Friday, June 29, 2012

know that i loved you all along

so tonight i'm off to kingston to spend the long weekend with my family, and i have a lot to think about.

first off, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know the split was a long time coming. i'm sure i managed to put on a good facade of being fine and normal and happy, but really, it's been an incredibly tough last few months. (basically what this blog post was obliquely referring to.) and in the last few weeks, i finally reached the point where i realized that i can't keep dragging an essentially dead relationship behind me. i'm bored, and tired, and lonely.

essentially, nothing has changed since these three entries from when i tried to break up with him last november -- but i guess the major difference is that instead of doing this in a panicked flurry of "oh god i have to get out, get out now now now", it's more...calm, i guess. which maybe shows that i'm finally ready to do the right thing for myself.

to me, a good relationship helps you grow and evolve and become a better person. and i was just stagnant, really. i wasn't growing. i wasn't going anywhere. and this never became more evident than it did at the beginning of the summer. it's this time of year that i see how all my friends and colleagues are moving on with their lives, moving forward. and i started to feel a little cheated, a little stupid. i was getting really tired and sad of feeling jealous of all the common goals my friends were working towards in their relationships, because here i was with my boyfriend of five years, coming up on turning thirty, and my relationship didn't seem to have a future. if anything, it was holding me back.

then i saw this movie trailer on jezebel (with the accompanying commentary, "Is there anything that hurts worse than when you really, really love someone but it just doesn't work?") and dudes, i kind of lost it a little bit.

for the sake of my own maturity and self-growth, i need to go.

i've lost so much of myself in this relationship over the last five years. i need to try and get that girl back.

wish me luck.

[ music | none ]

Thursday, June 28, 2012

when you leave

things you think about as you prepare to move out (also, for me, what i've been thinking about when i've been lying awake at 4 a.m. every morning for the last three weeks):
  • moving is still the worst thing on the planet, but compounded by a breakup triples the crap factor.
  • do i still keep the dried roses he gave me for valentine's day?
  • at least i'll have a full kitchen - all the appliances, cookware and utensils in there are mine. ha ha?
  • god, i need a drink or five.
  • who am i going to talk to when i have a good day, or a bad day?
  • fuck, i don't have a bed. i don't even have a couch. where am i going to sleep for the first couple weeks?
  • my belongings amount to an entire kitchen's worth of cookware, and a bookshelf.
  • i wonder if i can somehow steal his awesome salad spinner.
  • but i love this apartment so much. can't i stay? well, no, clearly not, because i'd go bankrupt.
  • i guess the new york city trip is off.
  • who's going to be there for me? am i going to be enough to go it alone?
  • i used to think i would sleep so much better in bed by myself. turns out i'm sleeping terribly alone.
  • oh man, watching hbo alone on sunday nights? super depression land.
  • i really hope i don't start chain smoking again to deal with the stress.
  • if you need to cry at the office, do it in the stairwell.
  • i don't even think i know yet how much i'm going to miss him.
  • just keep in mind what your brother said: that he believes in you and expects great things from you. if that's not motivation, i don't know what is.
  • your life restarts soon, little girl.
  • don't fuck it up.

[ music | porcelain raft, "drifting in and out" ]

Monday, June 18, 2012

music for the masses

holy shit, i did it. i survived. personal triumph, ahoy!

(warning: this is going to be a long recap blog post. continue if you dare, or if you have time to waste.)

last week wasn't easy by any means, though. wednesday was all about getting as much done as possible to be ready for thursday/friday/saturday, and so there was a whole lot of running around and a whole lot of minor freakouts. to pick up where my last blog post left off, i successfully managed to not die during crossfit on thursday night, and dashed/limped home afterward in enough time to get changed, inhale a protein shake and get down to yonge-dundas square to review the bad religion show.

bad religion is behind these giant crappy umbrellas. i had no less than three people near me notice my notebook and request that i write about "those fucking umbrellas" in my review.

every punk show should have a taco truck.

so that was that; lots of cute tattooed punk boys and advertisements and general mania. i stumbled home before midnight, only to get up at 7 a.m. the next morning so that i could write my show review for the national post. funny how i always go overboard on the note-taking and giving myself plenty of time to write the review, and it only ever takes me like fifteen minutes to bang it out off the top of my head.

truth-telling time: i haven't written any live reviews since cmj in october 2010. it's been over a year and a half since i've had to do a writeup on a show for intended publication, and i was actually a little nervous. to me, music criticism is like a muscle, and mine is a bit flabby right now -- especially compared to back in the day when i pumped out live reviews and cd reviews like mad, all while digesting as many music publications and blogs as i could. thankfully, i fell back into the cycle pretty easily, and i got some good feedback and compliments on the bad religion piece. heartened by this, i headed downtown to the hyatt regency to attend friday's conference portion of the event.

by my count, this was my fourth nxne -- i've missed a few years here and there, but all in all, i've been attending this conference since i was 21. in the early days of my wannabe career, it was one of the highlights of my year. for three days, i'd take time off work so i could hang around a hotel with a laminate media pass around my neck and a notebook in my bag. for those three days, i actually got to be who i wanted to be when i grew up.

i haven't had so much excuse to attend in the last few years since for one, i'm already neck-deep in my current career (which is not music journalism), and for two, i haven't had the credentials or a hookup for a media pass. thankfully, the pass i got through the post also allowed me to take in the conference, and so i took a day off work to hit up some panels (although i took notes the entire time so i could later make a presentation on my experience to my colleagues, just to prove that i didn't take a day to fuck off and do nothing).

the first panel i attended, on employee engagement in corporate culture. pretty interesting, especially since my current employer already does a damn fine job at keeping us engaged (and with a good culture no less). still, it was good to hear some things confirmed, and also to hear about corp culture from other peoples' point of view.

second panel, on social music marketing and brands (which i was a bit late for since i was running back from a delicious lunch at c'est what -- blatant plug for having both the best salad in the city and bottles of dieu du ciel! beer). room was packed for a solid conversation about what to consider when aligning your brand with a band.

miscellaneous snaps i took inside the conference:

table full of handbills that clearly nobody was picking up

vendor alleyway

acoustic performance stage

and then i had to rush home (yes, last week involved a lot of running around - i only cheated and took a cab once, subway twice) for a power nap (note: i am the worst at naps) before hauling my ass back up and out to get to the mod club theatre for my second night of reviewing. (little italy was also having its annual street festival, which basically gave me rage shakes as i attempted to get to the club in a timely manner, which meant all but bodychecking people out of the way.)

i'd requested to review die mannequin that night, since i've both reviewed and interviewed (twice!) them in the past, but like, way in the past. i hadn't seen them play live in five years, so i was interested to see how they'd evolved, and if they were still as punishingly loud as ever. spoiler alert: yes. (i had a nice girl contact me on twitter after that review went up to politely suggest i start bringing earplugs. bah, earplugs!) also, dearly beloved opened, and they were another band that i loved/hadn't seen in years and years/was curious about. fortunately, they didn't disappoint either, and i'm pretty glad to have been able to give them some good press. much deserved.

dearly beloved rock out!  i have a dumb goofy crush on the frontman, which makes dean laugh and roll his eyes since they know each other. me: "can you tell him that your girlfriend has a crush on him?" dean: "uh, no."

die mannequin, lights off...

lights on! huge crowd, too. always nice to see a band's fanbase out in full force during a nxne showcase.

then it was 10 p.m., and i needed something to do in between the end of die mannequin's set and darlings of chelsea at midnight at the bovine. a quick check of the nxne guide showed that dearly beloved were playing a second show at velvet underground at 11 -- serendipity, my friends. so that filled the timeslot nicely, and afterward, i was able to simply walk down the street to the bovine for midnight. i love it when a plan comes together.

...especially when a plan includes bonus friend penny, who wanted to share a cigarette (and a kiss) with this random statue. i think it was supposed to be jack daniels.

darlings of chelsea! whom i couldn't review since they are friends of mine! oh well, it was still a great time.

home at 1:30 a.m. merciful sleep. up at 7 a.m. the next morning, repeat writing process, review sent in by noon deadline. i even managed to have time to go to my regular saturday-morning spin class, even though my fatigued body was cursing me at that point.

two notable things i forgot about nxne:

1) wear comfortable shoes, because you'll be standing a lot and platform-heeled wedges are clearly not made for this purpose. the blisters on my feet right now are grotesque.

2) the first night is fun, the second night is alright, and the third night is a slog.

maybe it was the two late nights/early wakeups in a row or maybe it was that punishing spin class, but blech. there was really nothing else i wanted to do on saturday night other than to stay in and sleep, but that wasn't an option since i had one more night of reviewing to do, plus the boy's band was playing a record store in the early evening. another afternoon nap, more caffeine, and i was off.

this is the boy's newest venture, noisenik trio das rad. they may look pretty tame in this photo, but they were actually busy annihilating the tiny store in a massive wall of sound.

the other highlight of my night was watching this guy rap in his underwear.

and here's a terrifying reminder that peter frampton is "in you".

once this was done, i waded back through the sheer crowds of people acting like cattle along college street for the taste of little italy festival, then stopped in for drinks and catch-up times with allegra and her friends before heading on down to the rivoli for my final assignment. (note to self: if you're exhausted, don't go to the rivoli with its sleepy lighting to watch an acoustic sheryl crow wannabe open for your assigned act. serious yawns are serious.) my last act of the night was holly mcnarland, whom i adored when i was a young thing with a chip on my shoulder about asshole guys. she was basically like the hard-rock version of alanis morissette. now, though, she's reinvented herself as a more softer country-style songstress, which made me a little sad because i really wanted to hear "elmo" and "numb." still got a great voice though, and hopefully that came through in my review. the fatigue was seeping in at that point, for sure.

home. blissful sleep.

i felt bad about skipping sunday-morning gym time yesterday, but it enabled me to be mad productive the entire day: i wrote my final review, went grocery shopping, made a massive salad, prepped and cooked a frittata for my work lunches this week, cooked and processed a half-batch of raspberry cocoa jam (yes, i gave in to my internal pressure), showered, did two loads of laundry, finished my two-week limoncello, cleaned the dishes, grated a block of cheese, made myself dinner, packed my bags for work the next day, and had enough time to watch both true blood and girls at the end of the night. (i hate the fact that you have to buy the movie network package in order to get hbo, but i wouldn't trade hbo for anything.)

and then this morning, i managed to empty my inbox, dig myself out from under a pile of backlogged work, and did a mini-presentation about my nxne experience for my team. bam. crazy week of craziness = owned.

i feel like i'm probably going to hit the wall eventually. i just don't know when. eeeep.

so until that happens, it's back to business as usual -- working hard towards not this weekend but next, which is a holiday weekend where i get to go back to kingston to see my family for the first time since christmas. whew.

[ music | graffiti6, "annie you save me" ]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

the perfect drug

the dilemma: what do you do when your hobbies are slightly unhealthy ones?

to be clear, what i'm referring to isn't stuff like smoking crack or engaging in unprotected sex with strangers -- my hobbies are much tamer than that, but they all revolve around something i'm actively trying to avoid: the intake of refined sugar. dangerous, huh? (though ironically enough, it actually is.)

see, last summer i got stuck on making my own jam and preserves, and now i want to do it again. i caught the canning bug and i feel powerless to stop it. the only problem is that said jams and preserves are high in sugar, and since i process the jars using the boiling-water technique, i can't cut the sugar down without risking 1) fucking the recipe up and 2) potentially causing botulism or something else that might kill me later. so although it makes me happier than anything to indulge my jam-making hobby, the end result is me with a dozen jars of jam on my hands and feeling guilt over having all this sugar to consume.

is it dumb to guilt-trip yourself over the hobbies that make you happy? probably.

one solution - one which i employ frequently when i go on baking rampages and don't want an entire batch of cookies sitting around my apartment - is to give away my goods, but that's hard for me, because i'm inherently selfish and greedy. if i'm spending time and effort and money on making something, i want to keep it/enjoy it myself. this is the only option when 1) your family lives three hours away and 2) your boyfriend does not like sweet things.

i guess i could try branching out and making pickles instead (god knows that would make the boy happy), or maybe salsas and such, but it just doesn't feel as satisfying to me -- like when i cook a meal rather than bake dessert. in particular, there are two jam recipes - raspberry-cocoa jam and vanilla peach bourbon jam - that are two of my favourite things, and although i know i shouldn't, i'm basically counting down the weeks until peaches and raspberries are in season so i can make batches of both. also, i ended up pulling out my loved copy of put 'em up!, and now i'm probably going to be making a quarter-batch of chocolate-cherry sauce tonight. oy.

still, didn't stop me from picking this up in my first (long-overdue) trip to byob:

...because my home projects can never stray far from the kitchen, apparently.

it's a nice little book, though rather ambitious in scope, especially since many of the ingredients are liquor not available in canada (damn it!). it also makes me halfheartedly curse for wanting things like a $40 bottle of cherry heering and random booze like lillet blanc and creme de violette. at least i was inspired enough to get two booze infusions going -- a small batch of limoncello and a jar of organic strawberry vodka. now that i've finally procured a bottle of cointreau, the limoncello is destined to be included in a sparkling sangria recipe from edible cocktails, while the strawberry vodka will probably just be drunk over ice.

in the meantime, i'm going to try and offset this dietary badness by keeping up with my cardio + crossfit combo (though i know exercise doesn't excuse poor diet), and indulge in one of my other, older hobbies starting tonight: providing rock journalism & criticism at nxne!

(to absolve the national post, i will add the disclaimer that i'm simply a freelance contributor for this thing, not an employee. though that's still enough to make my parents super-proud.)

with that said, i'm off to go review bad religion. it's just like the good old days.

[ music | bad religion, "los angeles is burning" ]

Monday, June 11, 2012

knuckle down

so it's looking like this week will require me to reach back into the inexhaustible pool of energy from my early twenties in order to 1) stay motivated and 2) survive.

there is a whole lot going on. like, a whole lot. i mentioned before that there is a lot i want to knuckle down and accomplish this month, and this week kicks it all into high gear. for starters:

1) finish work goals. again, i'll be vague simply because work talk = no-no here, but i have a whole bunch of things i need to complete, like, now in order to have achieved my review goals for this year. additionally, i have to work on both evaluations of myself and of some of my chosen colleagues -- not an easy feat when you're a terrible critic of both yourself (too harsh) and others (too vague). review time has always been my least favourite time of year in any job, mostly because i constantly have an irrational fear that i'll be exposed for being awful at what i do. this is never the case nor the reality, but my dumb brain still gets all prickly and paranoid anyway.

also, i'm doing some ghostwriting for the corporate blog, which is hilarious given that i barely have time to write in this blog. but oh well, review goals.

2) i start actual, genuine crossfit classes this week. i know, i said last time that i was done with the on-ramp training, but i was wrong -- there was actually a week to go. but now, i'm going to be doing the real thing twice a week (starting this week, which is probably crazy given how busy it is already, but oh well). we did a run-through of what a real crossfit session would be like last thursday, and i ended up landing the highest number of reps in the entire class, so that gave me a huge confidence boost. still, that was against other newbies like myself -- tomorrow night's class is going to be with regular crossfitters. so, sure, there's going to be leeway given to me since i'm new, but i get super-competitive in physical workout situations. i hate coming in last place. while means i'm probably going to grind myself down into nothing just to keep up tomorrow night, ouch.

also, as i mentioned, this is sort of a crazy week to start classes, since i'm basically going to be running to the gym (which is a 45-minute walk away) from the nxne conference during the day and running back so i can cover nxne shows at night. because i refuse to take public transit. because i'm an idiot. oh, well.

3) i'm covering nxne this thursday through saturday -- both conference and festival-side. my shows to review on thursday and friday night won't run super-late, thankfully, but i've got a midnight showcase to review on saturday, and all my reviews are due by noon the following day, and i want to attend the conference portion as well so i can report back to my colleagues about what i learned... so, while i may have a short work week (i'm off on thursday afternoon and all day friday so i can attend the conference), it's not really going to be a lazy time whatsoever. (also, there's the aforementioned running to-and-from crossfit on thursday night.) i don't really consider it to be a proper day off if i still have to set my alarm for 7 a.m.

in short, this is basically a rollercoaster week -- i relax tonight, work my ass off tomorrow, relax wednesday, work my ass off thursday through sunday afternoon. then it's crazy busy with work on monday, crossfit again on tuesday, and so it goes.

all the same, i'm not so arsed about it because for the most part, this is stuff i want to do -- or else i wouldn't be killing myself this week to make everything work. sure, i could cross off some of those activities to give myself more free time/sanity, but that's not what i want. i want to go to two crossfit classes (and regular gym sessions on wednesday night and saturday morning). i want to go to the conference portion of nxne. and most of all, i want that sense of satisfaction when i finish off my to-do list at this time next week, and can at least relax a little bit through to the end of the month.

then, july? my reward month. so much travel, so many people to see, so much booze to drink.

but for now, fingers crossed that i survive the coming seven days and hit all my targets to boot.  this'll be a trip.

[ music | stanley cup finals game #6, go kings go ]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

the superficial

need to take a moment first to show off my absolute favourite photo of my boyfriend:

actually my real boyfriend! not a fantasy boyfriend! (he obviously doesn't dress like this for every gig; this was him playing in a pretend 70's glam-rock band) he is basically the best.

anyway, i've recently been reminded that the internet produces wonderful results, and not just photos of boyfriends wearing funny hats. like most savvy/lazy people, i've latched on to social media as a method of crowdsourcing opinions and recommendations, and not only have i gotten great feedback, but i've also been reminded how many smart and helpful people i know. for example, i was wondering yesterday about whether or not it'd be safe (and worthwhile) to try and bring back beer on the plane next month. i asked twitter, and bam - four solid replies, complete with advice and tips.

another good recent example -- i've been having serious issues with my complexion, and so i asked my facebook acquaintances if anyone had any tips or product recommendations. within a few hours, i had a bunch of replies and messages, even from people i haven't talked to in years. (this thing is now on its way to me.) i'm pretty sure there's been studies done before about how people like to be knowledgeable on the internet and how that translates into being eager to help, but maybe that's just a human trait in general. i don't really like asking for help, but like i said, i'm finding that through social media, i'm getting a lot better - and even enthusiastic - about crowdsourcing opinions. i figure every little bit helps when it comes to making the online world less solipsistic.

oh, yeah. my skin. this has been a problem that plagued me all the way back to my teenage years, when i had the typical problematic skin of any post-pubescent. i've always had pretty oily skin (though coworker alison made me feel better by pointing out that oily skin means less wrinkles), and i can usually ignore it, but lately my complexion has been what can be best described as "pizza-face". literally, i woke up a few days ago to find an expanse of breakouts across my cheeks, nose and forehead.

and it was here i started to get mad.

adult acne is most definitely a thing, and i've read about it before (mostly in those dumb womens' magazines), but i never thought i actually fell into that category. a few zits, sure -- that's normal, right? well, the breakouts i've been having definitely aren't. (neither is the one recurring patch of awful zits i have on the right side of my neck -- it's been going on for a year and i just don't understand)

the thing is, i know for 99.9% certainty that it's hormonal. i've never had as great skin as i did for the six years when i was on the pill; it totally cleared up all my shitty teenage skin terror. but i went off the pill completely almost three years ago, and i've been struggling with my complexion ever since. so that's my number one indicator that this is something that comes from the inside, not the outside. (also, i swear i am very diligent about keeping my face clean, removing all makeup, using cleansers/face masks/toners/scrubs, etc.) it's been a pretty frustrating ride, to say the least.

the obvious solution would be to go to my doctor and get a referral to a dermatologist, but i'm sort of reticent to go that route. part of the reason i went off the pill was because i don't like taking daily medication; i'm not a huge fan of putting pharmaceutical stuff in my body on a regular basis, and i feel like the easiest/immediate solution will be oral medication of some form. i know there's probably topical treatments as well, which i would definitely prefer, so i guess it's just a matter of me 1) admitting the problem and 2) actually finding the time to get an appointment in. in the meantime, i continue to stubbornly convince myself that i can fix it myself -- hence the crowdsourcing of product recommendations.

again -- i don't get a whole lot of feedback on this blog (at least, nowhere near as much as facebook/twitter), but if you want to chime in with any solutions or things that have worked for you, please do! i am open to many things, so long as they don't involve me forking out crazy amounts of money for something that might not work. nothing makes me more angry than the concept of caveat emptor.

[ music | sleigh bells, "treats" ]