Thursday, August 25, 2016

the sums never add up at all

so i wanted to write something about legacy, and cachet, and what that means to me as a measure of a person.

i guess i've been thinking about it a lot ever since the tragically hip's final concert, and the deaths of david bowie, and prince, and lemmy, and alan rickman, and every other entertainer and artist we've lost in 2016. it's the knowledge that we're all here for one time only - it's not like a video game, where you make a save point and hit reset if you want to start over again - and so you've got one shot to make your life matter. it's about having ambition to be somebody that people miss when you go, and somebody who leaves a mark on the world.

it's easy to be scared that you won't be one of those people.

it's no secret that i miss my twenties a lot, and it's mostly because for me, those years were full of so much possible for the future. i could do fucking anything. i had the chance to decide where i would build my legacy, and i would do it.

but then i kind of didn't? or at least, i haven't yet. and the trouble is that i'm a few years out of my twenties already, and i still don't know where to start, and i'm haunted by the fact that it's already too late for so many paths i could have taken.

for some people, their legacy is their children. and okay, fine; that makes perfect sense. they're the thing that gives you worth -- that confirms your life is meant for something. it was never the path for me, though, and i've known that since i was a teenager. maybe your legacy is your work and your career, but it's not like i've ever had a set career path either. i've got my writing ability, sure, but as a writer, the endgame ambition is always to write a book, but i've never had the inclination, and what would i write about anyway? my years as a hard-drinking rock n' roll party girl? we all knew that girl. it's not a very original story.

for some, their legacy is their art that they create, and that's the exact reason why i've loved musicians for as long as i have. i spent my twenties touring around with rock bands, and they were some of the finest examples of people with cachet that i've ever met in my life. they were also prime examples of what sort of sacrifices it takes, over years and years, to build a legacy. so when people ask me how i can understand those lives outside of the norm as well as i do when i've never lived them myself, i just tell them that i know, because i was there. it's built a lifelong empathy into me for any artist or entertainer who sacrifices a "normal life" in order to do what they love, and that hopefully others will love, too. it's why i've always loved them -- because i've seen the toll it takes, and i was there to listen.

cachet means a lot to me. it's a weird thing to explain, i guess, but i deeply value people with ambition, and people who want to make something out of their lives. i guess maybe i've always hoped it would rub off on me a little, and maybe i could tag along until i determined what i was meant to do. but that never really amounted to much - you can't count on somebody else to save you - and now here i am at 32 years old wondering what's left that i could do for myself, so that i don't keep having the nagging worry that i've been wasting my life.

anyway. i don't mean to be a huge bummer here; my life's good, i have my health, and things are fine. and really, i know this isn't a unique dilemma to have -- i feel like a lot of us struggle with self-worth from time to time. but i get this feeling a lot as fall approaches, because that's also when i turn one year older and get one step closer to my eventual end. and ever since i turned 30, i've started feeling more and more afraid of this time of year, because i know in my heart of hearts that i haven't added up to anything, and so many doors are already closed to me.

so what do you do when you're not sure what to do with your one life, and you can't stop feeling like you're running out of time to make something out of yourself?

exeunt existential thirtysomething crisis.

[ music | brandon flowers, "can't deny my love" ]

Saturday, August 20, 2016

time to pretend

the least fun thing is when you're a person with a uterus and you get hit with pms during a super-busy work week, meaning you have to juggle tasks against a background of alternating lethargy and frantic moods, migraines, and nausea. at least i can struggle with it in the comfort of my own home, i guess.

pms kit.

so now that i'm equipped with a new laptop, i really ought to make more of an attempt to try writing somewhere other than my apartment. (it's not like my former laptop wasn't portable, but its battery was borked, so it had to remain plugged in at all times) the only problem with this ambition is that it sounds good in principle, but not quite in action.

if i want to leave my place and head out into public to work, i feel the need to get cleaned up, put some makeup on, do my hair, put some pants on (the other steps may not be a requirement but pants certainly are). after some consideration, it all feels like too much effort for maybe a few hours by myself at a cafe, especially compared to the option of not bothering with makeup (or pants) and just working from the solitary of my own home. (call it frugal if you want, but all my makeup and hair stuff costs money, and the less i have to use the better)

but man, i miss being out in the general population. and after last week, when i basically confined myself to my apartment for almost a week - because of the extreme heat, and also because i needed to get work done - i was really missing just getting out for a walk. now that everything has eased off a bit and the weather has stopped being fires-of-hell hot, i'm back to wanting to spend more time outside of my place.

that's one of the benefits of freelancing: you can work wherever you want. me, though, i'm still not completely used to working in a spot other than my own place. reluctance to put on pants aside, i don't know if i'd concentrate very well at a coffee shop or the library or anywhere other than my own apartment. and that kind of sucks -- the fact that i can't really take advantage of the "work wherever you want" scenario. i read articles about freelancers who move overseas and work from all across the globe, because they can. and i've always kind of loved the romantic notion of packing up my laptop and just travelling, going wherever i want to without having to worry about putting on the ol' out of office reply, because i can bring my office with me.

i will say, though, that having my ddp yoga dvds has definitely been a saving grace through these busy months and hot weather. it's so nice to still be able to get some exercise, even if i'm confined to my apartment. (i don't weigh myself, so i'm not sure if i've lost any weight at all, but i feel better, so that's important)

alright, i'm back to the grind. have a big smile from this new neighbourhood friend:

[ music | the bravery, "swollen summer" ]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

the digital age

the saga of the new computer!

so i actually got my laptop delivered earlier than i expected, yet after i booted it up for the first time, i noticed a problem: a tiny dead pixel on the screen. i tried not to let it bother me, but my eyes kept flickering back to it throughout the computer setup process, and then it really started to bug me. no way did i spend full price on a brand-new laptop that had a dead pixel!

and so even though it went against my nature of "ugh, that's too hard, i won't bother", i filed for a return and replacement, less than two hours after i initially received it. welp.

fortunately, it wasn't a difficult process, and it took all of 15-20 minutes to wrap up my defective laptop, print off the prepaid return form, and send it off. considering the fact that it was only going as far as mississauga, it went back within a day, and the replacement arrived at my door on friday. sweet! (though not sweet is waiting at home all day for your delivery just because the courier website says "on the truck for delivery"; it showed up at 4:58 p.m. great waste of a day)

then as i got ready to set it up and move all my files over, even more fun began: a boot disc error that kept my system in perpetual reboot mode (i eventually had to call dell support and get a technician to control my laptop in order to fix this "very common error we're seeing a lot lately"), followed up by some incredibly spotty browser connectivity. not even kidding, it was dragging so badly that i was wondering if i'd need to just get a refund -- it had an advanced processor and 8 gigs of ram, so there was no reason it should be barely loading websites. even my other laptop was running faster, and it was on the same wifi connection. welp.

but somehow it sorted itself out, and the browsers came back up to normal speed. i've been keeping a wary eye on them ever since, but the problem seems to have resolved itself. i mean, i've since gone to all the trouble of installing my programs and files and apps and bookmarks, so i hope it's good now. (though there's nothing like a new computer to make you realize just how many website profiles and passwords you have.)

anyway, it seems to be holding up fine 24 hours later, and i can also be a little triumphant that i managed to find my microsoft office suite boot discs from 2007 and they installed fine. i've officially got all i need. plus it seems a little brighter, and it's got a light-up keyboard, and a webcam, but no vlogs from me k sry.

i did have some pangs of sadness packing away my six-year-old laptop though, and i thought back to the computers i've known and loved: the bulky family desktop of my adolescence that i later inherited for university and kept for a few years afterwards; my first laptop that went to vancouver with me and back (plus since it was my first portable computer, i loved the hell out of it and still have fond memories of watching endless depeche mode videos while living with jenna in north van); my second laptop, which lasted six years and through three apartments, two relationships, and two jobs. i so easily get attached to possessions that have been with me through a lot, and especially when they're something that's been both a work partner and a means of communication with the larger world.

i hope that's not too weird.

it's also interesting to me, because for a big portion of last week, i just...stayed inside. aside from meeting my boyfriend for sushi on thursday, and running out for 15 minutes to ship back my defective laptop, from last tuesday until friday i legit didn't leave my apartment. not once. and if you know me, you know that's really weird for me, considering the fact that i get stir-crazy pretty easily. i think i was fine this time - i even enjoyed it a bit - because i knew it was keeping me away from the crushing heat outside (though my apartment wasn't too much better, honestly), and because i had a lot of good work to keep me busy, and because i used my ddp yoga dvds every morning so i didn't feel like i was an inactive blob.

the reason why it's interesting to me is that for once, i didn't feel the need to guilt-trip myself for staying home for the better portion of a week. maybe it was the weather, maybe it was work, maybe it was the fact that i wanted to be home for my laptop delivery -- but whatever the case, i actually felt okay with not leaving. i knew it was the best option. plus, it allowed me to be crazy productive, which was good timing considering my workload this month. so yeah, i felt a bit sluggish being homebound (i typically walk at least 10,000 steps a day and go to the gym five days a week), but ddp yoga has helped, and i was most definitely fine with not having to take multiple showers a day simply because i dared to venture outside. blech.

anyway, not all that exciting, i know, but it's a decent testament to sometimes giving yourself a break. i've got a book called the artist in the office (probably more relevant back when i worked in an office, but whatevs), and one part of it advises that, if you're feeling overwhelmed and like you don't have enough time to do everything, take a look at what you consider your daily non-essential priorities. now remove one of them, if only for a few days, and see if you feel like you're actually more productive. sometimes it can be surprising what you discover if you take yourself out of your usual daily routine.

this blog post was probably boring for a lot of people, but at least there's the takeaway of learning to give yourself a break once in a while. now i'm off to go watch bad tv until i fall asleep.

[ music | matt & kim, "get it" ]

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#Reverb16: Nostalgia

As the summer winds down, tell us about your favorite summer memories from this year (or any year). We want to see your freckled faces and tanned skin. Show us your summer.

aside from the island trip i already blogged about, there hasn't...been much happening in my summer, so far. a lot of that is due to the extreme fucking heat; i'm not too keen to leave my apartment when the sun is threatening to scald my skin off, and so any out-and-about plans are pretty muted.

instead, when i think back on summer 2016, i'm going to think of the following:

- lying on my couch and sweating in my underwear with the fan turned on me. one of the much-joked about perks of working from home is getting to do it in your underwear, and i'm definitely living proof -- especially in the extreme heat of this summer. since i don't have air conditioning, i have a lone fan that i turn on myself, and even though it just blows the warm air around, it's still a bit of a relief. thinking of summer 2016 is going to recall a lot of hot nights stretched out on my couch, lazily watching tv and sweating not uncomfortably.

- watching bad tv and drinking vodka sodas in the evening. to add to that, if i've been working all day, i prefer to wind down at night with garbage reality tv shows so i can just turn my brain off -- my current favourites are hoarders and intervention. add in a highball of vodka soda or two (with lime, please) and you have my recipe for relaxation.

- a lot of wrestling. i have been watching a shit ton of wrestling this summer 2016. between smackdown getting moved to tuesdays and the cruiserweight classic on wednesdays, i have three solid nights of 2+ hours of wrestling to watch, and you bet your ass i'm spending a lot of those sweaty evenings on my couch watching pro graps. i'm even enjoying my lazy saturday-night tradition of tuning in to ring of honor, shown in low definition on a cable access channel from buffalo, new york. it's fun to indulge your interests to such an extent.

- doing yoga on my living room floor in the morning. i've been sticking to the ddp yoga program of three workouts a week, sometimes four (though soon it's going to bump up to four a week), and it's especially useful when it's too hot to go to the gym. i don't mind looking like a gross sweaty mess when i'm working out alone in my own home -- even though i'm restricted to doing it early in the morning before my apartment heats up.

- writing in the dark. like, not nighttime dark - not usually, anyway - but if i'm working during the day, i don't bother with the lights on. it makes it a bit cooler inside, even if it's only my imagination. from the time i wake up until about 2 p.m., my apartment is a dark, cool little oasis -- unless it's a heat wave day, in which case no.

also, this is a great fucking song:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

plug it in

behold: the soon-to-be new hotness.

yeah, yeah, i know. i'm poor as fuck; why am i splashing out on a new laptop when my old one works perfectly fine? well, my friends, because it doesn't quite work "perfectly fine" anymore (the battery is pretty dead, it heats up worryingly, sometimes it doesn't start up on the first couple tries), and when your entire small business and livelihood is tied to your humble computer, you don't fuck around.

so even though my current laptop could probably chug along a little while longer, the reality is that i've had it since may 2010, and it's slowing down considerably. it's also bulky and heavy to cart around, which i've been doing a lot lately. plus, i've really been ramping up the freelance work i've been doing, which means i need more power -- and at the very least, more reliability than i was getting from my old machine. honest to god, it's been at least six months of worrying that the damn thing won't start up at all.

i'll admit that i was putting it off partially because of the cost, but also because i'm attached to my six-year-old laptop. i've had this sucker for a while now! it has all my programs in exactly the spots i want them! i don't want to have to pay for the microsoft suite programs all over again! i really like the case skin i paid an extra $50 for back in 2010! sigh.

but honestly, i know in my heart of hearts that it's more sensible to get the replacement laptop while this one's still running. that way i can transfer over all my files at my leisure, and not in a panic from some year-old backups i have hanging around. add in the fact that i was able to take advantage of some sweet back-to-school sales and got $160 off the regular price, and boom. job done.

(as much as i excitedly wanted to talk about my big purchase as soon as i made it, i stayed quiet because there's no buyer's remorse like the buyer's remorse of someone who agonized over a huge computer purchase only to be told she made a mistake and it actually sucks. ughhhhhh don't let this be the case. and nobody tell me i was wrong to get a pc. i like pcs. i've owned dell computers my entire life and i love them and i will never buy an imac or macbook, the end.)

at the end of the day, having the tools to do your job is a necessity, and so that was my main justification for splashing out on a new computer. the last thing i'd ever want is to sit down to start some big assignments, only to find that my laptop won't turn on. even if it's not my fault, i would never want to seem unreliable to my clients (though i'm sure they'd be very nice and understanding about it), so i have to make sure i'm always ready to do my job. welcome to freelance life, yo.

anyway, the new toy isn't getting here for another week or so, which gives me time to take a look at what programs i'll need to reinstall and stop worrying about how overheated my current laptop has been feeling lately.

soon-to-be goodbye, faithful old friend.

also in the land of spending too much money on dumb adult necessities: going to the dentist tomorrow. being an adult is the worst. (i'd been putting it off for so long, but then i had the wrath of my parents on my head - "we spent $7,000 on your teeth and you need to keep them healthy" - which meant i had no other choice but to book that long-overdue teeth cleaning.)

lastly, three quick stories from my trip home last weekend, so i don't forget:

- was out grocery shopping with my mom at the same supermarket that i worked at many moons ago (i was working there when it opened sixteen years ago, but who's counting) when a cashier spotted my musical-note armband tattoo and the bass & treble clefs done on my wrists and asked if i was a musician. i get that question a lot, and i always reply no, but i'm friends with a lot of them. (which is the truth, although weirdly enough the studio where i took guitar lessons for a year was across the street from that supermarket.) guy then proceeds to tell me that he's a musician - "country, yet crossover" - and just got back from playing some gigs and recording in nashville. so that ended up being a nice chat, although i had to restrain myself from telling him to get the hell out of this town as soon as he could. i remember being stuck in kingston while i waited for my career in the music industry to begin, and it was unbearable. godspeed, duder.

- later that day, i was at lunch with my dad and the young waitress asked about that same musical-note tattoo -- specifically, what song it was. i asked if she'd heard of the band moist, and she looked baffled. i laughed and said that the generational divide is getting larger, and she looked jokingly indignant. "how old are you?" "i'm 32." "...shut up. i thought you were 24!!" (that's kind of a random number, so i'm assuming she thought i was the same age as her.) so that made my day, and my father said he ought to have given her a bigger tip for that. thanks, fountain of youth*! (*all the expensive antiaging products i buy at sephora)

- finally, i was discussing with my mom about growing up way out in the boonies, and how she'd wanted my sister and i to have the same country-fied experience that she had growing up on a farm. i told her straight up that while it was nice at times, i have a strong memory of just being so goddamn bored constantly -- and even now, i detest boredom. she looked thoughtful, then said, "well, i'm sorry for that, but you know, you were a smart kid, and smart kids need to be constantly stimulated. that's probably why you felt so bored." that kind of explains a lot and also bleeds over into the present day, unfortunately. entertain me!!

i'm off to go be entertained.

[ music | arctic monkeys, "why do you only call me when you're high?" ]

Friday, August 5, 2016

big wave

yeah, i mean, i guess i do miss this already:

when you're a freelancer, though, it's extra tough to unplug when you're technically on "vacation." it's a weird divide when you're not away from an office of any form (unless you're like me and count your apartment as your office). also, there's the tiny detail that there's no paid vacation when you work for yourself, so if you choose to tell your clients you're away for x number of days, that's x number of days of work you're giving up, which can have a big impact on your eventual paycheque. it's a really fine balance, especially when you still want to be around in case your client needs something (and i like my clients, so i do).

but, whatever. that's the current state of the workforce. it's so weird to finally be at a point where you can see how much it's changed over the last 5-10 years.

i digress -- i've been back home in toronto for a week now and i suppose i'm missing the water. it's also fun just to get to do normal, regular stuff with your family, like take a car ride to the grocery store or watch a movie together at home. i'm well aware that this is the shit you couldn't pay your teenage self to do, but when you're in your late twenties/early thirties and you only get to see your family a few times a year, it's nice to pretend what it'd be like if you were around. (i know it's a bit silly to already be nostalgic given that i'm just going back again in two months' time, and then in another two months' time after that, but oh well)

sometimes i wish i could consider moving back to kingston; it's got that quaint small-town charm, and all my parents and siblings are there, and the rent is crazy cheap. i swear, every time i go back for a visit, i wonder what it'd be like if i decided to move back, and if my life would be even remotely easier. i wonder if i could be happy with life in my hometown. but even now, even when there's far less keeping me in toronto than there was ten years ago, i can't imagine going back to kingston. i wish i could be enough for me, but i know that it's not.

i also came back with a white puma pullover, a cheap pair of red-frame sunglasses, two new books, and a 1.13 kg tub of mixed nuts from costco. let no one ever say that visiting your family isn't fruitful.

at least my balcony is looking welcoming:

(ever since i quit smoking three years ago, i never go out on my balcony anymore. sigh.)

all the same, it does feel a lot better to get back into the swing of things. i like keeping busy, i like doing work that makes my clients happy, and i like being back home with my coffeemaker and my face masks and my gym. at the end of this summer, i'm pretty sure i'm going to sum it up as being the following:
  • a lot of sweating
  • a lot of yoga
  • vodka sodas
at least there's the ex coming up to look forward to. in the meantime, it's back to surviving the never-ending heat wave for me.

[ music | ra ra riot, "too dramatic" ]

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

paragraph nights

i'm back!

as i wrote a couple of entries ago, it feels like an eternity since i got to take a long weekend off somewhere other than toronto, and so this past weekend (technically four days) was spent on the island near kingston with my family. i went into it before, but i hadn't been home since february and my next visit wouldn't have been until thanksgiving in october, so it was a good idea to break it up a little bit.

it may have felt like a quick visit - and i spent friday working from home as well - but i managed to pack a lot in, including getting a trip out on the new speedboat:

this is the view as we motored out of the downtown kingston marina on friday evening. (my stepdad, lover of large and fast vehicles, constantly has boat envy)

driving along the st. lawrence river on our way home. (my mom and stepdad's house is on howe island, which is one of the semi-famous "thousand islands", and it's closer to gananoque than kingston. i actually barely ever get to go to kingston proper when i'm home anymore, which is a bit sad, but i feel like i'm not missing much.)

sunset view!

my family also added to their naval fleet this summer by purchasing a seadoo:

clearly i didn't get to drive it - you need your "pleasure craft" (snicker) license - but it sits three people, so my stepdad took my mom and i out for a spin around the islands on thursday night (i'd had juuuuuust enough wine to be super into it), and then we also went out on a big trip to rockport on saturday afternoon:

here's the view from the seadoo going under the thousand islands bridge that separates canada (ontario) from the united states (new york state). we drove right under this thing and it was way choppy due to all the boat traffic everywhere.

chilling out on the patio with beers at the boathouse inn in rockport, near the border. was especially nice to relax with a couple of radlers after the super bumpy and choppy 1.5-hour ride up the river (but i like super speedy water vehicles, so i wasn't too unhappy with the ride).

snapped after getting in from the 1.5-hour ride all the way back to the house. like an idiot, i didn't think to put sunscreen on before leaving (in fairness, i thought we were only going out for like half an hour), so i ended up with sunburns on my right leg and arm (?) as well as a bit on my nose and forehead. so much for an even complexion. (i kept the crappy red sunglasses, though.)

the rest of the weekend, and the spaces in between, was spent literally just relaxing. it's a good place for it, as you can see here:

i hadn't been to the island house in the summertime - my family's only been there for a little under a year, and i had previously only visited in fall and winter - but i mean, yeah, it's a pretty rad place to be. i was never one of those kids who grew up with a cottage, so i've never really felt like i was missing out when it comes to having a "summer home", but this - a year-round home - is a hell of a good stand-in. and although i'll still only drop by a few times a year as i always have, it's a decent place to just disconnect as much as possible, have a bunch of drinks, and sit around by the water. much needed after the last few hectic months.

it's always a good thing to visit my folks, too. although i spent the entirety of the weekend based at my mom's on the island, i did get out to see my dad a couple of times, and that's guaranteed to make this daddy's girl happy. my four parental figures are all getting up there, and since i do live close enough to my hometown to visit quite frequently (though like i said, it's only ever 3-4 times a year), i'd be remiss if i didn't make the effort. they do a lot to support me even though i'm a grown-ass adult, and if just physically being around is enough to pay them back a little bit, then why not.

lastly, enjoy this picture of smol me (six years old):

[ music | the bravery, "swollen summer" ]