Friday, January 30, 2015

the best-laid plans

here, then, is my short-term plan (because i'm one of those people who believes you need to write things down, in public, in order to force yourself to go through with them):

before i start, there are two truths you must understand: 1) i love my apartment and 2) my apartment is expensive. well, it's not that expensive for toronto, but it'd be a lot to afford on anything less than a decent salary. that's how it is. but fuck, man, i love my apartment with the fire of a thousand suns. it's clean, it's bright, it's decorated the way i want it, it's quiet, it has a balcony, it's close to downtown. these are all things that i think make an apartment a bargain. i am willing to pay for these things.

this gets a little sticky when you don't have the funds with which to pay it.

so, here's the thing: my lease is up for renewal in august. that means if i want to continue down my current road of freelancing and possibly picking up a day job on the side, i will have to give my two months' notice in june, because there will be no way i can keep paying the rent on this place. unless i find a satisfying, awesome agency job (and i'd really not rather settle for anything less) by, say, april/may of this year, then i will have to leave my amazing apartment behind.

an obvious solution would be cohabitation, and sean actually offered to move in to help me cover rent; sweet of him, yes, but i really think that couples moving in together primarily for financial reasons can breed resentment. (not to mention i think my junior 1 bedroom may be a tad small for two people, especially since he wants to get a cat) there's the option of me giving my notice in june and us looking for a new apartment together, but that hinges on whether or not he'll have a new apartment for himself by then (and he's actively looking right now). yet again, that feels to me like moving in together for financial reasons, not because we want to or because we're 100% ready to do so. but who knows? maybe we will be by then. time will tell, i guess.

but when it comes to jobs, look -- i may be a freelance writer right now, but i want to stay in the professional public relations and/or marketing game. i do. i think i've still got a lot to offer. just that it's incredibly competitive at the moment, and sometimes it's a real crapshoot whether or not you'll get an awesome workplace or somewhere that sucks your soul out. i'm at a crossroads here where i can decide whether i want to take a chance on that lifestyle again, or if i want to take a chance on staying on the freelance road. but if i don't stay in the agency biz, then i'll have to give up my apartment. (i doubt it would ever be as serious as outright leaving toronto, but i would definitely have to downgrade to like, a shitty bachelor basement somewhere -- coincidentally, what i was living in back in those halcyon days of being a barista slash journalist)

on the flip side of that, though, it hasn't been too shabby being freelance. i'd be lying if i said it hasn't been great to be my own boss, or set my own hours, or work out of my own place. but if this goes on through the spring, i will have to get a day job to supplement my savings. am i willing to give up my apartment in exchange for job freedom? and if i do, will i be able to keep up with the freelance life? i'm not very good at hustling or promoting myself, really, and you definitely need to do both in order to attract clients. plus i miss working with a team, and i miss having colleagues that i know have my back and vice versa. i've made great friendships everywhere i've worked, and you don't get that when you're a business of one.

anyway, to reiterate, i have four months to lock down an agency job that i'll love, or else i'll have to take a deep breath, downsize, and plunge back into the life i was leading in 2006-07. as my friend katy said the other day, "things always happen when they're meant to", so let's see what happens.

[ music | the orwells, "who needs you" ]

Thursday, January 29, 2015

i don't know how

part 1: something i'm envious of, but also in awe of: people who manage to make big career changes in their life.

you know what i mean -- people who were working some kind of job that maybe they were okay with or maybe they hated, but either way they decided a change was necessary and left that career field to shake everything up in their life. maybe they were working a shit job and decided to swing around and do something completely different based around a long-held interest or hobby, or maybe they liked their current job and just figured they wanted to try something new. i'm amazed by this, and either way, i want to learn how to accomplish this. (and not so i can write a best-selling book about my inspirational life journey later! larf larf)

i suspect it costs money, which i do not have. i suspect it also takes a shit-ton of motivation and drive, which i...don't have a whole lot of either. i'm a bit screwed from the beginning because i don't exactly have any hidden talents or interests that could propel me out of office life and into something new and inspiring. (pretty sure baking professionally isn't for me, before you point out the obvious. i would get too stressed out. baking is my fun-time thing.) so i feel like i can sit here and wrack my brain and wish fervently that i could be one of those success stories that really found her true calling etc etc....but yeah, no. i'm not sure how much i myself can handle. (if left to my own devices i.e. if i don't have proper guidance, i can be kind of lazy.)

i actually have multiple friends who've made big 360s in their professional lives, and as my mother suggested, i ought to talk to them about it. ask them how they went about accomplishing it. i'm not under any delusions that one career would be easy than another for these friends, but i'm sure they made the change because they wanted something more fulfilling, you know? and for me, i'm in a prime position right now to make a switch like that, if only i had something completely new and different to try. but i don't know where to start. i guess i just don't want to get trapped in a shit job that makes me regret every living day, right?

anyway, career anxiety is not thrilling, the end.

part 2: i'm making the conscious effort to be nicer on the internet.

you know how it is, the little things you can do -- compliment someone's photo, write a happy birthday message on their facebook wall, congratulate them for something awesome that's happened to them. thing is, they're such little gestures that it's also easy not to bother, and i sort of haven't over the last few years. not out of anything malicious, but just because i personally figured they wouldn't make that much of a difference for someone (especially when it's something like a facebook birthday, because we've all gotten the generic "happy birthday!" comments that someone's just tossed off in two seconds).

well, i decided this year that i should change that. wish people happy birthday -- but not generic and quickly, actually take the time to write a little message. like peoples' photos on instagram. praise good stuff that's happened to acquaintances on twitter. say nice things on someone's photo. take part in facebook conversations. it all sounds cloying, but it's not in small measures. it's just that it's so easy to be aloof and distant and bitchy on the internet (especially when you feel like nothing's going right in your own life but everyone else seems to have it fucking made), but i'm starting to feel like even the small things add up in painting a portrait of oneself, particularly when so many of us basically live online. and 1) i don't want to look like a jerk and 2) if it's such a little effort with a potentially big warm-fuzzy result, then why not, right? right.

ummmm that's it for now i guess. have a picture of what is typically my perfect night:

[ music | blood orange, "you're not good enough" ]

Monday, January 26, 2015

#Reverb15: Ungoals

What are you so NOT doing this year? What's on your "I just can't care about that" list?

this year, as every year since i was about 25 or so, i vow to make the conscientious effort to not give a shit what other people think about me. that's the ultimate "i can't care about that" goal, isn't it? i'm starting to feel, though, that not a lot of people ever reach that point -- and sadly, i might never will.

not to say that i don't admire people who do seemingly get to that spot. it must be the raddest thing in the world to not have to worry about everyone else's perception of you, be it family or close friends or colleagues or random strangers on the street. i'm not saying i find it paralyzing or anything, but i can fully admit to not wanting to appear in public looking like a shitbag. i don't want people thinking i'm a slob, or that my skin looks hideous and my hair unstyled, or that i don't care about my appearance. but that's the rub, isn't it -- that as long as i know i'm not a slob, i shouldn't care if other people do, right? because it's not the truth. and around and around it goes.

maybe you learn how to keep insecurity to yourself as you get older. i don't know. but i do know that it feels pretty silly to be worried about outside perception at this point in my life, in my thirties, because it seems like such twentysomething vanity. i want to get to the spot where i don't care. i do. but i still hold myself to a higher personal standard, and that includes taking care of myself to the point that i am confident in myself when i step out the door. which means i really ought to do it more, rather than barricading myself in my apartment because i just can't face the outside world due to crisis of self-esteem.

me, 31 years old, circa january 2015.

so in a roundabout conclusion, i suppose that's my biggest ungoal for 2015, as it is for many years: learn how to shut up the voices in my head and just be present without worrying about how i will be perceived. i can do everything i can to make a good impression, but at the end of the day, i am who i am and that's not gonna change. even with a few coats of mascara.

[ music | echo & the bunnymen, "do it clean" ]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

five things

inspired by a chapter of belle de jour's playing the game, here are a few lists:

five things i have, but don't want

1. the inability to sleep in past 8:30 in the morning. on the rare occasion at my boyfriend's - meaning we were probably up until 1-2 a.m., plus his apartment is very cozy and dark and he has the best duvet - i will sleep until 10:30 or so, but never more than that. i'm usually up before 8, to be honest -- even if i didn't get to bed til after midnight. there have been times when i've gone to bed at 3 in the morning only to be wide awake again at 7. blech.

2. a raging allergy to most metals, which means that although i love jewelry, there's very little of it i can wear without being worried that it will give me an itchy poison ivy-like rash on my skin within 20 minutes.

3. the tendency to overanalyze every. single. thing. no matter how many times i'm told "don't overthink it", i will do the exact opposite and overthink myself into a mental fucking ditch. my brain seems to have the unbreakable ability to never turn itself off, ever.

4. a lingering craving for a cigarette. always.

5. stretch marks. they're not so garish as some, but i'd much rather be without, or at the very least just a couple (and all in places i can cover up easily).

five things i want, but don't have

1. any sort of grand, overarching purpose to my life. is that too vague? okay fine, at least a semi-defined career path would be nice.

2. more opportunities in my life to travel. i used to have these, and now i don't, and for all the expenses and packing and bother, i think back fondly on those days. it can sometimes take a lot to get me out in the world - see above re: expenses, plus the neuroticism over whether i've packed everything - but i always do enjoy it once i'm there. i need more life experiences and big trips usually provide.

3. the ability to magically be without all of the more unsightly body hair. or at least have it grow in blonde and therefore be less visible.

4. total fluency in any language other than english. i've always thought this would be the coolest fucking thing.

5. a kitty.

five things i don't have and don't want

1. nut allergies.

2. a dog.

3. any serious, life-affecting addiction problems. the worst vice i have is drinking too much caffeine.

4. on that same token, any serious, life-affecting health problems. especially in this age when everything gives you cancer.

5. a house in toronto. homeowning is not for me. i will rent forever.

[ music | glass animals, "gooey" ]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

in from the cold

it's been chilly out.

...which suits me just fine, as i am a fervent lover of cold weather. sure, i don't like it when there's wind that feels like it's cutting right into your face, but when it's not windy and just cold settling all around you, i love it. i have a lot of positive associations with winter; for some reason, it really centers me, being out in the cold. that one (warm and almost completely snow-free) winter i spent in vancouver threw me off in a way i didn't expect. give me the bracing, shivery temperatures any day. (no, i don't like summer or any of the warmer months. i overheat/sweat/sunburn easily.)

also, winter fashion is my favourite, and i like any excuse to get to wear tall socks:

so i'm still making an effort to get out of the house, at least, if not for daily gym runs and errands then for get-togethers with friends and random events. most hilarious example: i took a beginner's ukulele class at the gladstone on monday night, because hey, i actually had a ukulele (i got one as a christmas gift from my coworkers back in 2012) but i hadn't yet seriously tried to play it. the tickets for the class were cheaper if you brought your own uke, so i figured what the hell, right? and i ended up being glad i signed up, because i was reading through my archive of tweets the other day and reflecting sadly on how it seems like my life was really neat and dynamic only a couple years ago. i was doing a ton of weird and interesting things. sure, it was mostly to distract myself from the fact that i was depressed as fuck and crumbling inside, but at least i was forcing myself out and doing things rather than just schlumping around at home. which is what i've been mostly doing as of late. sigh.

anyway, yeah. uke time!

obscure fact about me: i took guitar lessons for a year and a half when i was a teenager. i had a nice little electric guitar and an amp of my very own, and i diligently spent half an hour every tuesday and thursday choking my way through chord progressions and arrangements. however, i knew it wasn't meant for me, since i tended to think of it as a chore and not something i actually enjoyed spending my time doing. yet i found that this background actually did me some good when it came to ukulele; i already knew how to read chord charts and form some of the more complicated chords, even though it was one less string than i was used to. that obviously made it easier. whee!

another thing i didn't forget: how numb your fingertips feel after hammering down on strings for repeated minutes on end. it literally feels like i burned them on something. (and i would know, given how i've tried to develop the cook's "teflon fingertips" over the years.)

but yeah! it was pretty fun, and the hour and a half flew by. we learned the aforementioned chords, a couple different types of strumming, how to tune the uke, and we even played a couple songs as a group (there were some singers in the sold-out crowd as well, which was an added harmonizing bonus). i was a bit envious of those who signed up and paid extra for a take-home ukulele - they got sweet coloured mahalo ones - but i'm still doing fine with mine. i've already downloaded a ukulele tuner app for my ipad, and i think i'll keep up with it at home rather than spending hours playing dumb games on my tablet. might as well do something productive, and preferably free -- sorry, rosetta stone, i'd love to use my spare time to learn a second language but not for $300 or whatever it costs for your software. bah.

speaking of productive: on the days when it's all "extreme cold warning" out there, i've sequestered myself inside and done a lot of cooking and baking. so far i've made buffalo chicken chili, chicken stock, chocolate macaroons and coconut banana bread, plus i have plans to make a batch of brown rice (for future fried rice) on friday and kale quinoa soup on sunday. since i'm going to be stuck inside due to the weather (yes, sometimes it gets too cold out for even me), i figure i might as well make use of the time and fill up my freezer with goodies for a later date. it's something my tight budget hasn't allowed for in the past few months, but i've really missed it, and i've decided to spend january relaxing my budgetary hold and doing small non-expensive things that bring me joy -- namely cooking, baking, and streaming music online (which tends to suck up bandwidth, and my data usage is usually against/over the cap as it is). why the fuck not? it all evens out in the end, and i survive okay. yolo or whatever.

lastly, i've been spreading this trailer far and wide online, and for good reason -- i love penny dreadful so so much. it hits all the fiction happy zones for me. over-the-top gothy supernatural horror with a cast that 110% gorgeous? fuck. yes. plus it's erotic and weird and gory and insane and so much more beyond that. i'm counting down the days til april (also, prayer circle for a vanessa/ethan canon pairing because maaaaaybe i want to see eva green and josh hartnett get it on).

[ music | the wombats, "your body is a weapon" ]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

listen well

welcome to round 3 of caitlin listens to maybe-obscure, possibly-underrated music and recommends it to you! (here are the first and second entries, if you're interested -- and yes, those songs and the ones below are all available on spotify, which i love a lot)

first off, some stats nerdery -- according to (at which i have been faithfully scrobbling since 2004), here are the top artists i listened to in 2014:

and the top songs:

none of those were a surprise to me at all, really. i have my ipod plugged in to my ears constantly, and when i find a song i like, i tend to put the damn thing on repeat and just go. but some of those numbers really are collective; i listen to a shit-ton of the mission's songs, and a large chunk of my itunes library is made up of sisters of mercy tracks. and there was indeed a period in march/april when i think i listened to cold war kids' "miracle mile" over and over for like an hour, every single day. i don't know how and why these songs grab me, they just do.

...and that's as good a segue as ever into this batch of current tunes i'm enjoying that you may not have heard before and should probably put into your ears, like, now.

broods - "mother & father"

good solid drumbeat to anchor this dreamy little piece of indie pop fluff. pretty sure everyone can relate to the lyrics - about leaving home and how everything changes - but this new zealand sibling duo makes sure to lodge it in your memory with warm tones and haunting female vocals. this one grabbed me by the heart and i added it to my itunes immediately.

sylvan esso - "coffee"

the sylvan esso album made it on a lot of critics' top ten list for 2014, and i think it was for good reason. as above, sylvan esso is another guy-girl duo group, and they've been making an impression on indie radio as of late. i don't care much for their other single ("hey mami"), but this song's almost rootsy sound combined with delicate electronica makes this a nice little background tune for when you're fiddling around at home in the morning (with coffee, obvs).

the chain gang of 1974 - "sleepwalking"

i'm fairly sure this song got a lot of exposure - it was on the grand theft auto V soundtrack - but for a one-man band (dj and former 3oh!3 bassist kamtin mohager), i really dig this one. (also, don't get it mixed up with the 1975, who are also an awesome band that's hit it big in recent years) it must have been a perfect fit for gta, since this would make for a great driving song, not to mention a perfect soundtrack for just walking around town.

wrongchilde - "birds of prey"

it's no secret that i've been a raging kill hannah fan for almost 12 years now -- i've got their logo tattooed, i appear on their dvd, etc. etc. they and their music were a huge part of my early twenties, but time rolls on, and now kh frontman mat devine has got a new solo project called wrongchilde. this is the first song off their debut album, 2014's gold blooded, and it's all echoes and delicate melodies and toe-tapping synths -- like the very early kill hannah stuff, but more finely-honed. we've all grown up, but it's nothing but good. (and mat's still a total fox, and also a damn fine gentleman weirdo. all the love.)

beware of darkness - "all who remain"

this one's reaching back a little bit to 2013, but i got into it at about this time last year -- timely, since #bellletstalk was happening as well, and a lot of people were sharing their stories of depression and mental illness. "all who remain" is about the aftermath of a loved one's suicide, but also trying to convince those on the edge that they do have worth and they'll be missed if they choose to go. the song doesn't quite slip into maudlin territory, though i love it all the same.

tv on the radio - "happy idiot"

yeah, i'm cheating here, because i'm willing to bet more than a few of you have heard of tvotr. still, this recent single off their current album seeds is goddamn awesome -- all the dark synth and amazing vocal ranges you can handle. every bit as good a driving song as "wolf like me". (also, if you haven't seen tvotr frontman tunde adebimpe in rachel getting married, you should. he has a small part, but the movie itself is just phenomenal, if you're down with darker rom-com tragedy pieces.)

now for a quick personal note -

so i have some cds, right? some cds by a bunch of different bands. the songs from all of these cds used to be on my ipod, but they're not anymore. and every year, i kind of have to do a gut check, like, are you cool listening to this stuff yet? as in, will it be a trigger of sorts, listening to those songs and letting the memories cascade in. i'm in a good place right now and i don't fear slipping or going back, but the magnitude of those recollections and dusty old feelings scare me.

i can't face it this year. but maybe someday.

[ music | placebo ft. alison mosshart, "meds" ]

Saturday, January 3, 2015

both sides now

#reverb14 is finished! and 2014 also. that's probably cool on both counts, i was getting bored with both of them.

overall, i was completely satisfied with chill new year's eve at home. though i still painted my nails for the occasion...'s always nice not to feel the pressure of having to go out on the town along with millions of other people. here's the thing about new year's eve in toronto: cabs are impossible. public transit is packed. designated drivers are unicorns. so if you're looking to party-hop, your best bet is to just walk to and from places, but surprise! the wind chill is -25 celsius and you're wearing spike heels and a dress so tiny it takes up negative space. impossible and ridiculous. so, i was almost relieved to admit i'd gotten to the age where i didn't feel that i had to get out there and party the fuck up.

oh, and a couple of these to get started:

french 75, constructed according to my always-handy constitutions of classic cocktails chart: half an ounce each of cointreau and lemon juice, one ounce of gin, and four ounces of champagne. that did me quite well during both the leafs game and a watch of guardians of the galaxy (we'd already seen it, but it was one of our favourite movies of 2014, so) -- until the next morning, when i remembered what a crappy hangover you get from bubbly. urgh.

gigantic breakfast to the rescue!

yep, hair-of-the-doggin' it up with mimosas. (not-so-guilty secret about me: i would drink mimosas at breakfast every day if i could. not even getting blasted on pitchers of mimosas at an all-you-can-drink brunch in new york city back in 2010 would deter me.) the pancakes and bacon also helped, as did sprawling out on the couch for four hours watching the football match followed by the nhl winter classic. we did make it back to sean's, eventually, after a much-needed long walk in the cold and hot korean food on yonge street. cups of tea and youtube late into the night always makes for a perfect evening, i think.

but hey, you know, welcome to the ninth year of this blog! if i include all those nascent diaryland (hah) blogs i kept back in the day, then i've been blogging publicly for fifteen years now. no, i'm not joking. i started in 2000 and now i'm here. don't think you'll find any of those old scribblings around any more; they're all offline and safely stored on my computer's hard drive for my sole consumption/recollection. (and, given how my poor old laptop's battery has been functioning lately, even that might not be for much longer -- there's a reason why i asked for a thumb drive for christmas) it's been a long, strange journey, but i do find it comforting sometimes to go back and read stuff i wrote over the years. sometimes blogging has been a slog, and sometimes i've slacked off on it, but i've never regretted putting any of it down in writing. if anything, i regret the fact that i didn't blog more of my life in the past. some of it can be cringeworthy to read, yes, but most of it serves as a good mental hallmark for where i was in certain places and times of the last fifteen(!) years of my life.

anyway, i wrote the majority of this post on a weird, unsettling cocktail of midol and naproxen, so i'll peace out now. (i made the mistake earlier of attempting to go to the gym, even though i'd just red flagged; ladies, when the magazines and websites tell you that exercise helps ease period cramps, don't believe them. you'll realize after the cold sweats, waves of nausea, and jarring, thudding womb pain that it's all a lie.)

[ music | tv on the radio, "happy idiot" ]