Why Dad-Dancing is Actually Sort of Cool

It’s that time of year again.

Looking at the work piling up…

Where I tell myself that I will not fall behind in readings or assignments and I will try my hardest to stay on task and not procrastinate. Every year around late October, the readings start to pile up, essay topics are being handed out and I am pretty much buried behind a wall of depressing novels and dense theory essays. I wouldn’t let this happen to me this year, I had a plan and was sticking to it: Don’t go on the internet when I have stuff to do. Easy, right? Wrong. This was working well until last Monday, when Drake released his Hotline Bling music video. I got a text from my friend saying the video was released and I had to immediately put down my readings and go in search of the new video from the 6 god himself. Safe to say, I was not disappointed. For those of you you haven’t seen it (and you really should) you can watch it here.

drake-serious

If this was your first time watching the video, I’m sure a few questions must be running through your head such as “What did I just watch?”, “Is there something I’m missing?” and most likely ‘Why is Drake dancing like that?’. Short answer, because he can. Long answer, because he’s Drake.

"Hey Drake! Where'd you come up with these dance moves?"

“Hey Drake! Where’d you come up with these dance moves?”

As soon as the video was released, twitter, vine, snapchat and hip-hop message boards exploded with users weighing in with their 2 cents on Drake’s latest escapade. Although a lot of the responses we’re mocking Drake’s dance moves and his rendition of the Cha-Cha, it was all done in such a light hearted way that it dawned on me that Drake really can’t do anything wrong right now. It’s hard to imagine that the same rapper who almost ended Meek Mill’s rap career over the summer with hard-hitting diss tracks is, well, doing this:

drake-elene

Drake’s dancing in the video is sometimes hard to watch, but you can’t help but smile as he shimmies and bobs his way across the screen in pastel coloured rooms. It was about half way through this video that a certain realization dawned on me… that Drake dances just like my Dad. Now, my Dad does not dance often and can be found shaking his head more than his hips, but there is a care-free attitude to Drake’s dancing that he embodies in this video that I’ve only really seen from my Dad and other middle-aged men. It’s that same attitude that Dads have when they tell a really bad joke at the dinner table, or when they find a way to embarrass you in front of your friends just because they saw the opportunity and took it, and well, they can. It’s your Dad.

That’s what I see when I watch Drake dancing in this video, he’s doing this because he can, and to be completely honest, I love it. When only the audio for this song was released, I shimmied and bobbed in a similar way in the comfort of my own room. I made sure no one was watching, but Drake is broadcasting these moves to anyone with an internet connection. That takes a lot of confidence, and whatever your opinion of Drake is, you have to give it to him, he’s confident in what he does. Not to brag about it or anything, but in the twelfth grade I took 10 weeks of hip-hop and salsa lessons with a group of my friends so that we could perform at a birthday party. Drake’s confidence and swagger in doing the cha-cha was where I was at with salsa. I thought I was really good, but when I watched a video of myself performing the routine, I had to turn the video off I was so embarrassed. Although I may be a little salty about Drake possibly stealing some of my moves, I can now confidently and un-ironically dance to this song whenever it comes on with radio or at the next Glendon pubnight.

Sort of like this... sort of.

Sort of like this… sort of.

Even if you never wish to hear this song again, you can still appreciate what Drake has done in the video. He danced how he wanted to dance and didn’t care what anyone would think. He literally took the quote “Dance like no one is watching” and ran with it. He lead by example, by making a fool out of himself and making it cool, just like a Dad would. As corny and cheesy as it might sound, he’s inspired me to take chances and just do, and to ignore what others think. If it looks like you believe in yourself, then others will follow. Every single person who has made fun of the way Drake dances in the video is just sad that they couldn’t do the same.

As a tribute, I will be titling all of my papers this year with Drake lyrics.

Keep doing you, Aubrey.

He's been practicing these moves for years!

He’s been practicing these moves for years!

So You Want To Be A Teacher

I’m in the process of writing a post about my experience in the classroom so far but I’m not quite done yet. Until then, enjoy this video. The individuals in the video are full-time teachers early on in their careers but a lot of what they have to say and the experiences they share are relevant to the placements that you will find yourself in during the education program.

Bonjour, je m’appelle Michael

For all of you concerned about the French requirement, let this post reassure you that if I can do it, so can you. I know it sounds like a cliché (haha) but in all seriousness, it’s the truth. I was admitted to Glendon without even knowing that it existed. Through a glitch in the online application system, I was admitted to the Glendon campus instead of Keele. I had dropped French after grade nine, supposedly knowing at the age of 14 that French was not for me. Needless to say, when my acceptance letter included the words French and Bilingual in the program title, I was a little bit confused… and concerned. I mean, my only experience with French since the ninth grade was reading the other side of juice and cereal boxes, so it was safe to say that French wasn’t something that I was especially keen about. Plus I was planning on majoring in English, so the thought of studying another language seemed ridiculous at the time. What was the point?

Pretty much all I knew at the time

After I explained to the Glendon admissions department about my situation and how it must be a mistake, I asked if they could contact someone at the Keele campus to fix my admission status. The woman on the other line could sense the anxiousness in my voice and asked what I was so concerned about. I explained to her that I had dropped French as soon as I could in high school and would be lost in a university French class at Glendon. She said that she had heard all of this before and told me about how at Glendon, for the English program, I would find myself in classes that were roughly thirty to fifty people for the most part. To my knowledge, a class that small in university was almost unheard of. I had always thought that university classes would be in massive lecture halls with 700 people in them, but the thought of a more relaxed atmosphere definitely settled my nerves a bit.

I asked her if I had to take French every year and she explained how the French requirement at Glendon worked and how I could start off at a level I felt most comfortable in and work my way up from there. She told me that my French would be assessed and I would be placed accordingly along with other students of the same level, and if I didn’t like the program, I could transfer to the main campus along with all of my other credits. I thought what the heck and decided to accept, seeing French as a means to an ends, a necessary evil. This would change.

Reviewing for the French placement test

During the French placement test, one of the questions asked me to write a paragraph describing what I did over my summer vacation, and since I hadn’t written anything in French for almost four years I wrote the only French phrase that would come to mind: “Où est la bibliothèque?” I felt that this was an adequate response to the question, given my situation. I was originally placed in FSL 1100, and when I asked them if this was the lowest level and they said no, I asked them to place me in the lowest one because I had absolutely zero confidence in my ability to grasp French. And so, on my very first day at Glendon, Monday at 9 am, I had FSL 1000.

Probably could have used a little help from this guy on the test

Since that fateful glitch in the system had me wind up at this bilingual university in the middle of Toronto, I am in the process of finishing the bilingual requirement in my third year (currently taking the final course now) and have completed a five week immersion program in Chicoutimi, Québec. From my experiences I look forward to graduating with a bilingual distinction and feel more Canadian in doing so, although I still won’t ever cheer for the Habs. Ever.  So for all of you who think that taking French at Glendon isn’t for them, I urge you to take a chance. Challenge yourself.

Bon Chance!
P.S, this is how I felt after that first class.

 

Find Your Cave

When it becomes too cold to live outside, the majestic grizzly bear will build a den and hibernate for the winter. The den is a safe and warm place and now that winter is officially here, it’s time to find your den.

It’s cave time.

Now I’m not expecting for you to go off into the woods and find an actual cave. Although I do think a cave decked out with cheap Ikea furniture would be super cool, it really just isn’t practical. Your den/cave can be literally anywhere. The important thing to remember is it doesn’t matter where it is, just that you have one. Everyone needs a space that is just theirs. A place you can retreat to for some R&R (Rest and Relaxation), or for me some R&R&R&R&R&R (Rest and Relaxation and Records and Rooibos Tea and Ramen and Reddit). For me, this place is my bedroom. I’ll put on a record, plug in my electric kettle and give myself a couple hours to just chill out and hibernate.

Snacks are also a must.

The Christmas Break is the perfect time to set up your cave for the winter. I know that I have to go out and pick up a few things while I have the chance. It may seem like work now, but by the time February comes around and I have to write about two tweens who think they fall in love, decide to run away and then take opium and kill themselves (AKA Romeo and Juliet, sorry for the spoilers), I’ll be ready!

Exams are done, time for cave.

Even on campus, my friends and I will find a space or two that isn’t used very much and make it ours. Your cave doesn’t always have to be just for you, sometimes the more people you have with you in the cave the better! People tend to feed off of each other’s energy and relaxing and talking with a group is just what you need to help you get through those dreary winter months.

Your cave can be just for you…

… or some friends

Even as I write this, I have another word document open with a list of things to add to my cave. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

Happy Holidays!

See you in the New Year!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

How the Finals stole Christmas

At a time when all I can hear is joyful children’s choirs singing carols and advertisements full of happy smiling people I’m starting to believe that first semester ending in December is some sort of cruel joke.

When my parents ask if everything is going okay during school

Whether it is midterms, finals, papers or trying to pull together assignments to hand in, December is not a month I particularly look forward to… but it’s amazing when it’s here. As stressed out as I might be, Toronto is a pretty magical place this time of year. The Distillery District is absolutely stunning at night with all of the lights and there is just a certain joyful atmosphere in the air that isn’t found at any other time.

Like seriously.

And then there is all of the university kids writing essays at three in the morning, brewing fresh pots of coffee between writing paragraphs. Sometimes I wish I was eight years old again and I can just enjoy the Christmas season without having to be stressed out over school. I want to go back to when I was pulling my sled up the hill instead of pulling the hair out of my head… then I remember I can. I just have to run the gauntlet first.

The Exam Gauntlet

When my classmates talk about the exam coming up…

When all is said and done, when my exams are finished and I can take a nice deep breath, I can go back to being that little kid again, and this time enjoy it even more. To be honest, it’s probably what motivates me the most. Working by butt off for a few weeks is hard work and the winter break is just what I feel I deserve.

I think I did a pretty good job on my twenty page paper on the incompetency of Louis XVI during the constitutional monarchy of 1791, I deserve that hot chocolate by the fire as I read my book. MY book. Not a required reading, but a book of my own choosing. For an English major, that’s a reward in itself. For anyone reading this, make a list of rewards for yourself when you have to run the gauntlet. I promise you that it will serve as motivation for you to finish whatever it is that you need to do. My ultimate reward is being able to binge watch Parks and Recreation on Netflix without feeling guilty about it, but that doesn’t seem to be feasible until the end of next term.

Just keep going, keep pushing ahead. The best part about exam time is that it will end at some point (although sometimes it feels like it never will) and you’ll emerge stronger than ever. Don’t let the gauntlet get the best of you.

Welcome to the Good Life

Like a lot of people, I like to listen to music when I’m working on assignments and doing homework. Even as I type this I have some David Bowie playing in the background.

Some like to listen to music to have something on in the background as they can find the silence distracting, which I can totally relate to. There is nothing more annoying than that high pitched ringing sound you hear when it is completely quiet. Being able to hear my house move and settle in the middle of the night is beyond annoying, edging on the terrifyingly scary side of the sound spectrum.

Headphones in, scary house sounds out

I’ve heard people say that music keeps them focused when writing a paper. I guess if you try to sync the beat or rhythm of a song with how fast you type you tend to write more fluidly. If you subscribe to this method of music-while-you-write than trying to avoid those long and slow songs is a must. If you are unsure as to what song could fall under the category of being too slow and too long just think about songs that you wouldn’t want to slow dance to in the seventh grade because you’re stuck with the boy or girl who hasn’t discovered deodorant yet. Those types of songs.

At the risk of sounding pretentious, I tend to listen to music that will inspire my writing… but not necessarily in the way you’re thinking. I listen to the lyrics of songs and pick and choose lines that I can use to title my essays. Surprisingly, there is one artist in particular that has provided me with quite a lot of titles for my essays in English, History and even my Education courses. This artist is one Mr. Kanye West.

Stay humble, Kanye.

Now before you start to judge me on my musical tastes, hear me out. Mr. West is a great lyricist and has a tendency to be rather political in his songs. He uses similes, metaphors, alliteration and other literary terms your twelfth grade English teacher made you memorize, which makes him a prime candidate for titular inspiration.

For example, in my second year English literature course I chose to write an essay on Beowulf, opting to title it “To Whom Much is Given Much is Tested: an Analysis of Heroism within Beowulf”, the first part of the title taken from Kanye’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing. I was inspired by another line in the same song for a paper later on in the year entitled “They Say I Talk With So Much Emphasis, They’re So Sensitive: an in-depth look at the use of satire within Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal”. Great stuff from Mr. West on that one, it’s almost too perfect. I like to imagine that these works of English literature inspired Kanye to write those lines, and my use of them is a sort of Lion King-esque circle of life situation.

What I hope Kanye would think of me using his lyrics

Granted, a lot of Kanye’s lines are NSFW (Not Safe For Writing), but if you dig hard enough you might strike gold. The best part about this in my opinion is when my professors compliment me on my creative title. One professor, within a span of one lecture, talked about how much she hates Kanye (pronounced by her as “Kane”) because he is so egotistical and then handed me back a paper with a Kanye West lyric as the title circled with red pen and a comment complimenting me on the title. Kanye would probably get a kick out of that. Then he would maybe rant about it and talk about how much of a genius he is and take credit for my paper. You win some, you lose some.

When I’m scrolling through Kanye lyrics and I find the perfect one to use

Everyone has their own way of writing essays and mine just happens to be Kanye West inspired. It keeps me from stressing out in a way because it allows me to have fun with an essay I may have no interest in. I really want a prof to catch on and ask me if it’s a Kanye lyric. Even more so, I want to respond by saying I have no idea what they’re talking about, and then hum Bound 2 on my way out the class. A man can dream.

Detours and Destinations

Although I may proclaim to be quite skilled in the art of commuting, I do tend to get lost more often than I should but I promise that it is often not my fault. I take all the necessary precautions whenever I decide to travel from the far corners of Richmond Hill. I consult Google Maps to tell me when I should leave and what buses to take, I make sure I have my handy dandy Presto card and TTC tokens on deck, I make sure my phone is charged (as garbage as the battery is), and I make sure to give myself plenty of time to spare. How do I still manage to get lost? I talk.

Whenever I start to talk to people on public transit…

No matter who I am with, or where I am going I always end up engaging in a conversation with someone I don’t know. Just last week I was taking my girlfriend out to a French restaurant called ‘Batifole’ on Gerrard, when we sat across from an elderly man on the 506 streetcar. Within a minute of sitting down, we were in a conversation about the Toronto mayoral election and how the planned construction to extend the TTC was never going to happen. It may have been due to this man’s negative opinion on the TTC expansion which breaks my little York Region heart, or I might have not heard the automated TTC voice announce the stop for Degrassi, but either way we ended up missing our stop and being late for our reservation.

When I realize we’ve missed our stop

We ended up getting off 7 stops further than we planned, but quickly hopped on the next streetcar headed the other way to get to the restaurant and try to get a table. After a quick and light hearted scolding by the maître d we were able to sit at a table in the corner of the restaurant. Better than nothing, right? I mean, we were going to have delicious French food, share a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant with its intimate setting, candlelit tables and… fishnet leg lamp from A Christmas Story? What.

Must be Italian.

It turns out that this restaurant, before it started serving delicious French food, was a Chinese Restaurant used as the setting of the famous duck scene from the movie. If it hadn’t been for the man on the TTC, we would not have been sat at this table and probably wouldn’t have noticed the lamp in the corner, but now we learned a little bit of Toronto film history. More importantly we now  have a fun fact to bore our friends to death with. Double win.

Even though I may preach about finding ways to make time pass by quicker on my commute, sometimes getting lost along the way makes you arrive at a greater destination. Or you could just be lost on a cold night with no more buses for another hour. It’s something like 50/50.

Don’t Make Crappy Movies

As much as I love watching award winning movies on Netflix, I take a special pleasure in watching some of the movies that can only be described as being complete and utter crap. There is just something about them that brings a sparkle to my eye. A personal favourite of mine is The Room written, directed, produced and starring Tommy Wiseau.

This movie truly does not make any sense, and has some of the most unnatural dialogue that it makes me question as to whether or not Tommy Wiseau is even human. I still don’t think he is. The most puzzling thing about this movie for me is how during the entire process of making the film did no one stop Tommy and ask him what the heck he was doing or for any of the other actors and actresses to talk to him about the terrible script in front of them. How did no one catch the huge continuity errors and unnatural story arches?  Then I remembered that Tommy wrote, directed and produced it himself. Without another set of eyes from a production standpoint, how was he supposed to know?

Probably because their reaction would be something like this…

I mean, Tommy just made the same mistakes that tons of us make on a regular basis, whether it is writing a paper or even writing a blog post; we often don’t look to other people to critique our work and edit it when we should. Taylor Mali, a teacher and poet, does a great job showing why editing is so important, and how one small mistake can completely change your paper’s meaning and make it even laughable.

Every time I come across a crappy movie I think of my own work, and how important it is for me to read it over, even just once. Getting a fresh set of eyes on a piece of work will bring out mistakes that you can’t see with your own eyes. I know that I can’t pick out mistakes in my own work and often get my friends and family to read it over a number of times before I submit it. As nerdy and keener as it may sound, I have had nightmares of professors handing back my papers riddled with mistakes and I can see more red pen on the page than there are typed words.

My reaction after reading my rough drafts sometimes… What was I thinking?

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be a Tommy. Let Tommy be Tommy. If your name is Tommy and you’re reading this, still be a Tommy, just try to be a better one. If your goal is to make your paper into a literary version of The Room than by all means go for it, but no one wants to write a paper of that poor quality. I don’t even think Tommy Wiseau does.

Don’t be like Tommy. Let people see your work before you put it out there.

 

Positive Procrastinating

My reaction when I realize I’ve spent all my time on the internet and have barely started my paper

If someone were to ask me what my favourite hobby is, it would probably have to be the internet. The internet is awesome. It’s impossible to deny. The internet is also, maybe, possibly, the best worst thing to happen to any student today. As helpful it is for enormous amounts of information to be at your fingertips in a moment’s notice, just as many distracting things can draw you away from them. For me, its reddit. There’s just something about it which sucks me in and before I know it I’ve been looking at /r/birdswitharms or /r/youtubehaiku for hours. HOURS. (Apologies in advance if you clicked the link and gotten you to stop doing your work)

I’ve been trying to tone down my procrastination by allowing myself little breaks from my work to browse reddit or YouTube, and so far so good. For every hour of work I’ll give myself 15 minutes of reddit or YouTube. If I’m feeling especially studious I might spend time watching a YouTube video about what I’m studying or browse a subreddit that can actually be useful for the subject that I’m studying. (i.e not /r/birdswitharms). For instance, since I’m taking a French Revolution course, this miniseries by John Green is perfect and for lack of a better word, and I do really hate this word, its edutainment. *shudder*

Going along with the subject of history, the subreddit /r/AskHistorians has been extremely useful as it allows me to ask questions that may pertain to an essay topic of mine and get answers from knowledgeable people, as well as references which I can use in my paper. They can also clear up any questions I might have and explain things like I’m five. (There is also a subreddit just for explaining things like you’re five @ /r/ELI5).

What my profs think of my references

Reddit and YouTube can definitely be timewasters and more often than not they are, but when used properly can be a really great resource. You just have to do a little digging first.

Sleep is For the Week(end)

 

LONG WEEKENDS!

 

For anyone in university, the long weekend is cherished almost as much as Christmas Break is for those in high school. It’s a time to take control of your social life, maybe start that essay that’s due, and most importantly catch up on some much needed sleep.

The Thanksgiving long weekend is a much needed, and much deserved break for many. A little rest about a month into the school year that allows you to just lounge in your bed if you need to, or pull an all-nighter and still be able to sleep in the next day. It’s a beautiful thing really.

A spirit animal representation of me on a long weekend

Personally, I use this break to catch up on some sleep because I’m more or less a night owl and nocturnal during the school year and can truly benefit from the mini-hibernation I grant myself. For someone who works on the weekend, waking up and knowing I don’t have to get up and go to work or school is a feeling comparable to Christmas morning. Even another 15 minutes with my head on a pillow is a present.

Some people stress themselves out by wanting to jam pack as much studying as possible into their long weekend, when they should worry about getting enough rest. Let your brain rest for the time being, there will always be time to work on that assignment but burning yourself out mid-term can only leave you worse for wear at the end of the term.

I’m currently writing this in my pajamas, sitting in bed with some coffee and a bagel, and I couldn’t be happier right now. Maybe if I had a deluxe breakfast.