Introducing Our New Montreal Editor: Lili Monette

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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.

Bio:

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.

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Regrets: Just Another Thing I Can’t Afford.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

We’re Hiring + Some Notes On Regret

I never go a summer without regretting something.  After a particularly good summer, this is often a mix of the things I wish I had made time for and the things I wish I’d never done at all. Summer is the season of regrets. Something about those warm August nights brings out the feral tendencies in all of us.

That’s why August’s theme is regret. You’ll notice several posts on regret mixed among our regular features. These are thoughts on regret, stories on regret, things we regret and things we don’t regret. Each month we’ll be introducing a new theme. If you have something to say about regret, feel free to click on the top right and ‘submit’ your story.

Now, for some hiring news!

Blonde is looking to bring on a Montreal editor, Montreal contributors, Calgary contributors, and some more Toronto contributors. Interested? Email blondisms @ gmail [dot] com. These are all volunteer opportunities designed for women who have something to say and who also care about what other women have to say.

That’s all for now.  Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

Sincerely,

The Blondes

The Time I Tried to Sell My Panties on Craigslist

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I had heard about how girls can get money for selling their underwear to wanting men from places like Slutever and Jane. I have also dabbled in Sugar Daddies, and other “Bad Girl” endeavors.

I will begin this by saying I have never been as broke as I am right now ever in my life. It is true –desperate times call for desperate measures.

Plus, I have no problem with doing this type of “slutty” thing. I am somewhat of a Craigslist aficionado.

I went on Craigslist one day – to the personals and m4w section – and typed in the word “panties” in the search bar. I found a man who was looking to add some used women’s panties to his collection. Along with the ad was an anime up-skirt picture.

I e-mailed him with a photo of my ass in black lacey underwear. My e-mail subject was “Panties 4 you”.  He e-mail me back pretty quickly – he was interested. I asked him how much he was offering. He said $50. Fine with me.

Throughout the day we continued to exchange e-mails. After many, he asked me to send another pic – one that said “Hey Kev” written on a note with me wearing my undies. This was to eliminate the possibility that I was a “fake”. He was into it.

We made our plans for the exchange. He wanted to do it that night. He was also willing to drive to my area of the city to pick them up. In my mind, the transaction would be me slipping into his car and hand delivering the panties. I knew that a lot of time, girls usually just sent their undergarments via mail – which I think is super hot.

But I got another e-mail from him, with the final details.

“We meet up some where by your place. You hop in my truck I rub you through the panties and get them nice and wet 🙂 Then you slide them off and we do the trade… Bet you need to wear a skirt :)”

[eww]

Me: “This is not going to work. You never mentioned touching [in our 16 emails]. That’s not worth what your offering.”

Him: “No touching at all?”

Me: ‘None at all. Usually I wouldn’t even meet with someone for what your offering.”

No reply.

First of all, do dudes not realize how much underwear costs? Also, I’m not some common ho. He never even sent a photo of himself. My morals are already pretty low, but I would never consider letting some guy who won’t even send me a photo of himself rub me off.

Anyways, it was obviously a failed endeavor. I’m still broke and had to bum money off my dad instead of selling my used panties to some truck-driving-cheap-old-man.

Guess it worked out anyways in the end. Mostly, I’m just pissed that girls have accepted this offer from this man before. If you’re going to sell your panties online, and let the man rub you off, please be aware of what you’re worth girls.

Written my May Hailer