Sunday, December 29, 2013

back to the start



and here we are again, another successful christmas holiday in the books. sometimes when i get morbid, i get saddened to wonder how many more of these i have left with my family as a whole - we all are getting older, after all - but then i resolve to get in as many as i can. sure, when i think too much about it, it feels depressing and weird that i don't have a family of my own by now; i mean, i'm thirty years old and still going back to my mother's house alone for christmas. then again, that was a tradition i refused to give up even when i was in a relationship, so, who knows. all i know for sure is that i do enjoy having 5-6 days of holing up in the house, drinking all the time, eating crap food, wrapping presents, being festive, and actually getting to see my family. i only go back to kingston three times a year - once for thanksgiving, once for christmas, and once in the summer - so i actually do end up looking forward to it, especially since i'm fortunate in that i don't have huge family stress situations around the holidays. it's nice to go home. (this year, i didn't even leave my mother's house for four days. v. thankful they have a home gym set up in the basement.)





and then i do dumb things like get drunk and buy a cape:



it seemed like a good idea at the time.  (to be fair, i've wanted a fur-lined cape since a friend and i were rewatching the tudors a few weeks back, and i remembered how much i loved anne boleyn.  power-hungry, ruthless, badass babe?  yes, yes and yes.)



the traditional christmas-eve viewing of die hard.  note my stepbrother avec beer almost falling asleep at this point (or at least being perfectly horizontal).  by the next morning, about half that room would be full of presents, which is what happens when you have six people all receiving numerous gifts (though we're always grateful for it).



another christmas-eve tradition: my mother giving everyone a new christmas ornament for the tree.  this was mine for 2013.  i asked her if she was trying to tell me something, and she laughed and looked away.  (yes, even at home, i spend a stupid amount of time on the computer.)

my big-ticket item on christmas morning this year:



my mother and stepfather heard my terror about my laptop possibly being on its last legs (note: it's still working, though one time last week i had to hit the power button four times before it responded), so they got me this: an ipad 2 with detachable keyboard. essentially, a mini-computer, should my actual one hit the skids. (they also got me this adorable sleeve to go with it, so hey, fashion!) i never really had a tablet on my wish list before, but after test-driving the thing all christmas morning - not to mention downloading a crapload of very nice games - it's safe to say that yeah, definitely one of the best presents. other than that, got a bunch of things i needed (hair dryer, pajama pants, pack of brita filters) and a few things i wanted (the cornetto trilogy dvds, the book of jezebel, a multitude of gift cards) and i drank three glasses of sparkling wine before 10 a.m., so it was a successful morning indeed.



super-great shot of my mom and stepdad showing off the christmas-dinner goods.  every year, they buy a ridiculously large turkey; every year, they moan about how they have too many leftovers.  i don't see that as a problem; then again, i live almost three hours away, so i never get to benefit.

yet even in the week beforehand, back in toronto, there were pre-crimbo good times ahoy:



festive house-party spread courtesy gracious party hostess amanda, our friend group's resident party planner (it's actually her job too, which makes sense). the seasonal theme was only red, green or white snacks, and it looks like it was pulled off quite spectacularly. (minus the poor out-of-season watermelon that was more of an anemic shade of pink.)



my contribution: the red velvet bundt cake in all its ridiculous sprinkled glory. (the next morning at the gym, i was mystified by what looked like tiny circular bruises all over my arms -- then realized it was red dye from splatters of cake batter)



autopsy shot. it really did turn out more "dark pink velvet" - i recalled too late that i'd read somewhere how you should use gel food colouring rather than liquid dyes if you want a strong red - but it was still delicious.



four of us were there early to put together the gingerbread houses, which we did after getting good and sauced on red wine and putting on the nightmare before christmas. between the distraction of the movie, our rampant drunkenness and mowing down all the excess decorative candy, it was amazing that we even got the houses done.



penny checks for architectural stability. i was probably eating my eighth handful of green & red smarties at this point.



jenna's and my joint effort. this is basically the ocd gingerbread house.



penny's pup rhodes looking especially festive.



one last shot from the second holiday party, trying to cram all six girls in one shot. this was shortly after we realized that three of us were wearing dark blue and black, and three of us were wearing red and black. not even intentional.

i also managed to break the curse of only running into your ex when you're gross and wearing no makeup and buying tampons or whatever at the drugstore -- i ran into mine while on my way to a fun party, wearing nice makeup and looking cute in a snow-covered winter coat & hat. (me, not him.) i actually hadn't seen him in over a year, which still feels a little weird to me given that we lived together for years, but this is how breakups work, i guess. he looked fine. i didn't do or say anything weird. we talked about the weather and the leafs and then went our separate ways.

...but then i had to go see him again the following week to pick up the christmas card my grandmother mistakenly sent to the old apartment, and that felt a little weird, and i may or may not have heavily laid into the booze when i got home because of *~feelings~* (not for him; more for the life in that apartment i left behind), but whatever. at least my nana's card was less obscene than the one my habs-fan cousin sent me:



complete with glamour photo of montreal canadiens goaltender carey price. ugh, no thanks.

so now it's back to the real world, back to the grind: hitting some painful classes at the gym, no more sweets for breakfast, and returning to the office tomorrow morning to work all week (minus new year's day on wednesday, which will be spent getting drunk and watching the winter classic).  christmas comes but once a year, but sometimes i feel thankful for that, since my body and brain would probably break down if i did this multiple times.  it's nice to be back in the city, after all, and back in my adult life.



[ music | the cinematics, "break" ]

Friday, December 27, 2013

like a hurricane

it struck me today that i had a piece of unpublished writing that i'd scribbled at exactly this time last year; same place and everything.  and of course, as i've mentioned before in blog posts of this ilk, i'm in a much better place now, yet sometimes i like to revisit these things as a reminder.  sometimes, when you write for an audience, there's value in it for more people than just me.

i hope we all learn something.  learned something.

*

december 27, 2012

so now i'm stuck at the train station for an extra hour and a half due to the insane blizzard that hit southern ontario yesterday, and what else is there to do but write? i guess all that hemingway i was reading over the holiday has been rubbing off on me. (the drinking habits, however, were already there to begin with.)

right now, i kind of want to go on a social media diet -- just drop off the grid on twitter and facebook and everything. i feel like there's too much talking all the time, and i really need peace and quiet right now to reflect on things. there's been a lot of plot twists, shall we say, over the last couple weeks or so, and i'm not getting a whole lot of distance or perspective on it all.

i miss the real world, and i miss connecting with people outside of computer screens. but how else do we all connect these days? therein lies the dilemma with modern-day digital life, i suppose.

and yet i'm forever a victim of the hedgehog's dilemma -- i want people close to me and vice versa, but look, i'm just so tired of people. (most people, anyway.) even the people i consider my friends. i just want silence and solitude, even when it just makes me feel more depressed. i'm sort of out of cathartic outlets, aside from writing, smoking, and drinking (and only one of those is at least remotely healthy for me).

there are still a few hard decisions i have to make, and soon. they're not getting any easier, the longer i put them off. and i've been putting them off for far too long now. (it's not like i don't know what the right thing to do is -- i do know. it's just making myself agree to do it, and being ruthless enough to go through with it. head versus heart.)

another interesting thing to note is that i've had many men from my past (and not unwanted ones) come back into my life lately, which is oddly reassuring to me (and also because i realized i missed them). i was once told by an ex that i "leave a mark on people", and if that means that my orbit will forever pull them back into my life eventually, then i guess i can find some comfort in that. it means things are cyclical and i'll never fully lose them, unless i really want to let them go (and trust me, there's a few of those who haven't resurfaced, thank god).

because i have a hard time letting go, especially when it's letting go of something i want. to me, letting go is analogous to losing, or giving up, and i absolutely hate doing both. it bothers me to the deepest part of my soul. i have not always been very mature when faced with this; i kick, i scream, i cling, i resort to dirty tricks, i do a lot of crying. i have too much need to be the bombshell, the femme fatale, the dangerous girl, a whirlwind who blows into a person's life and changes it. and i don't like having that power taken away from me.

it's true that i haven't had the easiest time being single. and yet, i don't want to be the domesticated one. i want to be the one who's enviably free, who loves and leaves. (but it's the "leaves" part i haven't yet mastered.) i want to have fun this year, and to make my mark on as many people as possible. it's time.

here is what i learned throughout the past turbulent twelve months (or at least, what i should try to take to heart from now on -- and many of these are unfortunately repeat lessons):

1. if they're broken, you can't fix them.
2. their problems cannot be your problems.
3. if a boy's driving you half insane, it is not a good thing.
4. ditto if a boy makes you cry in the office stairwell. or in a public washroom. or on a train. or on an airplane.
5. proverb to remember: "those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them."
6. likewise: "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
7. walking away never gets easier. but over time, staying away does.
8. nobody is worth insomnia, emphysema, or alcoholism.
9. if they won't let you in, don't keep pounding on the door.
10. don't let anybody make you think you aren't good enough.

*

[ music | magic wands, "space" ]

Friday, December 13, 2013

some kind of stranger

it's cold outside now.



in a timely coincidence, i read the wonderfully-titled "7 reasons i hate going out" yesterday, and holy shit, that's my life in a nutshell. especially the parts about being annoyed over putting in so much effect when nothing might come out of it, spending too much money and too many calories, and the final paragraph:
"It's easy to think I've changed, matured, or otherwise caved in. But in truth I always hated "going out." What changed is that I finally stopped feeling pressure to do so. Now I do what I want."
i don't know if i always hated going out, per se; i'm pretty sure there was a good 2-3 years in there that i really loved hitting the town and partying it up. at least, it didn't feel like something i had to force myself to do. but these days, i hate the fact that i still feel ashamed - not to mention shamed by others - for not keeping that stamina as the years went on.

some people can keep this up. kudos to those people. i am good friends with many of them. i marvel at the fact that that they can be in their thirties - even forties - and still looking to rage out until the wee hours. but me, no. i burnt out. now i'm totally one of those people who will admit that she prefers house parties (and not ones that take me almost an hour to get to on transit) with close friends, dinners out with the aforementioned close friends, early concerts that preferably only have one (or zero) opening bands, going to the pub around the corner for one or two drinks, and being in bed by midnight -- even on weekends. stumbling home in the cold, drunk off my ass, lungs burning from too many cigarettes, feet in pain from stiletto heels, crashing into bed at 3 a.m. with all my makeup still on and trying not to barf? no. no thank you. not anymore. (and it happens far more easily now than it ever did in my early twenties, thanks to my body's declining tolerance for vices as i age. bah.)

also, i am ridiculous and go to early spin classes both saturday and sunday mornings. sorry that i choose being healthy and active over being painfully hungover and wasting an entire morning lying in bed feeling like shit! (not sorry.)

therefore, i think one of my 2014 resolutions will be to not be ashamed of myself when it comes to not wanting to go out and party. my problem so far is that i feel as though being a wild-child rock n' roll party drunk has been part of my, err, personal brand. so, to give that up and admit that i feel happier as a homebody is betraying a lot of my appeal. then again, part of getting older is realizing that, quite frankly, you don't give a shit what other people think of you. what matters is what you think of you, and what makes you happy, and i have to admit that i'm much happier not feeling bleary and hungover and shitty and under-slept. there was a time when i used to be able to function as such, or at least power through it; not so much nowadays. such is the price of a thirtysomething's stamina. and i guess i can finally be okay with that, especially knowing that i'm not exactly alone in feeling this way.

so, whatever. you go have fun in da clubz -- i've been there and done that, and now i am 100% cool with staying in with a cup of fake hot chocolate and five straight hours of supernatural on netflix. but i do make a few exceptions -- namely, for christmas parties with my longtime good friends. there's one tomorrow night, and there'll be another one next friday, along with a back to back with a dance club night that i promised my coworkers i'd attend. i guess that'll be my in da clubz quota filled for the year, then.

in the meantime, after swearing off holiday baking this year due to 1) lack of funds and 2) terror of what all that sugar would do to my post-cleanse digestive system (i ate some peanut brittle in the office yesterday and was mildly nauseous for the rest of the day), i went a bit crazy and decided to do a bunch of it in the span of, oh, three days. i'm starting tonight (after i go brutalize myself at the gym, obvs), and by this time next week, here's what i'm looking to have completed:

* red velvet bundt cake with cinnamon cream cheese glaze (for tomorrow's party)
* peanut butter cereal treats (for a charity bake sale)
* buttermilk cupcakes with chunky peanut butter frosting (for my coworkers, and to use up my leftover peanut butter and buttermilk)
* shortbread cookies (for holiday gifts)
* chocolate stout cake (for a colleague's birthday)
* paleo bread (for my stepdad and his gluten-free low-carb diet)

since this is critical-mass baking, i finally cracked and got one of these (instead of just using large tupperware in a trader joe's bag):



also the fact that it was marked down from $60 to $30 didn't hurt. it's heavy enough that it could double as an assault weapon, so, i've got that covered.

now, for the rest of next week's busy pre-christmas holiday time (aka give my introverted self a kick in the ass so i can cram in as many friend hangs as possible before going to kingston): heading down to the mill street brew pub on sunday for the last night of the distillery district's christmas market (i won tickets to a closing night event there, so i'm hauling friend penny along for the free booze), finally seeing catching fire with allegra on monday night, watching the most-likely-ill-fated leafs game with erin on tuesday, the mentioned christmas party/club night on friday, then one last toronto weekend before i get the train to k-town next sunday afternoon.

go go go go go! happy friday the 13th.

[ music | queens of the stone age, "little sister" ]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

broken radio

so it looks like my laptop might be on its last legs. this is a major bummer, although i figure it's not unexpected; i bought this beautiful beast of a dell back in may 2010, so it's going on almost four years old now. and though my stepfather - very knowledgeable in the realm of computers - assured me that computers shouldn't just wear out on a regular basis (especially when i haven't run this one very hard at all), i've been sort of worried by its performance lately. namely, it's having weird issues on occasion when it comes to booting up -- sometimes it'll stay on the pos screen for an abnormally long period of time (though windows always starts eventually), and sometimes i'll hit the power button only to have it not respond at all. it's weirding me out and raising a lot of red flags in the back of my brain.

my stepdad recommended that i start backing everything up immediately, and that i maybe invest in an external hard drive. i vetoed that idea since all of my necessary files fit on a single 8-gigabyte thumb drive -- with room to spare. however, to premeditate the inevitable death of navi-4, i half-jokingly asked my mother if i could ask santa claus to bring me a new laptop. (i rarely ask for any "big gifts" at christmas anymore; it's usually, like, a lululemon jacket or a new pair of headphones.) she said it wasn't out of the question, but now i'm not even sure if i want to make that plunge. not right away -- not until i'm positive this old laptop of mine is doomed for the scrapheap sooner rather than later.

see, i get stupid attached to my electronics, and i don't even want to replace them. perfect case in point: my iphone. i broke it a couple weeks ago at the moist show, and since i pay $10 a month for damage & theft insurance, i was eligible to get a brand new device in 24-48 hours. but nooooo -- i wanted my device. i wanted it fixed. so i forked over a stupid $100 at a sketchy repair shop to get the display replaced when i could have just gotten a new one for free. but that new one just wouldn't have been my phone, you know? like i said, i get sentimentally attached to these things. i was melancholy all day when i had to give up my work device when i left my last job back in march. so many memories! so many dirty text messages! sad face.

anyway, as part of the backing-up process, i went through all my folders of mp3s and picked out all of the vital songs that i could rebuild my essential itunes library with, should i ever be forced to do so. and suddenly, it felt like i was putting together a digital time capsule of where i am in this time and place, right now, of who i am in 2013. and that meant keeping all of the music that's gotten me here, that's kept me going, that's made me cry, that's been my comfort and my solace over the last five, ten, fifteen years of my life. it's songs by the famous and the not-so-famous, by people who are distant idols and longtime friends, with lyrics that i could recite in my sleep and melodies i could replay in my head at will. when music is as vital to your existence as it is to mine, it's the important stuff. those were the mp3s i stored away for safekeeping.

but as i was rooting around in subfolders, i discovered that i hadn't deleted all of their music after all. i hadn't gotten rid of all of it in my final fit of pique and anger that put me into self-exile for my own sanity's sake. it was still all there, the trigger to a time bomb of emotions.

so i sat here and mused about whether or not i should delete it all now. i mean, it's not like i need digital versions; i still have the cds, after all. i have the cds they gave me with shy, proud smiles; the cds that i cheekily got them to autograph for me; the cds with liner notes that have my name under the thank-you credits. i keep those like talismans, sacred objects on a shelf that i rarely touch. it's just comforting to know that they're still there, is all.

the mp3s, though, were a different matter. these were songs that, at various points in my life, soundtracked my everyday existence. they were something i clung to in the spaces between, in the absences and between the drama. they were the metaphysical connection between the fantasy and the reality of it all -- that the disembodied sounds in my ears actually belonged to a person, and moreover, a person that was partially mine. that level of pride and joy is still something i can't put into proper words.

but when it all got too much - every time - i could make the music go away with a few keystrokes. delete it off my ipod's playlist, like burying a photo in a drawer. hiding it on myself and pretending it wasn't there. i didn't need the triggers, didn't want the reminders of what i'd had and lost. the music never changed, after all. no matter how many years go by, the recorded sounds stay the same, and they'll forever stay the same. (that's what i've always loved about them, after all -- they've achieved some level of strange immortality through their work. therein is the appeal of an artist, at least to me -- to be with them is to be next to something that will live forever.)

and now i was faced with one final deletion -- making the decision whether or not to let their works follow me into the next life. i stared sadly at the computer screen and took a deep breath.

control-c. control-v. and i tucked their songs away to be rediscovered at a later date, at some other distant point in my life.

...i'm not sure how much of me is still buried in their hearts and minds. maybe a shard or two. maybe nothing. but what's important to me is that i preserve their legacies for my own safekeeping, and my own memories. because their music was, to me, the very best of them, and that's what i want to remember at that nebulous distant point in the future. not the bullshit or frustration or tears, or even the giddiness or joy or adoration. it's the music i loved them for, and still love them for, and probably always will. so no matter how much i change or how different i'll be years from now, i'll keep their songs like i kept those mp3s -- hidden out of sight, but not erased completely.

i've kept the secrets, and i'll keep the legacies. it's still the best of you.

[ music | the mission uk, "like a hurricane" ]

Friday, December 6, 2013

the bones of what you believe

one more from the archives of private writing. i wrote this one around late february this year, i think, and while i'm not in this place anymore (thank god), i've found it's always good to have this stuff around to serve as a reminder.

*



OK, look.

You can cut your hair off, and you can get more tattoos, and you can lose weight, and you can even get more piercings if you want. You can change jobs, and you can change apartments. You can hide yourself away here, and you can write until your hands are covered in ink, and you can blog so much vagueness. You can buy all the cute dresses and all the expensive makeup if you think it'll help. You can take all the stupid perfectly-posed selfies you want and paste them all over the Internet. You can stay up as late as possible, and you can get up early enough to watch the sun rise from your balcony. You can work out until you want to collapse, and you can walk for hours and hours with music on to drown everything out. You can smoke until your lungs hurt and you can drink yourself into oblivion.

But it's not going to do a fucking thing.

Nothing will change. There will be no grand epiphanies, no sudden realizations. There are no time machines, and you cannot fix this.

You are not going to get what you want.

Grow the fuck up. Be better than this.

...I need to be so much better than this.

*

[ music | none ]

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

retox

and now for the second thing that people in my life have been asking about (besides the moist shows): the cleanse. how does it feel to be done? do you feel good? are you relieved? was it tough? etc. etc. i realized that a lot of people are kind of fascinated by cleanses, so! let's discuss.

(for those late to the game: i just spent all of november doing the douglas laboratories metabolic rejuvenation cleanse -- 28 days of no booze, no caffeine, no dairy, no gluten, no common allergens like shellfish, soy, eggs, citrus fruits and peanuts, no sugar, and no salt. and no fun, basically.)

first off, it wasn't really as hard as i thought it'd be. i've been more or less on the primal diet for the last few years, so i was already consuming little to no gluten or carbs, and my only dairy was coming from coffee cream or cheese. my main areas of overconsumption were sugar, booze and caffeine, so obviously those were what i struggled with the most.

i'll admit, though, that i technically only did 27 of 28 days -- last thursday, after the first moist soundcheck in 13 years, i was so emotionally overwhelmed that i needed alcohol and a fuckton of it. so i was more than glad to join some of my old fangirl-posse compadres for concert predrinks at a nearby bar, then continued the boozefest once i was back in the venue. eh, whatever, i was close enough to the finish line anyway. (and no, i didn't get smashed after a single drink. i suppose my resistance was still decent?)

around the third week, i really started to suffer from restrictive-diet boredom. i was basically confined to the following: organic meats, fruit, vegetables, unsalted nuts, beans, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, and unsweetened almond milk. and sure, you can get creative with that menu -- if you've got the time and money. i didn't have much of either. so, it was a lot of salads and plain chicken breasts, which is fine because i enjoy both things very much -- but not after week 3 of 4. sooooooo bored.



this was my breakfast every morning: a green monster smoothie. specifically (if you want to make it yourself, and i actually do recommend it) 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk + 1/2 cup water + 1 teaspoon maca powder + 1/2 scoop vega vanilla chai protein powder + 1 tablespoon almond butter + a couple huge shakes of cinnamon + 2 handfuls baby spinach + 1/2 frozen banana + 3 ice cubes. dump that stuff in your blender in that order and hit puree. way more delicious than it looks.

but holy shit, did i miss coffee in the morning. and in the afternoons. and before the gym. and while walking around town. coffee has long been the last of my little indulgences - a relatively inexpensive treat, a nice little pick-me-up - and to go without it just made me sad, and also pretty tired. (weirdly, i didn't experience any headaches or other withdrawal symptoms. i just felt exhausted a lot.)

i missed booze, too, but for different reasons -- because being sober for a month makes me lousy company. i'm not one of those people who can go to social events and not drink, because for one i find it boring (i'm big on alcohol as a social lubricant) and for two i hate being the "sober friend". i want to get drunk and be an idiot like everybody else! so, to go without drinking for 28 days meant that i missed out on a bunch of fun social events (including things like dinners and brunches simply because the list of things i could eat was so restrictive), and i was grumpy and uninterested at the ones i did go to. sorry, friends. for what it's worth, my liver has apparently been cleansed and is now ready for december holiday abuse.



shots! shots! shots!

with december holidays, though, come holiday sugary treats, and that's something else i'm going to have to watch: my easily-out-of-control sugar intake, which was a huge reason why i wanted to do the cleanse in the first place. while i managed to keep my cravings under control with fruit and decaf tea, i actually started working with more natural sugars (mostly dates and stevia, which i was allowed), so i want to keep that up in an effort to keep my sweet tooth appeased. i can expand it now to include things like coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey, which gives me a few more low-glycemic options. for example, i've been making these coconut oil chocolates for a while, and i think i almost prefer them to the real thing:



sure, it's still sugar, but at least it's easier on my system than junky refined crap. also, natural shit be expensive, so i guess that's better because i won't be using it so much? or something.

now, the big questions:

did i lose weight? i can't give you exact numbers because i don't use a scale, but yeah, i can definitely say that my clothes fit a bit looser now. yet it's not like i had a ton to lose; aside from feeling bloated and uncomfortable over the last few months because of too many indulgences, i haven't been legitimately pudgy since i was a teenager. sure, i put on some love pounds when i was in my five-year relationship, but then i ended up dropping quite a few of those in the post-breakup aftermath when i was living on vodka and regret. my saving grace has always been that i'm on the tall side, so my medium frame's always been able to compensate for a few extra pounds without making me look like a blimp.

oh, and i also cut way back on my gym time - four days a week instead of six - mostly because of being tired all the time, so there's that to consider. very interesting. (i'm chalking up my exhaustion to being anemic, and i'm considering either getting back on the iron supplements or just taking b12.)

did i get really bitchy? i don't...think so? maybe people around me would tell you differently. i did get a little edgy and weird around the second and third fridays of the cleanse, though. other than that, did i notice a difference? well, as i mentioned before, without any caffeine or sugar in my system, i slept like a fucking rock. i also had noticeably less anxiety than i usually experience (i'm generally a ball of nerves for myriad reasons). as another side effect, my skin got really clear. too bad i can't isolate what the problem food item was (dairy? sugar?).

how do i feel now? pretty good, i guess. it's a nice relief to have my clothes fit normally again, and according to adam (who's done this cleanse before, and his wife's done it twice), it rejigs your metabolism to the point where you can have one "cheat day" per week and not suffer any consequences. still, i was an idiot and didn't use the final week of the cleanse to gradually reintroduce foods, so now i'm dealing with minor gastrointestinal unpleasantness here and there, whoops. plus i'm a little sad to notice that dairy and booze taste weird to me now -- like, there's something off about it on my taste buds. but i don't plan to plunge face first into a cheese plate, as much as i'd like to. would kind of undermine my efforts over the last month if i just fell right back into old habits. for me, the undertaking was so i could break bad habits and cravings, and i'd rather not just backslide.

cleanses aren't a miracle solution, obviously, and they're not for everybody. it's debatable whether or not the two packs of 4-5 supplements i had to take per day were actually doing anything; apparently they're supposed to help kickstart your metabolism and clean out your liver, but hey, who knows. maybe they were just expensive placebos. (as i said before, i need a price tag on things like this in order to make myself stick to it.) also, healthy food ain't cheap, and it generally requires a fair bit of prep ahead of time so you can control what's going into your body. (i cheated and ate store-bought hummus, which probably contributed to extra salt in my diet, but i didn't have the time to make it homemade) still, i always have enjoyed food prep, and it was nice to get back to focusing on putting quality stuff in my body. i can be a real nutritional sciences/health food nerd.



on the left, raw macadamia-cashew butter with maca powder; on the right, roasted almond-coconut butter with vanilla. costly and time-consuming, but deliciously worth it.

and then on sunday, i did this:

notice the lack of starchy carbs. i couldn't do it. give me all the vegetables and extra wine instead.

followed by dessert:



and so it goes.

happy december! may it be full of wine and cheese plates for all of you.

[ music | lorde, "royals" ]

beyond the pale

and it's only been in the last week that i've been able to nail down the dilemma that's repeatedly plagued me for the last ten years of my life:

at the end of the day, what can you do when you have to give up the thing you want most in the world because it's actually killing you inside?

i've faced this at least three times that i can identify, and every single time, i've managed to find some kind of strength to override my id and walk away from something that's made me happier than anything. because i can identify what is simple momentary happiness, and how it can sometimes corrode things, and how poisonous it can get. i can see how the things i want the most can sometimes ruin me. and although i live for the things that bring me joy, in the end, to me, self-preservation always wins.

but what i didn't realize was how it all still haunts you, once you walk away.

[ music | lorde, "team" ]

Sunday, December 1, 2013

no it's not personal now

so, it happened. after more than twelve years, i got to see my favourite band ever live and reunited. and as i said to numerous people in the days leading up to it, if you'd told my 16-year-old self that she'd have to wait until she was 30 years old to see moist get back together, she would have hated you on sight.



i'm writing this one partially as a companion piece to this blog post from back in may, because by now i've not only seen moist once but twice -- the first show in london on thursday, and the show in toronto last night. i mean, come on -- no way was i going to miss them playing my city, but there was also no way i'd miss the first gig of the mini-tour. london's only a couple hours on the bus, plus one of my close cousins lives there and i hadn't seen him in years, so, a plan.



did i feel weird and apprehensive about going back down this old road again? you bet your ass i did. there's a lot of thorny history there, and many of the old guard expressed anxiety about returning to the front row and all its grade-school politics. but for me, anyway, there's no denying tradition, and there was no way i would let any nervousness keep me away from this first show. a lot of my life with the bands has been based around a deep-seated obligation within me to be there for them, to support the music and the live shows in return for the awesomeness they've put out into the world that's gotten me through so much. and once you're right in the front row and the band is making eye contact with you and grinning and waving at you, then you feel like it's all worth it, like you're one of the special fans, and there's nowhere else you'd rather be. it was really, truly goddamn nice to be back.

because that's what i've always understood - and loved - about fandoms: they're a wonderful escape. whether it's a book or a movie or a tv show or a sports team or a rock band, having a fandom to belong to and pour yourself into is a break from the normal boring everyday and, if you're lucky, you get to escape with likeminded people who become your companions and your friends. you all go down the rabbit hole together. and me, i definitely didn't have any horrifying trauma that i was trying to escape from; nevertheless, i wanted something different from this world. something else. i wanted to be a part of something. and my love for this band was my first stepping stone into that world, as well as a huge portion of my own self-discovery when i was just coming into my own. and that's why i wouldn't have missed this reunion for the world.

anyway, i had the vip access package for the first show - in london, ontario - so off i went to the early soundcheck (and meeting up with old fangirl posse acquaintances along the way -- serious high-school reunion times).



we got to hear "shotgun" and "breathe" and i may have lost my mind a little bit. then there was a hilarious awkward photo op for everybody as well as meeting the band members (i more or less hugged everybody and was grinning like a maniac the entire time).



got some quick chat with jeff and kevin after the photo ops were done as well; kevin asked if i was still writing and told me some fun stories, and jeff told me that he's reminded of my tattoo every time he plays "believe me," so, you know, total abject delight. some things - many things - have not changed since we were all much younger.

oh, and people kept asking me where my sign was.  brief hilarious, semi-embarrassing backstory: when i was going to all those david usher shows, i used to make signs for kevin -- like, bright neon-yellow posterboard signs with a different kevin-centric message on them each time.  i did this for every show.  i literally have a gigantic roll of neon tubing at my father's house -- i think the total ended up being 37 signs or something insane like that.  anyway, it was my schtick - i did it specifically so i would stick out and the band would remember me - and it got to the point where everyone expected them.  so naturally, i pondered the idea of making one for the first show - probably reading what took you so long? and something about kevin in brackets - but then i laughed to myself and figured ah, no.  i'm thirty years old now and not quite as shameless as i used to be, and i should hope the band knows who i am by now.  i don't think i need the gimmicks anymore.  but yeah, there were a couple moments when i sort of missed the adrenaline rush and feeling of hoisting a big yellow sign into the air at an optimum moment during the show.  the fact that people still remember me as "the kevin sign girl" actually makes me proud more than embarrassed.



here is a hilarious old example. the things you do when you are young.

vip access also granted us early admission into the venue, so of course we all booted it up front as usual. my only tragedy of the night came when my phone slid off my coat and onto the floor, completely scrambling the display and rendering it inoperable for the rest of the night. so, no photos from the london show. but i guess that's kind of okay, since it let me focus on the show itself and have both hands free for thrashing/headbanging/what have you. (i used to do this extensively - and crazily - at dave shows when i was a teenager, so i figured hey, why stop now)

i also only cried twice -- once during "underground," weirdly enough, and once during "believe me," because of course i would tear up during that song of all their songs. it's inked under my skin! forever! ah, yes.

oh, and the night's highlight (after the lowlight that was fucking up my phone) was managing to ask kevin to pass me david's set list, and he did. praise be to the keyboard player. so now i have the frontman's set list from the first moist show in 13 years. life accomplishment: complete. here it is, if you want to spoil it for yourself (it was the same set in toronto as well, minus "machine punch through" for some weird reason) and/or enjoy david's verbal cues for some of the more twisty songs:



(yes, that is "black black heart." i guess it's always been the most moist-esque of david's solo songs, anyway.)

at the end of the night, though, it was just really super awesome to see how happy they looked playing those old songs together again. that onstage joy just made me jump around and cheer and scream even harder, because it's infectious, and it makes the show that much better. it's not hard at all to show that much support for a band that seems to be just as pleased that so many people have come back after so many years away. (the london venue was a bit small, but it still managed to pack in about 500 people; toronto was larger and probably three-quarters full) i couldn't stop smiling for hours afterwards, even with the ringing in my ears.

as for the toronto show two nights later, it was the same awesome deal (i didn't have vip, but i managed to finagle/charm/ninja my way into the front row anyway), but this time i actually had my iphone working again! (i had to pay $100 in a tiny mall shop in london on friday to get it fixed. not impressed.) i won't bombard you all with photos - my iphone's camera did a pretty crappy job on 'em anyway - but here's a selection of the better ones:







there are many more photos like this on my camera roll. um, yep. i am still seventeen.



mark fucking makoway. watching him play was a total show highlight both times. the guitar faces! the scissor kicks! oh god we missed mark so much.



vaguely ominous jeff silhouette. (note: jeff is the least ominous person on the planet.)





the majority of my photos are of kevin & jeff because i have always stood on what we used to call "kevin/jeff side"; specifically, i tried to stand as directly in front of the keyboards every time. well, yes.





and that was toronto, and that was my favourite band playing their second show in 13 years.

but at the end of the day, it was much more than that. as i stood in the front-row scrum with a number of women who had been some of my dearest friends and closest rivals when i was on the crossroads to becoming an independent young adult - the fangirl posse, all of us older but still so in love with this one goddamn band, putting everything aside so we could all sing along together - i could remember back to a time when this had been enough for me, and moreover, it had been everything to me. all of a sudden, i'd discovered what made me happier than anything in the world, and i was willing to go to whatever lengths it took to make that my life.

and i saw all the years go by since this, all the faces and places and names of the bands and musicians who took centre stage in my life, for however long or short.

green eyes, blue eyes, brown eyes, the kind of gaze that i treasured more than anything, the tightest of hugs, someone else's hand in mine, really cold nights, endless cigarettes and shots of vodka, telling you stories, you telling me stories, long hours on the bus, on trains, on airplanes, the giddy feeling in my chest like my heart was about to explode any minute, on the road to las vegas, on the road to anywhere, heels up on the dashboard, singing along to the radio, trying to be a good girlfriend, trying to be the best girlfriend, standing in front row and smiling so hard and so proud, chain-smoking to keep from bursting into tears, missed birthdays, missed anniversaries, missed holidays, reunions, counting down the days to the end of tour, catching your eye while you're onstage and you grinning at me like i'm the only person in the world that matters, soundchecks, set lists, photo booth strips, selling merch, perching on the edge of the stage, your voice singing in my ears, your sounds in my head, knowing the backstories and the little histories, mornings too early and bright, late-night drives through the city lights, caretaking as best i could, promising i would always be there for you, my secrets, your secrets, the sex and the drugs and the complications, openly crying in public places, in-jokes, unfinished demos, all the nights i can't remember and the ones i won't forget, deleting all my mp3s of your music, unfriending, unfollowing, deleting deleting deleting, sitting on my balcony alone with my head in my hands, realizing what it takes to let someone go, realizing what i need to do to save myself from all this -- because sometimes it feels like it's swallowed me whole, but, as the song goes, it ain't got the best of me yet.

and if you rewind the tape back far enough, you'll find that it all begins with a teenage girl in love with a band. with this band.



and sometimes that's all it takes to make a life.

[ music | arctic monkeys, "do i wanna know?" ]