I spent a delightful evening at the thea-tuh earlier this week. My friend Paul invited me to be his date for the opening night of Plosive Production’s In The Next Room: The Vibrator Play. As a former thespian with an ongoing fascination with things that go buzz in the night, I eagerly accepted.

Check out my review below!

 

Fabulous hat. Fabulous kid.

 

The Green Bean’s bedtime routine is always the same.

He discards the day’s dirty clothes in the hamper and marches into the bathroom to brush his teeth. We play a quick game of family hide-and-seek, followed by a story, a song, hugs, kisses and (for some reason) handshakes goodnight.

Last night I was sitting on the floor, while The Man of Mans and my Bean sat perched on the edge of his bed, immersed in the adventures of Geronimo Stilton. I looked up at my little boy. He’s getting big – fast.  There are days when his energy, antics and willful nature break the limits of my patience.  Sometimes I go off the rails entirely and I’m a train wreck of a parent.  There are other times – busy times – when my son’s needs become items on the day’s very long to-do list. But sometimes there are the moments like last night, when I feel compelled to stop, breathe and take him in.

He is a beautiful boy . His skin is healthy and tanned from hours of vigorous play outside. His mouth gets impossibly big when he laughs. His soft brown eyes are alight with life. He’s energetic and very adept physically. He’s always has questions. He loves being with people. He’s very much his own person.  Last night I had to smile seeing his bedtime dress, which included a kicky yellow barrette clipped in his bangs.  The Bean wants to grow his hair long and wear it in a braid  like his friend from Saskatchewan. Now that he can gather small tufts and clip them back, he’s very excited. Accessories mean progress!

My son loves to run, climb and play sports. He also likes to be in the bathroom when I’m getting ready for a night out so he can try on my makeup. His dress up outfits include sharp blazers and classic pearls. He’s a rough, loud, aggressive little boy, who loves construction sites and high heels.

I never want him to change.

Yes he will change. His preferences will almost certainly become more expansive and more clearly defined as he grows older. Some of this is – as they say – just a phase, though only time will tell if it’s his interest in sports, construction or womanly shoes that will fade over time.  But I hope he never feels he has to be someone he isn’t or hide aspects of who he is. That’s probably too much to hope for.  Who amongst us made it past childhood and through adolescence without capitulating, at least a little, to external expectations. But I can’t help it. I looked at my son last night – this lanky child with skinned knees and a funny clip in his hair – and he was perfect. That barrette wasn’t worn in defiance of gender roles or as a political statement. It was just my kid, being who he is.  I love who he is. I don’t have the words to express how much I love who he is.

I won’t tell my son that he can’t wear a clip in his hair or try my makeup or run rough shot in a skirt because he’s a boy.  But someone else will. Someone well meaning, who thinks they’re helping him learn how to “be a boy”. Or someone cruel and closed-minded, who will try to hurt him to make him ashamed and afraid of who he is. I know it will happen to him, because I’ve seen it. I know it will happen to him, because it already has. He’s already been maligned for violating the narrow boundaries of masculinity. It’s painful, seeing how it hurts him.

As I watched my son last night, I suddenly thought about Jamie Hubley. More specifically I thought about his parents. It’s been almost seven months since their son committed suicide. I wondered if they had ever sat and watched Jamie as I was watching The Green Bean. Surely they loved their son, as I love mine. Surely they had moments in their busy, stressful lives, when something had made them to stop and see their child as perfect, an indescribable gift.  Now he’s gone.

I’m still thinking about what the Hubleys have lost. What if I lost my son?  I think of all the queer and trans youth who are relentlessly tormented for just existing and being who they are. What if that’s my child?  I think of how many young people have been broken by cruelty and taken their own lives. I think of their parents and it breaks my heart.  The thought that someday that might be my Green Bean makes me frantic.

I don’t know if The Bean’s funny little clip is a phase or an early sign of his gender identity, expression or orientation.  It doesn’t matter to me.  It’s part of who he is. I love him. I’m proud of him. And damned if I didn’t hug him a little tighter and shake his hand a little more firmly as we said our good nights.

Rick Mercer said in response to Jamie Hubley’s suicide  “It’s no longer enough to tell kids who are different ‘It Gets Better’. We have to make it better now.” I admit, I don’t know how to make it better – but I’ll try. I love my son, so I’ll try.

 

 

 

 This week I feel sexy in…

Shorts: Old Navy. Sunglasses: Joe Fresh. Earrings: Forever 21. Top: Jacob. Sandals: Payless Shoes.

…shorts!

Even though I don’t like pants, I do enjoy their leg-barring summertime counterpart. I find most pants uncomfortable around the waist, through the hips and…well in the crotch. Given that shorts are almost all waist/hip/crotch, you’d think I’d find them torturous. But no. For me they wear like an uber-comfy, slightly more modest version of a mini-skirt. Whaddup with that?

Romper: Jessica Simpson. Earrings & Bracelet Forever 21. Shoes: Nine West.

I discussed my contradictory feelings for pants vs. shorts with a fashion saavy friends, who pointed out that shorts (typically) don’t have fabric at the knee . In pants, sitting, walking and other leg bending activities pull the material taut around the hips. In shorts everything is free and easy.

So perhaps I’m not so much about pantslessness specifically. Any garment that doesn’t restrict my lower half is good times. The romper shown above certainly gives my gams ample freedom!

And speaking of bare….

Shorts: Amazing Lace. Earrings: Arden. Boa: La Vie En Rose. Bra: La Senza (thrifted). Leg Warmers: Sock Dreams. Skates: Chicago Skate Company. Photo by Victoria Scanell.

Here I am kitted out as Mighty Afrodite: roller disco goddess and my burlesque alter ego. My outlandish attire was for my performance at the Fifth Annual No Pants Dance Party. The event is exactly what it sounds like – a big party, where people don’t wear pants.  When I asked my fellow troupe members if spangly booty shorts fit the dress code for the evening, the answer a resounding yes!  As one of my stripping sisters put it, “Shorts aren’t pants!”

Word.

While We’re On The Subject Of Roller Skates…

Nancy Kenny is Ottawa’s original queen on wheels! She’s raising money to fund her wicked one-woman play Roller Derby Saved My Soul. If you’ve got a moment and a few dollars to spare check out her campaign here!

Finally, it’s a long weekend. The banks, businesses and the blog will be closed on Monday, but I’ll be back at it bright and early on Tuesday! In the meantime Happy Canada Day, countrypeople – from my family to yours!

It’s about to get all patriotic up in here!

You may be thinking, ‘A courtyard – you’re crazy! That isn’t sexy. It’s just an open space partial or completely enclosed by walls or buildings. Stop talking crazy!’

I feel where you’re coming from, but this ain’t your grandmother’s medieval castle, cobble-stoned, fountain-feature courtyard. This is the Ottawa Fringe Courtyard – a mecca of food, drink and sexually charged energy that only happens for ten days every year!

Please don’t misunderstand me. There are no orgies nor are there and overabundance of sloppy pubic make-outs*.  But there’s something. People hug more, smile more and look at one another with sultry appreciation. The writers, directors, performers and producers are alight with creative energy.

Also? There’s booze. Thus far I’ve been driving and therefore, not drinking but even without the social lubricant of alcohol I’ve been feeling the Courtyard high and enjoying myself immensely. With so many people I like (and like like) milling about, I’ve been having an awfully good time between shows – while honouring all the agreed upon boundaries of my marriage, of course.

In fact, what I enjoy most are the conversations. Take last night for example.  I spent several hours indulging my socially promiscuous side with Wayne, Jan, Stylin’ Jes and Gametes and Gonads wunderkind Jeff Leard. Topics of conversation included:

Boobs!

Where to buy a life-size condom suit. (The answer is eBay!)

My Fringe crush on Vernus superstar Ken Godmere.

Boobs!

My general crush on Fringe CEO Natalie Joy Quesnel.

The yays and nays of open relationships.

Post-coital neuroses.

Stylin’ Jes and her hawtness.

Men who look mighty fine in a pair women’s pants.

Wayne and his hawtness.

The effect of pubic grooming as it relates to oral sex.

Also? Boobs!

Breasts and flirting are by no means mandatory in the Courtyard. But my friends’ conversation is indicative of the general relaxed, feel-good attitude that epitomizes the Courtyard experience.  The combination of good people, good food and a whole lot of theatre coalesce in a perfect blend of summer bliss.  It’s a mighty good feeling!

So if you’re in my neck of the wood, come on down to open space partially enclosed by the walls of Arts’ Court. There are no cobblestones or fountains, but there is one hell of a good time!

 

It began as a day job.

Nearly three years ago a friend sent me a job posting from Planned Parenthood Ottawa. They were looking for someone with a background in theatre and sexual health to take over as the co-ordinator of a youth-focused program called Insight Theatre. I had just left my job as a vibe peddler/workshop facilitator at Venus Envy, so I was in need of a new gig. The job description was an almost eerie amalgamation of my very specific skill set.  It definitely felt like one of those universe-sending-me-a-message type moments and so I updated my resume, carefully crafted a cover letter and submitted my application.

Happily, I was granted an interview. Then I almost missed said interview when I blew out a bike tire on my way downtown. I arrived sweaty, frazzled and nearly an hour late. Lucky for me the powers that be  at PPO appreciate adorkable, because despite my ruffled first impression they offered me the job.  The best job I have ever had.

Insight Theatre, in a nutshell works like this:

Every summer, high school youth from across Ottawa audition to be part of Insight Theatre’s new season. Those who are accepted join our training program where they receive a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education from some of the best community facilitators in the city. They also receive top of the line drama coaching (our current coach is none other than Evolution Theatre Head Honcho, Chris Bedford).

By the end of the summer the new troupe members have evolved into fledgling sexpert thespians, who have channeled their knowledge into a series of theatrical scenes about topics which include: healthy relationships, communication, sexual orientation, abstinence, sexually transmitted infections, consent, sexual violence, gender identity, pregnancy options, safer sex and more!

Once the school year begins the youth attend rehearsals multiple times a week. They take the scenes they’ve created during the summer and use them as the basis for a production. They fine tune their work, honing in on what they feel will be the most relevant lessons for their peers. By November, they’ve made a show. They’re very own show of which they are the writer, producers and stars.

From November to May, the Insight troupe tours, performing and sharing the information they’ve acquired with students in senior elementary and high schools around the city. And me? A lot of my job involves sitting in the back of an auditorium feeling proud. I watch the audiences. Teens don’t always listen to their parents, their teachers or even their doctors when it comes to information about sex. But they listen to each other. The youth at Insight shows listen to our performers…because they’re youth too. They are creative, committed, intelligent, open-minded, open-hearted, generous people. Their passion for education never fail to inspire me. I’d probably be wise to exercise some professional detachment. But these kids are too awesome. I’ve loved every one I’ve worked with over the past three years. Every spring when the season ends, I cry.

But the tears can wait this year. Insight Theatre is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary and before we say good-bye, there’s going to be a big fundraising party to say “thank you” to the many, many, MANY people who have been part of this program over the years. If you’re in the Ottawa area, you should come – eat some food, get your dance on and see a show the like of which ye have never seen!

It began as my day job. Now teaching people about sex is what I do. And I learned how from the extraordinary, incomparable youth of Insight Theatre.

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Insight Gala tickets are $50 ($20 for students and lower income guests). For more information check out the writing beside this cool dude in the hoodie!

 

 

This week I feel sexy in…

Earrings: Forever 21. Sweater: Gap Outlet. Dress: Black House White Market. Belt: Thrifted. Tights: Sock Dreams. Shoes: Pierre Michel

Black and white!

I’ve been dressing in colour for as long as I can remember. I only recently began to see how black and white ensembles can create the same sense of whimsy and drama as the bright, bold hues I favour. This first outfit was blantantly ripped off from inspired by Sally. Sometimes a gal gets to feelin’ a little derivative.

Beret: eBay. Shirt: Old Navy. Belt: Joe Fresh (thrifted). Skirt: Ann Taylor (thrifted). Boots: Old Navy (gifted from my mom).

I love outfits composed of well-matched prints. Unfortunately, when I try to execute the look I usually wind up looking like a scary patchwork clown. But black and white prints make for easy-peasy combos. I also love that although there are two small hits of yellow here, the colour really stands out.

Hat: Le Chateau (Thrifted). Earrings: Unknown (Thrifted). Dress: Zara (Thrifted) Belt: Forever 21(Thrifted). Bracelet: Gift from friend. Shoes: Gift from The Man of Mans.

I wore this outfit to the Les Prix Rideau Awards – Ottawa’s annual shout out to the best in local theatre.  Every part of this ensemble was either thrifted or gifted. I nabbed the dress for a mere $8 dollars and though it was a little big up top, that left me plenty of money for alterations. I whisked my new-to-me-frock to my tailor, who made the necessary adjustments. It fit perfectly when I picked it up two weeks ago, but apparently my boobs shrank in the interim because when I put it on for the awards it was loose again. I wound up filling the gap with The Green Bean’s socks.

This is Kevin.

You may remember him from his guest post a couple of weeks ago. Kevin is my true friend and a super-kind soul who spent a good chunk of time mad-dancing with me at The PRA after-party. He looked so damn good in his vintage skinny suit that I had to post his picture here, so you could all see for yourselves!

Have a great weekend, everyone…and don’t forget I’ve got a surprise in store next Tuesday, May 1st, so be sure to check in!