Friday, August 23, 2013

breakdown girl

as i mentioned in my last life recap blog post a couple weeks back, i took edward keenan's writing is a business crash course earlier this month, spending the entire day with about 25 other people learning the ins and outs of how to go about monetizing one's writing skills. it was definitely worth it -- i don't have any formal journalism training or experience running a business, so it filled in a lot of gaps in my brain. (it also made my author/researcher/journalist father happy to know that his little girl, brought up to be a writer since early childhood, is actually putting effort into personal learning.)

the part i really paid attention to pertained to using your blog as a source of profit. when you're not a focused niche blogger - like a mommyblogger, or a food blogger, or a sports blogger, etc. - then for one, it's difficult to utilize your blog as a source of income (unless you're really up on the adwords and sponsored posts), and for two, you sort of have to identify exactly what it is that keeps people coming back to read. i guess i've always just stumbled along and figured that my modus operandi would develop by itself in time; i still stick to my claim that i pretty much write this stupid thing for me, as a way to digitally record my own personal history, and if other people want to come along for the ride, hey, cool beans.

but for me, in a broader scope - and discounting real-life friends/family who simply want to keep up on what i'm doing - it seems that i appeal to strangers on the basis of emotional angst.

no, really, blog posts where i'm angst-ridden and heartbroken get wayyyyyy more hits than any others. i've learned to exploit this (ha ha) depending on what i title blog posts; for example, anything that alludes to heartbreak gets crazy traffic. even just the word "heart" in a blog post title gets tons of clicks. i...suppose if i had a love life it would be interesting, but even when i did, i remember consciously trying to cut back on the goopy crap in here. sure, i indulged my lovestruck side in some blog posts here and there (even now that it's over and done with, i still don't regret writing any of it), but i didn't want to pile on the schmaltz. looking over it, though, it appears that it's more the sad emo blog posts that get the traffic rather than the proclamations of dumb youthful loooooove.

so. why do i attract more flies with vinegar than honey, as it were? i've got three theories on that:

1) people relate to sadness better than happiness.

i kind of find this analogous with how people dig sad music more than happy songs. of course, both instances probably rely on the individual's frame of mind - i'm sure there are tons of people who like uplifting music instead of dirges - but we tend to attract likeminded sorts, and my people are the kind who prefer the drama and the darker edges. one of the things i hear a lot from my blog readership is that they can relate to the things i write, and that's generally the introspective melancholy stuff -- also, it's one of the nicest things for me to hear from readers. people empathizing with my ennui is pretty cool, and it means none of us have to feel totally alone.

2) social media's already too full of rainbows and sunshine and "look at how awesome my life is!"

i've said it before, i think, but i don't really believe in putting a layer of pretty gloss on things -- at least, not as far as my blog is concerned. this is my space to say what i feel, and i'm not going to lie and tell you all that things are fine and lovely when they're not. (though i do avoid things -- i don't lie, but i can be very selective in my truths.) authenticity is an important thing to me, and i'd rather be upfront and honest. again, to the point i made above -- writing about rainbows and sunshine is kind of, well, boring. all the complex stuff - that is, the stuff that's fun for me to dig in and write about - is not so cheerful, and i think that's fine. it's all catharsis.

but i digress. there's been a bunch of analysis articles/very serious thinkpieces about how social media ends up making us feel shittier about our own lives because we're constantly comparing ourselves to others, and when everyone else is only broadcasting the best details, it's easy to feel like you can't stack up. so i guess your solution is to come read my blog, where i put all the crap out there, good and bad. my life is super awesome in a bunch of ways, yeah, but i like to present a well-balanced look at what life is like for a twentysomething supposed former band groupie living in the big city and navigating the complexities of the real world. y'know?

3) schadenfreude.

maybe there's some of you who read because you get secretly gleeful when i fuck up my life. eh, okay, whatever. at least i've got your attention.

or maybe you all just hang around because you want to see photos of me in my underwear.

i dunno, you do you, i guess. (just as i will keep wearing boy briefs and my depeche mode t-shirt that's falling apart and getting somewhat ill-advised tattoos on my stomach.)

as for the good stuff, i'm gonna be pushing my introvert boundaries for the next couple weeks: riot fest this weekend, maybe the loveless opening party tomorrow night, a coworker's birthday party next friday, an old high school friend's house party next saturday, the cne and depeche mode next sunday, and possibly a beach trip labour day monday. let's see if i don't die and/or abandon all plans to go curl up in the fetal position in my apartment instead.

that's it for now.

[ music | m83, "midnight city" ]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

be all that you envy

we're now in late summer, headed towards early fall, which means i get in my usual nostalgic mood.

when i was growing up, i watched muchmusic. a lot of us did, then -- it was the mid/late-90's, and there were still music videos being aired on tv, and for a teen in kingston, ontario, it was the main source of exposure to good music. (otherwise, i had to rely on 103.1 the river out of brockville, and tapes of 102.1 the edge that my best friend recorded for me when she stayed with family in ajax.) what i can really remember is how, in the background of all the interviews and performances, you could see a starbucks across the street. and the very first time i saw that starbucks myself, in person, i felt my brain melt a little bit. it wasn't just tv land. it was real. i was here, and i had fucking arrived.

five years earlier was a pinnacle year. it was 1997, i was 13 going on 14 - a legit teenager at last - and i had just moved to the "big city" of kingston with my now-blended family. i began high school that year. i started watching muchmusic and actually getting into rock music for the first time in my life. and at the same time, far away in the big city of toronto, boys in bands were making seminal albums, and many of these men would later become my friends, brothers, lovers and confidantes -- the men whom i have loved with a fierce protectiveness for so many years now.

but in the late nineties, i was still just a dumb gawky teenager stuck in a small town, finding solace in discovering a love of music.

once i found a song i loved, i'd listen to it endlessly, on repeat during bus rides to school or the walks to my part-time supermarket job. i'd even listen to my discman during commercial breaks when watching tv. it was aural gorging on this music that spoke to me and for me, and i couldn't get enough. it meant everything to me and, as it would many times in my future, it saved my fucking life.

in retrospect, though, it still blows my mind to look back and realize all i didn't know would happen in 16 years' time. and sometimes when the two worlds cross in my current day, it just fucking throws me. because i can't always compute the fact that the world of my dreams when i was 13 was actually a reality, happening in a city far away. and i now know people who lived it, who were a part of it. they were the vanguards to what i consider an important part of my history, and they made art that could live forever with the right support, in the right hands.

and i realize that there's so much more i need, now.

you got what you wanted. why are you asking for more? it's your own goddamn fault you didn't include caveats.

there are parts of me that aren't right. i'm aware of this, just as i'm aware of my reticence to change them. this is who i am, and i stubbornly refuse to fix myself, even when i'm vaguely aware that these parts are doing much more harm than good. so i go through my days being okay with them -- but sometimes, on the longer, emptier nights, i worry how much it's actually hurting me, and what sort of effect this is having on me in the long term. you can be proud of your flaws, but using them to define yourself isn't usually the best way to go.

(and bizarrely, one thought out of nowhere, as i walked home from the gym in the morning: i tied it too tightly.)

but then sometimes i step back and take a look at myself and my life right now.

i'm almost thirty, and i've got tattoos everywhere and heavy black eyeliner on constantly and i've had holes punched in my nose and tongue and labret. i've got a good job and great friends and a cozy little west-end apartment all to myself. i've had a string of relationships with very attractive and very talented musicians. i think i've turned out decently attractive myself, more or less. i live in motherfucking toronto, the place that used to only exist to me on tv, and i can walk by that goddamn starbucks every day if i want to. i have so many stories to tell, of the bands, and the boys in the bands, and me.

and i realize that who i am now is all i'd ever wanted to be.

pull out the fear of silence
and put out the need for guidance
and put out your own devices
and don't be afraid of the cold

you've got nowhere to go but here

[ music | our lady peace, "is anybody home?" ]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the social dilemma

you ever read an article in print or online and suddenly be hit with the realization that "oh shit, that's me"? that's exactly how i felt when i read ubiquitous time-waster buzzfeed's list of 27 problems only introverts will understand. oh shit, that's meeeeeee!

i wasn't really expecting that.

photo taken within the confines of my single-girl apartment, aka my happy place.

i used to be an introvert, but not really by choice. i wasn't super popular when i was a kid - in fact, i was kind of on the opposite spectrum of popular - and so one's typical reaction to constant bullying and teasing is to retreat and not put oneself out there. i remained firmly in the introvert camp until high school, when i left all those brats behind and actually made friends of my own. then i finally felt safe enough to let my inner freak flag fly, knowing i would be accepted for the wacky random scatterbrain i was before i buried all of that under threat of mockery and being spat on (which happened).

being more social was also key to living in toronto in my early twenties. i loved being part of a scene, and that necessitated, um, taking part in said scene. it was never a struggle for me to want to go out, hit the bars, see shows, have fun with people. but something changed after i graduated university and moved out to the east end of town; all of a sudden, it felt like a tiring hassle to trek all the way downtown and back if i wanted to party it up. this might have had something to do with the fact that i began juggling two part-time joe jobs as well as my music writing, but either way, it suddenly became much more appealing to spend my evenings lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. (i did this a lot.)

this became something of an existential crisis to my 23-year-old self. i couldn't figure out what had changed with me. i wasn't sure if i was okay with it, but i wasn't motivated to fight it. dilemma of the highest order, for sure.

i couldn't force myself to go out after i moved to vancouver, either. i mean, sure, the environment wasn't exactly conducive to a raging social life - i didn't have many friends there; the nightlife was sparse; i typically had to get up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work at the cafe - but i was just so unmotivated to be social with anyone aside from already-established pals. and then that becomes a self-perpetuating cycle -- if you don't go out, you never meet anybody new, etc., etc. again, i wasn't sure whether or not i should feel ashamed or worried about this shift in attitude.

when i went back to toronto, i didn't bother thinking on this much further, because i was in a relationship and it worked for me. it was insular, it was exclusive, and it consisted solely of the company i preferred (mine + the man i loved). he gave me just enough company when i needed it -- and damn, did i ever need it. i may have been introverted and weird about people, but for some reason, that didn't apply as far as my then-boyfriend was concerned (i guess you call that love?). i couldn't get enough of his presence. he, unfortunately, never quite felt the same way about me - he loved his space - and this became a continual sticking point. it's kind of a hard thing not to take personally.

as our relationship progressed over the years, he and i didn't go out much together, aside from a few shows or a movie or the bar. i actually found myself relieved at the fact that i didn't have to force myself to go out anymore, and moreover, i didn't even feel bad about it -- because whatever, i had my boyfriend, i totally had company. i wasn't an antisocial shut-in recluse, right? everything was cool, yo.

insert record screech here. you all know the story by now.

so, as a single girl, did i throw myself back out there in an effort to meet new people and keep myself occupied? ha ha, no. remember how i mentioned the whole "giving myself time to indulge in unhealthy habits if it helps me cope" thing? for me, that included becoming an antisocial shut-in recluse as well. my justification: dudes, i'm dealing with the aftermath of a breakup, i'm battling off low-level depression, so of course i don't feel like going out much. of course i would rather sit alone in my apartment and drink all the vodka and smoke all the cigarettes. but don't feel sorry for me or anything -- this was my choice. while plumbing the depths of my soul and trying to figure my shit out, the only company i wanted was my own.

when i mentioned this to my father, he just laughed and said, "you've always liked your space. the only people you want around you are the people you choose to have around." and this is true, in an oblique sort of way. i don't like forcing myself to spend time with people that i don't care about. it feels like a waste of time. that sounds sort of robotic and/or sociopathic, i guess, but when you're an introvert, you only have a limited amount of energy for socializing, and i'd rather spend mine on people i want to see. such as it was with the then-boyfriend back in the day.

here's the weird thing, though: i may be introverted, but i'm not antisocial. looking at that list, i see a lot of things that definitely pertain to me as of the last 6-7 years (even more so over the last twelve months): needing to recharge after socializing too long; spending time alone feeling good but being melancholy that you're missing out on hanging with friends; getting stressed out by having too many social obligations and not enough alone time; being excited to go out, but then losing interest in the idea. all that stuff happens to me regularly, and it only kind of freaks me out because i never used to feel that way at all.

but hey -- i can be okay with groups. i'm not a failure at parties or social gatherings. i don't get sweaty palms when faced with hanging out with strangers. i just usually can't be bothered to motivate myself to go. if i'm there, i can work it -- if i actually get there, that is.

in that way, it can feel like a struggle sometimes. occasionally, i have to remind myself that there's payoff and rewards in going out and being social; not tangible things, obviously, but self-satisfaction that this is good for me. i treasure my friends, and i want to be there for them, and i want them to know that i'm still around. and i'm thankful that i have friends who (i think) get me and (i hope) can forgive my absences and understand that it's nothing personal. it's just me.

but i'm trying, and i keep trying in small ways that are manageable to me. such as going to concerts:

or out to beerfest events:

and so on, and so forth.

anyway. i hope this blog post hasn't completely discouraged any of you from inviting me out to do things. i do do things. i do! i just tend to be selective, and sometimes i'll get flaky and bail on plans because i know i'll just spend the entire time wishing i was home on my couch. (also, please note that sometimes i bail based on my financial situation at the moment.) but i do try to stay committed for important things like birthday parties and/or celebratory parties of any kind (because that shit matters), or if a friend's having a hard time and needs some emotional support. or booze. you know, either/or.

in conclusion: thank you for putting up with my weirdness, i love you.

[ music | cold war kids, "louder than ever" ]

Monday, August 12, 2013

butt out

so i decided on saturday that i'm going to quit smoking.

i love smoking. this is going to suck.

goodbye, old friend.

i've always had bad lungs, and i've always been aware of this fact. when i was three, my grandfather died of lung cancer, probably not aided by the amount he smoked. my grandmother quit right away, and my father's abhorred cigarettes his entire life. (suffice it to say, he would probably remove me from the will if he knew i was smoking. he might already know, but i'm just quietly hoping he doesn't. i'm not too worried about putting this out there because he's not at all versed in the ways of the intertubes, god love him.) so, with the threat of a disappointed father over my daddy's-girl head - and the knowledge that i was basically pre-asthmatic as it was - i didn't consider the stuff when i was a teenager. oh, innocent times.

i had my first cigarette at a concert just after i turned twenty. it seemed like a typical thing to do; all of my concert-going posse friends at the time were smokers, and one of them offered to show me how to smoke. which, again, also seems so typical; like an after-school special about peer pressure. but at the time, i was very eh, why not about the smaller, more socially-acceptable vices (having not touched alcohol until my eighteenth year, i was already flooding my system with as much booze as possible), so i accepted my friend's teachings and began on the path to being a social smoker.

and i was a social smoker, in every sense of the phrase. for the first few years, i only ever lit up at bars and clubs with my friends -- mostly because i was a poor-ass student and could only bum smokes off of others. but even when i had enough cash to buy myself a pack, it would last me a few weeks - sometimes even a month - because i barely smoked. i didn't like doing it when i was alone, and would usually get bored and/or gross-feeling about halfway through. i smoked maybe 3-4 cigarettes a week in those days, and usually all on saturday nights when i'd hang out in the back room at the bovine sex club with my friends, sitting up on those high benches and throwing back endless vodka tonics.

then the stressful times hit.

it was because of boys, mostly. work, sometimes - smoke breaks were easy and convenient and good for socializing - but i would only really chain-smoke my ass off if i were in the presence of a boy who'd cracked my heart up. for instance, i was at the bovine one night when a very recent ex's band was playing, and i think i practically lit one cigarette off of the next -- for a few hours. i was so rattled that i needed something to calm my nerves, and nicotine can do that. in the next few years, it kept on doing that for me. it gave me something to cling to when it felt like my world was crumbling around me.

still -- i never got really bad. one pack continued to last me about two weeks. a lot of the guys i dated were smokers, so that made my habit easy. the boy was a prime example of this -- he was a heavy smoker who would routinely go through half a pack a day. it, too, was a good bonding thing when we first started, along with the drinking. but then, a couple years into the relationship (and at least a couple pronouncements from him that he would quit "soon"), i just...decided to stop. partly because i hoped he would be inspired to quit too - he really did smoke far more than me, even at that point, and he was also quite a bit older than me - but also because i just wasn't feeling it anymore, you know? it started to feel kind of dumb to me. i wasn't enjoying it any longer. plus, it cost too much (i smoked belmont milds, which ran about $10 a pack, though i had a desperate love for america-only parliament lights), it made me feel gross, and it was impeding my physical stamina at the gym. i was on a bit of a self-health kick in 2009-2010, and it seemed like a logical step for me to quit smoking. (i'm a bit of a hypochondriac as well, and i didn't like lying awake at night being convinced that tumours were breeding in my lungs.)

so, that held for a while. and then i left my boyfriend.

here's the thing: if you know me, it's no secret that i had a lot of shit to deal with over the last twelve months. and so early on, i gave myself permission to do whatever it took to help me cope (within reason, obviously; heavy pharmaceuticals were never on the table). then, i promised myself that once i was out of the woods and ready to be okay, i would re-focus on my health and returning to "normal."

as such, there was a period of time when i was propping myself up on booze and caffeine and nicotine and little else. i drank too much vodka, poured as much coffee down my throat as i could take, didn't sleep much, didn't eat much, exercised too much, and yes, smoked a lot. then things got worse, and i did all of those things in triplicate. i also started bingeing on sugar because sugar makes you feel good, at least briefly. and that, i think, sums up a lot of the little vices i allowed myself to indulge in: they made me feel good for a while, but then that good feeling would fade and i would still be left with a hole in myself that nothing could fill. (it hasn't yet faded, but it's better these days.)

over the last year, i would have maybe 2-3 cigarettes a day -- usually one in the morning with a coffee on the way to work, one after i left the office for the day, and one in the evening on my balcony. it brought things into focus for me, somehow. it settled me. it tapped into a side of me that i wanted to hang on to. it reminded me of fun times at bars, moments out on the road on tour, nights spent out on my balcony in my underwear, tipsy and laughing under the stars.

plus, it was always a good excuse for something to do when you were hanging around by yourself outside of a bar. it was also a good excuse to get somebody alone, or for somebody to get you alone. alternatively, i liked being part of the cabal, and i liked the camaraderie of puffing away with your friends or family members. moreover - and this is the shamefully ridiculous part, so spare me the sermon - i liked having it be part of my image, you know? i mean, come on -- a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking rocker chick ought to also be a smoker, right? i actually do buy into the dumb idea that a woman smoking can look sexy and badass and dangerous. i wanted that look. so seriously, guys, i know it's gross but i'm actually bummed out that i can't keep on smoking. i really did fucking enjoy that nasty little habit of mine.

so yeah, just know that if you send me congratulations or say you're proud of me or tell me it's going to be worth it, i will probably make a :((((( face at you, because to me, it's like i've just ended a part of my identity. i know that sounds nonsensical and disgusting, but that's how it feels to me. (similarly, when i was forced to remove the labret stud in my face back in 2006 because it was fucking up my gums, i cried for an hour. that was me! that was my image!)

but it's been a year now of regular smoking for me, and almost fatefully, i've been getting sick. a lot. after the girls' cottage weekend - in which i think i blew through an entire pack in two days, which is still a lot for me - i ended up with a cold that took almost three weeks to fade. however, the chest congestion didn't. even now, i'm still coughing lightly, and my throat feels raw, and my lungs ache. this is only after one year of consistently smoking. like i said earlier: bad lungs. i've never been so conscious of the fact that i only have one pair of lungs, and if i fuck them up, it's endgame. and though i know tons of people who smoke like crazy and are fine, i have the ominous feeling that i won't be one of them. that shit's gonna come for me.

oh, and also this:

i guess that's one good thing about being a narcissist: smoking scaring me into thinking it's going to ugg me up.

but seriously, i made this decision because it's time for me to give it up, because for one, i can't keep denying that filling one's lungs with poison is somehow an okay thing to do, and for two, i don't want to keep using it as a coping mechanism for my personal issues. if i keep doing this, it means i'm not okay, and i want to be okay. i want to be better than that, than to have my problems still defeating me.

i don't want to die of heart disease and have it be because i was too weak to deal with my bullshit without a stupid crutch. i don't want to suffer through lung cancer because i was determined to make smoking a part of my image. because if that happens, at the end of the day, it will only ever be my own fucking fault, and it will be for the absolute dumbest of reasons. i can accept random health issues, statistical anomalies and acts of god -- but i wouldn't be able to forgive myself if it's irreversible damage i've willingly done to myself in the name of something shallow or spineless.

i'm going to miss that vice, but it's not worth dying for. i'm out.

[ music | tegan & sara, "where does the good go?" ]

Thursday, August 8, 2013

center of the city at night

bathroom selfie at the silver dollar last week. queen of the unimpressed.

enjoyable things of life lately:

orange is the new black. i'd been reading about oitnb for a few weeks on the interwebs, and i'd heard more than a few testimonials from friends that it was the best thing ever. i don't watch a lot of shows, but when i do, i prefer to get ahold of entire series and just binge-watch. oitnb was made for that; i polished off all thirteen hour-long episodes in just under three days. and man, believe the hype -- it's so good. so good. such great, well-written characters, a ton of diversity, humour and drama. i already want season 2 to come out now, please. damn you, cliffhangers!

on that topic:

netflix. i finally got the hookup, and yeah, so, netflix? i get it. as i said above, i've never been a huge tv or movie person -- i have to be really compelled in order to override my usual adhd. (i have a massive tv and a shit ton of cable channels, but all i consistently watch is the news, hockey, true blood, game of thrones and the walking dead.) i know a lot of people are cool to just crash in front of the tv at night, but it's never been able to keep my attention for long. time will tell if netflix will be any different, but in the meantime i'm pretty stoked to have access to so many movies and tv series to chip away at in my spare time (rather than filling it with swearing at candy crush or endless hours of looking at dumb bullshit on the internet).

peaches. it is the glorious time of year when my favourite fruit is in season, and lo, i am a happy girl. i'm watching the markets like a hawk for when the freestone peaches come in (soon? soon? soon?), because then i can make this magical spread:

my favourite of all my booze jams and the crown recipe in my collection: vanilla bourbon peach jam. for a long time last fall/winter, this was my dinner:

well, that and a glass of vodka, but you know.

learning how to write. coming up this sunday, i'm taking part in this full-day "writing is a business" course. i opted out of a camping weekend with my friends in order to do this, thus proving my seriousness. after all, since my writing skills are probably my only bankable talent, i figure i ought to learn how to capitalize on them. i know so little about how to find clients, how to set pay rates, how to market myself, et cetera. coming out of this day of learning, i hope to at least have more practical knowledge in my toolbox. and then you can all hire me to write things for you! because that is a thing i will do.

being thisclose to paying off all of my student debt. it's happening on august 24th and holy shit, you guys. still kind of gross that it took me seven years to get rid of it, but i guess it could have been worse. and i came out of it with a university diploma, so that's a thing.

awesome movie trailers. tying back to the beginning -- like i said, i'm not a huge movie buff, but i will fork over the stupid amounts of money to see worthy features in theatres. even more than movies, though, i really love a good trailer. gets the blood pumping, y'know. here's two i've seen recently that i've been into; not coincidentally, for two movies i really want to see:

i loved the first thor movie to the ends of the earth and back, and hot goth villain loki was the main reason i went to see the avengers four times(!) in theatres. so, on the above: second thor movie, a+; so much loki footage, a++++. november really can't get here fast enough for me.

okay, so pretty much everybody was skeptical of the cbgb biopic. i'm still not convinced the casting is sort of off. but i enjoyed the hell out of the runaways, and control is one of my favourite movies of all time, so i will absolutely be going to see this. plus, come on -- watch that goddamn trailer and tell me it doesn't get you pumped. i had to watch it a few times in order to catch the entire cast of characters. and alan rickman doing comedy is an awesome alan rickman.

this short film holy fucking shit:

little-known fact about me (i mean, aside from what i just mentioned above about thor): i'm an old comic book nerd. i still tweet back and forth with cousin dave and friend ian almost every day about marvel and dc news, and though i'm not as invested in reading 'em as i used to be, i have enough of a background in it that i can at least keep up with shop talk. spider-man's always been my favourite hero, and in that turn, venom has long been my absolute favourite anti-hero. like, forever. fuck you spider-man 3 movie for doing him/them an injustice. i hope venom eats your spleen.

anyway, the quick indie film above hits all the right notes: grimy, darkly funny, and pretty fucking scary right at the end. also, ryan kwanten makes a pitch-perfect eddie brock, and even though the low-budget effects at the end aren't too great, it's still chilling. i watched it three times, then had some seriously fucked up nightmares, then watched it twice more the next day. venom the best.

hockey coming back soon! preseason games start on september 14th - just over a month away! - and the regular season kicks off on october 1st. i'm already looking forward to cozy fall evenings curled up on my couch with the toronto maple leafs booting some ass on the big screen in front of me. (or, y'know, completely failing at life in a way only the leafs can. sigh.)

it's late summer and i'm doing okay. i wasn't sure i would be. but i am.

i know it's gonna be alright
(but i don't think i need you)

[ music | yeah yeah yeahs, "down boy" ]

Monday, August 5, 2013

where the heart is

so, here we are: one year ago tomorrow morning, i moved into my first bachelorette apartment since vancouver 2007-08.

then and now:

that was a weird time for me, a year ago. it was a slightly awkward moving day by all accounts -- i mean, pretty much all moving days are awkward, but it's generally doubly so when you're leaving a cohabitational situation due to dissolution of a relationship. i'd been casual and relatively jovial throughout the whole packing-up process, but he was at work the morning i moved out, and i didn't say goodbye. when he came home that night, me and all my stuff were gone. and that's how it is.

(i was probably not as contrite as i ought to have been, because i'd had things to look forward to. well, at the time i did. and that's how it was.)

it really took a week or two before i managed to settle in, in this rented one-bedroom apartment that i snagged (first one i looked at!) on the west end of the city. of course, that was mostly due to the fact that i, uh, didn't exactly own any furniture; i had to sleep on the floor for three nights before my bed and couch were delivered. also, i'd had to go out and purchase a number of pieces of furniture - coffee table, corner table, computer desk, stool, chair, tv unit - and then put all the shit together by myself, which is sort of a daunting task considering my special talent is assembling things backwards and upside-down. and then i wanted to at least do a bit of decorating so i could personalize the place a little bit; plain white walls have never suited me. sure, this was only the place i'd see in my off hours - aka when i wasn't working 9 to 5, or at the gym almost every evening - but i wanted to make this a home for myself. i wanted to make it somewhere my soul could feel safe, and at home. i was an adult now. i had the income. i could do it.

so lately - and over the last twelve months - i've put a lot of effort and energy into taking care of my little apartment, making it a place where i want to spend time, somewhere that's at least in my top three places of where i'd want to hang out if i had the choice. i followed these tips a lot, and they've all helped quite a bit. i take care to keep it clean (vacuum once a week, mop the floors once a month, dust every couple of weeks, clean the bathroom every couple of weeks, make sure there aren't piles of dirty dishes in the sink, take out the garbage & recycling frequently). i've got three houseplants - some potted ornamental bamboo, a christmas cactus i've had since i was seventeen, and a golden pathos vine that's more like a small tree - that i water and trim every week. i never smoke inside, only on my balcony (which is sadly the only reason i use my balcony, even with its cute little wrought-iron patio set; being out on the balcony with a cigarette is basically pavlovian behaviour to me now). i've decorated, and i'm still decorating in little bits and pieces now, including mounting all my collections of autographed used drumsticks - ha, ha - as well as putting up epic old set lists and blown-up prints made of photographs i've taken.

but it still all feels a little empty, a little sad. because sometimes i step back and take a look at this place - this small sanctuary i've tried to create for myself - and there's still this faint air of single-girl loneliness around it, a semi-pathetic aura of someone trying too hard to look happy and stable and okay when she'd rather be somewhere else, anywhere else, in any other life.

i wrote this in my private journal in october last year:

Despite all my talk of big plans with friends, there’s still all the spaces in between when I’m by myself. Sometimes, this is okay with me – preferable, even. Yet I’ve found that learning how to be alone is kind of tough.

Not gonna lie – that actually took me by surprise. I figured I’d be alright with it, especially given that I was in no form of steady relationship with anyone for almost six years back in the day. I was okay with being alone back then, right? Well, not quite – my mother likes to remind me that “there was always a guy or two in the picture” and she’s right about that. Funny the things you selectively forget. Anyway.

Here’s the thing about me: I really liked being in a relationship. I really enjoyed cohabitation. If I’m into a guy, I want to be with them pretty much all the time, so yeah, cohabitation totally works for me. And to go from living with someone and spending free time/down time with them, to being on my own...yeah, the transition hasn’t been so easy. Sure, my family and friends like to point out that I WAS more or less alone for the last year of that relationship, but it wasn’t the same as actually BEING alone. He was always there, at the end of the day. When it came down to it, I always had a +1.

And now it’s like, okay – I can go to the gym, or I can go out with my friends, or I can walk around this city for hours and hours with my headphones on, but I still have to eventually go home to my little apartment and be alone.

So, I have to learn to be okay with this, and not to get bowled over by crushing loneliness. It’s time to start being okay with my own presence.

yeah, dude, okay.

my mother was correct lately on two counts: one, that i really enjoy(ed) being someone's girlfriend (and also cohabitating; fuck, dudes, i loved cohabitating, and i don't give a shit if that scares potential suitors); and two, this: "life throws enough random punishments at you for no reason. there's no need to go out and choose things that get you punished."

which is true.

but even now, there's so many simple things i have to keep reminding myself throughout the more bleak times of ringing silence and stark aloneness, not the least of which being what i generally turn over in my mind on those sunset evenings out on my balcony with vodka and cigarettes and an empty apartment behind me. not too long ago, i smiled sadly to myself out there, saying the words aloud just quietly enough that only i could hear them:

"you're not alone."

then i stubbed out my cigarette and went back inside.

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