Whiplash: the film, the writing, the life you’re living

film, Lifestyle/Personal


Last weekend, Alex and I watched Whiplash. He’d seen it before and said to me, “when you watch this, think about your writing”, so I kept that in mind as the opening credits rolled out. There’s no denying that Whiplash is a time-bomb of emotion, a story that depicts what it really takes to be one of the greats. There’s a part in the film where the band teacher (Fletcher) says to his student (Andrew), “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job”.  Why? because it promotes mediocrity. It promotes that just because you’re good, you don’t have to push yourself beyond the capabilities that you don’t even know are there.

I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity

If you’ve watched Whiplash, you’ll know that Fletcher is a little insane in the way he pushes his students – especially Andrew. But it kinda worked, didn’t it?

Andrew: But isn’t there a line? You know, maybe you go too far, and you discourage he next Charlie Parker from ever becoming Charlie Parker?

Fletcher: No, man, no. Because Charlie Parker would never be discouraged.

This line moved me beyond belief. It inspired me to sit down every morning and evening this week; to write all of the words I could let out of my head. It inspired me to start trying again, to believe in myself, and to push myself harder when the words won’t flow as well as I hoped they would. Because, the next Dorothy Parker would never get discouraged.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Quotes from Imdb*

Shed your Skin



Those days are going to come and go. The days where you feel inadequate as a writer, noticing the strides other people are making, wondering why you’re not working hard enough to make them yourself. The days where the words get stuck in your brain, turning into a web of thoughts that cannot untangle. The days when you go to work with the most positive attitude and whimper in the bathroom because you’re making mistakes or feel overwhelmed. The days where nothing you do is right, or even enough. One of those days where you feel like shedding your skin and starting fresh.

Days and weeks where your anxiety becomes so intense it paralyses you, body and mind. You make an appointment with the doctor and the hairdresser on the same day at the same time. You forget about that story you started writing or that you promised to get together with a friend. It gets so bad that you feel sick ever day, your head aches, and your body sore. Those days where you take the anti-anixety pills your doctor gave you, but they just make things worse. They turn you into some kind of zombie, The Walking Dead are more alive than you.

But then there’s a day where everything is okay. Not just okay, but magical in its closeness to perfection. A day where you feel good, write well, and work better. Where a smile doesn’t leave your face and laughter widens your mouth letting through a booming sound known as pure, innocent happiness. A day where you know in your heart of hearts that you are loved, that you love others, and that even the bad days aren’t so bad at all.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Photo from Pinterest*

WILD [Book Review]

Book Reviews


My cousin Amanda recommended that I read WILD by Cheryl Strayed. It’s one of her favourite books, one that she knew I would love too. WILD is the most intense memoir(ish) book that I have read this year. Cheryl holds nothing back when retelling dark and incredibly personal stories from her childhood, her teen years, and her adulthood.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I adored Cheryl’s writing style, her voice and her views on life. I held my breath on every word of every sentence. I cried, I laughed, I shuttered, and I wondered if I could ever do what The Queen of the PCT did. I enjoyed every person she met on the trail, I cringed at the thought of toenails falling off and the immense strain the hike put on her body, and I cried whenever she discovered something new about herself or her mother. I admire everything about her journey and more so, I admire her ability to write it all down and leave it on the page. WILD is about more than her literal journey, the PCT hike, it’s about life and how we approach it. It’s about the simplicity of complex problems if you just sit down, empty your pack, and think things through. It’s about how to carry yourself through life while understanding everything around you. It’s about lives ending too soon and appreciating the relationships that you have. It’s about goals and dreams and letting go when it’s time to let go.

“It was all unkown to me then….except the fact that I didn’t have to know. that it was enough to trust that what i’d done was true… to know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. that it was everything. it was my life — like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.” 
Vanessa xx
*quote from pg 311

What’s so cool about being NORMAL anyway!?

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

This morning I finished reading an ARC of John Boyne’s The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket, and I’m left wondering what is so cool about being normal anyway?!



Barnaby Brocket was born into a very normal family, with a very normal mother, father, sister, brother, and dog. The only thing that isn’t quite normal is that Barnaby…well he kind of floats. He can’t keep his feet on the ground, only a knapsack filled with sand can keep them firmly planted. One day the most terrible thing happens – Barnaby finds himself floating higher and higher into the clouds, drifting far away from home. Ironically this terrible incident leads him on the most wonderful adventure of his young life.

Barnaby travels to many different places and meets many people who are just as special as he is. Barnaby learns many lessons on his travels – my favourite one goes something like this;

“…just because your version of normal isn’t the same as someone else’s version doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.” (92)

He also learns that life has so many wonderful sights and experiences to offer that there’s no point in paying attention to horrible people or rude comments. I find that lesson to be terribly important. Bullying is such a huge problem these days and its roots are found in not accepting people because they are different. Although this book isn’t on sale until January 8th, I highly recommend it as a gift for any youngster in your life. The earlier children are taught how amazing it is to be different, the better chance we have of accepting these differences, as well as ourselves.


Barnaby’s story truly warmed my heart (thanks for sending it over Lindsey :)). The illustrations in this book are wonderful and give it a very Rohald Dahl-like feel. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is a great book for kids and adults alike – it’s a sweet read with a terrific message AND it’s funny! What a fantastic combo ;).

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
A tale of acceptance from the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary eight-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. Unlike everyone else, Barnaby does not obey the law of gravity. His parents, who have a fear of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can’t help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. Drifting from Brazil to New York, from Canada to Ireland, and even to space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people—and discovers who he really is along the way.
This whimsical novel will delight middle-graders, while readers of all ages will find themselves questioning what it means to be “normal.”

“Should I Park Down by The Bay?”

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

The title of this post was a question posed by my mom when we got to Upper Canada Mall today. To which my sister and I replied in unison “where the watermelons grow” followed by laughter and a enthusiastic high-five. Here’s where that came from – start at the 30 second mark.

Since that would have been a whole lot funnier if you were there, I’ll continue with this post and pretend as if that didn’t happen…

… So today I went to the mall with Mom, Sister, and Avoa. We went to Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket and with the wonderful weather we’re having today, I just had to document it.

See how pretty? I forget sometimes how much I love the suburbs and living “way-up-north”. On my way home from the mall it even crossed my mind that I would love to live in a small town, up north somewhere. Lots of land, peace and quiet. A big backyard to have barbecues with the familia. If you know me, you’re probably thinking:

“What the f***? Since WHEN do you NOT want to live downtown?”

The answer: I have no idea. Maybe I’m just growing up, or maybe I’m changing, or maybe it’s a combination of both.

I realized today that I got the idea of how I wanted to live my life and where I want to live by watching a whole-lotta chick-flicks. It’s easy to picture yourself living downtown Manhattan, in a chic modern apartment, with a steady income from writing when you watch Sex and the City. But let’s face it, my life isn’t a television show and to base your dreams and beliefs on what you see on T.V is just plain silly.

Don’t get me wrong here, I AM a writer. I will always write and it is the one career path I will follow, but maybe I don’t need to be the next Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe I just need to work on being the best Vanessa Grillone, I’m the only one of my kind after all. Maybe I just need to figure out what I want and what I believe in instead of following the dreams of others, or the preconceived notions of what I think I should be doing.

This whole growing up thing is tough and each day I am learning something new about myself. Each day I’m figuring out what I want to be and where I want to go. Each day I find myself thinking about the future. Each day I try to figure out exactly what I want.

All I know for sure is that I love to write and if I can bring in the bacon by doing that –

I’ll be happy.

Everything else will follow suit.

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo