Blonde Mag Is Getting A Makeover

Don’t worry, we’ll still be Blonde. is currently undergoing a re-imagining and will relaunch later in 2016 with a fresh look and a new collection of stories.
Sign-up for our newsletter to be the first to know when we’re back. Continue reading “Blonde Mag Is Getting A Makeover”

I Was Sexually Assaulted On 420

bonfireI feel like most people’s stories of experimentation seem to have happened at earlier times in their lives, but I’m not really like anyone else, and my experience was more than the ordinary 420 situation.

It was a Friday and one of the last few days of my first year of college. Things were so exciting. I was acting, writing, doing everything I wanted to. I felt like things couldn’t get any better. I was even attracting the attention of a boy who I thought to be pretty darn special. I was charmed by his wit, and wowed by his acting resume. It’s amazing how naïve we allow ourselves to be.

That night I had planned an end of year dinner with my classmates. My best friend picked me up after my rehearsal and we walked along the campus together. It was a beautiful campus with a dark past that I somehow always felt connected to. It was a mental hospital turned college. It went from housing the dark and twisted minds to shaping the future minds of tomorrow.

I got a text from that guy telling me to meet him and for a ride down to the lake before my dinner. We’d have to be quick, he said, because he had to head up north.

Innocently, I thought he was going to take me for a romantic walk on the beach. I was wrong. I got into his truck, but something didn’t really feel right. He said he put the seats down and brought a blanket for us, and couldn’t wait to kiss me. We parked in a busy parking lot. I could see a guy walking his wiener dog toward the beach from the window.

When we parked, he crawled in the back. I followed and he started kissing me. He was bad at it, but I liked him so I kept going. He started taking my shirt and bra off. I started panicking. I knew where it was going and I didn’t want it. Not Like this. Not when I could clearly watch a family unload their strollers from a minivan. He was on top of me and he was fully erect and I said, “I can’t.”

“I’m on my period,” I claimed, trying to grab bra and top, he grabbed them first. My cellphone started ringing. It was my Mom. He grabbed my phone too. His dick was exposed. He told me to suck it. He told me he’d give my stuff back once I did that. I considered it, but I had never given a blow job before, and I really didn’t want to.

“I don’t want to, I really just wanna go.” It was my way of attempting to free us both from becoming another college campus statistic. Sadly, instead he aggressively grabbed me by the hair and started forcing my head toward his crotch. I wanted to cry, but I was in denial. This wasn’t sexual assault, I told myself. If it was, then it was my fault. I asked for it. I just gave in. I didn’t want to be a victim. My logic in that moment was really fucked up. How could this person who 30 minutes ago was lighting up my life, be this kind of person? How could I be so wrong?

I was late for my dinner. I thought he was going to at least drive me to my dinner, Instead. He dumped me off at a bus stop.

I called my best friend and told her everything. Neither of us knew what to do. Or make of it. So we just went to dinner as planned. I told her I felt like it was my fault and that we could tell no one. Of course it wasn’t my fault, but I didn’t know that then.

Remembering that Sex and the City Episode where Carrie smoked a joint, I said, “Let’s make this the day I smoke weed!” As it was one of the last days of school, there was a beach bonfire after dinner. We all met up with our classmates at the beach include this one guy. Let’s call him Frank. He was a classmate who also dealt “the good stuff”. I wouldn’t know how to roll a joint, so luckily Frank had this pretty blue pipe. He got it started and asked why I was smoking. He had never seen me do it before.

I wanted to tell him, but he could see he was prying. He told me he just lost his virginity to a guy. The guy finished and called him a fag, saying he wasn’t even gay. He handed me the pipe and I took a hit. I coughed so much. My mouth was dry, but I was calm.

I watched the guys from the film program dance around the fire like crazy people. More friends showed. They were so excited to finally get high with me. We hugged out our year, and experiences. I was so grateful that that was the way that day ended and that it would forever be the first time I smoked weed.

As for the dink from the beginning of the story, well he’s out there somewhere. It was one of the last times I ever saw him. He tried to contact me multiple times after, but I just couldn’t. He set me up for shame and ridicule by bragging to his friends about what he “thinks” happened. Villians don’t always know they’re villains, do they?

I guess that campus was still housing at least one twisted mind.

This story was submitted anonymously. 

Tattoos and Pushpins: A Tale of Pain

It always starts with the buzzing sound, getting closer and closer. Then you feel the pressure and then little pain shoots up all around your body. Like little lighting strikes, sometimes soft, sometimes very sharp. This is the price paid for getting tattooed. I’ve been collecting tattoos, memories on my skin, some with happiness and some with a bit of sadness behind it. Even after five, I want more. I like looking down and seeing the words and designs permanently etched on my skin, reflecting on the memory and story behind ink and flesh.

Then, recently, I was getting tattooed, feeling the lightning and buzzing when I felt it; the strange, beautiful feeling of brief, sharp pain and then feeling completely nothing. I’m not a masochist, but this pain was familiar to me. I hadn’t felt anything like this since I was a cutter in high school. Using physical pain to control my stress and anxiety was the only way I could cope with my emotions and unresolved anger.

I can’t exactly remember when it started. My middle school years were full of bullying and suffering, but it was in my high school years, facing my future, that I started to take sharp objects to my skin. In my memories it started virtually overnight; I would feel completely overwhelmed with emotions or I was stressed out about some school work/friend trouble/parents. I would get panicky, and couldn’t stop crying or start to hyperventilate. I would then get a pushpin or even a dull packing knife and glided it across the skin of my wrist or my ankle over and over in the same spot until I could feel that pain; lightning striking. As soon as I felt it, I stopped and could breathe again. I never went deep enough to draw real blood, but I would have tiny white lines of raised skin lining my ankles and hidden in my sleeves. Sometimes I would have to do more than one line to calm down but it always seemed to work.

I would watch them disappear over a few days then do it all over again. The pain meant I was present, that I was real and that my problems weren’t really that bad. I was a good kid, behaved, good grades, but the pressure to be good would drown me. When my music or books wouldn’t help, I would turn to the tiny pushpins I’d steal from my mother’s office. I think one time; I may have even taken one from a bulletin board at school, and snuck off to the bathroom.

Strangely, I think I got the idea from a book my mother had gotten or I had picked up in a garage sale, it was about a girl who had an eating disorder but spiraled out of control and had started banging her wrists against sharp edges to control her emotions. I remember reading it and thinking that is so weird, why would she do that? Then I started creating lines in my skin and I understood.

This went on for a while when I was 16-17, I was very careful in hiding my wounds under my pants and sleeves. Once a teacher sort of noticed but I brushed it off as a cat scratch, they were so uniformly lined up on my ankle, what else could it have been? My parents have no clue to this day what went on, and I don’t plan on telling them ever. It was actually the shame of my secret and a friend blackmailing me that made me stop cutting.

I’ve almost completely put it out of my head, the passing of time and being in a different city will do that. But when I was 17, my high school life became a soap opera of over dramatics and craziness. Looking back, it was worthy of a Degrassi script: love gone very wrong, betrayal, lies and fake friends. I lost my partner in crime too that year, I’ve only seen her once since then, and I’m not sorry that the friendship ended so badly.

Strangely though, after that, even with the big emotional fallout, I stopped cutting. I guess part of me realized that if I could handle that insane year, then I could handle anything, my scary not-yet-unknown future and my crazy emotions. Also, another bigger part of me was really scared of my secret being spilt to my family and what the fallout would be. Would I be branded as a crazy person? Go in to therapy, be punished? I haven’t done it since, push pins just hold up things on my walls and the only things on my wrists and ankles are my ink.

It is weird to think of my life back then; I was a completely different girl. I hardly recognize her as part of myself. I’m not ashamed of my past; it made me stronger and able to face things that would impact my life and future. It does take me longer to trust, and I’m still not so great with sharing feelings and emotions, but I’m getting better. I’m not scared of being a crazy person, and I know have the most supportive friends and family to help me. I even got a matching tattoo with my bestie; a girl I wish I had known back then, but am eternally grateful she’s in my life now.

More tattoos are being planned: from birthday/milestones to homages to my favourite things, all of them reflect who I am, or who I am evolving into. Collecting tattoos tells my life story and gives me strength. One of my wrist tattoos reads “In pain there is healing,” which I think sums up my tattoos and my past perfectly. Lightning may only strike once, but my ink will last forever.

Written by Andie Baker.

Mark Your Calendars: New Stories Every Tuesday

Blonde Switches To Tuesday Publishing
Hello readers,

In an effort to bring you a little more consistency, Blonde is switching to once a week publishing. Every Tuesday we’ll be bringing you fresh new stories and perspectives on the issues affecting the contemporary urban woman. We’ll post up to five new stories each week ranging from love and sex to coming of age and various other topics.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll also be introducing some new features to Blonde. We can’t reveal too much yet, but stay tuned for some exciting new changes.

As always, thank you for reading and supporting Blonde.

See you on Tuesday,

The Blondes


Pushy is Not Passionate

feminist body

Cheyenne Jackson

Lately, as we see debate of women’s rights erupt even more so in the social media world I find myself contemplating what constitutes as acceptable and breaching women’s rights. Personally I wouldn’t say I am an extremist but I am a feminist if you must put a title on it. I try to avoid titles but the fact that there even is a term for belief in equality of women proves that there is still a need for awareness here. We don’t hear the term masculanism thrown around do we? Even if we did hear this it would likely not connect in our minds to any of the similar ideals of feminism.  Does it not also say something that spell check does not even recognize this word?

There are the main areas our minds jump to when we hear the phrase feminism but what if we are not even acknowledging the every day-to-day situations where we are pushed passed our boundaries of comfort and security; The moments we have begun to consider normality in our lives as females.

An issue we still face in society today is the belief of entitlement. I hate accepting a drink from a guy at the bar because I know where his mind is going. I have experienced men getting upset when I say no to an invitation home at the end of the night although I never asked for a drink nor did I lead them on with flirtatious suggestion. We do not deserve to be treated disrespectfully just because we are not giving you our bodies. In no manner does anyone have a right to what is yours. While at Sasquatch Music Festival I met a guy at a show one evening. In the beginning he seemed pretty cool so we made plans to meet up the next day but it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have much of a connection with him. For some reason I still let him kiss me but all of a sudden he came on extremely strong. When I told him I wanted to leave he made comments that I was no fun and not “freaky like I looked”. Sorry dude but I wasn’t trying to channel that I wanted to get freaky, possibly you shouldn’t make judgments?  He continued to stick with me for the next while as I continuously tried to brush him off.  I failed to stand up for myself in a reluctance to not be offensive, yet I was hearing constant criticism from him the more he realized that he was not getting anything. Whether female or male, no one deserves to be subjected to someone knocking you down. Why didn’t he walk away? Because he thought he might still get in my pants. Why didn’t I walk away? Because I was being an idiot. It took me until he actually shushed me and asked if I was going to fuck him or not to give a clear enough message and walk away.  I am not a supporter of misandry; I am no man hater that is for sure. I love men. I love people, but why in our modern world today do people so often still have such close minded outlooks and think they can treat others in such a manner.

To be honest in past situations I have slept with men just because I did not know how to stop it. I am sure I am not alone in this either. As crazy as that sounds I found it was almost easier to follow through with it than to build up the confidence to escape the situation. I saw this as a flaw in myself as media has brainwashed us to believe that this behavior in men can be acceptable, making the woman simply promiscuous for allowing it to happen. How corrupt is this idea? As a friend stated a great point to me, “We raise women to avoid and prepare for situations but we do not always raise men to deter from them.”

We need to change the way we approach this as a society. Men need to realize that consent is not lame to ask for but extremely desirable. Pushy is not passionate. Just because a girl may not have the confidence to say no does not mean she is saying yes. There are many areas in life that pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone can be rewarding but when it’s concerning our rights and feeling of self worth this is not one of them.

This is just one example of challenges women face but there are many occurrences in our lives we no longer even acknowledge as abnormal but have accepted as reality. Our perception of reality needs to change. In saying all of this I am not discrediting male rights in any matter as I believe bringing equal attention to this is also important in having equality for women. We need to view every category with equivalence. A fact brought to my attention recently was that more than 40% of domestic violence victims are male. A study was conducted to see the reaction of bystanders during female violence against a man and vice versa. People were quick to intervene in defense of the woman but laughed or ignored the situation when the male was victimized. We raise men from the beginning with phrases and ideologies that portray they must suppress their emotions and be dominant. We need to be conscious of how we are raising our children; the messages we are giving society. I like the quote from Gloria Steinem which states, ‘We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like daughters.’ There is an unrealistic expectation on both genders and if we can dissolve this and be more open with others in turn we may be more open with ourselves. Stand up for your rights but be mindful of others’. To find balance we need Yin and Yang. Moon and Sun. Feminine and Masculine. To find balance we need equality.


Cheyenne Jackson is a consciousness enthusiast from Calgary. Recently rediscovering her love for writing while blogging throughout travels in Asia. You can connect with Cheyenne on Her Instagram, ToukaKoukan or check out her blog,

The Widening Gyre


“ Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure, nor this thing or that, but simply growth.  We are happy when we are growing”. – William Butler Yeats

 October 13th 2013 marks the 4th year anniversary of my brother’s death, and my brother being 3 years older than myself, I grew up following him.  As I begin to write, the feelings of chaos, complexity and inadequacy that encompass my attempts to express this swarm over me, like phantasmic wasps answering their call to arms.  My father had died the previous year from pancreatic cancer. Between my Dad’s death on August 10th 2008, and my brother’s death on October 13th 2009, a good friend was killed in a motor vehicle accident.

I spent the year following my father’s death in a state of relatively open bereavement among those close to me. After my brother’s death I didn’t want my grief to manifest in any way that people could recognize or assume to fathom.  At that point, it was as though expression would have only served to affirm others’ preconceptions of what it means to feel pain and loss.  I preferred “they” assume I was “taking it well”, which to me, served to magnify their ignorance.  About a month after my brother was killed, dead skin inside my cheeks and on the sides of my tongue began peeling off in layers.  This was due to having kept my mouth clamped shut and immobile during most of that time.  Sometimes I feel vibrations at different points in my body; sometimes I have a strange sensation while walking of my hips being in my chest, or of having another head above my head.  Sometimes I can only take very shallow breaths; it is a suffocating sensation.

The strength of a person is not defined by how much they can carry or withstand.  I’m very absorbent. After some time I began to realize that my ability to absorb does not qualify as strength.  A sponge has no solid boundary; it is thoroughly accessible and exposed.  Also, the exposure from sharing something so visceral becomes a dangerous act in itself.  To romanticize circumstances and people displaces them from the realm of reality into that of fantasy. Apathetically entertaining the projections of other people lures the unstable soul into a hopelessly unsatisfying state.  Foreign projections are ineludibly crude and all are biased according to personal experience and exposure to media, stories, and fairytales. Pretentiousness and condescension presupposes an omniscient understanding in the real world of people’s points of reference.  The inconsistencies between my self-perception and the identity projected onto me by friends, family and peers caused a writhing discomfort within me that I became accustomed to.  Followed by a wooly and detached horror-fascination when I observed that I could really disappear in front of people and no one would stop me, no one would know.  I appreciate the subjectivity of individual understanding very keenly.

Sometimes I feel as though even attempting to elevate myself beyond or within this grief is a sacrilege.  There have been times truly unbearable, but somehow they were borne and I’m still here, but that does not make me feel strong.  Somehow it makes me feel weak.  I understand this disposition to find roots in the Catholic value/hoax, that martyrdom is the ultimate expression of love.   I struggle with which memories to protect and keep private, and which to share and how.  It has taken a long time to take the most fundamental step of committing to a life in the living world.  Now I try to accept the responsibilities that come with that decision.

Grief, trauma, and mental illness are incapacitating.  I stayed in university for four years, not wanting to “give up”, or let go of another piece of my identity.  Early on, I decided on a degree in English Literature because stories were the only things that still made any sense.  Each semester followed the same pattern, goals, procrastination, paranoia, self-sabotage, and guilt, until in December 2012 I finally flunked out.

For a while there was nothing I could have done but go round and round in the chaos.  There is this terrible joke; how do you make a baby crawl in circles? Nail one hand to the floor.  I would liken the hand nailed to the floor to my experience of remaining in school. The anchorage to a spinning top at least keeps it moving, if only around and around.  There are worse things a baby could get into; there are better things.  There are no shortcuts when it comes to grief, but time widens the gyre.   Mostly I feel compassion for myself now that I realize the irony of my maddened logic; that due in part to my unwillingness to be misperceived by others, I became dissociated to the point of my own self-loss.   I believe in relativity and in process.  I believe in my own truths as they emerge under my perception of this complicated framework I’ve been bearing witness to all along.  Aspects of this framework are still very blurry, but tending to those places, deconstructing and constructing are among my responsibilities.  Truth will emerge during the process.

Polly Malone

No More Notches in His Bedpost


­I told myself I wouldn’t go back to see him. But it took me less than 18 hours from landing to end up back in his bed. I can blame it on being part of our whole routine. I can blame it on habit. Or I can be honest with myself and blame it on the comfort of being with someone who still liked me despite knowing me when I was 17.

I arrived at his door. He answered it looking just as tall and gangly and skater-boyish as he did when he was 19. I guess I still found those same things hot. He showed me around his house. This must have been the fifth or sixth house of his I visited. Then, as always, we ended up in his bedroom. I congratulated him on the fact that he finally had a real bed, and not just a mattress on the floor as he used to have. Because of this, and him, I probably didn’t have sex on a real bed until I was in my twenties.

I sat down on his new bed and he started to kiss me.

This had been going on for six years.

Over the years I have come to know many different relationships with boys. There have been boyfriends, one-night stands, and fuck buddies – but my relationship with this boy never fit into any category. We were friends who would hang out, run errands together, go for walks, but most of all, sleep with each other regularly.

From the beginning I was attracted to him. But never enough to want to be in a relationship with him. When I was still a teenager, I might have fantasized a time or two about our sleepovers and hang-outs to be something more official and consistent. But as more time passed, and the more times we continued sleeping together, more and more I knew I never wanted to date him. So I began pushing him away and started being more persistent about getting me over. Not that it ever took that much effort on his part.

He never knew that he took my virginity. I never bothered to tell him. That first time, like most first times, was awkward. But we were both drunk. And I wanted to do it. Most of my friends’ v-card stories involve a boyfriend, or a tragic night with a crush or stranger who never called them again. But no person has ever been able to offer me insight on how to navigate this particular type of relationship.

Because to them, it was strange. It was strange to me too.

Ours was my longest relationship. I have never been monogamous with any other guy for longer than a month. I always thought it was because I am emotionally retarded. Now I’m thinking is because I have always had the comfort of having him in the background that I have never had to make myself vulnerable to another guy.

Other than having sex, everything else we did was kind of relationship-y, or at the very least friend-y. We would confide to each other personal struggles– whether it was our weird family situations, jobs, living, or other stuff. We would go hang out together – in non- sexual ways. I would go find him at the skate park when he lost his phone and he would attempt to trek to my house in the freezing cold when I wasn`t answering mine.

And in our five+ years, I cannot say that he was ever dishonest with me. Other than an occasion or two when he told me to come over and I did – but he forgot to be home. It ended up being these types of slip-ups – the ones that showed he had no respect for me – that made me eventually end it. But it still felt like 80% of the time he treated me exceptionally. And for a friends-with-benefits situation, I feel like that was adequate.

My friends would often ask me why he and I never dated. And to be honest, I could never come up with a good answer. Maybe it was because I was always either focused on my studies, or work, or other boys that I actually wanted to date. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t attracted to him. After all we did have great chemistry and nasty – fun sex. But despite of the deep conversations and sexual chemistry – there was never anything more. I always let that fantasy go, because I knew that he would have to get his life together. And year after year, he didn’t change.

Finally after over six years, I think I have let him go. After all there is only so much a girl can go through. When I didn’t hear from him in over a month I decided I was over it. Literally five minutes later I received a text message from him with the inevitable invitation. Then I received another call from him. This time, I decided to give in. I missed him, or sex with him, even though it had only been a month since I last saw him. But as I began walking to his house with no sign of him texting me back I grew furious. Since he had done this to me a couple times before, I couldn’t trust him. But unlike those times I no longer had the patience or forgiveness for it. I finally decided I am worth more.

As always, he managed to appear in the precise moment I chose to end it – as though he could sense when I was at my weakest. But for the first time, I stuck with my decision to end things. So I told him it was over. Actually, I think I said, “You know what? I am done. Don’t call me ever again,” but in a slightly more drunken drama queen kind of way.

For about ten minutes he called and texted about a dozen times. Thankfully for my dignity I was already on the subway home, or else I might have answered one of his desperate pleas.

The next morning I woke up with those giggles and nervous laughs you get when you did something stupid the night before. But instead of feeling shame or regret, I just felt freedom with a side of uncertainty.

I finally accepted that I had grown out of our relationship. That I had changed too much. That I wanted something more. Him – the only thing that had changed was his new bedframe.

Written by May Hailer.

Introducing Our New Montreal Editor: Lili Monette


Ladies, meet Lili Monette. Lili will be handling things from Montreal, contributing pieces and managing a team of writers from Quebec. Lili has already contributed two stories to Blonde, The Balcony-Loving Stranger and New York: New You, and she’ll be writing lots more.

Please join us in welcoming her as we continue to develop Blonde into what it’s meant to be: an amazing collection of women sharing real and raw stories about their lives.


Lili Monette was born and raised in Montreal. She studied at a fine arts high school, and subsequently at Concordia University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre and Development in April 2013. Besides writing and editing for BlondeMag, she can be found performing, creating and entertaining people. She is also currently studying at graduate level at Université de Montréal. You can read her sensational stories here, check out her Tumblr  and follow her on Twitter @LiliMonette.

Regrets: Just Another Thing I Can’t Afford.


When I moved to Calgary 7 years ago, I had no idea that my split-second decision to give the West a chance was going to define the rest of my life. At the time, I was a hippie Literature graduate with a spirit I can now only envy while simultaneously shaking my head. I went to University in a small city where I could walk anywhere I wanted or needed to go.  I lived frivolously with my student line of credit. I experimented with clothes, hair styles, music, and, with other undergrads. It was a time of wild excess and freedom unlike anything else before or since.

Calgary was going to be the next big adventure.  There were jobs aplenty; I couldn’t wait to see the mountains, and most importantly, there was a guy who wanted me here. THE guy. You know the one I’m talking about. The two of you are friends who flirt, probably a lot.  He’s always involved when you’re single or vice versa. You go out to a club together with mutual friends and buy each other shots like sex on the beach. In other words your feelings are about as subtle as a flying brick but neither of you does anything about it.

Yeah, that guy.

After graduation he moved away and I went to my small hometown for the summer. We spoke on the phone four nights a week. Inexplicably, I missed him a lot more than I would a mere guy friend. So in typical me fashion I up and bought a ticket for YYC departing a few days later with $800 in my bank account, my measly credit card, significant student debt, and no place to live.

“The guy,” who is now my wonderful husband, offers me a couch and picks me up at the airport.  I don’t need it; I sleep in his bed.

That’s the kind of carefree individual I was.

A few weeks later I’m a waitress at a pizza joint with a bunch of kids who have no idea why someone with a degree was serving iced tea. I can’t give them an answer because I don’t know why either, other than jobs in writing are sparse, particularly creative writing.

The next few years are much the same. I work somewhere I don’t like or don’t fit in, assimilate a little more into the guy’s life, and write on the side. Four jobs come and go and our friends begin to think I’m a little eccentric. They are right, of course. They are also more practical than I am.   I’m broke.

Time passes and soon I begin to realize that a small spark in the always-optimistic me has faded, and, whether it’s simply age or circumstance I get a bit cynical. Bad bosses, bad drama, bills, and small insecurities take their toll.

The refrain remained the same. Be a good person, keep trying, keep writing, and keep looking. Something will turn up, things will turn around.

They didn’t and haven’t.  Still broke.

Writing is a challenging career and is often very isolating. Like many other writers I found that I started to drink a little bit too much and write not quite enough. I would eat poorly and sleep worse. My habits were not those of the successful-though-naïve hippie type I once was, but of a woman who was headed downhill.


The strange thing is that throughout it all, the question of whether or not ‘the guy’ and I were meant to be together was never once an issue. Sure, things were hella difficult at times, and still are, but as a result our relationship is tighter than a Chinese finger trap.

And really, I don’t mean to sound like these past 7 years have been all bad because they haven’t. It’s quite the opposite, actually. I’ve made some wonderful friends. My family are truly amazing in every sense of the word. I love my husband.  I’ve learned to enjoy camping and hiking.  I’ve read some good books.  I’ve written a (pretty good) book myself. I’ve written some other things I’m really proud of.

Does that mean I don’t have any regrets? Of course not.

When I was younger I thought that regret was useless because feeling it couldn’t change anything. It only referred to the past and the past was beyond our reach; pointless. But then, when I was a kid I had nothing to regret in the first place and therefore no true concept of the word’s actual meaning. For example, I know now that it’s possible to regret things that haven’t even happened yet. Regret for an idealised, fantasy-future that can’t be.

I don’t regret my split-second decision to move here because I probably wouldn’t be married now and that’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.

I don’t regret pursuing Literature in school because as impractical as it may be, it wasn’t just any old option it was the only option. Because that’s who I am, that’s me.  It would be nice if I had pursued my Master’s degree before buying a house. I can’t afford it now and don’t know when I’ll be able to.

In life, there are sacrifices we make every day: for our loved ones, for work, for others, and for our sanity. As a writer my main sacrifice is a financial one. Choosing this life means not being able to afford the things that my friends and neighbors afford with ease. It is also a sacrifice of pride, in some respects, because many people will simply not be able to understand why you do what you do.

But it isn’t a sacrifice of who you are, and that’s why regret is just another thing that I can’t afford.


Ashley Britten is a freelance writer with a BA in English who has recently completed her first novel in a YA trilogy. Ashley lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband, their dog, and her betta fish Clyde. Follow her on Twitter @AshDWalsh until her new home on the interweb is up and running.

The Disgruntled Server, Issue I: The Health Foodie


I softly whimper into my pillow. It’s that time in the morning that the majority sleeps through. I’m not sure why it’s me that’s awake lying here in a sea of pillows still slightly buzzed from the evening prior. Memories from childhood cascade through the brain to add to the self-guilt of it all. What would my mother think? I decide next week will be one of lemon water and good behavior. I write a seven-day checklist to post on my fridge– exercise! H2O! sleep! Is it for dignity– a good life– or a forfeit to what’s considered proper? Will I actualize these plans once the hangover passes?

I’m 28 and I work as a server at a restaurant. It’s not where I imagined myself five years ago, or where I imagine myself forever, but for two years since moving to Toronto I’ve paid rent by serving health foodies gourmet veg dishes, fresh juice, and all the wine. It’s a great time with great coworkers, but here is an occupation that does drive you to drink.

At this particular restaurant, the primary demographic of customers, or “custys” as we call them, is somewhat of a walking cliché; a niche, if we’re being polite.

People are consistent in coming through our doors wearing overpriced loungewear and an elevated sense of self-satisfaction. They are a combination of type-A professionals, people who don’t need to work for a living, yogis, and undergrads living like high rollers on mom’s credit card. Those who can afford to throw down twenty grand on spiritual gurus in India l-o-v-e  us– you saw that movie Eat, Pray, Love, right? We’re the back-to-reality follow-up. What I might call “entitled,” they might call “enlightened.”

Though the menu is vegan, about 85% of our clientele is not vegan, nor do they care to be informed on what the diet fully entails. That’s okay, it’s nice to see people dipping their toes into a new, well-meaning cuisine; however, when you’re working 4-5-6 nights of the week, the shenanigans of fluffy feathered health nuts with surface-level proficiency will wear on mental motors.

These are people educated enough not to want to put garbage in their body, but not interested enough to explore sights beyond their own self-worth and alkaline levels. After two years, I’m still shocked on how blissfully blah some are okay with being when it comes to acquiring information beyond buzzwords and newspaper trends. Sometimes I feel we ain’t nothin’ but a bandwagon.

The cliché custys are funny ones– servers are privy to a unique glimpse into the animal kingdom. These people aren’t so much funny in the way you’d get on together in real life, but funny in the way where you’re just not sure how they make it in the real world.

When the table of PR girls ask for “real milk” for their coffee, I provide a lax “You mean cow’s milk?” reply. I’m met with strained facial muscles and a confused awkward silence. I have no ill will to non-veggers, and I realize I may come off as a little sassy, but I can’t help but feel some amount of responsibility to instill just a wee mental note for later. And besides, didn’t the whole “Drink Milk” campaign get outted 10 years ago? I like to think they’ll go home and utilize Google. (I promise I’ll never bring the sass outside of these walls­– nobody likes a know-it-all. And when people are genuinely curious and kind about the menu, I will give them all the respect. I’ve had some pretty precious moments with first-time custy exchanges.)

Three seats down, the tiny yoga instructor with the groping boyfriend is about to begin the usual circle of demands that will keep me buffering from the bar to their table for the next 40 minutes. They tip well, so I’ll be sure to grab that extra side of Himalayan sea salt somewhat promptly. A woman at the table of twelve writes a list of her allergies in which I must present to the kitchen. Her naturopath says she can’t eat the color red. She and I go through the menu in full and she’s not really getting it. She asks about cross-contamination with fish. Sigh.

It’s around this time when I start fantasizing about the glass of red I’ll enjoy an hour from now. There’s something about busying around at the wake of night chatting up strangers, dancing between orders, cash, the kitchen and the door that makes going home to sleep immediately afterwards next to impossible. This adrenaline rush requires remedy.

My coworkers and I almost always gather post-close to unwind after a hard night’s work. Though the bulk of our clientele remains somewhat of a running joke, we do make the point to acknowledge the righteous folks who were awesome to serve. The good people make it worth it. Still, the big picture and the defeatist in me thinks people who dine out-of-home are the ones who should be required to take that silly Smart Serve test.

However, this stint as a lowly minion is a reminder to we servers to check ourselves– keep it real, ya know? Who knew an $8.90/hour job could be such a lesson in humility– a non-institutionalized education in humanities.

Sometimes there are many nightcaps / too many nightcaps after work. Shit gets black. I realize the incline of booze intake I’ve experienced since starting serving and bite my lip. Our mornings are not exactly in demand, and there’s a certain means of survival involved when you’re subjecting yourself to all walks of the general public every day of the week. In the first season of the television show of Bored To Death, George Christopher (Ted Danson) says to Jonathan, “Men face reality. That’s why they drink,” while sipping chardonnay in a bathroom stall at a party. We servers– even those of us in the health food bizz (shhhh)– can relate. It’s not so much a means of facing reality, but more of a buffering process.

Custys come and go– and so does our sanity– but when you get to work alongside artists, actors, writers, graffiti kings, and future entrepreneurs, it’s the close-knit camaraderie between coworkers that’s the real saviour. A few drinks are simply the celebration. And with this, I conclude: the circle of [a server’s] life.

Iris Wolfe is a writer from the East Coast living in Toronto. She’s into Scandinavian sensibilities, migrating towards cosy perches with red wine prospects, and using her estranged psychology degree as a touchstone. (or sometimes not) She’s often found biking, writing short stories, or wiggling around in the comfort of her own home. People are usually surprised to discover her affinity for good hip hop.