The Ultimate Female Fashion Guide for Winters at Canadian Universities

It’s that time of year again: exams! But fuck that shit, more exciting things are happening! The first snowfalls are touching down all across this fine nation (disregarding the poor bastards up north who don’t have the privilege of traditional seasons) and actually sticking around, so it’s time again to put aside your final exam cramming long enough to pull the snow gear out of storage! Or, at least, go shopping for some new stuff that doesn’t smell like mothballs and dried rock salt. Yay, shopping!

But be wary; the landscape of Canadian winter fashion is difficult to navigate (and not just because of the patches of black ice). There are endless choices, so many ways to express your individuality, and yet, let’s face it, winter gear is ridiculously expensive…you’re gonna be stuck with this outfit for the next 3 to 4 months, so you better choose wisely! So to guide you through the minefield and help you make it through the harsh Canadian winter with your dignity intact, here is: The Ultimate Female Fashion Guide for Winters at Canadian Universities.

The Headgear

What is it your mom always said? Something like 80% of your body heat escapes through your head? Well better bundle that shit up then!

The knit headband

Knit headband

You’re prim, proper, pretty, preppy, and cute as a button to boot! Why not shove that in everyone’s face with the most refined winter headgear this season, the knit headband! Now with subtle variations like the cute little twist, so you can show off your quirky side too!

Pairs best with long hair that’s been painstakingly straightened, and then meticulously re-curled for just the right amount (but god forbid, not too much!) boho-chic waves. The illusion of easy-going looseness takes time, you know!

The slouchy beanie

slouchy beanie

For those who think that those who wear knit headbands are just too uptight, embrace your inner slacker with a slouchy beanie!

Those knit headband-wearers just can’t handle your free spirit! You’re unpredictable! You’re up for literally anything! But omg, not that, what kind of a weirdo freak do they think you are?? You know what, it’s been a long night, you’re just gonna go hang out with your friends who wear knit headbands because at the end of the day you’re essentially just like them but you just like the tiny bit your slouchy beanie sets you apart from them (also you just look better in hats).

Express this and so much more (but not too much more) with a slouchy beanie. Pairs best with a Bounce dryer sheet in your bag so you can smooth down your staticky hat hair in the washroom.

Anything with fur

fur-ear-muff

Trapper hats, earmuffs, headbands, whatever! What matters is the fur! PETA, schmee-TA! Grr, you’re a wild one, ain’t cha?

ProTip: headgear with fur pretty much limits you to boots with equally showy and extravagant fur, because if you go fur you better go fur all the way; chickening out now will just make you look weak.

Sidenote: At least in Greater Montreal Area, please note that all of these options are just amature hour placeholders until Igloofest rolls around.

igloofest

The Hands

You didn’t spend a small fortune on lavender-scented hand lotion made from organic ingredients  just to have your hands end up all wind-chapped anyway!

Canada Olympic mittens

Mittens550

Duh.

Convertible mittens

convertible mittens

Weep. Weep because you don’t have your own pair of Olympic mittens. Weep because all the Zellers’ have closed and you’re going to have to go all the way to The Bay to get your own pair of Olympic mittens. Weep because the new design isn’t as uniformly red as the models from 2010 and 2012.

Oh well, at least you can use your iPhone without risking losing your entire hand to frostbite. Hah, suckers.

The Bag

You’re a busy university student! You’ve got shit to do, readings to read, essays to BS! And even if you’re skipping classes, your phone, wallet, and laptop aren’t going to carry themselves to the Starbucks!

The Longchamp bag

Longchamp bag

Quiet, simple, unassuming. Plus it folds away for storage, so you can actually carry multiple Longchamp bags inside your Longchamp bag! And nothing says elegance and class like paying a hundred dollars for dyed canvas and some leather straps.

The Jansport backpack

jansport

You were a true 90s kid. You wore the scrunchies, you danced the Macarena at birthday parties, and you understand nearly 90% of those Buzzfeed lists! And now you’re all grown up, strutting your way into adulthood through the icy Canadian winter, and you need something bright and colourful to offset your black winter jacket (pay no attention to those other coloured jackets…they’re lies! All lies!). Enter the Jansport backpack, a true blast from the past, but now with a handy internal sleeve to protect your MacBook Air when you inevitable slip on a patch of ice and fall on your ass!

The Herschel backpack

herschel

You’re not really down for the showy bright colours of the Jansport bags, but you’ve still got that pesky MacBook Air to haul around! So many problems, so little time! And that’s why you go for the clean lines and understated tones of the Herschel backpack (you especially like the funky prints on the lining, for that subtle but oh-so-necessary touch of quirk) (but not too quirky, that’s important too).

The Jacket

North Face

TNFBK

You’re in the North, and you’ve got a Face. Perfect fit! (And people say it’s a true winter sports-person’s jacket and the down lining will keep you warm, blah blah blah. What’s important is that you look fucking stunning in it!)

Canada Goose

GRA

For those not in Montreal: You don’t belong in this podunk university town. You’re clearly too good for all these immature frat parties and keggers. Clearly, the universe has wronged you somehow, because by all rights you should be partying it up in Montreal, wowing everybody with your French Immersion mastery of la langue d’amour. And nothing screams this better than a jacket that’s essentially identical to those North Face jackets your plebeian peers are wearing, except with an eye-catching patch on the sleeve!

For those in Montreal: Woohoo.

Mackage/Moose Knuckles

mackage moose knuckles

Whoa there, look at little Miss Fancy-pants here! What are you, better than everyone else or somethin’?

Legwear

Black tights

black leggings

Non-optional. No substitutions, no excuses.

You may be able to get away with skinny jeans or jeggings, but make sure to walk fast so no one gets a good look at your legs.

Boots

No one likes frostbitten toes, or wet socks!

Sorel boots

sorel-joan-of-arctic-boots

Around these parts, the snow drifts tend to pile up mighty high. Well good news! Those furry tufts sticking out of your legs aren’t just fashionable, they’re functional too! Enjoy tromping through the unshovelled pathways at your campus on your way to class, while your lower legs stay snow-free!

ProTip: Invest in some thick socks so that you can transition into flip-flop season as easily and quickly as possible, while everyone else is still nursing their mangled and callused feet back into shape.

Short Sorel boots

sorel-boot

You like the general clunky aesthetic of the Sorel boots, but you feel like the fur cuff on the hood of your coat is all the fur you really need. Thank goodness you don’t have to compromise! Plus, the short length of these boots means that you can draw more attention to the funky knit socks you wear over your mandatory black tights!

Hunter rainboots with felt insert

DSC_0508

You’ve already paid an arm and a leg for a pair of boots to keep your feet dry during the warmer seasons, why should you have to do it all over again for the winter!? Who needs two pairs of overpriced boots when you can just buy a set of overpriced felt booties to make one overpriced pair of multi-season boots! Besides, come hell or high water, your socks will stay dry as a bone, even if it kills you! Which, considering the grip on those rainboots, it just might…

Uggs

Classic Long Chestnut2

Oh, sweetie. Look, 2008 called…

The Final Word

There you go! Follow this guide to help you go forth and pick out the winter look that best expresses you. But a word of caution: don’t get too nuts with the individual style here…we’re not fucking around; the temperatures and weather aren’t the only things harsh about Canadian winters, and outliers will be punished. You have been warned.

Good luck!

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are intended to be humourous in nature, whether or not they actually are. I in no way assert that these views are factual, right, or even mine, seeing as I have the fashion sense of a colour-blind frog. I implore you not to take any fashion advice from this post, as it lead you nowhere. If you are offended by this post, then I am sorry, that was not my intention. If you write a long-ass post detailing how the various microaggressions contained in this post are harmful to society, please keep in mind that this was written for the sake of (probably poorly-executed) comedy, which tends to rely on generalisations, stereotypes, and exaggerations, and also that I am sorry (for both the microaggressions and the poorly-executed attempt at comedy). That said, please send me the link to your long-ass post, I would be very interested in reading it. 

Procedure

This past (television) year has produced two of my favourite new shows, Elementary and Hannibal, and I could not be happier that they’re both doing well. I love that they’re getting (relatively) good ratings and reviews, I love that they’ve developed sizeable fandoms online, and most of all, I love that if I mention them to non-internet people I actually get a reaction 7/10 times, because about 7/10 people IRL have actually heard of them!

I’m loving it, it’s awesome. (Really helps soften the blow when these shows decide to rip my guts out with their characters and their lives and their feelings and argh!)

But what I’m hearing more and more often when these shows (and these days it’s almost exclusively been those two shows) are brought up is this really annoying word: “procedural”. It’s usually in some variant of “yeah, the show’s good, but I don’t like how procedural it is”, or, even more annoyingly, from someone who’s heard tell of the show but hasn’t seen it yet, “but isn’t it, like, kind of procedural?” in that tone like that one sentence completely justifies why they haven’t bothered to check out the show yet.

It’s starting to sound like a phrase that people have learned to parrot whenever they want to pretend like they know what they’re talking about. Like when people who actually know nothing about wine but want to look like they do say shit like “it has a fragrant bouquet” as they swirl their too-full wine glasses (not that I know anything about wine, but…). It’s become almost becoming like a dirty word in TV-talk, especially when people keep bringing it up as the sole reason to justify why a show isn’t worth their time.

And look, I get it, not all TV is made for everyone and not everyone has time for a whole lot of TV. And TV networks have been guilty of producing procedural cop show after procedural cop show just to make an easy buck (lookin’ at you, CBS). After all, when all you’ve got are self-contained stories ripped straight from the headlines and very little else, just replace the actors when they get bored and move on, and this shit makes itself! So I don’t blame anyone for being a bit wary of procedural shows, but if a procedural show is bad, it’s because it relies too much on the procedural aspect and the show is bad anyway…it’s not bad because it’s procedural, c’mon!

There have been dozens of shows over the years who’ve been absolutely unabashed about their procedural nature, and still managed to be excellent shows. Just look at Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, House, Psych, Chuck, Fringe, Supernatural, the list goes on. And to be fair, most television shows rely at least a little on self-contained plots, especially during their freshmen runs. I mean, I’m sorry not every show is Game of Thrones, but even the best of the best will rely on self-contained stories based on a vague but simple formula. Look at Doctor Who: alien stuff happens, Doctor saves the day. Firefly: crew gets itself into trouble, crew gets itself out of trouble. Buffy: scary stuff happens, Scooby Gang kills it. Almost every single sitcom, no matter how excellent, usually relies on shenanigan-based issues that can get wrapped up within 30 minutes.

Pretend television shows are a journey through a park. Point A is the start of the season, Point B is the end of the season, each episode is a segment of the journey, and everything along the way is the season’s overarching plot and character development. They way I see it, procedural plots are just the busses you’re on for each segment of the the journey. If the show is bad, then of course all you’re going to notice is you getting off and on near-identical busses ad infinitum, with maybe only a glimpse of the drab outside scenery between busses. If the show’s done well, then maybe it’s like Elementary, where you’re aware you’re on a bus but can still constantly see the beautiful outside; or like Pushing Daisies, where you see mostly the busses, but the busses are just so gosh darn delightful that you don’t even care. Sure, it’s no Game of Thrones, where you set off on a leisurely walk and take in everything as it passes, but sometimes you even get a Hannibal, where you’re usually on a nice bus with windows, but sometimes it drops you off and lets you walk for a bit anyway.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I’m getting sick of people getting all hung-up on the bus. Some people just see the bus and they run, with no regard for what the busses are like, what the scenery around the bus looks like, or what anyone else has said about the ride. If a show’s got a bus, it’s still more than just the bus! So next time you want to criticize a show, maybe try a little harder to come up with negative aspects more than just “it’s a little procedural”, ok? I promise, people (or, at least, I) will think you’re smarter for it.

 

(and as for shows with non-procedural self-contained plots..let’s say it’s a bicycle instead of a bus)

On Education (or, maybe in 20 years after I’ve been teaching for 15 I shall look back at this idealistic blog post and laugh)

One of the common threads of thought on the internet (God knows it’s the one opinion to which I’ve seen the least opposition in my lifetime) is that school sucks. It’s boring and useless and a waste of time…why are they making us learn this crap, no one is ever going to use the pythagorean theorem ever in their life! But look, I feel like most of us are missing the point, and the fact that half of everyone missing the point are teachers and school administrators is 95% of the problem.  I feel like a lot may have been lost in the shuffle, but now that I’m learning how to be a teacher, it’s slowly starting to hit me.

See, the point of school isn’t to teach you how to calculate the velocity of an unladen swallow, memorize the exact dates of every single crusade, over-analyze the words of a dead white guy, nor is it to keep young hoodlums occupied 50 hours a week so they’re not out doing drugs and vandalizing; that’s pretty damn useless. In the ideal world (or at least, my ideal world), school is supposed to gradually instill students with skills, like critical thinking, logic, inductive and deductive reasoning, research, cooperation…the list goes on.

Here’s how it goes: the point isn’t to teach you how to build a diorama of Rome, it’s to teach you how to work civilly and productively with people you may or may not despise  the point isn’t to teach you the formula for a soulless essay, it’s to teach you how to express yourself eloquently to an ends; the point isn’t to make you calculate the area of a trapezoid 40 times, it’s to teach you how to use facts and figures you already know to arrive at the answer you want. And above all, most importantly, the point of school is to teach you how to figure shit out for your own damn selves.

This becomes more and more relevant in our current era, where facts and information is so readily available at our fingertips but come on, how many times have you been asked a question by someone who didn’t know how or couldn’t be bothered to Google it themselves?

But realistically speaking, we can’t expect that every student’s home and life experiences will teach them all these skills, nor can we just blare “BE CREATIVE. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. WORK TOGETHER.” over a loudspeaker, so what we do is we herd children into schools, and we figure “well, while we’re at it, might as well tell them about this cool play some guy wrote, or how the mechanics of the world work, or what epic shit went down in our history”.

But of course, once we get down to it, schools are filled with students and teachers and administrators who are really just people, dealing with curricula who are laid down by more people; and people have a nasty track record of failing epically and missing the point entirely. It’s how the world works, unfortunately, it’s why governments are flawed and why most businesses are inefficient. So we end up with shit like teachers who bully their students into shutting up, standardized tests, creationism in science classes, brilliant lesson plans cut down by lack of funding; schools end up being miserable places that make you get up way too early and take up time you could spend watching Doctor Who, and I still have otherwise brilliant friends telling me with 100% sincerity that Uranus was named after the god of Uranus.

So while depending on the school you went to and what classes you took, your school didn’t teach you how to fill out a tax report, write a CV and cover letter, iron a shirt, remove a virus from your computer, or have safe and consensual sex. Maybe you still feel like you know altogether too much and too little about the periodic table. Those are the failings of your schools (and the fact that you don’t think of Googling a how-to video or asking around your circle of peers shows that your schools have failed you in more ways than you originally thought), but more than that it’s the failings of people. And until such a time as we can build personalized teaching robots that don’t end up in a dystopian sci-fi situation, I think it’s up to us to fix those failings as best we can, and work around them in the meantime.

I am a pacifist…and I will be a pacifist until the day I die

One of the creepiest things that have come out of the 21st century has got to be email newsletters.

Some of them play nice and they just send messages with nonspecific and relevant subject headings:

“20% Back-to-School Deals!”

“Don’t miss Free Shipping all this weekend!”

“SALE SALE SALE SALE”

Which, sure, maybe a little annoying, but fine. Whatever.

And then there are those ones that made me enter in a first name in the subscription field, so all the emails I get from them are eerily automatically personalized:

“Hey Grace, check out these hot deals!”

“Gift ideas for yourself, Grace!”

Those one I deal with, sometimes I get a good laugh out of the ones that end up with really awkward syntax because of the automatic name-insertion.

But then last May, I got an email from The Source, if I’m remembering correctly, titled: “Hey Grace! Do you think your Mom would like these?”

And it was kind of like…whoa, stay away from my mother. I’ll buy whatever crappy electronics you want, just leave my mom out of this.

Which is just a really shitty marketing technique, if you think about it.

(Title take from here)

Does this count as meta?

It’s kind of a weird thing, blogging. Well, no, it’s personal blogging that’s weird. Being a food blog, or a music blog, hell, even a poetry blog is pretty damn straightforward; there’s a point, you have a topic, and so you post about it.

Personal blogging, on the other hand, is a strange beast. One writes about one’s own life, what happens and little personal thoughts, sharing oneself with the public at large. I guess it might be a bit easier to run a personal blog if you’re the type of person who actually does stuff.

“Hey, I went to Thailand!”

“Here are some photos from my daughter’s art show, so proud!”

“I learned how to kill a man with my bare hands the other day!”

People like me, on the other hand, are another story. Mentally speaking, I’ve got pretty much two homes: the internet, and my own head. And, well, I’m not going to blog about the internet, why the hell would I do that? It’s the internet, it’s all there already, why would anyone need or want me to point out all the good stuff for them? Which pretty much just leaves me with my own little head, and all the weird shit I’ve got bouncing around up there when I’m not distracted by cat gifs.

And I do like to write stuff down; I kind of need to, actually. See, I’ve got a great memory for useful things and things that interest me (the average density of a human head is about the density of water, so you can weigh your own head by dunking it in a full bucket of water and measuring the overflow), but apparently my own life doesn’t interest me, since I can’t remember things like what books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, restaurants I’ve liked, or times that I’ve cried unless I keep lists. (Which is not to imply that I wasn’t interested in any of the books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen…give me the title and I’ll remember everything, the title will just fail to occur to me if you ask me what movies I’ve seen recently) So I do: I keep lists, I occasionally write at length about what I’m feeling, and if I’ve had a particularly convoluted or vivid dream I’ll jot down what I remember. But I don’t think I’ll be sharing any of those with anyone anytime soon. Maybe I’ll enclose a list in my will, but that’s about it.

Blogging about my personal life would mostly consist of, like, personal stuff…and would I really want to share that with the internet? (Actually, I’m surprisingly okay with oversharing with strangers on the internet, it’s when people I know IRL start reading my posts that I get weird about what I post) They’re my thoughts and feelings, and most of the time it’s stuff that I don’t want to share…with anyone! Not my friends, not my mom, I’d even have hesitations about sharing them with my goldfish if I had any. Not to mention that posting the weird shit bouncing around in my head would require sorting it out into a presentable, linear format, which is just too much of a time commitment, jeez.

So I’ve ended up now with entries in my personal private Word document (yes, it’s technically a diary, and no, I’m not going to call it a diary, that makes me sound like the angsty protagonist of a romantic comedy), some that are incoherent messes and some that I look back on and think “maybe I should’ve posted this when it was relevant”, and posts on my blogs that I look back on and think “dear lord why did I ever let this see the light of day?” It’s playing fast and loose with where the Too Personal line is, and it makes making judgement calls that much more difficult in the moment.

So then what else is there to write about? One thing I could do is pick a topic. I’ve got a lot of movies and shows to watch, in theory I could just post about those, my thoughts and opinions as I work my way through my list. But then again, so many other people are doing that already, and much better than I ever could. I mean, just thinking about writing a unique opinion piece for every single movie I watch is giving me a headache, and it’d probably start feeling like schoolwork real fast. And I’ve got enough schoolwork to deal with thank you very much.

So where do I go from here? No clue. But meanwhile, I’m changing the format of this blog a little bit, turning it into a more personal blog, and we’ll see how that goes. It’s not actually that much of a change, really, seeing as this started out as a school blog (which, by the way: terrible idea…who the hell wants to read or write about school?? And not even teaching school, which would at least be something, but going to school! It’s times like these that I really want to smack past!me in the face), and I ran out of things to talk about pretty fast once I got used to university. But maybe expect more pointless posts and posts that actually aren’t all that relevant to your interests, and I’ll probably be posting at about the same frequency (aka about twice a year) as now anyway, so…yeah!

(I should probably also work more on ending my pieces with strong conclusions…or just conclusions in general, really)

Halloween 2012: HELP ME!

Well, it’s that time once again, and again, I’m faced with a dilemma: I have no clue what to dress up as. I need guidance!

Please note, costume ideas from last year are also still applicable, but, well…

So anyway, here are my options so far:

Abed Nadir as Inspector Spacetime

White bathrobe + bowler hat + toy gun

Pro: It’s awesome
Con: Might not be able to locate all necessary items in time (I stupidly left my bowler hat in Toronto like an idiot), also I don’t have a Constable Reggie 😦

Abed Nadir as Abed Nadir

Hoodie + this shirt (which I do own) + backup felt goatee (in case of darkest timeline)

Pro: Already own everything, easy assembly
Con: Not distinctively costume-y enough? It’d probably work better if I had 6 acompanying ragtag friends to follow me around

Young Marceline

Red/grey shirt + blue jumper + grey tights + fangs + Hambo

Pro: I have the right hair for it
Con: Where the hell am I going to buy a blue jumper?? Also a decent Hambo might be hard to find

Past Marceline

Grey loose tee + red boots + fangs

Pro: Easily assembled
Con: Actually…

Life

Cardboard sign + backpack + lemons

Pro: Easy to assemble, cute in a punny sort of way
Con: Lemons are heavy. Also, since I can’t have an infinite supply, I shall have to face the awkward prospect of handing people a lemon and then asking for it back

So…thoughts? Help? Something? Anything??

I’m poorer than I think (or, Of Laptops and Melodrama)

So one of my friends is in the market for a new laptop, and she’s been asking me for advice. That’s why I started looking up laptops today, you know, to kind of get a sense of what’s on the market nowadays. I read reviews, clicked through a few websites, and then for fun, I decided to see how much it would cost for me to buy a new laptop right now (even though my current one is still adequately suiting my needs). One that was adequately sturdy, light enough for me to carry it between my apartment and the university, with the specs that I would like and/or need.

The good news is, I now have a good idea of what are the recent trends in commercial laptops.

However, I also feel infinitely poorer.

God, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually miss the days when I didn’t play video games. I miss the days when I didn’t download (and consequently hoard) movies and TV shows like an obsessive-compulsive. I miss the days when the name “Photoshop” meant absolutely nothing to me.

In those days, I would have been perfectly content with a 15-inch Acer Aspire with an Intel i3 Core, a 500Gb hard drive that only spins at 5400rpm, 4Gb of RAM, and no dedicated video memory. I would have been happy with it because it was cheap, shiny, and had access to Facebook. (Well, more like Neopets, considering that was what I was into back when I didn’t know what Photoshop was)

But no. Apparently, that kind of (affordable) machinery is beneath me now.

Now, anything I buy has to have at least an i7 Intel Core; one of the 3rd generation ones, ideally. I’m swimming in External Memory so capacity isn’t an issue, but any hard drive has got to get 7200rpm, or no dice. 8Gb of RAM, at least; I’d really like 12 though. And the video card: it seems I can only settle for Nvidia GeForce now, with 2Gb of dedicated video memory so that it doesn’t end up drawing from the system RAM and slowing down the game. Oh, and Acer? HP? Gateway? No way I’m touching one of those cheap-ass plastic pieces of crap with a 10-foot pole.

And do you know how much this all costs? Once all the customizing is said and done with, and the best-possible warrantee is added on? (Because let’s face it: I’m clumsy)

Roughly $1,800. Sometimes $2,000 upwards, depending on the brand and make of the base system. (Although small victory: this super-powered PC still beats out the closest MacBook for cost/specs. AND it can play games too. Suck on that, Apple.)

O God, how did it all come to this?