Tuesday, July 28, 2015

teenage wasteland

hello! sorry for the radio silence, it's been a busy month (but in an awesome and productive way).

although i'm going to publish this blog post once i'm back in toronto on tuesday and can organize pics & formatting for the post, i'm writing this as my final dispatch from the family home in kingston, which was actually just sold a few days ago after a month on the market. my mother told me the good news almost as soon as i got off the train on friday. so that just kicked off the beginning flurry of packing up, because not only did they sell the house (they've already purchased the new one), but they're moving out at the end of august. sounds like a lot of time, sure, but there's a ton of stuff packed into that small suburban mansion. the basement/rec room's almost all packed right now, actually. weirdness.



anyway, i'm here because i was asked to come home to go through what remains of my old belongings, to see if there's anything i'd like to "keep" (aka go into storage at my dad's, which will one day go into storage at my place, once i can finagle a ride from kingston to toronto). like i said before, i consistently lived here during my teenage years - 1996 to 2002, one last year of elementary school plus all of high school before i pulled up stakes and ran to toronto - so there was apparently still quite a bit of my teenage stuff hanging around in boxes and bags.

here's some of what i found:
  • i was way more into traditionally girly things than i remembered (or would like to admit, really). lots of rainbow, unicorns, flowers, kitties, and dragons. eeeeeesh.
  • there was an entire box of my teenage writing journals and diaries. i took one look and instructed my mother to burn the box.
  • it's actually a bit sad to go through a couple bags of your old stuffed animals that you used to love the shit out of and realize that they mean so little to you now. (i still grabbed my first favourite stuffie, an ancient, ugly cat hand puppet that's missing almost all its fur because i used to carry it everywhere with me)
  • looking over my old sketchbooks was weird. i remember trying to make a go at being an artist when i was a kid, and i could have probably worked at what i had, but in the end i just didn't feel like i was good enough. oh, well.
  • i found a box full of ribbons, medals, trophies and certificates. like, just full of the stuff. and i swear to christ, i can barely remember winning any of it. there were awards in there for poems and essays, art, public speaking, track and field, basketball, baseball, karate, and more. sure, a lot of it was "participant!" garbage, but as i asked my mom -- "was i like, a kid genius or something? and where did that go?" (i also found a plaque for a schoolwide english award that i won in grade 11 and which i have zero recollection of winning, but it's kind of funny how well it predicted my adult career. as my mom said, "i'm not sure your teachers knew what to do with you, and just how well you could write.")
it's kind of an interesting point that i later remarked on to my stepdad: by all accounts, as a kid, i was good at a lot of things, but not amazing at one thing. jack of all trades, master of none. so would it have been better for me to have found one true love and stuck with it, worked on it and made it into a real talent, instead of spreading myself out through all these hobbies? but then, as he pointed out, that's sort of what you do when you're young -- try a bunch of different things and see what sticks. i just kind of wish i'd found something then instead of trying to blindly scrabble for useful (read: profitable) hobbies/talents now.

(i guess you can look back on it and note that the large majority of my accolades were for writing, then make the conclusion that i did nurture one big talent after all, but i'm greedy and i want to be able to do more.)

at the end of the day, i didn't end up putting a lot of stuff aside to put into storage or take back to toronto -- just a few books, my university diploma and photos, a cat-shaped wind chime, and a stuffed penguin that waddles along the floor playing marching music (don't ask). i also did some scavenging for things for sean's apartment, and came up with a queen set of sheets for his new bed, a ridiculously massive bath towel, a beer stein, and a wine glass for me. goddamn if i didn't wish i lived closer to kingston so i could steal more stuff before it goes to yard sales or the trash, but that would mean i'd live in like, trenton or something, and no thanks.



my mom also unearthed this photo of very tiny eight-year-old me as a brownie in 1993. (the brownies were the precursor to girl guides, or girl scouts as americans would know them.) as i quoted on tumblr, we also had this exchange: "i kind of hated doing it, you know." "well, you hated doing a lot of things." "that's awesome because i hate doing a lot of things now." some things never change.

oh, and i decided i'd be remiss if i didn't go for one last dip in the family pool, though it was almost a joke considering that i'd swam in the pool a grand total of like four times since we moved in 1996:







kept the lipstick on because why not.

but then i actually had a tiny cry as i lay in bed on my last morning in this house, thinking about how it had always been the place i went to during my turbulent twenties, when i had no idea how to deal with what was going on in my "adult" life in the big city. this place had been my way station between adventures in different cities, where i came back to when i felt like i had nowhere else to go. and it made me think about how time is fleeting, and how things can and do change without there being anything you can do about it. that's just how life is. but it can be a scary thing, if you think about it too much.

i think about the time many people have in their twenties, when you're convinced you're going to be an exception to the rule. you're never going to age, your parents are never going to die, your friends will always be around, and your childhood home will forever be there for you to return to. you think it's going to be like this for you forever and you can't imagine a time when it won't be.

and for me personally, this is probably one of my biggest hang-ups. i've never gotten over the fact that i'm not an exception. that's why my turning 30 was so tough for me - it was my first realization that life does move forward for me, and that there's no going back, and someday everything i know will be gone. (nobody who i've been close to has died yet, but if they had i would probably be speaking differently, here.) i can't explain how or why i ever thought i'd be able to freeze time, and like, i've never been delusional; i just didn't think it would happen to me, somehow. but all of a sudden i'm noticing my metabolism slowing and small wrinkles around my eyes and a few gray hairs coming in, and my parents sold the family home, and i feel weirdly betrayed by my 22-year-old self, who thought she'd be 22 forever and with a home she would always know. she thought she could make time stay like this forever, somehow -- or, at the very least, oh i know that life will change, but not quite yet, i still have time. but then one day you wake up and realize that that time is now, and a lot of things, as you knew them, are gone.



[ music | halsey, "hurricane" ]

Monday, July 6, 2015

fake empire

posted on my tumblr with the accompanying caption "I maybe have a problem":



so by now in my copy of neko atsume, i've got the home expansion plus a renovation, and i'm basically attracting cats to every surface and toy i put out. it only took me five days to attract every single one of the 45 cats available, so now the goal is to make them all happy enough that they bring me the full collection of treasures you can get (i only have 23 of those so far). it's a hilariously weird and cute game that you could just play for whatevs, but i like having an objective.

in conclusion, you should all download neko atsume and let me know which cat is your favourite. (i've since got my cat-loving boyfriend hooked on it as well, and we've since spent a shameful percentage of our time together checking on our cats and comparing notes.)

i've been saying lately - and i will keep saying - that i probably need to get a cat this year. i am a Cat Person. (yes, that's serious enough to receive capital letters.) my family always had cats when i was growing up, always females, always siblings -- frisky and benji when i was four; baskets, cinnamon and mittens when i was seven; and the two exceptions to the rule, cleo (probably the most adorable kitten ever) and my dear sweet boy mr. gray (whom i found wandering our property as a stray and pleaded with my parents to let me take him in). after all the years and a move to the city, mr. gray - my tough old fightin' tomcat - ended up being the last cat standing, but he passed away from a heart murmur while i was away at university. he was the best cat and i still miss him.

yet i've moved around so much as an adult that i've never had the chance to adopt a cat of my own. it's just never been the right time for me -- i'm always working, or moving, or busy, or not able to take on the responsibility. plus i've always felt conflicted about condemning a cat to a small living space; i know there are many people out there who'll argue that you can raise a cat that will be happy living indoors in a small home, but that's not me. i grew up with barn cats, cats that loved to roam around outside, and i just can't imagine them being happy otherwise. and since i'll never make the kind of money that would buy me a large house with a yard, i've never been entirely sure i should even get a cat.

still, it makes me sad. my stepsister has a cat. my sister has two cats. (my stepbrother broke the pattern by getting a dog.) the closest i have is a tumblr "kitteh" tag that currently has 257 pictures of cats. and sure, i have plenty of neighbourhood cats to visit with - especially my favourite floof - but sometimes i really want a warm purring ball of cuddles hanging around my place. i totally torture myself regularly by looking through the ranks of toronto cat rescue. sigh. (i especially have a weakness for boy cats, in the memory of mr. gray.)


my main dude doing one of the things he loved most: sleeping tucked into a still-warm bed. (the other would be eating -- my family used to joke that mr. gray loved food first, caitlin second)

on a completely separate topic, last week allegra and i went to see magic mike xxl on opening day, and it was so, so worth it.



allegra and i saw the first magic mike together in theatres back in summer 2012, and we were, well, pretty disappointed. not just in the lack of full frontal (ha ha), but in the fact that it was long, drawn-out, and weirdly dull for a movie about male strippers. channing tatum spent most of the movie trying to win over a boring, crabby girl who had all the personality of a wooden plank. it was beautifully shot, though, and the dance sequences were top notch, and shit yeah, that "pony" striptease that channing tatum does is just the best. so there was definitely potential for something better, yet i didn't exactly expect there'd be a sequel. what a pleasant surprise!

this movie actually went above and beyond the first. it established personalities for all the guys, and made them all seem like the best dudes you could ever hang out with. in her stellar review, stacey may fowles notes how the movie emphasizes a new type of bro -- one who respects women, is in touch with his sensitive side, always has your back, and is able to joke about things without being offensive or assholish. i was brought up by feminist parents, so this is the kind of guy i want to believe is most widespread than not. i want to believe all men are like the guys of magic mike, even if they don't have the 10-pack abs. you could feel safe with these guys, and they seem to just really value people, men and women equally.

director gregory jacobs had a great thing to say in this interview at now: "I kept saying, 'I want to make a movie about friendship - between guys, between men and women, between women and women.'" and all of this is really wonderfully portrayed in magic mike xxl. there's just so much respect between everyone, and even when the guys clash, they eventually hash it out by talking through their issues with each other. there's no demeaning of women, no threats, no derogatory accusations of being "gay" just because the dudes are in touch with their emotions. it's so modern and really a game-changer when it comes to cinematic depictions of male friendship, if you ask me.

in short, i would go see it again, and i think pretty much everybody (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) should go see it too. (for those easily offended by nudity, there's no full frontal, just a lot of abs and the occasional bare butt) here's the most perfect recap ever (warning: spoilers) by roxane gay over at the toast as well as a more supernaturally fun review at io9. and, because i love you, here's a video of channing tatum busting out all the dance moves:



gym now, more writing later.

p.s. i just booked a trip to kingston for friday july 24th to monday july 27th, because 1) i want to give my dad his father's day gift; 2) i want to say goodbye to the family home as well as scavenge anything that my parents won't need in the new place (my mom and stepdad are looking to move out by the fall, but sooner if they can); and 3) my mother has tasked me with going through my old belongings that are still in storage at the house. this should be interesting, to say the least.

[ music | lana del rey, "blue jeans" ]

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

a storm you're starting

let me tell you today about two things i've been enjoying the hell out of lately: penny dreadful and neko atsume. (i'll start with the latter since i'm pretty sure my social network is getting sick of my penny dreadful gushings, but ha ha too bad more is coming at you)

i first read about neko atsume (it's an iphone app game) on the av club's gameological, in an article about the staff's favourite games in 2015 so far. zack handlen explains it easily: "You arrange various cat toys in your backyard and wait for cats to play with or nap on them. When the cats leave, they give you sardines, which you then use to buy more toys. You can also spend a bit of money to buy extra sardines, including the rare gold ones necessary for better items." like, really, that's it. the entire goal is to create the ultimate cat playground in order to attract a crazy variety of adorable smiling cats (which you can name, take photos of, and catalogue). you can expand and renovate your chosen environment, buy special food and toys that will attract more rare cats, and generally keep trading up in order to bring in all the cats. all the cats!!!11

the app is super low-pressure and low-stress -- it's not like a tamagotchi, where you have to worry about them getting hungry or sick or dead. if you don't put food out, they just won't show up, that's it. so all you have to do is check in occasionally to make sure the cats have enough food and that they're enjoying the toys, but holy shit, man, you're gonna be checking in like every five minutes. the music is jaunty and fun and the entire game is adorable beyond measure.


an early photo of my neko atsume screen that i posted on my tumblr with the caption "I've just started playing Neko Atsume and now I think my life is over." (and yes, all the cats have little buttholes)

kotaku and vox also have great articles about the neko atsume phenomenon (the phrase neko atsume - ねこあつめ - translates to "cat collecting," and not even my old japanese learnings could figure out what "atsume" means). they all emphasize that you really don't need to know japanese to get the gist of the game, but if you desire the full knowledge of neko atsume, here is a good walkthrough. (i was psyched to pull out my japanese dictionaries, but then i found that a google translate app exists, and i felt super old and obsolete for a minute.)

now that i've sold you on it, get you some neko atsume here (it's free with in-app purchases) and prepare to say goodbye to life.


i named this one "mew jay."

okay, on to the second pop-culture love of the moment: penny dreadful, my most favourite tv show of all time.



yes, i've been talking about this show a lot on social media, mostly because i feel it needs to be talked about. i'm endlessly encouraging people to give it a watch. of course, it's not for people who don't like purple, pulpy victorian goth that gets very violent and dirty, but you know, can't please everybody. (at the same time: finally, a show for me and my goth people!) there is legit nothing like it on tv right now -- and to be frank, even i'm amazed that they can get away with some of the insane shit they've pulled. throughout a typical one-hour episode of penny dreadful, my brain is mostly an endless loop of "ooooooh nooooo oh my god what what's even going on noooooooooo". endlessly, wonderfully disturbing. plus the acting is top fucking notch. all the emmys for everyone, please.

anyway, i've been thinking about penny dreadful a lot lately because the season 2 finale is on sunday night at 10, and oh man am i not at all ready to let it go. sure, season 3 has been greenlighted, but that's like, a year away. a year is a long time to wait for my fix of creepy dark supernatural weirdness. i've been keeping up with season 2 of true detective - honestly, it has potential; i think a lot of people have written it off too quickly - but i'm not really a fan of true crime, so it won't totally fill the void. i've never been much of a tv person, but when i love a tv show, i really love a tv show.

also penny dreadful reminds me on a weekly basis that josh harnett has just gotten finer with age:



fuuuuuuuck yes. gimme dat hot bisexual werewolf action. (though if season 2 ends without his character and superior queen eva green's character banging, i will be very disappointed.)

lastly, as a bonus, the song i've been listening to nonstop: halsey's "hurricane". if you like dream pop a la lana del rey, you'll love this. just chills, man.



however, the fact that i've also been listening to a lot of combichrist just proves to me that no matter how many sundresses and lipsticks i buy, i'll forever be that gothy darkwave/aggrotech kid at heart.



that's all for now. happy july!

[ music | none ]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

make my own home

so my mother just called to tell me that she and my stepdad are selling the family home and moving, and now i'm trying to process a lot of weird "help, how do i adult?" feelings.


to be clear, it's not like they're going that far from the current house -- they're moving out to one of the islands that's basically connected with kingston via ferry. according to my mom, they've been looking for waterfront property for a couple of years now, and they've finally found the jackpot. they're putting the current family home up for sale and hopefully moving by the fall.

whoa. (my initial response was: "but you've put so much work into the house!" and it's true, they really have -- inground pool, jacuzzi, workout room, full surround sound, a lot of home reno. in fact, my mom had said on a number of occasions that she'd never consider selling the house. the island home must be hella impressive.)

as a lot of you know - it's even in my about me narrative - although i was born in kingston, i mainly grew up in a tiny east ontario village called moscow. after my parents divorced, and my mother was dating the man who'd later become my stepdad, my mom, sister and i moved out of the massive stone house that i'd called home for pretty much all of my life. and i remember the day that my mom drove my sister and i into the kingston suburbs to show us the house that we'd all be moving into together -- the three of us, plus future stepdad and his two kids. i think she expected us to be as thrilled and excited as she was, but when she drove by the "new house" and pointed it out, 13-year-old me only managed a stony glare and grumble. (to which i remember receiving a terse "fine. fine." to say my mother and i didn't get along during my teenage years would be a vast understatement.) what i wasn't able to describe was how torn up i was about leaving the countryside, about moving away from the only home i'd ever known.

yet in the years to come, that new house in kingston would bear witness to all of us kids going through adolescence, high school drama, young relationships, and eventual leavetakings as we all went on to our own lives. for me personally, i only lived in that house for six years, from 1996 to 2002. by comparison, i've lived in dwellings across toronto for thirteen years now. also, i only go to kingston, like, three times a year -- for thanksgiving/my dad's and my birthdays (they're always on the same long weekend), for christmas, and usually once during the summer. but still, i can't disregard the fact that that's been the home i've always returned to for birthday celebrations, term breaks, mother's and father's days, and christmases for those past thirteen years.

on some level, we don't want our childhood home to change, do we? we like to think that we can go back and everything will be just as we left it. we don't like thinking about how the world can go on without us there to witness it. but little by little, things change -- walls get knocked down or repainted, teenage bedrooms become home offices, beloved pets pass away, trees grow tall enough to block windows, new neighbouring subdivisions go up, and sooner or later you go "home" only to find that it stands as a monument to the fact that time does pass without you. time always does.

i think we all get a finite number of havens -- little places we can go when we need to escape the regular world and our everyday lives. and if you're on good terms with your family, the longtime family home is usually one of those sanctuaries you can always go back to. this was definitely the case for me; the kingston home was where i could always go if i was having a tough time in the big city. it was where i spent a lot of weekend vacations from toronto trying to get my head straight, trying to figure out just what the hell i was doing. it's where i fell in love with music at fifteen, and where six years later, i'd bring an entire rock band home to come crash in the basement. it's where i spent my waiting period between leaving toronto and moving to vancouver. it's been my place to go whenever my life's been in transition -- a safe little rock that doesn't change.

that kingston house is still home to me. i still accidentally slip up and call it "home" sometimes, even though i've tried to quit that habit, because toronto's been my home for so much longer. i wonder if this will finally help me kick it once and for all, because the place on the island won't be my home. and that's fair, because i'm an adult now and i have my own life. still, i'm pretty sure that, in a quiet way, i'll do a bit of mourning for the haven that i'll be losing.

but whatever, none of this should be about me in any way, i know. i congratulated my mom and fully acknowledged that i wouldn't have had any say in it anyway. it hasn't been my home since i was eighteen. plus, my mom just sounded so incredibly happy and excited at the idea of owning a home on the island, and she works hard so she deserves something nice. it's a good thing for them, and whatever, for the couple times i'm in kingston during the year, i'm sure i'll get used to being out on the island. but yeah, you know, i'm going to miss the old family home. i'm going to miss that little sanctuary.

(still love you best, though, toronto.)

[ music | zola jesus, "dangerous days" ]