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A List: 10 Girls

November 12, 2011

To follow up my last blog with a frivolous one, here it is: girls I love. Some, purely for their looks, brains, humour, and all of the the above (some girls are just born lucky, I guess).

In no particular order:

1. Kristin Kreuk – Perfection.

2. St. Vincent – If you’ve heard her sing, seen her shred, and then just seen her, you’d get it.

3. Kristen Bell – Some claim to be a hot-nerd through a proclamation to everyone, and especially fanboys, their seemingly scripted list of ‘things’ they do that are geeky, but there’s only one that actually fits the bill in my eyes. She frankly admits, unlike many of her contemporaries, that she was in between popular and nerdy. She’s a showtune-singing-Veronica Mars-pining-comic-book-quoting kind of girl, and it’s not hard to believe her.

4. Keira Knightley

5. Natalie Portman – Since Leon and Star Wars, I’ve followed her career; I always admired her quiet confidence and effortless grace. Then there’s her Harvard degree. I can’t think of anyone whose been as successful in both Hollywood and academia like she has. Plus: if you’re not completely convinced, youtube her rapping on SNL. Undeniable.

6. Rachel McAdams

7. Emma Stone – I like my guys the same way I like her: funny and self-deprecating. She’s got killer eyes too.

8. Scarlett Johansson

9. Elle Fanning – Flashes of pedobear are in my mind now, but, I can’t help it. She’s the prettiest little thing (though she stands probably a foot taller than myself), not to mention her knack for both acting and personal style.

10. Alicia Keys

I am not my…

May 7, 2011

I definitely grew up with a few misconceptions. Specifically, I know I had the wrong idea about what true beauty really is. With the images of beauty from the media I was exposed to, and some perceptions of beauty from my peers throughout my impressionable childhood years, being realistic or not, they had shaped my definition of beauty and body image. Whether these perceptions were shaped into positive ones or not is debatable. I know that the negative body image perceptions of myself have hurt me from time to time, but I know, as I’ve matured over the years, there is more to love than to hate about me. Granted, it’s sometimes a long road in discovering this, and I know I still have a lot to learn. What I know now, though, is that there needs to be awareness about our unique experiences and emotions towards our definitions of beauty as women, young and old. With this, we can find ways to help each other and ourselves see that we are not our imperfections, but the sum of all our strongest attributes or unique quirks, and that should be enough. We should know that we are beautiful enough for ourselves.

I remember watching a few Miss Universe programs when I was younger, and I truthfully admired all the aesthetics: the crown, the gowns, and the beautiful women. Barbie had a similar effect on me; I thought these were the women I could only hope to become, and if I were to become them, I’d be happy. Then, I remember the magazines that would have cover girls with perfect skin and perfect, put-together outfits. These said cover girls would grace the big screens and smaller ones too, and they were thin and dainty. They represented my gender as women who would get attention from their love interests and peers by getting a makeover or by just being their ‘perfect self’. Did I have to change my hair colour to Barbie’s platinum blonde or have an obsessive preoccupation about my weight to feel love and belonging in my life? More importantly, should girls at such a young age, or at any age for that matter, doubt that they could love themselves and wholly if they didn’t change their perceived imperfections?

The media and the circles we are a part of, including friends, acquaintances, and family, undeniably have an effect on our beliefs and the way we think. They will always be there, for better or for worse, and you may not be able to escape the bad influences and negative perceptions that come from these associations. We know these thoughts hurt us, and definitely hinder seeing the beauty we are all most definitely in possession of, but it’s possible to heal from the damage of these thoughts. Some may need a small boost to your self-confidence or some of may need more help than our friends and family can offer, but we have to first realize that we all have bad thoughts.

I’m by no means a professional that analyzes the human psyche for a living, but I don’t need to be one to know that we are all flawed in some way; we’re all human. With that said, whether you have one physical flaw or a few more, I know that it is wrong to be defined by these flaws. You are not your crooked nose or your frizzy hair or your flabby arms or your dark skin. We are a sum of wonderful aspects: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Let’s start today by celebrating women who are a sum of these aspects. What’s more, regardless of how many flaws we may have, we should be able to list more good than bad.

I propose for every negative thing you notice about yourself, count three more positive ones. We have all tried to single out one thing or a number of things that we don’t like about body. Sometimes it’s the first thing we notice when we look in the mirror, and it follows us to school or work or when we’re trying to just have fun and relax with close friends, so it may distract us from more important things in our life. But, if we start appreciating some of the wonderful things our body has and offers us too, maybe, just maybe we’ll see that, overall, we’re worth appreciating as a whole. With this self-awareness and social awareness of perceptions of beauty, we can move forward and live a life that does not restrict us from happiness and love and belonging based on our outer appearances.

As for me, I am not my height. I am small and I may never be a super model, but I am beautiful because I like the way my hair looks on a good day; it’s got a ton of volume, it’s shiny, and amazing when curled. I am beautiful because my hands create beautiful things with the use of a simple pencil and the imaginative strokes it makes on paper. I am beautiful because I love and am loved, and when I love I can see why Louis Armstrong can sing with so much earnest conviction about the beauty around us.

Movie Talk: It’s a British thing…

February 19, 2011

Listening to: Ashes Ashes – Katie Costello

WAIT: Spoilers for the movie reviews below. You’re warned.

I love things British; it’s a verifiable fact. But, don’t ask why. It’s like one of those weird ticks you can’t seem to kick if you’re known for any. The accents, the mannerisms, the humour, the music, and their people all fascinate me.

So, this past week, I’ve found an urge to watch British/UK film. Here are some of my thoughts on movies I’ve seen that include some hugely talented British people. British. British. British.


Never Let Me Go, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield

Basically: our world perfected cloning in 1952, where all clones are created to give up their vital organs for donation, and that is their single purpose in life. It’s a harrowing story, but it’s not their sad fate that struck me. Sure, the protagonists in the movie are meant to unnatural and almost empty lives. Then there are instances where you feel frustrated at their lack of initiative to do something about their predicament. However, it’s their sense of duty and control that had me reeling; their decisions felt marginally more powerful compared to an action-packed, chase sequence there could have been had it been another predictable thriller. Without giving away any more than I already have, I have to say that the end left me thinking intently about the possibilities and bio-ethics of cloning if it were to occur in our lifetime.

We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time…

Questions arise like, are we any different than them for living longer lives, and yet still ask the same unanswered questions of life’s purpose and meaning that they pose too? Do we really know the human soul and are we really the only beings that have them in this universe? Would it be right to treat them like sub-creatures, and have no debate on their free will?

Accompanied by a great adaptation from the original source, a novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, is the equally great acting. All three young actors had me feeling very connected to their surreal journey. Particularly, I do advise bracing yourself for some of Garfield’s disarming moments in the film. With that being said, I can’t think of any more compliments to encourage this film’s viewing…

Cherrybomb, starring Rupert Grint, Robert Sheehan, and Kimberly Nixon

As far as comparisons that match up with Cherrybomb go, it’s hard to pull away from linking it to Skins, a British teenage show that contains as much melodrama as it does, well, skins. In D’Sa and Leyburn’s creation, the gritty, stylish film work, the heavy use of cursing and drug use, and a love triangle all can be paralleled with Skins very easily. What’s more, it’s hard not to make comparisons to other run-of-the-mill, made-for-teen television shows on the American the CW network. What I can say that is different is Cherrybomb’s restraint in adding other flashy gimmicks and subplots like its contemporaries have done.

As the tagline goes: two boys. One Girl. Game on. The girl (played by Nixon) is new to town, and two Belfast-native boys (Grint and Sheehan) quickly vie for her attention. Vying for attention equals the boys performing a series of escalating pranks to impress said girl. It’s not that far-fetched to decide that these boys exist; they are boys we all have witnessed before, acting foolishly for the chance at getting lucky. So, it might not be asking too much to forgive them for acting their age, but at the same time, I can’t shake the idea that there could have been more to their lives than ‘the game’. I wanted to feel more sympathetic for the dysfunctional families of Sheehan’s Luke and Nixon’s Michelle, but I couldn’t completely, and I wanted to see Grint’s Malachy have a stronger internal conflict of the good and bad in his life. Unfortunately, all I saw were three teens thrill-seeking for the sake of thrill-seeking because they didn’t have the capacity or want to see a way out of their problems. I can’t help but think that the purpose of the film was to show aimless teens with no redeeming qualities.

To be fair, the three young actors do give tolerable and mildly entertaining performances that do keep me watching to see the results of their havoc. Also, as a fan of Grint myself, I did enjoy seeing a drastic change from his Ron Weasley image, and I appreciated the skill (his British accent was expertly hidden by his attempt of an Irish one) and subtleness I knew he would be capable of in this role. But, even I couldn’t feel, after an almost anticlimactic ending, that he was enough for me to want to think of this film afterwards.

A List: Most Memorable Movies

November 27, 2010

To be honest, I have too many movies I’ve enjoyed over the years. However, for my blog’s brief and concise nature, I’ve narrowed a list down to 11 movies that I feel have left a lasting impression (this was so hard to do). Here they are in no particular order:

1. Beauty & the Beast: One of my earliest memories was watching this movie, and I’m still not tired of the singing along and watching Lumiere and Cogsworth’s banter. In general, Disney movies have followed me through my childhood and on, but I’ve always been partial to a princess with brains…

2. Back to the Future: It’s about the sentimental value for me with this one. I used to watch the weekend movie specials on television for a chance to catch a viewing of this classic. It’s got everything one would expect in a feel-good, pop-corn movie: a zany, but interesting plot, comedy, familiar archetypes, and romance.

3. Forrest Gump: I always root for the underdog, so, naturally, I’d root for Forrest. It’s easy to follow and be engrossed by a simple, mentally-challenged man’s story, especially when it’s injected with recent historical events and oddball humour. I especially love the list of all kinds of shrimp recipes!

4. Brick: I’m a fan of mystery and detective fiction; they exercise your mind, and I’m a dork like that.  Brick fits the bill for my tastes, but puts a spin on a classic genre. It’s noir, but it’s setting is a modern day high school with high school archetypes. The dialogue seems like a well thought out and crafted art form here, and I love movies that have you continually thinking (even though  I had to see this movie at least twice to get the hang of the phrases, rhythm, and double meanings).

5. Kill Bill: When Hollywood offers strong female leads nowadays, it feels more like a backhanded gesture than anything else. Mostly, strong female characters in popular films exude more sex appeal than respected qualities, like being quick witted or having flaws we can relate to. To me, the Bride from Kill Bill was completely and utterly flawed, but also had some qualities that any girl should aspire for: self-sufficiency without depending on the opposite sex and defying the traditional demure, peace-loving nature of a stereotypical woman. She kicks serious ass.

6. The Painted Veil: I could have picked a handful of other romance films that I really loved over the years, but I think this one stood out to me the most for its honest look at relationships. At the end of the film, I was left thinking about the importance of accepting imperfections in people we care about and the power of forgiveness. On a random note, the center, messy relationship is set against picturesque backdrops of England and China. Beautiful.

7. Nightmare Before Christmas: Tim Burton creates worlds of darkness, gothic aesthetics, and dark humour. As someone who appreciates visual experiences in film, I really appreciate Burton’s style and artistic vision. This film was my first Burton experience, and I’ve yet to find a movie he’s been involved with that doesn’t leave me floored by its design alone.

8. Virgin Suicides: I didn’t relate to a lot of the happy-go-lucky, western films’ families growing up, mostly because I felt like no one understood the implications of a girl growing up under relentless scrutiny. Although it’s extremely melodramatic, it was comforting to find girls I could relate to on some level. Also, Sophia has a great eye and great ear, because I loved the overall style and music of this film. Come Sail Away by Styx is always blasted on my radio when it comes on!

9. It’s A Wonderful Life: There have been variations of this story throughout the years, but, as the cliché goes, the original can’t be beat (though Donnie Darko should be noted here as it comes as a close second). On the surface, it’s a ideal storyline with very little to no edge in it (well, to be fair, it was released in 1946). However, at a young age, I couldn’t finish the holidays without watching this classic.

10. Inception: Fight Club was nudged out by this movie. There were some movies I could have picked along with this choice, like Memento, The Fountain, and Donnie Darko (again) for movies that will seriously give you a headache at the end (which, is a good thing here). However, this beats them out without a doubt. I like thought-provoking movies; it leaves me trying to find insight for days.

11. The Dark Knight: I’ve been a fan of the cartoons since I was younger, but, even if I hadn’t been, I can see myself enjoying this movie regardless. I’m sure there are many who can appreciate a smart, complex, and childhood-figure-brought-to-life story. However, more than this,  the fact  is that all the other Batman movies really have no comparison to this adaptation. I’ll never get tired of watching either this one or Batman Begins.

A List: Surviving the Strict Filipino Family

October 9, 2010

“So, can I have one this time?” I pouted, hoping against hope that a squished, anguished-looking face would mean something to my mother.

“No,” came her deadpanned reply.

“Why?” I offered my proverbial retort to this dominantly heard verdict.

“It’s not healthy for you,” she simply explained to me. “Just eat your baon [lunch]; you’ll like it.”

At school in the lunch room with everyone, I would hesitantly place my Disney Princess print lunch bag in front of me. Though I wasn’t ashamed to eat whatever she had packed me, I was more interested in what my friend pulled out of her own colourful lunch bag: Lunchables. Each edible item was neatly piled into separate plastic compartments, waiting for its owner to stack and create a fun pattern to their liking. The pint-sized salami, cheese, and Ritz cracker fit perfectly into its pint-sized owners’ hand, like they were made for us. They had the bright and shiny commercials to lure us into the hype too. Of course, they were coveted. Later, I would eat my own lunch–a heaping helping of rice and chicken–and had no qualms since my mom’s an exceptional cook. I never knew anything was amiss, and who would at the age of seven? Now, I can see why she had a consistent iron fist to these sort of things. I mean, really? I can’t believe parents gave their children a bunch of Ritz crackers and a handful of cold meat and cheese for lunch.

This memory of mine is a simple case of the famous ‘parents know best for their children’. It’s not just a saying; it’s a fact. At a very young age, we’re not old enough to discern what’s healthy or what’s not, what’s unsafe and what is, and why you shouldn’t dye your hair that colour and why you’ll regret it later on. These are facts that stem from a medical-psychological point of view and common sense, but, as Filipino-Canadians, we are sometimes faced with the conflict of two clashing cultures. This is especially true for those who are bordering on young adulthood and actually passed the legal age of voting, working, and even drinking. Some Filipino-Canadians live under strict and sometimes overbearing rules, values and beliefs.

I am in no way an expert, but simply a person with some experience with the matter of living with strict ruling. Also, some of you may not feel like this relates to you, but it may at some point in time with your parents. However, first things first: strict parents don’t necessarily mean you’re stuck and will therefore mean you are living under a terrible roof. In fact, I honestly think that regardless of the headbutting that goes on from cohabiting Canadian and Filipino lifestyles under my roof, there is love and resilience. I sometimes find myself in reminder of the fact that no matter what differences we have, we’ll never separate or ever leave one another to stumble hapless through life. I definitely think that most of you can think of how your family is the same. That being said, there has to be a way to get past the struggle and frustration some of you feel when your parents just don’t understand or get you without asking your parents to change. In fact, that’s not the point. The following guidelines aren’t definite fixes, but they may help you cope with stress as they’ve helped me.

Regardless of the headbutting that goes on from cohabiting Canadian and Filipino lifestyles under my roof, there is love and resilience.

In no particular order:

1. Pick and choose your fights: It sounds easy enough, but it can be challenging when you want to blow up at the sign of a parent pointing out a flaw. The trick is to know that they’ll probably will NEVER stop nagging you about keeping your grades up, and know that it really is important to getting that high school diploma and/or scholarship to that university/college you want to get into. So, really think of it as a motivator. However, if their nagging starts to get the better of you in a way that it messes with your head, like feeling as if you’re not good enough and feeling like you have little confidence in yourself, then you have to speak up.

  • Yes: Understand (aka, nod and zip the lip) when they tell you to finish your homework before you go out with your friends.No: they can’t make you feel terrible because you got an A- or even a B+ instead of a A+, especially if you know you studied to the best of your abilities.

2. Get a ‘middle man’: Chances are you’ll have a least one relative or parent or grandparent on your side if you need help swaying a parent/guardian that won’t compromise with you. Also, make sure it’s an adult; it’s a lot more credible than a little brother with no seniority whatsoever. If you’ve gotten into a fight with one of your parents, leave immediately if you can get out of proximity of them (another tip I’ll get to later) and find that one adult that you are comfortable with and talk to them about your problem with whichever parent you’ve gotten in trouble with. There’s nothing worse than feeling alone and having no one to talk to, especially if talking and venting helps. Most likely, they’ll be able to help and coax your parent into compromising.

  • Do: Find your middle man and get them to help you through a dispute.

3. Leave the room: It’s sounds pretty simple, but the effects of leaving a fight or uncomfortable meeting works on so many levels. If you can, as in if you’re in a position where leaving isn’t offending a parent and you’re excusable, then leave the room before you say something to make it worse. Speaking of the worse: saying something rude and offensive will only make the fight last longer. Do you really want to stay in there another hour just to prove a point?

  • Bottom line: Leave, cool down, and retreat to your room or got out with friends to distract yourself.

4. Ignore them: Now, I don’t mean ignore them completely and give them the silent treatment. I do, however, mean to ignore their sometimes irrational words (they’re mad, and who doesn’t get mad and not say things they don’t mean?). What I’ve learned is that some parents are too set in their ways (possibly stemming from their traditional upbringing), and it might be true for your own parents too. Remember: your parents may have grown up in a completely different ‘world’ than mine or yours. Some may have learned to accept and compromise with your life as an Filipino-Canadian, but some may be oblivious to this.

  • In short: Be the better person by only speaking in a neutral responses. The exception: if they’re outright accusing you of doing something wrong when you haven’t, don’t yell, but say calmly and firmly that you haven’t done anything wrong and do the #3 tip: LEAVE the room.

5. Say you’re sorry: Always be the better person and say sorry. I’m not saying that you should admit defeat and give up on your pride. But, you also have to believe me when I say that saying sorry will only help you end a fight and make it harder for anyone to see the fault in you since they can’t do anything or complain about an apology. Yes, it sounds like a scheme to get out of things especially if you’re not sincere and honestly sorry. But, if you choose to say sorry and list what you’ve done wrong, it means you’re putting aside your pride in front of them and taking an effort to analyze your faults. I only see maturity and sincerity in that.

  • Basically: Say sorry and list your faults. No one can yell at you when you’re saying sorry right.

6. Be a neat freak: It sounds stupid and more work, but it’ll pay off. Trust me. So, you’re parents are already down your throat about grades, being obedient, and no boys or girls until you’re 40. So, why give them more ammunition about being a slob while you’re at it? I know that when I’m not cleaning something or my room, they will use this excuse when I want to go out with my friends. So, it may be silly and annoying, but it’ll work to your advantage if they don’t have something else to nag about before you head out the door.

  • If anything else: Suck it up and clean, clean, clean.

7. Get a job, get a driver’s license: You’ll find that staying out of the house when it’s something to do with being professional and earning money will kill two-four birds with one stone. If you’re an Filipino girl, like me, you might be very dependent on your parents for transportation and money. Growing up in a Filipino family, I found that the idea of staying home until I get married and depending on them for everything actually appealed to my parents, like it’s normal. However, the one condition that comes with this ‘sweet deal’ is that they control you. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. You will depend on them for shelter, food, money, transportation–all essential things you can’t get on your own since you’re not independent. I learned this the hard way as I have gotten my license late in life (bad call). But, once I got a job and was out of the house, I had more chances of experiencing what was out there, and I felt a lot more in control.

  • No brainer: Job + G2/driver’s license = more freedom and maturity.

8. Tell the truth: So, you’ve snuck out to see your friend when you’re not allowed to and someone in your tight-knit Filipino community has told on you. It’s not ridiculous and it’s not uncommon. If you’re being honest, how long do you think you can keep a secret from your parents? You most likely have caught their attention by getting caught sneaking out or you’re actually tired of lying, so take this opportunity to get what you want and give them what they want. Ideally, you want to tell the truth before you consider the option of sneaking out. However, your parents might surprise you with a compromise with some conditions that aren’t too intolerable, like meeting a boyfriend who they are hesitant to let you date, and then coming up with curfews that are mutual. I know it means more rules, but it’ll be worth it to not always worry about the lies, the elaborate plan to sneak out, and the consequences of getting caught in a lie.

  • Yes, you have to: Mind the curfew.

9. Take a deep breath…and more breaths: This is kind of similar to the leave the room tip. It’s also the most helpful in all aspects of having to deal with difficult times in your home life, and all you have to do is take a deep breath…and several more if it gets to that point where you want to blow up! If you having a fight with a parent, leave the room and take a deep breath. It can be a pretty trivial thing to do, but I don’t mean it in the literal sense all the time. Taking a breath could also mean making sure you find a hobby that can distract you and de-stresses you. For me, I read, write, and listen to music to get over whatever it is I’m upset about. Also, take a deep breath with a friend, like venting as you’re going out with them or having them over your house. These are all pretty simple things, but all these little moments add up and really help when all the big or little negative moments add up too.

  • Remember: Breathe.

10. Take the day off: Take the day to spend with your parents to compensate for all the days you spend with tension. It sounds like you’re planning a forced, unnatural activity, but it takes as little effort as staying in on some nights to watch a favourite movie or tv show or going out to eat dinner somewhere special. In fact, I find that these small, almost forgettable gestures make a big difference when they’ve all added up. I think this is the key to balancing the stress and anger you might have, and replacing them with a better attitude and feelings towards your parents. More importantly, it helps you remember that there are more good than bad qualities in your family, which all help to get some mutual understanding of each other.

  • Last thoughts: You want to make sure that these happy moments keep up or even out number the bad days and fights.

Movie Talk: Network Depicts Generation Y, Z, Now

October 6, 2010

Whether Mark Zuckerberg’s comment, “This is my life, so I know it’s not that dramatic. The last six years have been a lot of coding and focus and hard work…”, is a guise to gloss over the real-life drama associated with Facebook’s creation or that The Social Network may have taken its history and turned it into Hollywood-lover’s fodder does not discount the fact that all the attention to its history and the movie itself has something significant to offer.

The Social Network, directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher, is filled with clever quips, a relevant storyline, and engaging actors (top billed actors are: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake); it’s got all the makings of an enjoyable cinema experience. In fact, it honestly is enjoyable and surprisingly funny as well. However, I think, beyond the likability and what some have called its Shakespearean-influenced story-telling (which may be the reason for its success in drawing people in for its universal themes of friendship, jealousy, deceit, greed, tragedy, and the like), this movie offers a glance and commentary of the world of the newest generation.

We, of which I include myself being that I was born in 1987, have been called Generation Y, Z, Next, and MTV Generation among other monikers. The age range for these generations vary among different commentators, but there are commonalities and defining qualities about all of us who are on the cusp of or already in our twentysomethings. For one, some of us remember a time when the internet was not as common as having at least one television per household. Now, most of us can attest, or conceal with indifference, to the fact that we cannot function without lurking through our friends’ Facebook profiles, updating our twitter, and charging up our smartphones for its daily use of texting, chatting, and internet browsing. Bye, bye: writing snail mail and physically visiting your friends to show them pictures of a previous night’s debauchery. Hello! Facebook offers those services to you without leaving the comfort of your home, pajamas, and/or your favourite spot on the couch.

Whether or not these conveniences pose a threat to our touch with reality and the importance of physical one-on-one interactions is debatable. Then there’s the blatant bullying online called cyber-bullying that has led to recent tragedies and the movie’s title character’s online revenge that are obviously against the argument that the internet is an all-amazing tool. Obviously, for these issues alone, we are due to see more movies that specifically reflect this digital world. So, it’s interesting to see this movie display innovations in technology that have heavily influenced and are still influencing our social interactions, especially how it pervades our physical one-on-one interactions.

Yes, Network showcases a dramatic, glamourized history of the phenomenon that is Facebook, but it also provides a picture of the most current trends to reflect our generation. Yes, good movies provide us with an interesting plot, execution of said plot, and exceptional, complex characters played by talented actors. However, a really good movie should also evoke questions about the times we live in. Luckily, The Social Network satisfies these requirements expertly.

A List: The Hunt

October 5, 2010

You’re only given what you deserve after the work you put into it…

Students, graduates, and the unemployed have something in common: bills, bills, bills. Unfortunately, for those who feel the pressure to earn the green, it isn’t usually something someone is enthusiastic about or find it fun to sing along with Beyonce, especially if you’re suddenly new to the idea of doing the ‘grown-up’ thing. So, it’s time to earn some. But, first, you have to land that coveted job of yours. To put it out there: I’m no expert; I’ve only had a handful of job hunts and interviews myself. Some of these experiences I’d sooner repress than remember, but some of them I feel content with sharing if it can help someone out there.

It’s true: it’s pretty daunting as a task to find and actually secure a job. I know it was overwhelming for me when I started to actively look. However, from what I’ve learned over the past year, I can safely say that it is not as impossible as it seems. In fact, it’s attainable.

Assuming you know the basics of creating an exceptional cover letter and resume, the following are some things I’ve learned, some of which you can find by Googling yourself. But, some of you may be very new to or unfamiliar with these tips. Also, I think I’ve added a spin on some things I find have worked for me, and, hopefully, will work for you too.

In no particular order:

1. Use the Internet: It’s a common fact now: it’s a vast and versatile tool. Yes, you can shop for new shoes or send a mass email of a viral video about a chimpanzee riding on Segway, but you can absolutely find a job listing on various career websites and even create an online job profile with accompanying resume. In fact, I got my current job by browsing through internet job listings. These websites have search engines that filter job choices by you typing in specific job titles, keywords, and even your location. You can even submit resumes through some of these websites as well. So, don’t narrow down your choices to solely print classifieds or random paper flyers, and get someone to help you use these websites if needed.

  • Try:,, and JobBank by Service Canada.

2. Dress to moderately impress: I mean to say, don’t over-do it in this department. You want to look the part of an organized, no-fuss personality. Depending on the job you are interviewing for, dress to look the role you’ll play for the company/person who may employ you, but skip the flashy jewelry and other distracting trappings. For girls, for example, dress professional for a professional job. So, wear comfortable, tailored-looking clothing (ie. neutral-coloured, collared or modest neckline tops with either dress pants or a modest length skirt). Also, if you must wear makeup, keep it minimal and clean-looking, and wear your hair neatly. Looks do matter when it comes to job interviews, and having untidy hair, gaudy makeup, and wrinkled clothing makes you look unprofessional and screams, ‘I don’t care about myself, so how can I care about this job?’. The same rules apply for guys, meaning: no jeans!

  • Try: Shopping at stores like Mexx, RW & Co., H&M, Ricki’s, and even George found in Wal-Mart will help you find professional-looking clothing. A default look can be: black slacks paired with a white, collared top. When in doubt, wear your Sunday’s best if you need a guideline for looking well-groomed.

3. Keep going: Keep handing out resumes and keep interviewing. You are never certain if a job interview you just left feeling confident about will end in a job offer or putting your resume on file for up to 6 months (of which I’m pretty sure means: we’ll probably use this as scrap paper or ‘shredder food’ later on), so keep active in your hunt. I mistakenly left a successful interview only to be left with a very messy back and forth of bad communication and eventual missed job offer, and I stopped distributing resumes and interviewing. Big mistake. Keep going even if you are confident or are guaranteed a position, because it’s better to have more options than none at all, and you may not know how things will go with the current job. Lastly, it’s always good to know that you can only gain experience, learn from your mistakes, and pick up different styles of interviewing from numerous interactions with different employers.

  • Try: Mass produce your perfected cover letter and resume, and distribute them directly to the managers or persons who most often see these managers (ie. human resource managers or personnel, assisstants, employees who you may know and trust to deliver your resume, etc.).

4. Can I speak to the manager?: This relates to direct contact or on the phone. Always ask to speak to/see them directly, because, simply, this will be the person to determine whether or not you are hired. By speaking to this person, you will get information like: if they are hiring, who they are hiring, and sometimes they will ask for you to come in for an interview (or have an impromptu phone interview) if you are lucky.

  • Try: Sometimes you can get away with speaking to a secretary or switchboard person and get them to direct your call to a manager without giving a specific reason. Sometimes if you tell them that you are inquiring about a job, they will discern your call as non-urgent and give you general information themselves, thus cutting your line of direct communication with the manager, and sometimes cutting your chances with the manager even considering you. When in doubt: plainly ask to speak to the manager. That’s it!

5. Research: Who do you want to work for? Use the internet or simply visit the place to get the basics from a secretary or general employee: who, what, where, and how. In interviews, they sometimes ask you why you want to work for them. This is where you apply the knowledge you learned from researching about this job. For example, ‘I would like to work as a nurse at this facility because I find that your mission statement reflects my own personal beliefs in caring for my clients’.

  • Try: Read up on mission statements, the customers this workplaces serves, what the employees duties are, average salary/wages, etc. Take all this information into account and try to apply them to commonly asked interview questions.

6. Prepare, prepare, prepare: All my successful interviews are a result of some form of preparation I’ve done. Basically: I review my resume to see if I need to tweak or supplement any important information to it, I call all my references to see if they are still available to vouch for me, I rehearse commonly asked questions in my head (or you may practice with an unsuspecting sibling or parent, the former may be more annoying then helpful in my opinion!), and I get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the big interview day.

  • Try: Find commonly asked questions for interviews on Google and try answering them with answers that relate to/boast your skill set. There are tons of stuff on Google. From my experience, questions some interviewers love are: what do you know about this company/facility/employer? Why should we hire you? What salary do you expect? All these questions will be easier to answer if you’ve done the research and prepared!

7. Back up your Brag: Some of you can relate to being raised as a modest person that shys away from bragging. In this case, you don’t have to be aggressive and say negative things about your competition (leave that unrealistic trait to the reality show competitors). All you really need to do is label some realistic strengths, like being responsible, a team-player, and a hard-worker. Yes, they are generic and just about anyone can say they have these qualities, so expand on these ideas.

  • Try: Don’t be afraid to talk highly of yourself. Also, think ahead of time why you have the strengths that you do. Example: ‘I am responsible because I always arrived at work/volunteering job on time and prepared. I am a team-player because my previous employer always stated, during evaluations, that I am the most helpful and attentive employee to work with. I am hard-working because I put in extra hours at work even when I am not obligated to.’ Use these strengths in your ‘why should we hire you?’ answer!

8. Be a nag: No, don’t call them everyday. However, make it a point to possibly call them a day after the interview or after you handed an application in without a resume to see when they will be in contact you and thank them for their time, and then call them once weekly if you expect a longer wait period to hear from them. When they give you a date for possible contact, you may call them a day before this date just in case they are handling many applicants or you found them to have an informal vibe (more lenient about policies and procedures and such) about the job. In any case, when you do call them, it shows your initiative and your level of enthusiasm about being hired. From my experience, it may take up to one-two weeks before you here anything about a job offer.

  • Try: Be assertive and take initiative by calling after resume drop offs and interviews, and always talk to the manager or anyone in charge of hiring for call backs!

9. Network: Like I mentioned earlier, broadening your search to different channels of getting job information is key. Do you have friends or family members with jobs? Tell everyone you know, who may have connections or not, you are looking for a job. You are bound to hear something about a job opening or someone who you might want to call up to see if they are hiring.

  • Try: Don’t stop at calling up your friends and family; call places you don’t know who are hiring and ask if they are. It won’t hurt, and it’s bound to get you some information.

10. Stay positive: The parting advice I can give anyone is that it isn’t easy, so respect the hunt. Give it all you have. It’s difficult and it can get even more difficult finding a job depending on the economic climate and where you live (living in a small town can pose some obstacles). If you know the feeling of defeat, then you know that you’re entitled to days when you feel like giving up. However, you’re only given what you deserve after the work you put into it. That being said, work on having faith that you will get an interview and you will land that dream job; it is the most important thing you can take away from this feature.

  • Try: Take an hour out two, or even a day off if you’re able to, to de-stress from a bad interview or failing to get the job. Watch a favourite movie or spend time with friends and family. Then, get back into the fray of things, have a mantra of ‘I can do this’ or ‘there will be always be another chance’, and follow these tips as a guideline.

Good Luck.

A List: Golden Girls

October 1, 2010

No, these aren’t the charismatic, senior’s discount holders of the famous television program, but these women do have similar admirable qualities; they aren’t generic, they aren’t forgiving of woman stereotypes, and they don’t shamelessly promote a lifestyle that normalizes debauchery. These women are incredibly unique role models for today’s everyday girl, who is growing up in a world where attaining a dress size zero to gain self-esteem is normal to some. So, it’s refreshing to see smart, beautiful, and significant women being showcased in the limelight. They aren’t scarcely found in our society anymore either. Finally.

Now I can choose to tune out about who failed their breathalyzer test during a DUI and tune in on where positive female role models plan on going or where they are attending their post-secondary education…

The popular media isn’t completely immune to idolizing would-be public figures who have less substance than desirable since we often see and read about tanned, pompadour-coiffed, and club-hopping garden state natives or Armenian socialites who talk more about makeup and which perfumes are ‘must-haves’ than poignant current affairs. I’m not naming any names since, if you follow any popular magazines, you can name names yourself. And if you can name names, it only means that the media is doing its job of inundating us with news of these ‘colourful’ people. There are other adjectives that you can add to describe these people, but this writer is attempting to keep it simple and doesn’t want to detract from the point.

The point is: girls have viable choices. Parents have more to praise when seeing these choices, easing some stress about popularized bad influences. I had the Barbie, Britney Spears, and the Spice Girls growing up, though I’m not saying that there weren’t any good things I couldn’t list about them. However, finding more good than bad from my former idols would be challenging. That being said, it’s truly a sign of the times when there is a choice to pick and choose from a variety of positive role models for young women today. Now, I can choose to tune out about who failed their breathalyzer test during a DUI and tune in on where positive female role models plan on going or where they are currently pursuing their post-secondary education.

Women are marrying later to advance in their career, holding pivotal positions in government, and contributing in the world of medicine and science–achievements unheard of in previous years for everyday women. Although all these women may not be recognized in my list as I’m listing women in our popular culture, I still think its essential that its made aware that–with the current shift in our idolizing ‘different’ women–all these women will one day be what girls will be incessantly talking about (including imitating and wishing to emulate them in their future).

The following are my personal choices of positive female role models, and there may be lesser known and equally commendable women out there, however I’m focusing on those that are currently relevant and who I believe are influencing the vast majority of young, impressionable girls through their most popular media outlets–the internet, television, the movies, print magazines, and the like.

In no particular order:

Emma Watson: Brown University student who dabbles in humanitarian efforts.

Gabourney Sibide: Oscar-nominee for Best Actress. Celebrating unconventional beauty.

Christine Gambito/HappySlip: Self-made youtube comedic star. A multi-tasker in talent that is beyond makeup application…

Tina Fey: SNL-alum. Comedy queen among a genre dominated by the Frat Pack and co. with coveted awards to prove it.

Ellen Page: The short Canadian. Actress with a purpose: picking genuinely interesting roles over the sea of typical ‘girl’ characters.

Taylor Swift: Writes, sings, and actually works for her music. This and her genuine efforts to preserve an positive image separate her from her pop-princess predecessors.

Natalie Portman:  Harvard alum. Claims to follow a mantra of spending more time on improving oneself as a human being rather than solely improving personal appearances.

Lindsey Vonn: Olympic gold and bronze medals, 33 World Cup wins in four disciplines (downhill, Super G, slalom and super combined) and two World Championship gold medals (plus two World Championship silver medals)…all before turning 25.

America Ferrera: Ugly Betty doesn’t go through a drastic transformation in outward appearance to ‘make it’ in the real world, so you don’t have to fret over that either. She, herself, celebrates a  full figure and doesn’t fixate on tiny waist sizes.

Oprah Winfrey:  Her very name alludes to succes, generousity, and intelligence. Generations have already attributed her to these and many more amazing qualities, and so will the next wave of girls growing up in front of the tube.

Good news? Who knew?

September 25, 2010

Tunez: Dosed – Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’ve been MIA for a while now. It’s no wonder considering all that’s happened lately. In short: I’ve gotten a new job (job hunt over! yes!)  and I’ve started a new study plan for the NCLEX (and have started already! yay?)

The new job is kind of scary since it’s home health nursing, which is basically nursing care delivered to patients in their home. Plus, I’m alone doing all of this. Yikes… We’ll see how it all turns out. I’m starting my mentorship/orientation for it all this coming Monday. Here’s to growing up and getting up at six in the morning from now on!

So, I know that someone out there can relate to the being the new kid in school or the new graduate with no luck on job offers (yet…). However, from my own experience and struggles to make it in the ‘real world’, I think it’s safe to say that there is a light that comes after the dark. I know it’s pretty cryptic, pretty corny, and maybe even premature to say since I feel as though I’m only on the cusp of starting out as fully fledged adult. But, I really believe that you can have your stubbornly down-on-yourself days and work diligently towards something down the line, because soon enough you’ll get somewhere. That somewhere can be anything and not necessarily what we expect, but it can be something and meaningful at the end of the day.

Something could be a satisfying self-employed business venture rather than working in an office like you planned or going back to school after years of postponing for your own reasons. After going through my own dealings this summer, I think I learned that these seemingly difficult tasks are possible if you want it bad enough. I read a quote recently that says it all recently.

A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want. – Madonna

Well if the Material girl says it’s true… Yes, it’s Madonna, and I can’t say I completely lead by her every example, but you can’t deny the woman’s successful. Her words aren’t any less significant either. If there’s one thing I could take away from this, it’s the fact that nothing will be handed to you in life once you reach a certain age. Bottom line: reach for your goals and don’t be timid about it.

Movie Talk: Boys & Toys

July 7, 2010

**Some spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Song of the moment: Blank White Page – Mumford & Sons

In the past month, I’ve watched a fair share of some new and oldie-but-goodie movies. The two that stick out in my head are: Boy A and Toy Story 3. Both had their own ways of provoking thought, and I loved both of them in different ways.

Boy A
is a British film (figures, I’d go for it) about a boy, Eric Wilson, who was put in prison at a young age after a terrible crime, and is released when he turns 18. When he is released, you see him building a new life with a new name (Jack), where he finds a job, makes new friends, and gets a girlfriend. For a time, he is happy, until his past is revealed to his new life.

The way they shot the film confused me, but in a good way. First, you feel for Eric/Jack because they present him in his new life initially, where he is awkward and shy in everyday situations. But, throughout the film, flashbacks show his past life as a child delinquent, and you see him at his very worst in very unforgiving ways. I was left torn; do I feel bad for him or do I think he deserves his tormenting atonement? The film did a great job in testing a viewer and their views on forgiveness and morality, because you see him as a human being first and a criminal last.

Andrew Garfield (who, by the way, was announced as the new Spiderman) is a really striking actor for a newcomer. His performance felt very genuine and thoroughly haunting, making me feel overwhelmed with questions about the movie even well after its viewing. I can’t wait to see him Never Let Me Go and the new Spiderman reboot.

Toy Story 3
takes me back, way back. There were quick glimpses and references of what I remember in the older movies, so I had a lot of fun spotting them. Overall, I did not tear up, but I did get a case of inescapable nostalgia. It was very funny too. Pixar can do no wrong in my eyes.

Basically, Andy is all grown up and moving out for college. The toys have grown restless and feel neglected over being called junk and tossed aside. They then find their way to a local daycare, where they love the idea of being played with many children all day long. But, nothing is as it seems. The adventure is all about getting back to Andy’s just in the nick of time (as per usual).

The adventure is hilarious and has moments where I laugh out loud…A LOT (I love how Disney/Pixar can have it funny for children and adults alike), and has managed to squeeze in some warmth and sentimental parts that aren’t cheesy enough to roll your eyes at and are in just the right amount to actually make you feel for a bunch of seemingly inanimate objects. The stand-out toys I couldn’t help but crack up even before they spoke were Ken, Mr. Pricklepants, and Chuckles.

Since graduating from my own university, I got thinking about my own experiences on growing up and that whole coming-of-age experience. Although, I can’t remember the last time I played with toys (and lined them up and locked the door, peeking through the keyhole with my little brother, to see if they would come alive), and that thought depressed me about thinking of how old I am now (22 years, so it could be well over a decade since I have played with toys). But, like the movie depicted, I moved on and understand the purpose of moving on. The movie was great to feel and remember again.

Both these movies rock, go and watch them!