Archive for Scaachi Koul
One student’s experience with a lost university application
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings, our 132-page guide to choosing the right school.
In my head, it was going to be perfect. After weeks of waiting, I’d check the mailbox at my parents’ house for a letter marked “Ryerson University.” I’d rip open the envelope and, with any luck, I’d see “Congratulations!” in the first line, and I’d know that I had gotten in. The reality, however, was more fraught: a five-month process with lost deposits, missed deadlines and more than a few burst blood vessels in my father’s face.
I sent my application to Ryerson’s School of Journalism in the winter of 2008 during my last year of high school, and the school notified me by mail that I’d receive more correspondence in the spring. By April, there was still no letter in the mailbox. Starting to worry, I checked my online Ryerson account—the number was included in the initial letter—and found a letter of conditional acceptance: if my grades remained the same, the school would gladly take me. It wasn’t the triumphant moment I was hoping for, but at least it was something.
Scaachi Koul: it’s more depressing to hear this girl complain
When I graduated last month, everyone told me that it was the beginning of the rest of my life. This, they told me, was when it would all start becoming really difficult, and it would show what I was made of. I would come into my own.
But why didn’t anyone tell me I wouldn’t get everything I waaaaaaaaaaant?
Taylor Cotter, a 22-year-old American writer and editor, already has a job, an apartment, a 401k and financial autonomy from her parents. But she’s sad. She’s sad because things are working out for her. Cotter, you see, never had to struggle for her success the way others have had to. From her blog post on The Huffington Post:
Female butchers are still rare
With displays filled with duck confit, wild boar and dry-aged beef, Olliffe is one of Toronto’s most drool-worthy butcher shops. The head butcher is usually behind the counter, fearlessly sharpening knives without looking and effortlessly trimming perfectly symmetrical steaks.
Erica Jamieson isn’t just Olliffe’s head butcher, she’s also the only female employee. At 27, she co-manages a staff of 12 men, some of whom have been butchering for nearly as long as she’s been alive. “When people enter a butcher shop, they expect to see the big European man with the cleaver and hairy arms,” she says. “I kind of fell into it.”
Going home and getting lost
I wonder what other people think of when they think of Calgary. Skiing and cattle, I’m sure. Co-Op Gold beer and mountains and the Conservative Party. Cowboys and the Stampede in the summer. Oil.
When I think of Calgary, I think of the winter: white and clean, with the ever-present threat of death if you even dare to leave your house. The movie Fargo reminds me of Calgary; just a wasteland of terrible climate and some terrible people. The movie ends with a man being shoved into a wood chipper. Coming back to Calgary after months in Toronto gives me the creeps, perhaps for the wood chipper scene alone.
Yes, the prodigal daughter returns! It’s been nearly two weeks and my stay has been nothing short of uncomfortably calm. I haven’t done much, and I’ve left my house four, maybe five times. I don’t read, I don’t write, I don’t talk. I just go from room to room, friend’s house to friend’s house, eating and drinking. What’s this around my midsection, you ask? Oh, just a food-baby.
Fargo is all about small, sad people trying to do something big with themselves. The film is named after the small town in North Dakota where nothing happens except for the frequent snowfall. Calgary is bigger, but ultimately filled with similarly small, sad, petty people. Perhaps they have a less pervasive propensity to murder but Calgarians have a lot in common with the fictional characters from Fargo. Winter jackets that look like they belonged to the Unabomber, weird accents that the rest of the country don’t understand and a horrifying sense of detachment from the rest of the world when you’re too embedded in this western winter wonderland.
Leaving Calgary was difficult. Leaving Calgary doesn’t get easier. When I’m not here, I often wonder what’ll happen in a few decades’ time when the dust has settled. When our parents have died and are well into the ground and when everyone is getting married and having kids and getting real, adult jobs. When the girls will stop using blue eye shadow and the boys will figure that sneakers are not all-purpose. Sometimes I think I made a mistake in leaving. It left me with no real roots. I know well enough that once my parents are gone, I won’t have strings tying me down anywhere.
This idea is solidified by my sister-in-law’s pregnancy. She’s due in a few months, but I’m unsure of how well I’m going to know their daughter. Her and my brother are bringing this new little person into this world and it’s going to be more of my blood than anyone else I know, but I don’t expect to know this kid. My aunts are strange and foreign to me, not to mention geographically far – why wouldn’t this be any different? This used to bother me, but I’ve come to accept it.
I have no strings, and sometimes I prefer it. There’s less to clean up.
Whenever I return to Calgary after a few months of my other life, I forget that there are people here still living and breathing. I’m always surprised when my family or my friends are actually up to things and are actually changing like I am. Surely, this is a narcissistic, to think that I’m the only one maturing. Still, it never ceases to surprise. My father has retired, my brother is having his first child, my friends are meeting other people and many of them have become ghosts. It’s as if whenever I come back, everyone else has been invited to some big party and I can’t even figure out where it is.
I’m unsure of where home is now. Coming back means unnecessary fights with family members. It means soul-crushing snow and near-complete darkness by 5 p.m. It means good food and my brother’s wiener dog, Steven. Toronto means fine company and freedom and adulthood. It means big things and work.
I like things big. Big career, big moves, big events. But big is scary and big requires effort and I am drained of anything big. What I’m sure of, however, is that I’m tired of the journey being my home. I want placement. I have two lives in two cities and there’s no feasible way to make them touch.
When I got to my old room in Calgary, I looked out the window and saw the ice formed around the molding, melting and dripping down the wall. It’s like that every winter. Outside was nothing, just white and dark. It’s Fargo – a sad place for me where so many people make good and great things here but I just can’t, and was always looking for a way out. Still, Calgary was home and I don’t know how to fit back in here.
At the end of it, I just don’t want to be the guy shoved in the wood chipper.
I need better excuses for why I didn’t want to come to your holiday party
[A mid-sized holiday mixer is being hosted at a woman's home. The doorbell rings and she walks up to the door and opens it.]
Woman 1: Hey, you made it!
Woman 2: Yeah, hi, sorry I’m late. [she walks in, the door closes behind her]
W1: Oh, no problem. What held you up?
[silence between the two women]
W2: Yeah, it’s just crazy out there. The snow is heavy, the roads are terrible – it’s pretty bad.
W2: My car wouldn’t even start at first and – let me just take off my coat – and it was just sliding across the ice.
W1: You’re an hour and a half late because of traffic.
W2: Yeah, I mean, I’m sorry I’m so late but -
W1: No, no, it’s fine, it’s just that I didn’t think you’d have to drive such a short distance.
W2: Well, typically I would have walked but it’s so cold outside tonight.
W1: But, you live next door.
W2: What are you trying to say?
W1: Nothing, it’s just that you live literally twenty steps away from my front door.
W1: You’re telling me that you physically got into your car, put the key in the ignition and drove 20 – maybe 30 feet – and you somehow got stuck in traffic.
W2: Well, if you’re going to say it like that.
W1: I just don’t understand how you could have gotten stuck in traffic.
W2: Well, you’ve got at least twenty people in your house. I was looking for some place to park.
W1: It took you over an hour to park?
W2: There was a lot of snow. And besides, it’s not like your house is so easy to find.
W1: You live directly next door to me. You can wave to me in my bedroom from your bathroom window.
W2: It’s so shrouded! You have so many plants and there were all those cars.
W1: Look, if you’re just late, that’s okay. I mean-
W2: I just don’t understand -
W1: you might have been doing your hair -
W2: why don’t you believe -
W1: and you just lost track of time -
W2: that your house is kind of hard to find -
W1: and you’ve created this elaborate story.
W2: It was just traffic.
W1: Alright, well, you’re here now so it doesn’t matter. Lets just get you a drink. [She walks to the window and pulls the curtain back.] Wow, I guess you’re right. There really is a lot of snow outside.
W2: Yeah, I know.
W1: Where did you end up parking anyway?
W2: Oh, I just drove around until I decided to risk it and park in your neighbor’s driveway.
W1: You parked in your own driveway?
W2: You know, that’s a great top. I have it in blue.
How the worst loss has made for a small gain. It’s not worth it.
Carnage is a sweet thing to watch. It’s something you can bond over, maybe with a beer and greasy pub food. Watching two men fight is primal and hideous but it can make you friends, simply for the fact that you might be rooting for the same guy to bleed. I was spending my Saturday night doing just that with my friend Matt at Ryerson’s pub. We had just ordered and were settling down to watch a UFC Fight Night. Tito Ortiz vs. Forest Griffin – I had been anticipating this fight for a week. I just wanted to see Griffin lose and run away like a little girl. I had money on this fight.
During one of the welterweight divisions, my friend Rachel called me from her room on U of T’s campus. I didn’t want to pick up the phone because the fight was so rough, so enticing, but I decided to make the sacrifice. I walked outside so I could hear her.
“Do you remember Cayley Chapman, Joi Edgar and Emma Ransom? From high school?” she asked. Certainly I remembered them; we had only graduated a year and a half ago. They were fine girls, I guess, but I didn’t have much communication with them. Rachel knew them much better.
“Sure I do. What about them?”
Rachel went on to explain that the three girls were driving to Calgary from Lethbridge on a weekend trip when their car spun out of control and drove over the median into oncoming traffic. They hit another car straight-on. There was a woman and her baby in the other car. Everyone was found dead on the scene except for the baby, saved by the car seat.
I explained to Matt that I had to leave, paid my bill and rushed over to Rachel’s. We sat in her dark residence room, browsing Facebook until 3 a.m. as the details of the accident slowly leaked via a shallow social networking website. “RIP Cayley, Joilinn, Emma” was the Facebook status theme du jour, and it seemed that everyone we went to high school with knew. Rachel was getting messages left, right and centre. “Rachel, did you hear?” “Oh my god, it’s so awful.” “I’m shocked. I’m just shocked, I can’t even believe it.” For this brief speck in time, everyone was friends and we were all in high school and we were all holding hands, no matter how far we were. I made a few phone calls to Calgary and Victoria, where I knew some of my friends were. They knew the girls, they’d be upset.
“I’m fine, I’ve had my cry,” said Molly. “I can’t believe it. But, thanks for calling, Scaachi, that was nice.”
When you realize someone that you didn’t know well is dead, there are a few choice things that happen: you think of how your friends would react if it were you, you think how you’d react if it were your friends, and you consider every regret you’ve held with you your entire life. After all, I feel like I just saw these girls in Mentorship class, annoying the hell out of me because they were pretty and popular and I couldn’t find a real reason to dislike any of them.
Over the weekend, more information was released. Finally, names and pictures of the girls came out and the rest of the country knew what Dr. E.P. Scarlett’s class of 2008 already knew. Memorial groups popped up, funeral arrangements were being made and families were making statements. And everyone was thinking, “poor Hannah.” Hannah was best friends with the three girls, and everyone who discussed their untimely death with me would wind the conversation down with, “Hannah, oh my god, she lost all her friends.”
Rachel thought that maybe them going all together was merciful. “Like they couldn’t live without each other, you know? They went as friends.” We all dig for explanations in time of grief, I suppose.
In this same time, Rachel and I figured out who the woman in the other car was, who the mother of the baby was. I feel uncomfortable revealing a name or any identity since the family has withheld the name for a reason, but the woman is related to another grad in the same year. The connection makes this accident more of a freak show than it was in the first place. Road and weather conditions were fine, they weren’t speeding and they weren’t drinking. How do you go like this?
This morning, I read a first-hand account by a woman who found the crash moments after it happened. She detailed finding one body in the middle of the road, broken bone poking out of her leg. Their cosmetics were strewn across the road and in the ditch. She found ballet flats and blush brushes and then the other two girls in the car. It was so ugly. And the photos of the car with the top ripped straight off and the front bumper destroyed. It’s lying in a ditch, with yellow and grey grass and a dusty sky. It’s so ugly.
There’s something horrific about watching a grotesque news story unravel itself before you when you already have the answers to the questions. It’s like watching the car crash in question in slow motion – you know where it’s going to go and you know it’s not ending anywhere good. The journalists must have been pariahs to the grieving families – looking for a lede, a picture, a detail on the girls that no other paper or network had. I watched interviews and read statements from girls I knew and I just hoped that the people talking to them were talking to them right.
Is this the career I’m picking? Is this the kind of work I want to do with myself? Digging into the ended lives of others, going after their family members for a quote or a close-up shot of them crying for what’s lost? I have to wonder if neglecting to report on something no longer makes it true. I don’t if reporters didn’t speak to the families, they would feel less grief. Nothing can fix this, you can only try to give them a platform.
Carnage is a sweet thing to know. It’s something you can bond over and feel with other people, because maybe you all hate that it happened to the same person or people. Knowing the premature death of a group of people is primal and hideous but it pulls people together for a disgusting and almost unwanted bond. I missed watching two guys beat the life out of each other because life had already been sucked away from four women. And everyone was friends, and I was part of it without even trying.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’d rather that we didn’t have to bond like this.
Hey Jaclyn (?) Lee (?), How are you? I am well. I hope all these years after our graduation have treated you kindly. First of all, I’m not exactly sure that your name is, in fact, Jaclyn . I’ve been told through the grapevine that you have a bone to pick with me, but I [...]
Hey Jaclyn (?) Lee (?),
How are you? I am well. I hope all these years after our graduation have treated you kindly.
First of all, I’m not exactly sure that your name is, in fact, Jaclyn . I’ve been told through the grapevine that you have a bone to pick with me, but I don’t remember you in the slightest. What I do know, however, is that you’re really upset that I won’t add you on Facebook. Now I make no pretense of being popular, so it’s not like I spend my days ignoring friend requests, but certainly I say no to more people than I say yes to.
But I genuinely cannot remember who you are. I usually only identify people by a distinct character flaw, so you must be really perfect because nowhere in my half-decent memory can I find you or your name. I will go ahead and assume you are a blond/brunette white female between the ages of 17 and 20.
What I can’t understand, however, is why you would be so wound up over the fact that I won’t add you. Clearly we had little contact, nevermind a full conversation.
Please show yourself. I feel like I may owe you an apology.
Or maybe I don’t. Maybe I’ll find out who you are and it’ll just increase me ire for you and people like you, who require the popularity contest that is Facebook friending. And to be so irked by the fact that I just won’t say yes, to be so personally offended by it that you tell one person who tells another who tells me and then you become this joke, this extravagant joke about this broad that is hurt because I will not add them – well that’s so sad for you.
Or maybe you’re not like that, who knows?
In my defense, the purpose of Facebook is to keep in touch with people that you want to keep in touch with, however, if there is no need found on the part of either parties to keep in touch, what’s the purpose behind it? The way I see it, some people drift away, some people don’t. I have no desire to keep talking to that girl that sat in the back row of my Math class and cut Simple Plan lyrics into her wrists.
For all I know, Jaclyn (?) Lee (?) could have been that girl. In reality, what would we have to catch up on if we’ve never been caught up int he first place?
So please, if I hurt you – or any of you, for that matter! – please expose yourselves to me. As some do when I delete them, confront me. I’ll give my reasons and you give yours. It’s Facebook. It’s not even as serious as Twitter – IT’S FACEBOOK.
Anyway, I hope there’s no bad blood. Or maybe I do? Depends on who you actually are.
Hope you’re well, Jaclyn (?) Lee (?)!
Get noticed in a sea of faces and make a name for yourself
The class sizes of many major universities are growing each year, and students have to learn to keep up. More and more do the individuals in the class fade into a crowd of 150-plus students within one lecture hall. Still, it’s important to differentiate yourself from the masses, or to be recognized. Here are some tips:
1. Swear in class
The use of impassioned profanity when answering a professor’s question is a sure-fire way to make fellow students love and respect you. It’ll make you sound intense and brooding – you’ll be the rebel without a cause if you drop the f-bomb nonchalantly in the middle of a chemistry class. You might alienate a few – professors included – but one can never put a value on the kind of following you’ll garner.
2. Wear an unbelievably irrational outfit
Can’t walk in heels? Strap them on and stumble your way into class like a drunk gazelle. Is it 40 degrees outside? May I suggest this giant parka that makes a rustling noise when you battle yourself out of it during class? Walk in late and you will be reassured that everyone’s eyes will be on you and your inexplicable attire.
3. Slather yourself in scented lotions, perfumes, colognes and hairspray
Beauty is important. It’s even more important than the ability of the person next to you to breath. Aim to bathe yourself in strong scents, like anything that really assaults the senses. Floral smells or something by Elizabeth Taylor will due. Extra notice will be take if you can get your hair to be so bouffant from hairspray and backcombing that the three rows behind you can’t see anything else.
4. Interrupt the professor every class with pseudo-intelligent and “witty” comments
No matter what they tell you, professors love this. Quite literally, they stand in the mirror every morning before class and say to themselves, “I really hope a self-righteous 20-year-old in an ironic Love Boat t-shirt makes a comment today that’s both a thinly veiled reference to the movie Half-Baked, as well as in no way helpful or interesting. I also hope they act smug and condescending for the remainder of the class.”
5. Complain as loudly as possible in class about how big of a waste of time the lecture is
Granted, we all have classes we think are useless, albeit mandatory or other wise inescapable, but there’s no better way to set you apart than to talk ad nauseum about how much you hate the class and everyone dumb enough to be in it. (Except yourself, of course.) Turn to the student next to you, roll your eyes in regard to the professor and sigh dramatically. When a break in the lecture comes up, bolt out of the classroom as if to say, Jesus Christ, you could not WAIT to get the hell out of there. At the end of every class, stand up and mutter as loudly as a mutter permits, “Well that was a massive waste of time.” Sure, everyone is allotted time and space to complain about their classes but you’re going to take it to a level that’s near-criminal.
These wanton, childish acts might not always get you friends but they will get you attention. And sure, you could spend this time trying to get through these classes to learn something, but who will remember you then?
The most convoluted insult of my life.
“Here at your service, please acknowledge the receipt.
We will always love [you] despite everything.”
- Email from September 18th, 2009
in regards to sending my paid tuition statement
Facebook friending is the new handshake
1. If you move away from home, you’ll miss your parents for the first five minutes. Maybe.
2. Your first-year grades are meaningless but maybe you want to crack a book open once in a while?
3. Male bravado may be tacky but hey, that never stopped anyone.
4. Frosh Week can be obnoxious and humiliating with overzealous enthusiasm but it’s an excellent way to make friends, so go on and build that human pyramid!
5. Nobody cares about anything you ever did in high school. No one is impressed that you wrote the school’s winter production or that this one time, you made a killer joke and the most popular boy in your class laughed. (I’ve tried this, I HAVE TRIED THIS.)
6. Not everyone drinks. Some people read. Sometimes they study. Some smoke. Variety is the spice of life.
7. Engineering students all have a creepy symbiotic and almost inappropriate relationship with each other. They paint their bodies, duct tape each other to lamp posts in busy city squares and march down crowded sidewalks playing horns. Avoid.
8. Half-Baked is really an exceptional film under the right circumstances.
9. The person next to you is probably just as nervous as you are.
10. “Friendcest” will become the dirtiest word in your lexicon.
11. You’re right, I bet you and your high school boyfriend are, like, so in love and you’re totes going to make this long distance thing work and you’re going to get married one day and walk down the aisle to Metric wearing your favorite gold lycra tube top from American Apparel. No, no, I’m the idiot.
12. “Hey, do you want to go play some beer pong?” doesn’t mean it’s a date.
13. You might change your major or you might change your school or you might change your friends, and none of it is such a huge deal.
14. My brother taught me this and for some people more than others, it’s vital to pay attention to: Try to suspend whatever disdain you may have for certain groups of people for the sake of making a friend or two. You can’t roll your eyes at all of the people all of the time and expect to get away with it. (That said, you can’t be friends with everyone, so pick your battles.)
15. Don’t take any advice.
– Photo by Matthew Braga –
“I tell her I love her just as much as her brother but I really don’t.”
Father: Our plan is going along nicely.
Mother: Indeed. In no time we will have ruined her life and any chance for social acceptance she ever had before she graduates.
Father: What are your plans for the future?
Mother: Well first off, I’m not going to let her shave until she’s in junior high even though the kids at school are already calling her Scaachi the Sasquatch.
Father: That’s great because she’s already really bushy for a fifth-grader.
Mother: Then I won’t let her wear makeup for, like, ever.
Father: Oh that’s going to be a crushing blow because all the girls in grade nine will be wearing makeup, even her best friend Jennifer, but she won’t be allowed.
Mother: I secretly like Jennifer better.
Father: Me too.
Mother: What are you going to do?
Father: Well, when she’s twelve and tells me she wants to be a singer, I’m going to totally laugh in her face.
Father: Then I’m going to catch her sharing candy with a boy at school when she’s in junior high and then yell at her for communicating with the opposite sex and lecture her about how she can get diseases for sharing things like that with males.
Mother: Sounds good.
Father: And when she’s seventeen, I’m going to make her curfew ridiculous, like 7 p.m., and never let to go to any parties ever even though everyone else is going.
Mother: That’ll be hilarious. Did you know she has a crush on Julian Back? I read it in her diary but she doesn’t know I actually read it because I’m so good at putting it back in the exact same spot.
Father: Pfft, like that’s ever going to happen. First off, he’s dating Melanie Craig.
Mother: Yeah, and he gave her a stuffed bumblebee so they’re obviously in love.
Father: Hey, we should start yelling at each other so she thinks we’re having an argument and not actually taking about her.
Mother: THAT’S A REALLY GOOD IDEA BUT SHE’S TOO STUPID TO CATCH ON ANYWAY!
Father: YEAH, SHE WAS SUCH A MISTAKE TO GIVE BIRTH TO!!
Mother: LETS NEVER EXPLAIN TO HER HOW THAT HAPPENS!!!
Mother: I tell her I love her just as much as her brother but I really don’t.
Father: What about high school and university? What do we do then?
Mother: Lets call all her high school teachers and get them to replace her Math homework and tests with harder ones so she has an inordinate amount of self-loathing and angst for a 15-year-old when she fails everything except English.
Father: Then lets belittle her career choice.
Mother: When she’s in university, lets pretend like we miss her.
Father: We won’t really.
Mother: I’m secretly on the side of Jaida, the most popular girl in the fifth grade, because she’s prettier.
Father: Me too. Lets make her wear this humiliating training bra that’s really an undershirt from the ages of eight to 13 even though none of the other girls have to wear them.
Mother: When she’s eighteen, I’m going to ask her specific and probing questions about her body while using the word “intimate” over and over and over.
I hate you, Ted Turner.
It’s not hard to be a newsmaker these days. All you need to do is kill someone, get out of a car with your legs stretched as far as they can go, or disappear to see your mistress and say you were hiking the Appalachian trail. Ultimately, all you really need is a fast getaway car.
Today’s breaking news included reports that a plane and a helicopter has collided over the Hudson River, and there was no Sully Sullenberger in sight. That may have been the most popular story at the time, but even more pressing information cracked the top ten.
Channing Tatum, star of the unbelievably terrible movie Step Up, and his wife who I don’t care about enough to Google got matching tattoos following their honeymoon – a story which was CNN.com’s sixth most popular story. And for good reason, because I’m really interested in what they’re up to.
“We wanted to do something symbolic,” said Tatum. He and his wife got matching tattoos that say “side by side” in Balinese.
Stating “side by side,” no matter the language, isn’t really symbolic. Getting a tattoo of the word idiot twice – side by side – would be more effective, perhaps. A metaphorical representation of you and your wife.
But I can split hairs all day long. The point is that I need to thank CNN for this enlightening piece of intrepid journalism. Even more, I need to thank the fine people that read CNN.com and made this story the 6th most popular story. Sure, there’s a lot more going on: the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court got sworn in, British and French embassy workers are on trial for protests in Iran and hell, there’s even a story on how your dog is smarter than your toddler but no no, Channing Tatum is much more important.
CNN may not actually be “the most trusted name in news,” but they certainly are the most depressing.
My first celebrity run-in
The single craziest thing just happened.
I was walking back to my apartment on Gerrard Street when I passed Jon Gosselin with one of the women he might be dating! It was so surreal. I know that Jon and Kate Plus 8 just came back on the air so I wanted to go talk to him and ask him how the kids are doing and how he’s dealing with the divorce and whether he thinks he’s still a good dad, but then I realized that I actually don’t care.
Thoughts on Toronto’s Caribana
I have never seen so many black people in my life.
Toronto’s 42nd Caribana ran its course this weekend as North America’s largest Caribbean festival, and downtown was littered with festive spirits, sequins, Calypso music and more black people than I could count. Born and raised in an area of Calgary so white that I was considered Nubian, there were two, maybe three minorities in my neighborhood. High school was even worse -with a student body of 1,500, you’d see one black student every month. It was so rare. We would press ourselves against the walls and stare, like we were witnessing a cat drive a car.
While I missed my first Caribana being run down with a flu, I still managed to see more black people than I had ever seen throughout my life. More importantly, however, it made me realize how surreal and almost unnoticeable the racism was of me and my idiot friends.
On Friday, I passed Dundas Square on my way to Subway, well into my flu, where the cop-to-black-individual ratio was two to one. The East Indian sandwich artist greets me with a vacant smile I recognize all too well in my family members.
“Hello madam, what will it be?”
“Turkey on wheat.”
“Ohhh no, I’m sorry, no bread.”
It turns out that Subway, a sandwich chain where they make sandwiches, runs out of bread two and a half hours before closing. He tells me this, and I have a few options. I could look at him and say something rude (“Listen to me, you balding, pitiful excuse for a human being, you get that emaciated jag Jared on the phone and let him know that I’m going to wrap him in bacon and marshmallows and throw him into a Curves if he doesn’t get me some bread right now.”), I could jump over the glass and beat him or I could glare and shirk away. Deciding I wasn’t fit enough to do the first two, I left without a word, feeling angry.
Hungry, tired and nauseous, Fran’s Restaurant was the closest option. A tacky 50s diner, I sit at the bar with a takeout menu waiting for the bartender to take my order. After he or she doesn’t show up for 15 minutes, I flag down a black waitress.
“Excuse me, is someone working here?” I ask.
She looks at the bar and looks at me. “Yes. A bartender,” and she walks away.
“Oh, well, can someone take my order?”
“Yes,” she repeats. “She will.”
Again: options. I could offer disparaging comments (“Hey, you’re not my prom date, so you can’t just turn around and pretend like I’m not here. Come here and tell me you’re going to get her for me before I staple your ears to your skull.”). I could fight her (I would win). But again, I just sat there, meek, for another ten minutes until the bartender – a white woman – made her way back.
“You look tired,” she says.
“You have no idea.”
After making my order, I pass a group of black men sitting on a park bench on Ryerson’s campus. Early 20s, baggy jeans and drooling mouths. They start talking to me and, thinking they need directions, I stop to listen.
“Where you goin’ all by yourself?”
“Need some company? You all by yourself.”
Options. I could yell (“I know that being lascivious is really trendy these days, like teen pregnancies and face tattoos, but you’re a gaggle of available young black men. Shouldn’t you be off loitering in front of a 7-11? “). I could fight (or try and fail). Or I could run, run like I was going to die.
Funny thing is, the first followed by the third go together really nicely.
Out of breath, sickly and hungry, I meet up with some friends and they sit with me while I eat.
“Caribana is making me really racist,” one says, who works at a nearby restaurant. “I don’t know, there are just some sketchy characters out there. We usually get one or two dine-and-dashes a year, but during Caribana, we’re getting three or four each in a night.”
“Oh, I hear you. I went to Subway and this idiot brown guy told me they were out of bread, then this black waitress just brushed me off when I needed service, and then this group of scary black guys tried to kill me.”
My other friend looks at me. “You’re – you’re really racist.”
We watch a group of young black men fist fight in front of St. Michael’s Hospital.
I’m all for hating other people. I spend a lot of my day doing just that, but at some point it got easier to blame a vile personality on race. Can’t we all dislike each other purely on the basis that they are, as we see it, obnoxious, loud, dull, ignorant, slow, rude, arrogant, inappropriate, harsh, condescending, vapid, and while I think I’m now just describing my better qualities, I would hope that the hundreds upon hundreds of people that dislike me, dislike me because of personal flaws and not physical appearance.
Perhaps Tina Fey said it best on her show, 30 Rock: “When I leave work at night, I am just riding on a subway car full of scary teenage people.”
When I get back to my apartment, I dread that I have to deal with my East Indian security guards. We may be the same race but there’s no love lost between me and the two men. They look at me as if to know that I’m not really one of them – I understand little of the language, I don’t keep my hair long and straight and sometimes I dare show collarbone. Passing a group of excited black 20-somethings, I get in the elevator and hear a security guard mumble to the other in Hindi, “What would their parents think?”
The sandwich artist is an idiot because he ran out of bread when he works at a sandwich chain, not because he’s Indian. The waitress is rude because she spoke to me like I was a half-witted cockatiel, not because she’s black. The men on campus made me nervous because it was dark and it was seven against one, not because they have dark skin.
I get into my apartment, throw my things on the floor and run into the bathroom. The people that left my building when I entered were going to have fun on a Saturday night. The fact that they have dark skin isn’t indicative of crime or repugnance.
Besides, my night is spent throwing up. I’m spooning my toilet bowl – whose parents should really be disappointed in who?
An important message about swine flu outbreaks
In light of the recent swine flu outbreaks across the globe, we at Pine Ridge Elementary are reminding all parents to continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of this pandemic amongst our students during the summer so they can return healthy in the fall.
Please make sure that your child washes his or her hands thoroughly and regularly. To facilitate this good habit, we at Pine Ridge Elementary will be offering disinfectants to all students and teachers. Sharing food amongst students is generally discouraged, particularly at this time.
If your child is exhibiting signs of a flu, please keep your child at home as to not risk the safety of other students. Take your child to see a doctor immediately and get the appropriate vaccines necessary if they are indeed ill with the virus. Notifying Pine Ridge is also important, so we can keep tabs on any spreads amongst the child’s friends.
Once your child has been vaccinated, however, they are not completely in the clear. We ask that you keep your child at home as to not risk other individuals, but also to take other precautions. Garlic or holy water will work on milder cases, but if it’s a more severe case, a silver bullet to your child’s forehead will suffice. This can be purchased at any regular hardware store.
It is also essential that you make sure your child is 100 per cent dead and not just faking. Double checking is vital — tap them, call their name, or load another bullet. Again, please notify Pine Ridge Elementary in this extreme case.
Pine Ridge Elementary will also be handing out face masks for students and staff. We further suggest that students and parents wear these at home as well to reduce exposure.
Early detection is vital: if your son or daughter seems to be showing any of the signs of swine flu, it’s important to catch them. Sneezing, coughing, runny noses, fevers, chills, stomach aches, moaning, eating flesh, drinking blood and Satanism are just a few signs. If you can identify any of these conditions in your child, it is absolutely necessary that you kill them at your earliest convenience.
We at Pine Ridge Elementary reiterate: it is necessary that you neutralize your child as a threat and kill them. Swine flu is very contagious and is potentially fatal. Pine Ridge is also supplying parents and staff with wooden stakes for the most extreme of cases.
We remind all parents that Pine Ridge Elementary has the best interests of our students at heart, and hope that they all remain healthy throughout the summer and the following school year. Still, we must inform parents that if a student is found to have the virus and is within school bounds, we will find them, and we will beat them.
On a final and unrelated note, please remember that the PTA has made new guidelines about birthday party invitations. To avoid conflict and hurt feelings, students must invite everyone in their class if they choose to invite five or more classmates. Even Veeran.
If you have any questions this summer, or next year, please do not hesitate to contact Pine Ridge Elementary.
How airport security still isn’t doing its job.
I don’t think that I’m much to look at.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think I’m extremely attractive, since anyone that has ever seen me would argue that yes, yes I am. What I mean is that I find it hard to believe that those who see me, fear my five-foot-something frame and small, aimless hands of a dyslexic child.
But I would like for once, just once, to go to an airport and not get the full security check-rubdown. And if they absolutely have to do it, maybe dinner or a drink beforehand would help me unclench.
In the past year, I’ve become somewhat of a frequent flier, going back and forth from school and work in Toronto to family in Calgary. I can no longer remember a time when I haven’t been picked for a “random” person and bag search. They take my things and tell me to follow them to a side table: it’s far enough to be out of the way but close enough for other passengers to look at you and tremble. “Boy, airport security is the pits,” their smiles say, but their eyes tell me, “Sweet Jesus, what if they don’t find whatever she has and she comes on my flight?”
They trick me every time. I go to security, empty my pockets, take off my belt and shoes and show them my boarding pass and passport. The man or woman calls me through the metal detector and lulls me into a false sense of security. “Hi there, ma’am,” they say or, “I love your shoes” or, “Your hair is just the cutest.” I giggle like a school girl with a crush. “Oh, my, you’re forward.” I’m inches away from getting the vapors.
Then, once I’m relaxed, they ask me to stand with my arms out while they rip my innocence (or what’s left) from me. They run the metal detector across my body, repeating innocuous phrases as if to diffuse the extremely public experience. “Alright, looking good, we’re just going to take a peak over here.” Either way, you’re still touching my butt.
It used to be easier. In the past three or four years, the amount of time any airline wasted on me was truly a feat. It went from asking for my passport at 10, to looking through my bag at 13, to knocking on the heel of my shoe at 18.
And as I turned around on this particular occasion, flying from Calgary back to Toronto, the woman pressed her hands against my back looking for a bunker of uranium-tipped missiles under my blouse while my mother watched from the gate, giggling as if to say, “Bet you wish you were as racially ambiguous as me, sucker.”
I wholeheartedly understand the need for strict airport security. In no way am I looking for Canadians to go through a tragedy similar to what Americans dealt with years ago. Still, I’m not reassured by the idea that others – others that may be a threat – are being searched with the same vigor I am. Perhaps if I knew what they were looking for, like what dangerous material can be placed inside the waistband of my jeans. Or how my bra’s clasp is a matter of national security. Or what they think is behind my kneecap.
If airport security is not more efficient, it certainly takes more time, and the laws of homeland security dictate that the longer a particular venture takes, the more successful it is. This is the same law that decided that we, as civilized peoples, won the war on drugs because it’s been years since we’ve started the fight. And as you know, no one anywhere ever does drugs at any point. Ever.
I feel the strongest sense of pity for those that are more racially decisive than myself. I wear no religious or cultural markings, like a hijab, so I shudder to think about what the woman that does wear one has to deal with.
Furthermore, I haven’t traveled to the States in years, and thus can’t imagine what their “security” measures have been in the last few years. I assume they would have asked me who I would save from a burning building between Ronald Regan and Jimmy Carter. Depending on my answer, they might roll me up in an antique rug and start whacking me with bats to get anything in or on my person to fall out while chanting, “Beat the lumps, BEAT THE LUMPS.”
It’s a modern privilege to fly, and even furthermore to be able to whine about what could be considered racial profiling in a minimally damaging form. But modern times mean there is a threat. It might not be the one expected and it very well could not be imminent, but preventative measures are necessary. My skin color doesn’t make me any less worried about the threat or terrorism, and I don’t feel safer.
The people that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks hijacked my physical appearance, and the way I’m perceived. They’re not my brothers. So why am I turning out all of my Chapstick and cutting it in half to show I’m not smuggling black tar heroin?
Because I have dark skin and a funny name. In modern times, that’s a goddamn reason. Now bend over.
Join me in my self-indulgence
My name is Scaachi Koul. Don’t give me that look, I didn’t pick it.
I’m entering my second year of journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, but I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. My skin is a distinct brown colour, meaning I am a prime candidate for minority scholarships and Caucasian guilt.
For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed working as a freelance writer and am proving to be one of the finest writers of my generation.
THIS IS A FACT AND SHOULD NOT BE QUESTIONED.
I offer news, opinion, story-telling and personal failures. It’s often appalling, but I look forward to alienating you, kind reader, in due time.
You are welcome.