The Artichoke Vol. 10 No. 5

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Laura Bourbonnais Teagan Ariss Mash Altaf Victoria Ann Carly Balestreri Reann Bast Kirandeep Bhanot Amelia Calo Joshua Cea Kaela Cordero Marvin Darkwa Megan De Sousa Kaila Gallacher Melanie Gazvoda Inna Gordeyeva Eduardo Guerra Avery-Rose Hamilton Pyper Johnston Siddharth Koyal Nicole Moos Roshni Nayar Melissa Nicole Shamus Quinn Meg Rethinasamy Nima Salimi Vaiva Slapsys (Brie) Brianna Sutherland Julia Usher Teodora Vilotijevic Cassie Weir Nicole Williamson

DESIGN EDITOR Sarah Carriere SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Breagh MacDonald PHOTOGRAPHERS Sarah Shahab Saba Sharifi Yuhan Shi Eliza Szymak DESIGNERS Nuha Aneez Jena Angra Daphne Chu Victoria Collins Amy Davidson Sabrina Fortin Maria Guna Kalli Jones Stephanie Lai Kacey Lee Sharyl Man Daye Oh Bailey Paniszczyn Heidi Trautmann Ingrid Wong Phoebe Wong Ha-Yun Holly Yoon GUEST CONTRIBUTORS Urshita Bharal Megan De Sousa Malak El Sharkawy Johnson Luong Mohammad Moghaddasi Hayoung Na Somaya Nasiri Princess Okonkwo Gébbriel Yonna


feburary issue 02

CREATIVE Magic You Are You après-ski new valentines My Valentine’s Love Long Distance Love A COVID-19 Valentine’s Day Letter A Lover’s Plight! ‘Till Time Do Us Part Rogue Violets Cascading Cycle Grinning Witchdoctors: An Exploration of Post-Pop Blackness






FEATURE playGround 2021 YLDC Interview


LIFESTYLE The Current Day Struggle with Technology Quarantine Hobbies Keeping Busy: The Quarantine Edition February 14 2021, a ‘Me’ Day Dose of Positivity Enjoy Your F*cking Twenties!

2021 The Artichoke Magazine Winters Free Press Created in Toronto, Ontario Cover photography by Sarah Shahab PAST ISSUES CONTACT US SOCIALS IG @artichokewfp FB @artichokemag



febru ary CALENDAR february








Minecraft Monday/Online Games 8-10pm VIA Discord

VCP Presenting Skills Workshop 7pm

Curating Presence in Acute Palliative Care: A Meditation on Multiplicity 2:20-4:30pm VIA Zoom


Jam Session 8-11pm VIA Zoom


VCP Cabaret Show 7:30pm


YorkU Music: Ensembles Showcase 7pm VIA YouTube livestream


VCP Radio Play Festival 7:30-9:30pm


playGround Feb 8 @ 7:30pm, Feb 9 @ 7:30pm, Feb 10 @ 8:30pm, Feb 11 @ 7:30pm, & Feb 12 @ 7:30pm

Talent Tuesday 8-11pm VIA Zoom

VIC Improv Show 9pm

Murder Mystery Love Affair 8-11pm VIA Zoom


Reading Week (no classes)


Valentine’s Day


Winters Olympics


Smoothie Bowl Masterclass More info coming soon


Word Night 8-10pm VIA Zoom


Powerpoint Night 8-11pm VIA Zoom




Artichoke readers! DO YOU ENJOY reading the Artichoke magazine of Winters Free Press? Would you like to support our incredible team of student writers, designers, editors, photographers, and artists and help us increase our readership? Do you want to get your hands on your own printed copy of one of our beautiful issues? You are in luck! If you have the means to contribute between $10.29-$17.21, reach out to to get your copy! Cheers! Laura Bourbonnais Winters College Council Editor-in-Chief Winters Free Press






NOV / DEC 2020






WINTERS HAS SWAG! Did you hear? Winters swag is here! In January WCC launched their RedBubble shop to sell Winters merchandise. All proceeds will be going towards saving the Ab, the student-run pub and beloved Winters institution, which has been struggling due to the pandemic. The shop has a few collections including Winters’ Rock Hand, The Absinthe Pub & Coffee Shop, and even our own Artichoke swag! There are a plethora of items to choose from including t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, stickers, masks, mugs, and more! To check out all of the awesome swag and to purchase your favourite items go to: Teagan Ariss Winters College Council Assistant Editor Winters Free Press

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THERE IS MAGIC inside us; all around us. it is a strength that beats in time inside our chest. it is the ground that breaks our fall time and time again. it is the song that lifts you higher and the one that gives you clarity. it is the echo of the voice you never want to stop hearing.


it is the book that soothes the ache. it is the revelation in your touch. it is our hands clasped together beneath stars as we lie, shivering, on grass. it is and always will be us, together.

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IN THIS INSANE ride we call life, never forget one important thing: to always love yourself no matter what you’re told Don’t let the negative thoughts slip into your mind so easily for that is not the the truth because you are more than thoughts You’re a work of art that no museum could house because the whole world should see your true magnificence Your life is the movie the crowds flood to see for your story is unique and inspiring to us all Stand in front of the mirror You should see something marvellous for that is you and you alone No one can replicate what you are You are truly one of a kind Now go out into the world and show us why you are so great.







shivering families swerve away from neighbouring skiers inching towards the bunny hill. ski lifts ascend toward the sky’s flurries, numb hands and feet craving Hot Paws and cocoa breaks. wooden cottages wilt under the pressure of the waltzing wind, brrr-ing kids extending their wet toes towards the furnace, damp Long Johns and socks splayed over the bowing mantle. St-Hubert take-out simmers on the kitchen table, red nosed aunts, uncles, and cousins piling up in the door’s crescent, shoe mats soaked under mounds of snow-flaked boots. hand-made ice rinks and last season’s hockey sticks glint through the dormer window under the overcast moon’s shadow.





CRUMPLED UP HERSHEY Hug wrappers, collect on desktops, spare mason jar cinnamon hearts lined up on the counter for curious browsers. candy bowls empty, fingers swiping left as rom coms stream nightly, couple photos copy and pasted all over Instagram. ‘till COVID does us part, new valentines will meet through the colourful constraints of their pixelated screens.





My Valentine’s



I REMEMBER THE school days, finding cards in my bag with my name on it, sweet innocent nothings, crushing on each other with no blame on it. Valentine’s Day changed to something strange and unfamiliar, when others flaunted their love’s fame, making others think that’s original. Valentine’s Day meant the world to me when he would shower me with flowers, chocolates and dates, I couldn’t believe I was finally like the others. I blamed Valentine’s Day for being so dramatic, unrealistic, when he would try to buy my love with anything materialistic. We drank and laughed on Valentine’s Day about how silly all these people are, “one day they will realize the mistake”, secretly longing for someone to mend the scars. My Valentine’s today reminds me that love is never about what is around me, beside me, or away It shines a light within and I recognize what I truly could never live without on any and every day.


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ONCE UPON A time I was an active leader of crime against myself, Letting others define my sense of self. It felt degrading, I felt shameful, I did some things I’d like to take back I wasn’t grateful, and kept on blaming the world for being hateful I didn’t approve of what I would attract. I wasn’t thinking of my mental Or how important being gentle with myself and others is Didn’t consider I was capable of unlearning limiting beliefs or achieving anything… The thing about healing is that it comes to you And when I wasn’t willing to stand by my truth I was about to give in, but something gave me a boost I held a key to the door that self-love pours through I finally saw the lies of those who need a disguise to get by So much I held in wasn’t mine and denied my right to shine


Whispers saying that nothing’s right As I pretended I’m alright, I soaked it in Until I understood that all I am is a mirror. I hope you see Love when you look in one I looked in mine and saw a leader I was set out to find a meaning to all the games I kept participating in Did I sign myself up? What was I trying to win? What is a leader anyways? Is it someone who always knows what to say? Is it someone with the praise and the fame? Is it someone who has never been ashamed? I realized this definition is up to me I get to choose what I stand for, how and who I lead My epiphany occurred when I was looking at the cure In the reflection I found accountability In neglecting myself mentally and spiritually Assuming I could hide out behind the physical Insecurities lingering as I made them so comfortable Carrying outside opinions even if they felt discomforting Confused the meaning of love ‘cause I thought it was outside of me Made myself small just to fit the boxes surrounding me Based my reality like a show off the audience Didn’t think twice that only I should be watching me

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Invested in things creating war inside of me I was so desperately seeking harmony While jumping into tornados To escape all the others and the self-hatred That I wanted to blame and accuse of what’s wrong with me But this was my muse and fused something strong in me I felt like my flame became more and more fiery Alchemized the process into something so inspiring Started leading myself to becoming a better me Got in touch with the beautiful in the catastrophe Collected my tears in the midst of a tragedy And won the dual that I had with humanity Honestly, all the pain you go through is a lesson Because your transformation is going to be the best thing You can overcome anything You have strength and resilience You are beautiful, infinite You’re the cosmos, unlimited They don’t stand a chance winning you You look just like freedom do Who cares who isn’t into you You’re that flame in the sky No one could ever put out Without you there’d be no light Don’t you know how delighting you are? How insightful, authentic and lovely you are? Wise and igniting, A leader and a fighter, so divine and mysterious The way you lead with love Is exactly what healing is


You should know you’re the one To create the life that you want Collect your powers and use them at once! Recognizing the patterns Allows you to unlearn them To replace them and finds ways to mindfully nourish Your body and soul So your being can flourish Like flowers in perfect soil In the end, all that matters Is you’re entirely worth it I’m so proud of you trying Sending love, you deserve it.

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Long Distance Love



MY LOVER IS distant but not in the way you think. He is a plane ride away, he disappears with the wind. My arms yearn to hold him close but he is trapped behind an eleven by twelve-inch screen. No matter how hard I try, I cannot pull him out. Because he is away in another land where I do not exist. When he cries, my shoulder cannot be there to collect his tears. When he laughs, my ears hiss at the ears that get to hear his sweet laughter. They are not mean, just jealous. His laughter they like to wear as earrings on lonesome occasions. My lover is seven hundred kilometers distant but his heart is closer to mine than any other heart in all of existence.




A COVID-19 Valentine’s Day Letter



My love, I’VE BEEN THINKING of you today. Well, every day, but today especially. Although we haven’t seen each other in person for months now, I imagine you are with me. I miss making you laugh and holding your hand. We should be cuddled up on the couch watching our favourite rom-com, popcorn and chocolate in hand, but that cannot be the case this Valentine’s Day. There’s an empty space in my life that can only be filled by you. I ordered from our usual place, but the food doesn’t taste the same, probably because you’re not here to share it with me. You would always be the one to order because I hate talking on the phone. I almost resorted to eating leftovers for the third day in a row, but today is special, so I decided to face my fears instead. I know you’re laughing at me right now, and yes, I know I sound ridiculous but I admit, I did celebrate a little after hanging up the phone. I didn’t mess up the order or say something stupid or ramble on for too long. It was an accomplishment if I do say so. I know I could just text you but I figured mailing you a letter is more sentimental and romantic. You deserve romance and love, and I will do my best to give it to you from a distance. I’ll write you hundreds of letters just to know I’ve put a smile on your face. I know I’m being cheesy, but it’s Valentine’s Day and cheesiness is encouraged! How is your family? Tell your parents I say hi. Oh, and your dog. I think I miss her a little more than you. Just kidding… maybe. It’s been nice spending more time with my family. They make me realize how lucky I am to have people like them and you in my life. Just when I am on the edge of going insane, you pull me back to sanity. I need you. I always have and I always will. Love is stronger than the demons of our world. If only love could cure viruses. I cannot wait ‘till I can see you again. Until then, write to me when you can.

Forever and always, Your Valentine


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VALENTINE’S DAY DRAWS near. I will give my lover Death. He seeks it endlessly. This gift is my way of being selfless! Why should I anchor him to life? With my endless prayers for a long life! Why should I punish him? When his freedom will be found in the arms of Death, he seeks the face of Death like a babe seeks the breast of its mother, relentlessly, non-stop. My lover doesn’t want life, neither does he want my love! All he wants is Death! You see my plight? How does one give Death to their beloved for Valentine’s? How on Earth, does one gift Death? I must find a way! This will make my lover happy. Seeing the face of Death is all he wants. I must try to give him his desire as a gift. For I am selfless, not selfish! This is my plight! My mind is made. My Valentine’s gift to my lover will be Death!

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She is the Co-Chief Editor of the teen issue of the Lost in Lagos magazine. She writes scripts, novels, and poems, and loves reading and everything sweet! IG @ToniaOkonkwo12


It’s not death that separates, it’s time It creeps up slowly, inevitably,

then it catches upon you, without warning, strangling what it can from your life.





THAT PRIMAL EMOTION. That warm renaissance. That identity. The ownership of which Gloria Steinem devotees shouted to the heavens for. Tanya could care less… She lingered in the back of the party, a wallflower, a fly on the wall of the so-called cool kids. She dismissed every advance just the same; they were all meaningless. She had decided long ago to forgo high school “intimacy”. She would have none of it. “My innocence, my purity, my womanhood; that’s all I really have”. Tanya lingered on the bleach stained wall, inhaling spiked punch and downing stale potato chips. A boy Tanya knew from history class approached her. He stank of cigarettes. Tanya, indifferent to his advances, simply chided each of his ad-libs

with nonchalant gestations. She nodded when it was appropriate to. She gave monosyllabic responses when needed. She was in her element the most when she was carried on like this. Knowing when to say “yes” and knowing when to say “no” were part of the game. A nearby darkened room gave way to a deluge of horny teenagers. Most of whom were predominantly white. Most of whom had never worked a day in their life. Most of whom had never seen anything real… She believed (knew) each one was more self-indulgent than the last. Tanya would have none of it. Gangster rap flowed from the speakers like water from a tap. Tanya was a tall charcoal painted girl of 17. As the music throbbed her braided head bobbed with





it too. Her head weaving in and out of the partiers with expert precision. She made her way across the floor which was stained with gin, and boys taking off their sweaty clothes in preparation for the close. “In, and out, in and out, in and out”, Tanya thought to herself. She was a beast. This was all done in a bid to get to the resting area across the room. Just then another pale-faced boy approached her. She knew him through a mutual acquaintance. He was a short youth from a family of prestige. He continued toward her, and touched her on the thigh. Violently, Tanya responded with a punch to the pudgy boy’s gut. Tanya, in a fit, rushed this time in the other direction to the washroom. Shook up, she thought to herself…

Tanya disembarked from her father’s white beaten down SUV. Tanya prepared to leave the vestiges of her old life behind. The concrete jungle where she was brought up would be no more. A gifted athlete of 12 skilled in the way of boxing. She had received a full scholarship to a magnet school in the affluent neighborhood of Bayview Village. Tanya instantly came to the realization that she was not like everyone else there. All the same she continued along the cobblestoned path to her dorm. A toe haired boy approached Tanya and started talking to her. He spoke of art. He spoke of culture. He spoke of distinction. But Tanya knew that his ramblings reeked of falsehood. His serpent’s tongue resting





comfortably with only the occasional sincere sentiment. Tanya responded to him about her scholarship. The key to her future, and her entry to a world of white privilege. The boy, unflinching, only seemed mildly interested. Somewhere, between the lies and the sincerity, they ended up in an embrace. The boy ripping Tanya’s brown cardigan off (freshly purchased by her father at Winners), and getting lost in her black abyss. They awoke in the shimmering light of dusk peeking through a window, the boy unironically telling her “it was really cool to sleep with a black chick!” Tanya avoided making eye contact with him, scared to confront the outside world with what had just occurred. Their taboo dalliance. The “white gaze” alone would have left her in a shame spiral. Tanya, like the best mistresses, thanked him and excused herself. Running along to her new reality. Tanya washed her hands in the bathroom and promptly rushed outside. Thinking that the spiked punch would be sure to wreak havoc on her training

in the morning. She thought to herself about the sheer amount of time she had spent with these strangers. These interlopers. These creatures from a foreign land. And how they still treated her like crap… Tanya looked at herself in the mirror in the restroom, and contemplated all the times her now deceased father instilled with messages of identity, pride, and never forgetting who you are. Tanya, breathless, heard her phone ringing. It was that boy from long ago. Once again like at the party before her, she gave monosyllabic responses, said “yes” when she needed to say “yes”, and carried along with the conversation nonchalantly. The night sky cast a strange silhouette as Tanya made her way along the cobblestones to her dorm room, a beaten down white SUV resembling her father’s passing by in a nearby street. In a hurry, Tanya stopped and paused and put on her headphones, her head bobbing to the music. Weaving “in and out, in and out, in and out”; among the influx of returning partygoers.







A NOIRE RHAPSODY. The deluge of white raptures my body. A hymn ever so sweet… I stand awake to the cries of giddy freshmen on a newlyancient campus. I stand erect amidst the chasm of confusion. The thoughts, traditions, and trails yet to be blazed all make up the DNA of the place I will now call my own. I stand. Anglo eyes glued to me 1000 times over… I adjust my cardigan, polish my Chelsea boots, and place my vintage frames upon my head. “Maybe then they’ll like me”, I state aloud, quietly. The pandemonium of sounds from the administration pierce the hallways. I turn down the volume from blaring-music coming from my newly purchased AirPods. “Ice Cube will have to wait,” I state aloud. Just then, I come to the rationalization that all this new gear is gonna put a dent in my OSAP; but “it’ll be worth it”. I have heard tales of old siphoned, through the elders of these kids. I rationalize again and state with a calm-cadence “if I play my cards right everything will be mine for the taking”, I state longingly, even if I befriend just “one of them”. My confused contemplation takes a backseat to one of them zooming past me. He shoots a vacant grin my way, his blue eyes then glare at a bluer-eyed girl ahead of him. I quickly polish my boots in the washroom next to the hall, then exit, and set out on the desperate road where selfdiscovery leads.




I follow my iPhone X’s GPS’s path to the adjoining room. “Guess I’m here…” I remark with a subtle solitude. I continue inside, entranced by the magic, the memories of days and nights sure to come, and the lostmorality of my past. I place my burgundy Herschel backpack next to one of them. A bright-grin plastered on my face. I heard tales that they “like it when you smile”. I retreat to my seat, the smile a warning sign to those that might do me wrong. If I keep this act (smiling) up; “maybe then they’ll like me”. I am immediately welcomed by a bolstering voice both pleasant and pedantic. He tells me that he is one of our professors and that the “remainder” of our years together will be a fun, welcome, and “diverse” ride. The word “diverse” severs my wandering mind… I take sharp glances around the area as I survey, see, and sweep my vision across the auditorium. To no avail though. “I’m the only one”. A desolate-depression falls upon me, as what seems like hundreds of thoughts dance around in my mind. “It’s fine”, I mutter under my breath. “I’m used to it”, I slowly state. “Maybe it won’t be so bad,” I state aloud. I reassure myself again and again as my mind fights to make logic out of the impossible. I take sharp looks at the area yet again… “No one… I guess I really am the only one.” I whip out my smartphone and peruse “Indiewire”. “Gotta brush up on this ‘ish,” I tell myself. “Maybe then they’ll like me” ‘...’


The lecture continues on all the while I feel “their” gazes burning my all. They talk, they chatter, they trade insults as I stand… And sit empty in my seat, a fly-on-the-wall of this new reality. I listen to the whispers they make, my self-consciousness and once happy-aura go into a downward spiral. Then all of a sudden I hear one of “them” speak. “What is he doing here?” a blonde headed girl remarks. I take a peak at another one of them “Maybe he’s lost and came into the wrong room!” a toe-headed boy lampoons. I stare yet again at one of them. The flurry of insults appears unrelenting. Another of “them” starts up, his pasty-face and braces contrast his calm confidence. “Ummm, can I touch your hair?…”. I get up, dismayed by the day and rush outside the auditorium to exit the newfound world I entered. I adjust my frames and put on a “Bob Dylan’s Essentials” playlist (despite my overwhelming ignorance on the artist). I spit out a silent yelp. I think this is what “they” listen too. I began listening… In my mind a single thought: if I listen to this “maybe then they’ll like me.”




I stumble down an illuminated pathway. The walls are adorned with pictures of “prestigious” donors. I trek, I turn, I trudge unable to shake the unabashed ignorance of my new classmates and their standoffishness to someone different from them. I make my way past an incoming crowd and somehow make my way to the second floor of the building. I am greeted by a 30-something female. She flashes me a welcoming gaze. She starts up “need some help?”. I stand transfixed, and indulge in the happiness greeting me at my feet. “Someone else…” I state under my breath… She stands, weave in-check and a pleasant chuckle draping her demeanour. “Not a talker? That’s cool! If you need anything just let me know. too. I began listening… In my mind a single thought: if I listen to this “maybe then they’ll like me”. I state yet again to myself if I keep “dressing”, “acting”, “behaving” like this, “maybe then they’ll like me”. I stand erect in the hallway agonizing aimlessness. Then, a frightening revelation clouds my already cloudy thoughts, as one of “them” gazes at me like a monkey in the zoo. I think to myself… As I literally start to rip off piece-by-piece the persona I worked so hard to cultivate. Just then, I state with a daringdefiance as I dig into myself internally, “how can I expect them to like me if I don’t like myself”… I stare into forever; the greeting faces in the school a single star in a larger universe.



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Witchdoctors: An Exploration of Post-Pop Blackness


SAMBOS. MINSTRELS. COONS… Terms as hurtful as these are still at times painfully relevant today. Hovering in the ether. In our minds, and in our identities. In this new cultural-landscape of Black pop culture and media, the pain has been transmuted into an avant-garde form of communication and cultural identity. The ironic thing is, that despite the perks afforded to us by this change (notoriety, wealth, exclusivity) we are still at a loss. It is a weird form of surreal-madness that would be beautiful; if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so tragically ironic. We are on the outside looking in, doomed to be simply “niggas” in the eyes of our captors. The new Black pop culture in our identity rings with truth, wit, and creativity. And is just as bizarre as anything David Lynch could concoct but it also shows us a sad new reality to face. We are slipping further, and further away. Lost in an eerie waiting room filled with unacknowledged feelings and complacency.




This new avant-garde Black pop culture is a reaction to the current societal western landscape. One where we escape the realities of today by creating dreamscapes built on the past. It is through this we assert our identity; by delving into the magical-realist. One such example of this is the walking daydreams of Donald Glover’s poignant take on Afro-American identity in Atlanta. The characters wade through the city in strange fever dreamlike realism. The scenarios range from encounters to a “Black Justin Bieber”, invisible cars, and one particularly memorable episode that seems to posthumously tackle the ever-eccentric Michael Jackson. However as trippy and hypnotic as these episodes/vignettes are, they reveal something else lingering deeper. In this new Black pop culture era, we are using this newfound to reach a new level of “high art” but it shows that we are just masking the pain (of centuries past) underneath. This can be seen in the way that the information comes across in the new Black pop culture media. Take for example how the writers of Atlanta transformed pop icon Justin Bieber Black (his dream I’m sure…). On the surface it might seem like a simple sight gag played for laughs; however, if you delve deeper you can see the reversal of racial skin


tones as a way of showcasing white envy i.e. desire of wanting to be cool/Black. The show takes a concept so preposterous that it becomes serious. And of course, the ever-infamous “Teddy Perkins” episode. The parallels can of course be drawn to embattled musical auteur Michael Jackson. This was a character so grotesque and nightmarish (portrayed by Glover in “white face”) that it screams that the writers have something else on their mind, i.e. distraction. Basically, no matter the level of artistic peak we reach, in our new shift in Black pop culture; we cannot escape the ghoulish visions from our past. We are just distracting ourselves. Essentially the higher the “artistic” endeavour/victory, the deeper rooted the pain. It is a progressive dichotomy; one entrenched in: Jim Crow, lynchings, cuffed hands, and afro picks. Basically, when it comes to art we create in Black pop culture we are in a beautiful struggle. Where you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In writer/director/ musician, Terrance Nance’s acid-sipping, afro-futurist television series Random Acts Of Flyness terms like “abstract”

and “arthouse” will undoubtedly come to mind for the viewer. However, even those terms do not really do the show justice. The show is keeping in line with a new afro-surrealist movement permeating Black pop culture right now. The show truly has a reality of its own. Some examples of the show’s outer-space narratives include; filmmaker Quentin Tarantino bidding on a lifetime right to use the “n-word.” A literal strand of “good hair” (from a Black woman) going bad and ending up in jail. MLK having a premonition of his own death; and last (and certainly not least) a story where a struggling woman uploads her consciousness to “the cloud.” The show is a hallucinogenic, mushroom-taking tour de force in surrealism. However, the show is emblematic of something greater… This weird, woozy, warring take on afroexistentialism is reduced to weirdness if only because it is the only way we know to adapt… In essence, we find solace in surrealism because the sad truths of reality are hard to face. The nature of “afro future” is to present an identity where the negro is king/queen


40 IV


Fuck the pa “ away… Ou is mirroring reality neve forgotten b acknowled

ain ur art ga er but hardly dged.


V 41



unencumbered or tethered to the shackles of white nationalist oppression, or subject to a distillation to the culture. However, the concept itself is grim, faceless, and dystopian. Afro surrealism/futurism in contemporary Black pop culture are merely tools themselves that help us artistically, but not philosophically. If only because they create a false future… Instead of mending the present we fixate on our pitiful past. So from this we can see the artistic advancement of Black pop culture is somewhat reductive. Entrenched in our gifted storytelling there is a doomed selfcelebration. We are at a loss… Grasping at a life preserver, from a boat that is already full. The cultural landscape has scaled where we are able to create high art; but the art is just a manifestation of the pain. The “afro hipster” is a subculture of Black pop culture. This individual is

just as comfortable rockin’ a dashiki, as they are obsessing over Radiohead’s OK Computer record. It is a cool identity to be sure, stylish, while also being progressive. It is at the same time: awesome, cool, and amusingly enough confusing to white people. However, in relation to Black pop culture; the subculture has sub textual issues (from a mentality standpoint). For you see with this newly embraced identity, you tend to leave your old identity behind. Instead of celebrating, you forget. Instead of embracing, you shun. Instead of resisting, you succumb… It is a paradox to be sure, to achieve fulfilment in Black pop cultural area only to shun your roots. It is as progressive as it is trite. In Aaron Mcgruder’s sublime faux anime series The Boondocks, issues of race, intersexuality, politics, and the human condition are explored. The show


explores this through the lens of African Americans with acerbic headstrongness. One particular character in the series speaks volumes is “Uncle Ruckus.” With a personality and name deriving from the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (by Harriet Stowe), the character is known for spewing self-hating rhetoric (the character is African-American). Both the book (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), and the character in the series The Boondocks are one and the same. A self-hating Black person… Blind to the ways of how the world really operates. The triumph(s) of the Uncle Ruckus character from the book and the T.V. series (respectively) take their place in the pantheon of critically selected works of Black pop culture for their smart, witty writing. However, there is a flaw with the design of the characters; for all of the ironic good they bring (the characters on a deeper level can be seen as a sardonic reminder of the perils, and woes of slavery

past and present). The issues at the heart of Black society are just being swept under the rug, by flashy media devices. The greater the art the more the pain… The magical, maximalist, and almost mythological album (nay “masterpiece”) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is a work of contrarian brilliance. Demons exorcized through rapped contrition. All “proper” footing is thrown aside in favor of post-modern dreamscapes… The album’s initial release was surrounded by: gestation, turmoil, and self-loathing. West was a man exiled (in large part due to the Taylor Swift incident). An island all on his own… Then, sitting president Barack Obama even lambasted West by referring to him as a “jackass.” Yeezy’s days were spent leaking then new music and fine tuning it with meticulous proficiency. As well as making weirdo




public appearances like when he did a mini show at Facebook HQ and going on sexcapades with then girlfriend Amber Rose. All of these strange occurrences, and outburst amounted to utter brilliance. All the hatred, turmoil, and overarching weirdness with this musical savant lead to arguably the peak of his career. And cemented his status in Black pop culture and the white mainstream as well; as a man capable of not only just rapping; but changing the playing field for Black artists in all media. This could only have resulted out of sadness. By West pouring himself into his art it showed what we already knew; he is deeply disturbed (fantasy or not). He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years later. The art was merely a guise to mask the scars beneath his pain… From this we can derive the notion that Black pop culture is synonymous with scars, and internalized hatred. Like previously stated, Black pop culture is used as a tool to distract ourselves… No matter how deep the artistic rabbit hole goes.

The point is that our pain is generational

Electronic music auteur Steven Ellison a.k.a “Flying Lotus’’ released an artful music video that parrots my thesis. The bigger and more influential art in Black pop culture is, the more the pain lying underneath. Directed by Khalil Joseph (Shabazz Palaces, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé), the film explores the after effects of a child being shot. Portrayed through the lens of a deceased African American, the film is a sublime example of magical realism and expert filmmaking. It shows a negro dancing (after being presumably shot dead) at


the hands of someone/something else. If you just dig a little deeper, there is a message to the madness though. A cry to the rioters. A sorcerer hiding an elixir. The film shows the effects of the “dead” man but more importantly the emotional resonance that the shot has on the community. This runs the gamut from coloured people stating the bold hip hop statement “J Dilla Changed My Life” (on a T-shirt). To the blood induced tears of crying Black mothers. The point is that our pain is generational and has manifested itself in all forms. Be it Black pop culture (film, television, art, music etc.) or contemporary Black mentality. Essentially, we have pain brewing amidst artistic expressions. Crazed daydreams that are created through our Black pop cultural climate. The only way we carry on is by distracting ourselves with the media landscape which is ironically given by our pain. Distractions upon distractions… The film Beasts Of The Southern Wild, is a love letter to the bayou… A modernday fable steeped in magical realism. The story follows a young tomboyish heroine named “Hush Puppy” grappling with the news that her father (essentially her everything) will face certain death. Faced with this eventuality the story follows the girl as she traverses her environment “the bathtub” in search of a cure. The film deals with Hush Puppy’s emotions but more importantly herself. The film serves a purpose in the Black pop cultural context; it reminds us that grief is hard to contend with (in all forms). Be it through a fictional context or through systemic discrimination placed on minorities. We

have, in a weird sense, created worlds upon worlds that have placed us at a standstill. We retreat to pop culture because we find it hard to face reality in any form of media. “Kells,” “The Pied Piper Of R&B,” “R. Kelly”… Many things have been alleged, combated, and stated in various settings. Be they in a courtroom, or in an interview. From the playful bedroom antics of Robert Kelly’s classic album R.; to the comedically-surreal love escapades of Kelly’s “hip hop opera,” and “Trapped in the Closet.” R. Kelly has been on the receiving end of attention (good, and bad) from his music to his weirdo, lovesick persona. However, if you look into the crux of the matter; he has undoubtedly contributed to the Black pop cultural landscape. As Kelly himself put it (albeit tongue-and-cheekily) in a song “how many babies have been made off me.” Regardless of the allegations he is currently facing, when we delve into the art itself we can see that Kells delves into his music and strange antics because of the circumstances of his messed up environment (the mean streets of South Side Chicago). The greater the art, the more our sadness shines through. The tide is rising. The Black pop cultural tide is awash with brilliance. No more are we subjected to the nonsensical dialogue of films like Soul Plane. The idiocy of networks of BET or the poorly conceived plotlines in The Game. Thanks to auteurs like Glover, Riley, Nance, Ellision and, yes even the boy who never-grew-up, Kanye West. We have electric talent and output




that is fueling the runaway daydreams of children in our current society for generations to come. However, with this new sense of auteurship brought to the Black cultural landscape, it has brought to light more sub textual problems. From the trap-fueled fever dreams of Atlanta, to the use of the “white voice” to “get yours” in Sorry To Bother You, and even West’s “Dark Twisted Fantasy”… These (along with many more examples) in contemporary Black pop cultural climate media are indeed well made but show the disturbing truth: we are only using these tools to cope with the pain. Maybe it is because like Sean “Jay Z’’ Carter said, “all we Blacks got is sports and entertainment.” Or perhaps it is because the artistic expression that we go about communicating in Black pop culture distracts us from the plantation lullabies of the past. A means to quell the hurt. Stop the bleeding. Fuck the pain away… Our art is mirroring a reality never forgotten but hardly acknowledged. It is the past casting a shadow on the future. It is all at once creepy, all encompassing, and meta. This is only one opinion, but like Nance says (and I believe); it is time for us to “shift consciousness.”








I SUSPECT MY family is fairly average: spending most of our days in our separate rooms playing with our technology, working, or going to school (online). Since quarantine, I have spent more time with my family than probably ever before. Since restaurants and movie theatres are closed we cannot leave the house, so on special days like New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and Family Day, here are some of our favourite things to do: Board games • Trivial Pursuit Take turns answering trivia questions - the first person to answer a question correctly in each category wins. Trivial Pursuit is a great game to play. It is straightforward, simple, and a really fun way to see who knows the most random trivia! • Blockbuster Blockbuster is one of our favourite games right now. It is all about movies. See which team can guess the movie based off of one single word, one quote, or by one team member acting it out. • Telestrations Everyone gets a word they have to draw then they pass it to the person beside them and that person has to guess what their drawing is. This game can get really wild. Trying to decipher someone’s drawing, or trying to figure out how to draw something is really fun. And looking back at what everyone drew is really funny. • Resistance This is, personally, my all time favourite game. Everyone is giving a card that says either “resistance” or “spy”, and no one knows who is who. The spies have to sabotage the missions of the resistance. This game is so fun because you cannot trust anyone. It will end in yelling. • Scrabble A classic favourite. My younger siblings hate this game, but me and my parents love to play. I have yet to win against my dad, but it is straightforward. Everyone gets 7 letter tiles and you have to make a word with them. Words you never ever knew existed will be played.




Movies/TV Shows • Anne with an E The most recent depiction of “Anne of Green Gables”. My dad read me and my brother the book when we were kids so naturally this is one of our favourite TV shows. It is beautifully done; if you liked the book you will love this rendition. • Schitt’s Creek (Netflix) An absolutely hilarious TV show about a wealthy family losing all of their money. It is my family’s favourite show right now. • Into the Spiderverse (Netflix) Into the Spiderverse is an amazing movie, even if you do not like superhero movies. It is funny, heartwarming, and good for all ages. The soundtrack and animation style are so unique. It is an experience to watch it. • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Netflix) This movie is mind bending. It is so strange and hard to figure out that I had to Google what it meant when we finished watching it, but it is beautifully shot and thought provoking. Definitely worth the watch. Another suggestion is: watch a movie or TV show you watched a long time ago. Throwbacks can be fun to rewatch as a family, calling out all the plot holes and funny lines you never noticed as a kid can be a great way to reminisce. Others Since most restaurants are closed, it is definitely better to stay in but we do not always want to cook. There are not a lot of different restaurants in Sudbury, so we stick to the usual (pizza, burgers, Chinese, and sometimes sushi). But somewhere like Toronto is crawling with cafes and restaurants you may have wanted to try but never had time for. If they are open on Family Day, order from them and eat with your family. Or go to a drivethru for dessert; our favourite place is Dairy Queen. Another thing we have been doing more and more is walking. We go for long walks through the bush near our house, or we take our dog around the block. Since it is winter and we get a lot of snow in Sudbury - we also like to go sledding or skating at the outdoor rinks around town. Finding good sledding hills, a well maintained rink, or a new hiking trail can be a great way to spend Family Day. And after a day outside, hot chocolate and a movie are awesome ways to warm up! If you cannot be with family in person, FaceTime or call them! However you like to spend Family Day, it is nice to have a day just to relax and spend with people you love.





GĂŠbbriel Yonna GABRIEL FUTO AHMAD is a third-year theatre production and design student at York University. They like to experiment with different types of media, with a focus on digital art at the moment. They are currently experimenting with different artistic styles, and their portfolio currently consists of pieces made for class projects alongside art that depicts their dreams. IG @gabefutoahmad









THIS PROJECT CONSISTS of a series of self-portraits that have been distorted in various and exaggerated ways. It was inspired by the fragmented and distorted image I have of myself. As I was creating this project, I did not have a clear idea about how I wanted the photos to turn out, which allowed me to fully experiment with my initial images. I consider this project more of a formal experiment rather than a conceptual piece. I was inspired by Lucas Blalock’s use of basic tools in his editing to create simple yet encaptivating images. A little bit about me: I am a third-year visual arts major. In my work, I use a variety of mediums and practices such as photography, printmaking and drawing. I like to be very experimental with my approach and my use of formal elements. I am currently interested in distorted imagery and exaggeration in hopes of conveying emotions. IG @saba.artwork




HAYOUNG NA THE DIGITAL ILLUSTRATION Dissipated uses textures of traditional mediums, such as pencil and charcoal, to represent a shift in identity one may feel during quarantine. Created as a way to express themselves, the illustration contains two figures which represent the identity of the artist before and during lockdown. The first figure at the upper left of the composition is the past identity that the artist and viewer are able to recognize. The second figure seems to be one in the process of forming, emerging out of the first which is the identity the artist believes they identify with now in quarantine. By: Hayoung Na Instagram: Artist Bio: Hayoung Na is a Korean-Canadian student in her third year of the YSDN program studying in Graphic Design. Her goal is becoming a multidisciplinary designer and has an interest in combining more traditional mediums with current design practices. In her free time, the artist enjoys creating illustrations with both traditional mediums and digital techniques for personal enjoyment or to post on her social media. 


Title: Dissipated Size: 11 x 17 inches Media: Digital Art (using Procreate and an Ipad)


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IN MY JOURNEY I’m Malak Elsharkawy, a first year Design student from Cairo, Egypt. I have always had a passion for art as a way of expressing my emotions and ideas, and my surrounding environment has definitely given me lots of inspiration. There is no specific medium that I prefer to use, neither an overall theme that I follow. I am currently just rolling with what inspires me and I convey it on whatever medium I feel is suitable. I keep experimenting with different styles, and I am still exploring and developing my style throughout my artistic journey.

GEDO GEDO THIS PIECE SHOWS an old man surrounded by books, this man is very well read and is very well educated, however he lives in his own time. His health is also phenomenal for his age. Unfortunately, he was a spoiled person therefore he could never do anything for himself.

SPOT THE ADULTS! SPOT THE ADULTS! That is a tough one, right? Not a surprise. For my hunt of anything play related I only found 10 images where adults are playing/experimenting and most of them are with children.




The concept behind this is that we should not be so hard on ourselves when we fail, even our skin fails us and there is nothing we can do about it. Failure is inevitable.

Adults should learn to play like children. It allows them to learn, ignite imagination and creativity. Inspired by the book Failed it! How to turn mistakes into ideas and other advice for successfully screwing up by Erik Kessels.

EMOTION EMOTION This self-portrait shows the emotions one feels after a defeating failure. I used colors, values and brushstrokes to show frustration and restlessness. The speed of brushstrokes shows the intense emotion. The lack of color at the edges of the body shows how concentrated the emotion is inside. As you go out of the head, the less intense emotions there are.

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MY NAME IS Mohammad Moghaddasi, I’m an Iranian immigrant living in Canada since 2003. I have been painting on and off throughout my life. Currently I have been painting for 3 years making paintings with the semiconscious method I’ve described. My instagram is moelerat (moe the rat), Theres nothing there yet, I plan on posting series by series and I’m still working on my first one. Unfinished 2 Cliff (2020)

Unfinished 4 (2020)

Unfinished 3 (2020)

untitled (2019)



panic (2019)



Winter (2020)

I.A.D.B.M (2020)


I don’t know why I paint, it’s just been something I always seemed to come back to doing. Being someone who isn’t great with words I needed to find other ways to communicate my thoughts, and art sort of fills that role. Most of my artwork comes from a certain degree of emotional distress or sadness (usually a bit of both), and alienation. My paintings are usually done either somewhat or entirely unconsciously. I put little or no thought into what it is that I’m painting while I’m painting. What I aim to represent is something similar to Saussure’s idea of the signified. The signified being abstract pre verbalized thoughts or ideas in the preconscious. Again, because I’m not great with words, representing ideas in ways that manifest themselves as signs (or words in the mind) isn’t what I aim to do. When I make these paintings, I hold a memory or feeling in mind for awhile, could be for an hour or a month, and then I sort of forget about it and start painting. Usually though, the feelings, memories, or ideas that are held in my mind happen on their own, I just paint them as a kind of catharsis.

New Series I’m making a series of paintings at the moment that go through things people have said about me throughout my life. At several points in my life (including this one), I’ve grappled with the idea of identity and identification. I am an immigrant, but I was raised Canadian since I was 3, I like art but I don’t quite fit in with the art crowd, I have always had difficulty figuring out where I belong. I think often other peoples descriptions of us may be all we have to go on in order to build our identities, and so in this series I go through the descriptions that have made me, and how I feel about them.

Water with ferns on a partly cloudy day (2020)

sky 2 (2020)





FOR AS LONG as I can remember, my biggest dream has been to have my designs splattered across billboards and magazines for the world to see. I desribe myself as a contemporary graphic designer and mixed media artist, where the contrasting disciplines both bring me back to the past and launch me into the future. My creativity takes root in modern designers such as Berkeley Poole and Virgil Abloh, but I have naturally created an art style that is very unique to me. I explore shape, textures, and colours in all my collage and graphic design work, and take comfort in my postmodern and minimalistic approach. Since I was twelve years old, I’ve had my heart set on design as a career path, due to how it combines my passion for technology, business, and visual arts. My curiosity about language and culture sets my enthusiasm and is my biggest source of inspiration. I was born in Toronto, Canada but spent some of my childhood in Shenzhen, China due to my moms origin. Being mixed presented

me with a variety of identity issues growing up, and definitely rooted itself in my artistic approach. I was often left questioning how my technique reflected the styles present in my cultural identity, and how I would be able to leave a lasting impression on a heavily differing audience. In the last few years I have grown more sure of myself and my art style, and am extremely grateful that my unique heritage has allowed me to witness the mass influence of design on a worldwide scale. I am ecstatic to be able to indulge in the world of design and focus on improving my artistic skill through York University’s Bachelor of Design. My ultimate goal is to propel myself forward with the right knowledge and experience to create visuals for the victorious. For more information on my experience, portfolio or how we can collaborate on an upcoming project, get in touch today via my collage Instagram page @kalloges or







IN THE DISTANCE In the Distance is an acrylic abstract landscape painting done on canvas. The landscape represents the textures, simplicity and calmness of snow.

TORONTO SKATING Toronto Skating is a photograph taken of Nathan Phillips Square as the skating rink was being prepared. It shows the winter activities Toronto has to offer, specifically skating.




Rebellious is a mixed media magazine collage created to bring a focus into the content and looks geared towards women in magazines and media, and to promote a rebellion against these topics.

Where I Must Go is an acrylic and oil abstract painting that symbolizes the growth of a person and following one’s own path.



Into the Hands Of Nature is a mixed media collage created to showcase the desire to focus on nature, to become grounded and the freedom that comes with this mentality.

A Hug is All I Need is an ink and stick drawing that shows an individual embracing themselves. This shows the power of a hug, simple gestures, and supporting those around you as well as yourself. 




imperfect self-care BY MEGAN DE SOUSA

MY NAME IS Megan De Sousa and I am a first year in Theatre. When I began the third grade I used to stealthily sneak into my mother’s washroom and put on her bright red blush on my chubby little cheeks with my fingertips and go to school. This became a ritual; to wake up, smudge black eyeshadow across my eyes with my dainty fingers, go to class, and return home and wipe it off before my mother could see my grand-scheme. I begged my mother for makeup and she finally caved in and bought me a cheap mascara in the sixth grade. From there, I learned not only how to do makeup but why I adore it so much. Makeup to me is self-care, it is self-expression and it is self love. I grew from asking my mother to lather my face with makeup, and eventually I began doing her makeup for weddings and conferences. I have become proud of what I do, and practicing makeup for all those years has transferred into visual arts, painting with watercolour and doing commissioned murals. It also helps in theatre as I have gained a certain delicacy when it came to high school productions, where I had to turn cheap cardboard into something resembling an off-broadway piece with a sort of fairy-godmother-vigour. In the end, makeup is what you determine it is and personally it is a part of me.

These looks are a reflection of my self-care care routine. I find that dressing up and putting on makeup is a way to stay in touch with myself pre-pandemic. There are no touch-ups on the photo, I wanted to express that it is okay to have protruding blemishes and rough texture from times of frustration. I also did not fix up any imperfections in my makeup such as how my lipstick smudged down from taking staggered sips of coffee between pictures, but that is the beauty behind self-care. Self-care does not have to be a silky green face mask with fresh cucumbers on one’s eyes, it can be sloppy and imperfect as long as it feels good.


Instagram @megan.sousaa











PRODUCT NAME: KORBâ„¢ Smart Bag Group members: Johnson Luong, Nicole Lozano, Johanna Lim Program: York Sheridan Design (YSDN) Class: FA/YSDN 3006 Advanced Models and Speculative Interfaces: Visual Interactive Design Instructor: James March


Assignment Description: PHASE A: Smart Device Design Everyday objects are becoming smarter and internet-connected with embedded sensors and wireless data transmission. They offer us ambient intelligence that is meant to enhance our daily lives. Examples of this are in the home (Nest Learning Thermostat), in the car (Apple CarPlay) to what we wear (FitBit). Your challenge as a group is to design a smart device that relates to an assigned target market and device that relates to an assigned target market and category. The device could be entirely new or could be a reimagining of an existing product that has been made smart. Try to think beyond existing smart devices. It should offer utility and enhance the everyday lives of the assigned target audience. The focus should be on a device that has a creative and unique interactive paradigm, ideally a displaybased interface. The device should also connect to a third party application or service that will be developed in Phase B. PHASE B: Application Design As more and more applications and services are developed, companies are looking for interaction designers to create compelling experiences for their customers and at the same time stand out from their competition. The following project will involve the design of an application or service that coincides with your smart device from Phase A.




To solve the issue of long checkout lines, fitting room lines, finding out your item is out-of-stock, awkward store associate encounters, and most importantly, germ spread through publicly used items, our group came up with korb™. korb™ is a smart bag that allows users to take the hassle out of shopping. With RFID scanners built into the rim of the bag, users can place their items inside their korb™ and it will automatically be scanned and shown on your app. Users can easily keep track of what is in their bag, view the total, and even explore

store-specific inventory as korb™ automatically connects to their WIFI network. Once the user is finished shopping, they can just walk out. No need to wait in line as the korb™ app will instantly complete the transaction with your credit card as you leave the store premises. All korb™ compatible stores’ products will have korb™ stickers which allow the bag to detect the item once it is placed inside. If the user decides to change their mind, they simply remove the item from their bag and the app will delete it.






Bios: Johnson Luong: IG @luongjohnson I am a fourth year Design student at York Sheridan Design (YSDN) and specialize in Product Design & UI/UX Design. I am fascinated with exploring and solving real-world problems through design while seeing its direct impact on people’s lives. Johanna Lim: IG @joheunna I am a fourth year Design student at York University and Sheridan College’s joint Design program. I like to explore different dimensions of design and strive towards diverse fields. I am always eager to learn new things and welcome any challenges to help me grow as a designer. Nicole Lozano: IG @lozanodesign I am a third year York/Sheridan Design student, focusing on Product and Visual Design. I am very interested in using design to solve problems, and I also like to draw realism in my free time!


playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021 playGround 2021



ANNUALLY, THEATRE @YORK presents a magnificent, student-run theatre festival, playGround. Although being able to congregate in a theatre is not a possibility this year, the playGround team has been hard at work for months preparing a unique online experience. This special year, the shows will be streamed on Youtube, February 8th-12th. The festival includes eleven shows and a spoken word curation with five pieces which are all sure to impress audiences. The Artistic Directors, Araceli Ferrara and Amelia Mielke-O’Grady, chose the festival’s theme ‘Roots and Branches’ as they were reflecting on how the festival has helped them grow as artists during their time as students at York. Araceli says, “we picked the imagery of roots and branches to reflect two ideas: a sense of home and belonging; and growth as an individual.” They urged the festival artists to give thought to the question, “how does your creativity grow?” which is especially interesting considering the circumstances that the pandemic has imposed.

Although not being able to meet inperson, teamwork is what is making the festival feasible; “the best part is we’re not alone to face any challenge. We’re working with some incredible people who we rely on to make all of this possible,” says Araceli. Despite the challenge of making art during a pandemic, the Artistic Directors are delighted by the incredible ways the artists are adjusting to working in an entirely new way. “We’re seeing some amazing and creative ways that our creators are adapting to an online performance,” says Amelia. The desire to make and share art during such unstable times is commendable. The festival team and artists have definitely had to ‘branch out’ and there is an immense potential for growth for both individuals and the community, which we have the opportunity to witness. The dedication and resiliency of all those involved in the festival is certainly admirable.




MEET THE TEAM Arielle Voght (She/Her)Assistant Artistic Director

Tamara Mobarak (She/Her)Assistant Artistic Director Amelia Mielke-O’Grady (She/Her)Artistic Director Araceli Maria Ferrara (She/They)Artistic Director


Zie Souwand (He/Him)Production Manager/ Technical Director

Liane Low (She/Her)Production Stage Manager/ Festival Photographer

Maeve Weishar (She/ Her)Assistant Technical Director/ Assistant Production Stage Manager

Mac Mallory (He/Him)Publicity Representative




Make sure to check out the playGround festival: February 8th-12th on Youtube! February 8th: Series A 7:30 p.m. February 9th: Series B 7:30 p.m. February 10th: Series A 6:00 p.m., Series B 8:30 p.m. February 11th: Series A 7:30 p.m. February 12th: Series B 7:30 p.m.

THE SHOWS: Break-Out! Created by Dave Harak and Gabrielle de Manuel Burgertory Created by Braden Henderson f1nalgurlz_ Created by Zoe Marin Falling In, Walking Out Created by Connor Williamson and Faith Andrew He Follows Created by Erin McAdams Jew(ish) Created by Sara Masciotra-Milstein La Cucaracha Created by Barbara Morrone-Sanchez Red Rover Created by Kate Counsel Smaller World Created by Camren Smith The Trying Times of Sister Bunny Created by Madeleine Vogelaar, Felix Hao, Selena Otello, Jay Sison, and Sadie Wells Liddy words that start with L Created by Melanie Thompson


THE SPOKEN WORD PIECES: Chaos and Caretaker Created by Hayley Crowder and Sam Page Dad’s Little Brown Book Created by Cathy McDowell Do You Have A Smoke Created by Rachel Cucheron Goan Princess Created by Faith Andrew To Look In A Mirror Created by Megan De Sousa

For more information about the festival and ticket availability, follow playGround on Instagram @yorkplayground and ‘like’ on Facebook playGround Festival.





OUR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF and Assistant Editor sat down to chat with the York Lions Dance Club’s President and Vice President! Make sure to follow this lovely and inclusive dance club on Instagram @ yorklionsdanceclub, Facebook @York Lions Dance Club, and to check out their website at view/yorklionsdanceclub/home!


Laura Bourbonnais: If you can tell us your pronouns and more about your positions on YLDC. Shir Ziskind: My pronouns are she/ her. My position on YLDC is President though I do go into a bunch of other executive positions as well. [...] I am also the Beginner Hip Hop instructor which is super fun. I started this club about three years ago, back in 2018 with the sole intent of making it an inclusive dance environment for everyone at York to come together and to be a part no matter what academic standing, ability, or background and just make it a really fun recreational and welcoming environment to all.

Andrea Bruce: I am Andrea, [my pronouns are she/her]. I am the Vice President as well as the Beginner/ Intermediate Jazz Funk instructor. I joined the club last year as the Beginner Jazz Funk instructor and honestly immediately loved everything about the club. I knew pretty much from the beginning that I wanted to apply for an executive position, and when Vice President opened I was like “Yeah, I’d love to work right beside Shir.” [laughing] All the values, and everything we are about I absolutely love and stand for and love working with the team to be able to implement those with all of our students and all of our team. As Vice President, I work closely with the executive members, and alongside Shir. [laughing]




Teagan Ariss: Can you tell us about the creation of the York Lions Dance Club, and how it came about? SZ: Essentially, I am a transfer student so I did not start first-off at York, and I found that coming in as a second-year student, I was very unaware of some of the services that were offered to me. I also was not coming in as a

Dance major or minor but still had a really great connection to dance and wanted to continue dancing throughout undergrad. So, I was looking into the different dance clubs that we have going on at York and I found the competitive team and a bunch of other clubs that are focused on more specific genres like the Latin club or the Hip Hop club. So, I really wanted



to make an environment that was accessible and inclusive, something that would need minimal effort to join and would kind of foster all the different genres that we have and make it an experience that any student can be a part of no matter what they are interested in. [...] So, back in 2018, when we had the strike, I set out to start a club in the new year in Fall 2018, so I held interviews during the strike. [laughing] I was really trying to get this off of the ground via Facebook - that is where all of my marketing [...] went to. And [I] really did not know what was going to come out of it but I was excited and motivated to create this welcoming and accepting environment. [...] So, that was [...] the idea of it and our pillars really

stand for friendship, leadership, inclusivity, and health - mental and physical health. LB: What has been the feedback like since the YLDC’s creation? Have you gotten feedback from any specific students or in general on what stood out to them? SZ: Andrea started out as an instructor just hearing about it. AB: Feedback has been definitely very positive. And I know my personal feedback for the club was just “very excited to see how it grows and how we can keep improving to reach out to more students.” I really wanted to help grow the club as well. But definitely the fact that we

are so inclusive has been a big thing. And everyone seems to feel really welcomed which was one of our goals [...] to make sure that no one feels like they cannot be a part of it in any way whether that is on the dance side, on the instructor side, or working on the executive side. Anything there has been like we want anyone to feel like they can take part regardless of your dance background [...] specifically. As well, with online, things definitely have changed there, and Shir can talk on this as well but a huge thing was that we are accessible through drop-ins. So, students [who have] such a busy schedule do not feel the need to commit to anything which definitely helped me last year. Like I




wanted to take other classes and I could never necessarily commit to a full schedule so it was really great to [be like] “hey, I can take this class today� and [...] it is just going to be fun. SZ: Yeah, just to add onto that, I think [...] what specifically has come up from our students is that it is a drop-in basis. We really emphasize the whole low commitment aspect of things which challenges the club and family environment. But I think those who come out consistently, and we have seen that over the years, have really found a connection and a place in our club. And we see that connection from our students with their instructors and their teachers that they see week in week out. TA: So, what were your past roles before becoming the President and VP of YLDC, and how have your responsibilities changed? AB: I was [the] Beginner Jazz Funk instructor so my responsibilities were to ensure that I was prepared for class, teach my students, take the feedback, see how I can improve my class for my students and [...] internal club work. [...] And then becoming Vice President, I have really gotten a back-end of how that all works. [laughing] Definitely as an

instructor, I did not realize how much work goes into this club which is really great to learn. I have learned a lot, and I look forward to learning a lot more because [...] we still [have] all [Winter] semester which is so exciting. [laughing]

you were just saying, how do you think you have grown as people, choreographers, instructors since the founding/ joining YLDC?

AB: As a teacher specifically, I have gotten a lot of confidence. I have taught before but mainly SZ: I have been President for three with children at private owned studios, so working with years and I will be stepping back university students was a big because I am going to graduate. change for me which was a little So, I will be leaving and someone intimidating at first, and then I else will be taking my place so loved it. [...] It really challenged that is very exciting and I hope me to gain my confidence there, that someone does rise up to the challenge to continue on the hard and understand how to run a class for people. And you treat work that has been put into the them [differently]. Like the way club over the last three years. you talk to a little kid is way Starting off, I was the Beginner Jazz instructor, and the President different than how you make a connection with [...] which was really fun. And someone who is around your then, I transitioned again into age. [...] Also, [...] I have gotten President as well as Beginner/ a lot more comfortable with Intermediate Hip Hop instructor. And this year, I have a plethora of choreographing. I was a little roles. [...] I am currently President, bit nervous before with how to work around and make sure Minister of Operations, and that I [...] create a fun combo Treasurer [...] as well as Beginner because as [...] a Jazz Funk Hip Hop instructor. Yeah, it is a instructor, my goal is to break lot. [laughing] But I have Andrea as such a great support. The execs a huge sweat and just have a really good time and enjoy the this year have been incredible. music. And, I have definitely Just being here for the past three gotten a pretty strong grasp of years and seeing the change how I want to run my class and how committed people can which is really great and I look be has been [...] mind blowing. forward to challenging myself [laughing] Because I know I am more there as well. And as [...] committed but seeing [...] other people commit [to this club’s Vice President, just like high management, organization, vision] is just really beautiful. and understanding how to take a little bit more control I have LB: Awesome. Going off what


grown a lot in. Understanding how I need to take control of a situation or guide people, lead people. Definitely took on a huge change there and growth. [laughing] SZ: I have always been one to not wait around for someone to make something. Like I am very much a starter. So, I think this club pushed me even more and

still pushes me to be better and to hone in those leadership skills. Like Andrea, I have also had many years of being in the studio [and as] a competitive dancer. Obviously, that changed once entering university. Throughout my undergrad, I have taught at studios, I have been a director of summer dance camps with the city of Vaughan. I have really taken a role to be a leader in dance. [...] I took inspiration from other universities and saw what wonderful things their dance clubs were doing and have tried to bring that to York, and embody that leadership that I would like to see moving forward and from my team and myself being a very welcoming, open person and fostering that into the environment. I think being an instructor with the club apart from teaching younger students or teens I would say, has definitely pushed me to better my choreography and understand levels a bit more. Like bouncing from Intermediate classes to Beginner classes is definitely challenging.




I always tell my Beginner instructors “it is a lot harder to teach a Beginner class than an Intermediate class if you are more of an Intermediate dancer.” [...] I think it has pushed me to learn more about my genre, learn more about how to be an effective instructor in the studio, and what works for students. TA: What is your hope for the people who attend the classes? Is there anything you want them to take away from the classes or gain from their experience? AB: I know in my class, my goal is to make people walk away with a really big smile, to feel really good about themselves. [...] No matter what your level is, I want you to walk into my class and feel like “You’ve got this!” It is hard to explain but- confidence, [feeling good]. It does not matter your level, just have a good time [and] walk out feeling like “yes, I feel refreshed.” I love dance as a good break so I can come back to whatever I have to do. [laughing] I guess that is my goal - for you to feel amazing, and to learn and grow as a dancer.

SZ: Just to add on to what Andrea said because [she] explained it beautifully, I think one of the main goals for YLDC is to teach something new. So, even if you are a complete beginner or you are someone who has been in the style, to come into the environment, learn something new, leave with a little bit of sense of belonging. I feel like people have been able to


do that [as] recurring students which has been awesome to see and to foster friendship. Being a part of something that you [...] enjoy. [...] Friendship, inclusivity, being hyped up, leaving with a positive attitude. That is [...] what we hope that the students leave with. TA: I think that is really beautiful because as a dancer often I forget that I dance because I actually enjoy it, and because it makes me feel good. I think that is such an important point to drive home to your students. SZ: For sure. We are always emphasizing fun too. There is no expectation that this is going on stage, and that kind of rubs away the perfectionism that I feel like some dancers and some students have coming in where they are like “Oh my God, someone’s watching me, and I need to be a certain way.”No, it is really about the independent experience. [...]There is no pressure to be perfect or to move a certain way. LB: As someone who used to compete I am really happy that I found this club. Going off the topic of recurring dancers specifically that you see throughout the weeks - have you noticed growth within certain dancers or have you heard about it?

AB: Last year [...] in the studio, every week was a little different but [...] there were about four dancers that always returned [...] and I watched them really grow. One of them was one of my really close friends who absolutely loved dance but had never danced before. She would tell me “I feel so much more confident.” And it went from not wanting to be [in the videos at the end of class to] right before lockdown, she was just getting so comfortable, and she was like, “Actually, I want to be in this video.” And I was like, “Yes, you do!” [laughing] [...] And another one who I ended up crossing paths with actually this year again, she was even saying “I don’t dance but whatever this class does just makes me feel so good,” and I was [...] so glad because that is how it makes me feel and I want to share that with others. SZ: We have had one student come out for the past three for all those years and to see her growth and her willingness to take our classes. She is such a joy. She is like our legend. [laughing] [...] Even one of our instructors took class with us in our very first year and now she is an instructor with us [...] which is so awesome to see! I have had a very consistent student this semester. [...] It was their first time hearing about the club and they decided to

come on and take our online classes which is such a leap of faith because obviously there is a huge drop off of being online for so long. And having to come out and do something club related might be hard for some but this consistent student has come to a bunch of our classes, [...] loves the de-stressing effect that it has, [...] wants to learn, and then practices throughout the week. [They] have come to my class [saying], “Shir, I need to show you what I’ve been working on!” [...] You feel like you really have a positive impact on this person, throwing some choreography at them that they have fun with [and] they go and do it on their own? It is an even bigger win for us as instructors to see that people are actually enjoying what we are putting out there. TA: You do offer a variety of different styles in your classes. Why is that important for your club? AB: I think it allows a lot of opportunity to challenge yourself in various ways. This year specifically, we have been very lucky to be able to offer Latin. We offer different levels in Jazz and Contemporary. Online, of course, some things have changed. But we have Bollywood, we have Irish. I think it is so important that you can challenge yourself. And [...]




it opens up a lot of opportunities for those people who enjoy those styles already [...] but maybe they did not know where to find [those classes] at York. It is kind of like a one-stop shop. [laughing] You come in, you can take whatever style we offer. [...] We offer so many now which is so great. Everyone has a place.

SZ: We never have a cap of “we need to find this style next year when we hire.� [...] It has always been whatever people come and approach us with. We have had Belly Dancing in the past [which] was such a succes. People [...] had a great time. Bollywood has been such a big hit which is not the usual competition styles, the studio styles I would say. Just understanding that York is a diverse community of people [...] The reason why it is important to have different genres is to cater to everybody because [...] [it] comes down to inclusivity. Being able to give an opportunity to every student at York [...] to be involved in something that they like to do, in a style that they enjoy.

so that nothing comes as a surprise. Totally free to any style you are teaching. And then we usually move into the combo and then we start teaching and it is about thirty-five minutes to forty-five minutes. There is still freedom there with how long the instructor wants to make it. And then in person, we would do groups but on Zoom we do not usually go into groups but we do record it.

TA: How would you describe a typical YLDC dance class - in terms of technique, choreography, structure?

AB: I feel proud in the way that we have been able to adjust. I feel like the way that we have our whole team working to adjust their classes, to adjust their socials, to make them all online to make things interactive but still fun, I feel very proud. It has taken a lot of work. [laughing] A lot of work. But it has been really good. Speaking on behalf of our Social Coordinator, she has done an amazing job in creating a fun space away from your computer studying to still be on the computer. I know that might sound a bit weird but for me, it does not necessarily feel like I

AB: How we structure our classes or how we guide our instructors in structuring their classes is still a lot of room for the instructors to do as they wish but we of course start with a warm-up about ten-fifteen minutes, a little bit of stretching, a little bit of cardio, anything they want there. Then, we do encourage them to go into technique or some basics, foundations, maybe some things that are involved in the combo

LB: Going off what you were saying with the online aspect, for teaching, socials, and not being able to poster, how has the shift been overall? Any part that you would want to touch on. SZ: This is a topic. [laughing]


have just been really awesome in planning everything and helping us execute things. [...] I am just so proud to see that people who are on the team as instructors or as execs are not giving up and really pushing themselves each week or each social or outreach event to be better and to see “how can we still engage people, how can we still make this a better space, what more can we do?” TA: I have definitely noticed YLDC’s presence increase on social media over the years, and have friends who are instructors. am online again. It feels like I am here with my team, and we are still able to make some connections. And of course we wish that they were in person. I feel like everyone is in that same boat where you wish that everything was in person but I feel like I have still been able to make a really great connection through online with the team, and still growing which is awesome. SZ: Obviously, we had to make modifications and adjust certain goals but we still wanted to offer the same capacity of services. [...] It has taken a lot of work, it is definitely a lot of effort but I think that is the support that we have had from the instructors and our executive team. They

SZ: We are really trying our best to include everybody so that is really awesome to hear. I think being on campus and being in front of people and in lectures, and postering [helps]. [...] So many people have heard of us from postering. Some people do not have social media but I think this year has forced us to be so present on Instagram and Facebook, making a website, and making an online shop. That is [...] where our attention has been focused on. Without it, people would not be able to see what is going on in our club. [...] Now you know a bit more about us! [laughing].

Give the York Lions Dance Club a try, and purchase upcoming classes here: http://!







DESPITE A MAJORITY of students having done over a semester of online school, it is still something we are all still getting used to. We have gone from a time of being able to shut off our laptops for the night to having our school, internships and social lives all revolve around our screens. I feel it is safe to say no one has mastered how to perfectly handle this extreme exposure to our screens. The idea of detoxing from screens means feeling isolated. For those who did not return to campus, technology is the only way for us to see our friends. I raised the question to my friends, “how do you detox from technology?� And it was overwhelmingly agreed that no one knew how to. I had felt guilty at the end of my first semester, thinking that everyone else had done a better job at taking a break from technology than I had and that they knew how to live a more balanced life.

I soon realized that was not the case. And though I know there are activities I can do off screen, I am learning there are ways to mindfully use technology by making sure what I am consuming is bringing me joy. I am always near my phone as it is how I communicate with my friends. But I have made changes that make me feel better about my devices. I have deleted all phone games I used to have on my phone prior to COVID because I saw these were no longer bringing me joy and making me feel productive in the ways I wanted to be. I also turned off notifications for a majority of my apps so I am less distracted. When it comes to social media apps, I feel justified to have them on my phone and look through them because they help me stay connected during this time. But I do actively unfollow accounts that do not bring me happiness and follow accounts that help inspire me.




There are ways to monitor screen time on your phone and on specific apps, which some find beneficial, however, one should not feel guilty during this stressful time to reduce their screen time. I have also found myself watching different shows and podcasts. I have tried to expand the range of content I am consuming simply because it makes me happy. Watching a TV show or a movie has the potential to spark your creativity and motivation simply because you are taking a break and relaxing. I want to learn to reduce my screen time but it is much more realistic to learn how to better use technology so it keeps bringing me joy. The extent of our off screen time can only be used doing such a limited amount of activities currently. We end up spending a lot of time online, and I am coming to peace with it. It is okay.

I have created a routine, or at least tried my best to, and I have taken up hobbies. However, all of my friends and school are online causing me to spend a lot of time looking at a screen. I am finally realizing, during a time like this, that it is okay. Through conversations with others, I am also realizing we are all different with what makes us feel best in regards to screen time, so it is impossible to have similar expectations for one another. That said, we can find what works for us and share it in the hopes that it will help someone else.







QUARANTINE HAS GIVEN us lots of time to ourselves this year. I have seen people start some pretty strange hobbies in this time. Last week, my sister started making her own rings. Personally, when I am not in school or at work, I like to bake and cook. Lately I have been on a pasta kick, so I have been trying out a lot of pasta recipes to see which ones are the best. I have also made a lot of bread almost none of which turned out. And pies, I have almost perfected my apple pie recipe. The next one will be perfect. I have also started reading again. I used to read a lot, but school takes up most of my time. Over the winter break I read an entire book - which is pretty impressive for me. Since I am a screenwriting major and creative writing minor, I have also been focusing on my writing. Editing scripts and stories is easier without a deadline; though Netflix is tempting and I have been neglecting my hobbies in favour of binge watching TV shows. A few more things I tried to do were macrame and embroidery. The marcrame was really fun until I had to stop for the night and could not figure out how to continue the next day - I did give up and my project has been sitting in the back of my closet since May. As for embroidery I got really into it for a little while, and then I found out I have been doing it wrong the whole time and did not feel like learning how to do it right, so I gave up on that too.

But, that is the beauty of quarantine, you can start things and let them go if you do not like it. You can experiment with hobbies, finding which ones you like. When my sister started making rings, she got really mad because they did not turn out the way she wanted. She kept saying that she has no hobbies because she isn’t good at anything. But, I do not think that matters. She can make a hundred rings and none of them could turn out, but she is making them, so it is a hobby. If it keeps her occupied and she likes making them, why does it matter how they look? She will get better eventually. I tried to paint but got more on my clothes than on the canvas. I tried to sew and ended up shrinking my sweater four sizes smaller than it originally was. I started doing yoga every morning and then decided I liked sleeping in more. The last thing we need right now is more judgement. I think the most important things are to wear a mask and try to be as happy as possible. Living is hard enough right now, finding ways to occupy your time and not go crazy should not be full of judgement. Knit a crooked scarf, give up on candle making, buy a bread maker to make your bread for you (they are worth it). Do not be so hard on yourself. And seriously, wear your mask.




Keeping Busy:


The Quarantine Edition


HOW HAVE I kept busy during quarantine? Busy with doing nothing .. aahhh, yes. But here are some of the best ways to not lose your mind! Firstly, I am famous for dancing around my room like a complete fool. Looking like an inflatable tube man blowing in the wind. This dancing usually leads me to falling down a rabbit hole of discovering old music which just leads to more moving and grooving. Rihanna? Down with Webster? Crank that. I think it is extremely important for all individuals to feel connected to their bodies. Take a moment to feel every bit of yourself from your head to your knees to your toes, and how the music can change how these parts feel. How does the tempo or bass change the way you move? Secondly, I am a big fan of those video games. As someone who never quite had the desire to online game, being able to play either Fortnite (yes, I said Fortnite) or Warzone has been a great way to escape the reality I am stuck in and also connect with friends. I can’t say I am any good, but is it ever fun. Journaling and keeping a habit tracker helped to keep me grounded throughout quarantine. Life is extremely overwhelming and the moment when you throw school into the mix is when you can most definitely find yourself in a rut. It is a good way to talk to yourself. Making time for yourself is so important especially when it feels like four walls are crushing you. On that same note, treat yourself. Allow yourself to eat, watch, sleep whatever and however much as long as you stay the heck inside. You are allowed to feel unmotivated. You are allowed to have a bad day. But you are also allowed to be proud of yourself for even just getting out of bed that day. But, I must admit the best activity of them all is checking in with the people you love. Do not be afraid to call or text someone. My friends and I are famous for having group zoom calls that involve the usual check-ins with one another, chaotic rounds of Psych! and and eventually it will be 3:00 a.m. with six of us left asking each other deep life questions. Just because we are stuck inside does not mean that love, friendship, kindness, and fun stop. Take care of yourself.


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I AM ABOUT 90% sure that Valentine’s Day was built to remind single people that they are single. I am also 10% sure that Valentine’s Day was a day manufactured by the greeting card people to hike up their profits and there is only one quote from film history that perfectly encapsulates my two complementing beliefs and that quote is from everyone’s favorite movie, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, that goes “random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” I feel like every year, whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, the same phrase gets thrown around by groups of single people which is “Valentine’s is not just for couples” (which insinuates that you can say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to anyone) or something like “Valentine’s Day is so much pressure, I’m glad I’m single”, and I think deep down, we all know that both of these statements are on some level, not true.

Valentine’s Day exists so that happy couples can share how happy they are on social media and unhappy couples can also share how happy they are on social media, and while the members of the latter group need to take a good, long look at themselves, I hate both of them equally.

Do not get me wrong, I do not hate them because they are happy. . . . Okay maybe I hate them because they are happy. But on some very, very surface level I am jealous. I mean which single person is not jealous of a happy couple? Sure, there are single people who like being single, but everyone wants companionship, we want that romantic love, we want someone (not related to us) to say “hey, I love you unconditionally” and I know some single friends who do not feel like they want that now, and maybe you have single friends who do not want that now, but it still does not take away from the fact that we may want it eventually. I feel like I have drifted away from the point. I also feel like I have not made a point yet. I am definitely about to. More than anything, I am tired. I am exhausted thinking about how single I am every Valentine’s Day, and I am deciding that 2021 is my year to start making Valentine’s Day about me.

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104 IV


I do not see myself getting into a relationship soon so it is a good thing that this year will be a Valentine’s Day I shall be spending on my own, but I am happy to say that I have reached this point of “I do not care.” Growing up, I am not ashamed to say, I have seen a lot of rom-coms. Only the best ones of course, which are whichever has Hugh Grant in it. And now, Instagram shows me how many people are in relationships, and Facebook throws wedding announcements on my timeline (and I am anti-marriage but it still stings) and I think all that has influenced a mindset, and I am sure I am not the only one, of “I should be with someone.”

But I am pleased to say that 2020 taught me that I like my company and I like just being with my friends and family, and that I am willing to wait for someone special to come around for me to jump into a relationship. So now, I am in the “I Do Not Care” phase, where I am happy if the opportunity presents itself to be with someone, but until then I will just be happy with myself. The true test is of course Valentine’s Day, but I am armed with a new attitude towards my life and relationships and I am going to figure out something to do on Valentine’s Day that allows me to spend time with myself, hopefully without looking at what Instagram and Facebook throws at me, and just have a really good day.


Random thoughts for Valentine’s day 2021: “I am going to go out, take a walk, and then get a cup of some fancy coffee, probably eat food that I like, maybe get a piece of cake or some ice-cream, probably watch a movie (non-Hugh Grant), play a video game, and just overall have a relaxing day.” I suppose that that is my point, dear readers, just do what you want on Valentine’s Day and do not be burdened with the idea that you should be sad that you do not have anyone to spend it with, heck, spend it with your single friends! Start a tradition with your single friends’ group! Meet other new, single people! Eat ice-cream! Watch Mamma Mia! Just do what you want, I do not care. Conversely, if you already do not care about Valentine’s and do not care that you are single, and are unburdened with the idea that you have to be with someone, then I am happy for you and I wish a lot of people felt like that! I am trying to adopt that attitude this year, and maybe someone might take some time and adopt it later in the year, or maybe they will adopt it next year, and that is okay, as long as they like being with themselves, and know that they will be with someone eventually, it is just taking a little longer for that person to find them. Whichever it is, I wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day, and I stress the ‘Happy’ part.

P.S. I also should mention, for complete transparency, that my birthday is one day before Valentine’s Day, so am I making Valentine’s Day also about me so I can have two days in the year, consecutively, about myself? Probably.

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MY FRIEND AND I started a spiritual mental health and self-awareness community on Instagram which inspires others, mainly women, to step into their authentic power. @tuneintoenergy is all about rejecting the idea that sensuality is something to repress and hide and embracing all aspects of what it is to be human. Mental health can rarely be achieved without mindfulness nor the ability to unapologetically love what the heart is drawn to. In this apparent Age of Awakening, it is important for people to know there are others like them who want to live this life to the fullest and understand what it means to truly evolve. We all have our own unique purpose, but sometimes it is almost like we are forced to find it which leaves us searching and does not allow what belongs to gravitate to us. We also all have our very own healing journeys which can never be compared, are quite private, and sometimes very difficult to go through which we consider.

This page assists those who are in this transitional moment without a rulebook on how to heal — we believe humanity will heal as soon as each one of us tunes into our greatness and allows love in. I believe understanding how energy works and how to integrate your very own into this world would allow many people to feel free and feel the love which fuels all life. Interests in spirituality are growing more than ever because while it is easy to balance a physical life with proper eating, sleeping, and exercise, our mental realm gets neglected yet oversees how we approach anything in the physical. To have a fruitful mind, an expressive voice, a grateful heart and a compassionate approach to life is what this community strives to teach and encourage.


Feel free to join the movement — hit that follow and direct message any questions you have. We hope to grow this community into the ultimate safe space for all people. There are no rules — only love, and connection. Tune into your magical, authentic energy. No matter what is happening on the outside in this world, I promise nothing is as important as your inner world.

About @tuneintoenergy: My name is Inna and I warmly welcome you into our humble community. This page is meant to uplift, inspire, and assist you with coming into further alignment with your authentic self. Healing and transformation are processes which make us human and here we celebrate them with gratitude and awareness. I encourage you to tune into the unique energy you are made of and integrate it into life itself — thank you for being here.




Enjoy Your

F*cking Twenties! BY MELANIE GAZVODA


IT ALL STARTED on a Wednesday night as I lay next to my girlfriend. We picked out a stand-up comedy to watch: “Time Machine,” by Leslie Jones. Leslie continued to reiterate to the audience, “enjoy your f*cking twenties.” Although the comedy show was funny, in this moment I had an epiphany; I will never be this young again, this energetic or this youthful. This thought had occurred to me before, but it never sunk in until this moment. We live in a society that focuses on the future and what we are going to do then but this strays us away from living right now. I have started taking up meditation and yoga to be more present and to be fully engulfed in the moment, but in all honesty, I cannot help but sometimes focus on the past, or on what I am going to do tomorrow. In these times of stress and isolation, we further alienate ourselves from the real world by trying to escape our present reality, but why? Is it these high anxiety times? Or do we just not enjoy where we are right now? And why don’t we do anything to change it? What really resonated with me was the fact that Leslie Jones, who is now fifty-three, stressed to the audience how important it is to enjoy life, while you are young. Now in her older age, she does not constantly stress about appearance, weight, or how she comes across. She does not let the judgment of others impede her from life (which most twenty-year-olds do).

We care too much about what other people will say in fear of being judged. But it is people like Leslie, who perform in front of enormous crowds, making people laugh, and truly being herself, that get noticed. Of course, you will be judged in life! Even Leslie has some people who dislike her comedy, but if she did not go out on a limb and believe in herself, she would not be where she is now. You may be the best cherry cheesecake in the universe, but not everyone likes cheesecake. Will that stop me, among many others, from enjoying cheesecake? Hell no! So, my advice to you is to have a little faith in yourself, be more confident, and enjoy your f*cking twenties while you can!



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