When Your Life Becomes an Alanis Morissette Song

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(photo credit)

A few months ago, I was wandering around Value Village, late on a Tuesday night looking for records (as one does when you’re single and childless at 35.) I was digging through the crates of dusty LPs in hope that maybe, just, maybe I might find a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain. I had a copy with my childhood record collection but it’s since gone MIA – which has been distressing me to no end.

He saw me first.

He was digging through a crate a few feet away.

“I’ve looked through everything, so if there’s something you’re looking for I can probably tell you if it’s there” he said.

I told him about my Purple Rain record conundrum and we bonded over the fact that our town is basically sold out of all things Prince – except for commemorative magazines (one glance at my local newsstand and it’s clear that those are multiplying like gremlins.) This fed into a conversation about how it’s hard to find good soul music in Victoria. Our thrift shop adventures. Hip hop. Record shopping in LA. The best places to eat in Harlem. Music, music and more music.

I told him I’d gone to see the Miles Davis movie while was playing at the local repertory theatre.

“What was the crowd like?” he asked.

“What you’d expect. A theatre full of white haired senior citizens, one elderly black man and a hippie guy eating lentil stew out of a tupperware container.”

He then told me that he’d found an unopened copy of Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction on vinyl for a $2 at a thrift store recently.

“I have so many questions for the previous owner of this record, starting with WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?” I replied.

That’s around the time that I noticed that he was kind of cute. White guy. Horn-rimmed glasses. Small nose stud. Denim vest. Black baseball cap. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate a 1980’s Beastie Boys vibe and I wasn’t hating it.

I was in awe. It’s so rare that I meet anyone in this town, let alone someone with common interests that I can immediately jump into a conversation with without it feeling weird. This guy seemed cool – or at the very least, extremely musically literate.

I’m sure my face looked like the emoji with the heart eyes.

He confessed, “it’s kind of embarrassing, but I like to collect new age CD’s. There’s so many of them here and some of them are really cool if you actually listen to them. Weird, but good.”

“Hey, no judgement” I replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I collect  ken dolls of 90’s celebrities. I have an MC Hammer doll that sits on my desk.”

“No way. I have that exact doll – STILL IN IT’S ORIGINAL PACKAGING!”

Clearly, this man was my soulmate. 

That’s when my phone buzzed and I saw that my Mom was looking for me in the store. (She’s my #1 thrift shopping sidekick.)

I floated over to the other side of the store, found my mom, and floated back towards the cash register where he was getting ready to pay for a stack of new age CDs.

“Enjoy your CDs!” I said.

“Thanks! Hey, you won’t believe what I found!”

I looked down to see a copy of a Little Sambo book (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read up on the history here.) On the cover was an illustration of a small white child, leading a small black child on what appeared to be a leash.

“OH DEAR LORD” I gasped.

At first I assumed he was going to turn the book in to the staff so they could take it off the shelves. That’s what I would have done. But, then he spoke.

“Isn’t it awesome?! I collect all of this shit. I have a whole room of black face stuff at home. I love it!” he said.

My face turned from heart eyes to whatever emoticon signifies “OH HELL NO.”

“Nice meeting you!” he said as he strolled out the door and into the night.

People always ask me what it’s like to be 35 and single.

I think Alanis Morissette said it best when she sang, “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his collection of super racist artifacts.”

 

The Single Ladies Guide To Decor Books

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This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

I’ve always thought that one of the best parts about being single is having free reign over how I decorate my space. Whether it’s creating the perfect office/bedroom or making the executive decision to hang that vintage Janet Jackson poster that I bought in LA  front and center in my living room — the choice is always mine and it’s utterly liberating.

Why does this matter? Because I’ve been an interior design nerd ever since I moved into my first solo apartment in my early twenties. In between homework and part time jobs, I’d spend hours poring over decor magazines and (later) blogs, soaking up inspiration. However, back then “decorating” often meant throwing a pillowcase over a Rubbermaid bin and calling it a nightstand. Now that I’m in my thirties, I enjoy having the ability and resources to create a more adult space. This includes being able to collect books that I can use for inspiration.

A few months ago,  Overstock sent over a collection of (now classic) home decor books that I’ve been lusting after since my Rubbermaid bin days. O.co has been my go-to spot lately for all things home (see my nightstand update & home office posts), but it wasn’t until very recently that I discovered they also have an awesome collection of home decor and coffee table books available at prices well below what you’d find at a bookstore. But as I’ve learned, when it comes to both love and books, not everything (or everyone) lives up to your expectations.

So, do these classic home design books pass the test of time? Let’s find out.

1. Domino: The Book of Decorating

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Before there were a bazillion different design blogs, there was Domino. This colourful and eclectic home magazine was a major design inspiration for me in my twenties — not to mention, a welcome reprieve from the ubiquitous “I just bought everything at Ikea yesterday” design aesthetic. Although some of the room concepts no longer seem fresh, the advice offered is solid. From how to style an entryway and hang artwork properly to small space solutions; the pages are chock full of helpful decorating tricks that everyone should know. Plus, there’s also a “decorators handbook” at the back that gives the correct terms for various styles of upholstery and window treatments so that you’ll never have to go to another home store and ask for “that scrunchie style with that doohickey attached.”

This magazine cover isn’t featured in the book, but I’m including it anyways, because I love it and Mindy. (image found here)

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2. The Jonathan Adler Book: My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living

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I’m completely obsessed with all things Jonathan Adler, so it should come as no surprise that this was one of my favourite books of the haul. As the title suggests, this isn’t just a home book. It also touches on the importance of mental health. I truly believe that your living space affects your overall sense of wellbeing. Adler agrees. As he writes, “Your home should be like a good dose of Zoloft […] Coming home should be an antidote to the troubles and traumas of everyday life.” With advice like “be inappropriate;” “paint everything white and add colour with abandon” and “do whatever makes you feel happy;” this book is a cheeky, colourful manifesto on how to add joy to your everyday life.

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3.  The Good Life: Palm Springs by Nancy Baron

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My grandparents used to go to Palm Springs every winter in the 60’s and 70’s. I think their love for Palm Springs and all things California has rubbed off on me. Although this book of photographs by Nancy Baron isn’t technically a home decor book, there’s so much inspiration to be had within its pages (especially for someone like me, who describes their decor style as “bright, airy and with a touch of mid-century modern.”) This book definitely lived up to the hype — and then some. Airstream trailers. Backyard pools. Swinging 60’s prints. If any of this resonates with you, don’t sleep on this book. It’s timeless.

PS. Isn’t this couple adorable?!

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Tricia Guild is known for her bold fabric, wallpaper designs, and an extraordinary sense of colour and pattern. As I’ve learned, adding pattern and colour can make a world of difference in a space, but it can also be intimidating. Following the success of her books on colour, this richly hued coffee table book shares her skills with patterns. Of all the books, this one feels the most dated. Do you remember a time when every bar, hairdresser and boutique had the same obnoxious black and white, baroque, wallpaper? Well, there’s a lot of that in Pattern (which, makes sense since this book just celebrated its ten year anniversary.) But if you’re able to handle revisiting 2006 every few pages, there’s a lot of good stuff here. Guild schools us on everything from Kimono fabrics to European checks and stripes; making the book a good resource for anyone who wants to learn about interior design and maybe, just maybe, add some more colour to their life.
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Do you have any go-to home decor or coffee table books? I’m curious and want to know!
Thank you to Overstock for facilitating this review. I received these products free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. 

 

I Would Die 4 U: 10 Dating Lessons From Prince’s Purple Rain

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A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles, alone with no plans on a Tuesday night. When I checked the movie app on my phone and saw that a screening of Purple Rain was playing at LA Live, I bought a ticket without thinking twice. A few hours later I was sitting in the dark with my fellow Prince fans, watching the late, great, Purple One come alive on screen. We sang along, laughed in unison at the awkward moments and some of us even danced in the aisles. My Mom and I are big Prince fans, so his passing ten days earlier hit us hard. But, that night I felt pure joy and gratitude – like all of us were in this together.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Purple Rain follows “The Kid” (Prince) a young, talented musician, tormented by an abusive situation at home. When The Kid meets Apollonia, a beautiful, aspiring singer, he has to contend with a burgeoning romance, a rival singer and his own personal demons. The movie itself is a bit goofy (it was made in 1984 so there’s a lot of eye-liner and stilted dialogue) but the musical performances are utterly flawless. As a cultural artifact, it’s a beautiful thing.

Originally I planned on writing about how Prince’s music has affected my life – how songs like Little Red Corvette provided the soundtrack to my sexual awakening and how seeing him live for the first time in 2011 made me believe in the healing and transcendent power of music – but, I’ve already covered that ground. So, I’ll say this –

Ladies and gents, we need to talk about Purple Rain.

Watching Purple Rain again as a sex and relationship writer, I couldn’t help but remark on some of the important things the film can teach us about modern love and dating. So, in an effort to keep things light, here’s a few of my favourites.

1. No one likes a lurker.

Well, unless that lurker is Prince. Generally, I would say that lurking awkwardly behind a woman, wearing sunglasses in a darkened night club is not a good move. Neither is disappearing into thin air as soon as she turns around and says, “I really liked your song too.” But, Prince makes it work.

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In fact, there are a lot of dating moves in Purple Rain that are a bad idea, like stealing a woman’s jewelry or having sex in a room filled with clown dolls (Don’t worry – I’ll  get to that in a minute.) But, what you need to understand is that different rules apply to Prince.

 Because, Prince is magic. 

 

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2. Eye Contact is everything.

Before there was Facebook, Tinder and sites like flirtfair.ca, singles relied on smoky bars like First Avenue, awesome guitar solos and eye-contact to impress the opposite sex. Lots and lots of eye-contact. Prince is king of the sex stare. The way he looks at Apollonia is so direct it’s almost unsettling, but it lures her (and us) in anyways.

FYI, I attribute Prince’s sex stare to why I spent most of my twenties serially dating really intense dudes with big brown eyes.

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3. Beware of men who play with puppets. 

Although Prince’s vampire mini-me is kind of adorable, there’s something a bit creepy about guys who use puppets to express their feelings (pro-tip: I wouldn’t recommend adding “ventriloquism” to your Tinder profile.) But, because it’s Prince we also let this one slide. Just remember – you’ve been warned.

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4. If a guy asks you to “pass an initiation” and “purify yourself in Lake Minnetonka”- keep your clothes on.

Take it from Apollonia – it’s never the right lake. Also, when your boyfriend drives off on his purple motorcycle and you’re left naked, without a towel, it’s a real bitch getting back into your leather pants.

5. Stay away from Morris Day (&/or guys like him.)

Sure, Morris Day is really good at dancing “The Bird” and manages to keep his light coloured suits really clean despite spending most of his working hours in a bar, but his character in Purple Rain is bad news. First of all, he has some of the best/worst/creepiest pick up lines ever.

For example, “Your lips would make a lollipop too happy” (shudder) and everyone’s favourite, “I have a brass waterbed.” Morris, that doesn’t even make any sense, but if I had to visualize your bedroom it would look something like this. (photo credit)

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In addition to mentioning his bedroom furniture, Morris also tells Apollonia, “I’m going to make you love me” which, he attempts to do by opening his white coat and repeatedly thrusting his pelvis while making bird noises in a darkened alleyway.

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You know, all totally normal stuff men do to attract beautiful women. I think Apollonia’s expression says it all.

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Failure to stay away from dudes like Morris means that you may find yourself cornered by a pelvic thrusting lothario or literally, thrown in a dumpster. However, unlike in the movie, a guy in high heels won’t show up on his purple motorcycle to save you.

Instead, it’s all about the strategic nipple flash.

If only Morris Day knew. If you feel like you’re losing your girl, flash a nipple. It worked for Prince. However, it also doesn’t hurt if you sing a knee weakening rendition of Beautiful Ones while you flash said nipple. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go take a cold shower.

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6. Closed mouth kissing is weird, dude.

My sister and I rarely see eye to eye, but when we watched Purple Rain for the first time together we were in agreement about one thing: “what is up with the kissing?” Prince is/was an incredibly sexy human being, but he kisses Apollonia like I used to make my Barbies kiss my lone Ken doll. I’d mash their permanently closed mouths together and move their heads around a bunch (probably because my only point of reference was Purple Rain.)

For the record, I’ve dated guys who wouldn’t open their mouths or relax their lips while kissing and it’s frustrating. I can’t help but watch this movie and think, “relax your lips” – especially since Prince’s lips are a work of art.

I want to believe the reason for this comes down to shyness. As a musician, maybe Prince was uncomfortable with the love scenes? But, then there’s the bed scene where Prince clearly gets a handful (and then some) of Apollonia (cue: cold shower #2) so, I don’t know.

In the words, of Prince, “Purple Rain, you make me so confused.”

7. Remove all clowns from your bedroom (Unless you’re into that. Then, carry on.)

We also need to talk about the clowns. Prince’s character in the movie lives in his parents’ basement. Inside his living space we see the following: music stuff, some pseudo Warhol-esque prints, canning supplies and clown dolls.

His movie bedroom kind of reminds me of the summer I spent dating our neighbourhood’s weed dealer – a guy who also had a finely honed sex stare, lived in a dingy basement suite and collected plush tigers (which, almost seems less creepy, but not really.) There was a period in the 80’s when these clown dolls weren’t considered totally terrifying. We are no longer living in that era. TLDR: if Bae’s apartment looks like a casting call for a miniature circus, run.

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8. Parents give really grim dating advice.

When Prince’s movie Dad tells him, “never get married” my heart breaks a tiny bit – partly, because this is a really heart-wrenching moment in the film but also because I’ve heard similar advice from my own relatives. While they likely have good intentions, it can be incredibly disheartening to hear these kinds of things from our parents. It’s also important to keep in mind that none of us are destined to repeat their mistakes.

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9. But, sometimes we repeat our parents mistakes anyways.

Sometimes we really are like our father/mother (too bold/never satisfied) and we end up repeating the same relationship patterns we witnessed growing up. This becomes abundantly clear when “The Kid” slaps his girlfriend and then struggles with his feelings during a montage set to When Doves Cry.  But, here’s the thing – regardless of our past, we’re all capable of having healthy relationships. In order to get there though, we need to sort through our personal shit first. Whether that’s through an epic guitar solo or psychotherapy, we all have emotional baggage that we need to unpack.

10. Relationships are weird and wonderful.

If aliens were forced to watch Purple Rain, I’m pretty sure they’d think it was a weird movie – because it kind of is (remove all of Prince’s iconic musical performances, and you’re basically left with the plot line of a horror film where a socially inept dude lives in a basement, makes a lot of really intense eye contact and pops up places he’s not supposed to be.) But, for those of us who are familiar with Prince, watching Purple Rain is pure love. In fact, Purple Rain is a bit like any relationship. Moments of joy and beauty are interspersed with truly cringe worthy ones and shit you just can’t explain (like weird kissing, puffy shirts and clown doll collections) but that (for whatever reason) you adore anyways. We accept the imperfections, because taken as a whole, it’s magical.

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Rest in Peace, Prince.

 

Your Top Sex Toy Questions Answered

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Even though I haven’t been actively reviewing sex toys over the past few months, I still get tons of questions sent to me on a regular basis. I love, love, love receiving emails from readers. I’ve spent the past several years writing about sex toys online, so if I can use some of my self-acquiredContinue reading

Because, California is Always a Good Idea

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Too Much on The Inside + Other Truths

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Styling Tips | When Your Bedroom is Your Office

SkinnyDip.ca | My office tour

Here’s a little secret: I’m obsessed with online home tours. When I’m not writing, you can find me glued to sites like Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl and Homepolish, drooling over the gorgeous living spaces of strangers. So, I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into my own live/work space. As I’ve mentioned before,Continue reading