What I love more than any sport is seeing Canada come together when our national team is playing. Usually, this is for one of our hockey teams. You know them. They’re the ones who have won all the gold medals at the last two Winter Olympics. But this time, 54 thousand fans crowded BC Place to watch our women’s soccer team play England in the quarter finals.

Yes, there were a lot of fans at the game wearing Team Canada hockey jerseys and hats. If we have specialty clothing for cheering on our team, it’s probably a hockey jersey. But I saw even more soccer jerseys. I saw girls and women wearing Christine Sinclair’s number 12 on their backs. I saw girls wearing their own numbers on their own team jerseys, wearing their striped socks pulled up to their knees, even in the near 30 degree sun.

54 thousand fans for a sports game, and I swear to you, almost all of them were women. The men who were there, almost all of them were dads.

There were a handful of USA fans, making the easy trip north across the border. I even spotted a family wearing green Mexico shirts. The English fans made themselves known, most of them with the St. George’s cross wrapped around their shoulders or painted on their faces.

When the men play their World Cup, I’m an England fan, too. The Canadian men’s team has only qualified once for the tournament, in 1986; most of our players claim their parents’s citizenship for a better chance on a better team. Canadians during the World Cup, we cheer for our parents’s countries. For me, that’s England, through my dad, who came here when he was 11. My brothers and I grew up watching hockey, not soccer, though we played the game as kids. It’s a cheap game to play. Cheaper than hockey, anyway. You need special shoes, but not much more than that. Shin pads are nice, a uniform, a ball.

Pick up any two objects to mark a goal line, and start kicking the ball around. That’s soccer. That’s all you need. The game I saw yesterday was a little more than that, but not much more. The women on this team have been playing together for a long time. They’re friends; they’re family. The core of them, the veterans, have been together since the World Cup in 2003, where they came in fourth place.

They were 19, 20, 21 then. They’re 31, 32, 33 now. They leave the 2015 Women’s World Cup in 6th place, which is a damn sight better than they managed last time around. In 2011, Canada finished dead last, not even making it out of their group. That tournament was their turning point. That defeat drove them to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.

It nearly drove them all the way into the semi-finals here. I’m so sad for those women who won’t get another chance. Our new stars–Kadeisha Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence, and Adriana Leon–will carry the team onwards. But some have already started to say goodbye. Karina LeBlanc, our 35-year-old keeper, has announced her retirement from the international game.

With the Pan-Am Games in just a few weeks and the Olympics next summer, we can hope a few of the veterans will hold on a little longer. One more chance. It’s almost too much to pass up, isn’t it? Look how close we came yesterday.

My brother texted me after the game and said, with a little more distance than I could manage, because he was at home watching on TV, not in the stadium, “10 min in and right over the bar. Would have changed the whole game.” I said that, except for the first fifteen minutes, they played so hard. But I was wrong.

I was nervous, right from the start, seeing the mistakes more than the chances. Big games like this, they tie my stomach into knots. When the Canadian women’s hockey team played the USA in the gold medal final in Sochi, I spent the entire extended game pacing to one end of the house and back to the TV. But sitting this close to the field in BC Place, there’s nowhere to go. We’re stuck in this together.

They played so damn hard, right from the start. Then the goal at 11 minutes happened. I was sitting at the England end. I saw it coming. I was shouting, “No, no, no,” the whole time. Sophie Schmidt lost the ball, turning funny and nearly tripping. Then it was Lauren Sesselmann who couldn’t keep her feet straight. Then it was an easy kick from England, and Erin McLeod couldn’t keep the ball out of the net.

It was bad, but three minutes later, everything got worse. Three minutes was all that separated Canada from a place in the semi-finals and a shot at the podium. We celebrated a bronze medal in London like it was gold. I stood and clapped for long minutes after England won because I needed Canada to know how much we care. Sixth place sucks. But the game, the summer sun, the cheers and tears, our country, my city, this team–it felt so good.

I sat beside a women wearing the exact same shirt as me. On the other side was two girls, USA fans with red, white, and blue streamers in their hair. I sat in front of a row of 6-year-olds, who cheered Canada harder than anyone else and proclaimed, “Our team is the goodest.” I saw rainbow Pride flags, and we sang along to Little Mix’s “Salute”, an anthem for the World Cup. I got a selfie with the snowy owl mascot, Shuéme. I ate poutine. Even the train ride home was pleasant, despite the heat. A good day.

We didn’t win, but there is nothing like the feeling of celebrating a goal surrounded by 54 thousand other people who know what it means. After she scored, Christine Sinclair lifted her arms to say, “Get up, Canada. Stand up tall.” Don’t worry, Sincy. We were already standing.

[Buy this zine in PDF at Gumroad or on paper at Etsy.]

My last pair of glasses, I bought because they came with magnetic clip-on sunglasses. Kind of goofy, but they totally worked. They lasted a long time, too, until, inevitably, they broke. I went a few years without sunglasses, until I stole a trick from my friend, Megan. She wears a pair of huge purple sunglasses right over her glasses. I found this pair of plastic pink sunglasses in a souvenir shop in Charlottetown, two pairs for 15 bucks. I bought these ones, because they fit over my glasses, and a pair of mirrored aviators, because I always wanted to be the kind of person who can pull off mirrored aviators. (It turns out I can’t, and it’s just as well those sunglasses broke mere weeks later.)

A self-portrait is a difficult thing, more for women than for men. We’re taught early on the things that are wrong with us. For me, it’s acne, a bit of a double chin. These are all ridiculous things, but they are the kinds of things you don’t see on TV. They’re not my ideas, but it’s hard to know the difference. I’m teaching myself to unlearn. I take selfies when I’m sweaty from a walk down to the beach and when my hair is a mess. My hair is curly, and it frizzes in the heat, but I don’t care. I’m not fixing my hair for a photograph. This is the real me. I want you to see it. I want to see it, too.

I’ve never been sure what looks good to other people. I’ve never been sure what my best feature is. I don’t get those kinds of compliments. Sometimes, people tell me they like the colour of my eyes. That’s the part hidden behind my pink plastic sunglasses, of course. For now, that’s just for me. I’ll grow beyond these sunglasses. Maybe my next pair will be different, smaller, more welcoming, I don’t know. What I know right now is that I’ve taken more selfies in the past year than any other year of my life.

In high school, I joined yearbook because I wanted a chance to play in the school darkroom. We took photos of cars in the parking lot. We stood in the middle of the street and shot the straight lines of the trees. Using a fisheye lens, we shot weird portraits of each other, then we developed those photos in black and white. It was exciting, exhilarating. It was making, with your hands and chemicals, and it felt like being an artist.

Despite the grand tradition of the artist’s self-portrait, you won’t find photos of me during those years. I didn’t care for my own face on film. I didn’t care for my face. I wasn’t popular, and though I had friends, I didn’t have boyfriends. High school was my acne at its worst, and I dyed my blonde hair a series of bright colours and then black for a year to distract from the problem. I didn’t get asked out. I never learned how to do makeup. When it came time for grad, no one invited me into their group, so I hitched a ride with my dad. There are no photos of me in the blue velvet suit jacket and trousers I sewed myself.

I grew up a teenager in the time right before digital cameras. I spent a childhood, lined up with my two brothers in front of statues and signs, told to pose for my dad and his camera. There are a lot of photographs of me as a child in my parents’s basement. I’m the oldest, the first, on both sides of the family. There are a lot of photographs of me, my brothers and me, of road trips and Christmases, of camping and Disneyland. There are photos of us with our dad, us with our mom, though not a whole lot of the entire family together. Someone always had to be behind the camera.

It was harder to take photos of yourself back then. I don’t remember taking a single one. Years ago, even in the early digital days, you would ask a stranger to take your photo. “Excuse me, ma’am,” we would say. “Would you take a photo of us standing in front of this landmark, please?” We would hand over an expensive camera to a stranger. “Just press this button,” we would tell them. A nerve-wracking moment followed, not only your camera in someone else’s hands, but the photo itself. How would it turn out? Did you blink at the wrong moment? Does your smile look weird? What do you do with your hands?

On the road trips my friends, Megan and Elisabeth, and I have taken together, we have posed for a dozen photos in front of Elisabeth’s film camera. She sets up the shot and the timer, then hustles back into frame, we smile, wait, laugh, then click. Once, posing under the great redwood tree we had just driven through with our rental car, a fellow tourist asked if he could help us out. “No, thanks,” we told him. “We want to do it ourselves.” We want do it all ourselves, just like we planned the trip ourselves, we drove ourselves, we made our own souvenirs.

A selfie is a feminist act. We control our smile, the angle, sunglasses on or off. Most crucially, we choose which photos are worthy of being seen outside the camera. The ability to construct and edit our lives like this wasn’t available to me when I was a teenager, even through much of my twenties. I’m 33 now and only just learning to love my face in the photograph.

[Buy this zine in PDF at Gumroad or on paper at Etsy.]

cameronhousepress:

It’s only spring, but it’s so damn hot. This is how I’m surviving. There’s some tips in here, a recipe or two (of course), as well as some thoughts about being a person who wears short shorts. Wherever you are, enjoy this zine in the sun.

21. WRITE OUTSIDE

There is no right way to write. Use a computer, tap on your phone, or try pen and paper. Whatever works for you. In the morning, on your lunch break, or before bed. Just get your words out. But here is one weird trick that works for me.

Go outside. There’s something about the drastic change of scene that helps my brain settle down and get in the mood. At home, I have TV, wifi, food, and even laundry needing folding. I have so many excuses at home, not to mention my couch.

I’m writing this on the beach in White Rock. It’s a ten minute walk down the hill from my house, including the time looking for the right spot to sit. I brought my phone with me, but it’s unusable out here. The sun is blinding.

I came out here for that exact reason. I wanted to write, and I wasn’t writing at home. I needed to kick my own ass and get something done on my day off.

It’s so easy to waste time. Ten o’clock, every night, an alarm goes off on my phone reminding me to write a journal entry. Every day, for 1300 days, I take a few minutes to write down something short about what the day was like. Whatever is still interesting at ten o’clock. Some days, ten o’clock buzzes my phone, and I don’t know where the hell the day went.

But if I got outside, if I went for a walk, if I doodled something in my notebook, if I set a timer and put some words on the page, that’s a day. That’s all I ask for, every day.

22. WEAR SHORT SHORTS

By the time it’s hot enough to wear shorts here (which is always a false alarm; Vancouver weather can, and will, change at its own whims), it will have been eleven months since I last shaved my legs.

My job doesn’t require me to dress formally, I don’t attend fancy events, and I don’t care for skirts and dresses besides. I sometimes shave during the summer months (here, that’s July and August), but generally, as a fair-skinned blonde, I’m happy to let it grow.

This year, summer came early, and I didn’t have time to prepare before the first day of shorts. I haven’t bothered since. I think about it, usually when I’m putting on sunscreen, but then I realise I would rather be doing so many other things.

I’ve lost the weight I gained during my two years of unemployment, and I fit into my size 12s again. I fit into the short shorts I bought from the GAP because they were on sale and because I was amazed to fit into them. I barely wore them then because they were a concept wholly new to me.

I wasn’t ready to be a person who wore shorts that short, despite how they fit. Usually, come hot weather in summer, I cut off an old pair of jeans or khakis and wear those like shorts.

I’m self-conscious about my legs, in general, my thighs, in particular. Sitting on a bench on the pier, and I’m self-conscious about the way my legs are crossed. Hairy legs, flabby legs, pale legs–it’s everything put together.

I try not to care, but it doesn’t always work. My short shorts are an act of protest, for myself and for the world. I don’t know if it’s working yet, which, to be honest, is why I’m writing about it. This is how I figure out how I feel.

23. MAKE TACOS

One of the things my grandma gave me when I moved out was a tortilla press. It’s not a family heirloom, just an aluminum thing she probably bought during one of their many stays down in southern California. I have friends in LA, which is where I learned to love tacos.

I’m still learning how to make tortillas. Because she was giving up the press, my grandma also gave me a half bag of instant masa. I thought that meant this would be easy. The package said all you need is water.

My first batch were too thick. My next batch crumbled. They all tasted great, but I had to eat my tacos with a fork. Edible, but not what I wanted.

I rolled smaller balls, tried more pressure, with no success. Then I added melted butter. (I’ve been eating mostly vegan these days, but my grandma had given me a few pounds of butter before I made this decision. Part of the reason I want to eat vegan is because I abhor wasted food.)

I also left the masa in the fridge overnight because I was making four different things at once (I’m pretty sure one of them was pizza). The next day, I rolled, pressed, and cooked my tortillas in a dry frying pan, and they were almost perfect.

They stayed together! You could definitely taste the butter (I’ll use oil next time). Here are some things I put in tacos: black beans, greens (kale, swiss chard, spinach), bread and butter pickles, pickled onions, chives (and chive flowers), green onions, leaf lettuce, sautéed shallots, and any kind of vinaigrette. I made five tortillas, I was so excited, and I ended up eating all of them.

24. DRINK LIMONCELLO

In anticipation for summer (and because my parents are frequent cruisers willing to bring me home a bottle of duty free vodka), I made limoncello. Rather, I’m in the process of making limoncello.

Buy a bag of lemons–organic, if possible, but not necessary. Just wash well with mild soap and water, if not. Zest them all. There are a few ways to do this. A sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife, the fine side of a box grater, an actual handheld zester, or–my choice–a rasp. The key with zesting is that you only want the yellow part of the peel; none of the white.

Collect the zest in a large glass jar. I used a wide mouth pint jar to make it easy to get stuff in and out. Fill the jar with vodka.

Let this steep in a cool dark place for as long as you can wait. My lemon zest vodka has steeped a month, only a few days away now. Like anything you steep, the longer you wait, the strong the flavour.

You’ll need a few more ingredients. Limoncello is defined by the lemon, but also the sugar. Simple syrup is one part sugar and one part water in a small pot, and boiled until dissolved. After you filter out the zest, mix one part syrup to one part vodka. Now you have limoncello!

25. LIVE UNDERGROUND

When I moved in February, my new basement apartment, with wood floors throughout, was too cold. Now, the temperature outside is climbing towards 30C, it’s not even summer, and my new basement apartment is lovely.

It’s not too cold; it’s perfectly lovely, especially after walking home from work when the sun is still high in the sky. My windows sit just aboveground, and with the shutters wide open, they fill the room with light and a cool breeze. The floor is chilly enough to demand socks in the morning. Even cranking my oven past 500C to make pizza for dinner is no problem at all.

It’s lovely down here, and nearly unbearable out there. I work afternoons, which means I walk thirty minutes up the hill at 2:30 in the afternoon. I wore a cardigan to work yesterday; I took it off and shoved it in my backpack not four blocks up the hill.

When you live underground, you never have to think about the heat. I never have to know how hot it really is until I go outside.

Lucky for me, the beach is just down the road.

[Buy this zine in PDF at Gumroad or on paper at Etsy.]

I bought an 8×6 block of lino about ten years ago. Back when I was still in college, buying books for the next semester, browsing through the half of the store devoted to art supplies, and wondering again if I should’ve gone to Emily Carr instead.

I love art supplies the same way I love stationery. It’s the potential of the thing. I didn’t even own lino cutters, but I imagined some future where just having this piece of lino on hand would turn me into a printmaker. Of course, art doesn’t happen like that.

It happens like this.

I have an unexpected Wednesday off. I have all the tools I need now. Over the years, I’ve collected cutters, and scissors, and tape, and rulers, and paint, and brushes, and pastels, and ink. I have everything I could ever want to make art except the confidence that anything I make will be any good.

8×6 is bigger than you think. It’s half a sheet of copy paper, and what the hell am I going to fill it with? But I’ve written a novel before, and I know the trick.

Break it up into smaller parts. I couldn’t find my exacto knife, but when I tried cutting the lino with an old pair of scissors, it worked. (To be honest, I was afraid it had dried out.) A 2×2 block is doable. A 2×2 block feels easy. A 2×2 block could be a single letter, an icon, or this simple house I drew with a pencil and carved on my coffee table.

It’s that easy sometimes. I wish it was this easy all the time.

I started writing a zine called Things To Do When It Rains, which is stupid because it’s been goddamn hot for days.

Things To Do When It’s Hot will be out by the end of the week.