Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tunesday: "Tokyo" by Teen

Although I cannot understand a single word sung in this song, and all of my hunting for lyrics online has proven fruitless, "Tokyo" by Teen has been stuck in my head all week long.

According to the review of this song on NPR's Songs We Love. "Tokyo"  is a song about "a crumbling marriage and infidelity".. not that you can tell from how catchy and pop-y it is.

There is something about the irregularity of this song that makes it so irresistible. Once you think you get a sense of how the section goes, its a little different the next time through. I'm a sucker for a song like that.

Take a listen and let me know what you think. Was this week's song a hit or a miss?

Monday, 27 June 2016

Thoughts from the nail salon

It was my friend's wedding this past weekend and what a wonderful wedding it was! Very beautiful and perfect for the couple. It really opened my eyes to what a wedding can be, and set the bar very high for all the weddings that followed. I digress... in order to make sure I was looking my best (and to give myself a little treat) I went and got a manicure and a pedicure.

Oh boy.

I used to get them semi-frequently with my mom while I was in high school, to get your feet "summer ready" and all that, but as I have gotten older, and more aware of the world at large, I find it harder and harder to go to a nail salon. I don't know if it's the same everywhere, but I'll focus on what the nail salon I went to in Toronto, Ontario was like because it pretty much sums up all of my nail salon experiences.

Imagine if you will... a store at the foot of an apartment complex. Lavender walls.


Humungous, horrendously photoshopped fantasy scenes, as wide as a human is tall, framed in crisp white floorboard trim, covering every inch of the place... except for that oddly placed, way-too-large-for-the-wall-let-alone-the-room out of place advertisement. Immediately my mind is flooded with questions: Who the hell thought those paintings were good? Who the hell CREATED those paintings? Who the hell (over the age of 12) paints fairies riding unicorns on a beach at night and actually shows someone else what they have done. Who the hell sold them/agreed to sell them... therefore agreeing that the image was good, and was good enough to take to market because they believed there was a market for such horrible images? Where did the nail salon owner FIND these images, and then decide to PURCHASE them? Was this before or after they applied for a loan to open said nail salon ... because I want to know what bank agreed to lend these people money if they had seen what wonderful artistic choices they deemed as appropriate for business success.

Art by Jim Warren 

Okay. Now that you've got the airbrushed faery/fairy fantasy decor etched into your eyeballs, we add the second, more uncomfortable layer: the staff. All nail salons (except maybe the high end ones) are staffed by immigrant women, usually from Western Pacific countries like the Philippines, or Thailand. If you're lucky, the woman who is scraping away your glittery polish shame can speak English and so you can fill the time with conversations about the weather and summer holiday plans. If not, you sit there and flip through a magazine or watch the horrible low-brow comedy that they put on the TV screens mounted above the fantasy paintings (more on that later).

I can't help but feel bad when I go to a nail salon; everyone's heard the stereotypical story about the taxi driver who was a doctor or a professor back in his home country and then moved to America/Canada/Europe only to have his qualifications not respected, and he is now forced to become a taxi driver to make ends meet. I can't help but wonder if that is the same story of the people who work in these nail salons. I wonder how many of them came to North America not knowing that this is what they would have no choice but to do, here in the "land of opportunity". Maybe it's my white guilt, but I really do not like other people waiting on me, regardless of the form that this service takes. I hate any situation where I feel like I'm in the roll of "rich bitch". (Articles about nail salons being involved with human trafficking can be found here, here and here)

All of this critical thinking/social status inferring thought completely destroys the illusion of luxury that comes with getting your nails done, I find.

Okay, after you've come to terms with your feelings, and have perhaps found piece between the side of you that yearns for perfection and luxury and the other side that has a social conscious... you have to come to terms with the fact that you can only read your book (that was me) or look at your phone for so long. Your time with your feet soaking in your massage pedicure chair will have to end and you will have no other choice than to watch whatever they were playing on the TVs. When I was in the salon chair, it was the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore picture "Blended" that was being served for my viewing pleasure.

My thoughts and expression exactly, cast of Blended.

In the movie, Sandler and Barrymore end up in a resort in South Africa that is the closest thing to a live-action racist 1940s cartoon I have seen in a long time. I really cannot believe that their treatment of Africa was given a green light. At least now we have a failproof system: Ask someone if they liked Blended, and if their answer is yes, end the conversation then and there and walk away.

Welcome to Africa, white tourists!

The other ladies that were in the store with me were a diverse range of the same character; one, a business lady coming in for a polish change, who popped in her headphones and shut out the world; a spacey senior British ex-pat, clearly a regular because they knew her name and she knew theirs, who just wanted a colour change because her travelling British friends are "popping down from Alaska" for a visit; the busy, pushy young girl who had places to be; and the two friends who ordered the nail technicians around, changing colours and demanding nail swatches. Most of the women in the place treated the staff very rudely. I was very uncomfortable and tried to smile and make small talk as best as I could.

In the end, experience aside, I'm torn. I love having clean, well kept hands and feet. I am a 100% believer in the need to keep up your physical appearance because it greatly impacts how you interact and are perceived by the world. My first tutoring job two years ago really awakened me to the importance of clean, well maintained hands. As a tutor and teacher, I work a lot with my hands; often, my hands become the image associated with my voice as I guide students through their work by pointing at places on the page. As a waitress, I don't want to hand a customer a plate with unclean hands. Unfortunately there is just something about getting your nails done by someone else that results in them doing a much better job than you ever could. They don't get hung up on keeping your pinky nail long while the rest of your nails are short just because you couldn't believe you were capable of growing a nail that long; everything is polished and buffed to perfection. The arm massage is a nice touch too. Fortunately, the price range keeps it out of the possibility of a mani-pedi becoming a regular occurrence, so I can quiet my inner battle about it until next year when I need to become "summer ready" once more.

In short. I want to get better at maintaining my nails at home. If anyone has any good tips, or knows of a good tutorial on youtube, please let me know!

How do you feel when you go to a nail salon? Do you go regularly? Have you never been?

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tunesday: Karmin - "Bitch Better Have My Money"

While her music might not always be my thing, I love Rihanna. I love how she doesn't give a fuck about what people think about the clothes she wears (and the bras she doesn't), along with giving reporters shit when they ask about her love life.

When I Karmin's cover of "Bitch Better Have My Money" showed up on my Spotify discover weekly playlist I could not stop listening to it on repeat. It took a song I loved and turned it into something so much more. I only wish it had a crazy music video to go with it, like Rihanna's original version does. (Warning NSFW or little 'uns).

I came across this video the other day which turned out to be about Bibi Bourelly, the 20 year old girl from Berlin who wrote "Bitch Better Have My Money" for Rihanna. Berlin is another place that fascinates me, partially due to a horrible personal experience I had there (but I learned a lot from), but mainly it's gritty urbanism. With night clubs that stay open 24 hours a day and run all weekend long, Berlin is my number one recommendation, if you want to dance out the end of the world and go out in a drug induced glory. Needless to say, I love learning about people who live there because they're always a little weird, ya know?

It's really a shame that this is the best remix that Karmin has made because it is phenomenal! Their other covers sound like lame generic acoustic covers and are very bland in comparison. It's really too bad. Their original music, on the other hand, has a lot of potential. Their recent hit "Sugar" is a pop hit with all it's sugary goodness.

What did you think? Was today's song a hit or a miss?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Summer Slugishnes

I've gotta be honest with you folks. I don't know if it's the warm weather or what, but I'm having a hard time getting motivated to do anything! I've got two assignments for my summer school which I keep putting off and putting off... I'm not excited to exercise or do my morning pages, which is something I used to love doing in the morning. I've got two or three blog posts sitting as drafts because I tell myself that I'll finish them later. Everything seems like a chore. I just want to lie in the shade with a book and not have to do anything!

On the incongruous flipside, however, I've completed a few major home improvement tasks that I've had on a to-do list for months. I've painted my old wooden dining room chairs daffodil yellow and lime green, and painted the patio table robins egg blue to match my blue planters, and I must say, the balcony looks delightful as a result!

How can I be so productive on one side, and so totally unmotivated and sluggish on the other... and of course the "other" side is the one that is actually important, and involves grades and stuff.

What do you do when you feel unmotivated to do something that you have to do? Is the summer heat making anyone else feel like a slug? Have you been sprucing up your home to make it more summer ready? Please let me know!

Also, have you been listening to any good music lately? A music funk has just happened to coincide with my productivity funk, and I really thing some fun new music would get my excitement back up.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tunesday: Deal Casino "Bare Hands"

Spotify lead me to discover this song, and what a catchy little rock-pop song it is. Have a listen and I guarantee you'll be singing along before the song is over and mashing repeat before you know it!

What do you think of the song? A hit or a miss?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Tunesday: Epic Rap Battles of History - Pablo Picaso Vs. Bob Ross

This rap battle makes my (not-so inner) art history nerd giggle with delight. I can't get enough! Not only are the lyrics peppered with art history shout outs, the editing is out of this world! All done on green screen, holy crap!

I'm gonna keep the battle going and also post my second favourite rap battle: Gordon Ramsey vs Julia Child. This is the battle that got me back on the Epic Rap Battles of History band wagon. Not only that, it features a fantastic performance from one of my favourite youtubers (and future friend one day? Hey girl, hey!) Mamrie Hart of "You Deserve A Drink" as Julia Child. If you're looking for some sharp wit, terrible puns and a but of cross eyed, booze filled humour, definitely check her out!

Who won? Pablo or Ross? Ramsey or Child? YOU DECIDE?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Teacher mindset vs Management mindset

Rose coloured glasses (c) Leslie Taylor
As a student in teacher's college, I've learned about the good and the bad of education. I've been inspired by the great changes in education that are happening, and felt blessed that I have been given the chance to work in such a field where I can make a huge, positive impact on a student's life. I have also been reminded daily of the less sunny side of education, like the systemic racism around special education labeling that is the result of societal racism.

Dear stock photo: where's my photo of classroom diversity? 

A big proponent to teacher education is the philosophy that if something is not working for a student, it's not the student's fault, it's the teacher's. If a student's not getting it, is bored, or is disengaged, it's the teacher who needs to reevaluate what they are doing in the classroom. The student is not broken or bad, the classroom environment is just not right at the moment. It is up to the teacher to find a better fit. I believe this wonderful worldview will make such a big difference to students especially since they are legally required to be in school during such powerful formative years.

I work as a waiter part-time, and during a conversation with my boss, I was reminded that this philosophy sadly does not live in many places outside of the school yard, especially not in the workplace. From my experience in the workplace, it seems to me that unless it's a company with a strong union (read: it's hard to fire people, so you're "stuck" with your less-than-motivated employees, in the same way that teachers are "stuck" with unmotivated students), any problems of underperformance will be blamed on the employee and the employee with be fired as a result. I would think that if your company has a very high employee turnover and you, as management, are consistently unsatisfied with the work done by your employees, you might begin to wonder if the problem lies in how your system operates. You've gotta realize that it's a two-way street, a relationship between management and employee, and the problem can't always be only one sided and all the subordinate's fault.

Sadly this is not the case at my place of employment. I often think that my boss sees himself running a completely different restaurant in his head, an AU restaurant, where everything runs smoothly and he swims in a pool of cash a la Scrooge McDuck. It seems to me that he thinks that he is somehow being cheated out of business, that it's not his fault his restaurant is not constantly full, it's his staff or the public's fault. Like the education system, my workplace is also home to some racism, but with much less effort to hide it or "solve it" using delicately worded policies. Workplace racism is "justified" because it is linked to the business' ability to make money, and thus remain a place of business.

(p.s. I totally know I didn't touch on another teacher's college buzzword: "differentiated learning". That could be a topic for another week's post. The concept of differentiated learning seems to totally go out the window when you leave school and enter the workplace. Sadly, the likelihood management is ever going to take more time to try to teach you in a different way because the way they taught you the first time wasn't conducive to your learning style is so slim you should consider yourself unemployed.)

Let me know down below: Have you ever worked at a job where your manager blamed their staff, not their management style, when a problem arose? Were you ever fired from a job for a totally unfair reason or had a boss that you thought was working in a completely different universe than you were?