Saturday, January 25, 2014

CP's Suggestions for Writing Bios (For DJS & Performers)

Ahhh late January. Summer dreams are slipping into collective realms over here. For MANY of my artist friends the season of summer fest gig-conjuring and bio-updating is upon us. As someone who's written one or two bios and read about ten thousand, I figured I'd share some thoughts and techniques. Who knows, perhaps someone may notice and find it helpful. Some may also notice my not-so-sneaky alteriour motives from a hot bed of nerdiness, but heyyy. Whatcha goin' do. :)

Ok so before we get into my suggestions, I'll come out with my personal preferences up front. I'm VERY interested in seeing fresh semantics when it comes to referring to (and defining) the different nuances within "festival” or “bass” culture. Personally, I'm not actually a huge fan of either of those terms, nor EDM nor rave nor "underground"; although I have definitely used them in my writing for lack of better options. Ya gotta establish at least SOME frame of reference right? But in general I find that they are just wayyyy too broad and subjective now to be used effectively to paint a picture on their own. I think maybe that's why people are using words like "boutique" to describe some festivals now... a little more descriptive. Same with genres. No-one wants to be locked into a genre anyway, hence all the DJs who suddenly “defy genre” in bios nowadays.  Honestly I feel like saying that is sometimes worse than picking a genre, especially if unaccompanied by anything qualitative, because it don't really give us ANY information. As our world/movement continues to grow and diversify, I for one would love to see more energy and audacity in how people describe and write about it. Like, just try stuff. Who cares if it doesn't catch on? Gotta start somewhere. My fingers are crossed for quicker evolution there, and, as much as possible, perhaps eventually the dissolution of wide categories or broad genre-like terms entirely in favour of more specific, evocative ones. That'd be my dreamworld. Of sass. Let's try something new shall we?

Now that I've been fully up front about that, I'd like to present to you a couple quick suggestions and techniques for assembling your DJ / performer / artist bio.

I often suggest that the first thing anyone does when writing a bio is put away the computer. OMG I KNOW, CRAZY!!! :) But honestly, staring at the blank computer page just makes my own mind go – well.. blank, which kind of makes sense, when you think about it. So just trust me and close it for a sec.

Now take a minute to think about a few of the things I'm about to list in the next paragraph, and then call a friend. Preferably someone who doesn't really know much about the scene, like your day-job co-worker or your mom or someone. Explain to them that this is an exercise. Get them on the phone or go for a walk and find a cool spot to sit and talk to them for a minute.

Try to forget for a moment that you're writing a bio. Now, in everyday language, start describing to them how you envision your performances in the same way you would as if you were inviting them to come check one out. Describe everything to them... the tone of the event, the type of vibe it is, what kind of environment, what kind of people are there. Imagine this as your ideal-type situation and NOT necessarily at the fest you're applying for or any event in particular. Describe exactly what you'd envision as far where you'd be playing, colours and lighting in the room, what people are wearing, are they dancing / nodding / chilling? The time of day, the general mindframe everyone is in; what their feelings are in your perfect world. If it's a couple different scenarios, that's ok too. (Burlesque dancers, don't forget to fantasize in the vintage elements here.. what about the historical influences? What aspects of your persona's lifestyle and preferred era are relevant here? Think like your alter-ego).

If you're the kind of person where your music or performance is the soundtrack or accompaniment to some sort of image or story in your mind – like a robot fight or a slow-motion strut or afternoon high-tea or the early morning pensive spliff or the hot moment in the backseat of a car... tell those stories too. (Well, maybe don't describe the backseat of a car story if you are using your mom). But describe all of that via phone or in person with your phone recording you.

AFTER you're totally done describing each element verbally - then -- you guessed it – go back over the recording and write down all the descriptive words you were using. Transcribe or translate all the adjectives and elements you touched on, even if they weren't totally perfect. Then start choosing your favourites, looking for the most most evocative words. Then - switch back to bio-mode. See what works within that list of words and descriptions that you can apply to your "style" of djing or performing. DON'T WORRY about describing things perfectly or whether people will know exactly what you mean. It's ok – and often preferable – to leave room for interpretation. The bios I love the most use words that refer to the pacing, vibe, colours and energies of the music or act itself. Like "crisp" "lush" "layered" "bright" “nostalgic” "tense" "bare" “dark” “glowing” “dreamy” “climatic” "dramatic" “hard” etc etc... allows the reader to translate the connotations of sound and texture and colour into an impression. "Low Indigo" is a great example of that (shouts Michael Red), also the words that make up the SHAHdjs anagram: Smooth Hard Aggressively Happy. So perfect for a drum'n'bass crew.

If you're less verbal or get stuck, think of one of your blabby/”talker”/ friends like me, heh heh, who could describe that stuff TO YOU while you record or transcribe THEM. But only do this after you've tried it yourself at least once. No one knows you better than you. And don't worry, no one has to hear it. We live in a digital age where you can record, use and delete that shit with three touches. Why not make use eh?

Also if you are less verbal and more of a visual creature... remember, graphics and photographs are your tools. Be DELIBERATE. What kind of images do your selections evoke? Or vice-versa? Jacob Frumlater's tumblr is a good example of that. Very deliberate aesthetic vibe. Or the Sanctums shirts, or really anything Sergio Levels does. On the lighter side, I love MC DevonThinkTank's choice of images and photoshops. So evocative of his vibe... like, what does that picture sound like? That guy looks hilarious, smart and FUN! I want to hear him do his thing. (Be careful of course about respecting people's work.. sharing is caring on blogs / FB pages but make sure to give credit. If you want to use an image to promote yourself as part of an application you should have the rights to it or explicit permission from the artist). If your image is awesome and complex you can usually get away with keeping your bio simpler... short and sweet. In fact, concise is usually better. I'm still working on that. :) 
MC Think Tank's Awesome Photoshopped Bio Pic

Basically anytime anyone puts some energy and care into choosing or curating descriptives while allowing room for evolution and curiosity – activating the imagination a little -- a bio comes to life. Now think about how much more interesting and less limiting it is to do THAT instead of pointing to some other frame of reference that is constantly diversifying or shifting anyway. “Funk” or “dubstep” or "neo-burlesque", for example. Think of how DRAMATIC the way those words' definitions have evolved over the past 5 years and how they continue to differ among “tribes”. ;) Words like that could mean so many things... and besides, EVERYONE ELSE is using them. Meh.

I'm not saying you have to ditch your genre terms altogether. I'm just pointing out that using more universally established adjectives keeps your promo accessible and attractive to peeps newer to the movement. Music “heads” aside, the terms “intelligent” or “future” are maybe helpful for people who have a frame of reference for the kind of music being described that way at like, this exact moment. However, those words don't always help those who might still be a little unclear what that means exactly. SHOCKER: There are WAY MORE people than you might think who are nodding and dropping those terms when they actually don't know what the fuck they are talking about. Including me although I will NEVER ADMIT THAT outside of this blog post. And let me tell you, my friends who don't really know/care what “future” means still make for a damn good dance floor crew ummmmkay... so don't forget to try to peak their interest. Use some genuinely enticing words, not just "cool" ones. 

On a very-much related note - I see a lot of up-and-comers wanting to appeal to said “heads” and their friends / role-models or potential party organizers in their bios. I would suggest not to worry about that as much. Honestly from what I understand of the application process for a festival, the bio is gravy. Your application is actually more about your tracks and mixes as well as time-slots and flow - what spots they are they looking to fill? What other styles have they booked already? Also don't underestimate professionalism. The completeness and error-free-ness of your application, along with any reputation you may have for being integral/responsible, how easy you are to work with, and YOUR DRAW, are all part of the consideration game. Now - if you are building a draw and don't necessarily have the luxury of people already associating your name with certain sounds or the quality of a signifier/label, I would suggest your sounds or video will do most of the talking as far as the booker is concerned. Your bio, again, therefore needs to focus on drawing people to your set and helping you stand out once you have the gig. So worry less about listing every headliner that played on the stage you played last year. Worry more about using words that are pragmatic and will appeal or make sense to a wide array of people so they come check it out. Then next year, or the year after, the experience people associate with your name or your new label/crew name will slowly qualify you.

Make DAMN SURE to have someone smarty-pants proof-read for grammar and spelling. Bad spelling, punctuation and grammar are THE WORST. If you put twenty hours into your mix or video and you can't put an hour into your grammar... FAIL. Just send it to your nerdy friend who loves doing that shit. Also, nothing wrong with hiring someone or trading with someone to write something for you. I hear a lot of writers like music and I hear DJs collect a lot of it, eh? EH??? :)

Another super important thing -- KEEP YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS FACTUAL. Stay away from “Vancouver's top party-rockin' DJ” or “Canada's top burlesque dancer” and other such self-given titles. They are an eye-roll bonanza. If you have released music, thrown events, hosted a radio show, moderated a relevant group, won awards, etc etc, by ALL MEANS - those are great things to mention. Or use quotes from reputable people in your scene. Lola Frost's CV website is a great example of that. But let the facts suggest how important or “top” you are. Don't decide for yourself. It kinda ruins your credibility when you don't have hard facts to back up your claims. 

OK AND ONE MORE NOTE just because it's driving me crazy... can we all try some other words in addition to “getting excited” when posting or promoting events? I see it over and over and over and over again and I know its hard to come up with alternatives but actually.. well, it's not really that hard. It may be true that you're "excited" and I know it's the easiest option, but I challenge you to take a sec and use something else once and awhile... I fear the repetition of a word in people's feeds makes it slowly lose its effectiveness. And then NO ONE will be excited. Ever. :) How about: 

eagerly anticipating
looking forward to
feeling vibes for this
fired up
revved up
peeing my pants
doing a happy dance
can't effin' wait
etc etc etc

To conclude, the gist of what I want to point out is this: language is a beautiful art-form --- much like music, painting, fashion, photography, etc. I'm not saying everyone needs to have works of art for their bios; what I am saying is that it's an opportunity that deserves a bit of thought. Don't to be afraid to apply your creativity and uniqueness. Does that make sense? In our community, bios, blogs, site copy, artist names and song titles and lyrics are the main opportunities the we have to exercise the written word, and its a huge element of the arts... so take advantage! We now have so many more tools at our fingertips to even out the playing field a little when it comes to spelling, and our current times offer MAD flexibility around new words and styles --- emoticons and text terms have revolutionized “acceptable” language. Basically a person can now create a their own vernacular and writing style... things don't have to be so “correct” anymore.

If you're still like, "meh.. writing", think of it as an opportunity to activate someone whose passion IS or maybe COULD BE writing. Keep your eyes peeled... these people are EVERYWHERE and they are not always up front about it. A good clue is if they read a lot. :) If anyone is looking for help, Stephanie Sara Leia (an editor at AdBusters) is genuinely passionate about helping artists rep their word. There's also Holly McGowan, an up-and-coming free-lance writer in our community who is PUMPED to write bios if anyone is interested. 

Happy bio-ing dahhhhhhhhhhlinks! hope some of this is helpful. :)


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kitten Make-Outs and Hippie Realness


Fair. It's been a hot minute since I've revved the ol' pull cord on this blog. I needed to take a step back and do some that there personal work don't-ya-know, not the least of which included channeling all my writing-type juice into journaling. Apparently, or so they told me, you're supposed to do that kind of shit in a totally unbiased way like, NOT involving the idea that other people will be reading it. I was like, GASP!! WHILE NO ONE'S PAYING ATTENTION??? RIDICULOUS. What's the POINT even?? :) Hahahaha. Needless to say I soon remembered "the point", and it worked its magic, among other things. Now I'm feeling like the new year has come, the energy has shifted and I'm closing the page on an extremely important and transformative year of my life. Snake business INDEED. 

In the meantime did upload a spanky new website (as noted in my last post below almost a year ago) in which I posted a few press releases and newsletters. You can still see them if you click to my site in the menu bar above and then hit the NEWS tab. I really only did about one editorial post, which I'm copy-posting here just cuz I think it's funny and still pretty true. Reading it now I can see clearly that it's me giving myself permission to fully step into this upward shift in consciousness, and trying to work out how that was gonna fit into my sassy-ass bitch ways. The first step was language. It's always language. For me semantics is a key magic power (as you'll read about in my next post about writing bios) so my language did change quite a bit after this and continues to evolve into new depths of showgrrrl hippie realness lingo. It was and continues to be hilarious I feel. Robert Downey Jr, Cherry's spirit animal, agrees.

Looking forward to letting the words flow once more here... also to doing some video blogging! Got me a fancy new HD camera type thingy so I can talk at you too!! As an important introduction, please observe this amazing video of my hot friend Leiah Droptryx's two kittens making out. 

CRITICAL STUFF HERE FOLKS. Ohhhh we're gonna have fun this year. I can feel it. 

All the lurrrrve,



From April 3rd, 2013:
Sup Sasspots!

Important announcement. 

To commemorate my 32nd year upon planet Earth, I'd like to publicly announcing my official life / runway category for Spring/Summer 2013: Crystal Precious: Serving Hippie Realness.
That's right bitches. It's full-on fucking hippie-diva-huntie city up in this piece. And I'm not talking about excuses to do a shit-ton of hallucinogens or to try to get laid, cuz although that stuff can certainly be part of the process, I think I'm now past that part... and actually I don't need excuses for any of that shit. I'll just do it. But now we're getting into the deep shit. Like REALNESS. So like, in my self-proclaiming CP-style diva-twerked self-encouragement of healing stuff, loving nature & like, being conscious of like, consciousness and shit, I hereby declare a general shift in that direction.
Prepare yourselves for harmonized backstage chanting of diva "power" songs (MIA's "Bad Girls" is a SSB fave at the mo), newstyle creature medicine-speak to go along with our super-cute animal costumes and such expressions as "Spirit says ___ Huntie!! " accompanied by ultra dramatic finger-wagging. ("Spirit says follow your damn heart Huntie!!''; "Spirit says let's recycle all these empty champagne bottles!!" etc. etc.) 

I say if it's from the heart, and its not misconstrued or disrespectful appropriation. Again: its REALNESS. I say why NOT have fresh and entertaining ways of bringing spiritual language into our every day lives? And WITHOUT associating it with the somber, dramatic sensationalism and negative stereotypes normally associated with "new age" culture? Fuck all that shit, that's not how we do. Some frontin' bad rap's not gonna stop me from aligning my effin' chakras. I think its total bullshit that people write off one of the most important aspects of life because of misrepresentation, other peoples' possible eccentricities or lack of authenticity. Every culture's had their own twist on many of the same belief systems for thousands of years... why the fuck can't we? Let's have as much fun with it as we do with everything else. 

I feel it's important. AND IT'S HAPPENING.  FYI. SO THERE. 
Announcement complete.

With warmest regards, ultra hot pink sassvibes and pure love,
Crystal Fucking Precious

Image by Tiffany Ireland / Make-up by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My New Website & "Apple Pie" Music Video!!!

'Supppppppp Sasspots!!


Oh I'm so excited I could pee. It really turned out rad.  I am so grateful and pleased to have such fabulous friends... we made this on a total shoestring with help from so many amazing people... but most of all I am so grateful to S. Mackay-Smith for being so fabulous and awesome and patient and smart and making this one of the best experiences ever. He is a phenomenal director and put so much time, love and energy into this... we are all truly grateful.

AND THANK YOU so much in advance if you are willing to share the video link... we really just want to put some new rad freshness into the world. Rep the genuine DIY grrl vibe happening in the REAL burlesque scene & all the new interesting music happening on the West Coast... time to get that shit out there and hopefully spark some magics. :)

AND ALSO - CHECK OUT MY NEW WEBSITE!! Click here or go to

I'm gonna leave this old blog up for awhile as I will still have an index of all my most popular blog posts on the blog section of the new site, so fear not! I'm still here. I'm gonna do shorter, more frequent blogs on the other site but every once and awhile I will do an longer editorial one (working on a couple right meow). I love to write and I've been blogging for almost 8 years!! Not planning to stop anytime soon. <3 br="">
All my love. Always. <3 br="" xoxoox="">CP

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sassflash Newsletter - BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS from Sweet Soul Burlesque

Holiday Greetings Sasspots!

Sending you good vibes, tons of love and SASSY, mischevious, good natured fun this holiday. (Actually that reminds me, I gotta remember to make my traditional CP mistletoe fishing rod so I can run around with it to unsuspecting hotcakes. Heh heh heh).

So we have some VERY exciting announcements to make and wanted to make sure the fam all knows first. It's been quite a transformative year for many people, and the world in general it seems. Change is afoot, and sass levels are turning UP. Aside from our weekly Sweet Sip Thursday at The Keefer Bar (still going every Thursday now 2 years running!) here's a little catch-up on what's been shifting and developing in the land of Sweet Soul.


What are you doing for New Year's? How about a secret cabaret and grand ballroom set as though on the moon? Dancing supernovas, starlit magic abound & crisp, clear sound... all the while reverting to what can still remain safely underground. Evolution makes way for nostalgia. 

The vintage showgrrls of Sweet Soul Burlesque come together with the tech-heavy edge of SHAH Events come together once again with to bring you deep bass homage to the past & future constant. 

Moonlight - A NYE Black & White Ball
All details, line-up & ticket information here:
STRICT DRESS CODE: Black, white or silver
Tickets are selling fast for this, so get 'em soon.

If late night vibes are not your thing but fabulous cocktails & soiree fantasies are, we will also be appearing earlier in the evening at our resident Keefer bar for a Narnia themed extravaganza!

Tickets and detes can be found on the Keefer Bar event page here:
or on Facebook here:

SWEET SOUL BURLESQUE'S 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY & Crystal Precious' “Apple Pie” Music Video Release Party!!!
Saturday Feb 2nd 2013 @ THE RIO THEATRE

Can you even believe it??? It's been 10 – count 'em – TEN years since our very first burlesque event at Babalong Studios in February of 2003. (Whoa). Since then we've hosted over 100 events, co-founded a festival, built an underground venue and been nominated for World's Best Troupe by Burlesque Hall of Fame, all while terrorizing audiences everywhere from Acupulco to Whitehorse. Before we launch into our next phase, we feel that its warranted for us to take a moment and take a stroll down memory lane.... that special, special lane covered in glitter and empty whiskey bottles. ;)

This will be a red carpet, full fledged gala event -- a veritable family reunion as we celebrate our friends, family & supporters. The show will feature our best and/or favorite pieces, group numbers and special musical guests as well as a compilation of on-screen highlights taken from 10 years of Sweet Soul shows & parties. You won't want to miss this. Trust me.

Then - at the end of the evening we will premiere Sweet Soul Burlesque's top-secret, never-before-seen video for “Apple Pie”, the first single off Crystal Precious' upcoming album release this spring. This will be a special sneak preview for our friends and family ONLY - twelve days before it makes its full internet launch on February 14 Valentine's Day.

Full promo and ticket information will be released in early January.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Feb 2nd at the Rio.


It's been just over a year since turbo sassdance superstars Cherry OnTop and Lola Frost joined forces to build a gorgeous burlesque dance studio and community resource hub. The Vancouver Burlesque Society is located only a few blocks from the old Dollhouse on 6th and offers a solid selection of modern & fun sexy activities (Burlesque Movement, Hips n' Heels, Tropical Punch Booty Shake, etc). Annual memberships are just $1 and enable you to be a part of these VBC sponsored activities including special community-building social events. The vibe is inclusive, open, body-positive and rad.

The purposes of the Society are:

a. To facilitate the quest for personal growth and enlightenment through the burlesque arts.
b. To promote the art of burlesque as a socially acceptable medium for expression and self-exploration.
c. To maintain a space where society members may share skills and ideas in a nurturing and positive atmosphere.

Check this video for an idea of what's happening down therrrrr:

We're very proud of our naughty little raccoon Little Miss [Tristan] Risk, who co-stars in one of the most anticipated horror movies in years. The brilliant brainchild of Vancouver-based sisters Sylvia & Jen Soska (tWisted tWins Productions), American Mary is a fictional story that centres around the very real and very horrifying black-market plastic surgery culture. The feminist-driven, intelligent and shockingly graphic work has garnered rave reviews at Cannes & several other prestigious film festivals. January 2013 will see its theatre release in the UK. North America to see the release later in the year. This is a huge break for our Tristan and we're all super proud of her.

Here is an exclusive still of her in the film courtesy of IndustryWorks Pictures, almost eerily unrecognizable as her character Beatress, a woman who has had several surgeries to resemble Betty Boop. 

Here's a link to the trailer. Warning: it is freaky & there's blood in the trailer.
And now... our biggest and most exciting piece of news! Announcing SWEET SOUL'S NEWEST MEMBER....

We are EXTREMELY pleased to announce a very special new addition to the Sweet Soul family. Our very own Cara Milk is expecting a little baby girl!!! Yups! The little sasspea will be joining us in May and we are so excited and filled with happiness around this fantastic and timely addition to our beautiful community. Cara is supremely happy and is very much looking forward to being surrounding by friends and family during this amazing journey into motherhood (and – let's be honest - MILFdom). She'll be performing on NYE so please by all means, come and say hello!

Alright Sasspots. That's our current update. Stay tuned in Jan / Feb for more information about the Anniversary show, album release, and new VBC classes. And as always, come by & check out our fabulous weekly cabaret at the Keefer, every Thursday evening. We'd love to see you. 
Wishing you all a very joy-filled, fabulous and beautiful holiday.
With love from all our hot-pink hearts, 

CP, Cara, Cherry, Rita, Tristan and Lola 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Crystal Precious Winnipegger's (or First Timer's) Guide to Festival Raving - Updated & re-Sassed (2012)

Chillin' in the Squamish Valley river at Bass Coast
OH YES MY FRIENDS, it's that time of year again. I still sometimes tend to go on and on about the near culture-shock I suffered upon my transition from the ghetto Manitoba flatlands to the organic-eating-MEC-wearing-non-smoking-bicycle-luvin’ Coast, but let me tell you, NOTHING could have prepared me for my initial foray into the unparalleled West Coast phenomenon of “big electronic music party in the forest”. So in honour of 9 years passing since my first Shambhala and in honour of the FUCKING EXCELLENT BassCoast Project (which is gonna be so so so amazing), I've updated my Winnipegger’s Guide to Shambhala, or as it will now be called, “The Crystal Precious Winnipegger's (or First Timer's) Guide to Festival Raving”.

I’m genuinely excited for you to have an amazing and hopefully enlightening weekend that you’ll never forget. Cause trust me, the first time I hit Shambhala (the mecca of all Canadian raves) I sure as fuck did. And you have NO idea how clueless I was. Oh geez…

Cue 2003. I ran in head first thinking, "Hey, it’s not like I’m completely hopeless… I HAVE been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival", and THAT, as all prairie folk will know, is a pretty impressive outdoor music party. Well, LISTEN THE FUCK UP: this is NOT Folk Fest, bitches. Do not increase your chances of experiencing the awful FOMO (fear-of-missing-out due to lack of preparation). Don't forget that you're spending your precious dollars, time off and serotonin on this. Let me be the sorry ass-bitch that learned the hard way for both of us. Here are the most important things to remember if you’re headin’ out to a multi-day electronic music fest..

1) THERE ARE NO FIRES. This is the biggest difference from Wpg Folk Fest and a glaringly absent part of the camping experience. Apparently the people in this province actually care if everything around them burns down where as in Manitoba people purposely burn shit down all the time. But for real, there will not be any fires anywhere… so that means you will need LIGHT & HEAT. Bring LIGHT FOR YOUR CAMP (a flashlight, heandlamp, LED’s or a LANTERN), your personal flashlight so you don't fall into a giant hole to your waist like Cara did one time (SO ALARMING). Make sure someone in your crew has a CAMP STOVE if you’re wanting to cook shiz. And remember you won't have the heat of the fire. So bring warm clothes .... because...

2) It gets FUCKING COLD at night. Cold is something we Wpggers know about and we laugh maniacally at the idea that it gets uncomfortably cold anywhere in BC in the summer, but TRUST ME, it does. I brought about 10 000 bikinis the first year and one sweater… DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE!!!! Bring long pants, warm leggings or long underwear, SWEATERS/HOODIES, little mitties even (for real) and lots of shiz to sleep in. You will be cold. Honest. And I'm not some BC wimp either. .. no offense.

I absolutely recommend bringing straight-up sheets &; a comforter instead of a sleeping bag. If you use the comforter/blanket to line the backseat of your vehicle it doesn't really take up much more room... and it's just better. Then you can toss off the comforter as the sun comes up and things get hot in your tent. It's also much nicer for guest action or snugs (raver lingo for platonic post-party snuggling). If things get damp overnight you can it hang it to dry during the day. Also a pillow is key. Your bunched up hoodie with the beer spill on it just won't compare, trust me, it's worth the packing room, And I personally recommend a foamie mattress as a first option, but if that's not plausible do the air mattress. I tend to find air mattresses will eventually deflate a bit no matter how diligent you are. I bought myself the $20 power pump so I just pump it up a bit each night. Worth every effin' penny. Either way, a little layer of air between you and the earth somehow keeps things that much toastier.

It’s SO worth it to have a $5 tarp to lay under your tent so that if it rains, you're doubly sure it won't soak through the floor of your tent, which is SUPER low-sass because it makes things damp and yucky. You should probably be able to get all this stuff into one Rubbermaid stacker. I pretty much pack all my stuff into Rubbermaids (REAL Rubbermaid Roughnecks that last forever, not the cleap plastic crappy ones that crack): one for my tent, tarps & bedding; one for my dry foods, mix and dishes, and oh, say, seven or eight for my outfits & accessories. I'm super dead serious. I need choice ummmkayyyy.

Speaking of outfits: while you're in the dance-y areas and busting a move, things can get a bit warmer, although these moments are fleeting. But awesome dance outfits are usual small and/or tight (at least for me they are)... and rocking them with huge sweaters over them is akin to Winnipeg Hallowe'en where your mom forces you to wear your snowsuit OVER your costume to go trick-or-treating (big sadface). One thing the Sweet Soul grrlz have been known to do is wear our sparkly show-girl outfits underneath big fuzzy cloaks. Dancing our asses off moments: showgirl outfits. Walking from stage to stage moments: fuzzy cloaks. Another option is to add leggings and shrugs to whatever small outfit. Also just the act of covering your head with a fuzzy hat & keeping your feet dry (more on that in a sec) somehow makes the rest of you feel warmer automatically.

If you plan on being somewhere for awhile, you can set up a home base at the outskirts of say, the beachstage, with a blanket on which you can leave your drink, water & extra layers. Just make sure it's in sight and don't leave your moneybelt or fanny there, obvs. That's why they strap to your body.

In general everyone should generally be on the lookout for each other… because a huge part of this whole movement is mutual respect for other people & their shit. Thieving is SUPER SUPER looked down upon (I know I don't have to say that but I will anyway) and if you find something you can turn it in or leave a note on the msg board. Karma reigns supreme here.

3) KEEP YOUR FEET HAPPY. Remember that part in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan starts screaming at everyone about how their socks and feet need to stay dry in the jungle to survive? Well it's the exact same thing, except by "Lt Dan" I mean ME, by "jungle" I mean RAVE & by "survive" I mean NOT BECOME HORRIBLY MISERABLE.

The sites are quite large; you’ll do a LOT of walking, more than you realize, and dancing on the roots / dirt and the uneven ground can be hard on your feet. Ok so I brought heels the first year. Shut up. I’m Crystal fucking Precious, dammit. I wear heels to the fucking beach. But for real, even if your footwear are SUPER durable and rugged, they will get werked. So don't bring the super fresh shiny kicks you use as a backup mirror. And while we're talking sneakers I would also recommend bringing something other than Chucks as they are made out of canvas and will somehow soak through easily in the morning dampness. AGAIN: Don’t bring shoes you really like unless they’re hella heavy duty leather boots or something. Every year I sacrifice a pair of almost dead sneakers to the rave gods and then throw them out after.

BRING A PAIR OF RAINBOOTS (and while you're at it, AT LEAST one waterproof jacket / clothing item). The weather forecast might say it won’t rain but.... it might. If it rains, the forest paths become GIANT mud puddles and I lost a pair of sneakers in one the first year I went. They sank in the mud faster than Atrayu’s horse. It was a sad, sad moment for me. DON'T LET THEIR DEATH BE IN VAIN.

So yeah, I generally would say your basic footwear set-up should be as follows: dancing sneakers, flipflops, rubber boots & lots of dry, clean socks. A tip from Tre, king of the original Camp Fuckr'd pirates: Wanna be a hero? Spend a few bucks on a big bag of new socks and bust that shit out for everybody on Day 3. Putting brand new, fuzzy, never before-worn socks on the third day feels like a frickin' foot blowjob. Ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhh.

4) It gets FUCKING HOT during the day. Like, itty bitty teeny weeny bikini bottoms only hot. Bring a shade structure for your camp or you will DIE / get no sleep. At BassCoast there are many many sweet-ass tree-covered camping spots to enjoy if you get there on Friday... but at Shambhala you will most likely end up in the massive NO SHADE camping grounds (unless you're bombing in there Braveheart style on Tuesday & paying extra). Either way, the white caravan style pop up tent is ideal, or the more ghetto fabulous version, a giant tarp tied to bamboo poles slid  over re-bar pounded into the ground. Don't freak out, re-bar is totally no big deal. It's just 3 foot lengths of 1cm thick steel rod you can buy at Home Depot for cheap. Then you pound that shit halfway into the ground with a mallet, slide the bamboo pole over it, and no fall-ey (bamboo is very inexpensive, I suggest Home Hardware on the Drive or pretty much anywhere in ChinaTown). Don't forget garbage bags & a bag for recycling to hang somewhere. For butts, small Tylenol travel tubes do the trick. Make sure to peer pressure your friends not to throw their butts, or any litter, on the ground. A disapproving look should suffice. If not don't be afraid to point a Finger of Judgement at them.

There is a river of refreshing goodness in which to bathe & swim, & the best is bringing a camping chair and sitting in the rivah drinking out of your bottled beverage with lots of sunscreen on. And a parasole. And a cabana boy. Maybe two. Keep your other bevvies cold by putting them in a bag and hooking them around your chair... the river becomes a cooler. WERK.

5) DON'T BECOME DEAF. Ever noticed that after festival season people are screaming normal conversations at each other? "HI HOW ARE YOU!????!!!!" "GREAT!!! YOU??!!!" Yeah... that's because they're deaf now. The sound at these festivals is state of the art, but it WILL destroy your hearing FOREVER if you aren't careful. And the music doesn't stop for four days. So bring earplugs and then bring more earplugs. Let me put this into perspective: the system at the Commodore is like 12000 watts. The PK system in the Village is apparently approx. 100 000 watts, or EIGHT times louder than that. And that's just one stage. Your human ear drums just can't compete with that. They will melt. DON'T BE A DAY-SCREAMER. Get plugs.

You may have noticed that orange / yellow & pink foam earplugs sort of muffle sound and can fall out and generally suck. Yeah, I noticed that too. They are still always better than nothing. The GOOD thing about foam pluggies is that they are comfortable, cheap and plentiful, so using them when you're sleeping is ideal (don't forget when you’re setting up camp to check if that structure nearby is the trance stage. This seriously happened to me the first year… can’t really talk about it still).

However, if you are feeling like foam plugs are fucking with your ability to hear music properly I would invest in a pair of Ear Buddies (available at all Puff locations). They are about $25 - $30. They just seem to turn everything down a little without muffling things too much. If you feel like the ol' foam plugs aren't gonna do it for you, do this, cuz for real, your hearing is worth $25 for eff's sake. Don't worry, I promise that you will still be able to "feel" the bass (especially if you are on awesome MDMA).

ALSO: I'm sure that there are some rare exceptions, but in general it seems that people tend to NOT enjoy amplified music, instruments or megaphones early morning in the campground. I mean, obviously people are still going to be up and partying in the morning, but blasting your favourite bro-step banger out the back of your car is sure to get you more dirty looks than throwing a Styrofoam cup in the river (uhhh... prolly don’t do that either). But for real. EARPHONES. And I still laugh my ass off when I remember a certain DJ, having traveled for about three days and then staying up all night to play, finally found somewhere reasonably quiet to crash, only to have someone set up a djembe near his tent and start hammering on it SUPER HARD at about rhythm. For eff's sake hippie-ahh!!! Drum near the river away from tents at that hour!!! I know you’re contributing your inner rhythm and shit, that's cool, whatever.. but for the LOVE of SASS, pick your moments. Ummkayyy?

6) GET YOUR BOOZE IN. Officially the events are usually “booze free” and the gate will search you upon arrival, ummmkay??? And they will. Trust me. So. Be creative. Bring a tinted, lidded reusable bottle (like the canteen types at MEC) if you want to carry around your beverage as YOU CANNOT drink out of your beer cans / bottles openly ANYWHERE. Security is obligated to dump your booze if they see it, but generally they’ll leave you alone if you’re simply enjoying an unidentifiable beverage in a reusable container. The security works hard enough as it is so take the extra step and don’t make them booze police you, it sucks for them and plus, booze is precious cuz going for a beer run is kind of not really an option… it’s super hard / sometimes impossible to get out of the site once you’ve driven in and are parked. Totes not worth the risk having it dumped out. You'll thank me on Sunday ;)

How much booze should you bring? The general consensus on this formula is to estimate the amount of booze you think you'll be able to drink during the weekend, then double it. Trust me on this. I have no idea why the amount of booze you are able to consume somehow doubles... I think it has to do with being awake for most of the weekend and you being outside all the time. But it really does happen. Don’t skimp on this because you don’t want to be sober on the last day of the event, trust me, it’s depressing enough as it is.

One thing a few of my friends & I been doing the last few years is pre-mixing booze with juice / cocktail bases and then just adding soda or pop on the site. Ex: fill a large jug of cranberry juice with one part vodka, 2 parts cran, reseal and smuggle in. Then just top it off with soda in your cup on site. This is an awesome way to do things for the following 2 reasons: 1) Easier to sneak in booze - no alcohol bottles! 2) Your booze-juice ration remains consistent. Ever notice how at the beginning of the night you pour a proper drink, but somehow near the end of the night you're pouring gasoline-strength nearly straight booze shit-mixes, only to realize that it tastes like poison and then randomly leaving it somewhere? Yeah me too. Trust me, having it at least pre-mixed with juice tends to make your booze LAST LONGER. Obviously don't pre-mix with the pop as it will go flat; add it on site with a fresh lime... and.. ahhh!

Also: grab block ice for your food/beer cooler, not bags of ice cubes, as the blocks melt more slowly. Also in your food cooler, put things in tupperware containers & ziplocs, not plastic bags, if you want them to stay dry. Keep your coolers COMPLETELY CLOSED & out of the sun, and you should be golden. You can even reuse individual plastic water / drink bottles by putting pre-mixed drinks into them and FREEZING them... then throw those into your cooler - alcoholic Ice Packs. YUM!! Extreme Dedicated Raver Tip: A $40 converter for your vehicle turns into electricity for your blender. Yeah, you’ll have to start the car for a few seconds while you blend, but if it means slushie Margarita’s, ummm, WHO GIVES A FUCK. Just don’t go buck crazy and kill your battery by accident. This will require extra ice cubes but oh, will you be SO SO SO popular. OH SO popular. Especially with me. Heh heh heh.

Smokes and essentials will be mad expensive, so take a sec and pack it. There are rad things to eat there at the vendors, but peeps usually pay top dollar to get into the vending area so they will have to charge accordingly.

If you smoke, the same booze formula applies: Normal estimated amount X 2. I seriously advise on considering DRUM and rolling papers. Yeah if you’re not used to it it can seem messy and ghetto, but the tobacco is fresher, less additives, and you’ll probably tend to smoke less, which in Raver math is still more than usual but just maybe not double. Your lungs will thank you on Sunday. Also you will be more inclined to share smokes, and there’s nothing like sitting with someone for a sec to roll both of you a smoke. Perfect visit / get-to-know-you moment and you will be someone’s nic-fit hero... a nice feeling. If you must do tailor-mades, bring a carton and hide half the packs from yourself until you go through the first half. If you don’t smoke them all (you probably will but whateves) you will still smoke them eventually. DON’T fall into the all-too-tempting bullshit trap of packing less than you need and thinking that you will ration them out. You won’t. Remember: you will probably forget your own name at some point. So be prepared. Trust me.

(FYI, if packing stresses you out or you don't know where to start, click here for a downloadable, ammendable, printable Word-doc version of my basic packing list).

Which is fine, just plan ahead “in case of separation” or accept it and enjoy exploring on your own. I recommend dress-ups. It’s like SOO way easier to meet people & find your friends, and also I’m MUCH more likely to make-out with you.

At your camp, and during the day at the beach, bring a tall land-marker and carry it or dig that into the ground on another piece of bamboo / beach umbrella so your crew can find you easily. I recommend something that is symbolic to you or perhaps pokes fun at something about your crew and is hilarious. That way when Sleepy Gonzales wakes up at 4pm or wanders back to camp, he sees the landmarker's gone and he can easily saunter to the beach stage with one eye open and see you guys.

distinct LACK of MOSQUITOES (!!!!!), water (bring bottles!), organic / vegan food vendors, coffee vendors in the morning, the lovely rivah, medical tent, etc. etc. DID I MENTION lack of mosquitoes. Pretty rad. There's
still a couple. but it's NOTHING compared to the shit we've dealt with in the Peg.

Particularly for BassCoast, there likely will only be one cash machine, so try to BRING ENOUGH CASH for party favours / meals / vending items and stash it somewhere NOT obvious / lock it in your vehicle. There is a couple cash machines at Shambs but unfortunately the line-ups can be RIDICULOUS and the fees... eff. Just bring some damn money. More than you think. (Sorry bout it).

OH YEAH - Bring an awesome thing to BUST out to your crew when they least expect it, or something rad for your camp to enjoy. I know one couple that always bring their dope hooka, and someone else who was thinking of freezing hankerchiefs into cubes to pass out on a hot afternoon. I’ve seen someone melt dark chocolate onto strawberries, someone else bust out fresh mint and lime for mojitos. I personally playing impromptu games of dressup with my eight tubs of costumes (see???? That shit comes in handy!!!) Even a secret bottle of whiskey tucked away for those impromptu shots that just hit the spot… ohhhh yeahhhh. The Glenlivet, I'm telling you. I'll be your friend.

10) A VERY simple list of the basic DO'S AND DON'T OF BEING FUCKED UP.

Thanks to Sven & all the other peeps who contributed to this. To be clear, I am not claiming this to be the be-all end-all gospel of etiquette. Most of this is all common sense shit, but you know, people lose their heads a bit at festivals & forget, and I find sometimes it's good to just say this shit to yourself again. So if I'm saying something that seems obvious, don't be offended, ok? Cuz it wasn't all necessarily obvious to me when I started out, as you will read ;) Ok. Here goes:

- DON'T get so wasted your friends have to take care of you.

- If you're gonna get that wasted, DO make sure you're with friends who actually will take care of you.

- Remember that MDMA, MDA, ketamine, cocaine, meth/speed & even heroin (it's out there) are ALL powders. I don't want to talk about how many times close friends have assumed what they were about to swallow or snort was something completely different than what it actually was. BAD RACCOON. Better to know than to end up accidentally doing a huge rail of ketamine thinking it was blow (a common mistake) or worse, ending up on super knarly PCP. It's happened. To me. Seriously. Not the funnest. ASK.

Oh yeah, this goes for liquids too, even something that appears to be water. Never hurts to just quickly say, "this is just water yeah?" or whatever, seriously, that one little sentence can save your ass and you won't offend anyone. I remember one year when a Sweet Soul dancer who will go unnamed (*cough rhymes with MARA) ended up getting unknowingly dosed on 2CB that was in a big 4 L jug of what looked like water being passed around. When I found her she announced that she was in a vortex. 100% completely true story. It wasn't ideal. ASK. (she was completely ok in the end but she did give me a bit of a scare, not goin' lie).

- Again, seems obvious as hell, but people still do this: get drugs you are suspicious of tested at the drug testing site (they won't judge you or take them away). Sure, gelcaps or pressed pills are likely to be E, but they could also be 2CB, 2TB, foxy, oxy, PCP or a billion other things that could fuck with your head. Shit happens, I've seen it. ASK or FIND OUT FOR SURE.

- DON'T mix booze & GHB. Seriously. (Seriously). This is the #1 cause of all overdoses I have seen happen. And they happen more than you think. Don't risk it. We love you.

- DO label your GHB and don't leave it lying around for eff's sake. We all have that friend who accidentally had a big chug and missed the whole party. Just take 2 seconds to scrawl "g" on your bottle so that person doesn't hate you. Thanks.

- DO be very careful if you choose to mix booze & ketamine (they both slow your heart rate down & booze will seriously increase the effect of ketamine).

- DO find the first aid tent if you need to. NO SHAME IN THAT. Ever. First Aid is also super good at being discreet. So don't think you're going to be spoken about or judged. We've all gotten way too fucked up at some point or another. Again, we love you.

- Here's one that doesn't get said enough these days around hooking up: If the person's SUPER fucked up & you can tell that they're maybe not thinking clearly, not a bad idea to hold off until they are more lucid and in a better position to get into positions. Ya know?? It's respect. Really hoping to get to a place where all sex at these festivals - and on planet earth in general - is completely consensual. Blurry lines = not kablammo

- DO drink water ALL DAY LONG, no matter what you're doing. ALL FUCKING DAY LONG.

- DO drink coconut water to replace electrolytes every day or Emergen-C to also give your immune system a boost.

- DON'T forget to eat. Doesn't have to be a lot but it NEEDS TO BE SOMETHING, otherwise you WILL fade, no matter what. I normally can't eat a lot when I'm partying but I do try to have one good, hot meal a day and then snack the rest of the time. RULE IS HALF THE AMOUNT of food yo think you need, twice the amount of booze and smokes. Protein, carbs, good fat & some green shit. BAM. Done. Some suggestions: Tuna snacks on crackers, a whole-grain bagel w cream cheese or avocado, pre-cut veggies & bean dip, a wrap from the food vendor area... all simple. One of my friends swears by tofu weiners, just cold, when she's really dying. For beach snacking, bring berries or bust out a melon or pineapple to cut up for a quick hydrating snack to share. Rice chips or nuts are rad beach snacks as well. ALSO: Chia seeds are my secret rave fuel. Seriously, those little fuckers are made of unicorn meat. (Fuck I'm such a hippie now).

- DO PREPARE FOR POST-PARTY DEPRESSION. Pick up some 5HTP at the Vitaman / Health food store and eat that shit the morning after MDMA... it has ingredients will help your brain come back to life a little .... but still, be prepared. This is based on an ACTUAL letter I sent to a friend and to myself upon our return to the city last year.... because even though I do this year after year, I STILL sometimes forget why I'm just so GRUMPY and MOODY the next week. Do yourself a favour... print out this letter, fill in the date and blank with your name, and send it to yourself in the mail the day before you leave for your festival or stick it to your fridge with the heading ** FOR NEXT WEEK ***


Date: __________

Dear __(YOUR NAME)___________________,

Just a friendly reminder from your fabulous, sexy, clever & clearly VERY modest friend Crystal Precious that any awful, sickening feelings of horrible depression you may currently be experiencing are simply the after-effects of doing hugely unreasonable amounts of drugs this weekend. That's right, it's not you... it's Suicide Wednesday.

Ah yes, those feelings of hopelessness and physical weakness typical of extreme serotonin shortage can often seem all too real... so please, remember that beneath the cold sweats, shakes & twitches that a fabulous, kind, considerate and un-nauseous person waits to emerge with renewed perspective & strength. Make sure to resist any urges to hate yourself for the terrible abuse to which you have subjected your body. It was like, totally worth it. And no matter what, have some mini-donuts or otherwise sweet/greasy food-item on hand at ALL TIMES.

Should this reminder be premature or even (skeptical brow furrow) UNNEEDED, kindly disregard or forward for future use. Or perhaps just send back to me. I’ll probably need it.



On that tip: avoid making any serious decisions or fighting with your spouse / boss / roommate upon return. If anyone says “We need to talk”, just straight-up fucking run. Once you are far, FAR away, re-schedule the talk for another week when your brain has regenerated some happy juice.

I think that just about covers what I have to contribute. Please feel free to send this to anyone and everyone and ask them to do the same. And for eff’s sake, come watch me perform Friday at BassCoast with the Sweet Soul girls at 9:30 on the Bassment stage. Sweet Soul Burlesque’s show at Shambhala will be at the Rock Pit on Sunday at 9:30 as well (yahhh sunset hotness!!)

It’s ON.

Lashes n' lix n' glowy bright stix..

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


[vol-uh-tl, -til or, especially Brit., -tahyl] Show IPA
evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor: Acetone is a volatile solvent.
tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive: a volatile political situation.
changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.
(of prices, values, etc.) tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly: volatile market conditions.
fleeting; transient: volatile beauty.

There it is. In all its glory. That's all that is me at the moment. I'm embracing it. It's just how it is.
Interesting how it manifests as being problematic within my lifestyle. For example, please apply "volatile" as my main behavioral trait while reading over this pretty-much verbatim transcript of a conversation from my weekend. (NB: This is not completely atypical as something people tend to say to me):  

Him: "Hey.. uh... you're that stripper girl or whoever, right? Do you remember me? I know so-and-so {old friend of mine who I actually quite like}." 
Me: (laughing sort-of): "Oh yeah, uh.. hi. I'm Crystal."
Him: "Yeah. I always had a little crush on you."
Me: "I see."
(literally 5 minutes later)
Him (totally serious): "So uh... do you wanna go hang out somewhere maybe?"
Me (laughing again): "You mean like, to have sex? (his face doesn't really change). Oh. Um, no. I'm good. Thanks anyway tho."
Him: "Yeah. You're a stripper alright."


So normally I would take a step back and assess this situation before reacting to it. Like, at this point I'm usually just kind of amused, with a mild side of judgement that this dude is probably somewhere on the asshole scale, but knowing that WHERE, exactly, is pretty hard to gage from this one interaction.  My compassionate and caring side asks: is it really his fault that strippers are misrepresented everywhere for being hustlers and teases and whores who should really just put out after 5 minutes of conversation? Maybe dude just needs a little schooling, bless his misconstrued little heart. He's probably never even seen a really good strip show. Hell, he probably doesn't even have very many girlfriends with lace underpants. He doesn't know we're smart and complicated humans! I should blame the internet. Let's go post something on it. Yayyy Naomi Wolf is super. Etc. Etc. 

And then, to be fair, I do have to consider my own occasional (albeit now definitely outgrown) forays into casual sex before I lay full judgement upon the man. If this was 2003 and the dude was SUPER hot, I might not have given a fuck. Let's be honest. There's a reason I kept condoms in my purse for years and years. 

But... back to this particular interaction. He's not super hot, it's not 2003, and I'm VOLATILE. So this  kind of hmm-haw social acceptance / one love narrative that's usually going on in my head is not happening today. Instead I am having a narrative that says, "PUNCH THIS FUCKER IN THE FACE".
So yeah, you know. Kinda problematic.
Another problem with being volatile: I cannot drink more that three alcoholic beverages in a row at the moment. It's really interesting. Right now if I have three, I'm good. If I have even just one more than that I'm off the edge like a fucking cartoon coyote. The heavenly numbness of Drink #4 is like rubbing baby angel wings on my crotch -- and I will chase that feeling til noon, you'd better believe it. Drink #4 is like sitting at the top of a waterslide with all the water rushing up against my back and then trying NOT to push off into the sooooooper sexy pools of blacking out... ohhhh yes. Those deep dark holes of not feeling a thing. I could swim there for weeks I tell you. I could build a hut there even. What's the name of that volleyball that became Tom Hanks' friend in Castaway? ...Yeah, NOT ALLOWED to go there. For at least another ten days. At least. Then a re-assess. We shall see. 

 Seeing as how I work at the greatest cocktail lounge ever as well as parties, almost exclusively, this is also problematic. Not impossible, but problematic. Very much hoping this passes by Bass Coast. Glenfiddich has plans for me; I lost a bottle before Diversity and have needed a rematch ever since. 
I guess I feel lucky to be conscious enough to see all this go down in real time and not a step too late. The joys of experience and well, of getting older. I'm wise enough to know that black holes and broken noses just put the game on pause. You don't get to skip any levels. Still gotta do the work when you get back. Except now your fingers and thumbs are all confuse-y and your head hurts. And you don't want anyone's blood ruining you manicure. It's fucking glitter tips, ummkay. They're pretty.

So yeah, that's how it all is at the moment. I expect this level of "volatile" won't last forever. I must say that I feel like I might be kind of killing it at the music thing right now though. Recording is like the best thing ever. All that raw makes for serving good voice it seems. And writing is still fun, apparently. ;) I get to play festival dressups in my house this week and that's like, my favorite thing to do EVER. Also Sunshine Coast - I get it. So it's not all bad. Plus you're reading this right now, and that's cool. So you know. 

Me & Chelsey's dog, Boo, in Winnipeg at the beginning of the month. He's safe and sound at my mom's house. Not sure why I took this then, I think maybe to show her he's ok. You know? It's just... he's ok. I don't know. 

It's something.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Winnipeg

Every morning that I wake up and happen to be Canadian is like winning the lottery over and over again.

I write this in my formative city of Winnipeg, two thousand miles away from my home in East Van. Been a minute since I've been here in the summer and I am very grateful for the comforting warmth of the sunshine after the persistent spring rains of the lower coast. The plus 30 days are too hot for even the prairie's infamous mosquito armies. Our sunshine days are coming out West, I know, but it's just so lovey to have the sun around as an ally right now, in these moments.

Riding the streets, huge elms hug over the long sidewalks and the thoughtful strangers on them. Same as the day I left; the spicy, confident men & sassy, capable women you meet over and over in this city. There was an open, joyful and unmistakably mischievous vibe in the streets on Canada Day. All the stores are closed. Corydon Avenue & Osbourne Village blocked from traffic. The bars open. Music playing in the streets everywhere. My old city, crowned in the blue collar of endless horizon. No ocean, no mountains, just skies.

I'm very, VERY grateful that a cozy cork-floored yoga studio has somehow popped up within biking distance of my mom's little house, and that Kegan just happened to have a semi-rusted 1950s cruiser lying around in his garage with a basket that actually has the word "Vegetables" carved into the front. These do not seem in the least like coincidences. He pumps the tire and oils the chain. I look up and give thanks.

I am grateful to still have Kegan here, now and always... that best friend here since childhood, who reminds me he is by my side or within one phone call's reach. I tease him about being the only person alive not on Facebook, especially now that my mother has joined the ranks. He laughs and says I should get a T-Shirt that says, "My Best Friend Is Not On Facebook" and wear it everywhere at every minute of every day. Fucking Kegan. So. Fucking. Grateful for him.

I am grateful for my beautiful mother who insists on keeping her sense of playfulness firmly rooted at the base of all her actions, even now, albeit understandably weakened at present. I look in awe at the recent photos of her performing for rows of impossibly-attentive children and ask "How do you get them to stay so quiet and still?" to which she scoffs, almost shaking off the question, and replies matter of factly, "Well, you know, magic and stuff."

I am grateful for my youngest sister, Heather, whose love and careful attention is evidenced in every nook and corner of my mother's house. It's almost like the house gives a sigh of relief when she walks in the door, the car parked safely in the little carport and the dogs jumping happily up and down the way dogs do when they they love the absolute fuck out of you, and they can't wait to feel your hands ruffle over them.  

Above all I am grateful for this life. And I am grateful to have had the chance to spend so much of it with my sister Chelsey.

And, finally, I am BEYOND grateful for my incredibly loving, unbelievably supportive friends. After a several attempts (and trust me, I tried) to describe it, I am resigning to the fact that words just cannot adequately describe how much your kindness & support has helped me in the past few days. It has made SUCH a difference, not just for me but for all three of us. The love we have felt has brought me to a whole new level of understanding. It's astounding. It astounds me.

I am humbled by you, by the universe, and by pretty much everything at the moment.

Thank you.

In love,

Chelsey's memorial service will take place on Wednesday July 4th at 7:00pm CST at Coutu Funeral Chapel, 680 Archbald, Winnipeg MB. Please feel free to come by & light a candle; or, if you wish, light one for her from wherever you may be.