Tag Archives: pop culture

The Hindsight Letters on CBC Radio’s “Being Jann”

30 Jun

The very lovely Jann Arden and I! (me with crazy eyes, clearly star-struck)

Hello again, wonderful Readers!

I have some more exciting news to share: Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the CBC Radio studios once again. This time, I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting about The Hindsight Letters with Canadian Singer-Songwriter Extraordinaire, the very lovely Jann Arden!!!

The segment will air on Saturday, July 16th at 10am on Jann’s super cool program, Being Jann. The episode is a Mom-themed show jam-packed with hilarious stories, great tunes and even a chat with Melissa Gilbert from Little House On The Prairie. I will be posting on the day of the broadcast to keep everyone up to date on the details.

I’m so honoured to have had the opportunity to share the story of The Hindsight Letters with such a wide audience as “Being Jann”s. Thanks so much to Sara Tate, Iris Yudai, and of course, Jann Arden for including me in the broadcast. And most of all, thanks so much to all the HL readers for joining me on this journey. Hopefully I’ll make you proud!


Hindsight Fashion: The Eyebrow Ring

8 Jun

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is:  The Eyebrow Ring.

The Eyebrow Ring was a trend borne out of the Body Modification scene in the 1990’s, and was like the wimpier little brother of the Tongue and Nipple Piercing. The Eyebrow Ring was to the Nipple Ring what The Monkees were to The Beatles. It was like a low-risk, watered down, vanilla way to look like a badass. It wasn’t terribly painful to do and there was no long-term commitment since the piercing tended to heal over nicely once the wearer grew tired of the style.

At 16 years old, I convinced my parents to allow me to get my eyebrow pierced. I’m still not really sure how I managed to finagle that one, seeing as my Father was an Optometrist and subsequently did not think it wise to be sticking needles anywhere near one’s eyeballs.

I was so completely pumped about getting that piercing. I wanted it so badly. I felt at the time that it would be like a signal to everyone cool in the Universe that I was cool too. I thought it was a way for me to identify myself as Punk Rock to other Punk Rockers. I also just thought it looked badass. I dreamt about it for months in advance. Imagining how pretty it would look and how hip it would make me. I was in love. And so, my Mother begrudgingly accompanied me to the Tattoo Parlour and shelled out the $70 or so that was required. Nothing says badass like having Mommy present to hold your hand.

Me at 17 with my Eyebrow Ring in my left eyebrow

I had never wanted to wear the Ring jewelry permanently. My initial intention with the piercing was to switch the jewelry to a cute little jewelled Barbell style as soon as the piercing healed. The trouble with this plan was that my Eyebrow Piercing never healed properly. It was constantly getting infected. It was red. It was weepy. It had a bump beneath the bottom hole that would occasionally shrink but never completely disappear. Basically, it looked like ass.

But I, being the determined, tenacious go-getter that I am, did not give up on my little eyebrow mishap. I had fallen so deeply in love with the idea of the Eyebrow Piercing, and everything that it would mean for my social life, that I couldn’t bring myself to take the thing out. I would occasionally purchase a new ring and pretend to like it. And, although deep down inside I knew it wasn’t working, I wore my oozy Eyebrow Ring for the next 2 years.

Somewhere around 18 I realized that regardless of how cool an Eyebrow Ring might be in theory, it just wasn’t cool for me. I grew tired of the throbbing pain and the difficulties of applying eyeshadow around such a gnarly mess. The time had come to remove it. It was a sad day.

The interesting thing about my Eyebrow Piercing experience is that although it really didn’t work out for me at all, in looking back at photos (such as the one pictured above), I still have such good memories of that thing! Those two little puncture wounds represented a whole new world to me. And I still get that rush of hope and excitement when I look back on it.

I guess it really wasn’t all bad after all. But it sure was badass.


If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: White Jeans

1 Jun

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is: White Jeans.

This week’s HF pains me to write a little bit. This is largely due to the fact that I have a secret love affair with White Jeans. Really. I love them. Whenever I open the pages of a new spring issue of Vogue and see Gisele Bundchen or some other tall, thin, Brazilian beauty wearing a pair of white jeans, perhaps with a crisp blue dress shirt tucked in and a straw fedora, my heart skips a beat. I love that look. That clean, preppy, nautical, wealthy look. That “I just showered and threw these on” kind of look. Easy, breezy, carefree. And every time I’ve purchased a pair of White Jeans, I’ve been swindled by that myth. The, “White Jeans Are Easy” myth.

If only it were this easy to look so lovely in White Jeans!

My very first experience with white jeans was with a pair of white overalls that I wore in Grade 6. That’s right. White overalls. And I wore them with one strap hanging down. I thought they were pretty rockin’. That was until I was outside eating lunch and a lady bug landed on the thigh. I had done my best up to that point to avoid spills, stains and crumbs. I watched the ladybug as it crawled up my white denim leg. It was so pretty. Such a cute little bug. The warm, summer breeze was blowing in my hair and I was thinking about how wonderful it was to commune with nature in such an intimate way. And then the ladybug peed on my leg. I didn’t even know that ladybugs peed. But apparently, they do. And, no matter how hard I had tried to keep those overalls clean, they wound up stained with ladybug pee in the first 24 hours.

At 13, my Mother convinced me to try another foray into the world of white denim. This time it was a pair of white flared jeans with a little swervy pattern embroidered on the pocket. She convinced me that they looked so nice that I had to buy them and that I shouldn’t worry so much about getting them dirty. After all, White Jeans are supposed to be easy! So we bought them. I wore them to school the next day. And I spent the entire day filled with paranoia, closely examining every chair, every beverage and every passing insect for potential denim stains. I basically stood frozen all day, waiting for some YM Magazine worthy moment in which I would be lethally embarrassed and ridiculed by my peers. I never wore the jeans again.

Now, being the Mother of a (very) busy toddler, I spend my days crawling around in the dirt and dodging handfuls of flying sand. Any white items of clothing I own immediately wind up covered in a thin film of blueberry jam, yoghurt and goldfish crumbs. I have officially had to lay my White Jean dream to rest in favour of items with a longer shelf life. Sometimes I still find myself fantasizing of the day that I can throw on my white jeans and hit up the family yacht off the coast of southern France. But then I think of that sweet little ladybug and am reminded of the fact that the only easy way to wear White Jeans is not to wear them at all.


If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

The Hindsight Notes: Teenaged Favourite Book

20 May

The Hindsight Notes is a recurring section created for all you readers wanting to participate in THL, but lacking time to write a full letter. Each Note is composed of a question. All you need to do is answer it, in the form of a comment (below).

This week’s topic is: Your favourite book as a teenager.

It never ceases to amaze me how certain books can speak so specifically to a certain period of time in your life. There have been times where I have loved a book so much when I read it, but going back to re-read it years later I’m puzzled by what I enjoyed about it.

And so, this week, we want to hear all about your favourite book as a teenager. Why did you like it? How did you discover it? What part of the story spoke to you? Do you still like the book now?

As always, I’ll start us out:


If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: Frankenstein Boots

28 Apr

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is:  Frankenstein Boots.

Frankenstein Boots (any black leather boot that is extremely clunky, generally with a very tall platform sole and buckles or laces) were a trend that surfaced in the 1990s and originated in the Goth Scene. Most often, the boots were paired with a short skirt and fish net stockings, although the style was also often seen with wide leg pants worn over the boots.

Frankenstein Boots were worn for a couple of reasons: 1) They identified the wearer as belonging to a subculture, namely punk rock or goth. 2) They made the wearer significantly taller, since the platform soles were so high. The boots were worn most often by women, but they did have some male proponents as well. I remember in my high school one gentleman who smoked odd smelling clove cigarettes whom the general populace deemed “most likely to flip out and harm fellow students in a large-scale effort”.

Frankenstein Boots were extremely heavy. Walking in them was like dragging blocks of cement from your ankles. Any lengthy travel was immediately ruled out unless the wearer wanted to incur premature arthritis. For this reason, they were extremely impractical. It makes sense then, that I, lover of all fashion impracticality, would have worn the boots for several years in a row, including during a stint at Christian Sports Summer Camp in the wilds of Muskoka (pictured above) (That’s right. I wore that outfit at Christian Summer Camp).

At some point at the end of the 90’s, our legs got tired of dragging these hunks of leather around and the trend moved toward a slimmer, more flattering boot heel. Though the current styles may not be as badass as the original, my ankles are pretty pleased with the relief.


If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: Mall Bangs

20 Apr

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is: Mall Bangs.

Mall Bangs (voluminous, thick bangs requiring a great deal of hair spray) were a style that spanned from the 80’s to the 90’s and were most often styled in one of two ways: The first style (Gravity Defying, pictured above) involved the bangs being flipped upside down so that they sat standing above the head and fanned to the side. The second style, which was more subdued (Down and Round, pictured right), involved drying the bangs with a round brush to create volume so that the bangs would “pouf” out over the forehead. There was sometimes a combination model in which the bangs would be divided in half, the top half Gravity Defying and the bottom half Down and Round. This style was for the more technically savvy. Enabling one’s bangs to defy gravity required a great deal of hairspray, which often made the hair feel crispy and rough to the touch.

I think it’s safe to say that every woman alive during the 80’s and early 90’s sported some incarnation of Mall Bangs. For me, it was the Down and Round. As a child of the 80’s with a Mother who dug the Down and Round, I was automatically styled similarly, though mine were thicker and didn’t require hair spray. I also have it on good authority that a dear friend of mine used to have such enormous Mall Bangs that in her teenaged Driver’s License photo, her hair was so tall that it covered the “Pennsylvania” sign behind her (You know who you are!).

At some point in the mid to late 1990’s, hair styles began to move toward the more natural. Women grew out their bangs in droves and retired their hairspray. Although bangs have come back on trend again since, they have never reached the soaring heights they did during their Mall Bangs stint. And probably for good reason. Though there’s something very rock and roll about big hair, I think we can all agree that crispy hair is never sexy.

Hindsight Idols: Angela Chase

13 Apr

Every style has an originator. A special someone who wears a look in such a way that everyone else wants to as well. Throughout the decades, teenagers have had their idols, and in many cases, tried their darndest to look just like them. Hindsight Idols is a section about the celebrities, characters and personas that we’ve wanted so badly to emulate.

This week’s Hindsight Idol is Angela Chase, Claire Danes’ character from the television series, “My So-Called Life“.

There was a period in the mid-nineties, during the airing of “My So-Called Life” when every teenaged girl on the planet dyed their hair red (see “Letter 24: Oh, and More Importantly: You’re Gay” for but one testimony). We all collectively got out our jars of Manic Panic (or for me, pitcher of Kool Aid) and crossed our fingers that one day our very own Jordan Catalano might walk into our lives.

And on that note, let’s be honest here: Half the reason we all wanted to be Angela Chase was because Jared Leto was so darned cute and he was totally into her. Really. I’m not even going to pretend.

Angela’s style was the personification of the grunge era. Lots of plaid. Army boots. Baggy layers. Though she was never as daring as her best friend Rayanne, Angela was always ultra chic in an “Oh this old thing? I just threw this together” kind of way. Which in my opinion is the most desirable kind of fashion sense.

Angela was sweet and naive and she wore her heart on her sleeve. She was smart and contemplative and said really wonderful things all the time. In fact, in writing this post I was trying to choose a quote to exemplify Angela Chase’s philosophical abilities, but couldn’t bring myself to choose from all of the amazing things her character said. You will just have to visit the IMDB quotes page to read all about it. The writers of “My So-Called Life” just had such a wonderful way of describing the teenaged experience. Perhaps I need to write a Hindsight Idols post about them as well.

In any event, The Hindsight Letters would like to salute you, Angela Chase. Your red hair and remarkable observations about the world around you inspired us in more places than our wardrobes. Let’s put it this way: If I wrote a song called Red and sang it to you, it would most definitely not be about my car.