Monday, August 31, 2015

caught me thinking

hello, step into my office.

i feel so lucky that i get to spend my time here, usually in my pajamas or without pants altogether, choosing my own hours, drinking all the coffee i want, typing away on fun stuff as a job. (of course, my parents are concerned that i'm not leaving my apartment enough, but that's not totally fair -- i do get out to the gym and to run errands pretty much daily. though getting out of the house might decrease if i finally end up getting that cat i've been wanting for years...)

and just to prove that i'm legit:

my mother is forever so proud of her little girl's alma mater that i actually bought her a u of t hoodie for her birthday next week. she's always loved that place more than i did, anyway.

now that august is wrapping up, i can unequivocally say that it's been a great summer over here. i've done lots of solid work, i've gotten to see a lot of the city and a lot of my friends, i've read plenty of books, i've stayed healthy and put in many hours at the gym, and everything has been going swimmingly. i've even almost beaten neko atsume. almost! so close!

sean and i also took a perfect-weather day last week to go to the canadian national exhibition, my annual little cheesy toronto tradition (we're going back on thursday evening to 1) catch a free tokyo police club concert and 2) experience the cne at night).

then it was out for a walk along the harbourfront before finishing the day with beers and radler sangria at amsterdam brew house's waterfront patio:

great summer for sure, but man oh man am i ready for fall. if you know me at all - even if you only know me through reading this blog - you'll know that for one, i'm not a huge fan of summer (it's too hot and i hate the heat), and for two, i am a huge fan of autumn. these days, it's almost become a trendy meme for girls to go nuts over fall with its colours and layered clothing and pumpkin spice lattes, but fuck all y'all, i was here first. i was born a fall baby and it's been my favourite time of year long before it was the official season of hipsters.

anyway, i always get nostalgic ~feelings~ around early september, because they remind me of big life changes. i first moved to toronto on august 31st, 2002, and so september constantly makes me think of how out-of-my-mind excited i was to finally be living in toronto on my own. (not to mention every september after that signalled that i was one year closer to graduating, and getting out into the wide world as an adult.) i try to take the time every year to go for some wanderings around the university of toronto campus, if only so i can recall the delight and anticipation and see it on the faces of the newest crop of teenage frosh.

when you're a student at u of t, you have to pick a "college" to belong to (i know, it's confusing). this was mine, university college (i know, even more confusing).

and then the leaves start to change colour, and there's a nice chill in the air, and you get to pull out the tall boots and jackets and socks, and i turn into the stereotypical tumblr female. whatever, fall's just the best.

speaking of change: hurr cut time.

from this... this:

it's always hard and weird for me to adjust to a drastic haircut; i usually need about a week or two to sort out how i want to style it, and just how much maintenance it's going to require. this time around, my gut tells me it's about an inch shorter than i would have liked, but it all evens out because i want to make this haircut last a while and it's going to look absolutely perfect by the time i go home for thanksgiving in october. so although i'll need to really work to make it look good for the next few weeks (if i don't style it correctly, i end up looking like i have a soccer-mom bowl cut bob), it'll pay off once the fall rolls around.

plus at least it's not as bad as my shortest-ever haircut, which i had done in vancouver back in 2007 when i didn't have a regular hairdresser (and the salon i had no idea what i actually wanted):


and lastly for this blog post full of scattered thoughts and updates, my mom and stepdad moved out of the family home last friday, and onwards to the new home on the island. while i envy them a little bit right now - big life changes, when they're positive, are really fun and exciting - i don't envy the task of having to unpack everything, nor do i envy me when i go visit for the first time in october. i've already been warned repeatedly that for one, the wifi is super slow so internet is at a minimum, and for two, in order to get to downtown kingston i'll have to get a ride from someone (it only used to be a 45-minute walk before). so i'm not super stoked on this, but my mother is convinced i'll fall in love with the place. we'll see.

but first: september, and productivity, and shopping trips, and friend hangs, and a wwe house show, and meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time (they live overseas), and possible day trips to the u.s., and more. good times, they are ahead.

[ music | moonlight bride, "lemonade" ]

Monday, August 17, 2015

witness all the days

so a couple weeks ago, i opened facebook to see this pop up:

within a few minutes, i was purchasing tickets for the vip weekend package, and planning a pre-christmas visit to chicago for kill hannah's final show. absolutely no question about it.

(this is where i say hi haters, and also bye haters. this blog post is not for you.)

funny timing there, because lately i'd already been flashing back a lot to summer 2004. 2004 was a big year for me -- i was turning 21 in the fall, i had finished my second year of university, i'd been living in my own non-dorm apartment in toronto for the first time, i was successfully juggling work at my part-time job while attending classes, and most importantly, i started freelance writing for music magazines, which opened me up to a whole lot of new and current music. i fell in love with a lot of music in 2004 - interpol, the bravery, the faint, the libertines, robin black - and it was the kind of love that you only have when you hear seminal music during your formative early-adult years. even now, i have fond memories of 2003-2004 as being a pivotal couple of years for good new music, but that might just be my nostalgia talking and maybe it was mostly awful, i don't know. but it was in summer 2004 that i also started buying all the music magazines i could find in order to get better at my work, and that just introduced me to even more stuff i should be listening to. (my addiction to the uk's nme was absolutely responsible for my longstanding love of british bands.) i had no boyfriend, no university diploma and no career path, but damn if i didn't have an all-consuming love of music.

then i was introduced to the music of a chicago band called kill hannah, and although i had previously sworn that i would never love a band as much as i loved moist, all of a sudden, there was a rival for my fangirl affections.

an old (diaryland!) blog friend of mine, jesi, knew about my love for the makeup-wearing pretty boys of robin black & the intergalactic rock stars, and recommended that i give kill hannah a shot. "if it's pretty boys you love, then they're the band for you," she told me. and man, were they ever.

their first big commercial smash album, for never and ever, had just come out the previous fall, and they were making huge inroads among the nascent pre/post-teen myspace crowd. they were five hot dudes, yes, but the music they made was catchy electro beats mixed with alternative rock, kind of like placebo or afi. i dug it all immediately, especially their huge single, "kennedy":

even now, i have huge nostalgic love for some of the more obscure lo-fi early tracks, like "lightbulbs" or "lightning causes madness" or "stunt pilots" or "chloroform". plus i've yet to hear a more haunting song than "hummingbirds the size of bullets", which still gives me goosebumps every time i listen to it.

so i jumped into the fandom face first, racking up tons of time/infamy on their website's message board and making likeminded friends across the united states (they weren't known in canada at this point, and i actually met one of my best friends because she recognized the band's logo tattooed on my arm). as was my tradition at the time - when i had very few bills to pay and even fewer responsibilities or obligations - i used my love for a band as an excuse to travel. i went to detroit (my first time there), then chicago (also my first time), then back to chicago, then back to detroit, then chicago again. i saw them play every time they were in toronto, obviously, and went to a montreal show for good measure. but yeah, i would definitely say that this was where my love of chicago started; ever since then, the city's been intertwined for me with happy memories of epic concerts and excitable band-following. (i even got the city's flag tattooed on my right shoulder blade back in 2012.)

there was a kill hannah dvd filmed at their chicago homecoming show in 2003, and i'm all over it. i get briefly interviewed in line about my (still newish) kill hannah tattoo, and then you can see me in the front row with my friends for the entire show, dancing and howling and pumping my fist in the air. see, i never grew up in a family with video cameras, so to me, it's entirely bizarre to be able to see video footage of myself from over 10 years ago. i look much the same as i do now (but with a little more baby fat and fewer lines on my face), yet at the same time, there's me, me at 20 years old, and i remember being there, i remember being that girl.

that girl, beaming and excitable, has no idea what will happen in the years to come. she doesn't know about the people she'll meet, the relationships she'll gain and lose, all the places she'll end up living and the travelling she'll do. it's me, but it's not me, and that always trips me out a little bit. i'm still so young there.

and listening to the music now - especially at the height of summer, back when i was either all over the message boards or running off to see kill hannah a lot - is like an audible reminder of the last of my excitable youth, lack of shame, and unsuppressed recklessness. it forever reminds me of the exuberance of road trips, screaming along with everyone else in the front row, singing every word together. it's questionable fashion choices and smeared eyeliner and feeling weirdly awkward at being one of the oldest people at the after-show meet-and-greet. it brings back all the memories of how that escape was something i was living for at the time, and how being out on the road for a band - or with a band - was the only thing in the world i wanted to do. i didn't want a 9-to-5 job or a big house or kids or a conventional life. i wanted something a lot more than that, and i can see it all over the face of my younger self on the video footage. it was like i was finally home.

the other day, i was discussing the nature of fandoms with sean, and how it's hard to love anything as deeply as you did when you were younger and with less commitments. but when it came to the bands, i said, i'd probably do it again. he looked at me and cautiously said, "you can totally tell me i'm wrong on this, but doing that all again, at 31? i kind of don't think you would."

i shook my head. "oh, no. i would. i absolutely would."

because how do you really explain to someone who wasn't there just how happy you were back then, when you thought you were going to be 20 forever?

so, i'm older now, and a lot of things have happened, but i'm still that girl on video dancing and singing along in the front row. and so i'm going back to the very first place i visited on my first-ever trip to chicago in 2003, to say goodbye to one of my favourite bands, and to see how far we've all come.

[ music | none ]

Monday, August 10, 2015

queen of peace

it's been a busy month already and we're only a week in. whew! feels good, man.

first, though, i'm pleased to report that i'm typing this on my laptop running windows 10, which had a much more seamless installation than i'd expected. at first i wasn't sure if i'd be able to install it, given that my laptop is from 2010 and was still running windows 7, but it worked like a charm. this pertinent article from gizmodo went a lot way in alleviating my fears that my laptop would burst into flames. so now it's not quite like having a brand new computer, but i feel like it puts off the need to buy a new laptop for at least a couple more years. (if i'm being honest with myself, i really won't need a new laptop until this one breaks down completely -- it works fine for me right now, i just like having new tech toys)

i love my dell baby. (yes, i actually paid extra to have it skinned. i feel like it wasn't a waste of $75 or whatever.) i even gave it a good cleaning for the first time in, like, forever. anybody have a teeny tiny vacuum i could use to suck all the crap out from the keyboard?

anyway, having an updated machine is important for me right now, because i'm spending more and more time typing away on freelance assignments. that's right -- through a combination of my writing skills and my frugal life choices (even though my apartment remains my biggest expenditure, but hey, it's not like i have kids or a mortgage), i'm managing to earn my freedom from the 9-to-5 cubicle grind. freelance life is absolutely working for me, a writer who never adapted well to sitting in an office all day and conforming to the rituals of an "adult" job. (i did it for six years, though, so you can't say i didn't try. and it was rewarding in a lot of ways, but it never really felt right to me.) sure, it means that sometimes i work on weekends and late into the evenings, but you know what? i'm happy to do it. i'm really psyched to be productive on my own time and my own terms. it is tremendously rewarding to be your own boss, to set when and how you work, and to know that now you're freed of constraints, you've finally having a ton of fun doing what you do. it's a blast.

as i quoted on my tumblr:

my mom: "well, you should still get a part-time job, if only so you get out of the house once in a while."
me: "why would i ever want to leave my house?"

true facts.

however, additional bonus to the homebound freelance life: i might finally(!) be able to get a cat. i feel like now's as good a time as ever, especially since i'll be home a lot and we could keep each other company. so this might actually be happening in the fall, depending on how my budget situation is looking. (the cat-loving boyfriend is very excited by the prospect of this happening.)


i'm still kind of kicking myself for not succumbing to this tiny cutie that sean spotted at the local petsmart in june:

what a sweet little tiger face. (honestly, though, as much as i succumb easily to the charms of a kitten, i'd totally be open to adopting an adult cat too. every kitty needs a forever home, and after volunteering at the humane society back in 2011, i'm all too aware that the grown cats often get overlooked in favour of kittens. it's sad.)

truth time: although i feel like i ought to belong to the stay home club (anybody want to buy me a t-shirt?), for a week or so every month or two months, i get the urge to be as social as possible. it's like i need to binge on friend hangs to make up for all the time i spend at home alone (and also possibly remind my friends that i exist). i mean, for reals, as much as i can be happy being a hermit, i do love and treasure my friends and it's fun times to hang out with them. also it's a nice self-reminder that i'm not utter shit at being social, haha. (for me, it's one of those things that's like a muscle: if you don't use it, you lose it.)

for some inexplicable reason, i've been finding myself at the ballpark a lot lately:

i'm not at all what you'd call a fan of baseball, but i am a fan of 1) cheap sporting tickets and 2) going with groups of pals so we can all drink $10 beers and yell at baseballing together.

baseball friends! that's me in the middle, very happy with her awful beer (bud light lime, haters). my gold and black jays cap - borrowed from my new era addict boyfriend - was chosen on purpose to match with my seth rollins t-shirt. where my fellow architect devotees at? we love you, crossfit jesus.

i took this shot a few days later, at the simcoe day game where david price debuted as the newest blue jays pitcher. man, i don't know if i've ever seen the skydome that full before. (i peace'd out from that game earlier because i was sitting in the direct sun and getting a headache/nausea, but again, this is where a general non-investment in baseball comes in handy.)

aside from bazbol, there's been concerts, birthday parties, coffee dates/wine dates with girlfriends, and general tomfoolery to remind myself that getting out of the house can be a damn good time.

so, there we have it: the happy work-life balance, achieved at last. autumn is looking up.

[ music | saint pepsi, "fiona coyne" ]