The Nanny Diaries

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There are probably a number of topless people in this photo.

(To clarify, I’m not a nanny, I’m an Au Pair. Those are very different things. Nannies spend their time taking care of young children. Au Pairs spend their days lounging at the beach until the children are done school for the day).

Things I have learned in my first week in France:

  1. French people eat more bread than you’d think humanly possible. That cliché of buying a fresh baguette on your way home and nibbling the top? Not a cliché. Real life. RIP my metabolism.
  2. It is socially acceptable to have wine with every meal. I have adopted this habit quickly. Except breakfast, which is when you have your first of about forty espressos a day. Okay, not actually forty, but close.
  3. It is polite in French dinner culture to rest your non-eating hand on the table, and you will be made fun of if you rest your non-eating hand in your lap instead like they do in North America.
  4. It is only a matter of time before I accidentally kiss someone on the mouth because I’m hella awkward about the whole cheek kiss thing every. Damn. Time.
  5. If two French people were strangers I’d have no idea because everyone seems to be bffs.
  6. When you move to another country it is very likely you won’t feel like you’ve moved to another country.

That last one is the most important. A ton of people from back in Canada have asked me, “How’s France??” and every time I want to say, “I have literally no idea.” Because it doesn’t feel like I’m here. Okay, yes, there are about seventeen types of cheese in the fridge, I’m surrounded by mountains, and the only English I hear in a day comes from Netflix. I know I’m in the South of France. But it’s really hard for me to actually realize it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already been thrown into the family’s routine. Maybe it’s because people here are so nonchalant about the fact that you can see the freakin Mediterranean Sea around ever bend. Personally I think it’s because I’m a very introverted and very introspective person, so I tend to really notice stimuli all around me and overthink about it, and since nearly everything is brand new to me, it’s a lot to process.

But the most important thing is that everything is great. The family is beautiful and so full of love and it’s really inspiring. Sometimes the kids put me on the verge of a meltdown, but they’re sweet at heart and oodles of fun. And the city. Oh my god the city. Today I sat on a secluded beach on the Mediterranean for like three hours and found myself just sitting and staring out at the beauty.

I am so lucky. So unbelievable lucky. I know this opportunity wasn’t just handed to me and I had to work a bit for it, but honestly, I hope I never take for granted what I have because holy crap I have more than I could have dreamed.

A number of people have told me it’s really brave or admirable to just up and move to another country. Some (mostly the parents of my friends) have told me it’s very smart for me to take time after University to figure out what I want. I didn’t fully process any of their words when I was still at home, but now that I’m here, I get it. If I could give any advice to anyone, young or old, at any stage in life, it would be to do whatever the heck you want. Just make like Nike and do it. Being an Au Pair in the South of France encompasses so many dreams I’ve always had. I never thought I’d doing all this, and I’m so damn happy that I am. Live the dream, kids.

Okay it’s night time in France and I’ve had a good amount to drink tonight (yes it’s a Tuesday but did you miss the part where I said the French drink literally all the time??) so it is the time for me to sleeeeeep.

*kisses each of your cheeks because that’s what French people do when they say good night*

I’m moving to France on Monday

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How’s that for some click bait.

But unlike click bait, what you see is what you get. Because I’m actually moving to France. On Monday.

“Wait… What???!???!?”

On Monday I am hopping on a plane and moving to the city of Toulon in the South of France to live and work as an Au Pair for a beautiful family, for one year. For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Au Pair” is French for “a nanny who does hardly any work.” My job entails occasionally watching two adorable French children and helping them with their English, while eating their French food and living in their French home, which is a 5 minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea, btw.

I know. To quote our gods Jay Z and Yeezy, that shit cray.

If you’re thinking, “What the hell Marryl you leave Monday and I’m just finding out now??” I’m terribly sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I’m also just finding out now. Seriously. I got a call about my Visa being approved like two hours ago, and I just booked my flight. YOLO, right?

(s/o to the other god, Drizzy.)

If you’re wondering, “Why,” first of all you’re crazy because um why not?? I’M LITERALLY LIVING ON THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA. But seriously, I just graduated university, and I don’t know what I want to do with my life beyond something that is fulfilling. And I want to travel. So I figure this is a good option that doesn’t leave me completely broke.

If you want to keep up with my adventures (I’m not even close to Kardashian level of interest but I’ll do my best), I’ll be even more social-media obsessed than I am now, so follow me in insta/twitter/snapchat or whatever. Everything is “marrylsmith”. Oh god I feel like I’m ending a youtube vlog. Whatever. Shameless self promotion is the spice of life.

Oh and I’ll probably also blog a bit since my blog already has a French name so when I post on Wednesday it’ll actually be Mercredi where I am which, if you ask me, is LITERALLY THE BEST PART OF ALL THIS. Okay, so not literally. But close.

Okay anyway I have to go pack my whole life into 33 kilos of checked luggage BYE.

The struggles of dating in the 21st century

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Buckle your seat belts, kiddos, because it’s time for another good old-fashioned Millennial rant.

I’ll start of by clarifying that I don’t exactly have experience with dating in any other century but the 21st, unless of course you count that time I slow-danced with a boy in pre-school and we totally had a connection (whoever you are, if you’re reading this, message me?). Heck, I don’t even have that much experience with dating IN the 21st century. Introverts, amiright??? HAHA.. ha…

If Downton Abbey has taught me anything it is that dating has never been easy, so I’m not going to claim that navigating relationships in 2016 is any more difficult than it ever has been before. I will, however, hop up onto my tiny little pedestal and say that it’s pretty damn hard. Dating in the golden age of social media is complex, confusing, and just plain weird. There are so many unwritten internet rules and protocols to follow that seem totally irrational when you say them out loud, and I find myself doing things that are so dumb. But the main difference between feeling dumb now verses any other century is my regrettable choices are documented across multiple different technological platforms, constantly mocking me with read receipts and empty notification centres.

Let me explain.

I have a mathematical algorithm for how long to wait to text a guy back based on how long he waited to reply to me. I send Snapchat selfies of me looking cute to the guy I’m interested in, but I make sure to include my cat or something topical in the photo so it doesn’t like like I’m TRYING to look cute for him. I don’t like his Insta photo right after he posts it, even if I happen to be on Instagram at the time, so it doesn’t look like I’m stalking him (I am). And when he likes my photos I use the amount of time he waited to like it to analyze whether it’s because he thinks I’m pretty or because the caption is punny. I religiously check if he’s seen my Snapchat story. I worry that my cause of death will be a poorly-selected emoji. I have a PhD in lurking and can find out enough personal information to write a biography. I send screenshots of conversations to my groupchats with girlfriends to get their expert opinions on whether or not he’s flirting. And I have a paralyzing fear of making face-to-face, in person, real human being plans because I don’t want to be ghosted.

See what I mean? Dating in the 21st century has turned me into a completely irrational human being. And I even edited down that list of examples. I’ll admit, I’m a little ashamed of it. But I’m sure many people in the same boat as me would agree that trying to start a relationship in the social media sanctuary in which we live is like playing one big game of Chicken, where you win if you’re the most aloof and never, I repeat NEVER, double-text.

On the flip side, I do totally acknowledge the huge benefits of things like texting and Facebook when it comes to connecting with and getting to know a person. I have no idea how my parents communicated when they started dating. Morse code? Carrier pigeon? Calling one another on the telephone?? I don’t think a single person I know could recite my phone number from memory, and that includes my own mother. Technology is great, and my best friend is my Instagram account, so I’m definitely not knocking the 21st century altogether. But while its highs are high, its lows are low, and the dating world is hit hard by those lows.

I would say that the struggle is rooted a fear of seeming too eager or clingy, along with a desire to be wanted. I imagine these concerns have been a staple in dating across the decades, but I think that they are escalated in the 21st century because everything in our society is so instantaneous. Whenever I finally push down my social anxiety long enough to ask a guy to hang out, a million things run through my mind the second I hit “send.” Has he seen the message? We were just texting, he must have seen it. Maybe he’s busy. Does he have read receipts on? WHY DOESN’T HE HAVE READ RECEIPTS ON?? He JUST posted something on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat so he MUST be on his phone. Oh god, the three little dots of doom. Wait, why did he stop typing? WHAT WERE YOU TYPING?? Oh thank god he replied. Wait is that a yes? That’s a yes I think. Or was it a maybe? On a scale of 1-10 how eager is he? Oh god no he hates me I may as well just unfollow him now and move to Argentina.

I’m kidding. Mostly. Not really. Point is, trying to understand the rules of social media dating feels stressful and unnecessary. It’s so frustrating that I have to decode a text to figure out if a guy likes me. But if we all recognize that our behaviour is irrational, why do we keep at it? How about we just, oh I donno, communicate? I’m not saying I’m a saint when it comes to dating; far from it. I give as much confusing nonsense as I get, and I will openly admit that I’ve ghosted guys before. I do feel bad about that, but these days it’s just so easy. I feel so silly playing these games and getting worked up over a text message, but, like most things, I’ve gotta work with what I’ve got. Commitment scares me as much as the next human being, so I want to make sure I get it right and don’t lose opportunities, because putting yourself out there and getting rejected is hard to come back from especially when it’s over such an impersonal platform. But what I think I need to realize is the guys I am interested in are probably just as scared and confused as I am. Or at least I think that’s the case based on the caption of his Snapchat story from two weeks ago, which I lowkey watched three times. Snapchat doesn’t tell someone when you watch their story multiple times, right? Right??

I wish I had a hard and fast solution to our problem, my dear Millennials, but seeing as I’m still very single I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t. So instead I turn to the poetic words of my close personal friend Drake: “You know you gotta stick by me; soon as you see the text reply me.”

Throw caution to the wind and answer that text right away, and maybe, just maybe, you will get that one dance.

A Guide to Having No Direction in Life

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At first, I didn’t understand Zayn wanting to leave One Direction. He has such a great thing going for him! He’s living the dream! Why wouldn’t he want to leave! Until I graduated from theatre school with a sudden lack of desire to do theatre at all. So, Zayn, I apologize for judging you because I totally get it.

As my undergrad came to a close, I found myself incredibly stressed out and panicky about what I was going to do post-graduation, and I made a very last minute decision to ditch the plan to move to Toronto and instead come home to give myself a chance to clear my head and not spend a stupid amount of money on living expenses. And my main motivation behind doing this was I realized I was basing my actions and choices on what I felt everyone was expecting me to do, and not what I actually wanted to do. You go to school for a thing, you study that thing, and then you graduate and should only want to do that thing, right? Wrong.

I still don’t know what I want to do, and honestly that’s scary as hell. This post had a lot of alternative titles, such as, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” “Why graduating sucks and you should never do it,” and, “Can someone tell me how to not want to cry literally all the time.” That last one was a frontrunner, but I decided to go with a much more uplifting option. I still feel scared every day because I honestly have zero clue what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I take comfort in the fact that plenty of other people are in this boat with me, so I’ve decided to be an optimist today. I am so far from an expert in this field, but here are some tips I’ve learned about how to not succumb to the crushing weight of feeling so lost in life.

1. Remind yourself of all the things you love that you may have forgotten about

If you asked me what I love to do, my instinctual response will be art. I have never wanted to make a career out of drawing and painting because I don’t want to feel obligated to do it and grow to resent it. But it will always be my first love. My undergrad was so hectic that I hardly ever got time to draw or paint, which was heartbreaking, so since moving home I’ve rediscovered my passion and my talent for fine arts, and I feel so good about myself for it. I feel so much joy when I am creating these pieces, which lets me take a break from the real world and forget about all the fear that comes with it. The flaw with post-secondary education is it is often too narrow, and our capacity to learn and to love as humans is so broad. So if you’re feeling lost, just remind yourself of the the things you uninhibitedly love, and do them.

2. Find new things to love

Two weeks ago I decided I wanted succulents, so I dragged my mom out to the nursery to help me pick out three new friends, and then I bought tiny pots for them, painted them, transplanted the plants, and now they’re living happily in a cute little row on the vanity table in my bedroom. This was such a small thing for me to do, but they give me a sense of joy and accomplishment. Plus they just so gosh darn adorable. If you feel stagnant, make tiny impulse decisions like buying plants or redecorating your room or volunteering somewhere. Realize the power you have in making simple choices like these and thrive in that power.

3. Find something you can have complete control over

One of the greatest struggles with being a recent grad, especially in the arts, is you feel like being successful involves so many factors that you can’t control. The job market isn’t there or you feel overqualified for part-time jobs or you have so many dreams that feel unachievable because of money or opportunity. Which is why I am so happy that I have recently fallen in love with running.

Wow, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to start running, which is something I have literally never been able to do, and what do you know, I’ve run nearly every day. I even ran on my birthday. Because I wanted to. How weird is that. And yesterday, I accidentally ran 7.5k. I say accidentally because I planned for 5k but was feeling so great that I just kept going. I love running because I feel like I have so much control over it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I am so grateful for. When you graduate and don’t have this spectacular career waiting at your doorstep, you need to find things that keep you motivated and remind you how much potential you have. I’m probably going to sign up for a 10k later in June, which is wild because I have never run a 10k, but I am so excited for how accomplished I’ll feel when I finish. And if the idea of running makes you want to hit something, that’s cool, it doesn’t have to be running, but I promise you if you find something that let’s you set goals and push yourself and feel empowered, you’ll feel so much better about yourself.

4. Shamelessly remind yourself of all the things you have achieved

I have an honours Bachelor’s degree. How freakin’ cool is that. And from the University of Toronto, no less. AND a diploma from Sheridan College. I survived 40 hours of class per week, while holding a part-time job, performed in four main-stage plays, and came out of it all with a rockin’ CGPA. Wow. Look at me go. I should be the subject of the next Marvel movie.

All my bragging aside, you really have to step back and look at everything you’ve accomplished. Whether you’re done school, in school, didn’t do school at all, or you have a super cool job, or you volunteer, or maybe you just got out of bed today. Trust me, you have SO much to be proud of, so please take the time to recognize that and don’t let all the things you haven’t done yet overshadow all the things you have. Then go buy yourself a doughnut or twelve to celebrate because you deserve it.

5. Know that it’s perfectly okay to do nothing

I had a hell of an undergrad. I mean it when I say I had, like, zero free time. And even when I said had free time, I was lying to myself because there were a million things I should have been doing. So I have been doing a whole lot of nothing since I moved home, and you know what? That’s okay!! Honestly, you’re probably hella busy and more stressed out than you should be, so do NOT feel guilty for taking time to sit outside and read a book for a day, or binge an entire tv series, or flip between instagram, snapchat, and twitter for hours on end. During school, all I ever wanted was to just do nothing, and now that I have that opportunity, I’m having a hard time dealing with it because I feel lazy. But the thing is, I’m not. I’m using all this time to relax and breathe and rediscover myself and, honestly, that’s the healthiest thing I can do right now. So follow in my footsteps; they’ll probably lead you to the spot on the couch from which I’ve watched the entire Raptor’s playoff series.

Graduating is hard. It really is. I have absolutely no idea what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. None at all. And that’s such a terrifying and suffocating feeling. I’ve had a really tough three weeks since I moved home filled with a lot of self-doubt, fear, and helplessness. But you know what? I’m sure Zayn felt that way when he first left 1D but look at him now: I actually can’t get Pillow Talk out of my head.

My point is, whether you’ve just graduated, you’re still in school, or wherever you are in life: no one knows you better than you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Take the time to understand what you love and what you want to do, and make sure you are self-motivated, and not motivated by what others expect of you. The only expectations you have to meet are your own, so push yourself, but also recognize your limits. You are so much more than you think you are, so let yourself realize this and be proud of yourself. Because I sure am proud of you. Plus, if you’re like me, you’re so young and have infinite time to figure it all out.

The world is our paradise, and it’s our war zone.

(See what I did there.)

Sexual harassment is never your fault

Yesterday, while I was waiting to cross at an intersection on my walk to school, a car that was turning the corner slowed right down, rolled down the passenger-side window, and a man in the passenger seat shouted, “Hey, Sexy.”

Good morning to you too, sir.

Naturally, I turned the other way and ignored him, holding my breath until the car drove away. I learned a long time ago that diffusing sexual harassment with silence is much easier, and much safer, than responding with the aggression I feel.

But this post isn’t about diffusing. This post isn’t about how scary it is to be sexually harassed. This post is about something much more serious.

As the light changed and I began to cross the street, I looked down and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t wear knee socks with a skirt when my winter coat it so long. It looks a little scandalous.”

And then I proceeded to mentally slap myself for thinking such a thing.

Here’s a lesson that the world is trying to learn but is nevertheless learning very slowly: sexual harassment is never your fault. What you are wearing, where you are walking, what time of day it is, whether you’re out alone, does not matter. There is absolutely no condition that could lead you to blaming yourself for being sexually harassed. None. You are always the victim and you are never responsible. Please don’t forget that.

Victim blaming has been a hot topic in the news lately, particularly through the Jian Ghomeshi trial, and Kesha’s legal battles with Sony. There are a lot of articles and opinions flying around the internet and everything can seem very complicated. But the important thing to remember is that when a person opens up about a traumatic experience and we say they’re wrong because they, in some way, put themselves in the situation, we are threatening to silence all victims of sexual assault and harassment by making them feel they can’t come forward without being blamed.

The day I walk to school with a big sign on my backpack saying, “Please shout sexual profanities at me from your car,” is the day I may claim responsibility for being harassed. But until then, I am not asking for it.

I apologize that my height threatens your status as an alpha male

I am going to tell you a story.

Last Friday I went on a first date with a boy. This boy was very cool, very attractive, and somewhere around 5’11” tall, which is my height. All of these things were acceptable to me. It was a really good date, we both seemed to very much enjoy ourselves, and I left the evening assuming I would see him again.

Then today, while we were texting, he asked if I was free any time to hang out. But “maybe not as a date but as homies” because his “height game is way too weak for” mine, and his “alphaness is properly threatened to be dating” me. To summarize the direct quotes: he just wants to be friends as us being the same height means I am too tall for him, because I threaten his status as the alpha male.

Initial reaction: what the actual fuck.

Secondary reaction: no but seriously WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

*Takes a few seething deep breaths*

I have been 5’11” tall since I was fifteen. I started middle school at a gigantic 5’7″. I genuinely do not remember a time when I was shorter than 5′. I always towered over every one of my classmates in grade school, and in particular I towered over all the boys. Everyone, boys mostly, thought it was acceptable to comment on and ridicule my height. I was bullied incessantly. I hated being tall for a large part of my life, and I automatically assumed that no boy would ever have a crush on me because I was too tall for him, and boys don’t like tall girl. This all left me feeling really shitty about a fundamental part of myself as a human being, which sucked.

Then I grew up, realized that haters gunna hate hate hate, and accepted who I am. I came to understand that my height is not only part of what makes me a unique human being, but my height is beautiful, and should be celebrated. Now I strut around in cute heels all the time, which make both my calves and my personality much more attractive.

It took me about 20 years to fully accept who I am, and for some random asshole to come around and try to tear down everything I’ve worked so hard to build up is absolutely unacceptable.

First of all, I opened up to you on said first date about this history of feeling self-conscious about my height, and yet you think it’s okay to essentially tell me, “I am too good for you and your giantess status.” And yet you had the audacity to think I would still want to hang out with out as a friend. In what world do you think that is an acceptable thing to say to a fellow human being? How is it in any way appropriate to tell a girl that you have zero desire to date her, not because her personality is shit, but because of some physical aspect of herself that not only is she already conscious about, but that she cannot change? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t appropriate.

Secondly, I am threatening your “alphaness”? Did you miss the memo that we are now in the year 2015? The patriarchal concept of the alpha-male as a) something to strive towards and b) something that women find attractive is laughable. It’s called gender equality, my friend. I am a confident, independent woman in the 21st century and if you think that your desire to be the “alpha” in a relationship is a desire that will be easily fulfilled, you are sorrily mistaken. Your concept of a relationship is outdated, so please take yourself out of the dating pool until you can properly educate yourself on feminism.

Currently I’m a little hurt and very angered by this whole ordeal. But I’m a positive person; I will bounce back. But you, sir, have faced the ultimate punishment because misogynistic bullies like yourself will suffer for the the rest of your lives. Perhaps it was your upbringing. Perhaps your height isn’t the only size you’re self-conscious about. But whatever it is, I wish you the best of luck in your future relationship endeavours. Luck you’ll need if you continue to be a sexist prick.

Don’t settle, my friends. Don’t conform. Don’t accept the awful standards people set for you. Be yourself, and be confident in yourself. And if anyone give you shit for who you are, call me up and I will gladly kick their ass with my 4-inch pumps.

New Beginnings

It is 10:00pm, my computer is overheating like a a menopausal woman, and I don’t know where this steam-of-consciousness came from, but here goes.

I am feeling oddly optimistic about my life. I feel like there are a lot of changes that are going to happen to me soon and I am going to experience a lot of different things. New beginnings, as the title says. Sometimes I find I can get pretty down on my life: I’m stuck in some rut, everything is very stagnant, nothing is exciting. But I’m feeling kind of excited. About nothing in particular, just about life running its course. About friendships and relationships and the future and stuff. I’m not very spiritual and I don’t normally think about the universe but I guess right now the universe and I seem to be on pretty cool terms.

You know what I’m not on cool terms with? My house. Because my house it not cool. It is a thousand degrees. Sorry, laptop.

(My laptop’s name is Alaska, if anyone is curious.)