Friday, November 22, 2013

stockholm syndrome

i just remembered this little anecdotal blog post from seven years ago, and figured it was worth a repost for the cheap seats. it's one of my old favourites. (i was a few months away from turning 23, but nothing has really changed.)


august 25, 2006

i had an interesting conversation with two customers at starbucks today.

so i was on my lunch break, drinking a green tea latte and reading the globe's entertainment section in the corner window seat, when two thirtysomething guys came over with their coffees and sat nearby. one of them said hello to me - presumably because he noticed i was wearing my `bucks uniform shirt - and i responded in turn before going back to the cd reviews. (i am not very social when i'm on break.)

then the same guy said to me, "can i ask you a question?"

i looked up, instantly wary because that sort of conversation initiator is never usually a good sign (at least in my experience), but i was still in polite-friendly work mode, so i said sure. he then asked - and i'm roughly paraphrasing here - "is it possible for a woman to sense an...obsessive guy, when they meet him?"

"you mean, can a woman tell if a guy's got a bad personality?"

"yeah. for example, would you be able to know upon meeting a guy if he's not a good person?"

hmmmm. "well, i'd like to think i would. but i-" and here i grinned and jabbed the air with my stirstick for emphasis "am not quite as smart as many of my fellow women, as i usually tend to go for the bad ones anyway. it's kind of a thing i do."

his interested friend chimed in here with, "so, what's the one good thing about those bad guys that keeps girls like you coming back?"

i paused for a second, then smiled, and replied with the truest answer i could give:

"because being with them is never, ever boring."

that explains a lot, i think.


[ music | the mission uk, "swan song" ]


movies i have watched to pass time while in november-hermit mode (also, it's getting cold and shitty outside in toronto now and i've found that there's nothing i enjoy more than curling up under a blanket with a cup of tea or fake hot chocolate and having a movie marathon because hi i am totally single, whatever):

like crazy: i've seen this movie twice now and shit goddamn is it ever depressing, but it transfixes me all the same. it's the story (with dialogue largely improvised, apparently) of a crazy-in-love young couple who try to make things work long distance when the girl gets sent back to the u.k. due to a visa violation. so the movie's about their trials and tribulations of attempting to keep a relationship going, and there's also an awesome turn by jennifer lawrence, and it's just a great realistic look at the bare bones of two peoples' lives together and separate. the ending is gloriously fucking sad, but i won't spoil it. if you liked blue valentine, you'll love like crazy. (and you may also hate relationships, but you didn't hear that from me.)

the shrine: this is an indie canadian horror movie, but one with a personal backstory for me -- the now-ex boy was the best boy grip on this film (he works in film & TV when he's not a drummer), and it was the entirety of summer 2009, just after we'd moved in together. this was my first time really experiencing what it was like to be with someone who worked as much and as hard as he did, and i...was pretty bummed out by it, really. there was just so little time for us as a couple. we made it through the summer intact, but it was a vaguely ominous preview of what would come in following years. yeah, i'm sure "clingy" was bandied around, but um, call me crazy for wanting to see my boyfriend once in a while (spoiler alert: i barely did). anyway, fuck it. i actually enjoyed the shrine a lot, even though i know all the behind-the-scenes stories (and i already knew the twist ending going into it). also, to me, it stands as a reminder of a time when i was still hopelessly optimistic about weathering any storm in a relationship. again: oh well, fuck it.

the avengers: i saw it four times in theatres, i own it on fancy blu-ray dvd (and have maybe watched it 2-3 times at home), yet i'll still watch it when it's on the movie network. and i maintain that it's a wonderful piece of pop-candy fluff, and just wonderful to watch when you want something fun. upon my, errrrr, eighth (maybe ninth?) viewing, it strikes me that some of the dialogue isn't delivered quite as cleverly as it was probably written, but the actors that stick the landing do it with f'in style. (looking at you, rdj and hiddleston.) i've been an under-the-radar marvel fangirl since the 90's, and this movie scratches the itch like nothing else.

thor: the dark world: i've only been waiting all year for this movie to come out, so, you know, no big. i saw this one in the theatres with my friend rhea on a pre-planned movie date that we'd set way back in the summer, and we went as big as possible: 3D, ultraavx, reserved seating, the works. and again, like the avengers, it was a thoroughly enjoyable piece of pop candy. not exactly high on gravitas or anything, but holy shit can tom hiddleston act the hell out of loki. i became a fan of his after seeing him in the original thor movie, and it's so cool to see him expand the role even further here. (also: he hot.) couldn't have cared less for the chemistry-free jane/thor pairing, but oh well. a+++ anyway, would see again, probably will see again very soon.

hard core logo 2: i regret watching this.

kiss kiss bang bang: this is a bit of a cheat because i technically only watched half of it before i had to leave to meet up with a friend, but i really did like what i saw. i've been hearing good things about kiss kiss bang bang ever since it came out in, uh, 2005, and it's always cool to see rdj before he basically became tony stark (both onscreen and off). i'm usually bullish on crime/heist/caper movies, but i didn't mind this one so much. it was quite cleverly done, from what i saw, and that i can appreciate. (also, it doesn't put me to sleep -- for me, there are no better sleep aids than westerns or heist movies.)

...and now that canadian netflix has all eight seasons of supernatural - a series i've been meaning to marathon for ages now - uh, goodbye life. (notable mention: top of the lake, which i idly started watching at a friend's last week and then could. not. stop. balls to the fact that i only have canadian netflix)

eight days left of the cleanse, and hermit month, and probably not a day too soon. i've started getting bored and stabby.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

lasting first impression

november and me are doing pretty well these days.

i used to dread november. like, fucking dread it. i, like so many people i know, have been struck by seasonal affective disorder (also cheerfully referred to as "the sads") in many years past, and the worst month always seemed to be goddamn november. it's gray, it's dreary, it's a bummer on the senses. i'm always coming off of the fun of october, and christmas in december seems so far away. combine that with daylight savings time and everything being so dark seemingly all the time, and yeah, no. no, thanks.

for some bizarre reason, though, november's always been one of the most evocative months for me. i'm not sure why, but it reminds me of my time in vancouver, and when it started to get cold there (well, "cold" for vancouver anyway). when i lived on the west coast, i spent a lot of time walking; i think it was where i really started cultivating my love for long walks, actually (and also long walks out of necessity, because i didn't have enough room in my budget for a transit pass). as such, there were a lot of walks in the cold grey dark, just me and my mp3 player and headphones, trying to figure my shit out.

so ever since then, november is my weird reflective month, and it's the time that i can really feel the pull of the years and know deep down that i've gotten through so much. i wrote here that it feels like time muffled memories; lately, i've been more thinking of it as broken bones healing stronger than before. scar tissue, maybe. either way, it's starting to feel better.

also, when it comes to cutting things out and letting things go and purging or whatnot, it's funny how i tend to have nightmares about losing things i care about. in my last relationship, i used to have bad dreams about breaking up with my then-boyfriend -- like, really vivid ones that would leave me with an ominous feeling even after i woke up. (but now that dream's come true, and oh well.) lately, i've been having bad dreams about moving away from my lovely little apartment for whatever reason. any dr. freuds in the house?

(on the topic of dreams and sleep, though -- i'm not sure if it's the lack of caffeine or the lack of sugar, but i have been sleeping like a fucking rock these last two weeks. i mean, serious deep eight hours of blackout sleep. it's been pretty glorious.)

another interesting reflection about cleanse month/hermit month -- i'm way less of a hermit than i thought i'd be, because when faced with a month of solitude, i end up seeing more friends than ever. i've done movie dates, dinner dates, outings for tea, gym hangs, and more. it's like the more i try to isolate myself, the more my friends are like "nope! we're gonna make sure you're not alone :D" which is a pretty goddamn awesome feeling. also, i haven't quite been as bitchy and cranky as i expected i'd be without sugar, caffeine, dairy etc., so fortunately i haven't been snapping anybody's heads off. whew.

oh yeah, and the cleanse! the cleanse is going okay. i haven't cheated once (aside from the day when i drank a delicious decaf gingerbread tea without knowing that there was sugar in it -- it was an accident and i'm sticking to it) and god knows i've had enough chances to. it's been a bit of a struggle not being bored with my somewhat limited food choices - also, protip: japanese food is sad without soy sauce - but we are exactly at the halfway mark today, so the worst part is past, i think. (i still miss coffee the most, and also fancy cheese. if i'm craving anything, it's a massive charcuterie & cheese board from bar volo. with a nice strong stout or porter. mmmmmmm.)

plus i got to go to the laser sauna yesterday and it was amazing, the end. (laser sauna = infrared detox. supposed to help with the cleanse and getting all the toxins out of my body. i'm going for the next two saturdays as well and it rocks -- i forgot how much i unashamedly love pampering stuff like sauna, massages and spas.)

as for overall sense of well-being, though, i definitely feel better -- a lot lighter and less puffy in terms of physical appearance, yeah, but i've found that i'm also way less anxious and crazy-feeling than before. the bummer about doing a cleanse where you strip away all the junk is that you don't know exactly what was causing the batshit-crazy-ness; i'm not sure if it was all the coffee that was keeping me on edge, or the sugar. or maybe the newfound calm has been caused by the good things i've been doing, like dutifully taking the cocktail of supplements that go along with the cleanse (i've also been adding maca powder to basically everything), or exercising less so i give my body extra time off. and while i wouldn't exactly say that i'm 100% zen right now, i do feel a lot calmer and clearer than i have been over the last couple of months. funny, that.

this has been too much meaningless rambling and now i need to finish cleaning my apartment before my mother comes over today to see where her daughter lives for the very first time! oooooooh.

[ music | the mission uk, "blood brother" ]

Sunday, November 10, 2013

all you left behind

in the light of cleanse month and cutting numerous things out of my life, i've been thinking a lot about what things i absolutely, positively could not do without. (necessities for life like air, water and food notwithstanding, obviously.)

a bunch of you know this already, but when i moved to vancouver in 2007, i got rid of practically everything i owned. i went out there with two duffel bags and a backpack. the duffel bags contained maybe two weeks' worth of clothes (and i never bought anything new when i was out there, either, save for some throwaway work togs); the backpack held my laptop, and all my favourite books and dvds. that was it. when it came to all my other belongings, i did one of four things: threw it out, recycled it, sold it (either on craigslist or to acquaintances), or packed it away in one of two big tupperware bins that still sit in my father's basement. i kept a lot less than you'd think. i kept way less than i'd expected. and what i realized partway through the sorting and the tossing - and i was merciless at it - was that i personally really don't need much, and that was surprisingly fine with me.

people were astounded by this. "you're getting rid of everything?" they'd ask. "but what are you gonna do once you've moved?" and i'd shrug and smile faintly and just say that i'd figure something out once i'm there. but once i was there in vancouver, i found that i didn't need much. i didn't want to be tied down by things and stuff. i'm not sure if it's because i innately sensed that i wouldn't be there long - i only lasted eight months in vancouver - but it really did feel liberating, in a sense. it's nice to be privileged enough to have access to all those things, if i wanted them, but i didn't. i made do with what i had, and i was glad for it. (also: vancouver is really, really fucking expensive, yo.)

six years later, do i regret it? no, not really. are there things i got rid of that i miss? for sure. i miss my turntable and speakers, i guess, and i miss my favourite black blazer and fedora, and i really miss this one awesome layered black velvet skirt that was absolutely fucking rad. but on a whole, i think the whole exercise allowed me to strip down to the basics and be really unencumbered for a while. true enough, it's really taken me the last six years to accumulate possessions of my own, but none of which i would consider unnecessary at this point in my life (i kind of do need things like furniture).

so this month's cleanse has been making me think: what could i do without right now? i detailed it before, but this cleanse involves the following: no sugar, no salt, no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol, no cigarettes or drugs, and no caffeine. (the answer to the inevitable "so what can you eat??" question: meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, quinoa and brown rice, basically. it's not like a juice cleanse or anything.) i've just started week 2 of 4, and i think the thing i miss the most would be coffee. i was up to 4-5 cups a day, and i'm hoping i break that habit and get down to maybe 1-2, but yeah, i really miss being able to get up and have a nice hot cup of coffee. i've given up so many things over the years, temporarily or not (see: sober month, primal diet, etc.), but i've never not had coffee in my life. it feels saddening.

oh, and cheese. no cheese = all the sad.

being able to put aside all those things for 28 days will be an accomplishment, for sure -- but then i started thinking about what would be a dealbreaker; like, what's something i could not give up for that long. and the only thing i could really think of was music. if you challenged me to go a whole month without my ipod, then no, no can do. that's a dealbreaker. i'm unable to go more than a day without having something playing in my ears, soundtracking my life. if my ipod ever dies or if my headphones fuck up, then i buy a new one immediately -- like, that same day. so it makes me a bit proud to realize that the one thing i could never give up for any extended amount of time is music. i need it. but if that hasn't been obvious in the last fifteen years of my life, then i don't know what to tell you.

okay, after a sunday that's involved getting up at 6:48 a.m., walking to and from the gym for 45 minutes each way, working out for an hour, going grocery shopping, making lunch, doing more grocery shopping, laundering my sheets and towels, making almond butter, and making my lunch for the work week, i now have to go vacuum and also clean my bathtub. and call my mother. and sleep, at some point. cheers.

[ music | metric, "breathing underwater" ]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

faith in chaos

four days into this cleanse and i have not killed anyone. i'm pretty proud of that. (i'm fairly sure i've nearly walked into traffic a couple of times, though.)

...but i will try not to discuss the nutrition portion of the cleanse too much, as i know that talking about anything along those lines (nutrition, diet, detox, whatever) tends to bring out detractors, criticism and concern. there are always some cool people who send encouragement and extra reading and useful links, but then you get the ones who think they know you better than you do and get all freaked out and blah, whatever. it's only for 28 days, people, and i'm hoping i'll pick up better habits and break bad ones along the way. that's all. i need structure or i go kind of off the rails; it's the control freak in me.

saving my life right now: dried organic mango, stash tea's red velvet herbal tea (anybody know where i could get some of the christmas in paris?), homemade almond butter (also saving me craaaazy money), and the fact that i genuinely enjoy 1) cooking for myself and 2) kale. much as i like salads and chicken breasts, i'm glad i have the options and the knowledge to not have to rely on those for a whole month. (i do think i miss coffee more than anything, though. and possibly cheese.)

anyway, it's all sort of reminding me of sober month, when i drank a shitload of perrier and spent all the money i saved on multiple trips to the victoria's secret in downtown washington. that's my life.

the isolation is weird, though. not only am i spending a lot of time by myself (to save money, and also to spare my friends from my detox stabbyness), but i don't have distractions like booze or caffeine or sugar highs to take my mind off things. it feels a lot more empty, more stark in contrast. it gives me a lot more time - and a clearer head - to think. i'm trying not to be as focused on myself, though -- rather, i'm putting together an idea for a book. maybe. possibly. it's something to do with my time, anyway, and i think i'm finally at a point in my life where i could put some words down.

as i said, though, it's not going to be total hermit mode for november -- i'm seeing thor 2 (yessssss!) in imax with an old friend next tuesday, i've got a couple much-needed friend-hang dates coming up (though they will have to be navigated without food or coffee or booze, which might prove tricky), and then my grand reward will be the two moist concerts at the end of the month. get ready for lots of deep introspective blog posts! (i still really like the last one, though.)

but in the meantime, i've been taking a lot of baths. and i've been doing a lot of reflecting.

it's strange to realize that, once you get over someone and move on, those times of your life begin to seem like someone else's. like it was fiction, or a movie you watched once. i feel like time wears away at memories like fading watercolour prints, or as though time muffles memories by tossing a heavy blanket over them. still, things have kept coming up lately, mostly because of the time of year (i never feel things so strongly as i do in the late fall; true enough, last fall was the first wave of really wishing i had someone to spend these gorgeous days with). thinking on the events of the last few years brings up a number of emotions in me, some of them surprising, some of them not -- but overall, i guess i'm just bemused by how muted so much of it feels now.

muted. that's the word for it. it feels muted. i feel muted.

and this is what it's like when you get over somebody, my logical brain tells me. this is how it feels. things start to become muted, quieter, and sooner or later you can't hear them at all. but by then, you're numb to them, because they don't matter anymore.

do i want to be numb, though? that's the question -- and the problem, rather. the wild angry side of me is thrashing and railing against this idea of forgetting, because those times were important, they were everything to me, they represented the person i've always wanted to be and all the things i wanted to have. how dare i forget?! how could i ever want to be numb to those memories?

but then today i read this advice column and this line in the reply totally, completely, sadly rung true for me:

You're addicted to loneliness and desperation. It's the strongest emotion you've ever known, so your subconscious tells you that it's your destiny.

oh, hello, did somebody call? (it's probably telling that for a time last summer, i adopted garbage's "only happy when it rains" as my own personal anthem. i'm only happy when it's complicated.)

i don't need to be told by my friends and family that i get off on unhealthy attractions and really bad choices and shitty impulses. i have always known what my problems are, where they stem from, and how they hold me back. what i struggle with is the motivation to fix them and move forward, and i'm pretty sure that's tied up with that side of me that feels she needs to have loneliness and desperation because it's the only way she knows how to feel anything.

and that's not cool.

so throughout this month, when i fall down that hole of overthinking, i won't have any unhealthy vices to fall back on. no booze to fuzz the edges, no cigarettes to bring me back to the old days (though i'd already given them up), no sugar to give me a brief jolt of nostalgic happiness. just me, and my thoughts. and maybe at some point i'll come to a conclusion about all this -- i'm not entirely decided that therapy is the answer, but i guess we'll see.

i think the key is, as always, in the writing. and that's why i'm still here.

thanks for still reading.

[ music | tsn wednesday night hockey ]