I’m Homesick Already

My name is Melina, last week I moved to Calgary Canada, and I’m HOMESICK.

This probably doesn’t sound that surprising, but I’m honestly quite taken aback that this feeling came over me so quickly. I had been here for exactly two days and then we went grocery shopping at this huge grocery store, and let me tell you, it’s been a long time since I felt that helpless. I didn’t know where anything was, half the brands and food items I was used to weren’t there, or I couldn’t find them and I just felt this unbearable longing for the overpriced Ralph’s in downtown LA.

The next day, I tried to buy a few items on Amazon and boy was I in for a treat. You know how great Amazon is in the states? You can find anything and everything for crazy prices and it all arrives in two days? Yeah, not the same deal in Canada. The selection is almost comically inferior and the prices are hit or miss. And that two-day shipping deal? Almost nonexistent even with prime. So after realizing Amazon couldn’t help me at all in this country, I basically had a breakdown and laid on the floor for about an hour with glassy eyes halfway between crying and not.

I know Amazon and the grocery store sound pretty freaking trivial, but these are key components in setting up a new life and I’ve never had to set up shop before in a location that was almost familiar but just different enough to be completely unsettling. When I lived in China, I was already mentally prepared to not have any of the things I was used to. Canada, however, seems so close to the U.S. on the surface that it was easy to trick myself into thinking it would be nearly the same bar a few ‘sorry’s’ and ‘eh’s’.

Additionally, for the first time in my life, I find myself in a new place with no one around me going through the same thing. I know it hasn’t even been a week so I can’t expect to have already made friends or connections and I know this will eventually be spectacular for my personal growth, but right now, it just sucks. I feel out of place and out of step since there’s no one I can really turn to right now about this feeling.

I know these feelings will subside, and the longer I stay, the more familiar I will get with my surroundings and the more people I will meet. However, I wanted to get this off my chest because even though moving can be really exciting and fun, and starting in a new place can be like having a great blank slate to play with, that same blank slate can also be fucking terrifying. Writing this out was the perfect way to remind myself that it WILL be ok, and that for now, it is ok for me to cry or watch TV alone on weekends, or whatever.

If you would like me to continue chronicling my general feelings and activities about moving to a new country and starting over, please let me know, I’m sure I will have TONS to vent about in the coming months.

 

 

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Photography by the illustrious Clara Yu

 

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Bitch Sessions: Making Fun of Accents

The other day I’m at the outlet mall with my mom, and we pass by the Coach store. I don’t know why, but this particular Coach store makes people line up outside because they only let approximately five people in at once. Well, there was a Chinese family in line, speaking accented English. There were also many other Asian people in line. My mom and I are passing by the line (mostly because we hate Coach, not because it’s long), and we pass these two guys who are disgusted that there are so many Asians in line. One guy says “Why are there so many of them?” And the other guy AFFECTS A TERRIBLE MOCKERY of a Chinese accent and says something along the lines of “We bought everything in our own country so now we come here to buy yours.”

This kind of behavior really gets under my skin. It’s a whole other issue to make blatantly racist jokes, but mocking accents is something that really gets to me. Let me say it loud and clear, PEOPLE WITH ACCENTS SPEAK MORE LANGUAGES THAN YOU. People with accents for sure speak two languages, maybe more, and the people that mock them probably only speak one. It’s so, SO disrespectful in my mind because people with accents are trying their hardest to speak another language, and are trying to function as best they can in a place that is not their home. And it chaps my hide so bad because the people who make fun of them probably have NO idea what it takes to do that. They have no idea what it takes to put yourself out there like that and adapt to a completely different country and culture. These are probably the same damn people who go to a different country and expect that the people there should speak their language. The AUDACITY.

People sometimes think it’s ok to make jokes about accents because their brown friend or their Chinese friend doesn’t mind, but making those jokes around everyone in public just shows underlying racist sentiments. It’s not my place to tell people what jokes they can or cannot make around their friends/family of different ethnicities, but I can tell you that just because your friends aren’t offended when you mock their accents, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way. And this doesn’t just go for people of color, this goes for anybody who has come to a new country and is trying to learn a new language. It seems like in America for some reason, British and Australian accents are the epitome of sex appeal but everyone else gets ridiculed and told to go back to their country.

All in all, if you ever feel tempted to make these jokes or think they’re funny, just think for ONE second before you do. Think about what it took for them to change countries and to try and learn a new language to fit in. THINK about how much ambition and courage that takes, and maybe, just maybe, keep your mouth shut.

 

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My face as I prepare to cuss you out for making fun of other people’s accents… I smile because you deserve it.

 

Bitch Sessions: So you wanna look like an Athlete?

People use athletes as inspiration all the time, especially as fitness inspiration. These are people that dedicate their lives to being in shape, so it is understandable as to why us mere mortals would aspire to their body types.

HOWEVER, as a former competitive swimmer, something I think people fail to realize is that athlete’s bodies are finely honed skill machines. Their bodies pay the price in blood, sweat, and tears, to be the best at a CERTAIN SET of skills. They don’t work out for aesthetic reasons, they work out for PURE FUNCTION. Gymnasts don’t set out to have a six pack, they set out to do crazy tumbling runs and feats of balance, and the six pack is a by-product of that. Personally, I have particularly great back muscles. But those aren’t from me wanting excellent back definition, it’s leftover from years and years of developing those muscles to pull me through the water for swimming twenty-five hours a week.

Athletes are proud of their bodies because they can do things that other people’s bodies can’t do. They can jump, run, swim, flip, and even hold their breath better than everyone else because they train for those specific goals. They train day in and day out for years on end to become just marginally better than before, and that is something most people don’t understand.

To be clear, I’m not hating on people who have never played a sport competitively, I just want those people to realize that having an athlete’s body is typically not a realistic goal. For example, I used to spend 90 minutes swimming in the morning, then two and a half more hours swimming in the afternoon five days a week, with swim meets on weekends, and this was in HIGH SCHOOL. The people we usually end up seeing on TV are people who are professional, their sport is their entire life.

Most of us go to the gym for one of the following reasons: stress relief, health/wellbeing, aesthetics. There are a few who are training for races or other kinds of competitions, but they make up a very small percentage of the population. The vast majority of us who workout spend thirty to ninety minutes in the gym a few times a week. While that is great for overall wellness, it is NEVER going to make you look like a professional athlete.

The reason this gets under my skin is whenever people make negative comments about athlete’s bodies. Serena Williams is a great example. She has won 23 grand slam titles and yet people still attack her body, calling her manly, or using other horrendous terms. For one thing, it’s just unacceptable to body shame anyone, but in addition, did you not hear me the first time!? She has won 23 grand slam titles! More than anyone, EVER! She has trained her body to play tennis so well that her skills are virtually unparalleled, and people still have the nerve to hate on her body?! It’s appalling.

This happens quite often to female athletes since apparently female muscle isn’t appreciated in society, but male athletes aren’t exempt either. Marathon runners are made out to be too thin, cyclists are teased for their smaller upper bodies, and offensive linemen catch flack about carrying too much weight. But those runners can complete twenty-six miles in just over two hours, cyclists can finish dozens of miles pedaling uphill, and that offensive lineman could probably kill you.

So the next time you’re about to say a soccer player has thunder thighs or that a swimmer has manly shoulders, just stuff it, because their body can do things yours can only dream of.

 

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No longer a competitive athlete, but it’s harder to lose the habits than you’d think…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Boyfriend Thinks I’m Fat!”

You guys remember that line? In “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days”? Where Kate Hudson is pretending to be a vegetarian so she and Matthew McConaughey are at this horrible vegan restaurant and she basically shout-cries “My boyfriend thinks I’m fat!” and then Matthew McConaughey freaks out and the waitress gives him like THE dirtiest look? (Here is the link in case you haven’t seen this cinematic masterpiece of a scene)

Now, I’ll admit, I used this line as a little bit of clickbait because MY boyfriend does NOT think I am fat, nor has he ever insinuated it which is the point of this article.

When you’re in a relationship, you want the other person to love everything about you. And as much as some of us claim it doesn’t matter, we also want them to love everything about our appearance. Which is why comments from them about our appearance can affect us in mysterious ways…

For example, a guy I dated once said he liked long nails. So I got acrylics. He never said he didn’t like my nails, but I know I never had any interest in having longer nails until I knew how much he liked them. Ergo, I later realized how much of an impact his passive opinion had on my actions.

One of my guy friends starting wearing his hair a different way one day when his crush made a brief comment on a photo she saw. Another friend dyed her hair blonde because her boyfriend said he missed her blonde hair.

Sometimes, I can’t even tell if I’m wearing an outfit because I love it or because I know my boyfriend will love it. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with doing little things to make your significant other happy, but it becomes scary when people realize they can prey on their partner’s insecurities.

You remember the fat comment? Well, I doubt such an obvious insult would be used, but instead, people could say “Do you really need that extra piece of bread?” or things like “Why did you do that to your hair?” or “I really miss when your arms were bigger”. These sorts of comments can come from anyone — candid family members, toxic friends– but somehow it stings more when it comes from someone who you hoped worshipped your every particle.

Plus, some people really know what they’re doing and can time these sorts of underhanded comments to tear their partner down, and make sure their self-worth only comes from the relationship. The issue with this kind of interaction is that it can be extremely complicated to spot. The difference between “I miss when you were blonde” and “Why did you do that to your hair?” is difficult to distinguish, and a lot of it comes down to circumstance and context. However, at a certain point, these subtle digs become emotional abuse.

I didn’t mean to get so dark in this article, but if you’re in a relationship or are into someone, just be aware of what you do for them, as opposed to what you do for you. You’re never REQUIRED to change your appearance for anyone, even a romantic partner. It’s cliche, but true. If you pay attention to how their comments affect your actions, it will be easier to pick out instances where they make you feel special, or when they make you feel awful. Then you can give out hugs, discussion, or CANS OF WHOOP-ASS accordingly.

 

 

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My face when I’m about to tell someone off

 

 

Bitch Sessions: My Body

My torso is too long. My nose is too big and it has a bump in the middle and at the end. My skin keeps breaking out on the right cheek, the left cheek…my forehead…oh fuck it. There are these stupid dark, dark hairs that grow under my chin. My butt is too small and too flat. My thighs feel enormous when I sit down. My body hair grows at the speed of light and I’m perpetually coming up with new ways to deal with the hair on my upper lip. My toes are too long. My right knee looks permanently bruised. The eyelashes at the outside of my right eye refuse to curl. My nailbeds are miniscule and my ribcage is too big.

I could go on and on and on. There are somedays where absolutely nothing looks right. My hair won’t cooperate. I keep finding spots where I missed shaving, or every outfit I try on makes me feel fat. No matter how much moisturizer I’ve used, how hard I’ve worked out that week, or how much sleep I’ve gotten. I just feel ugly.

These are the days where I feel too tall and too fat next to my shorter, daintier friends. These ar the days, I wish my hair was blonde to show more texture. These are the days where I wish my nails were longer so it would actually be worth getting a manicure. These are the days I wish my shoulders fit into shirts that were the right size for my torso. And so it goes…

The thing is, those days happen to literally everyone. And if you think celebrities or all those gorgeous famous people are immune, take a look at the hate they get day in and day out on social media. If you think they never get insecure, you gotta remember they’re human.

That girl with the gorgeous hair sitting in front of you in class? She might wish her long hair wasn’t so damn flat.

That guy with the washboard abs? Maybe he hates that he can’t grow a beard.

That woman with the amazing makeup? She might complain her eyes hape isn’t good enough for eyeliner.

The point is that everybody has their insecurities, EVERYBODY. But honestly what matters is how you rock them. There are certain things that are in your power to eliminate (take THAT, upper lip hair) and certain things that aren’t (my ribcage isn’t getting any smaller), and you have to take those ones you can’t change and own them. Confidence is the only thing that matters in the end.

For example, even though I have bad days, most days, I’m still able to think like this:

I have beautiful eyes with great eyebrows. My lips are proportional to each other and to my face. My ears are small and lie flat. My hair is thick and healthy. I have great legs. My cuticles are perfect. I love my collarbone and I think my breasts are the perfect size. My body can climb, run, swim, and jump with no problem. I think my bellybutton is cute and I like the little moles I have on my body.

And so on and so forth. I know this is a cheesy message but there really is no Instagram model, actor, politician, classmate, parent, friend, or partner that has never had any insecurities about their appearance and honestly, that is a-ok. And if you’re reading this, I just want you to know that there is always more than one perspective and if you find yourself in a negative-hate-yourself fest, remind yourself it’s normal, and then find another perspective.

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Bitch Sessions: My Boyfriend is not an Excuse

The other day I was out and about at a RALPH’s no less, when some guy decides to try and chat me up while I power through my grocery shopping. I did NOT have the time, NOR was I in the mood to be hit on at the moment, so when the guy opens with the oh-so-smooth line of, “Hi what’s your name?”, I responded with a polite smile and said “Not today.” The guy wasn’t deterred in the LEAST. He proceeded to follow me all around the store as I shopped, asking unrelenting small talk questions, and trying to bullshit me into giving him my number. The “Oh don’t be like that” and “You’re so beautiful, I’m just trying to compliment you” types of phrases were RAMPANT in his attempted interaction. I continued to tell him I wasn’t interested, I didn’t have time for this, and then just IGNORED him and he STILL wouldn’t go away. When he followed me to the self checkout, I relented and finally practically shouted at him, “I HAVE A BOYFRIEND”. The guy steps back, pauses, and then shrugs and says “Oh, well why didn’t you just say that?” and subsequently walks away.

I was left thinking to myself, YOU’RE KIDDING ME. What? So apparently, the only POSSIBLE reason I wouldn’t be interested in him is because some other guy had already laid claim to me? WELL THEN. It should have been more than enough for me to just NOT BE INTERESTED. I felt horrible and more than a little helpless, that I had to use the defense tactic of another man to get this guy to go away. That shouldn’t be the reality. Girls can be single and STILL not want the guy that won’t leave them alone at their grocery store.

Everyone knows this excuse. Sometimes people use it automatically because they know what’s coming and it’s easier just to use it, whether or not it’s true. For me, however, it makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t care if I’m in a relationship, I only use this phrase as a last resort because it SHOULDN’T MATTER. Having a boyfriend has NO BEARING whatsoever on whether I’d be interested in someone else and I shouldn’t have to prove that I already havethe boyfriend slot filled in my life in order for a guy to take the FREAKING hint and go away.