On Going Home



Windsor: Some know it as the tip of Ontario's wang, others know it as the used-to-be automotive powerhouse of the country, but I know it as my used-to-be home. I know it as the place that blends city-life and life on the water haphazardly, a place with beautiful temperate summers, and damp but mild winters. If you haven’t been, the most marking part would be that it’s flat, like prairie flat, and to be honest, I’ve hated it for a long time because for me that flatness seemed to seep into my image of the place, it encompassed the people, the feel, and the memories of my childhood.

Embracing my inner teen

Embracing my inner teen

I left for Ottawa – seen by my 18-year-old eyes as the big city – and vowed to never look back, and even sneered at the prospect of coming home for routine celebrations. I will admit it now; I thought I was better than my past and all those I had left behind. I can only admit it because I’ve periodically detached myself from the taint of my childhood distaste for what Windsor represented, which I unfairly judged as a dead city, passé, over with.

I haven’t been home for six months, and I really don’t spend a ton of time catching up with my family over the phone, so this trip over the break was a marathon of family hugs, parties, food, and drinks, but what marked me most was the time that I spent with my little cousins. Hanging out with two 15-year-old girls, first of all made me feel old — trying to keep up with the gossiping slang of two teenagers was like trying to follow the hand movements of world class cup stackers: I — at the ripe old age of 23 — could not keep up.

The big baby with the little baby

The big baby with the little baby

But what really shocked me was that these two girls, who I had both held as chubby, red-faced babies, were semi-adult people now, and I didn’t know them at all. I’ve spent the past 5 years trying to block out my past by building a new future, but what that has done has made strangers out of the people I care about. As we sat there munching on pizza and laughing about sex, drugs, and alcohol (kids are growing up fast these days) I saw myself, or my old self, in these two budding gals, full of promise and opportunities, insecurity and that strange confidence that teenagers sport as becoming-adults.

I could have written this blog about the girl I met on the street walking a boxer named Julie (the girl’s name was Alyson), or the pretty girl I met on the train home who lived three doors down from me in Ottawa, but nothing has made me feel more unplugged and connected than the two girls who stole my phone while I was in the bathroom to take a million selfies (some of which are featured above). Nothing has made me feel more attached to my world than stepping back into my old one.


Alexandra Mazur

A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.

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You Can't Sit With Us

What they Were Listening to (An Adulterated Version to Cheer You Up):



Orange is the New Basic

Orange is the New Basic

There were two girls with beautiful, shiny straight hair, dressed in dark autumn colours, thin like models, sporting perfectly sculpted brows, both wearing laissez-faire (but I really do care) toques, sitting across the coffee shop from me. I was intimidated at first to approach their beauty indoctrinated bench, but then the words “basic bitches” came to mind, and I thought, “Why should I be intimidated by these pumpkin-spice flavoured, Aritzia-wearing, T-Swift clones?”

For those of you who don’t know the term, “Basic Bitch” is appropriated to women who fit into the characteristics defined in the Urban Dictionary as, “1) one who has no personality; dull and irrelevant; 2) just an extra regular female”. I labeled these girls as such, and instantaneously gave myself a confidence boost by believing myself to be the opposite.

So I sauntered up to them all high and mighty and said,  “I’m sorry to bother you but do you think I could take a minute of your time?” Then my head instantly deflated and I felt like a door-to-door salesman, or a Jehovah’s Witness. They both had earphones on and looked at me with a mean quizzical eye in the only way that pretty girls can; it made me feel uncomfortable. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I remember awkwardly putting one hand to my side and leaning forward like a prospector would.

The brunette of the duo took her headphones off and in the same motion swung her shiny sheet of hair back with ease. I thought she must have practiced that in the mirror hundreds of times to get it so perfectly clichéd.

“Sorry?” She said, not sounding sorry at all.

I explained.

“So like…you want to know what kind of music other girls like? Ok….” The blonde one said hanging onto the last word with a dubious tone – they both smiled slyly to each other like little devils. I could have argued with her but instead I said with my best Stepford Wives smile, 

“Yes, what are you listening to?”

They answered me civilly, they even warmed up after a bit, but they never invited me to sit; I stood the whole time we talked which was for at least ten minutes.

I left wondering why I had felt so belittled. The truth was that there was an innate competition between us, like a female pissing contest (pardon my French), and I wasn’t innocent in the whole debacle. I left and texted my friend calling them basic and rude. 

But as I began to write out this blog post, I realized that I was mistaken, the whole system was mistaken! I thought about how on both sides we were tearing each other down – just with our eyes –  we were strangers vying for dominance over each other, but for what? Who was prettier? Who was more unique than the other?

I didn’t know anything about these women. I didn’t know if they liked pumpkin spice lattés (though truthfully their popularity is due to the fact that they are delicious), or if they were artists, or scientists-in-training, so what right did I have to label them at all, and vice-versa? It is labels such as these, based solely on feminine physicality, that create physical rifts between women and engender an environment of judgment solely based on comparison and competition.

In a world that constantly tries to define women within unbelievably unreachable parameters, why try to define oneself against another item on the list of what women should not be? To me that sounds unoriginal, and, ironically, pretty basic. 

Alexandra Mazur

A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.

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Breaking the Sound Barrier

What She's Listening To (to get you in the mood):

"The 1975 - Heart Out"
"Grimes - Genesis"

Marlena was a trouper

Marlena was a trouper


Girls can be mean sometimes, hence why they made that movie a few years ago, and even though I spend my days endlessly talking to a select few females, being suddenly charged with introducing myself to the grander population of them made me feel as frightened as the new kid at school. It hadn’t helped that my first few attempts had been a bunch of busts (no pun intended).

Mistakenly, I tried to make first contact on the bus. A girl sat next to me and I thought I should take my earphones off as a gesture of openness, but when she refused to look over at me I couldn’t talk, I kept opening my mouth like a stunned goldfish. Unsurprisingly, she changed seats. I then felt like a goldfishsmall, and kind of slimy.

I was walking side-by-side with a girl and I took my headphones off, turned to her and smiled, and she spurted away like George Jetson. I’m pretty sure one girl thought I was trying to sell her something when I approached her with an over-eager look (which I don't use anymore); she waved me away with a casual sweep of her hand (I shamefully admit that I've pulled that move before). 

After a week of cursing headphones, blogs, and young women alike, I thought about changing my target group to seniors with hearing-aids – I have a way with octogenarians in particular – until a girl came up to me and asked if she could bum a smoke. Success! Even though it was kind of cheating since she introduced herself, I was counting it, dagnabbit! Her name was Marlena, she was carrying a longboard and her voice was raspy and deep. She was studying music at the University of Ottawa.

“What do you play?”

“Violin.”

“Oh, you must be really good!” I said enthusiastically while in my head saying “duh, genius.” I was surprised; I would have never connected cigarettes and longboards with Bach and Mozart, but what-the-hey, it’s 2014.  We got along fine until I asked her what kind of music she was into and the common “I like everything” came out, very blasé. After I asked what she was listening to at that moment and in succession asked if I could take her picture for my blog, she consented reticently and then very quickly said she had to go study. When she put her longboard down, she said,

“Sorry, but I’m not into chicks.”

“I’m not either,” I shot back, “I mean I like girls, but I don’t like girls…not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I guess it would be an interesting way to pick someone up.” Nervous babbling; I realized I should stop talking. 

We just looked at each other and she laughed a bit. I’m not sure if it was at the ancient Seinfeld reference, or at me. She wished me good luck and rolled away, looking like a little blonde sprite on her board. I was left feeling accomplished and self-conscious, and a little like the new kid at school who just made her first new friend.


Alexandra Mazur

A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.

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Where It All Began


The original girl

The original girl


I remember when I used to like people. Growing up, I developed the talent of being able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone; I thrived on the feeling of making little friendships everywhere I went.

But two years ago this began to change, launched by myriad circumstances, but worsened by my now most-prized possession. I told my Dad that for Christmas I wanted a pair of large headphones – itty-biddy buds were out, big was so in. Having the most doting father, he dove into researching the best possible mobile listening devices, and when Christmas rolled around he had two sets for me to choose from. The first were sleek, silver, streamlined Bose headphones. The second were large, clunky, and looked like they belonged in the 90s on a hip-hoppin’ DJ; they were from (a then unknown to me) German company called Sennheiser.

Vanity drew me to the smaller ones, and as I tried not to cringe at the Darth Vader-esque German Goliaths, my Dad’s excitement convinced me to give them a go. From the first few notes, I was in love. They were sound blocking, base blaring, perfectly pitched; an experience.

From then on, they became an extension of my body, even though I admit they’re a bit cumbersome. The long curlicue cord constantly gets caught on things, and tangled in my bags and on my buttons. They get funny looks and unwarranted comments. But in the harsh Ottawa winters they double as earmuffs, and in the cold social sea of the city, they work as insulation between me and the rest of the lonely souls streaming along to their own tunes.

When I’m stopped on the street I innocently point to my headphones with a look that says, “Sorry, they’re actually glued to my head.” I jump on the bus, turn up the volume, feel my eyes glaze over, and comfortably sink into the recesses of the music.

This disconnect has led me to shun strangers. When I strut to work to the beat of my tunes, every person seems like a slow-moving pylon in my way. When I’m approached on the street, for whatever reason, I’m shocked – hello? Trying to be antisocial here. I know I’m not the only one. Wherever I go, I see myself, in the flow of young women travelling the city with their musical muffs in place.

For the purpose of self-rediscovery, I have made it a project to approach my fellow femmes with headphones, to draw us both out of our deafened comfort zones. Just like Humans of New York, my mission is connect to the previously disconnected. As well, this blog will come with the benefit of witnessing my awkward, shy (and maybe a little terrified) way of going about it.


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Alexandra Mazur

A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.

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