Showing some skin

It looks like it’s officially the warm season, which means I will be miserable for the next four months from a lack of sleep in my sauna of an apartment.

Warm weather and I don’t mix—never have, probably never will—but I have learned a wonderful way to cope.

Wanna know the secret? It’s called not giving a fuck.

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I’m a plus sized woman, and as such society has wanted us to remain covered up so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of those who fit the appropriate mold.

Thankfully, the body positive movement has made it a little better for those of us deemed plus sized. However, getting past the whole, ‘I can’t show off my legs because they aren’t perfect’ mentality is hard to break.

I didn’t wear anything shorter than capris for YEARS, which could be sweltering and awful. Then I hit my 30s and said ‘to hell with this shit!’ and wore whatever the fuck I felt like. Including above the knee shorts.

I wear shorts and show off my big thighs; I wear tank tops and show off my big arms. Don’t like it? Offended by my body fat? Too fucking bad.

This feels like a good time to trot out this little track—consider it my body positive jam for the summer.

Miss Eaves is utterly amazing, do check out her other videos.

So here’s to the next few months of sweat, sunburns, and heat exhaustion. Ugh.

-A.

A swift kick to the (Infinity) stones

THIS POST IS FULL OF SPOILERS! GET OUTTA HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THINGS ABOUT AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!

I have so many feels about Avengers: Infinity War that I wasn’t able to form coherent sentences about it immediately after seeing it.

This is of course the initial reaction:

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But now that I’ve had time to process, I can sort of pull together thoughts and make them into words. Sort of.

So here’s a rambling collection of thoughts in no particular order.

*I had no idea what was happening when Bucky started turning to dust… I thought something was just wrong with his spanky new arm.

*Thor is the mightiest Avenger. Period.

*WHERE THE FUCK IS VALKYRIE?!?!

* Doctor Strange works so much better as part of an ensemble team. Liked him a lot more here than in his solo movie.

*Wakanda should absolutely host the Olympics, Okoye is a goddamn genius!

*Watching Peter cling to Tony as he faded from existence saying “I don’t want to go” tore my heart out almost as much as another epic character that didn’t want to go.

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Which has more emotional impact will depend on your fandom.

*I wonder about Marvel’s decision of which characters to disintegrate—you wouldn’t have thought Black Panther would be one of them, considering his movie just came out and blew the box office away, but then, this was likely all decided long before that. Panther, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Star-lord, Drax, Matis, Groot, Bucky, Falcon, Doctor Strange, Agent Hill, Nick Fury…why these characters in particular?

*When Thanos killed Loki I was all GASP but also OK? Not really sure why.

*However, when Thanos stabbed Tony I was all hands-over-the-mouth-GASP since I heard there would be deaths and figured OMG this is totally the death they were hinting at… Oh poor naive little me.

*Killing Vision twice was harsh, man. Way harsh.

*I’m assuming Shuri survived and expect to see her and Bruce and Tony (when he gets back to Earth) science-ing it up all over the place to try and fix this mess.

*Folks that think Thanos is sympathetic because he cried a whole tear at the thought of killing Gamora to get the Soul Stone were not paying attention because HE FUCKING DID IT ANYWAY BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GENOCIDAL MANIACS DO!!!

*Also random Red Skull appearance, WTF!?

*After Thanos uses the gauntlet to wipe out half the universe and he’s in that weird red place with a gate and little Gamora, a little girl in the audience asked “Is he in heaven?”

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No. He’s not.

*CLEARLY this is what has to happen for Thanos to be defeated, it’s the ONE scenario that Strange saw the Avengers winning and this is how it has to happen. Something or someone—some deus ex machina perhaps—will revert everything back to the way it was before Thanos got all the Infinity Stones. Something! Some weird combo of the Time Stone and the Soul Stone—the latter brings everyone that got dusted back to life and the the former turns back the clock so the world/universe doesn’t remember anything that happened, save the Avengers.

*We need Captain Marvel RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

As much as this movie was a gut punch to the emotions, I need to see it again. Not immediately, but at some point before it leaves the theatre.

Thankfully we have Deadpool 2 coming out in a few weeks to bring laughter back to our lives.

-A.

The so-called “incel rebellion” in Canada

Toronto is in mourning after a 25-year-old man drove a van down Yonge Street, hitting many pedestrians in the process, earlier this week.

Alek Minassian has been arrested for running down ten people, mostly women, and injuring 14 more before police managed to stop him. Even more miraculous, they managed to take him alive.

The victims are being publicly identified as the days go on. So far Sohe Chung, Anne Marie D’Amico, Dorothy Sewell, Munir Najjar, Chul Min “Eddie” Kang, Betty Forsyth and Renuka Amarasinghe have been named. Read the Toronto Star’s ongoing article about the victims here.

Of course the cries that Minassian was Muslim and immigrant terrorism and blah blah blah came pouring out on social media, but imagine those folks’ surprise to find out that Minassian was a man who hated women because he felt they owed him sex and wouldn’t give it up.

Minassian was self-described as “incel,” which is a short form of “involuntarily celibate.” There’s a small corner of the “manosphere” as I’ve seen it called where these men gather to lament their lack of sexual experience and blame not only women, but also other men that do actually manage to have sex with women. Those men clearly brainwash the women into the sack, because why else would a woman choose one of THOSE men over an online community of man-children that compare a woman’s labia to a roast beef sandwich?

Oh, and they also blame feminism. Of course they do.

A news outlet found a Facebook post by Minassian about “the incel rebellion” and praising Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger and confirmed it was legit.
Once it was confirmed, hot takes and think pieces linking Minassian to these hate groups started popping up all over social media. I am LOATHE that news sites have a photo of Rodger in their story links. It sends a bad chill down my spine, likely stemming from reading his so-called manifesto a few years ago for my take on what happened in Isla Vista. You can read that take here, if you’re so inclined. I couldn’t even finish manifesto, it made me physically ill. As did looking into the “incel” community—it’s hard to fathom that such hate exists, but there is was, all on the internet for anyone to find.

So to hear that another one of these so-called “incel” men were responsible for the injury and death of so many people in my own country just causes that bile to rise once again. It’s terrifying to see that these men are becoming emboldened enough to murder people due to their entitlement issues.

Some folks are coming out that Minassian is autistic, as if that absolves him somehow. There are plenty of autistic people in the world that DON’T murder people, so that’s literally no excuse. Trying to claim mental health as a reason for violent behaviour is bullshit—yes, these men CLEARLY have more than a few issues they need to work through, but it’s not mental illness.

Since Minassian was taken alive, there’s hope that maybe the powers that be can gain a little insight into the “incel” mindset and maybe explain to him and others within this little groups as to why this worldview is completely ass-backwards. Also throw his ass in prison for life to hopefully deter any other member of this “incel rebellion” from trying something similar.

It’s likely little comfort to the families of those who were killed, but I think we all hold out hope that justice will be served in this case.

Just to drive the point home, as many other women out there have said, boys, we do not owe you sex. We don’t owe you dates, or a smile, or a kind word, or the time of day. Women owe you NOTHING. Let me say that again: WOMEN OWE YOU NOTHING! Get it through your fucking skulls already.

-A.

In defence of adults with teddy bears

A friend on Facebook shared a little image that got me thinking.

The image is a cartoon by Peter Chiykowski of RockPaperCynic.com. It’s called In Defense of Teddy Bears.

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This spoke to me for a number of reasons, mostly for the fact that I’ve always had a teddy bear or some sort of stuffed animal with me.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed about 4 years ago, but hindsight being 20/20, I can safely say I’ve had it my whole life. Even before I had a name for my condition, I’d always found that soft cuddly things, like stuffed animals, helped calm me down. This might be why I have such a massive collection of stuffies.

I’ve always preferred stuffed animals to most other toys, partially because they can be hugged and squished without worry they’ll be damaged or broken.

I remember reading in a Cosmo article (back when I actually gave weight to the garbage in that mag) that after a certain age, a woman needs to send those stuffies to Goodwill because a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN wouldn’t have such things around their home. So, being young and stupid and trying to figure out how to adult in this world, I shoved most of the stuffies I had out of sight so I could be a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN.

Now that I’m well into my 30s, I realize just how ridiculous that advice was. It’s amazing how much clarity you gain once you pass the age of 29. There’s stuffies on the bookshelves in my living room, out in the open when people can see them. Do I care that some might think that childish? No, fuck those people! You don’t need that shit like that in your life!

The fact is, I need a stuffed animal with me. It doesn’t make me weak and less of a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN to have one. It’s part of how I’m able to survive in this world.

When I’m on little road trips or on a plane and there’s the potential for an increase in anxiety, I bring this little guy with me:

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I call him Coo.

He’s a Highland cow that I got in Scotland 10 years ago. He’s small and easily concealed—there are definitely situations when a stuffie doesn’t need to be out in the open, so he’s a good one to have.

And then there’s the situation I find myself these days: I live on site in a remote location where I’m the only woman for miles, surrounded by men with no proper locks on the doors to my living space.

Guess what? Sometimes I wonder if I’m truly safe, and that makes me anxious. So I have two stuffies with me out here.

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The panda bear I picked up at an Alice Cooper concert of all places a few years back, and the bunny has a Scentsy pack that smells like watermelon.

Like the comic says, a teddy bear, or a bunny, or a little cow will “make you remember how to be a person.” I feel more like a person with these stuffies nearby, knowing that I can put all that fear and anxiety in them and they’ll still be there the next time. We all need coping mechanisms, so who cares if that’s in the form of an animal that you keep on your bed or your couch?

We can still be REAL LIVE ADULTS and have a teddy bear.

-A.

The love of my life

There are few things in the world that make me happy the way photography does. Writing and photography, those are my passions.

In these days of having a camera on every smart phone, with the technology getting more and more advanced as the years go by, as well as the affordability of intro-level DSLRs,  anyone can call themselves a photographer.

I have been in awe of cameras and film and photographs for as long as I can remember. I always tried to have one of those cruddy little disposable cameras with me at any given time, and was given a little point and shoot one Christmas that I used until it broke. I loved it.

In Grade 10, I was introduced to the SLR camera and the wonders that is the darkroom. My high school had this tiny little darkroom in the art room that needed a long board leaned against the door to fully block out the light. There was a handful of film SLRs to share around and the teacher controlled just how much film and photo paper we got to use. We were only allowed to use 8X10s that were cut into fours.

It was amazing.

The photos I took back then were not great. We were taught about the rule of thirds and depth of field and all that, but honestly, I just loved developing the negatives and watching those terrible photos come to life in the developer.

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The view from my bedroom window, circa 1996.

Since that course was only offered for one term in one year, I didn’t have much to do with darkroom photography after that. Instead I bought cheap film cameras and took terrible pictures of my friends at Halloween parties and on road trips and just other random shit. The anticipation of taking that film to a photo lab and waiting in agony for an hour to see how the photos turned out, or didn’t turn out, was often the highlight of my day.

I always had some kind of camera with me. I snuck one of those drop-film cameras into my first ever arena concert and managed to take an insane close up of Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace when he came to our section during the encore.

I would sneak that little camera into many concerts after that night. Some people try to get weed or booze into shows—I smuggled in cameras.

It was right around that time in university that I made the decision to switch programs. I went from Liberal Arts with a focus on English to Fine Arts with a focus on—you guessed it—photography.

I purchased my first SLR camera, a Canon Rebel 2000, from London Drugs that was on sale because the model was being discontinued. It was a huge step up from the completely manual SLR I’d used in high school. The photos I took with it still weren’t great, but for the next couple years I studied and researched and practiced techniques to make myself better. I trained my eye to see the best angle and perspective for an image and learned how to use the priority and manual settings, the proper ISO and to use the ambient light as well as studio light.

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One of the first photos I ever developed in the darkroom at university. Self-portrait with ambient light from the prehistoric laptop, circa 2004.

I sought out photography exhibits and read up on other photographers—Cindy Sherman, Ed Burtynsky, Robert Mapplethorpe, Barbara Krueger, Richard Avedon to name a few. An exhibition of Katharina Sieverding’s self portraits at MoMA PS1 in New York City influenced the remainder of my intro year.

Images like this:

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Detail of ‘Stauffenbergblock I-XVI’ by Czech-born German artist Katharina Sieverding.

Lead me to try this:

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Solarized self-portrait, one of seven, circa 2004, by Aleisha Hendry.

The technique is called solarizing, where using a high contrast image, a print is exposed to light once it begins to develop in the chemical. It’s completely random—some turn out sharp like this one, others are milky and others only solarize halfway.

This all led to medium format film, multiple exposures on a single paper, cyanotypes, fibre paper, and more. I could get my film from the case into the developing canister fast than anyone, and eventually I knew exactly what filter was necessary for a print just by looking at the contact sheet. My hands perpetually stank like darkroom chemicals from pulling all nighters and I didn’t even care. I loved it that much.

In my final year, the curriculum made the jump to digital photography. I bought my first DSLR that year, a Canon Rebel XT. A fairly decent beginner-level DSLR at the time and similar to the SLR I already had. I used that camera for something like six years—finishing off my BFA and then into my career as a journalist—until it stopped holding a charge and was considered too old and outdated to bother repairing. Cameras like that can’t to be used as frequently as I did as a photojournalist and expect to last.

From there it was researching some slightly higher-end intermediate-level DSLRs. I wanted something of decent quality, not just something that was on sale. I finally settled on the Nikon D7000.

Oh, it was love at first shot.

The screen was larger, the film speed was better, and the battery lasted what felt like forever. This camera became an extension of my being, like part of my arm or my eye. I shot photos of everyday life, concerts, meetings, artists, sports, everything. It came with me everywhere.

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Billy Talent’s Benjamin Kowalewicz at the Encana Events Centre in Dawson Creek in 2013, by Aleisha Hendry

And then it was taken from me.

I stupidly left my vehicle unlocked while staying overnight in a town I no longer recognize as existing and someone helped themselves to it.

I felt like a hole had been punched right through my soul.

I’m fortunate that a co-worker had a similar model, the D7100, that he was looking to sell and gave me a really good deal. It was pretty damn similar, but it took a long time to feel like it was MY camera.

And then my tenure as a journalist came to an abrupt end. Suddenly I wasn’t keeping an eye out for a great photo or covering an event on a daily basis. It was…unsettling.

I was in a very dark place for awhile. Things that I had loved didn’t seem worth it anymore. I left my camera in its bag by the front hall closet for five months.

Let that sink in: Going from taking dozens to hundreds of photos a day for a decade to taking none. What I thought was my reason for being was gone. So I shut myself away and tried to ignore the void that had developed, no pun intended.

Finally, after re-evaluating life and starting on a completely different career path, I had two moments where I’d thought “why the FUCK isn’t my camera on the front seat?!”

See, I grew up in the Rocky Mountain trench and wildlife was always in abundance, so taking pictures of those animals as I saw them had become second nature. Bears, elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, deer, birds, etc. I’ve got photos of them all.

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Stellar Jay, Bijoux Falls, circa 2012, by Aleisha Hendry.

But one late afternoon on my drive back to town I saw something I’d only ever seen once before in real life. On the side of the highway, was a wolf. Not a big dog, not a coyote, an actual wolf. I nearly slammed on the brakes and reached for my camera just on instinct, but it wasn’t there. It was back home where it had been for months.

The second incident was on the drive to another site, taking a winding narrow logging road in the middle of nowhere. I came around the corner and thought there were some dogs hanging out, but it wasn’t dogs.

It was four lynx. Actual, living, breathing, honest-to-god elusive-as-fuck lynx. My guess was a mother and three offspring. When I came around the corner they made their way over the snow bank on the side of the road and into the trees, but one of the little ones stopped and stared at me, much like my own cat does.

I silently screamed that I didn’t have my camera, as that little one sat still long enough for it to be a beautiful shot. Then it got up and followed its family.

I feel like that was what French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson would call a ‘decisive moment.’ He said “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

And thus, it became time to shake off the cobwebs and start shooting again.

I went and purchased a new memory card and held my camera for the first time in months. It felt good. Like, INSANELY good. I’ve missed it, so very much.

So maybe expect some photo posts from me in the near future? I may not be on assignment anymore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments in time for me to capture once again.

-A.

When is the Canadian flag not the Canadian flag?

I haven’t been following the Olympics very closely this time around, but I have noticed something interesting. When Canada gets a gold medal, instead using the plain old boring official Canadian flag on the podium, our athletes hold a snazzy flag with a GOLD maple leaf. It looks like this:

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There really should be a silver and bronze one too.

I like the gold maple leaf flag, as I said it’s snazzy and a cool way to acknowledge the athlete’s win. But after seeing it a few times now I got to thinking about a discussion I witnessed last year about the altering of Canada’s flag for a different purpose. 

The Pride Canada Flag. It looks like this:

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Rainbows are pretty!

Many folks commented that this flag was “treasonous” because altering our beloved flag for ANY reason is super bad. When asked if they were upset because it had the rainbow Pride colours on it and maybe their bigotry was showing, they claimed oh no, they would be upset over ANY alteration of the Canada flag! Like, they totally don’t like the so-called ‘Oh Cannabis” flag either!

Here’s that one:

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Expect to see this flag everywhere when recreational weed is legalized this summer.

So it got me wondering where those flag folks are right now upon seeing the gold maple leaf flag. That’s an alteration, so shouldn’t they be out in droves?

Oh, but wait. THAT flag is about the Olympic dream and national pride and athleticism and whatnot…clearly there’s no reason to get their panties in a bunch!

I mean, it’s not like the Pride Canada flag stands for anything more than the acknowledgement of the basic human rights of a significant portion of the population or anything.

Certain people get “offended” by anything that doesn’t fit their personal narrative. However it’s 2018 and the world is changing so they feel they can’t just come right out and say they’re against LGBTQ+ people or their event, so they lose their shit over the goddamn flag. Granted there are those that do come right out and say it, but at least they aren’t hiding the fact that they’re garbage people.

So keep this all in mind when those keyboard warriors start their ranting after this year’s Pride Walk. If they didn’t protest the gold maple leaf flag, they have no recourse to protest the Pride Canada flag.

-A.

When the words won’t flow

In which I write about not being able to write.

Since embarking on a new career path I’ve been met with a copious amount of writing time.

At this moment, I’m sitting in a first aid shack somewhere in the backwoods of Northeastern BC, with all the hours of the day to come up with brilliant, wonderful, insightful and thought-provoking words.

You’d think they’d be pouring out. You’d be wrong.

See, I’ve been working on my short story writing in recent months. I’ve got several outlines for some weird-ass pieces and at least two that have first drafts. But trying to get anything else written has been a lesson in futility.

That’s part of the reason I started this blog. I wanted to be able to write a little each day so I didn’t fall off the wagon, as it were. When you go from writing thousands of words a day to maybe a few tweets if you’re lucky, it fucks you up. Ditto for going from using my camera every day to not using it for three months, but that’s a post for another day.

Even finding the words for a weekly rant like I used to do has been difficult. I think it’s mostly because the parameters have been lifted and I could literally write about what ever the hell I want that I can’t find the words beyond 280 characters. I’ve always wanted that freedom and now that I have it I’m at a loss as to what to do with it. Is that irony or just sad?

I’ve been crocheting like my life depended on it, blatantly ignoring the cramping in my hands. Clearly I’ve traded one creative outlet for another.

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I had a busy day yesterday.

However, words are my first love; they’ve helped keep my sanity reasonably in check for as long as I can remember. I can’t just not write, even though it’s felt like it recently.

Writers should be avid readers, and I’ve burned through so many books lately just because I have the time to sit down and read the shit out of them.

I’ve got a few short story collections with me at the moment—Neil Gaiman and Stephen King—to try and help with my own short story crafting. I’ve been a creative non-fiction writer for the last decade, so trying to write actual fiction has been daunting. I hate writing dialogue since it always sounds so stunted and fake when I do it, but reading the dialogue written by others always sounds natural.

I’m also terrified at the idea of someone reading these stories. Like I said, it’s not my usual style, so I’m worried I’m total garbage at it and should just stick to my opinion rants. But if I don’t try, I’ll never know if I can do it.

So yeah, that’s my spiel about not being able to write. All 500-some odd words of it.

Guess I can write when I want to.

-A.

Cant-stop-writing

Except when when there’s a ton of time to do so.