New Wave Magazine Issue 5

Page 1



Emily Peotto


Pia Araneta


Shauna Mazenes



Katie Li & Chelsey Gould


Lauren Kaminski & Vanessa Nim


Zanele Chisholm, Monica Sadowski, Natalie Michie

Veronika Wiszniewska & Samantha Nunziato


Dear Readers,

At the beginning of the year, we had a masthead meeting and we came up with ideas for what we wanted New Wave to look like for the semester. Like many others, we had big plans. We rebranded ourselves, creating new colour schemes and visuals to let everyone know we weren’t stagnant in our pastel placidity, but instead demanded vibrance and growth. Hell, we were going glossy for print. And again, like many others, things came apart quite quickly—which is why you’re reading this digital issue now, instead of in April, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of student life and academia. Now, we hustle from home (with terrible posture, might I add).

And home became many things for us. We turned on our ovens more than we’d ever done in our lifetime. We drank quarantinies afer a 15-minute yoga sesh streamed on YouTube. We tweeted, and even though it seemed to be @thevoid, everyone was in fact, listening. One constant for me and many others throughout the pandemic was reading. I reread books that made me remember why I love writing. But also, I read mindless books equivalent to literary reality TV. I consumed them guilt-free because I didn’t feel like engaging in critical thought. I was so over thinking. What I hope this issue brings is a piece of nostalgia and gratitude. Tese articles were written before everything was so intertwined with Covid and quarantine and news reports that made us so receptive to scientifc jargon. You will not fnd scientifc jargon here. Instead, what you will fnd are stories of identity and resilience—the kind of stories that help us remember we are more than just people surviving a pandemic, we are survivors of our own trauma.

Brennan March writes Te Veins on my Mother’s Hangs—a piece about his mother and our relationship with time—and it reads as a much needed hug. A piece by Carolyn Bridgeman called Te Unladylike Tummy tackles her strugle with Gastroparesis, demonstrating a resilience of body and mind that we hope to achieve in our current circumstances. And Vanessa Nim writes Te Flower Beadwork People, a piece about her Métis heritage in our ever so colonial country. Tough we seem more divided than ever, I hope these stories can unite us. As we cling to simplicity, we remember that trivial things aren’t less important in the face of adversity, but rather, more crucial than ever.

New Wave makes me honest. New Wave makes me hopeful. New Wave makes me feel safe, supported, and comforted. Tese stories make me believe in a life afer trauma. Tey make me think that people will always be listening. Tey let me know that there’s always space: to grow, to welcome, to breathe.

I can’t think of any of you without crying. Our readers, writers, editors, designers, thank you for giving us so much. Tank you for coming on this journey with us. Your arms have always been my favourite place to rest.

Tis is a labour of love. Please give it yours as well.




How strong is the Caribbean community at Ryerson?

For me, Guyana is two things: family and warmth.

I moved to Toronto two years ago to study journalism at Ryerson. Toronto has given me a sense of independence

I have never had, and friends that turned family. But Guyana will forever be home.

Nestled in the northeastern corner of South America, Guyana wedged itself a spot in the Caribbean community with its common history of British colonization and rich culture forged from Amerindian, East Indian, African, European, Chinese and Portuguese infuences.

In my frst year, I found myself facing a montage of new faces refective of diferent cultures, nationalities and ways of life. One face stood out to me and upon introducing himself, I instantly felt a connection and a sense of relief. His accent was distinctly Trinidadian (that of a Caribbean island) and while we hardly ever spoke to each other afer this encounter, knowing that there was some-

a similar background as myself at Ryerson, and living in the same on-campus residence, brought me some level of comfort.

Tis innate need to connect and relate with people isn’t just based on nationality and culture. When you think about it, relatability and shared interests are the basis of any friendship or relationship. And when you’ve just moved to a diferent country and school, this need to connect and form friendships become insistent.

“Where are you from?” is one of the most common conversation starters. I ofen found myself having to pinpoint Guyana on the map every time I was asked this, but the few times I didn’t have to always pleasantly


surprised me. Tough there is joy in sharing a piece of my culture with new people, an instant bond created out of common knowledge or experience brings comfort to this new space.

“Friendship,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “is born at that moment when one person says to another hat ou, too Tought I was the only one.’

ribbean. Referencing Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and ourism anagement’s e periential learning trips to Jamaica, Mowatt says these types of initiatives would be efective in showcasing the Caribbean as more than just a party destination.

Tis is literally our background, owatt says. Tis is a way to get the voice out there and make it seem like yeah, it’s a party but there’s business to be there.

According to C A president ebecca Tompson, the C A has approximately 150 members and while there are many Jamaicans associated with the group, there are far more nationalities and a diverse range of ethnicities represented.

“Diversity is present both in our membership and our executive team — with [me] hailing from Jamaica, the vice-president and director of fnance from arbados, and the e ecutive secretary from rinidad, Tompson says.

Te C A is like home for many of us. It’s entering a space where you immediately feel comfortable enough to not hide a thick accent, to converse about Caribbean pop culture, and to just be.”

It’s easy to think otherwise but you’re never the only one.

Jamaica-raised Deniel Mowatt met her best friend from Curacao in her frst year at yerson. he is still one of the few people Mowatt knows from the Caribbean at school.

“It was getting cold and I mentioned, ‘Oh, I just moved here and I only have tank tops,’ and she was like ame, let’s go shopping,’ owatt says. e went lack riday shopping.”

In an attempt to meet even more people from the Caribbean, Mowatt attended events hosted by the Caribbean Students’ Association C A in her frst two years at yerson. But she realized its ability to represent the Caribbean as a whole was somewhat limited. Mowatt says she found the student group mainly included Jamaicans and their events didn’t seem to e tend beyond the uintessential meet and greets and pub nights.

Te fourth year business management student says that there is much more room for improvement in the opportunities that the CSA presents to students from the Ca-

While the meet-and-greets and pub nights are their staple events, Tompson says the C A has also held a gala and a relief drive, as well as participated in yerson tudents’ nion’s Culture am several times.

Te C A promotes through social media, emails and postering on campus which aren’t always the most efective methods within the constraints of their limited resources.

For third-year social work student Ashana Persaud, the persistent need to fnd people from the Caribbean at yerson didn’t e ist and neither did her knowledge of the C A.

“Communication and advertising about this association needs to be brought to the forefront where students in all programs are aware of opportunities like this,” Persaud says.

Persaud was born in Canada but her Guyanese roots are strongly reinforced with each Guyanese meal her mom prepares, each traditional wedding she attends and each visit to Guyana she makes.

Having met over 10 people from the Caribbean at Ryerson (far more than both Mowatt and I combined), Persaud says there’s a mutual understanding of their backgrounds and a

“Friendship,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.’”

mutual goal in receiving a university education, which is not always possible to ac uire back home.

those she’s encountered and e perienced, she felt understood. She plans on being more proactive in seeking out CSA initiatives to continue these experiences.

Is it the tunes of reggae playing on the radio? The coconut vendor cutting you a fresh coconut off the side of the street? The sharing of roads with horses, cows and cars?

e’re always trying to connect more with our culture and fnd little pockets of home wherever we can. But what makes up this rich culture and the community that we are so deeply connected to?

Is it the traditional Jamaican dish, rundown, Mowatt makes, that in one bite takes her back to overlooking the sunset at home? Is it the tunes of re ae playing on the radio Te coconut vendor cutting you a fresh coconut of the side of the street Te sharing of roads with horses, cows and cars?

In fact, she recalled a time during a group project where the Caribbean’s education standards were belittled in comparison to that of Canada, by her classmates.

It’s understandable since Caribbean students have to redo their studies to maintain Canadian standards,” Persaud says. She added that although she was born in Canada, this type of marginalization still afects her as she’s had friends and family who’ve faced educational discrimination.

Te number of Caribbean events, school groups, professors and students these aren’t things Persaud has ever really paid much attention to, but with

r is it the value system we share Te respect for each other’s religions Te mutual participation in festivals Te dialects and ability to poke fun at each other’s peculiarities?

e fnd our community where the conversation fows and laughter persists. Two years into my time at yerson, I’m not constantly in search of people from the Caribbean anymore. But the gentle reminders of home in my friends, the food I eat and the music I listen to are always welcome.




TW: Tis story contains mentions of sexual violence

i have been named many things: sister. peaches. baby. student. rose. raped. my name has been chewed on and spit out. i watch you tie it in a knot with your tongue like a cherry stem. i dig my nails into my palm so hard they draw blood. you tell me your shirt is stained, i shrug.

i don’t remember your name. but mine is in that car. it will always be in that car. the way you used it like it was yours. the way you tied it around my throat. stopped me from speaking. and lef me there. that car. that street. the lights that never turned of but never burnt out. tinted windows. the sound of my head hitting the door. the way i scraped your cum out from inside of me. threw out my underwear. called myself other things. asked you to stop saying Emily. Emily. Emily. i still sit on my bathroom foor when i cry. i still stain bedsheets. towels. things that were once white.

i am still a foreigner in my own body. trying to build a home that feels like mine. trying to erase you from the house that you burned down. there are fowers on the counter. please don’t touch them.


Growing Pains

TW: Tis story contains mentions of body image issues

I was ve years old the rst time I was self conscious. I was so young I was still learning how to read and write, but I was able to look down at my thighs while sitting on the school bus, and compare myself to the girl next to me.

Being bi er made me feel diferent. Te sense of isolation this created started slowly chipping away at my self image, before I even knew what ‘self image’ meant.

While I had these lingering thoughts throughout my childhood, I wasn’t consumed by them until I reached puberty. laying with my friends in their backyards shi ed to sitting in their rooms and talking about boys. And along with it came an increased obsession with makeup, clothes, and physical appearances. With male attention on my mind, getting ready for school became an arduous task. I was no longer just existing, I was existing for the consumption of others.

As a freshly teen-aged girl who wanted nothing more than the approval of others, I was dangerously malleable. Trough social media I was curating an idea of what I thought was beautiful and it wasn’t anything I was doing.

Te feeling of diference that had tiptoed through my childhood now plagued my adolescence. My friends began having their rst kisses and their rst boyfriends while I was having my rst taste of depression and anxiety.

Tis constant feeling of inadequacy all stemming from my body image made me resent my life and dread social situations. Any situation in which I was open to judgement or criticism caused me immense amounts of an iety because I believed so deeply that I was fawed.


In high school, all of these feelings continued to intensify. I couldn’t see beyond those few years of my life while I was living them. With such profound feelings of inadequacy I was desperate for some sort of salvation from the hell I had created in my mind. I felt trapped in my small town, in my school, and in my own skin.

I had torn myself down to the point where I kept everything I was feeling hidden inside of the body I had learned to hate, because I felt there was no way anyone cared about me enough to listen. My problems were as worthless and irrelevant as I felt I was to others.

At my worst, waking up everyday and simply existing in my day-to-day routine seemed more and more insurmountable. I was so ated on this one aspect of myself it poisoned my self worth in all aspects. Tis false reality I had created in my mind about who I thought I was and what de ned who I was controlled my actual reality.

When it came time for me to go to university, I took this as an opportunity to run as far away from myself as I could. A er living in the same town going to the same school my whole life if I could shed this version of myself I created here maybe I could be happy with who I become. While the decision to move across the country, away from anyone or anything I knew, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, it was not a cure-all.

As a kid, my mom would always call the pain I would occasionally get in my legs ‘growing pains’. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to learn the true meaning of the term. Growing pains are having panic attacks at 4am so bad that you’re gasping to breathe. Growing pains are feeling tortured in your own skin. Growing pains are ugly, and they are hard. Te growing pains I’ve felt over the past few years have brought me some of the most euphoric moments of my life along with some of the darkest and most desolate.

Growth is meant to be uncomfortable. Feeling yourself change, and losing old aspects of yourself that are no longer serving you, and seeing them morph into something new is both beautiful and terrifying. When I look in the mirror now, I can still see the little girl who wanted nothing more than to be something she wasn’t. And even though that version of myself is far removed from who I’ve grown into, I know that she would love me just as much as I love her.



eins connect blood to your whole body. Te blood in your hands eventually ends up in your feet. Te blood in your brain becomes the blood in your heart.

My mother’s veins, like all others, have grown more noticeable as the years go on. Blue intertwined cords extending outwards and over, seemingly constricting around the bones of her paper thin hands.

At one point in time, my blood wasn’t completely mine. For nine months, my mother and I were connected by a river of red blood that fowed between us, and for a brief moment, two made one.

Being on the outside, it’s hard to fathom that our blood once connected in a similar way to how all bodies of water are connected. How can that be? Some lakes are brown, some are crystal. Some are polluted to toxicity and some harbour more life than the land that rises above them.

Te blood in our bodies was connected and so were we. ike water traverses the world, confned to the planet of a body. y mother’s river of blood fowed into that of her mother. Generations upon generations of red rivers connected and fowing together. omehow, we remain connected.

When I think of this I am reminded of my mother’s hands. Hands I frst saw at thirty four. ow ffy three. nce unnoticeable, the veins fght for attention now. It’s as if they continue to rise like the tide of the sea.

I’ve come to fnd that the veins on my hands are also growing to the surface as the days go on. Soon my hands will be thin like paper too, and the red river that was the basin of me will dry out. I uestion what it all means the connectedness of it all. If I could give my mother my veins, I undoubtedly would. But I can’t. All I can do is remember that everyone is part of the same body of water. Te same red river. ater mi es and seasons change, times change, and so do our hands until eventually it stops.

And so we will all go, but the veins in my mother’s hands reach further than meets the eye: they’ll reconnect us again somewhere, anywhere, eventually, in due time.


y stomach rumbles a ressively in class. I am starving, I mutter to the girl sitting ne t to me. ut I’m lying I’m full.

In truth, I’m embarrassed by the loud noises from my stomach, hoping that announcing my so called hunger will hide the noises from my abnormally slow digestion.

I’m not hungry I have a motility dysfunction called astroparesis.

astroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, is when your stomach has trouble clearing out its contents. y doctor tells me this is all just to say that my stomach is la y.

a y. Te word echoes over and over in my brain. y stomach is la y Can’t I give it a pep talk hip it into shape nfortunately, it’s not that easy.

astroparesis is a chronic, lifelong disorder.

hen someone has astroparesis, digestion does not occur as smoothly. Te stomach muscles are unable to contract as uickly in order to breakdown and propel the food into the small intestine.

In a study from Te ational Center for iotechnology Information, researchers ousef assara and eth ichter e plain that hindrance to the vagus nerve can cause a delay in gastric emptying, resulting in the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, upper

Tabdominal pain, bloating, acid refu , and une plained weight loss.

Patients with iabetes typically have an increased risk of having astroparesis.

I have idiopathic gastroparesis. Tis just means the cause of the condition development is unknown.

tudies on astroparesis are sparse. According to the study, insu cient research on astroparesis in non diabetic patients has resulted in increased hospitali ations and long term symptoms due to limited treatment available.

espite receiving my diagnosis a few years ago, I have yet to fnd relief.

In terms of treatment, astroparesis medications will not cure the condition but might alleviate symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. ome people might be prescribed motility agents to speed stomach emptying.

In my case, my astroparesis is mild but the prescriptions have ofered little remedy.

ecause of my misbehaving digestive tract and all the failed medications I’ve taken, I’ve been through countless gastric emptying e ams, endoscopies, colonoscopies and Is. All of this is to rule out other possible problems that might be happening.

In my daily life, my greatest fear isn’t the verdict of the test results, but that my go to I am starving line won’t cut it anymore.

hen I e plain what astroparesis is, I substitute scientifc vocabulary for more watered down terms. I’ll convert bloating, nausea, vomiting, and constipation to a sore tummy and stomach pains. ecretly, these cover up phrases are a thinly veiled attempt to ward of the inevitable uestions about the uncomfortable e periences I endure all day, every day.

Te discussion on astroparesis and astrointestinal disorders in general is absent.


Tis is what drives my insecurity.

I admit, I choose to hide my astroparesis. I fear that e posing my symptoms will outcast me. aybe not in the dramatic cinematic way where I am shunned from all social gatherings but in the way that I will no longer be normal.

Te discourse of women in regards to e uality, se and menstruation, has been brought to the forefront, but women still haven’t talked about the P word Poop.

Along with poop, vomiting, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea are all un lady like words that are silenced despite being manageable symptoms.

According to a study by aomi Ellemers, gender stereotypes play a major role in how we evaluate women today. Te stereotypes are specifcally centered around a woman’s physical appearance and behaviour opposed to their accomplishments.

hy can guys burp and pass gas but when a girl does, she is considered disgusting It’s all part of a male female stereotype, said year old anessa Catan aro, Crohn’s patient. uys can poke fun at natural things more easily, they’re more likely to joke about farting. I think girls feel they have to restrain themselves to be taken seriously. e’re already a minority, try having an accident on the subway.

Tis is the problem. igestion and bowel functioning remain discussion taboos in our society.

I feel anytime I mention my condition, people automatically assume that my disease is only about needing to go to the bathroom even though some people don’t even have symptoms like that. It downplays everything else that a person goes through. It’s very frustrating because it’s so much more than that, said year old ofa Ali, ulcerative colitis patient.

According to a study by Te ational Center for iotechnology Information, tigmati ation toward irritable bowel and infammatory bowel disease is an online cohort, societal taboos around the discussion of bowel functioning have created a stigma for astrointestinal diseases such as I and I . Te study shows that this stigma can result in increased depression, an iety, reduced self esteem and self e cacy and lower uality of life. o avoid the negative efects of stigma, patients are forced to hide their symptoms.

I think the wider society knows nothing about infammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and lcerative colitis, unless they have a family member or somebody they know. Tis is because most people are reluctant to disclose their conditions with each other because there is a stigma, said Professor Esme uller Tomson.

ut why still the stigma

Pooping is natural, vomiting is too and so is bloating, farting, all of the other bodily functions.

omen can talk about their periods, they can talk about se , they can talk about so many things that were once silenced. e should be talking about astrointestinal disorders to dismantle the stigma.

Te I’m hungry line is far past its e piry date. It’s time for greater discussion on the topic to combat the stigma.

ore women with I need to open up about their symptoms. Tat is the only way people will become comfortable with the topic, said Cata anaro.

In the end, it’s life, everyone has their shit.



My Métis ancestors were known by many names — half-breeds, mixed bloods, Bois-Brûlés, country born — but my favourite is the “Flower Beadwork People”. Te Dakota and the Cree referred to us this way because of the distinctive beadwork patterns created by Métis women near the turn of the 19th century. Te patterns combined the detailed artistry of First Nations beadwork with European foral embroidery designs. Te result was a vibrant, intricate piece of cultural heritage within the violence of colonialism. Métis women, born of duelling ancestries, stitched together a new cultural identity. Tis is what I mean when I say I am Métis. It means my blood is blended, both ancient and completely new.

Te work created by the Flower Beadwork People was a blend of beauty between red and white blood. Natives and Europeans alike knew our people for this unique artistry. During the 19th century, Métis beadwork was in high demand among European traders and became a huge economic driver for Métis families. However, Europeans wanted the experience of buying from a “real Indian”, so many Métis were forced to sell their craf to First Nations and Inuit traders. Because of this, much of the work by Métis artists — by the Flower Beadwork People — has been credited to other Indigenous peoples, mainly from the Cree and Ojibwe nations. Tis is what it means to be Métis. It means to be hidden, but to thrive through invisibility.


As rooted as the river, and just as in danger

itting at my grandparent s kitchen table, I listened to my mother laud about her “whiteness”. he was telling us a story about how a lady at the food bank she volunteers at had asked if she was half sian. My mother has small eyes and half sian children — two facts that ofen land her assumptions of also having sian heritage.

“I m so white, I tell people that my ancestor Peter Fidler has got a monument in Elk Point, lta.,” my mother says, jamming a nger in the air proudly, referring to the accomplishments of our European ancestor.

“ ell, no,” my grandfather chimed in, “because he married a fucking Indian.”

Te “Indian” my grandfather referred to was Mary Mackagonne, a wampy Cree woman. eliant on Mary s traditional knowledge, she and Peter canoed across lberta surveying and mapping the land. ogether, they had 1 children. Tese children were a part of one of the original Métis peoples, spending their lives rst in what is now lberta, and eventually in the ed River Settlement in what is now known as Manitoba. My ancestors remained in Red River for generations. Tey formed a faction of the growing ed iver Métis community and eventually moved to adjacent areas following the Métis scrip.

Tis is what I mean when I say I am Métis. It means I am a descendant of the ed iver Métis, with an ancestral connection to what is commonly referred to as part of the Métis homeland. It means I have had, and always will have, ties to the land in what is now western Canada — mainly Alberta and Manitoba. As Métis poet Katherena Vermette wrote in her collection River oman, “my blood has been here forever as rooted as the river and just as in danger.”

e hidden eo les

For most of my life, I did not understand or recogni e this connection — this lineage or heritage — of mine. Te rst time I heard my grandfather directly refer to himself as Métis was only a few years ago. ntil then, not even my grandmother — who he has been married to for out of his years of life — had heard him call himself Métis.

Tis obscurity of heritage is common among many Métis families. Many Métis of my grandfather s generation and the generations prior were ashamed, and ofen afraid, of wearing their heritage and culture proudly. podcast by the ibrary and rchives of Canada titled, “Hiding in Plain ight Te Métis Nation”, explains that “following the Métis resistance at ed iver in 1 9 to 1 and in askatchewan in 1 , it became unwise and sometimes dangerous to publicly self identify. s a group, Métis survived largely by being invisible, a tactic that existed unt In a video for the 1 Métis project, which aimed to put a spotlight on Métis identity and ex-


perience, ayme Men ies, a Métis from Manitoba, says, “I grew up being regaled with stories or tales of my family s upbringing, all of which have very obvious tidbits of the Métis culture in them, but if you asked my mother and my grandmother if they were Métis, they would deny it still. nfortunately they grew up in a time when they were encouraged to deny that blood in their culture.”

ike with the Flower Beadwork People, it was ofen more bene cial for Métis to identify with either our Native or European heritage, rather than own the beauty of our blended blood.

No hin less, no hin more

ince the inclusion of Métis as a distinct boriginal peoples within the Canadian Constitution in the Daniels Decision of 19 , more Métis have begun to wear our heritage proudly. However, for many people Indigenous and non Indigenous alike Métis identity remains a mystery.

Te other week, my friend told me I should take a DN ancestry test to see how much “real Native” blood I have in me. I had to laugh. My blood is both ancient and completely new. andMe cannot tell me who or where I come from. s ermette writes, “we are nothing less than the whole stretched out sky nothing more than the loose hair that dances in it.”

a is wha i means o e M is



My mother would argue about feminism with her militant father. Her socialist views made her a rebel. My dad, on the other hand, had his own conservative beliefs, although they have changed over the years. Still, both of my parents internalized some of the homophobia that pervaded their upbringing.

Despite her solidarity with gay and trans folks in rights battles throughout my youth, my mother had made comments in the past that stuck with me. I remember her allyship, but I also remember when she expressed the obscenity she felt seeing girls kissing onscreen. I felt resentment knowing that feeling was rooted deep within her. My reserved father would raise a brow whenever girls held hands or showed afection. e sometimes even uestioned me about my friendships. I could tell there was a part of my parents that was afraid I’d be gay. Every instance felt like a brick to my stomach.

I desperately wanted that feeling to disappear. I began talking more about ueer icons, my ueer friends and ueer relationships. If there was an opportunity to normalize the subject, I would take it, even though I sometimes feared outing myself in the process. If my own se uality was called into uestion, I would lie.

An illogical, reverberating voice in my head be ed me to say something; do something; be something—even if it took months—so she’d notice me. I’d only met her once at a party, but I was mesmerized.

Up until that point, I had been comfortable with people thinking I was straight. I still believed that maybe, I actually was.

My family is rooted in Colombia, but its branches extend from the southern part of Chile to New York. When my parents migrated to Canada with my older sister and I in 2000, they maintained the familial relationships they’d cultivated over the past thirty years.

I have about thirty cousins to keep up with. My mom has six siblings and my dad, four. Troughout my life, visits from relatives or trips to Colombia have been fairly regular. Beyond travelling, an evergoing group chat keeps us connected.

My mother, who doesn’t go a day without speaking with her sisters, has always told me about the importance of family. Knowing that half of them are conservative and some are blatantly homophobic drives the feeling that I can’t fully be myself. It’s scary to think about how diferently they might act if they knew I wasn’t straight, or if they saw me with a girlfriend.

Afer high school, my environment no longer scared me into pretending I was straight; most—if not all—of my close friends were ueer. eeing them unapologetically living out their truths inspired me to do the same. In their company, I was free to be myself.

At home, however, I still had reservations that stemmed from the fear that my family would judge me.

My parents grew up in Colombia, where most of my extended family still lives. Tey were kids in the s. Catholicism and machismo, or toxic masculinity, dominated norms that nurtured them.

For now, I’m opening up spaces in my family where I feel comfortable, and e pressing my ueerness at my own pace. rom coming to terms with my own sexuality to myself only a couple years ago to letting trusted family members into my realm of truth, I’ve come a long way. Although I worry about how my family might react, I know I need to live my life honestly.

About a year ago, I came out to one of my cousins. I told him I thought that with a family as big as ours, there must be someone else who’s ueer that I wished someone else could come out, so I wouldn’t have to be the frst one. e reminded me that our cousins live in Colombia, and I live in oronto. If there’s a frst, it’ll have to be me.

But when I met this girl, I was faced with the undeniable truth that I had feelings for her.
TW: Tis story contains mentions of homophobia

“Within the last year or two, the conversation really changed because of how confrontational I became. Not in a negative way I just made ueerness more open to have a discussion about it. “



“I went to like summer camp. It was really nice outside; there were frefies and I was walking with this girl and she wanted to hold my hand. In the moment, my heart was beating so fast Te moment was romantic in my mind. I wasn’t gonna do anything because it was wrong in my mind. [I was] thirteen? Fourteen? A baby.”

“I just recently told my mother like maybe a few weeks ago. It went well.”

“I feel like lots of Latinos are very Christian or Catholic so it was that idea that’ you sinned or you did something wrong’ and your parents are going to be disappointed in you. I think that was the big factor, cause other than that I didn’t feel wrong about it.”

I stopped going to church. Tat was a big factor of guilt and feeling like I wasn't able to be myself.”

Te more that I had an open conversation with my mother, the more she would support me. o whatever makes you happy.’ … Even though there was a slight chance in my mind that she might react poorly because of her old beliefs, part of me also felt like it would be OK. And it was.”



Pretty early on into my childhood, I realized I liked girls. uckily, I feel like I grew up in a diferent kind of atino household.

“I never felt shamed, per se, but I only came out to my family like this year… She kind of had an inkling in the past when I had been seen with other lesbian girls, when I was younger. o when I told her she was like, ’

“My mom was always so against everything that her family was for. [She] got us baptized for the sake of having it done, but we never went to church.

“I don’t think [my extended family] needs to know. I mean, they live in Colombia-- what the fuck is that their business?... If I were to have a girlfriend [things would be diferent .




roughout this article, I use the idea of ‘womanhood’ and the ability to bear children synonymously, solely because the article is based on personal experience. is is not because I think these concepts are mutually exclusive - the conversation about the ‘biological clock’ extends to anyone with a uterus, regardless of their gender.

In addition, this article includes a discussion of adoption and the systems of adoption in Canada. For context and fuller understanding of said system, it is worth acknowledging that Indigenous children are overrepresented in Canadian foster care.

It’s 2007. I’m standing in line at a grocery store with my mom. I glimpse at the flashy tabloids on the stands next to the check-out. ere, the stoic yet shocked face of 16-yearold Jamie-Lynn Spears stares back at me. “I’m Pregnant,” is splashed underneath in bold and bright lettering.

I was seven and I thought I knew how babies were made — but I was a little confused. If my memory serves, I had just met a family friend who had used a sperm donor. For some reason, my takeaway from that was that there was a baby pill. I saw my mom look at the magazine too, and I felt like she might make me stop watching Zoey 101.

“Don’t worry Mom,” I said, “she must have just taken the baby pill by accident.”

My mom then said five words to me that I’ll

never forget. She looked me dead in the eyes and said:

“Emma, it takes two to tango.”

e biological clock didn’t start ticking then, or even when I got my first period years later (in Hawaii. I quite literally dove headfirst into womanhood). But somewhere along the way, my female friends were starting to think about wanting, or not wanting kids. ey began favouring futures and partners that o ered stability, factoring building a family. As I grew older, I moved away to university. Somewhere along the line I realized the clock was ticking.

Was I imagining things? Was this pressure in my own head? Or was this something that everyone dealt with that was not getting talked about? I turned to the women around me to start a tricky conversation.



Giulia’s legs are crossed like she’s meditating as we sit facing each other in her Murphy bed (yes, that means it folds into the wall.) I don’t ask many questions because she knows what this conversation is about — we’ve talked about this before.

When Giulia was twelve, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. e doctors told her parents she was hours away from dying, and her chances of walking away without permanent, life-changing disabilities were slim.

Giulia not only lived — she survived without any major brain damage, paralysis, hearing loss or memory loss. But she didn’t walk away unscathed.

When Giulia was thirteen, and a er roughly two thirds of a year on her period, she went to the doctor.

“ e doctor inform[ed] me that I may not be able to have kids because of how complicated things were,” she recalls.

Giulia had gone through meningitis “smack in the middle” of puberty. ough there was never an ocial diagnosis that her meningitis had caused infertility, sections of her brain associated with hormones might have been damaged because of it. Imagine what it’s like to be confronted with the reality of death at twelve and within the same year, confronted with the reality of planning your whole life. When that doctor told Giulia that she might never have kids, what were they implying for how she would live her life?

“I wonder if it was even necessary for me to hear it at the time,” she says. In retrospect, it feels weird to her that the doctor assumed her having kids was important enough to think about at thirteen.

Now, she looks out the window of her bedroom. ey’re building a new condo across the street that will block her view of the city. We o en laugh at the absurdity

of all these buildings, all these lives suspended in glass boxes in the sky.

But “the biological clock” was never necessarily important to Giulia. She already had the idea of wanting to adopt even before contracting meningitis.

“When I was about seven years old, I just had a fondness for the idea of having the opportunity to adopt a kid from anywhere, at any age. e idea of being able to take somebody in that way and care for them and love them like my own felt more natural than having kids.”

e idea stuck with her, and she says she’s grateful because it meant the doctor’s news didn’t necessarily change a lot. Over the years she’s received subtle and not-so-subtle messages that she has deviated from the norm by being interested in adopting.

“I’ve stru led in conversation with most people, because it’s usually seen as an alternative to having your own kids. And, in that case a lesser alternative, which is extremely unfortunate.”

During the times Giulia has brought adoption up, she’s heard things like ‘It’s di erent ...that’ll be challenging. Isn’t it expensive? Why wouldn’t you want to have your own kid?”

e idea of adoption is “met with a sense of mourning” instead of the joy she feels towards it.

So, I pose a question I don’t have an answer to: Why is it the expectation to have kids biologically — to the point that it’s important enough to get kids to think about it when they’re young?

ere is a world of people with di erent sexualities, di erent genders and di erent medical situations — why is there one set of expectations when it comes to kids?

“Having kids is seen as something that is almost like a rite of passage, which is so odd because it’s such a personal thing,” Giulia says.

“Something that personal shouldn’t have expectations tied to it, because it’s not fair.”

imagine what it’s like to be confronted with the reality of death at twelve and within the same year, confronted with the reality of planning your whole life

Five young women are huddled around the end of a table in a hospital cafeteria. ey’re taking a lunch break during their hectic work day. It’s dreary outside, but they’re laughing loudly and having fun. ey stick out like a sore thumb in the muted murmur with their matching pristine white shoes and blue scrubs.

One of those girls is my friend Sarah. She’s in her fourth and final year of nursing now. I phone her in British Columbia and ask her to reminisce about that lunch break during their first hospital clinical. Sarah remembers her classmate joking about how she wanted to be married and pregnant soon.

“We were talking about the first to get married in our group because that seems to be what we talk about,” Sarah says. “Both the girls we bet on got married first!”

Sarah goes to a private Christian university. She sat around the table, and at the time she laughed along, but privately she was set on being a “nursing spinster”: never dating in nursing school and not getting married.

Sarah and I have known each other since I was six and she was seven. Back in B.C. in our teen years, we would drive around in her since-retired minivan named “Big Bertha” to get McDonald’s and watch the sunset over the mountains. Trusty Bertha brought her back and forth from home, and all over the Greater Vancouver area to her nursing placements.

She used to joke about the normalcy of getting married on campus. en, one morning in her first year of university, Sarah sat down at her 8 a.m. lab. ere, glittering on her classmate’s finger in the fluorescent light was a massive diamond ring. It made putting on her medical glove di cult.

e professors asked about it, and Sarah’s classmate told the lab she got engaged that weekend.

“We all gathered around, excited for her,” Sarah says,

“Our class all stopped for a second to look at it.” But Sarah was a little stunned. She was 18, and so was her classmate. Her classmate who now had a fiancé.

“I remember knowing that that was a stereotype of Christian universities. But I didn’t realize that it was actually a reality until that happened.”

It wasn’t the last time Sarah would see an engagement ring on campus.

“We have this running joke that I thought was a joke but isn’t a joke because it’s real. And it’s called ‘ring by spring’.”

e joke, Sarah says, is that you get your ring by the spring of your fourth year. Which, for her, happens to be this semester. is summer there were three weddings and two engagements in four days. Just the weekend before I spoke to her, three couples got engaged. Sarah jokes that it’s an epidemic. We laugh. She pauses for the moment.

“I hope I’m not coming across with a connotation of judgment, because I’m just not at th[at] point. But all the power to you if that’s where you are.”

Sarah remembers the time another classmate told her how she had put up Christmas decorations with her husband the night before. Sarah says she thought about what she had done the previous night — gone to Chipotle and fell asleep on her textbook.

It happens. I think of how stressed I am now as a student, let alone a student and a wife. I eat on paper towels way more o en than I want to admit because I don’t want to do the dishes. e other day, I went to bed at the horrific hour of 6 a.m.

I’m not really in a state to plan a wedding right now. And I’m not alone. Sarah admits she’s never been much of a planner. In 2016, Sarah and most of my friends were seventeen and applying to dream schools and back up schools. As the date to graduation crept closer and closer, Sarah hadn’t finished her application anywhere. But I wasn’t really worried — I knew she always figured it out somehow. Although it took me a while


to let go of my colour-coded planners and my ideas of how my life should go, Sarah had the right idea.

“I’ve always been fly by the seat of my pants,” she laughs. “You remember how I got into this program. I applied at two in the morning the night before applications were due.”

Now, she’s months away from becoming a Registered Nurse.

“It’s like I sneezed and here we are,” she says.

I think of her hospital stories — how she’s cared for so many people, worked so many long hours, studied rigorously for so many anatomy tests. When she tells these stories, her eyes light up, and I love hearing them even if I am super grossed out by most of them. In a lot of ways, she was made for this. And she had no plans to do anything else for all the years of her degree.

“I was so stubborn. I was so set on not dating in nursing school.” Sarah said she went to do a job, make close friendships and get out “free.” But she met someone, and things changed. Being in love was great, but for Sarah, it came with extra pressure.

It’s like living in two di erent worlds: when she goes home, she’s reminded that it’s okay not to be thinking about being married. When she’s back on campus, though, she says “getting engaged seems like a very realistic possibility.” And it doesn’t help when she’s inundated with engagement photos online.

“It just seems like what you do. Get a nice ring, get some cute couple photos, like those ones where the photographer hides in the bushes, when you’re on the beach,” she laughs gently. “And you post it on Instagram.”

It’s walking a fine line, almost like the small suburban community where we grew up. We love what it gave us, we love its comfort and support, we love our families. And it would be lovely to stay in that suburb. It just wouldn’t be us.

Sarah pauses. She wants to find the right words to make it clear she’s not trashing the community or the people in it. I know I’m asking a lot of my friends to answer these probing questions. I know it’s di cult to focus on your own journey and self, when it seems

like everything in our lives breeds and rewards competition of life stages. I know it’s tough to see people’s highlight reels one a er the other, even if you’re happy for them.

“Because we live in a community where getting engaged is so commonplace,” she says. “I think we’ve almost negated the severity of marriage. I think we look at it very doesn’t seem like the big deal it is.”

Sarah’s had to think about this commitment, head on. She’s thought about the lo gistics of a “forev er roommate” and how the real world is so di erent from this tiny community where she grew up. She’s thought about all the pressures on a new marriage when you’re alone, together, for the first time. So she’s not looking to have a ring by spring, but she’s found another lifelong love: nursing.

“I’ve written a nursing bucket list, I want to travel the world. I want to get further education in nursing. I want to specialize. I have all these plans and dreams and that’s what I entered this conversation with.”

She and her friend from Uganda have also had a dream that they’re going to buy a plot of land there and start a clinic.

So, Sarah and her classmates in those first-year classes might have had di erent dreams, but neither is better than the other. She appreciates both.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a mom, I totally do one day. But there’s a lot that I want to do first.”


e priority for my mom in her twenties wasn’t marriage, it was getting an education. She got a threeyear diploma in Civil Engineering Technology, and by the time she reached her late twenties, she was working and making her own money.

“I had decided that it probably wasn’t going to happen, and that was okay. I was able to make a good living and seem to be able to take care of myself just fine.”

I phone her in B.C. She’s on the ferry to Vancouver Island. Midway through the call I hear some kids laughing in the background.

“It’s funny, it was sort of a zen thing,” she says. “Once I let go it seemed to happen.”

My mom was 31 years old when she met my dad. In peak engineering romance, they met on a construction site. Legend says their first date was canoeing. I remember being younger and I asked how dad proposed, primed for some dramatic, romantic, over-the-top story. ey told me matter-of-factly that they just agreed they should get married, and went to pick out the ring together. ey’ve been married 27 years now. My mom went back to school to get her full Bachelor of Applied Science a er she married my dad.

“I didn’t have a lot of distractions. I had a married life at home and a working husband and things were very stable for me. And I had a good job every summer with my former employer, so it wasn’t a hardship. I think it was probably easier than, in some ways, than being 18.”

She and a couple of the other older students “banded together” and they’re still friends to this day. My mom’s experience going back to school as a mature student is something I remind myself and anyone around me who feels overwhelmed — there’s lots of time, there’s many di erent ways to learn and grow.

She put o having kids in her thirties because she was loving her career and her job. (And from what I can tell, she was damn good at it.)

en I came along. My parents joke that I was named Emma because they liked the sound of “Emma the Embryo.” When my mom had me, she was 41, so technically I was a “high risk” baby. And she had a miscarriage before me.

“I thought we were in the clear. But anyway, that’s what nature does.”

Miscarriages are a part of life that o en get shrouded in mystery and pain, but it’s a lot more common than you might think. I ask my mom what she would tell other women who’ve gone through it, and what she’s learned.

“You know, getting pregnant is a bit of a small miracle in itself, given all the odds stacked against it. So don’t blame yourself. It’s disappointing. But it’s not the end. ere’s other ways to get children. And when you’re young, you have plenty of time. Really, I was 42 when you were four months old.”

Nature does its own thing — and so does time. My mom miscarried once more a er I was born, but she wasn’t nearly as far along as the first. “I went for an ultrasound and they didn’t see a heartbeat,” she says.

I am always in awe of the ease with which my mom relives and processes painful memories. But in this case, it’s a lot easier to find ‘zen.’ Because if it wasn’t for the timing of everything, we might not have had my baby brother.

Mom and Dad went to visit our family doctor a er the last miscarriage. e doctor asked mom what their next move was.

“I think he was expecting me to say fertility treatments. And I said, we’re going to adopt, and he said, that’s the right thing to do.”

So I got a baby brother with beautiful long eyelashes, and though my mom has never received any flack for it the way Giulia has — “nobody would dare” — it’s still worth a conversation. Because once you start noticing it, there’s a ton of little things in our world implying that biological is better. Like people asking about my brother’s “real” mom when our mom is as real, flesh and bone, as it gets.

Nature does its own things – and so does time

It’s 2019. I’m running around Kerr Hall, click-clacking in my boots and stressed out about some assignment as always. I turn the corner and there’s a small child playing with a pay phone while his mom watches. I smile and the world slows for a moment.

I love that my mom lived her own life before she had me. She had a full career, and had given up on domestic life because she felt fulfilled on her own.

I learned from her how not to put up with bullshit. To me, my mom knew who she was and she didn’t let stu that didn’t matter bother her. Don’t get me wrong, parents grow and learn too. But there was always something so settled and assuring about having older parents, no matter how much I teased them for it. At the same time, I’m sure Jamie-Lynn Spears is very happy with her daughter and wouldn’t do it any other way.

But I guess seeing that kid reminded me what I’m doing this all for. Whatever happens, whenever it happens in my life, I’m going through these years to grow into a fuller person. Growing into myself so I have a catalog of experience to draw from when my daughter asks for advice.

And maybe someday, I’ll catch my daughter looking at a tabloid in some space-age automated grocery store. I’ll turn to her and tell her with sureness and wryness just how many it takes to tango.


e Cool Girl

Do your makeup for 40 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t look like you have any on. Curl your hair so it’s perfectly undone like you just had great sex. Play it cool. Talk like one of the guys. Laugh at sexist jokes. Catch yourself up on sports lingo so they think you’re diferent. rink beer even though you’d rather have a strawberry margarita. Maintain a great fgure, but devour McDonald’s. Be a chick who can hang.

I never wanted strings attached. I played hard to get.

I was a cool girl.

Initially, the idea of a cool girl was a character in movies and television conceptuali ed by men. he is the male fantasy to a tee. Te girl next door. Te girl that takes of her glasses and is suddenly super hot. Te girl you meet at a bar that wants nothing but a one night stand. he is the opposite of stereotypical female behavior. Ten, the on-screen trope became a real-world trope.

In How To ose a Guy In Ten ays, Andie Cameron ia is a down-to-earth Knicks-loving New Yorker that portrays herself as clingy, obsessed, and hyper-feminine to attempt to drive away her male counterpart. Andie perfectly captured what the core of the cool girl’ trope is. he is a woman that is only loveable when she embodies everything but stereotypical female characteristics.

When I was 15, and way too obsessed with rom-coms, I wanted to be like Andie. Te idea of ftting to what a man wanted was everywhere. In the grocery store, I skimmed through maga ine dating advice columns that taught me of all the ways to make a guy like you. eeing female characters so efortlessly attracting men made me long for this undeniable, and simply unauthentic, afection.

I began to adopt cool girl’ traits when I started dating, and this unknowingly followed me until now. I formed into the type of girl I thought guys wanted, despite who I actually was, and it seemed to serve me best in a time of low self-esteem.

Prior to this, I did actually quite enjoy dominantly male’ interests. But I found where I needed to change was my level

of sensitivity and temper when things would go wrong in my relationships. o, I shut myself up. I succumbed to what the cool girl’ would do. ne guy liked girls that went on jogs, so I sent him napchats of my feet running at 7 a.m before class. One liked it when girls didn’t wear makeup. Even though the beauty industry was fascinating to me, I never strayed from bashing women that wore full faces. All for the approval. All for the hope that maybe they’ll see me and think I’m diferent.

Continuing on my cool girl’ path, I reali ed that I had lost my sense of self and happiness along the way. I didn’t do the things that made me happy anymore. My hobbies were lost,

“Continuing on my ‘cool girl’ path, I realized that I had lost my sense of self and happiness along the way.”

my friends began to fade, and all that mattered was how men perceived me.

Tis obsession with making a man want me overtook my life. I started looking up football statistics to be able to catch a group of guys by surprise with a quick quote about some injury by some quarterback. I talked about sex casually, neglecting how personal it felt to me.

thinks, so does she. Te moment her real self peeks through is the moment she’s no longer the cool girl.

ne of the best descriptions of this trope came in Gillian Flynn’s 2012 thriller novel Gone Girl. Te protagonist, Amy, completely brought to light the concept of the cool girl’ in her monologue when she fnally decides the act is up:

Tey’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.

My life as a cool girl ended when I looked in the mirror and didn’t see my whole self. nly a fraction, a facade. o, I stopped saying yes. I stopped repressing my feelings. I started listening to myself. I realized I was unhappy with the relationships I kept pretending to want. I wanted to be myself again.

Everything I did was for them, to be like them. I ensured I looked good. I had to be desirable while being one of the guys’. Tat’s the defning element. Te cool girl’ loses her title if the men around her don’t visualize her as a fantasy.

Te thing is, the cool girl’ never loses her temper because to him, she’s his mirror image. he could never be mad at him or challenge his perspective because everything he believes and

Climbing down from the cool-girl ladder, I wondered if I’d lost my sense of self. Who was I if I wasn’t the cool girl? I still don’t know the answer. I do know that I’m living for myself. For what makes me, me. For what makes me wake up and feel like I’m vulnerable, authentic.

Growing to be the woman I want to be, not the one someone else wants.

They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.


You got me into camel blue cigarettes the spring we met. Spilling tulips on my skin, budding bed sores from our tangerine laziness. A spoiled river of Nero D’Avola You drank me, dizzy and long.

I saw you once before we all went out to the bar you looked grey and malnourished. It was hot in a Donnie Darko kind of way. You turned my name on your tongue bubblegum, my cherry cunt.

“I fucking hate pancakes,” you yelled over the music. Omg same.

Te ocean spit us up like sunfower seeds

It was a crystal jack reckoning to foat for once

And twice you said I was your sweatsuit Ordered breakfast in bed

Cheersing to Meryl in the Devil Wears Prada

You opened the door To who I’ve been sugarcane of the century.


Banana Peels and Salty Tears: My journey towards self-love

I sat, disbelieving Bent over and dry-heaving Gasping for air I wouldn’t let in Inhaling the scent of the compost bin

I let him feed my anxiety Maybe it was the sight of discarded cofee grounds r all the broken egshells I walked on

A realization settles in He did this to me

Tis isn’t how it should be

I gave up my sanity Gave in to his immaturity I sacrifced my own health et it burn so he could dance around the fames Spiralling, spiralling, spiralling down Until I woke up on the ground

It’s true what they say about rock bottom Or at least a low-altitude ledge It leaves you no choice But to face the thing that put you on the edge

Part of me could see clearly He didn’t respect me He didn’t deserve me He couldn’t even see me But intuition rarely defeats a lonely mind So I let him trap me inside

Stumbling to my feet

I fell into my mother’s arms

Te only place I felt safe She held me and wouldn’t let go Even though the girl crying on her shoulder Didn’t look like her daughter anymore

I let all my fears pour out Desperate to know what was wrong with me Ignoring the faint screaming caught in my throat


T is s or contains men ions o a se

Tat seed of truth had been planted within But I had a long journey from the compost bin

Tere would be many more mornings

Lying in the tangled wasteland of my mind

Te a rmations and distractions nowhere to be found

Letting the anxiety eat me alive

Tere would be countless other days For him to break my heart

Or crush it in more subtle ways

And all this time he was fne.

But who was I to deny his impulses?

A couple of months away

Made his stomach rumble for some familiar prey

He draged me back into his carnival game

Made me believe I wasn’t even worth an apology

Te comfort of being wanted

And my kaleidoscopic feelings

Over what I really needed

Until the cycle comes back around Nausea, tears, and my mother’s worried eyes

But my gut isn’t surprised Tis is the end of his ekyll and Hyde

Finally, everything comes together

A simple thought appears

I don’t need him. I deserve better.

I wish that declaration could be a rubber shield efecting all the bad memories

And the dirty feeling

From those words he spat at me

But I’m still the same sensitive girl I hurt because I cared

So not being invincible

Isn’t the crime here

Moving on is a foreign idea

I don’t get over people

But I stop letting them get under my skin

Instead, I let the wound heal

And let other people in

It wasn’t easy or fast

But it started when the frst ounce of self-love seeped into my being

Mixed with the scent of banana peels

And the taste of my own salty tears



Editor in Chief

Emily Peotto

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Fact Checkers

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New Wave Magazine Issue 5 - Winter 2020