass – Katniss meets Edward Cullen except he’s a fairy but kind of a vampire fairy and they live out a Beauty and the Beast cosplay. DNF at 51% because kind of spoiler– they do WHAT to make spring? If you want to relive the books of your youth with some spice go for it. If you’ve grown out of the “oh he could kill me but he doesn’t so therefore it’s love” or “I said no but really I’m turned on and mean yes” horrors of a puritanical upbringing skip this one (or at least be warned because you’re an adult and once upon a time I devoured the whole twilight series so I get it I just can’t. and if you’re under 25 dear lord please just don’t let this trash into your brain because it’s really hard to undo even if you think you’re better than that!).

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammovongsa – Do you like literature but don’t have the brain power to read a long novel that’s going to leave you crying for days? This is the short story collection for you! (and, Canadian!!)

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – I should have read this a decade ago when it came out (okay, almost a decade ago sheesh Tiffany don’t age us any further). For whatever reason I just kept saying “I will read it. I will read it.” and then not??? I love Gay’s takes on everything but ultimately the pop culture was alas, written (almost) a decade ago so DNF because I suck however I’m excited to pick something else of hers up.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry – A cute summer romcom perfect if you miss travel. IDK about the longterm viability of the love interests, but it was cute and the future of fictional characters isn’t my problem. (plus I appreciate Henry’s blurb at the end about covid and travel being nonexistent but she wanted to give us escapism.) Really enjoyed this one. Cute and fun.

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella – Okay I’m kind of curious to know if Kinsella even writes her own books anymore or if she’s just a brand? I couldn’t tell you much about this book other than it’s the same formula as all of her books which is why we keep reading them. I feel like these are for people about ten years older than me but I’ve been reading her stuff since forever and it would take something horrible from her to get me to stop.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston – This was a cute romcom with like time travel and stuff but was also, surprisingly heavy for a cute romcom? Love that a wlw romcom is getting attention just be aware that there is some fluffing of issues like race and homophobia which while I understand the attempt at a romcom, just maybe leave them out if you’re going to brush them off? I know New Yorkers are like gasp what, but as someone who has only ever visited it was fun. Plus, queer time travel. Apparently you can get a list of trigger warnings on her website.

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young – Okay but where to I rent a bookstore in the English countryside?! And why oh why do white women feel the need to include racism if they aren’t going to handle it as anything other than like, a weird acknowledgement that never really gets dealt with?? And then we’re just gonna ignore the whole fucking gun incident?? The American Audacity. This was… okay? I guess? If you need a romcom and have nothing else I guess it’s okay. Also probably way better if you’re a hardcore Shakespeare fan which I am not (I am sorry! He’s a cool dude and mad respect it’s just not what I sit down to read. Bring me to the theatre though and I’m there.)

Josephine Baker by José-Louis Bocquet – I don’t know much about Josephine Baker, but after listening to an episode of Dressed and seeing this graphic novel on one of my library’s recommendation lists I had to read this. It was pretty, fun, and informative however for how explicit the book was with her opposite sex relationships why weren’t her same sex relationships focused on at all or at least in the same light? IDK maybe I’m missing something but I literally was like “Bisexual Black show girl? Yes please!” so feel a little confused about that. But such a fun read about this queer Black icon and activist.

The Best We Could Do by Thi BuiThis was beautifully illustrated and beautifully written and it left me with more questions than answers which is my favourite kind of book. Another great one if you want literature but can’t do a long novel, though this is heavy content (but it’s written with a hand of hope rather than despair.) Also, she illustrated A Different Pond which is a beautiful kids book.

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib – (audiobook) I’m really happy I got the audiobook of this one, it was performed so beautifully. I always wonder how someone can have such a life to have a memoir and then reading them I’m like ohhhhhh… they have lived. Also, the best description of Canada I’ve ever read/heard about our fake politeness and acceptance.

all about love by bell hooks – I don’t know what to say except this should be required reading for humans on earth. This is better than ten therapy sessions with the best therapist (okay that feels like a dangerous statement and like go to therapy but omg this book.) This book had me nodding, crying, furious at society, feeling grateful that people like bell exist. If you read only one book read this.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan – DNF because holy fucking white feminism. This is such a “classic” but like many classics it belongs in the trash. I have held off reading it for years and years because the way it’s spoken about gives me Big Ick but I thought I’d give it a chance. I barely made it through the chapter about homosexuality being caused by having a stay at home mom (as well as any other trait that the author doesn’t like, like my fucking god) and I closed the book with a big nope when I got to the chapter comparing suburbia to a (no really) concentration camp. What in the girl boss glitter NO. There are so many other feminist icons who are actually feminists.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – I tried reading this but it is big and has a lot of ecology in it which I know nothing of, which duh, so I got the audiobook instead and oh my I swear this book is meant to be listened to. It was so good and I learned so much and it really connected science with culture and art which was absolutely beautiful. I recently saw a tiktok and the lady said it’s changed the way she’s spoken to her students about nature and seriously– life changing perspective if you’ve grown up with a white/colonizer relationship to nature and science. Must listen.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – I saw this on TikTok on one of those “if you loved Circe you’ll love The Mercies” and absolutely yes. A witch-hunt , wlw, Norway, I mean. !!! Also, led me down a very satisfying wiki rabbit hole and I found out a woman was tried for being a witch because she had yarrow which I’m growing because the lady I was buying plants from was like “you are a woman! you must have yarrow!” and like, she was right. I double dog dare someone to accuse me of witchcraft (jk it feels like a very real possibility if we keep going the way we’re going so please maybe don’t)

A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England by Suzannah Lipscomb – This is such a fun little book that has little blurbs of historical places. One day when travel is safe and we revisit England I’ll definitely be bringing it around with me. Nice little reference book for the shelf if you’re into the Tudors. If you watch any of the multitude of Tudor movies or read any of the millions of book series (you know the ones) I imagine this would be a fun reference to have when historical places are mentioned.

A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult, DK – Okay so I got this because the foreword was written by Suzannah Lipscomb whom I love (you know her if you’ve watched Witches: A Century of Murder and if you haven’t you must!) but I was sad that the foreword was just a foreword and not a larger part of the book I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY I AM DUMB. But it’s an interesting look at history and also, fun to have on the bookshelf.

The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman – Hot Tudor goss and also fun facts like how Henry VIII (you know the guy famous for murdering his wives and being an all around dickface) was actually good to his servants in comparison to idk, every fucking current billionaire??? We’re talking… paid for medical treatments, lifelong service (for you and your kin!), perks and gifts. Like in no way am I saying he was a Good Guy but I am saying maybe our views of life pre-industrialization could use a rethink and like maybe just we shouldn’t have billionaires or kings idk idk.

Courtiers by Lucy Worsely – Lucy has been single-handedly getting me through this pandemic. This was hot Georgian goss and I loved every minute. Also, hilarious to think that England’s monarchs aren’t even fucking English yet they’re all “Brexit bro!” (Okay not all, I know that’s a sensitive subject but I was born in the states and live in Canada, we get it not all all but like, enough that it’s a horrifying thing, okay?)

Spruce Syrup

In true terrible Tiffany fashion, I have been so focused on other things (a multitude of crafting projects, gardening, deciding to randomly start a poetry Instagram @tiffanyhunterwords for a start) that I forgot to actually write an update to my post about making syrup from spruce tips!

I actually remembered to make the syrup a month later to the day, which was a spidey sense or something. Or, impatience and desperation to do it as quickly as possible. Either way, I melted the sugar and tips on the stove, strained the tips, and let it cool.

The tips were leached of all their fluffy bright green springiness, and instead were a sad looking brown. But they smelt like a Christmas tree and it was reassurance enough that yes, this is exactly what needed to happen. (Also I mean, the recipe I used said that would happen but pay no mind!)

What I didn’t really pay attention to is that for this recipe you don’t really have to cook the syrup, because the tips infuse into the sugar. That’s why you wait. You’re just melting it down and straining it and then if it’s too thick, adding in a touch of water.

Don’t do this 😅

Well, obvs I cooked mine for a few minutes before realizing shit, no, don’t do that. So I was left with hard sugar, that tbf, still tasted pretty damn good.

Luckily, a zap in the microwave and a bit of water helped me out. There’s still so much sugar that I don’t have to worry about it going as long as I keep it in the fridge (within reason of course). And truthfully it will be gobbled up sooner than later as I didn’t have enough tips for a big batch. Next year I may try my hands at foraging though.

So far, it’s really good in a morning coffee or in sparkling water later in the day, but my favourite thing I’ve done with it so far is pour it over a Dutch baby with homemade apricot jam. We are hard core maple syrup users in this house, but the spruce syrup is such a fresh taste that it is perfect for lighter summer days.

Overall, this was such a fun, easy way to bring nature inside and enjoy a flavour that we don’t normally find at the grocery store. And, you can use most evergreen tips (not yew though) so find a good foraging and identification guide for your area and enjoy! The only downside is that you’ll have to wait for next spring.

The life changing magic of setting alarms

I don’t know what took me so long to put all of my to-dos into scheduled reminders on my phone. Everything from taking medication and vitamins to garbage pickup to my daily workouts are all on a repeating list in my reminders app. And let me tell you, it’s life changing.

Sometimes I wonder what took me so long, and then I remember that there’s this weird societal view that we’re too “reliant” on technology and it’s going to deteriorate our brains. But in the timeless lawlessness of life in covid, I need all the help I can get. And why oh why are we so hard on ourselves when we require accommodations?! (Ableism. Duh.)

I’ve embraced the fact that while I may not know my exact brand of neurodivergence, it’s definitely there. Even if it really is “just the giftedness” why should I not seek accommodations for my struggles? Clearly, just because I’m “smart” doesn’t mean I’m “okay.”

So when I get lost in a project around the house and my 1pm workout alarm goes off and I realize my kid and I haven’t even eaten lunch, it prevents us from getting over hungry. And it pressures me to get the exercise I need. It takes away the need for me to be initiated. My brain doesn’t have to do the “I should do x but I physically can’t get myself to do it I’m a useless lazy piece of shit” dance. It just goes “oh okay, workout.”

(Okay, no it’s not that easy, but it’s definitely easier than telling myself I suck.)

And then there’s the very helpful good brain juice boost of checking off the to-do and watching the notification disappear. So. Fucking. Satisfying.

I love having a paper journal and writing my dates and to do lists and being able to visualize my week. But I also need this extra technological push. And I’m okay with that! In fact, I’m just sad I didn’t commit and do it sooner.

Monday Motivation– Fuck the Wellness Industry

I hate the wellness industry. There I said it.

Now, don’t confuse this with hating living healthily. I love doing things that make me and my body feel good. I’ll eat a handful of lettuce out of the garden like a rabbit. I hate exercising- mainly because I know I “need” to do it and poo on that, but I love going for bike rides and hiking and dancing. But I also love baking and even sitting on my ass all day doing nothing. And I don’t like the wellness industry for demonizing those things.

But even more so, I hate that the wellness industry demonizes illness. Yes, eating well and exercising does help us to stay healthy, but they are only a small portion of what actually affects our health. Our environment, our genes, our upbringing, even our experiences all play a role. So to telling people that they are sick because they did something wrong, and then forcing them to pay money for quackery that “fixes” it, boils the blood in my veins.

It all comes back to personal responsibility. In capitalism, we tell people that if they work hard they’ll be rewarded. It’s a fucking lie, but we believe it to our core, whether we realize it or not. If we don’t magically become millionaires over night, oh boo hoo you didn’t work hard enough (shh ignore the fact that capitalism is built on racism and sexism and classism). You seriously want me to believe that Jeff Bezos works harder than a single mom working two minimum wage jobs? Not a fucking chance.

But telling people that their problems are their fault is so useful to the ruling class. If we can make people feel responsible for their own illnesses, not only can we manipulate them into doing what we want, but we can get rich off of it. Buy this “doctor’s” (read: chiropractor’s) books, pay for their courses, drink their “superfood” shakes. And then watch people suffer in silence about their health problems because their friends and family will say shit like, “Did you hear so and so has cancer? They eat like crap, no wonder.”

Can you fucking believe?

And I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolute toxic pollution that is happening from industrialization and climate change, because of this capitalist system, that is making us sick. But if they pass the personal responsibility on us, we’re so busy infighting and feeling like shit that there’s no one to stand up to them and force them to stop.

I am a huge fan of Dr. Jen Gunter. She writes in the Vagina Bible about how the wellness industry wastes women’s time, energy, and money, promising cures that aren’t proven and typically don’t even work. It comes down to a feminist issue. We don’t value women so we create insecurities and prey on them. We make money off of them. And then when something does go wrong, rather than get the support they need, they get blamed instead.

And then when we don’t heal our own traumas due to that pressure and blame, we pass it on to our children to continue the cycle.

I know a lot of people love health influencers. They love Monday motivation, hashtag girl bosses. And I am a big believer in doing things that feel good for you. If Monday motivation makes you feel capable, then own it. But my issue is when the girl boss feminists weaponize their brand of feminism (that feels like the patriarchy wrapped in pink) against other women and minorities. They don’t recognize the privileges that they have, they say “oh well but I’m discriminated against because I’m a woman!” and then turn on a dime and attack people who have even fewer privileges than them. It’s not easy for everyone to engage in self care (a phrase that I despise not for the sentiment but what it’s come to represent- that you and you alone are responsible for your happiness, and that a shower is self care and not like, just a part of normal hygiene? and we should be… thankful? when our partners babysit(?) so we can shower?), not everyone has the knowledge, ability, and means to eat healthy and exercise and see a therapist let alone follow a specific trendy diet and buy supplements and etc etc.

Yes, we need to work hard and try our best. Actually. Fuck that. Why should we work hard? Where’s the enjoyment in life with that? Is life hard work? Yes. But why are you living if it’s only to work your ass off without an ounce of enjoyment. Maybe we should say we need to love ourselves and maybe even parent ourselves a little bit and leave it at that.

I just came out on the other side of a tiny health scare. Some of my first thoughts were “It’s not fair. I eat well. I exercise. I go outside. I watch my alcohol intake. I’ve never smoked.” And that’s so fucked up. It’s so fucked up that we think we only deserve health when we work for it. No one deserves illness. No one deserves suffering. So if someone eats fast-food all day because they are crushed under the weight of poverty and capitalism, they deserve health issues because we as a society didn’t come through and help them? And even if it’s just because they enjoy it– life is hard, let people enjoy shit! That’s such a fucked up way of thinking. And I refuse to be a part of the puritanical ideology that says life is just one fest of suffering and blame.

If you want to buy the pretty water bottle and the crystal infused healing ointments, have at it. They’re gorgeous and fun and I’m right there with you. But just be conscious while doing it that it’s not going to magically solve your problems or protect you from the unknown. I like pretty rocks and lighting candles. There really is power in ritual. But don’t demonize these things against others. Don’t say things like “go outside more! mind over matter!” to someone who is ill. Be aware of the hoax that is the wellness industry. It’s just snake oil salesmen wrapped in glittery girl boss pink.

If your spouse doesn’t help, sacrifice them to the sun via slingshot

I mean or talk to them. Probably talk to them. At least first.

“This a hint?” my husband will ask whenever I like or share something on social media about useless men. “Absolutely not,” I’ll reassure what I hope is at least mostly a joke. Because my husband is one of the good ones. He cooks, cleans, and he doesn’t wait for me to bring up the mental-load shit. You know the stuff. It wasn’t always that way, but once I realized I could, no needed, to speak up about my need for an equal partnership and told him where I was coming from, he stepped up.

Now, should women need to explain all of it, especially when kids are involved? No. I really don’t think it’s our responsibility. But I do think relationships require renegotiations as lives change. Having a kid changes things. When they go to school it changes things (and then again if you end up staying home to homeschool them.) Changing jobs, positions, going back to school, illnesses both physical and mental. The pandemic. And it’s easy to get into a rut that isn’t working, and even more difficult to get back on the right track.

And even when things weren’t working for me personally, it wasn’t necessarily my husband’s fault. I grew up in a republican, catholic, military household. My mom stayed home, put on makeup before my dad got home from work, and my dad didn’t lift a finger. I had a lot of expectations that I placed on myself. And it didn’t help that whenever I tested out my feelings to my mom as an adult she responded with, “It was the same for me!” (No shade to her, that was her experience.) It took me so long to realize that just because that was my upbringing, it didn’t have to be my child’s. And I especially felt it couldn’t be my child’s. I was not raising a son to think a woman’s job was to tiptoe around the men in her life. Not a fucking chance.

Sometimes I worry about my choice to stay home with my kid. I enjoy being here with him, especially with the pandemic. Not having to worry about him getting sick, getting to hunker down and make these hard times special, is something that I don’t take lightly. I enjoy doing domestic things like baking and I function better when my house is clean. I even like playing, which I know, is not every parent’s experience. But does that mean I’m reinforcing that my job is to serve? No. Because my kid has chores and expectations, and my husband and I do a good job of demonstrating what a true partnership is. It’s not always 50/50, but it is about who can do what things at that moment. My husband never talks about money as “his,” we acknowledge our appreciation for each other and our different roles.

Reading bell hook’s All About Love was revolutionary in my thinking. She writes about how when we expect women to sacrifice for their families it takes away their humanity. Women don’t have to stay home and do things for their family, and many don’t. She even goes so far to say that when people choose to stay home, away from the rewards of capitalism, is when we become self-actualized. (hopefully I do her credit with that paraphrasing. I can’t recommend reading her works for yourself enough.) Since I’ve started looking at my choices as just that, choices, rather than as expectations, it’s been empowering.

In this past year I’ve become more confident in my place. Oh boy, just ask my poor husband. But it’s also why I will always support anyone calling out patriarchal systems. I will like and retweet and share because I don’t have to worry about the men in my life starting a fight or taking their insecurities out on me. Because my husband is my most supportive cheerleader. And hopefully if there’s someone out there that feels stuck or trapped, they’ll see it and feel empowered. It may not be enough at first, but with enough exposure after time, we can free ourselves from the patriarchy piece by piece.

I’m not angry at the pandemic, I’m heartbroken from the selfishness

I’m not in a good place. I haven’t been for some time. When the pandemic hit I tried checking in on people, I tried joking, I tried to help them when they reached out for homeschool help. I’m far from perfect, and there was simply too much shit for even a trained psychologist to deal with, but with every “you’re so strong” and “you’re so lucky you’re an introvert,” came the realization that I was only useful for what I could give others. Namely, shoving down my own issues and making them feel better about their own.

“I don’t think it’s fair I should stay home to protect old and sick people,” was a rallying cry. Did they know that I have asthma and a history of respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia? That, at the time, I was terrified that I was at a heightened risk of complications. Why should they need to know that? Do we only show humanity when our words directly affect the person we’re speaking to? Instead of realizing how inaccessible society is to those with disabilities, with long term illnesses and weakened immune systems, people were just focused on themselves and how the pandemic affected them.

I always thought that when people know better they do better. So I read the news instead of scrolling social media. I sought out and visited multiple news sites instead of relying on an algorithm to tell me what I should know. I stayed informed like it was my job. I could dispel misinformation reliably. I could help others do better.

And then I realized that they don’t fucking care.

Part of it I think stems from the idea that you can’t cause harm if it’s an accident. “I am safe, I am not one of those covid deniers– a *gasp* anti-masker. I know covid is real, so therefore I shouldn’t have to follow the restrictions. I can have friends over, or visit my family, because I am being careful.”

This train of thought looks at everyone else as an other, as an evil person out to harm you. Because the other is cruel, mean, misinformed, careless. It denies that fact that so many of the people who have gotten covid, so many of the people who died from covid, did everything right. They socially distanced. They didn’t gather. They followed the lockdown regulations. But they had to work. They needed groceries. They got exposed.

At the start of the pandemic I took my frustration out on elected officials. I still maintain this is where the majority of anger should lie. They waited too long, they failed to give a consistent message. In places like Alberta, they laid off workers and defunded healthcare and education. They fucked up royally.

But as the pandemic rolled on, wave after wave, and it felt like my husband and I were the only ones living life like it was March 2020, like there was a real risk, refusing to become numb by the death and destruction, I realized that the politicians could enact lockdown after lockdown but it wouldn’t help. Because no one was following the rules anyway.

They twisted them to their satisfaction and still claimed they were “so safe.” As they visited each other in their homes, as they went and got haircuts (not at gasp, the salon where there are safety protocols, but in the hair dresser’s home), they enrolled their kids in programs because sigh, being a parent is too hard. And the consequence of it all is that the people who are following the restrictions, the people who are keeping their kids home and staying away from others, are being gaslit.

“You can be scared, but I’m going to live my life.” I am not scared. I am happy to do what I can to protect others. I don’t want my actions to be the cause of someone else’s misery. I also understand that until we all stay the fuck home for long enough for this to stop being spread, it’s going to continue to mutate. And those precious vaccines that you’ve all had your eyes on? They’re going to be useless.

In Alberta, there’s be an outbreak of a variant. Ten fully vaccinated people– both doses– have contracted covid. There’s the entire population of children under twelve who can’t even be vaccinated. Vaccines only work if enough people have them. And right now, countries like Canada are hogging the fuck out of vaccines which means variants will only spread and enter our borders and fuck… none of y’all have ever done a group project on your own and it shows.

I am all for being gentle. I am the person who hears an exhale and goes, “Why are you mad at me??” But society needs a talking to. As a whole and even individually, a lot of you fucked up this year. And I get it’s been hard. I get that there should have been better social systems in place. Free therapy all around. I get it. But if things are ever going to get better, you need to own up that you’ve fucked up and stop using the far right as a scape goat. Look at you and do better. Make society better. And I’m doing the same. I promise. Because separation and hate is what the ruling class wants. They want division so they can continue making new billionaires off the misery of others. So I am working to lead with love.

But love is setting boundaries. Love is telling people when they’ve fucked up. So I will keep setting boundaries to protect myself so that I can keep doing good. Because I also have to love myself.