Friday, November 13, 2015

pleasant distractions

while i have some brief time in between projects, a quick rundown of three of my current pop culture loves:

what we do in the shadows

so ever since i caught this movie on tv late at night on halloween, i've been raving about it to anyone who'll listen (as well as forcing my boyfriend to watch it with me -- i think he was mostly amused). it's exactly what it says on the tin: a mockumentary about a house of vampires in new zealand. it's weird and awkward and hilarious and has some of the best dialogue - most of it ad-libbed - that i've ever heard in a movie. if you like deadpan humour - more flight of the conchords than the office (if you'd guessed that staff involved with conchords is responsible for this as well, you'd be correct) - then this is definitely for you. i snort-laughed in delight repeatedly throughout and i've watched it three times since halloween. it really does make me miss conchords, though. what a fucking amazing show that was.

dark dance rock

holy ghost! - "bridge and tunnel"

cut copy - "hearts on fire"

grimes - "flesh without blood"

this genre is my current jam. i'm not entirely sure if there's a technical term for it (is this what "darkwave" is? i wouldn't know because i am an old), but it's a lot of weird, dark yet danceable alternative music. i love stuff that i can work out to or bop my head along with or dance around the kitchen to -- but even better if it has an edge to it. the above three artists are some of my favourites right now, and they all deal in that type of music. (though props to my friend jenna for trying to get me into cut copy for years; i just always confused them with hot chip)

taking breaks from being online

okay, this one's not exactly pop culture, but given that the notion of privacy and time away from the internet is very much a cultural thing, i figure it counts. because i've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the sharing culture on the internet, and how it's gotten to the point where in order to keep up with our social networks - to keep reminding others that we exist - we generally have to keep updating people on where we are and what we're doing. and that's cool! that's fine. i'm not begrudging anyone this, especially since holy fuck do i ever do it myself, like, all the time.

but the thing that a lot of us tend to forget, i think, is that we don't have to share everything. we absolutely have the choice to keep as much or as little of our lives as private as we want. turn off your device, log off your computer, and presto: nobody knows where you are or what you're doing. when you don't broadcast everything you're up to, your life is your own. it's like going off the grid in a very tiny way. i try to apply this point of view as inspired by my mother who, if it was up to her, would get as far the fuck off the grid as possible. she's right when she reminds me that if you just log off and go live your life away from the internet for a while, you're basically ensuring your privacy. you could be doing fucking anything and nobody would know. weird how that's pretty much a novel concept this days, eh?

given that i spend most of my days online - it is both my work and play zone - i'm also trying really hard to step away from it when i feel like i need to. aside from the fact that i think my back is slowly getting fucked by how i hunch over my laptop most days, it's good for me to get offline and go live my life when i have the breaks to do so. that is, after all, one of the very best things about being a freelancer: no office to report to every day, no boss watching eagle-eyed when you arrive and leave. i am my own boss; i make my own hours. and it rules.

anyway, no rest for the wicked etc. etc. later.

p.s. sober month update: so bored. so, so bored. i miss drinking a lot - i'm imbibing a ton of tea and soda water in its place - but at least 1) i'm feeling proud of the money i'm saving and 2) i'm way more productive in the evenings. every little bit helps when it comes to this month's workload. (also, i may take sober month right up until i go to chicago mid-december. all the drinks i'm saving now could be drunk in chicago instead!)

p.p.s. chicago trip progress update: had a night earlier this week where i lay awake and couldn't get to sleep because i was too panicked about not having enough money to cover my trip and all its expenses. (welcome to the glamourous world of freelancing!) so i got up around midnight and did up a quick budget, and i felt at least a bit reassured to have it all laid out. it should be doable; i just need to stick with my projections and i won't need to worry as much. here's hoping. i still have an entire month to go!

[ music | catherine wheel, "crank" ]

Friday, November 6, 2015

future is a time to think

it's time for knuckle-the-fuck-down november!

in the past - ie. when i had money - november would be my month of doing the no-sugar november challenge with my crossfit box, or doing a straight-up detox/cleanse (douglas laboratories' metabolic rejuvenation is still my one of choice). these days, i still like to take november to be my month of cutting back and saving up for the holiday season. since it comes right between my birthday month of october and the big holiday month of december - plus november's generally cold and boring and nobody does anything anyway - it's always been a good time for me to just take a time-out and reassess my priorities.

here's what i'm holding myself to for these 30 days of november:

1) no booze. yeah, only for a month, but it's going to be good for both my wallet and my waistline. i'm pretty far from my hyper-drunk days, but i can (and do) still put away a couple bottles of wine a week, and it's starting to add up. going a month on dry island will save me money and hopefully reduce the bloat in my face.

2) no snacks. see above re: saving money and also reducing face bloat. but i do need to start eating better; namely, less carby crunchy things and more shoving vegetables in my face. best time to do it is now, before all the holiday temptations start showing up.

3) no sephora purchases. this is a hard one for me, pathetically enough. i'm a huge sucker for sephora's promotional emails and deals, and there's pretty much always something i need. but i really, really have to save all the money i've got in order to have enough cash to cover all of december's expenses (see below), so i know it'll all pay off in the end. it's tough, though, especially when my dumb brain tries to convince me that i need a new face mask. no you don't, you idiot. you're poor. stop it.

fortunately, sean keeps me well stocked in little gifts and surprises:

but here's what's coming up in december to keep me motivated during no-fun november:

1) christmas. i'm a big nerd for christmastime. it's always so festive around the city, and people are in good moods, and i get to have a day of cheer and present-exchanging with my boyfriend. we eat nice snacks and drink mimosas and skype with our families, and it's just a nice occasion.

2) wwe house show on december 30th. as i detailed in an earlier blog post, the boy and i had an absolute fucking blast at the wrestling show back in september -- so much so that we almost immediately bought tickets for the next show, at the end of december. although unfortunately, our mutual fave seth rollins recently suffered a brutal knee injury and won't be back in time for that show (more like 6-9 months...brb crying), we're still gonna go and cheer on our other heel faves. it's going to be a rad time.

3) the big one: chicago, december 17th to the 21st, to see kill hannah's final shows. five days in my happy place. hell yes.

although i've always tried to get out to chicago at least once a year for the last 5-6 years or so, i actually haven't been since fall 2013, so i'm more than stoked for this trip. also, this is going to be the first time i get to take the all-day bus -- it leaves toronto at 8:30 AM and gets into chicago at 8 PM that same day. in the past, i've always taken the 6:30 PM bus from toronto to chicago, which means i arrive at around 5:30 AM. while this was a fun overnight adventure in my early days - though i only ever did it because i could never get time off work to take a whole day of travel, but i can do that now because i am my own boss - i remember last time i did it, in 2013, i felt like shit afterward. because i can't sleep on the bus, it generally leaves me feeling like a bag of ass the next day, and the older i've gotten, the longer it takes me to shake it off. so, in effect, basically my first day in chicago is fucked because i feel so exhausted and awful. (flying is out of the question, as for one it's way more expensive than the bus, and for two i can't deal with flying)

but this time, i'm going to sleep in my own bed, wake up, and get on the bus, and then i'll arrive in chicago that evening for (presumably) another good night's sleep. the following two nights are the kill hannah shows - one friday and one saturday, plus an early acoustic show on the friday as well - and then i'm going to spend sunday and monday hanging out with my chicago brother, shopping, and soaking up the awesomeness that is my favourite american city. i've been there in december twice before, and i know it's more or less a frozen hellscape by then, but it's really neat to be in a major american metropolis during the holiday season. all i remember is that macy's more or less barfs its christmas display all over downtown. (plus yeah, shopping -- i finally get to run amok in trader joe's, excitedly invade my favourite liquor store chain binny's, and use an american sephora gift card i've had for over year)

then late monday afternoon, bus home. i'll get back to toronto around 6:30 AM on tuesday december 22nd, and again with the no-sleep thing, but i don't mind feeling like shit when i'm home. then it's presumably back to work for a couple days til christmas, and all the other good stuff that comes with it -- except i'll be fuelled by american booze and trader joe's snacks.

anyway! the point of my november is to stay in, spend as little money as possible, and get as much work done as i can in order to make good coin for december's expenses. (i still have christmas-present shopping to consider, as well.) so if i feel grumpy and deprived of fun this month, i just have to keep reminding myself that it's for a good cause, and the fun of december will more than make up for it.

that's all for now. enjoy this photo of me wearing my friend's deer-costume antlers on halloween night.

[ music | kill hannah, "beauty in sinking ships" ]

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

home is wherever i'm with you

so i think i have to spend some time lessening my emotional attachment on my apartment.

i've written about my love for my little home of three years on several occasions - i can't dig up all the blog posts where i've mentioned it, but if you know me, you know it's true - but lately i've come to realize that i'm a little too attached to it. when i was in my twenties, i lived by the "never settle down" credo, and that extended to my idea of home. although i've had my own place before, they've always been dingy bachelor basements (with the exception of my vancouver apartment, which was little more than a large bedroom on the second floor with a tiny bathroom attached to it), and so i never really considered any of them a permanent home. in fact, i didn't want one. i wanted to be able to get up and go at a moment's notice, to be able to toss everything aside and hit the road without having to worry about missing being "home."

then i moved in here. it was my post-breakup apartment - my first solo apartment in three years - and i worked to make it my little safe place and sanctuary, somewhere i'd be happy to spend time in and come home to at the end of the work day. i got to decorate it the way i wanted to, with all my stuff where i wanted it to go, and i didn't have to worry about sharing my space with anyone. i didn't mind spending all my home time alone; in fact, i enjoyed the freedom to bake cookies at midnight or bang stuff around early in the morning or take long baths without worrying about tying up the bathroom. plus, this apartment had all the good stuff i wanted: it was quiet and well-maintained, there were no vermin or bugs, it was located in a great part of town, and it was right near the subway/grocery store/mall/pharmacy. aside from a few nitpicks - the windows are loose so they rattle like hell whenever it's windy; the elevators constantly break down; there's no air conditioning so it turns into the seventh layer of hell in the summer - i've happily stayed here since august 2012.

but lately i've been a bit worried by my attachment to what's become my favourite apartment of all the ones i've lived in. like i said in the opening paragraph, a small part of me wants to be able to live with a measure of freedom, and not be tied down to one place by any one thing. whether or not that's simply left over from my twenties or it's a definitive part of me, i'm not sure, but it makes me feel antsy to realize that i'm so attached to this apartment. what if i wanted to move somewhere else? i'm not planning on staying here forever, am i? i love this apartment so much, but i'll eventually have to let it go if i want to keep my life moving forwards -- right? (i mean, i know some people can live in the same place for decades, but i've never felt like one of those people)

anyway, i've really buried the lede here, probably for dramatic purposes, but here it is: my boyfriend and i have decided to move in together.

we've been going out for a year and a half, and i think we were both shyly circling around the idea for a while now (i don't know about him, but i've definitely gotten the "so, have you guys moved in yet?" question a lot), but it was only last week that we decided it's time. i've always sworn that i wouldn't cohabitate with a boyfriend for purely financial means; i'm happy to state that that's not the case here. although it does make financial sense, i realized i wanted us to live together because i wanted to be able to see him every day. and that's worth a lot more to me than just saving some money every month. (plus, i already spend a lot of time at his place anyway, and also he wants to get a cat but i won't get one unless we live together first)

although it's obviously my wish that he simply moves in with me, he's said that he'd prefer not to, since he thinks my place would be too small for two people (and to be fair, he's probably right -- it's a junior one-bedroom, just under 500 square feet). moreover, i'm pretty sure he likes the idea of us getting a new place together, so it can be our place. i get that. it makes sense, and i want to be able to see him every morning and every night and on every day off. but i mean...the majority of my current nightmares involve me having to move out of this place. how am i gonna react when it becomes my reality, and not something i can just wake up from?

it's silly, i know. it's silly to have separation anxiety over this apartment, because really, i just think to myself, what, did you think you were going to live here for the rest of your life? of course not. like i was saying earlier, i don't want to have such an attachment to one place, because then it hinders my drive to go other places and do other things. imagine giving up cool opportunities elsewhere because ehhh, i dunno, i just really love my apartment and i don't want to leave. (not to mention i hate the process of moving. i hate it so much. all the planning and packing and organizing just gives me stress hives.)

anyway! it's not happening immediately; it likely won't be until around march 2016, if only because we have to give our respective two months' notice and he's going to be going nuts with christmas sales all december. we won't be able to really start looking until january/february. unless i can wear him down and convince him that moving in here would truly be for the best (and we could always find a different place and move out together later, right?), then that's going to be the plan. and in the meantime, i'm going to have to start looking ahead and thinking about somewhere new, somewhere bigger and better, and most importantly, somewhere that'll have both my boyfriend and a kitten. because life is all about moving forward, and part of the fun is seeing where you end up a month, a year, ten years from now.

[ music | none ]

Friday, October 23, 2015

wrap myself around you

my leather is being retired for the first time in many years.

i got my first long leather duster for my 22nd birthday in fall 2005, a gift from my mother (who knows the power of a good leather coat), and it was probably the best timing. at 22, i was just starting to claim my identity as an edgy, slightly weird rocker chick who lived for late nights at the bars, a lot of black eyeliner, endless bottles of vodka, and the rockstar boys. i was less than a year away from graduating school forever, i was already working as a music journalist, and it felt like the world was mine. so, naturally, i needed a badass coat to go with this persona, and i'd always admired how my mom looked in her leather coats (though she usually wore short ones, since she was much shorter than me). there was just something so fucking cool about a woman wearing a lot of black leather. call it the trinity effect, i guess. (true enough, many years later i'd be in line at the supermarket in my long leather coat and black sunglasses, and i overheard some guys behind me commenting that i looked exactly like trinity from the matrix. i took it as a compliment.)

my leather went with me on tour with two separate bands - i remember it shielding me from the pennsylvania cold as i smoked outside a club in early april, and it got soaked from rain through the van's open window a few years later - and it came with me to vancouver in fall 2007, where it became a seminal part of my vancouver outfit along with a hoodie and jeans. (i'd actually left it behind in my old toronto apartment by accident on the day i moved out, and my dad and i had to turn the van around at ajax so i could go back and get it.) i used it as an impromptu blanket for post-drunk passing out on more than one occasion. i wore it over a t-shirt and panties and nothing else as i waited outside for the guy i was seeing. every fall and every early spring, the leather came out, and i felt comfortably protected and even a little bit intimidating. for a big-city girl in her early twenties, it was the best.

sadly, that first leather had to be tossed out back in december 2008. i was at the horseshoe one night, hanging around on stage after my then-boyfriend's gig, and somehow my poor old coat got caught on something and tore right up the back. it couldn't be salvaged - the back panel was hanging in pieces - so i had to say a sad goodbye to the coat that had served me so faithfully for the past three years. of course, i couldn't go that long without a reasonable facsimile, so once springtime rolled around, i went back to danier and picked up as close a replica to my old leather as i could find. once again, i felt like myself.

this continued right through my mid- to late twenties. even when i was cultivating a grown-up career as a business professional, i still swanned into the offices each morning wearing a full-length leather coat, like some weird rock star or ageing goth. i could be wearing a nice pencil skirt and blazer combo, or a cute dress and cardigan with kitten heels, but at the end of the day, the leather would go back on and i could at least feel like myself again. it was like the business-professional me was the costume, and i was cloaking myself with my old goth-punk look until i could get home and change into a band t-shirt and sweats.

to me, there was no better feel than the weight of leather on my shoulders, the swish of its length behind me as i walked, the smell of aged hide that always made me think of cigarette smoke and too many vodka sodas and nights spent in bars far away from my home. whenever i put my leather on, no matter how old i was or what my job was or what role i was currently playing, it felt like i was reclaiming an essential bit of me-ness -- the mouthy young goth punk who would never settle.

i recently read a piece on the wardrobe design of penny lane's iconic coat in the movie almost famous, and how she basically wore it as her armour against the world. that exactly sums up how i always felt about my long leather coats -- they were my armour and my identity, and every spring and fall i went back to them, because i think i still wanted to be twentysomething forever.

but this year, i don't know. it's been 10 years now. maybe it's time i grow up a bit and move on from my old look from my restless twenties. this feeling, combined with the fact that my current leather coat is starting to look pretty beat-up and worn out, led me to decide to use my "fall new coat money" to purchase not another identical leather coat, but a suede-and-faux-fur dealie instead.

like, it's pretty. it's grown-up and classy-looking (minus the fact that i'm wearing a headband studded with spikes). it's how i probably should have been dressing long before i turned 32. but it just wasn't in me to give up my poor half-destroyed leather (i wear my shoulder bag over my right side, and consequently the leather on that side of my coat is all worn away) until now, i guess. what can i say -- i absolutely fell in love with that suede coat (again with the penny lane influence: i'm a sucker for massive fur collars), and i couldn't afford to get two new coats for fall. (honestly, i couldn't afford to get any new coats for fall, myself -- i was relying on birthday money) so i had to make a choice, and i was a little surprised that i went with this instead of another leather coat. maybe i figured i needed to start looking less like a queen west goth and more like a yorkville business professional. it's weird how things change, even when you don't notice them changing.

i'm off to the gym.

[ music | silversun pickups, "three seed" ]