Tagged: fun

hello again

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.
— Harper Lee

I promised myself that when I clicked on the ‘add new post’ icon, I would eventually be clicking ‘publish’ once I was finished typing what I had to say.

You see, I have about 20 or so drafts sitting in my posts folder. They are all posts I at one point or another felt I needed to share, but I didn’t. It upsets me more than you know.

When I first started this blog over three years ago, it was because I enjoyed writing. Even if nobody was actually reading my words — besides my family and other random bloggers — I didn’t care. It was just nice to say what I had to say in my own little corner of the Internet.

I used words like RAD (maybe a bit too often) and I poured my heart out about women I loved. I didn’t care what people thought — okay, maybe a little — but I didn’t let it censor me.

For some reason though, lately I’ve been questioning everything I write down. Even that sentence right there I wonder, should I be admitting this?

Sure it’s made me a better editor, but at what cost? Scrutinizing everything I put to paper has become tiresome. Questioning what everyone else will think is just silly. Yeah, maybe my older blog posts weren’t going to get me my next big gig, but they were my words. They were thoughts I felt I needed to share, and that should be enough.

I don’t know when or why this all started, but I do know a few things: being critiqued on my creativity for the past year has been challenging. Being surrounded my such talented people has made me analyze my own skills through a magnifying glass. Being so totally objective has left me a little lost.

I need to stop censoring myself and believe in me again. When I go back and read old blog posts, they make me smile because I was carefree. I can specifically remember sitting at my old Toshiba laptop in my shitty old apartment and the satisfaction I got from clicking ‘publish.’ I hate to say it, but when it comes to this blog, I haven’t felt that way in a while.

People always say, to become a better writer you need to write. So here’s to writing for the fun of it. Here’s to writing stories I can look back at and smile. And here’s to being honest and saying whatever the hell I want, because these are my words and this is my blog.

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.
—Allen Ginsberg


Paints and Pints

I recently caught wind of a new artsy thing here in the city: Paint Nite. It’s an event — a franchise event, actually, which originated in Boston three years ago, eventually making it’s way here — where people can “Drink Creatively” at different bars across the city.

It’s a pretty neat idea, considering I’ve always been an advocate for painting and being creative, whether you think you’re a “painter” or not.

I spoke with the woman who owns Paint Nite Winnipeg, Manda Brownrigg, and she said she saw a need for the event because people are so busy they forget to be creative. It’s so true. I like to write about making time for what you love, but I’ve struggled with that myself this past year. It’s sad to think people need to pay $45 to go out to get their creative juices flowing, but I suppose it’s better than not being creative at all. I applaud Manda for at least providing a new option for creativity. It’s definitely something more mainstream that I can see a lot of my “non-painter” friends actually doing.

Here’s a story I wrote about Paint Nite Winnipeg, but if you want to see the event for yourself, check out the TV version here. (Skip ahead to 32:00 for the story).

An event that encourages embracing your inner-artist while sipping on some cocktails has made its way to Winnipeg.
In a room full of women, Colin Epp, the only man, is hard at work on his masterpiece. It’s date night for him and longtime girlfriend Victoria Markstrom.

“It was my idea, one hundred per cent,” said Markstrom.

“But I’m on board for anything,” said Epp. “I’ll try absolutely anything once.”

The pair chose to check out Paint Nite Winnipeg, a franchise event new to Winnipeg. By the time they’re done for the evening, they will have two new paintings to hang up at their cottage.

“We’re both in sciences, so it’s nice to be creative once in a while,” said Markstrom.

“In our day-to-day jobs, we just don’t do those kinds of things, so yeah, it’s nice.”

Paint Nite Winnipeg made its debut in October 2014. It’s an event that happens four times a week in different venues across the city. So far Barley Brothers, Saffron’s and The Good Will have held the event.

For the $45 ticket, you get an apron, paints, brushes, a blank canvas and guidance. An instructor will walk you through the evening, telling you which brushes to use, but insisting you make the painting your own.

“Anybody can paint,” said Manda Brownrigg, owner of Paint Nite Winnipeg.

“Everybody comes in here and they start with, ‘I’m not creative, I can’t paint stick men, this is not my thing, don’t expect too much from me,’ but every person leaves here with this thing that they created. They’re impressed with themselves and they’re proud.”

Brownrigg said it’s important to be creative in our busy day-to-day lives, because we often neglect our artistic sides as adults.

“We lose track of that awesome childish artisticness, where we’re just happy to have made something, we don’t even care if it’s good,” said Brownrigg.

At Paint Nite, you’re asked to check your self-doubt at the door, and to create your own artwork no matter your skill level.

“Repeat after me,” said Brownrigg over a wireless headset. “I will not say the words, ‘My painting sucks.’”

Two Bostonians created Paint Nite back in 2012. The slogan, “Drink Creatively,” encourages paint and pints. Even though it’s only been in Winnipeg for a few months, tickets sell out fast — right now you’re looking at about a two-month wait.

Paint Nite Winnipeg is currently a one-woman show with Brownrigg the whole event. But she is so busy she’s looking to hire artists to help her expand.

New addition to a Manitoba tradition

Considering the Festival du Voyageur is just three days away, I thought it would be the perfect time to share this article I wrote for The Projector. There’s some new additions to the outdoor festival this year, and I honestly can’t wait to go.

Come February, the temperatures will likely be cold and the homework will likely be piled on thick, and according to Manitoba’s beloved winter festival, that’s the best time to head outdoors.

For its 46th year in a row, Festival du Voyageur (FDV) returns to St. Boniface from Feb. 13 to 22.

This year, the festival will feature all the classic winter activities, like horse-drawn sleigh rides, slides and snowshoe workshops, but it will also introduce something new.

Fort Gibraltar — the festival’s main hub — will be open late, from 9 p.m. to midnight, to introduce the brand new Bar Gibraltar. Fort Gibraltar would normally be closed at 9 p.m., so the extra hours in the evening give party-goers a place to dance along to music, enjoy some drinks outdoors and well into the evening.

“I think the Fort Gibraltar bar is exactly what the people need,” said Barney Morin, a first-year Creative Communications student and a historical interpreter for the FDV. “Normally the Fort closes at 9 o’clock, you sort of miss that historical aspect.”

Morin, 23, has been attending the FDV since elementary school, but has been an avid festival-goer for the past five years. He dresses up like a voyageur and teaches visitors the rich history of Manitoba.

“Out of all the things that are good this year — 130 bands playing, 100 are local — the bar is going to be the highlight,” said Morin.

Ginette Lavack Walters, executive director of the festival, said the outdoor space at Fort Gibraltar is going to now be programmed with fire jugglers, fire pits, voyageurs singing songs, DJs, and of course, Bar Gibraltar.

She said although many people would rather hide from the cold and their homework, it’s important that they come out and experience the festival.

“I’ve been through university, and I’ve done that reading week, and sometimes you just need a break,” said Lavack Walters.

“You need to change your environment and you need to change your frame of mind. A great way to do that is to grab a couple of friends and come out.”

More than 130 musicians or musical acts of all different genres will play during the 10-day festival.

“If you want something that helps to kind of get you loosened up and not thinking about everything else that’s stressful in your life, Festival is a great way to do it,” said Lavack Walters.

Other FDV events include the 33rd beard growing contest, a mascot competition and jigging and fiddling competitions.

clean + playful

I’ve wanted to spruce up a corner of my bedroom for a while now. After scrolling through numerous DIY blogs, I found a project that would be super easy and inexpensive. I stealthily paid a visit to my local Home Depot and snagged some sample paint chips in the colours that I like (apparently I’m drawn to ‘clean + playful’).

I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty badass.

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I cut out the squares to get rid of the words and the white.

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Then I arranged the colours how I liked. My parents got me some old frames at a garage sale last summer that I’ve been meaning to use, so I arranged the squares to fit inside the frame.

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Once all the pieces were glued in the spots I wanted, I put the final piece in the frame, and up on my dresser it went. For such an easy — and, well, free — project, I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

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I’m always looking for a new DIY project. If you have any cool ideas, let me know! 

10 Questions With…Michael Alan

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“I am Michael Alien, an alien who wants good and to exist with a twist of chaos and a big splash of toxic paint!”— Art Info

Michael Alan “Alien” is a 36-year old New York based multi-media artist. His work includes: drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, video, music, and performances, and is represented by Gasser Grunert in Chelsea, New York.ma2

Michael has had nine solo art shows in New York, his work has been featured in over 200 group shows and over 200 living installations (Michael’s drawings and paintings being acted out live).

Michael is also the founder and director of the Living Installation, where human beings are transformed into live art and are set to his original music (available for purchase here.)

I started following Michael Alan a long time ago on his Instagram account. I resist the urge to double tap every photo he posts, because that’s just it, I like everything he does. His work is like no one’s I’ve ever seen before, and I could stare at his his pieces for hours, fascinated by each and every line.

When the day comes that I make it to New York, seeing one of his art shows is definitely on my bucket list. But for now, I got the chance to ask him ten questions about himself–including what’s on his bucket list–and here’s what he had to say:

10 Questions:

1. What is art?  

In today’s society art is anything you say it is, which is why most art is shit. The question should be what is true art.

2. If you were stranded on an island, which three things would you wish to have? 

All my art supplies, water and anxiety medication.

3. What creation are you most proud of? 

The energy I have been given to create.

4. What is your favourite movie and why? 

I don’t know, favorites aren’t realistic. There are so many great movies. I feel that movies are one of the high points of our culture. All the way from I shot Andy Warhol, Superstar, The Road, &, Blue Velvet, LA Confidential, Dallas Buyers Club, Brazil, Bronson, Motherwell, Ghostworld, Tapeheads, Brewsters Millions, The Muppets take Manhattan, and my favorite  See no Evil, Hear no Evill with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

5. What inspires you? 

Every fucking thing, good or bad.

6. What is your “life motto”? 

Don’t dream your dream, live your dream.

7. Have you had formal training or does it come naturally? 

I’ve gone to art school but I’ve never had an instructor give me a lesson except for critiques. I’ve got lucky, I always got more support and encouragement.

8. What’s one thing on your bucket list?

I want to see my new 12” album get pressed by Vas Deferens organisation. I’ve had a lot of cds released but this is my first vinyl collaborative epic art album.

9. Who is your favourite artist?  

The Czechosovakian stop motion animator Jan Svankmajer.

10. Why this art medium? 


Take a look at this.
More photos are available on his Facebook page. Also, Catie Keck, an Intern at the Huffington Post, recently asked Michael Alan eight questions about his upcoming performance on May 4 for “New Museum Untapped,” check it out here.


Jan 27 2014 2

Sara Groleau is a 23 year-old author of short fiction, born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently working on her first novel about a troubled young woman who thinks she has found the perfect escape when she meets the future King of the Underworld. She graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2012, with a degree in Psychology and a certificate in Conflict Resolution. She lives in Winnipeg with her family and is currently studying towards a degree in Psychiatric Nursing.

How did you get into writing?

When I was six, a friend gave me a little pink diary with a gold lock, and I started writing down random stuff, like what I was eating at the moment – kind of like a pre-internet Twitter. I was always asking, “What if?” Writing down my thoughts was a way to get them out of my head. I’ve always had an overactive imagination; it’s how I used to escape feelings of boredom or distress. I was shy as a child and often lonely, so writing in journals was how I would ask questions, explore ideas, and develop opinions about things. I also read a lot of fiction and I identified with certain characters or situations. I always felt like the authors of my favourite books understood me more than my peers did. Eventually I started practicing writing my own stories and sharing them with other people; stories were how authors had connected with me, so I wanted to connect with others in the same way. When I write a story and someone reads it and relates to it, then I feel like that person and I have something in common, and the world doesn’t seem so strange anymore.

What is your favourite thing about writing?

My favourite thing about writing is creating the opportunity to share a piece of myself with another person without feeling totally vulnerable. I’ve never experienced most of the exact situations I write about – but it is stuff I have wondered about. Storytelling is a way for both the writer and reader to be honest and open without feeling totally exposed. 

Sara’s work has won her some awards (Check out Sara’s award-winning short stories on Amazon Kindle):

“An Apparent Tragedy” – won First Place in the Senior Student Division of the Winnipeg Free Press/Writers’ Collective Short Fiction Contest (2006); published in The Collective Consciousness (bimonthly journal of The Writers’ Collective).

“Nobody Wins” – won an Honourable Mention in the Senior Student Division of the Winnipeg Free Press/Writers’ Collective Short Fiction Contest (2007); published in The Collective Consciousness (bimonthly journal of The Writers’ Collective).

10 Questions: 

1. What is art?

I feel that art is a form of communication and connection with other people. Art is taking something and challenging yourself to look at it with a different perspective. It is inviting people to look at something in a different way.

2. If you were stranded on an island, which three things would you wish to have?

Coke, vodka, and a glass.

3. What creation are you most proud of?

I am proud of the time I create in my day that I set aside for writing, even if it’s just a minute. I spend a lot of time at work, school, etc. A lot of my time belongs to other people. The time I spend writing is time that belongs only to me.

4. What is your favourite movie?

Some Like It Hot. It came out in 1959 but even today it’s hilarious. It really captures my sense of humour, which is witty, wordy, and raunchy.

5. What inspires you?

I feel motivated to act when I perceive injustice. When I was in grade 5, we had an ice cream day at school but no one in our class received any ice cream despite all of us giving our money to the teacher week ago. I started a protest in my class by writing, “We want ice cream or our money back!” on a piece of paper and taped it to my desk. It caught on with other kids and eventually the boys were running up and down the hall with pieces of paper, screaming the chant. (Don’t worry, we eventually got our money back). When I write, sometimes it’s my way of asking, “Hey, do you secretly feel this way too?”

 I also feel inspired by bizarre situations, such as ones with a high degree of contrast between the gravity of a situation and the amplitude of people’s responses. I used to work at McDonald’s, and one time our supervisor found too many blueberries in a yoghurt parfait. He reacted like someone had committed a felony, screaming that he’d found “NINETEEN BLUEBERRIES!” I thought the contrast between the seriousness of his reaction and the triviality of the stimulus was funny. My experiences with real people allow me to create characters with unique perspectives, and then place the characters in challenging situations.

6. What is your “life motto”?

Be kind to people.

7. Have you had formal training or does it come naturally?

I did take one creative writing class in university but I didn’t really find it useful. I have found much better advice by reading books on my own time, most recently “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass, and “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Peter Economy and Randy Ingermanson.

 I would say my ability to write comes from informal training. I have been heavily influenced by other authors of fiction, for example, Betty Smith, author of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” I admire her ability to tell an honest story in a straightforward voice. My philosophy about creating stories is that the focus should be on your audience; you should write something entertaining and emotionally engaging.

8. What’s one thing on your bucket list?

I want to write a novel that I am 100% proud of. Even if I end up not being able to find any publishers who want it, it will still be a personal symbol of my perseverance. I mean, hopefully it’ll get published, but it needs to be good in my eyes first.

9. Who is your favourite artist?

Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) is my favourite musician. I admire his work because he focuses on emotions that we aren’t always free to talk about in public, such as loneliness or feeling powerless or disappointed. Plus he’s awesome.

10. Why this art medium?

I gravitate towards writing as opposed to other art mediums because it is easily accessible – all you need is a pen and paper. You can write at any time of the day and virtually any place. Writing is also very easy to share with other people. I enjoy storytelling because it can be a way of engaging people. I like written stories best because then I can tell a story even if no one is around.

And now, here is Sara’s latest work, enjoy!

Quick Fix

     They were taking longer than usual to wake up.

Needing a catalyst to consciousness, Joseph poured himself a mug of yesterday’s coffee. “You didn’t come to bed last night.” He opened the door of their yellow-tinged microwave, squinting through his morning haze at the buttons, searching for the only ones he ever used.

“Make yourself a fresh pot.” Wendy bit into a slice of dry toast, crumbs falling onto the newspaper open on the table. Joseph thought she was reading, until he noticed her eyes were fixed upon the center of the page. A part of Wendy had disappeared and the part of her that remained was pretending to read.

“This is fine.” Joseph pressed three buttons on the microwave.

The staccato beeps brought Wendy’s head up. “Ninety seconds, that’s too long, you’re going to burn your mouth.”

“I’ll add some milk later.”

“We don’t have any.”

“There’s no butter either but you haven’t died yet.”

Wendy’s toast fell to the newspaper.

Joseph cursed under his breath. “Wendy.”

She stood up from the table and abandoned the toast, newspaper, and Joseph. She walked to their second bedroom.

Joseph’s hands began to twitch. He grasped the handle of the microwave door again, before the final beep had sounded. Joseph didn’t bother to reach for the mug’s handle, instead clenching his fingers around the cylinder of the mug itself. The heat of the liquid had transferred to the outside of the mug. Joseph winced as he took a sip, then placed the mug on the counter. A bead of coffee began to weep down the side of the mug where his lower lip had been. A watery black ring formed on the counter, encircling the mug’s circumference.

The carpet in the hallway cushioned Wendy’s stomping footsteps until she entered the kitchen. “Out.”

She had the little pink blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Flat brown owls were scattered all over the blanket, silent witnesses with large eyes and no testimony.

She’ll love this, Wendy had said, months ago, when she and Joseph had found the little blanket at a flea market.

Wendy’s pupils fixated on the mug that sat upon the counter.

Joseph walked towards the door to the outside, grabbed the keys to his truck from the hook above the light switch, and twisted the door handle. He cast a glance back at Wendy’s stiff figure, tilting his head sideways. From that angle, it almost looked like Wendy’s coarse, unwashed hair and the chipped black polish on her toenails were bookends for the owl blanket.

Wendy waited until she heard the door snap shut. She looked at Joseph’s mug of reheated coffee. With her left hand, she clasped both ends of the blanket in front of her while she maneuvered her right hand out from behind the soft fleece. Her fingers grasped the handle of the mug. She brought it over to the metal sink, which was emanating a slight scent of rotten eggs. She tipped the mug to the left, allowing the coffee to pour down the sink. The fluorescent light reflected off the small cascade of coffee and she saw shades of brown for a moment before the mug emptied in its entirety.

The mug clunked into the sink, rolling briefly on its side before its handle put an end to the motion.

She opened the wooden drawer beside the sink, the drawer opening in pulses along its unseen splintered track. She selected a green washcloth with a white snowman and a dime-sized hole. She turned on the gray metal tap of the sink and dampened the washcloth under the flow of water, which refused to spew out a constant temperature even if the tap remained untouched.

She extracted the washcloth from the stream and brought her left hand forward. Both hands gripping either end of the rag, she began to wring out the hot water. Her lips pressed together more firmly with every twist, until her hands reached a standstill.


     Wendy heard keys jingling outside the door.

“How long have you been doing that?” Joseph closed the door behind him and hung his keys up on the hook with his free hand. He examined her red, raw hands from afar.

She stopped scrubbing and stared at the large beige crate that he had brought back with him. “What the fuck is that?”

He laid the crate down on the floor and opened the metal barred door, smiling and reaching his hand inside.

“You did not get a dog.”

He looked up at Wendy from where he was crouched on the floor. His eyes went to the counter. “Where’d you put my coffee?”

“You’re taking it back to the store or humane society or wherever –”

“I wasn’t finished, where’d you put it?”

“You’re seriously pissed that I dumped out your reheated coffee from yesterday. What were you going to do, put it in the microwave again?”

“Don’t touch my stuff.”

“It was my university mug.”

“You didn’t even graduate.”

“It’s a mug, not a degree. Why the fuck did you bring a dog home?”

“Relax.” Joseph coaxed the dog out of the crate.

Wendy shook her head. She walked out of the kitchen and into their living room, which was barely big enough to fit their couch. Wendy scanned the couch, contemplating where to sit. A laptop was resting upon the middle couch cushion. A pillow with a rip in it, stuffing spilling out, sat beside the laptop. On the end table beside the couch lay a picture frame with two miniscule plastic sea turtles glued to it. Two weeks ago, Wendy had brought a camera to the hospital, hoping to capture a photograph for the picture frame. Now, she kept her gaze determinedly fixed on the ripped pillow.

The dog began to whine.

“Tell your dog to shut up.”

“Our dog. And you can’t tell a dog what to do, not till he’s trained.”

Wendy snapped her head to look at him. “You could have told the doctor what to do.”

“Me? I didn’t know what I was doing. He was the professional. What about you?”

“I was in so much pain I couldn’t think straight.”

Joseph reached into his pocket and pulled out his vibrating cell phone, pressing it against his ear and answering.

Wendy clenched her teeth together.

After a few moments, Joseph brought the phone away from his ear and tapped the screen. He buried the phone back in his pocket. “That was Andrew. Julia won’t be there today.”


He looked at the dog, sucking in his breath. “Their babysitter cancelled.”

Wendy heard a sharp laugh shoot out from her throat. “I’ll be sure to send my condolences.”

“It’s just bad timing.”

Wendy was still for a moment. She lifted the owl blanket from her shoulders, folded it carefully, and placed it on the couch. “I’m taking a shower.” She walked towards the hallway again. “And then I’m taking the bus to my parents’.”

The dog wandered away from its crate and into the living room. Joseph stepped over the dog and followed Wendy into the hallway. “But we’re supposed to arrive at the cemetery together.”

Wendy shot a final look at Joseph. Her eyes swallowed the light and her mouth was granite. She stepped inside the bathroom and shut the door.

Joseph was about to open the door, until he heard a single sob come from inside.

He turned around, head bent downward, and walked back into the living room.

When he looked up, he saw the dog chewing on the blanket.

“Shit.” He ran over to the dog. He stroked its head and gently extracted the blanket from the dog’s mouth.

Joseph examined the blanket, dark with saliva. Two of the little owls had been ripped apart.

He ran a hand through his hair a few times, blinking rapidly. He collapsed onto the couch and buried his face in the blanket.

For a minute, there was only the sound of the shower running. And then the dog began to whine again.