Sunday, September 25, 2016

#Reverb16: Back to School

Back when you were in grade school, what were your favorite and least favorite subjects and why? Did you become what you dreamed you would be when you grew up? Or did your interests completely change?

oooof, grade school? okay, so, elementary and high school: i had no clue what i wanted to be when i grew up. literally none. i'm pretty sure i didn't even consider school a means to an end; i just figured i was there to do school and get it over with, then sort out my life by the time i got to university.

i didn't go through my grade school years with any ambition to get me anywhere in particular, although that did change around grade 12, when i fell in love with the rock bands and decided i needed to be in toronto. so then, my school goal became "get good enough grades that i'll be accepted to a toronto university and i can leave this boring dump of a small town forever". it was as good a motivation as any.

fortunately for me, i was then able to parlay my love of music with my ability to write. slight digression: it's not even egotism to say that i've been able to write since i was really, really young. i taught myself how to read when i was three years old, and ever since then i've communicated best through the written word. my teachers were a bit freaked out that i was able to write as well as i did in elementary school; it was apparently something beyond what they were used to, and that includes the fact that i was spelling at a grade 13 level when i was in grade 6. needless to say, english was clearly my favourite subject, because who doesn't love the subject that's a cakewalk for them? (least favourite subject throughout all my school years: math. i do not have a math brain. once math became optional in high school, i dropped it immediately.)

anyway, that covers the "favourite and least favourite subjects part", so back to the career thing: i went into university unsure of what areas i'd specialize in (at one point, i was double-minoring in music history and japanese studies), but in my second year, i began writing freelance music features and reviews. i was 20 years old and living in the shittiest shoebox of a basement apartment in toronto's east end, but i had found something that i really, really loved to do.

i've written before about how, while i still do music journalism here and there, i've largely turned my attention towards being a regular ol' copywriter; basically, music journalism just wasn't and could not pay the bills. so, i had to shift careers into something that would pay me well for my ability to edit and write. i'm not alone in being one of those; i've talked about it with my peers who've taken similar career paths, and i'm pretty we all try to not think of ourselves as sell-outs. one thing you learn as you get older is that sometimes, when it comes to making enough money to survive, you gotta do what you gotta do. and fortunately for me, my writing abilities allow me to do what i gotta do, even if i would have never guessed i'd be a copywriter when i grew up. (though i'm not unhappy with it! especially now that i am my own boss, har har)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

takes a lot to fly free

here we go, here we go: fall. my most blessed season. i am at my peak power.

i read a thing that brad linked to a couple weeks ago about how people can get seasonal depression in the summer, and that's me to a t. though i don't know if it's depression so much as it is the fact that being too hot and sweaty makes me irritable and angry, and now that temperatures are predicted to reach only a high of 17c(!) next week, i've got an extra spring in my step.

also, my view is gradually becoming this once again, which brings me great joy:

(i had to go back through my iphone's photo album in order to free up some room for the os 10 update, and even though i have one bazillion balcony shots that mostly look the same, i couldn't bring myself to delete any of them -- because one day, i won't live here any more, and i'm going to miss it every day for the rest of my life.)

so right now, it's feeling like the home stretch: the last few weeks before it truly turns into fall in toronto (the best season in the city), and before i go home to see family / celebrate my and my father's birthdays / eat a lot of turkey for canadian thanksgiving. i'm really pushing to keep up with stuff and get lots of work done and be on the top of my game, so that when i get to have those few days away from toronto, they'll feel even better and more relaxing. when you freelance, you have to make your own work calendar, and that includes hyping yourself up for vacations.

and also, there's this:

we've officially got all of our tickets and we're ready to roll. the mania is officially going to kick off on wednesday november 16th with the survivor series edition of wwe trivia night, then the nxt: takeover ppv taping is saturday night, the live recording of the talk is jericho (with aj styles!) podcast is sunday morning, the survivor series ppv taping is sunday night, and the raw taping is monday night. that's three straight days of wrestling tapings. like my tweet said, i may die, but i'm going to go down in a haze of wrestling merch and coffee and shot lungs from shrieking.

sure, all of this is two months away, but it'll be here before you know it. plus, that's two months to prep my liver and learn how to live on very little sleep.

anyway, big ups to all the nice feedback i got on my previous blog post about legacy, and what we try to make out of our lives. i mean, you guys know me (even if it's just through reading this blog); you know that when it comes to the big issues, i don't deal in platitudes or inspirational sayings. if i can write a blog post about deep stuff and have even one person read it and say "wow, i totally feel that way too" then i've hopefully done some good. it's a relief to know you're not the only one who feels weird about life. sometimes you just need to see someone else being transparent and authentic and saying yeah, it's me too.

but really, i feel good about myself at the moment. i'm being super active and staying in shape and/or getting back into shape (it's one or the other), i'm getting plenty of sleep, i'm being proactive about adulting (such as renewing my health card and getting clothes dry-cleaned), i've cut way back on my booze intake, i'm drinking enough water and taking my vitamins, and things are looking up. being somewhat financially stable also helps, for reals.

three things i love right now:

- tabby cat: this chrome extension makes it so that every time you open up a new tab, that tab is occupied by a random cartoon cat with a random name. every now and then, a special or rare cat pops up, and you can obtain little goodies as well (like hats or other accessories to put on the cats). some of them even vibrate with purrs when you mouse over them. i'm not even joking when i say that it makes my internet experience that much better. (space glitterbug, grand rainbow, night eater, evil macaroni, and his majesty, the emperor sparkles are early favourites)

- this delightful little piece about being a university graduate working at a grocery store, and i love it because i could have written it (i too started working as a supermarket cashier as a teen, and continued on for seven years, well into and after my university education). i know exactly those same annoyances, and i even got promoted from cashier to customer service as well. hey writer: it gets better. trust me.

- this:

give it.

[ music | fitz & the tantrums, "handclaps" ]

Thursday, August 25, 2016

the sums never add up at all

so i wanted to write something about legacy, and cachet, and what that means to me as a measure of a person.

i guess i've been thinking about it a lot ever since the tragically hip's final concert, and the deaths of david bowie, and prince, and lemmy, and alan rickman, and every other entertainer and artist we've lost in 2016. it's the knowledge that we're all here for one time only - it's not like a video game, where you make a save point and hit reset if you want to start over again - and so you've got one shot to make your life matter. it's about having ambition to be somebody that people miss when you go, and somebody who leaves a mark on the world.

it's easy to be scared that you won't be one of those people.

it's no secret that i miss my twenties a lot, and it's mostly because for me, those years were full of so much possible for the future. i could do fucking anything. i had the chance to decide where i would build my legacy, and i would do it.

but then i kind of didn't? or at least, i haven't yet. and the trouble is that i'm a few years out of my twenties already, and i still don't know where to start, and i'm haunted by the fact that it's already too late for so many paths i could have taken.

for some people, their legacy is their children. and okay, fine; that makes perfect sense. they're the thing that gives you worth -- that confirms your life is meant for something. it was never the path for me, though, and i've known that since i was a teenager. maybe your legacy is your work and your career, but it's not like i've ever had a set career path either. i've got my writing ability, sure, but as a writer, the endgame ambition is always to write a book, but i've never had the inclination, and what would i write about anyway? my years as a hard-drinking rock n' roll party girl? we all knew that girl. it's not a very original story.

for some, their legacy is their art that they create, and that's the exact reason why i've loved musicians for as long as i have. i spent my twenties touring around with rock bands, and they were some of the finest examples of people with cachet that i've ever met in my life. they were also prime examples of what sort of sacrifices it takes, over years and years, to build a legacy. so when people ask me how i can understand those lives outside of the norm as well as i do when i've never lived them myself, i just tell them that i know, because i was there. it's built a lifelong empathy into me for any artist or entertainer who sacrifices a "normal life" in order to do what they love, and that hopefully others will love, too. it's why i've always loved them -- because i've seen the toll it takes, and i was there to listen.

cachet means a lot to me. it's a weird thing to explain, i guess, but i deeply value people with ambition, and people who want to make something out of their lives. i guess maybe i've always hoped it would rub off on me a little, and maybe i could tag along until i determined what i was meant to do. but that never really amounted to much - you can't count on somebody else to save you - and now here i am at 32 years old wondering what's left that i could do for myself, so that i don't keep having the nagging worry that i've been wasting my life.

anyway. i don't mean to be a huge bummer here; my life's good, i have my health, and things are fine. and really, i know this isn't a unique dilemma to have -- i feel like a lot of us struggle with self-worth from time to time. but i get this feeling a lot as fall approaches, because that's also when i turn one year older and get one step closer to my eventual end. and ever since i turned 30, i've started feeling more and more afraid of this time of year, because i know in my heart of hearts that i haven't added up to anything, and so many doors are already closed to me.

so what do you do when you're not sure what to do with your one life, and you can't stop feeling like you're running out of time to make something out of yourself?

exeunt existential thirtysomething crisis.

[ music | brandon flowers, "can't deny my love" ]

Saturday, August 20, 2016

time to pretend

the least fun thing is when you're a person with a uterus and you get hit with pms during a super-busy work week, meaning you have to juggle tasks against a background of alternating lethargy and frantic moods, migraines, and nausea. at least i can struggle with it in the comfort of my own home, i guess.

pms kit.

so now that i'm equipped with a new laptop, i really ought to make more of an attempt to try writing somewhere other than my apartment. (it's not like my former laptop wasn't portable, but its battery was borked, so it had to remain plugged in at all times) the only problem with this ambition is that it sounds good in principle, but not quite in action.

if i want to leave my place and head out into public to work, i feel the need to get cleaned up, put some makeup on, do my hair, put some pants on (the other steps may not be a requirement but pants certainly are). after some consideration, it all feels like too much effort for maybe a few hours by myself at a cafe, especially compared to the option of not bothering with makeup (or pants) and just working from the solitary of my own home. (call it frugal if you want, but all my makeup and hair stuff costs money, and the less i have to use the better)

but man, i miss being out in the general population. and after last week, when i basically confined myself to my apartment for almost a week - because of the extreme heat, and also because i needed to get work done - i was really missing just getting out for a walk. now that everything has eased off a bit and the weather has stopped being fires-of-hell hot, i'm back to wanting to spend more time outside of my place.

that's one of the benefits of freelancing: you can work wherever you want. me, though, i'm still not completely used to working in a spot other than my own place. reluctance to put on pants aside, i don't know if i'd concentrate very well at a coffee shop or the library or anywhere other than my own apartment. and that kind of sucks -- the fact that i can't really take advantage of the "work wherever you want" scenario. i read articles about freelancers who move overseas and work from all across the globe, because they can. and i've always kind of loved the romantic notion of packing up my laptop and just travelling, going wherever i want to without having to worry about putting on the ol' out of office reply, because i can bring my office with me.

i will say, though, that having my ddp yoga dvds has definitely been a saving grace through these busy months and hot weather. it's so nice to still be able to get some exercise, even if i'm confined to my apartment. (i don't weigh myself, so i'm not sure if i've lost any weight at all, but i feel better, so that's important)

alright, i'm back to the grind. have a big smile from this new neighbourhood friend:

[ music | the bravery, "swollen summer" ]