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  • My Coming-Out Post

    2013 - 07.05

    I’ve never spoken to anyone in the LGBTQQTSetc. community who has just one coming out story. Friends and immediate family are almost always separate, then extended family, then casual acquaintances. There’s a pop culture emphasis on one over the rest – the tearful “Mom, Dad… I’m attracted to people of the same gender identity as mine.” or “Friends, please address me using this particular set of pronouns.” or even “Best friend, these are the feelings I have for you.” The people I know, though, are perpetually coming out.

    I never felt the need to “come out,” really. I have always been pretty open about my attraction to women – from the time I rolled my eyes when Dulcea from the first Power Rangers movie kissed Adam on the cheek when I was seven, I never thought anything was *wrong* because I was equally attracted to men.

    I mean COME ON.

    I never made a formal “YES, I AM ATTRACTED TO PEOPLE IN SPITE OF GENDER” announcement because I assumed everyone was the same. The way boys in my class talked about hockey players fooled me for years. A friend of mine – raised a girl but who would much later start HRT to change that – would often use the boy’s bathroom in elementary school. I only thought it was gross because I assumed there was pee everywhere. My first Sex-Ed teacher was openly gay, so it was always about PEOPLE being sexually involved instead of a man and woman. I thought Betty and Veronica were each too good for Archie and should just hang out with each other. My most formative musical years were spent listening to strong female voices – Jewel and Melissa Etheridge and kd lang and No Doubt in my poppier moments.

    It wasn’t until grade 8 that I even CONSIDERED that it may be a bigger deal to other people. A friend of mine came out as a lesbian*, and I was one of the first people they told. I thought, “that’s great!” and my friend disagreed. Their parents were conservative, and they didn’t know how they’d take the news. My friend didn’t know how to deal, and I said I’d help. We only had rudimentary access to the internet, but we listened to music by openly queer musicians and tried to figure out (in theory only) how people have sex if there’s no penis involved. I don’t know if my friend knew I was exploring as much to satisfy my own curiosity as I was to help them find their comfort zone, but I am STILL grateful for it.

    *That friend would later come out again as a transgender man, and when I talk about him now I use male pronouns as he requests. However, because he and I explored as curious young girls, I’ve taken the liberty of using ungendered pronouns when detailing his role in my past. I apologize if that’s completely uncool.

    In high school, other rumours would swirl about other friends – she likes girls, he’s dating a guy – it was a progressive school in that people weren’t bullied (to my knowledge), but so many students still didn’t come out until after graduation.

    My first sexual experience was in grade 11 with a straight friend of mine who, several years later, drunkenly asked me during a university house party why I’d never tried to kiss her. I never mentioned it to anyone until after that.

    In grade 12, I lost one of my best friends when she accused me of trying to interfere with the moves she was putting on the boy she liked at one of her birthday parties. She accused me of liking the same boy. I said “No, I don’t care about him. I like YOU.” She flipped out, asked me to leave and only spoke to me again when she asked me not to speak to her. I still think about her sometimes, when I hear Jimmy Eat World or watch Buffy reruns.

    And all while this happened, I dated boys. I publicly announced my (very real) crushes on male musicians or guys who worked at the record store or whatever. My dramatic experiences with my female crushes didn’t even make it to my high school LiveJournal, which saw libraries written about everything else. I did, however, always include female celebrity crushes like Jessica Alba circa Dark Angel and Neko Case in my frequent “THESE ARE PICTURES OF HOT FAMOUS PEOPLE!!” posts.

    My younger brother figured it out before anyone else in my family, and would tease my Mormon father (whom I saw infrequently then and see even less often now) about my ~unknown sexual preferences~.

    The first time I used the word “bisexual” (which is still not the term I am most comfortable using)** to describe myself, it was under MySpace’s “sexual preferences” option. I think that was in 2006. My mother saw it, and, while I can’t speak to her reaction in private, I give her credit with the easiest coming out ever:

    We were in her car and she said “When were you going to tell me that you’re bisexual?”
    “I didn’t think I needed to.”
    “Fair enough,” She shrugged.

    **The term “bisexual” implies belief in the rigid gender binary, which is exclusionary of trans* and intersex people. That crap is NOT in line with my views. Bisexuality, however, is the closest term that people outside of the community recognize.

    My friends were slowly introduced to the idea and none of them reacted negatively. I doubt most of them were even surprised. I was even nominated for “Most Gay For Girls” in the joke awards thread of the Sloan message board three years running. I lost all three times, but it truly WAS a pleasure just to be nominated.

    When I started dating my first long-term boyfriend, I came out to him and he said “That’s cool. Just don’t kiss other girls while we’re dating. If you like women as much as you like me, I’d consider that cheating.”
    Fair enough, I thought, and we dated for over two and a half years. Over the course of those years, though, I’d look. Constantly. Not at other men, but at a girl in my residence; a young woman in the laundromat; the frontwoman of a local band. I wanted to sleep nestled into a soft, hairless chest. No woman in particular, but the idea of one.

    We broke up because I was unhappy with everything in my life. A small part of that was that there were SO MANY WOMEN around me and I felt guilty even talking to them. But while I was single for six months, I didn’t make a move on anyone. Every girl who’d expressed an interest in me while I was dating a dude suddenly backed off and was no longer interested. I guess I’d been a safe outlet for their own curiosity.

    When I started dating my next boyfriend, he understood a little better. It was a “save the last dance for me” situation, where we could both flirt with whomever without guilt, but if I wanted to kiss anyone else, he wanted to know. I kissed his best friend (a woman) a lot. She dedicated Katy Perry songs at karaoke to me pretty often, if you know what I mean. It got to the point where I was calling him “my beard with a beard.” Ultimately, though, that didn’t work out because he and I just didn’t enjoy spending time with each other.

    I immediately met a lovely young woman and we started dating. She’s still probably one of the prettiest, funniest girls I’ve ever met. I liked being seen with her and kissing her and I would travel every day to the other side of the city to watch movies and be in her comedy sketches and for two months I was SO HAPPY because I liked her and so I guess I must be a lesbian! But she had aspects of her life that prevented us from being in a relationship, and so did I. Mine were, basically, that I felt too much pressure to be gayer. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about men I found attractive, because she couldn’t relate. My mother said I was purposely making my life harder for myself to prove a point. I still don’t think that’s exactly true, but being as gay as I was expected was more work than being ~true to myself~ was supposed to be.

    Then Sean came back into my life. I’d met him in first year university and a download of my twitter archive confirms that it was love at first sight. But we’d both been seeing other people and it never worked out. I was still dating my ladyfriend in summer 2011 when he messaged me and asked me out to dinner. As we got to know each other again, he learned about (and was cool with) my attraction to men and women. He even told me he had a similar sexual identity. He was fine with something non-exclusive, and that made me like him even more.

    When my grandmother passed away at the end of August, my grandfather, cousin and I flew out to Scotland to pay our respects. I knew that when I returned to Canada, I would choose either Sean or my ladyfriend. I talked to my cousin about it (effectively coming out to her), and she (being a good Christian girl) was uncomfortable and said I should probably go with Sean.

    When I returned to Toronto, I was 90% sure of my choice. I went to visit her and bring her the British chocolate I’d bought her. She mocked me for enjoying Scotland (she’s English, accent and everything) and started in on the stereotypes. I ended things, and ran (cinematic movie style) to Sean’s work where his shift was just ending.

    In the almost two years since then, we (as two queer people in what passes as a heterosexual relationship) have become very comfortable with the role that our same-sex attractions play in how we interact as a couple with other people. We individually can go on same-sex dates but neither of us has any doubt in the world that our love is the number one priority. I don’t feel like anything is missing; I’m politically involved in queer events and causes. I go to roller derby games and don’t feel out of place at the after-party. I dance at Cherry Bomb and give as much money as I can afford to the Dyke March fundraiser and I’m completely comfortable in my sexuality.

    A few days ago, my grandfather sent out a mass email about Canada Day in which he said homophobic things about Ontario’s openly gay Premier, Kathleen Wynne.
    “HAPPY CANADA DAY,” it read. “In Ontario , with a Lying DYKE as Prime Minister, it is the only thing to make you happy.” (emphasis his)

    Grampa,” I replied.

    “It’s completely unacceptable for you to use dyke as pejorative. I sit and ignore the forwards I also disagree with, because those aren’t your words.
    This email IS in your words, and they make you sound hateful. You could attack Kathleen Wynne for a dozen other things, but YOU chose to attack her for being a gay woman.

    “I identify as queer, and this email makes me feel unwelcome and unaccepted. I thought you had a decent attitude towards gay, bisexual and trans people. Despite all your other prejudices (against people of colour, against other religions, etc.) I hoped that you would be accepting and loving of what makes ME different.

    “Also, she’s Premier, not Prime Minister.

    “I’m not mad, really I’m not. I just want you to think about the things you say and how they can affect people you love.

    “I hope we can talk soon before you fly out to Cuba.

    - Allegra”

    It was the strangest feeling – FINALLY, a classic coming out story to tell.
    But his reply, which was long and rambling, showed that he misunderstood.
    He thought I meant that Kathleen Wynne isn’t gay, and he spend three paragraphs insisting that she is.
    He said that he only knew that I wasn’t going to give him great grandchildren.
    He said that he’d love me despite my choices but did I realise that Sean’s a man?
    He said that I was raised by my mother to be a girl and to not forget that.
    He said that just because I liked women doesn’t mean I’ll end up with someone as good as my mom or grandmother.

    I posted on facebook my story, and the comments culminated with a comment from my youngest half-brother, who lives with my dad and whom I see on an annual basis.

    A simple “???” from him made me realize that there are still so many people who know me superficially and think I’m a hetero girl in a hetero relationship. I guess that’s what some people call passing privilege, but it makes me feel like I have to come out again every day. My relationship, for all its unconventionality, still looks like the status quo. There are people, like my grandfather, who still take comfort in it. Short of constantly talking about queer issues, and expressing my attraction to women, I don’t know how to fight that.

    No one can make me feel bad for loving who I love.

    Who taught you to live like that?

    2012 - 11.23

    I have long said that there are only two constants in my life: my mother and Sloan. It’s a weird thing to say, and an even weirder comparison. My mother gave birth to me, worked hard, sacrificed, showed me what love was, continues to support me in any way I need and tries to understand why I do what I do even if she doesn’t agree with it. Sloan are a band – four grown men who know who I am but don’t have any personal investment in my feelings or well-being. I like to think that I have a special relationship with the band, but I’m not delusional enough to think that my love is returned to the same extent.
    It hardly seems fair to my mom, arguably the most important person in my life, that I group these four men in the same category of influence.

    Last night, Sloan played “Twice Removed” (the best Canadian album of all time) at the Phoenix. My enjoyment of their performance, and my hyperbolic love in the first paragraph, needs a bit of context:

    I have had a life full of changes – my family moved around a lot, and even though I still had all the same classmates, I shuffled around groups of friends. My popularity fluctuated in sine waves. I picked up and dropped hobbies at the same rate. My mom supported me in all of it, but I had nothing to which I could dedicate myself. I didn’t feel strongly about anything in the long term, and while my classmates learned every sports stat or horse fact I was half-heartedly trying to find something to love.

    I discovered Sloan in my formative years but without the Internet I had no way to really connect with anyone over it. I was too young to go to concerts, too unpopular to be a tastemaker and too immature to be secure in liking anything without mainstream approval.

    For a few years I considered Sloan an afterthought – I liked and claimed obsession with whatever my friends liked (as embarrassing as it is that I was a pretty big Hoobastank fan when I was 13, it’s even worse remembering that it wasn’t entirely genuine). 13 year old me liked “Let Go” by Avril Lavigne enough, but most of it was because EVERYONE my age liked that album.

    When I was fourteen, I made some friends (I’d started making some genuine connections by then) who liked Sloan’s MuchMusic-friendly cohorts – Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good Band especially. They knew of Chris, Jay, Pat and Andrew, and that was good enough. Sloan’s albums started rotating into my discman at school. I also started playing bass. My instructor scoffed at my “popular” music tastes but was happy to teach me “Snowsuit Sound” and “Everything You’ve Done Wrong.” After a year of building my confidence in my musical taste, I started to be upfront about it. Sloan were MY thing now.

    In the summer I turned 15, I met a girl from Calgary named Ruhee over livejournal. She was a year younger than me, but in the same grade. She’d just discovered Sloan, and we became very fast friends. She introduced me to the livejournal Sloan community, where everyone enjoyed the band just as much as I did.

    We all fed off of each other, and we were all pretty obsessed not long after. I was still playing bass, and I discovered that I also had a passion for writing. I started going to Sloan shows. I’d meet people at those shows, who’d introduce me to other bands. I documented all of this on my livejournal, and my new friends would comment. I’d read about their lives as well and I’d know that all across Canada (they were pretty much all canucks) there were people with whom I had more in common than just one band.

    Soon my network of Sloan friends became more important than my school friends. They didn’t understand. I’d bring a classmate along to a Sloan show and they’d look at me sideways as I’d cry and scream and make the kind of ass of myself the way twi-hards do these days.

    I got to play on stage with them once, and that was when I met Maddie. I asked Chris to prom (and he said no, but it’s still a good story). I sent Jay fan letters and collected their Japanese and American releases and learned every song off by heart. I’d debate with other fans the merits of Pretty Together. We would dissect every lyric in every song and giggle at every mondegreen (“She’s dating an albino,” anyone?)

    I was a Chris girl, through and through, but it really was about the music. I chose “The point is not the grammar, it’s the feeling” as my yearbook quote in grade 12 (the year I wanted to be a journalist). When that changed (and THAT story is for a different day), I followed it up in my fifth year of high school with “I’ve stayed in school this long but still no one will tell me why. They figure who would know better than I? I know I’m a conformer but I’m sure it doesn’t matter. My new friends are all adults and my old friends all have scattered.”

    A few weeks after my stepdad passed away, I went to see an acoustic set that Chris and Patrick were playing at a radio station and it was the first time I’d smiled in ages.

    Sloan stayed my favourite band after high school; after I stopped playing bass; after I lost my faith in my writing; after breakups and rejection; after at least six changes in career trajectory. They’ve been the soundtrack to everything I’ve experienced since puberty. Sloan, and the wonderful people I’d met through them, have helped me through it all. Was there anything before Sloan?

    We may not be the obsessive borderline fanatics we once were. We’ve all moved out of our parent’s houses. We have jobs and significant others and GROWN-ASS LIVES, but we all have that undeniable unified history.

    We reunited for the first time in forever last night. Every song has a dozen different memories attached to it. We laughed at nine-year-old inside jokes and sang our hearts out and screamed and hugged each other. It felt like coming home. These are my longest-running friendships, and I can’t imagine a life without them.

    Thank you, Sloan. Thank you for being my constant. Thank you for every friend I have. Thank you for helping me grow into myself. You have no idea how much the past 10+ years have meant to me.

    Tomorrow I will change, and today won’t mean a thing

    2012 - 03.14

    Yesterday on Twitter some friends and I were discussing reappropriation of offensive terms – you know, the idea that reclaiming a derogatory term will make it lose its power to offend.

    It started with a tweet from Jon Crowley:

    Jon may have been talking about the feminist attempts to reclaim “Slut.” (see: Slutwalk). He may have been referencing rap music’s casual dropping of N-bombs. That’s not really the point; he sparked an insightful discussion on the power of words.

    The only clear example I could find was “Queer,” which has been reclaimed to such an extent that it currently is the banner term for the entire LGBTQQetc. community. Actually, practically all of the words that have lost most of their negative connotations have to do with sexuality – “homo” and “dyke” have more or less become acceptable within the community.

    Now, this may not be the same everywhere. Different words carry different power depending where they’re used – a certain commonplace word used in Australia makes me flinch, and I’m sure that “queer” still has strong ties to discrimination and bigotry in many societies that haven’t yet embraced (or accepted, or legalized) non-hetero partnerships.

    There’s also the matter of intent. There are a lot of names I’ve been called in my life – some hurt, and some didn’t. A huge factor in that, personally, is whether the person intended to offend me – the difference between a woman proudly walking in the Dyke March during Pride week and a group of men shouting “Dyke!” at a lady for having a short haircut.

    It was Emma Woolley, whom I invariably can depend on to raise points I hadn’t considered, who hit the nail on its head:

    This is the crux, isn’t it? Words affect people differently based on past experiences and present state of mind. A whole culture can’t possibly reclaim a word, because its use is so innately personal. Emma even pointed out that attempts to reappropriate a word can cause damage by alienating individuals over whom the word still has power.

    The choice to take the power away from a word is intensely personal; we can’t take the harm out of a word on behalf of everyone, but if we do we must also acknowledge that it likely still affects people the way it used to affect us.

    I’ve taken the power away from a lot of words in my life. Slut, bitch, and other gendered insults don’t really hit me the way they once did. Bitches get shit done (thanks for that adage, Tina). Sluts are in control of their own sexuality – see my friend CK’s blog, To Be A Slut, for an elaboration.

    Even my online moniker, Cap’n Allegra, was an appropriation of an insult hurled at me constantly in high school. Let me take you back in time…

    I was not always the World’s Spokeswoman for Awesome Glasses that I am today.

    Shocking, I know.
    Picture thirteen year old Allegra: bad posture, dirty hair, huge teeth, a fair few pounds heavier than now, in the most awkward throes of puberty. My wonderful mother had instilled in me some (undeserved) SERIOUS self-importance and overconfidence, which meant that I had no real friends because no one wanted to hear me talk about how great I was at everything. I’d come home and hear how wonderful I am, and go to school and hear exactly the opposite.
    That’s really no one’s fault – I love my mother for believing in me, and I can’t blame my classmates for calling me on my shit, but the dichotomy screwed me up for a while.

    Anyway, after a few years of wearing (in retrospect) the worst glasses of all time, I decided that high school would be different – I was going to get contact lenses! Contact lenses would solve all my problems.*

    *Spoiler alert: they did not.

    Halfway through grade nine, this one girl decided that her mission was to make me feel worthless. She would spread rumours about me (they were pretty much entirely sexual – I think her bullying was based on a boy liking me more), fling paper wasps at me from the other side of the room (my back and shoulders were covered with fresh welts every day) and make mutual friends choose between us. She would tell the cool boys (who also had no time for her – socially we were on the same low rung) that I wouldn’t fight her because I knew I’d lose.

    I handled this well, in retrospect. I never asked our mutual friends to take my side; I never revealed secrets I’d learned during the two (?) months we were friendly; I didn’t take cheap shots at her weight, teeth, mental illness or hereditary alcoholism, even though she had no hesitations exploiting my weaknesses. I didn’t fight her, or retaliate. I asked her what I’d done to deserve such ire, once, and she spat in my face.

    In grade 10, one of contacts rolled to the back of my eye. In trying to extract it myself, I scratched my cornea. When I went to the hospital, I found that the contacts had been slowly burning my retina as well. I was ordered to wear an eyepatch for a while. Life was pretty much the worst.

    Walking down the hallways in an eyepatch did not, as you can imagine, endear me to my peers. The girl who bullied me took advantage of my lack of depth perception to knock me over as often as she could, and invented a new nickname that spread like wildfire – “Captain Assbeard,” for my “butt-shaped” chin. I don’t think a nickname ever hurt more than that one did. People I’d never spoken to would refer to me as such when I’d play a solo in band class, or write it on my locker with a grotesquely exaggerated caricature of my face. “Walking the plank” jokes were commonplace, especially in conjunction with the hypersexual image she’d created through rumours. Even after my eye had healed and I started wearing glasses again, I still heard them.

    I don’t know where I learned the idea of reclaiming words, but I decided I’d give it a try. It was 2003, so everyone had a LiveJournal. When I joined, I signed up for the username “CapnAllegra,” and it has been my online moniker ever since.

    I don’t know when this girl found out about it, but she came up to me and said, “You can’t call yourself Cap’n Allegra, you dumb bitch. Don’t you know it’s an insult?”

    I shrugged, and said “Obviously it doesn’t bug me that much.”

    The jokes petered out pretty quickly after that. The girl still made every effort to make me miserable, but she was really never able to get her power back after that. Whenever I get pirate or nautical jokes made these days, they are good-natured. I embrace them. I’m proud of my fifteen-year-old self for re-appropriating a term that once hurt me so much.

    I am a strong believer in personally reclaiming words as your own. My name IS my power, and no insult or word has really been able to touch me since then. I also know that not everyone has quite reached that stage where they are ready to hear a hurtful word tossed around casually.

    If you still can’t see the positives, then you’re not looking my way

    2011 - 12.30

    As 2011 wraps up, I see more and more YEAR IN REVIEW posts. People make lists of best albums, best movies, most annoying events… I am not current enough in movies to make a top 10, though I’m sure my inclusion of Sucker Punch would be prime comment fodder.
    (Yes, I enjoyed Sucker Punch a lot and I think most people are missing a key interpretation)

    I could make a list of my favourite albums of the year, but the top spots are going to go to Sloan, Brigitte Boisjoli and Timber Timbre and I will absolutely not try to justify them.

    I actually hate reading art reviews online – songs, albums, films, books, cafés. Either I want to see something/eat somewhere/go see a show or I don’t. So someone whose tastes are probably way different from mine writing as if they’re an expert is not going to sway me. I never understood the point at all, even when I wrote concert reviews semi-professionally! I always found it difficult to separate my experience from the sum of all concertgoers, so I’d have to write as if I’m a complete outsider. The only one I was ever particularly proud of can be found here.

    Concert reviews are especially bizarre to me – I just don’t see the point. As I see it, there are only 2.5 types of people who read them.
    1) The reader was there and has their own memories and opinions formed about the sound, the set and the audience. Why does she need someone else’s? To justify her own opinions? My favourite concerts of the year are not going to be everyone else’s, because I enjoyed them for my own reasons. How many other people would include Sloan’s June 22 show at the Mod Club as the best? It won’t be because Chris Murphy bought them nachos afterwards. That’s my experience and it powers my view of the gig. Someone who has a bad concert experience because of the audience is going to have a different opinion from someone who was in another section of the crowd.

    2) People who weren’t at the show. Sure, there’s some masochism in wanting to know what you’ve missed, but what good would it really do? Performances vary wildly night by night. It’s FOMO at its worst. It’s publicity, but after the fact. Do I want to read about how I missed every single night of Jason Collett’s Basement Revue? No, because it’s too late and it’s only going to make my weep that I missed Matt Murphy singing more Guy Terrifico.

    3) The artist himself. But really, what are the odds that someone like Jeff Tweedy is going to read 150 tumblr reviews of Wilco’s Massey Hall show?

    Document your experiences for yourself, but know that they are YOURS. “Best of” lists are misnomers and I would actually think less of someone who could make a difinitive BEST OF list as if they were the world’s expert. Recaps are another thing entirely – listing your favourite movies of the year is fine, but it is according to your taste only.

    That said, these are my favourite concert experiences of 2011:

    10) Steven Wilson @ Opera House
    9 ) Cheap Speakers @ Various venues everywhere.
    8 ) Sloan @ Mod Club (night #2)
    7 ) Ellie Goulding @ the Phoenix
    6 ) Joel Plaskett @ Luminato
    5 ) Matthew Barber @ Great Hall
    4 ) Sloan @ Great Hall
    3 ) Dwayne Gretzky’s Dakota residency
    2 ) Heart @ Massey Hall
    1 ) Elvis Costello in NYC

    Mostly what I’ll remember about 2011, though, is how many people came into (and came back into) my life: New friends with whom I’ve become really close; friends-of-friends whom I’ve stolen as my own; casual acquaintances who make me smile every time I see them; most importantly, though, are the people from my past with whom I’ve reconnected in such a meaningful way. 2011 was the year of forging lifelong bonds with some truly wonderful people and severing ties with a few who were making me miserable.

    2011 brought me to new parts of the world, including Scotland, where my family came from. I met my Scottish relatives and feel great knowing that I’m related to such smart, kind-hearted people who made the Canadian clan feel welcome in light of the occasion. This year also brought my immediate family closer than ever.

    I don’t know if 2012 can improve on 2011 as much as 2011 did on 2010, but I am all about facing it head on with more confidence, wisdom, and experience.

    Just for fun, here are some resolutions:

  • Blog more
  • Travel more (leave the province at least three times)
  • Read 100 graphic novels
  • Get my girl abs back to 2010 standard (*Sigh*)
  • Sing 100 karaoke songs in a row without a repeat
  • Listen to one 2012-released album per week; actually keep up with current music.
  • Institute a one-in-one-out rule for possessions and stick to it.
  • Earn at least one A in a class and be well on track to graduate in 2013.
  • Wear my friggin’ night guard. Ugh.
  • Find a creative way to organize my 4703623067387 pairs of earrings.
  • Cross an artist or song off of my musical bucketlist (preferably Marie-Mai, Springsteen, “Dreaming of You,” or “I Want You”)
  • Finish my awesome needlepoint fractal, which will look like this upon completion:

  • Be happy and healthy and stay positive. Life is much better that way.

    Here’s to a happy 2012! I know who my first, second and third kisses will be.

  • She’s aware it’s all been done before…

    2011 - 12.28

    The past week has been absolutely incredible. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’ve had the best week of my life – which is saying something, because my life is pretty okay.

    Tuesday was the first day of Hanukkah, which was very exciting. My half-Jewish boo had never celebrated before, so I decided to surprise him. Thanks to Aidan and Dan for helping a shiksa out. The variations on the classic dreidle games were particularly fun!

    We’d given each other a bunch of hints about each other’s presents, but he was still super pleased. Day one was cookies and a mixed CD (because no one had ever given him one before?!) He was pretty ecstatic…

    Wednesday was the second night, and my gift was a little self-serving – I took him to the Sloan charity show with Ohbijou and the RAA. I had to work until 8:00, so I missed Bonjay’s set and most of Ohbijou by the time I got down there, but it was really nice to have a reunion with all the ghosts of Sloanies Past. So many people from the message boards were there – Martina, Maddie, Cameron, Sideburns Dave, Adam, Nick, Alicia, Ruhee, Nat… plus people like Rochelle and Jess who were there purely for nostalgia. It was Harold’s first Sloan show and his first time meeting a lot of my Sloan people, and I was really anxious. Sharing a life-defining music experience with someone is a lot of pressure, and I was hoping so much that I hadn’t hyped them too much.

    As if seeing everyone who made high school bearable for me wasn’t enough, Sloan – my favourite band for most of my life – played their album One Chord To Another all the way through. I’ve seen Sloan 39 times now (you could say it’s borderline fanatic) and Wednesday was still my first time hearing some of my favourite tunes – G Turns To D and Take The Bench caused particular fangirling with Maddie. Much to my delight, they had a horn section (!!!) playing on Everything You’ve Done Wrong and Take The Bench. It was unreal. They also brought Leslie Feist up to play on She Says What She Means. I’m kinda glad they emphasized that it’s 1996 and not anytime after that, because Feist playing on any of the breakup songs Chris wrote about her might have been awkward.

    Harold had a good time – he said that the trumpet parts would actually be somewhat challenging to play, and that Sloan were an ideal mix of tight musicianship and relaxed attitudes. It’s his first real rock show in four years (jazz kids, amirite?) and I am pretty thrilled he enjoyed himself. Not understanding my Sloan love has been a dealbreaker in the past.

    Thursday was our weekly #loserkaraoke (Jess’s first! AWWW!) and it was Y week – the regulars do this thing called #ABCKaraoke, which means that each week means a new letter. I sang “Your Song,” (the Ellie Goulding version) and that actually seemed to go well – better, at least, than my attempt at “Guns and Horses” last year. Harold finally sang “Best I Ever Had” by Drake after his Y song. Pretty okay? Pretty okay! Gabriel was a complete sweetheart and gave me a vegan baking cookbook for Christmas, which means that he will get to sample everything. I want to learn to cook and bake more in the new year, so that’s perfect.

    Post-karaoke, we did our third night and proper gift exchange. We’d given little hints, and I guessed mine properly – he’s taking me to Halifax for reading week! I have waxed poetic on my Halilove before, and this will be my first time returning to the promised land since 2008. I’ve also never been during the winter – at least we miss hurricane season! I want to find a place to rent skates and visit Java Blend and spend a whole paycheque at Strange Adventures. We’re also fulfilling a longtime fantasy of mine: we’re taking VIA rail to get there. I’ve always had a not-so-secret fascination with eastbound trains (in part thanks to Suzanne Vega) and to finally take one is a dream. We’re flying back four days later via Porter. I am not a good flyer, so a friggin’ prop plane isn’t the ideal, but it’s hard to resist their boxing day sale!

    Oh, and we made it facebook official. Such a thing, you guise.

    Friday was Zaira’s birthday party in the deepest, darkest Etobicoke, wherein Paul (whose blog is one of my favourites and makes me green with envy at his workstation), Zaira, Harold, Sean Ward and I watched Home Alones 1 and 4. Sean went off on a rampage at YTV for cutting off the emotional climax of the first movie to play a Justin Bieber song in its entirety for no reason, and Zaira’s sister was kind enough to give us a lift back to the subway. Harold opened his fourth gift (underwear – heh heh heh) and we discussed our impending trip out east in more detail.

    Saturday was Christmas eve, and I got to spend it with my mother, brother, Harold, his mom and a puppy. Gift #5 was two ties, both skinny. As much as I love a good fondue, it’s obvious from my smile that the puppy was my favourite part.

    After dinner, my mother and I took part in my favourite holiday tradition: the Late Christmas Eve Shoppers Drug Mart Run. On Christmas Eve every year, we visit the 24-hour drug store and watch as all the drunk losers remember last minute to buy a gift for their ladytypes. There is nothing as SMH-worthy as seeing a thirty year old Jesse Pinkman type grabbing a bottle of Shania perfume and an extra-large box of condoms with the smuggest grin in the world. Ugh.

    This year, though, was disappointing – most of the customers were women who looked like they were there because they didn’t have anything better to do. That was a little sobering, because Mom and I definitely fell into that category… yet another tradition potentially ruined? C’mon!

    Christmas itself was better – we slept in, opened our stockings and gifts (we toned down the consumerism this year, which is great. I really don’t have room for actual stuff). Mom and Brian-Sean made breakfast (which included an Epic Meal Time-inspired dish called Jack Daniels candied Fake-on that all but glued my insides together).

    Brian-Sean’s girlfriend came over and we gave her the gifts we’d gotten for her, and she helped clear out my Goodwill/junk jewelry box. Yay! I really am trying to clear out everything I don’t need. I’ve got a move out deadline and ~2 years is going to come faster than I think. (Yay for being grownass?) Harold joined us for dinner at the Delta Chelsea, where the food was okay. Buffets in general aren’t inclined to deal with my fleshless diet. Still, it was nice being able to spend Christmas dinner with so many of my favourite people. I got back to Harold’s place, where we celebrated the sixth night. I gave him a frame for the fractal print I made him for his birthday, as well as the offer to put it up for him (so handy, you guys).

    On Monday, I went and saw The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with my lady Samantha. I read the novel two years ago and only remembered the most basic of details, but I didn’t hate the adaptation. At this point, Fincher is the only one I’d trust to adapt any novel, especially if it’s dark and not particularly deep. Daniel Craig was yet again an intelligent, well-dressed man who fights evil while drinking expensive alcohol and seducing every woman on-screen. I guess there are worse reasons to be typecast. I do like Salander as a character and it did make me want to give the trilogy another go.

    And yesterday? Well, everything is back to normal. I have a few things coming up for which I’m pretty psyched, but the holidays are coming to an end. School resumes in less than a week and I’m only kind of looking forward to all my new classes. Still, with Halifax on the horizon and both jobs picking up? Everything is coming up Allegra.

    But who’s that ghost who keeps walking by my door?

    2011 - 12.13

    Everyone I know has been a little negligent in updating their blogs, and I can certainly understand why. The holidays come around and suddenly there are exams and parties and shopping and twice as many retail shifts…
    I guess I’m no exception. I’ve been done school for a week (starting up again in January), my agenda is filled with social events and hangouts and I couldn’t be happier about it.

    Tonight, for example – Harold the Herald has invited me to be his date for the holiday ball his corporate overlords are throwing. I haven’t been to the venue since my prom back in 2006, so at least the precedence has been set low. This will be my third time as his +1 to one of these things (see: Halloween and Wonderland and I can’t wait. I’m even busting out my favourite fancy party dress! The phrase “perfect hourglass” may have been used to describe it. Plus Harold and I got to go shopping for his outfit – many thanks to our saleslady at the Le Chateau outlet in Scarbs – and the guy looks GOOD. I’m not the world’s best mall shopper, but damn if shopping for men isn’t a fun way to spend a few hours.

    I’ll be sure to recap it fully, now that I’m back online.

    The volcanoes of my soul are just about to blow!

    2011 - 11.19

    I was told yesterday that I listen to “girlfriend” music. I suppose that’s true in a few senses – I usually enjoy the most accessible songs in any given genre, and I’m very inclined to listen to whatever weird genre the person I’m dating enjoys.

    A prime example of that is Steven Wilson, whom I was lucky enough to see in concert on Wednesday. I am only familiar with his work through some of my dudes – Ethan, for example, has called Porcupine Tree one of his favourite bands for years. I didn’t actually listen to their music until a few songs of theirs appeared on a birthday mixed CD. The maker of said mix explained that he chose their most accessible, poppy tunes (Drown With Me and Blackest Eyes) because he wanted to ease me into a Steven Wilson fandom easily. Normally I enjoy being thrown into the deep end, but it was a smart move.

    My talent crush on Steven Wilson grew the more I heard his music. I even watched a PT concert DVD, which is something I never do. I started to love his more meandering solo material (though his cover of Momus’ “The Guitar Lesson” is creepy like whoa). He’s just so CHARMING, you guys.

    Now imagine the second-most charming English accent you’ve ever heard coming out of that mouth. (This, by the way, is another Girlfriend Rock curse – there’s always a bit of a crush on the frontman)

    I have had this fantasy about him since I first heard about him, wherein I sell him a REALLY NICE pair of glasses. I worked the day of the show, but alas – he never came into my store. Should he ever read this, the offer stands. Steven Wilson, your next pair of glasses are on me. It’s actually a lot more likely at this new store than my old place of work…

    Anyway, I was very excited for Steven Wilson’s show, and I wasn’t disappointed! I missed the film beforehand (though I hear the reviews are very mixed about that section) because I had a closing shift, but I made it in time to meet up with Logan about twenty minutes before the show started.

    Let me tell you – SW fans are not nice people, from what I can tell. There was so much snarking and pushing and tall people moving to stand right in front of short people on purpose. Luckily, I was able to find a nice spot from whence I could see the man as he sang and conducted and played his LED-lit guitar. Songs that didn’t grab me on the new record, Grace for Drowning, were much more lively when seen firsthand. A highlight for me, of course, was “Postcard.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show where there was that much SOUND. The drummer was an absolute madman. The reverb of SW’s vocals made every hair stand on end. I couldn’t tell many of the songs from one another, but it wasn’t about that. I loved how the band was able to make the sound feel like it was washing over the audience. I was grinning and loving it from the first note to the last.

    Also, kudos for the classiest exit ever! He had the names of his supporting band projected onto the wall at the back of the stage and a “thank you, goodnight” message to the fans. He really ought to be known as the gentleman of progressive rock. Other people will have more technical reviews, but I’m not enough of an authority to try. I had an amazing time, and I would go see him again in any incarnation.

    Bonus points for running into Ethan, Pogo, Rob and Ali! Good dudes clearly have good taste in music, too. Ethan and I haven’t been spending as much time together since the Dwayne residency ended, and I seriously miss that guy.

    We move like caged tigers – we couldn’t get closer than this

    2011 - 11.14

    Saturday was Worn Fashion Journal‘s Black Cat Ball. I was particularly excited for about a hundred reasons. I got to dress up, see friends I hadn’t seen in FOREVER, dance with a well-dressed man… admittedly, though, I was more excited than I should have been to cover my first cool party since the blog launched.

    The party didn’t disappoint at all! The Wornettes threw a classy, unpretentious and genuinely fun ball. Everyone was pretty and dressed in theme, booze was plentiful and inexpensive (not for me, though – No Drink-November), and the music flowed really nicely. I don’t think any of the smiles I saw all night were faked.

    I talked to a few people about their fabulous glasses (just confirming that I NEED to visit Rapp Optical ASAP) but mostly Harold and I danced ourselves into a frenzy, enjoyed the people-watching and saved a few pretty blondes from one creepy old man who clearly didn’t belong.

    I got to catch up with a few friends from high school, too. I hadn’t seen Cayley or Vix in forever, and they both look like they’re happy and doing what they love. Cayley is working at Worn now, which is really appropriate. I remember wanting to do clothing swaps with her in grade 10 – if you’d seen how High School Allegra dressed, you’d understand why Cayley always found nice ways to say no.

    There was a wall of shame – we could write our fashion faux-pas on a post-it and confess our sins. Mine involved socks. Harold’s had everything to do with his unironic appreciation of dark brown corduroy. Doesn’t he know that cords are back in a big way? There was also a raffle, from which I won a prize pack courtesy of Nathalie-Roze:


    (Arm warmers, winky kitty hair pins, fishnet tights)

    I was going to wait until the official pictures were posted before writing the post (Dan Levy told me at a party once that waiting for pictures is one of the worst things about blogging), but She Does The City has some really nice ones up on Facebook already – though none of us.


    I wore my Vaudeville & Burlesque dress I bought in Scotland in September (I remember being hesitant to spend £40 on it, and I am SO GLAD that I did) and my favourite black bell hat (which was a gift from my mother).


    I really wish we’d taken more photos. This is the only one I have of the two of us from that night. It just means I’m that much more excited to see the official pictures.

    I loved the party. I would go to anything hosted by the Wornettes at this point. (Aside: PUG THEME?). The best part of any party, though, is the company. It’s so refreshing to be with someone who is up for any event, is willing to dress the part (see: Fake Prom) and will dance with me. My dudes are always down to shake a tail, but I’ve never dated anyone (guys or ladies) who was willing to hold me close and sway to the music. I always said, “SOMEDAY I’LL FIND SOMEONE WHO’LL DANCE!” to myself after each breakup, and it really is as good as I thought it would be. When Harold agreed to fill in as a last-minute Fake Prom date in August (my then-girlfriend was sick), I knew. I’m pretty happy, you guys.

    In other news:

  • Today I go to pick up a DVD copy of an infomercial I filmed when I was sixteen. I reserve the right to watch it and then burn it forever.
  • Also today I get to have dinner with my favourite Natalia.
  • Ke$ha, whom I love unironically, announced her next single. I am VERY pleased. Then again, I may be biased.
  • Also, hey, Christmas is coming soon (if you don’t know what to get the Allegra in your life)
  • All that I want is always to push forward

    2011 - 11.12

    A mixed CD is my favourite gift to give or receive for any occasion. My friends are mostly students, and therefore mostly poor, and a mix is one way of guaranteeing that they’ll expend at least half an hour’s worth of energy on my gift. Being a broke student myself, I return the favour. Any birthday to which I’m invited requires hours of playlisting, designing album art, shuffling and organizing. After all, I can’t give the wrong impression. No breakup songs to the person I’m dating, no sexy songs to the dudes in the friend zone, no cliches and no repeats.

    As I’ve been a little short on time these past few months, I’ve just been too busy to make birthday mixes. Unless you’ve saved my life more than once, I probably didn’t make you a mix this year. It takes about six hours to do everything, and the results are usually awesome (if I do say so myself). Particularly time-consuming (and rewarding) is the album art. I am really inspired by Mandelbrot sets and other rainbow fractals, and I love spending hours drawing similar designs with Sharpies onto coloured card stock.

    The evolution was quick. The earliest example I can find is this one, made for a then-boyfriend’s sister:

    My next few attempts at album art were full-out embarrassing. I wanted something colourful and abstract, but just wasn’t quite there.

    An engineer friend of mine showed me pictures of Mandelbrot’s fractals, so I decided to make one for my favourite engineer, just to try it out. The results were overwhelming.

    What followed was a whole series, culminating in a record-sized art piece for #HaroldTheHerald.






    And some non-Mandelbrot stuff that I still thought was cool:

    (Ruhee’s was probably the most complicated one so far. I don’t even know how it turned out that way)

    A few days ago, Maddie had her 22nd birthday. Known for her awesome birthday gestures, Maddie and I have been really close since we met on the coolest night of my life in 2005.


    Yesterday I mailed this to her. It’s a little different still – plainer, more emphasis on colour rather than shape. I wanted a 1970s feel… I think it will be the last Mandelbrot-inspired album art I’m going to make. It feels like the end of an era, but I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the 10th and final Mandelbrot Mix. Hope she gets it soon!
    Here’s the title track, for those of you who aren’t Maddie:

    Here are some other highlights since my last post:

  • Harold and I are going to be attending this tonight. I will be wearing a Vaudeville & Burlesque dress I bought in Scotland in September. He will be wearing his tightest black skinny jeans.
  • I busted out my winter coat for the next six months or so. (Thanks, Canadian winter!)
  • There were free cupcakes at work thanks to The Cupcake Shoppe. This is very significant. OM NOM NOM. They were very much enjoyed.
  • I finally chose which glasses I’m going to get in January when I have some money.

    They’re grey handmade plastic frames by OGI and I’ve coveted them since I started working at my store. They WILL be mine.

    Now, to get ready for the party…

  • I met my love at Pizza Corner

    2011 - 11.10

    I’ve never been much of a traveller. I took my first trip when I was 18 and had an unfortunate time. Somehow the beauty of Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco were all shadowed by family drama, poor planning and being surrounded by people who obviously didn’t like each other very much. The flights (six in all) were so rough that I vowed never to fly again. Saying that seemed a lot more doable than vowing never to talk to half of my family again…

    As soon as I got back, I met a dude and fell in love (he won’t be named, but he’s in my blogroll). Though he was living in Toronto for school, he was a born and raised Nova Scotian. He knew I always wanted to visit Halifax, so he whisked me away to meet his family for our six-month. Halifax was everything I’d ever imagined it to be. For a nineteen year old girl, in love for the first time, nothing was more magical than the salty atlantic air. I felt like I was in a Joel Plaskett song as I found all the landmarks made famous by Murderecords artists. To his credit, the boy put up with my fangirling and was an adequate tour guide. Sure, I couldn’t eat anything at the Chickenburger and the weather alternated hourly between -5 and 40 degrees, but I WAS IN HALIFAX. TRUE LOVE IN CITY FORM. THE PROMISED LAND. THE MOTHERLAND OF EVERYTHING I LOVE AND HOLD DEAR. HOME OF DOUBLE BRIDGES, FERRIES AND THE HIGHEST-GRADE TAPWATER EVAR.

    I was only there for a long weekend, but in those three days I felt like my life had been leading up to my arrival at Stanfield airport. I didn’t get to go exploring for myself, but I wanted to come back as often as I possibly could. I got to see Sloan play for free; we walked hand-in-hand through the Public Gardens; we climbed cliffs overlooking the bluest water I’d ever seen. I saw the city responsible for producing Chris Murphy and Joel Plaskett and Rob Benvie and Matt Murphy. Everything about it lived up to the hype, which was such a feat considering it was the only city I’d ever wanted to see apart from my hometown. I regret that I didn’t take ANY pictures, but I remember everything so vividly.

    Okay, that was a lie. There’s one photo worth sharing…

    It’s not easy being this cool, even while riding an orange electric bike.

    It was even better the second time I got to visit – the same boy’s family brought the two of us back for an entire week the following August. Armed with my camera this time, I documented everything. We explored more of the nightlife, we tried more food and saw more sights and were just MORE. We weren’t really on a time crunch, so we relaxed and went EVERYWHERE.

    That guy and I broke up over a year and a half after that second trip, and I still haven’t been back. At least once a month I will look at Porter flight prices and sigh wistfully. It wasn’t about him, and it had run deeper than the connection to my favourite musicians. Halifax and I have a connection, and I feel a wanderlust so powerful that it takes all the self-doubt I can find to convince myself I shouldn’t.

    A good friend of mine, Bevka, just moved to the 902 a few months ago for grad school. I’ve been dying to visit her. I just spent a week in Scotland this summer, though, so I can’t justify it to myself yet.

    Sean Ward is not helping the situation at all – he’s in NS covering HalCon and posted this on my facebook wall:

    My wanderlust has officially been reignited. I have to get back to the sea…