Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#Reverb15: Spring Favourites

Cleaning out the closet, updating your beauty regime, tackling DIY projects. What are your favorites this spring?

hilariously, this question was posed just as i'm going out later today to buy one of the most boring of all tools: a squeegee with an extendible handle, so i can wash my apartment's windows. because yes, spring is coming, and the outside of my windows are filthy with what i can only assume is caked-on smog. i've determined that the only solution - aside from standing on one of my balcony chairs, which is a terrifying prospect at 18 storeys up - is to purchase an expensive sponge on a stick. wheeeeeee.


hooray.

other than that, for me it's the typical spring-cleaning business: open up all the windows as much as possible to air out the apartment, keep things tidy and vacuumed, do tons of laundry (except for this bullshit yesterday), and perform general upkeep that makes me feel like a responsible, productive adult. because no matter how fucked up my life gets, i can at least feel proud that i'm able to keep my clothes washed and my floors clean. yay?

also, it's mostly a time to take stock of current habits and try to improve things, because the only motivation i have in the summer is to find as many patios as possible. so right now in the last days of winter, i try to take better care of myself - face mask once a week; iron pills once a day; floss every night; try to get back in shape so i can fit into my cute spring/summer dresses - so the only thing i have to worry about in the summer is not sweating to death. (i've mentioned i don't like the summer, right?)

[ music | pj harvey, "bad fortune" ]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

keep on surviving



hello! me and my gigantic sunglasses and spotty post-pms skin are back.

for a while, anyway -- i can never really tell when i just won't be in the mood to write about my life, or when i won't feel like putting stuff down because i doubt it'll be of interest. but then i'll sit down at my laptop and be like, "oh yeah, this thing happened, and this thing..." and then before you know it, i've written for like an hour and filled up a massive blog post about all the dumb shit i've been up to. i guess i can't gauge things by how my father calls and asks what i've been up to and i reply, "uhhhh, nothing."

so here's some stuff that's happened, mostly gleaned from my tumblr (this will likely be image-heavy, js):

- celebrated one year with the import boy. i know, right? one year already.


this is the box of stuff i've collected over the last year -- little tokens, cards, ticket stubs from events we've attended together and the like. i am a mushbag.

as i admitted to him recently, if i hadn't gone out on that date with him last march 1st, i'm fairly sure i'd still be single right now. because for one, i'd become pretty okay with it at that point (sure, i had tinder, but only as a joke -- and ironically, that's how i ended up meeting him in the first place), and for two, i don't like doing things i don't want to do -- and i do not like dating. i remember going for coffee with my friend katy the day of that date last year and moaning about how much i hate dating. but yeah, the whole thing worked out. he'd be the first to tell you about how nervous i was that evening. (in my defence, i hate dating, and also i knew there was a good chance he and i could be a match and i was nervous i'd fuck it up) but whatever, we're gross, the end.

- went to london! not the london of sean's homeland, but rather the more accessible option (and thank god, the one that doesn't require me to get on an airplace) -- london, ontario, to visit my cousin and his wife. in another universe, london might have ended up being my own adopted hometown rather than toronto; back in 2002, i'd gotten accepted to the university of western ontario (as well as mcmaster university in hamilton), but i held out an extra couple nervous weeks until i got the letter of acceptance to u of t. as it stands now, i'd only ever really gone to london to see gigs at call the office (an awesome live venue btw), but it'd been ages since i'd seen my cousin, plus it'd be a good time with my boyfriend along. so! off we went.

here is a pictorial of a night of hockey, free coffee from mcd's, cake, and old video games:















we only hung around for the overnight, then hit the bus back to toronto the next afternoon. this, unfortunately, turned out to be something of an adventure. see, once you get off the highway and into downtown toronto, this is the route the bus usually takes:



this is the route our bus took:



yeah, you know it's something when more than a few passengers are loudly discussing the fact that this is clearly not how you get to the bus station. (also, it was rush hour on a saturday, and we got stuck behind two streetcars. and for no reason, apparently -- the regular street was completely fine and clear. i feel like the bus driver got lost. fuck that.)

but at least i got back to the city in time for bloor cinema's special screening of control, one of my favourite movies of all time. i scribbled a short blurb about my feelings on it here.



speaking of film and tv, we have been...

- watching all the netflix. boy and i have already gone through the fall, orange is the new black and the unbreakable kimmy schmidt, and right now i'm eyeing bloodlines as a new series to start bingeing. it's really quite a nice couples activity, watching the entirety of a tv series together, though lately it's more been nights of the boy plowing through resident evil: code veronica while i watch, eat candy, help with puzzles and scream at zombies and monsters. (which is also hella fun.)

also, in tv news, game of thrones' new season starts in a few short weeks, and my number-one love, penny dreadful, is back in early may, so my sunday nights are going to be a wild ride. as if my blood pressure hasn't been beat to shit by the walking dead recently. still, it's nice to finally make use of the bazillion tv channels that i pay to have access to, yet have rarely watched up until now. (though i suppose i could make do with just hbo, amc and showcase.)

- warmer weather = the need for delicious cocktails. i don't know, maybe it's a seasonal thing with me. (though man, do i ever just love winter for red wine and strong beers) but lately i've been taking advantage of my stocked home bar - i may be running out of groceries, but i have a surplus of alcohol - and coming up with things like the below.

sangria!



alcoholic thin mints!



pimm's cup while there's a blizzard outside!



obviously, i can't do these on an empty stomach, so i've been working away in the kitchen as well (or, more accurately, just defrosting things that i made back in january when i knew times would be lean). some examples being buffalo chicken chili:



korean beef & quinoa:



and of course, cookies:



so yeah, you could say i've been keeping myself busy. (though really, a lot of it is simple self-preservation since it's way cheaper to cook and bake for yourself rather than eat out at restaurants all the time, which i try to do as little as possible)

now, for the more serious stuff, and i'll try to keep 'em brief because nobody likes a bummer attitude:

- job hunting in this city is tough going. it's pretty well known that it's a super competitive environment out there, although i don't like to use that as an excuse. but at the very least, i've been applying for positions that i really want with companies that i really want to work for, and it's nice to have that luxury rather than just flailing and accepting something, anything that i can find. that'll come later when i get desperate and scared. but right now, it does sort of hit you right in the self-worth. maybe that's what i need, though -- something to force me into considering what i really want to do with my life, and if i need to be taking other, potentially different steps to get there.

- i feel a bit stuck in toronto. maybe it's just the time of year, and maybe it's just too much access to social media where everything's sunny and bright and everyone has awesome lives, but it seems like everyone i know is going away on cool trips and vacations and i'm stuck here. and believe me, i want to go places; i just don't have the money or the means right now. sadly, i can't even plan travel in the near future, although it's more or less a given that i'll be visiting england with sean at some point. so it's kind of a downer to see how everyone is posting vacation snaps and travel plans and i'm just like okay, cool guys, have fun. i'll just stay here in my apartment until the end of time.

- i didn't have a very good february. i made a lot of relatively poor decisions for my health and well-being, my finances and my personal motivations, and now i've decided to spend the next couple of months righting the ship. i want to go into this spring & summer feeling better about myself and what i'm doing. for the most part, march has been a success so far; i've stuck to a lot of my plans for self-improvement, and aside from a couple of down days (as well as the two points listed above), i'm feeling better about myself and where i'm headed. i want to hang on to this drive and motivation through april, so i can look at myself in may and know that i've been doing everything in my power to stay on track. there's not a lot i can control in this life, but if i focus on the stuff i can control, then i think i'll feel better.

ummmm that's all for now, i think. to the gym!

[ music | kisses, "midnight lover" ]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

media is the message



since i've more or less been cooped up inside rather than deal with the above, i've been seeking a shit ton of distractions to help me cope with cabin fever. (yes, i know i said in the last blog post that i love the cold, but like i also said, if the wind chill is at killin' levels then i'm not going outside) although the internet is fine for certain amounts of time, i'm well aware that an entire afternoon can disappear once you fall down the digital wormhole. i'm really making the effort to do things other than that, you know? even with my insanely short attention span, i like finding new and different things to hold my interest.

here are a few examples!

broad city



man, i don't think there's been a tv show i've loved quite like broad city. (you can watch full episodes here!) i do watch girls every week, and though i know the comparison is pretty tiresome and not entirely accurate, i personally enjoy realistic-ish tv shows portraying twentysomething women living in new york city. it's a niche interest, i guess. and while i watch girls to wince and cringe at their eternal life fuckups, i watch broad city to laugh and delight in the cleverness and to feel better about myself. for all the weird dream sequences and bizarre fantasies, i find abbi and ilana totally real and easy to relate to. also, hannibal burress is the best of the best. al dente dentist 4 life.

crimson peak



this movie isn't coming out until later this year (long after i'll have seen avengers: age of ultron at least five times), but i saw the trailer last week and man oh man is it right up my alley. super goth creepiness, supernatural weird stuff, big old mansions, victorian fashion, and tom hiddleston? yes please. count me in. add in the fact that it's directed by guillermo del toro (who rarely has a cinematic miss, in my opinion) and filmed in both my hometowns - toronto and kingston - and i'll be there to see it opening week. sure, sumptuous gothic thrillers aren't likely to be recognized by the academy any time soon, but fuck it. it has an audience, and its audience is me.

jupiter ascending



speaking of movies for a certain audience, here's a prime example. the boy and i went to see this on cheap-movie tuesday the other week, in possibly the smallest screening room known to man:



but even without a movie screen the size of god, i enjoyed it, and for all the reasons outlined in this link here. i even wrote about it when i reblogged the piece on my tumblr:
The more I think about this hot-garbage movie, the more I realize how much I actually did enjoy it, for all its big dumb insanity. It truly was the cinematic version of all the overblown, melodramatic sci-fi romance fanfiction I wrote as a teenager. We’re still out here, and we’re still an audience. Give it to us.
i mean, yeah, it's a phenomenally awful movie, but in all the right ways, if that makes any sense. it's just outrageous and weird and everything i never knew i wanted. seriously, read that daily dot piece and take note of the hilarious tumblr screencaps and comments. pretty much sums it all up.

nhl trade deadline



this is coming up on monday march 2nd, and it's always a mini-event for me. ever since i live-tweeted the trade deadline way back in 2009, it's been a fun ride to see the comings and goings of particular hockey players as teams gear up for playoff runs (or next year's rebuild, in many cases). for those of you unfamiliar with the day, it's basically wall-to-wall coverage across the sports channels and hockey twitter, with the big tv stations pretty much devoting day-long coverage to trade deadline dealings. and then sometimes absolutely nothing happens and the broadcasters and commentators have to try and fill dead air, or make a huge deal about a trade of minor players nobody's ever heard of. it's a good time. and this year, happily, i'll be spending the day in my pajamas with my equally hockey-obsessed boyfriend, eating pancakes and yelling about current trades and having ipad, laptop, and tv all on at the same time. give us the rumours!

the nightrunner series

to this day, lynn flewelling's ongoing fantasy series is the only one i've ever truly gotten into. (i've read all the song of ice and fire books, yes, but only so i could know what's going to happen on the game of thrones show) book #2, stalking darkness, was one of my favourite books as a teenager - the first time i read it, i stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it - and since i just reread the tamir triad (which precedes the events of the series by a few centuries), i figured i ought to give a go through books #4 and #5 of the nightrunner series as well. and oh my god, i love the world of these books for so many reasons. it's a firmly matriarchal society! there are wizards and dragons and magic and adventure! there's a ton of queer and bisexual characters, including the heroes! the two main characters are the best pairing of fantasy archetypes (the badass rebel renegade and the innocent country boy he takes under his wing)! it may not be for everyone, but damn if it's not exactly my cup of tea. especially since i just found out that books #6 and #7 are available on kobo, so i know what i'm doing for the next few days.

"talons" by bloc party



sweet christ, i've been loving this song so much lately. it's a bit old now, i know, and i'm slightly late in coming to the bloc party, er, party (i mean, they've broken up since), but there's just something about this tune that's stuck with me. great rhythm, fantastic vocal work, and a driving sense of urgency and desperation throughout it. fucking great stuff. have a listen.

marvel avengers alliance

i play this game (the ipad version, not the facebook app) way too much. it's actually getting kind of dumb at this point. but i swear, if they don't release a spec ops based around captain america 2 with the winter soldier as the bonus character (plus falcon as the character you can win through mission completions), then i...guess i will just sit here and keep grumbling to myself.

and that's all for now.

[ music | the hundred in the hands, "dressed in dresden" ]

Friday, February 20, 2015

small change



welcome to cold.

yeah, i know, i've proudly said it numerous times -- i love the cold. and i do! what i don't like, however, is when there's huge gusts of icy wind blasting the skin off my face. for example, if i wake up and check the weather and outside it's, say, -15 celsius but feels like -28c and the wind's only at 10-15 km/h (sorry for all the canadian metric stuff there, american readers), then i can totally head out and do stuff and probably even enjoy it. if it's -20 but feels like -32 and the wind is gusting at 30-40 km/h, then noooooo no no. either i find a way to walk sheltered against the wind or i don't go out at all.

i clearly have this down to a science.

since the last week has been especially brutal in terms of biting winds, i've mostly been locked inside drinking endless cups of tea from the cat mug sean bequeathed upon me, a relic from his time working at marks & spencer back in england:




this is the other side of it, photo from the boy's tumblr along with dead space 2 for whatever reason

(the boy has informed me recently that he's had the temptation to just show up at my apartment with a cat carrier housing a kitten, with the understanding that he will pay for its expenses - i've never felt like i can afford a cat - but if that ever happens, you will know it by the trail of 1,000,000 cat photos.)

still, despite the cuteness of my tea-drinking equipment, i've been getting a little stir crazy in here. my apartment, while cozy, tends to get a bit stuffy in the winter (which also adds to my love of the cold -- seriously, it's refreshing to me), so i do end up spending quite a bit of time at my boyfriend's, for the change of scenery and also because spending time with him is awesome and stuff. though that still provides the conundrum of having to eventually leave the warmth of his massive duvet and go out in the damn cold to get home (i don't have a metropass and i generally refuse to use the ttc, unless the cold is threatening to murder me). layers, lots of layers.

being stuck inside has, however, given me time to do a bit of housekeeping around this here blog. for example, i think i've managed to tweak the rss feed so that it's readable for subscribers. blogger has native rss built in, as far as i can tell, though i've always pushed to subscribe via feedburner -- not that i can really tell the difference. admission time: i have zero understanding of how rss feeds work. zip. none. but i do know that quite a few of you rely on them to let you know when i update, and that you read my blog posts via rss (really, how does that work? is it magic? does it kill all the formatting? is there anything else i need to do to make it look nice for you? please tell me so i can fix!), so hopefully that works out for you. don't hesitate to reach out and let me know if anything else looks wonky, though.

also, you may notice that along the top nav, i've added a link to top posts. now, i get that that may be a misnomer of sorts; they're not exactly my top-viewed blog posts (the blogger backend has view counts on each individual blog post, but you can't sort it by most to least or anything), but rather grouped-together things like series and favourite-listicles. turns out that over the years, i've done quite a few series, so on the top posts link you'll find all the under-the-radar music posts, the #reverb posts i've done, the indie coffee passport series i did back in 2011, the martini monday posts (RIP martini monday, though sometimes i feel like bringing it back to do one-offs), influencer event recaps, and other theme-specific posts (like the top books posts, favourite marvel movies, etc). i just figured it'd make it easier to find blog posts that are all meant to be grouped together. of course, it also highlights my writing from years ago, so it may just end up making me look like an idiot. who knows.

anyway! just wanted to let you guys know about those little changes. i've never been 100% on board with the blogger interface; i'm well aware that there are more useful and user-friendly platforms out there, but goddammit, i've been on blogger since 2004(!) and the thought of transferring all my shit elsewhere just seems daunting. but maybe it could be a project for all my free time lately. i've always liked having internet projects to chew on. please do send me any useful tutorials or walkthroughs for customizing blogger, if you have them; wonking around in the backend feels dicey to me, but i enjoy it.

here, have a picture of the frozen sunset that i took from my living room earlier this week:



[ music | st. vincent, "birth in reverse" ]