PLAYLIST: AMERICAN TEEN

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Since my sister and I had a conversation about it last week, the idea of coming of age has been persistent on my mind. I always thought the time between 12 and 15 when I realized that I was a little bit weirder than I’d even imagined and that wanted to be an artist surrounded by creative people was THE moment of my coming of age. Everything after that was just life/adulthood. But recently, as I navigate the biggest transition of my life I’m starting to think that my coming of age isn’t over yet. I don’t know if it’s a new phase or a continuance of the first moment from my teens but I do know that music played a really big role in it.

In the name of nostalgia, here are some of the songs that got me started on my journey and that still are significant in my life.

Music Video Friday: Lorde's "Perfect Places"

One of my personal beefs with music videos of late is how random they feel. I understand the desire not to create something fairly obvious but I wish some videos would align, if only briefly, with the song or at least the vibe of the song. That's why I love Lorde's video for her song "Perfect Places" (from her album Melodrama). 

"Perfect Places" is a magnificent song about attempting to turn our reality into the very clear fantasy that exists in our head, and the various ways--drugs, partying, kissing boys--we try to do that. The song speaks to this escapist quality that I think comes with just living in a very tumultuous and painful world, but especially with feeling young and out of place. The video perfectly visualizes this by placing Lorde, alone, at a random house on the beach. Dressed in an array of decadent gowns, she runs along the beach and drinks whisky while swimming in a waterfall, like the angsty heroine of a Kate Bush song. The video is perfectly indulgent, Lorde is perfectly indulgent in it (with her one woman tea parties) and is so escapist I feel like I've taken a vacation. This song/video combo reminds me that although our realities rarely live up to our fantasies, sometimes we need to escape into a world of our own and let ourselves indulge. Nobody really needs to know. 

Goodbye to All That

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A few months ago I made a decision that would completely change my life, and in ways I hadn't yet comprehended. A few days ago, I got on a plane with my older sister and moved to Toronto to start a whole new life. It hasn't completely sunk in yet that I have a new home--it still feels like I'm on vacation--and that for the first time in my life, I'm on my own. That's something that I know is going to take a while to sink in.

Choosing to move away was something I did in an act of desperation--although it had been weeks since I got home from my birthday trip, I was still feeling antsy and unsettled. At first I thought that I was still feeling the aftereffects of the major burnout I had experienced months before, but as more time passed, it felt like it was more than that. In my attempts to feel better, I listened to a lot of podcasts, including Oprah's Super Soul Conversations, that were all recommended for their life-changing advice. After listening to about a million episodes, I recognized a common thread in all the advice. The only person that can make you happy is you. Trust yourself. If you're not happy with your life, change it. The idea that I was the only with the ability and power to improve my situation and change the way I felt was something that really struck me. 

And so, determined to feel better, I took some time with my journal (as recommended) and wrote about what was causing me to feel so down. One of the things that I identified was my dissatisfaction with school, and feeling like I was just moving through the motions without any motivation. I was completely disinterested in most of my classes, and despite having friends who were really great, I often felt detached from everything. The feeling to get away from school just got stronger and stronger. But dropping out didn't feel like an option for me, and more than anything, I just wanted to get away from the sleepy city with 7 month winters. So I looked to the next option: transferring schools. I'd always wanted to live in Toronto, even though I'd never been there, and so I looked into applying to schools in the city. I landed on Ryerson University, filled out an application and then begun the waiting game. 

From the moment I submitted my application, I felt relief. Sure, I felt anxiety about what was to come, but there was something that made me feel so good about taking an active role in my life. Making this choice and acting on it helped me come to the realization that for some time--I don't know how long--I had stopped taking an active interest in my life, going through motions and hoping I would land where I wanted to. In the process, I had indirectly let other people dictate my life, and choosing to move was something I had to do without thinking about other people's reactions to it.

Although I was super excited to move, I still spent the months leading up to my departure nervous that I was making the wrong decision. Was I running away from something I could solve?  Was the old adage, wherever you go there you are, applicable in this situation? There were a million moments where I thought I would just give it all up and just continue living my life as it was.

Despite my fear and nervousness about leaving, I’m glad I did it. I don’t regret any time that I lived in Edmonton--it’s shaped me in ways that I don’t even know I fully understand yet. Of course I’m scared to take this new adventure. Of course I’m going to miss the people I love, and the comfort of knowing somewhere really really well. But as I’ve been reminding myself all year, fear is never a good excuse for anything. And I’d rather give the world my heart to break than feel nothing at all.

Why I’ve Watched TATBILB 4 Times

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There are a select list of movies that I have, and will, watch more than twice. Most of these movies I’ve fallen in love with at first watch, and watch them when I’m in need of comfort. Very rarely do I watch these movies back to back. So why have I watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before four times since it was released? 

When I first saw the trailer for Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I could barely contain my excitement. I'm a sucker for a good YA rom-com and it was made even better by it being the first YA rom-com with an Asian protagonist. As soon as it was released I was gunning to watch it, and so last Saturday night I stayed up way too late to have my first watch. Then I watched it every day after that. And somehow, it got better with every viewing. 

If you haven’t seen it (why???), TATBILB is about Lara Jean Covey, a 16 year old Korean-American girl who is in love with love. She obsessively reads “bodice-ripper” romance novels and writes love letters to her most intense of crushes. When these letters find their way to their recipients, Lara Jean must leave her fantasy world of love and dating, and face the very real and difficult world of love and dating head on.

[SPOILERS AHEAD] 

Lara Jean is pretty much a typical YA protagonist. She's not super popular, she's shy and her style is "quirky". But she is also has a bold and bright personality that exists outside of her love story. At one point in the film, when she's having a feel-good moment with her dad he mentions that she's always been open and fun with her family, making it clear that it's not her finding love that makes her who she is; instead the romantic love in her life allows her to open up and show more people her wonderful and hilarious personality.

Furthermore, Lara Jean has a clear understanding of what she wants and, if she's feeling bold enough, has the words to articulate it. Though she’s new to the dating scene, she has a clear understanding of her own boundaries and is open about it. When she muses about why she writes love letters she doesn't send, she mentions how it helps her understand her feelings and deal with the intensity of them. It feels really new and groundbreaking to have a young female character who doesn't invalidate the intensity of her own feelings, instead embraces them.

The complex and multi-faceted Lara Jean is played  by Lana Condor who was amazing in the role. I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever seen such an expressive face! One of the hard parts of transforming novels into films is that without the assistance of lengthy narration, we often miss out on a lot of the protagonist’s inner dialogue. While this film had its fair share of narration, there was so much story in Lara Jean's face alone. In one scene, she's concerned that she might have pushed Peter (love interest extraordinaire) away, you see her go through a whole set of emotions before sending him a silly text to test the waters. The slight shoulder shrugs, judgey pursing of the lips, eye twitches are all part of Lara Jean's personality and ways for her to express herself when she isn't feeling bold enough to say things out loud. Lana Condor's ability to add that extra dimension to a character is just insane. 

And then there's the love story! One of the first things I thought about was that Peter Kavinsky is the healthy rom-com crush we’ve needed for so long. Peter isn’t perfect, but he is kind, he is courageous and most of all, he genuinely cares for Lara Jean from the beginning, even when he's trying to reject her love letter. In most love stories like theirs, it takes a long time before our male romantic lead stops acting like an asshole and loves the female romantic lead for who she is. From the very beginning Peter never sees Lara Jean as not being worthy of their (fake) relationship because she’s not as popular as he is. In fact he’s the one who sees dating her as a benefit, and never once acts as if he is ashamed of her. It shouldn't be a big deal to have this kind of male romantic lead, but in a world where we still think detached and uncaring guys could love, it's almost revolutionary. 

I obviously have quite a lot of feelings about this movie but I'm running late and honestly, just watch it for yourself. Even if you don't feel as passionately about it as I do, it will make you feel super good. 

 

TROIS CHOSES: n**ga I'm feeling myself

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"Charcoal Baby" and "Jewelry" by Blood Orange

I've loved Dev Hynes for many years, and am constantly inspired the work he’s done but this summer I’ve gone deep. What’s so impressive about Dev, and the work he does as Blood Orange, is the thoughtful and intelligent art he produces without being pretentious. This is the man who is inspired by Phillip Glass and also loves a bit of an 80s synth sound. It feels really rare to have an artist who brings all these references into their music and yet comes out with a sound that’s wholly their own. When I saw the album cover for Negro Swan (out Aug. 24th!) I felt this indescribable wave of emotion and connection. Immediately I thought of beauty, blackness, art. I thought of Mercutio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet   and about who gets to be angels/swans. When the videos for “Charcoal Baby” and “Jewelry” came out, I sat in front of my TV enthralled by the beauty and the history that was threaded through both works. Every time I listen to “Jewelry” I shut down all the thoughts in my head just to focus on Janet Mock talk about turning all the way up and not lessening yourself so as to make others comfortable in certain spaces. I clearly imagine the celebratory black bodies fully expressing joy and excitement in the video. And when Dev sings “Do what you need to get by” I feel like I’ve been touched by my patron saint. If these songs are anything to go by, the album is going to be unbelievable.

Good Girls (Netflix) 

Halfway through the first episode of Good Girls I started bawling. I was surprised because it was the last reaction I expected to have. In fact, I spent several weeks avoiding it even though I was sick of sitting through episodes of Jessica Jones and according to Netflix’s (shaky) algorithm, it was a 98% match. But I was not disappointed! I immediately fell in love with the show and was watching it any time I had 20 minutes to spare. What makes Good Girls  so good is that it has the right mix of elements—a little bit buddy comedy, with a hefty dash of female empowerment and family drama without relying too much on clichés. I found myself rooting constantly rooting for the characters, even some of the worst ones,  which for me is a marker of good TV. Don Draper anyone?  An additional bonus: falling in love with Retta whose performance as Ruby, a black mother with a sick child trying to deal with an unforgiving healthcare system, is absolutely phenomenal.

Anxiety, Stress and Self-care 

The past few weeks have been pretty exhausting for me; I’ve been working, interning and getting ready to move, which means I have a few things keeping me up at night. I’ve also been feeling more anxious than usual and in the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few mild panic attacks at work that have wrecked my day. So this past weekend, after I had two panic attacks within the span of a few hours I decided that I needed to take a moment and just turn myself off. Tossing my to-do list—something that’s hard to do without guilt—I declared my evening Self-Care Saturday. I know that self-care is something that’s often scoffed at, but I think there’s something valid in taking a moment to take care of yourself without punishment, whether that’s making yourself a luxe meal, taking a bath or marathoning your favourite movies. In my case, I watched the third Harry Potter  movie which made me laugh and cry, and ultimately left me feeeling ready to take on my to-do list when the time came. 

  Honorable mention: The continued brilliance of Harry Potter.  

THIS IS NOT AN OUTFIT POST

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Vintage sweater, A.P.C. skirt, Nike Cortez sneakers

Up until recently I was really obsessed with defining what my personal style was and whether my outfits were interesting enough. But I've found that, like many things, obsessing over it usually just means being restricting, leaving many "effortless" outfits feeling especially forced. Accepting that my outfits my not be complex feats of style has made it easier to get dressed in the morning, although there are still days I have to fight the urge to wear leggings and a t-shirt; I haven't accepted that as stylish just yet.

Now that I'm not going through an identity crisis every time I attempt to get dressed it makes things a whole lot easier. I envisioned this outfit one night before bed, and I eagerly awaited for a cool summer day that would let me get away with wearing a turtleneck. I was still a little steamy but it totally worked. And I love this skirt so much--it was one of those things that was 1/2 impulse buy and 1/2 planned, which I think is always the best. I wear it four days out of seven so I'm definitely getting my money's worth. And while my style is still pretty simple now, I can't wait to start getting more adventurous. Maybe it's time to try boots that look like a dropped pair of jeans

 

 

TROIS CHOSES: I Like a Red Rouge

Trois Choses is an evolving thing (sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly) that spotlights things I can't stop thinking about. It might be a movie, TV show, podcast or just a feeling. 

You’ve Got Lipstick on your Chin (Newsletter)  

I’ve been an admirer of Arabella Sicardi for years now, and their work has always encouraged to think bigger, to develop my ideas in ways that were unexpected. Generally, they're just brilliant. I've been a subscriber to their newsletter for a while and am super excited that they've chosen to reboot it. The first email was so good, I was inspired to write this post and share it with everyone. In the newsletter, they recommended an interview with Andrea Long Chu from the latest episode of the I'd Rather Be Reading podcast, "Bad Desires", which I listened to immediately and found particularly thought provoking. I'm currently in this place where I am really excited to learn, especially about things that I never would have thought to think about initially, and the interview, as well as Arabelle's newsletter are all a big part of that. 

The Art of The Essay: Hilton Als (The Paris Review)

I never felt there was a separation between the art I loved and myself

Another person whose work often pushes me to look deeper and consider how and what I consume is Hilton Als, which is why I loved this interview with him in the latest issue of The Paris Review. The interview feels very special--it manages to capture his voice, literally and as a writer. Many times, it feels less like an interview and more like one of Als' spectacular essays--questioning, profound, and celebratory of the people that have been influential in his life. He talks about his family and the ways in which they have been un/able to preserve their history, how he "became" a writer, and the continued search for voice. This interview is one that is meant to be read again and again, not just because it's inspiring but, like many things I associate with Als, you discover something new and magical with every read. 

Luke Cage (Netflix)

Embarrassingly enough, I watched all the episodes of Luke Cage in about a week which is A. unsurprising and B. a testament of how good it is. Whenever I watch anything with superheroes, it's usually background noise and feels excruciatingly long. Luke Cage was different. First of all, watching a show that has a primarily main cast and that is able to cover the complexities of black life, while still celebrating it is so refreshing and, in some ways, life-changing that it's harder for me to watch other stuff that doesn't have that. Even better, Luke Cage is well written and fantastically made--there are clear motifs, the aesthetics are amazing, and the characters so multi-layered that it's hard to find someone to fully root against. I definitely want to spend more time digging into it, especially the role of art (the paintings in Harlem's Paradise, the importance of the musical acts in the club) and how it plays into the ways in which black people build their lives. And I'm going to be honest, even though Black Panther exists and I love Sebastian Stan, Luke Cage is hands down the best thing from Marvel I've ever seen. 

 

Is It A Video?

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A large part of why certain films are my favourite and I’ve watched them again and again is due to their soundtrack. For me, a film soundtrack isn’t just a perfect compliment to aesthetically stunning scenes; it’s also a way of making the narrative more tangible. I love soundtracks that utilize headphones and radios to further embed the audience into the story; it's as if you're sharing the moment with the characters. Like that world is yours also. Soundtracks allow me to continue living in the fictional world even after the credits are rolled and my tongue has started to itch from the saltiness of movie theatre popcorn. How can I ever listen to “Mystery of Love” and not think of Elio and Oliver running around the Italian countryside? Or associate the rush of Bowie’s “Modern Love” with the abruptness of falling? Below I share my three favourite film soundtracks. 

Call Me By Your Name

I don't think there's anyone who watched CMBYN and didn't fall in love with the soundtrack. It's filled with a perfect mix of tunes that work for every mood. From Sufjan's Stevens heart wrenching ballads "Visions of Gideon" and "Mystery of Love" to the Psychedelic Fur's hit "Love My Way", I relive every beautiful moment every time I hear any of the songs. The film's musical director also utilizes the songs super well, whether filtered from the car radio to further pull the audience in or softly playing as the credits roll and the audience is struck by the expressive artistry that is Timothée Chalamet's face. 

Favourite track: J'adore Venise//Loredana Bertè

Frances Ha

I spent the summer of 2015 waking up at four in the morning, catching the all night bus to go work at Starbucks until my legs went numb. Each morning, I experienced the sort of nighttime magic that every song, poem and film filtered photographs talk about—feeling like you’re the only person alive in the whole entire world, bonding with the people who seem to crawl along the edges of the crush--and the Frances Ha soundtrack played a large role in amplifying that feeling. This soundtrack makes “Everyone’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate the most romantic song in the world, perfect for tripping along empty streets and peering into store windows as if they were lost memories. In someways the Frances Ha soundtrack acts like a map, a way to connect the different points of discovery in Frances journey, physical and otherwise.

Favourite Track: Modern Love//David Bowie

Submarine

The only solo Alex Turner album I've ever going to need, Submarine's soundtrack is only five songs which are perfectly used throughout the film. Submarine itself is a magnificent film that doesn't try to hard to be profound or quirky--it just is. And it's soundtrack perfectly aligns with that. It's the perfect thing for floating paper boats in deep rain puddles and watching fireworks on cool summer nights. 

Favourite track: Hiding Tonight

Honorable mentions: An Education, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Collected), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

SUMMER ‘18

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This summer started out a bummer--I didn’t have a good job, my future was really uncertain and I spent more time worrying than enjoying myself. Eventually things figured themselves out, as they’re wont to do and I started a new job where I’ve met some pretty cool people. Hanging out with them has reminded me of how good it is to just have fun and be open to dancing, whether your drunk or not. That sort of attitude has snuck its way into my summer playlist which, in my opinion, is full of BANGERZ and that I’m pretty much listening to till there’s snow on the ground. One of my faves on here is “Heart to Break” by Kim Petras which is really just the bop of the summer. One thing I’m really embracing this summer is the idea of risking delight. I’m always so cautious, so “practical” and I let that hold me back in a lot of ways. It means a lot of missed experience and a lot of unnecessary regret. This summer, and the rest of this year, is about being open to experience even if it breaks me, even if it makes me cry. With this playlist I’m officially crowning this summer as the summer of dancing your ass off and having one or six martinis. We all deserve it. 

Stack my money fast and go

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There is an image I have of myself when I imagine being productive: it usually involves endlessly typing and clicking at a computer for 4-6 hours straight, pausing briefly to take a sip of my melting iced almond milk latte before diving back into the fray. I imagine posting a picture of my well manicured nails on Instagram with the caption "workworkwork", in the hopes that it will make people think that not only am I a productive little bunny but that I’m a productive little bunny with important shit to do and the discipline to do it. It’s a false image but one that I can't help but obsess over. Truth be told, I have never sat at my computer for more than 2 hours without taking a break. I often feel more productive cleaning my space, reading a book for more than 30 mins or other things that aren't as easily Instagrammable. I don't feel like I work hard because I can't claim a "hustle" and the things I do aren't worthy of bragging about. And knowing that makes me feel like a failure.

The other day, I read an article about the myth of the self-made millennial and how we’ve continued to glorify “hard work” and entrepreneurship as the markers of success. We’ve glorified the hustle: waking up at 4am to work on side projects when you went to sleep just hours before, or taking on internships and volunteering while juggling a full course load. Despite the constant push for work-life balance, it seems like we just spend every moment working or thinking about work. Oh capitalism! And it’s easy to get caught up in it all because it can look so glamorous, whether it's Instagram posts or the shiny cover of Forbes. You look at all these seemingly shiny lives and you can't help but buy into the idea that one day your life will be that shiny, and being sick and filled with dread all the time will be worth it. 

While it’s not that horrible of a thing to want to work a lot and gain financial success, it seems like we're buying into well-crafted stories that make our realities look like failures. Because if you're not staying up late to build your business, what are you doing with your life? If you're not finding a way to monetize and popularize your creative pursuits, is there really a point? It feels like if you're not using every waking moment to do something #productive, you're wasting time. And that's a scary way to think. 

There is a crippling fear and anxiety that comes with wanting to prove yourself worthy of existing in a world that prides being “self-made” and making a lot of money and finding a lot of success at a young age. It’s the fear that makes you feel like a failure because you're 20, still in university and working in retail. I guess my whole life is going to be a flop. It’s a ridiculous fear. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful at 20 or 40 or 85, because there is no time limit to success, no matter how you define it. Whenever I'm about to descend into a shame spiral because I feel like I'm not doing the mostest, I remember that Taraji P. Henson moved to LA when she was 27 to start acting and hasn’t really seen mainstream success until much recently. She's 47! 

I’m 20 years old and still in university. I haven’t started a business or cultivated a personal brand, and I still work in retail. But I’ve got time. 60 more years if I'm lucky. Because nothing is over until I'm dead.

A Certain Romance

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FOREVER MOOD: New England, pressed trousers tucked into rain boots, stomping about the countryside, car rides down long thin roads, burnt coffee and buttered toast, hot skin after a bath, curly wet hair, knit sweaters with unravelling holes; a hot kitchen, freshly baked bread, the scent of orange peels, whiskey and roasted chicken; late night fires  

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READ: Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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I Can't Stop Thinking about Pete Davidson

image via  Complex

image via Complex

This post is inspired by The Cut's brilliant series: I Think About This A Lot. 

Until a month ago, I had never thought of Pete Davidson in my life. In fact, I didn't even know who the tattooed, goofy-faced comedian was. Then all of a sudden he was dating Ariana Grande, they were getting couple tattoos and I was watching 10 minute compilation videos of Pete Davidson's best moments. For some inexplicable reason, I've become super invested in Ariana and Pete's relationship--maybe because I'm a sucker for a whirlwind romance; maybe because there's a lack of love in my life; maybe I'm just really BORED. Whatever it was, I was reading every possible news item about the couple and screamed alongside the rest of the world when it was announced that they were engaged! And at Robert Pattinson's birthday party to top it all off! But more than the pair's romance, it was Pete Davidson himself that intrigued me the most. Who was this guy? I don't watch SNL so had no idea what "Pool Boy" was and I like to avoid stand up comedy as much as I avoid people I went to high school with, so it's not the funny thing (although he is genuinely funny). I'm not physically attracted to him, though over the past few weeks his large teeth and bug eyes have accrued a certain amount of charm. It might be his BIG DICK ENERGY which is apparently more than just an energy, or that I've read at least two gossip items about him everyday for the past few weeks and so thoughts of him have taken over my mind. What it actually is, is the fact that, despite his multiple tattoos and penchant for snapbacks, Pete Davidson comes off like the sweetest and happiest guy. He always seems genuinely psyched whether he's talking about being happy with Ariana Grande or how much he loves Robert Pattinson (me too Pete, me too). In a world of Zayns, where it's rare for anyone to be genuinely excited by anything, Pete's joy is infectious. I honestly can't wait to keep seeing him in movies and I hope that he stays in pop culture news, even if him and Ariana fade. OR maybe they'll get married. We'll see. 

TROIS CHOSES: I'll Be By the Batphone

TROIS CHOSES is a monthly roundup of three things (books, music, movies, etc.) that I particularly enjoyed or that stood out to me. Read April's here.

UN: The Gentlewoman (Spring&Summer 2018) 

The Gentlewoman is one of the magazines that has reinvigorated me both as a writer and as a consumer of culture. My sister and I happened to come upon their Spring&Summer 2018 issue in our local bookstore (which just started selling it) and, in our excitement, had to snatch it up. I didn't have plans for reading it through but that's what I ended up doing. What makes The Gentlewoman stand out is its predilection for following its curiosities and interests. Sure they cover "relevant" topics and individuals, but it's never in a way that feels like just another part of someone's press tour. I loved every interview in this issue, even if I had never heard of the person before, and was so inspired (& motivated) by their "Modern Details" that I've been writing itsy-bitsy devotionals to everything from apple pie to Weleda Skin Food. 

Deux: "Depression Takes My Body Away", Arabelle Sicardi for Racked

Being chronically ill taught me a while ago that bodies are full of surprises, that they are unreliable narrators of our dreams, and that something can be a failing, but it doesn’t mean you are.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our bodies speak for us in ways that we can’t control. How they give away a lot--like how the freshman 15 is tells a story of both immaturity and excessive indulgence. In this piece, Arabelle Sicardi talks about not feeling like they had much control over much--their body, their life, their feelings and impulses--but being able to push against that through fashion or, more specifically, personal style. I remember when I was the biggest Arabelle Sicardi fan so many years ago and how they would talk about fashion as armour. And that always resonated with me, but does so even more today. I’ve never felt less in control than I have in the past few months and despite my various attempts at organization and control--colour coded calendars, to-do lists, daily journal entries--I rarely feel in control. Clothes have not only made me feel more in control, but they have been a way to build a fortress around myself. One that allows me to move in the world and feel protected. This article helped me realize that in a way that all that other stuff--the podcasts, the online guides, the self-help books--didn't. 

Trois: Yoga with Adriene

Last summer, in an effort to lose the Freshman 30+, I chose to complete a 60 day detox--no gluten, no dairy, no alcohol--and started Kayla Itsines BBG program. When I first started, I just wanted to lose some weight. I didn't want to become consumed with being a toned, slim Instagram model; I just wanted to fit in my new clothes. Unfortunately, I was soon saving pictures of toned and tight bellies on Instagram and taking daily images of my changing body. I'd convinced myself that I was in a healthy state of mind, but in some ways I was obsessive, and at times punishing. I relished in those days when I felt hungry but stopped myself from eating outside of the allotted amounts of food I had determined. And after the 60 days where over, very few of the habits I had developed stuck--I went back to my usual bread eating, chocolate enjoying self. When this summer came around, I wasn't interested in getting into the gym or going on another restrictive diet (although I did muse over Whole30 until I found out you couldn't eat rice). But I did want to be active and commit to something, so I turned to yoga. I chose Yoga with Adriene because I had seen Estée Lalonde doing the videos on her Instagram, and the fact that the videos were (on avergae) only 25 minutes. I’ve had *experiences* with yoga before--I still have a yoga pass that I never finished using--but it’s never made me feel as good as doing Yoga with Adriene has. I’m currently doing “True: 30 Day Yoga Challenge” and it’s definitely changed things for me. I try and do a video every morning, and it really sets the tone for my day. Adriene is all about throwing away the idea of doing yoga to become trimmed and toned (she says it will happen), and instead focusing on certain themes + non-physical goals. Themes like SURRENDER and SELF-LOVE allow me to use the time on the mat to mediate, or just take a moment to breath. Since I've started, I've noticed how completing a practice every morning makes me feel productive and accomplished. Adriene herself is a little kooky--she makes the most random jokes--but her kookiness is what makes doing her practice so comfortable. There is no pressure to be a perfect yogi, or the most fit person ever. She reminds me that I can just have fun. Maybe at the end of it all I'll have more toned arms, but that's not the goal. 

Hokey Cokey with the Opposite Sex

THE VIDEO FOR “FOUR OUT OF FIVE”

Like any Arctic Monkeys fan, the announcement of the band’s latest and freshest album couldn’t have come soon enough. It’s been five years since AM, the album that made them so popular that you couldn’t visit an Aritizia without hearing a song from it, and I was jonesing for something new. I didn't know what to expect--I knew I wanted something different from AM, which felt a little too much like pop--but I was so pleasantly amused by the title, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino that as soon as it popped up on my Spotify on the day of its release, I listened to it, despite the fact that I had been just about to go to sleep.

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino has been both a surprise and a comfort. Upon first listen, I didn’t feel the same excitement that I’ve felt for other long-awaited music releases, (like Lorde’s Melodrama) but I didn’t completely dismiss it either. And although I couldn’t say that I loved it just yet, I found myself constantly putting it on, curious to discover all the creases and pockets of it all. It wasn’t until I listened to it with headphones, actually listened to it, not just played it in the background, that I began to connect with it. I think what had kept me curious was that, especially lyrically, the music felt like a throwback to their early music. I feel like Alex Turner's penchant for slightly kooky yet smart lyrics that could easily fit into a short story collection was a major part of why I ever fell in love with the band in the first place. A bit of that kookiness was lost with AM, made a brief appearance on The Last Shadow Puppet's most recent album (I still love the lyric: "It's love like a tongue in the nostril"), and has exploded on Tranquility Base. I can’t help but think about the poignancy of lyrics like “I launch my fragrance called “Integrity”/I sell the fact that I can’t be bought” (Batphone) and “The leader of the free world/Reminds you of a wrestler wearing tight golden trunks” (Golden Trunks), or one of my favourites: "Love came in a bottle with a twist-off cap" (Star Treatment).

There's been a lot of chat about how much this album, more than any others, has a really strong narrative. Alex Turner told Zane Lowe that he sees it to be like a collection of short stories. And the world that's built throughout the record is very clear and defined, that I feel like I'm a part of it. But apart from it's narrative brilliance, this album also feels like a very poignant commentary on the state of our world today. While not overtly political, it's hard to miss the concern about the way the world has changed, and the way it continues to change. The futuristic theme of the album feels like a sort of warning--we can look to the future all we want but it doesn't really change anything that's going on right now. Listening to the songs on tis album, I can't help but think about consumerism and gentrification, what it means to sell-out, and what the future of our world actually looks like. It makes me think about what it would mean to throw away our smartphones, and if any of us actually want to do it or if it feels good and smart to say it. Just like it used to feel good and smart to say that we would never be sell-outs.

Tranquility Base is the kind of album that you can't help but think about all the time, the kind of album that you're constantly making discoveries about. It makes a mark, one that can’t be easily washed off. It this amazing combination of art and storytelling and social commentary. It's the perfect "comeback album", and despite my initial reservations, I can confidently say: I love it. 

INFLUENCE: TAVI GEVINSON

I, like most people, first heard of Tavi Gevinson from reading her profile in the New Yorker. At the time, I was 12 years old and was intrigued by this person that I could have gone to school with, but who was so different from me that I definitely wouldn't have spoken to if we did. But a few months later I found myself scrolling Style Rookie, her now infamous blog, almost daily and not really understanding why. My family had recently moved from our small town in Southwest Virginia to an even smaller town on the island of Trinidad, and I was going through a major identity crisis. Away from my friends and the sticky politics of middle school friendships, it didn't really matter if anyone knew that I was into listening to musicals or Jimi Hendrix. I started to create a world for myself--one that protected and comforted me in a way nothing else did. Tavi and Style Rookie were a big part of that. 

Because of Tavi's work and presence, I discovered beauty in a lot of unexpected things and began to tell stories based on combined visual elements. I learnt about designers, music, art and films that I'd never heard of, and learnt to explore and love art without embarrassment. And when she started Rookie things were even better. She was able to create a community that has been long lasting and that I connected to so many people through. 

I think it's easy to be jealous of Tavi, or compare myself to her, especially being in her age group. But when I think about it, I'm so appreciative of the path that she's carved for young creatives, the spaces she's made possible. As she's grown in the spotlight, she's continued to be honest and open, and I still love learning about new things because of something she shares on Instagram or in her extremely insightful Editor Letters for Rookie. Sure, it's easy to be jealous of her, but it feels so much better to be inspired by her. 

I Want To Be A Part of It

Here's the second part of my New York diary! I realize while editing my 100s of pics, that I started taking less pictures as the week went on and I got more tired and was trying to focus on just like experiencing things. But I did get some good pics and I had a lot of fun. 

Saturday

Saturday was a really weird day. We left the house a little later than usual, but I had been awake forever and felt really out of it. We didn't really have buying appointments on this day because we went to Capsule and ManxWoman which are pretty big "trade" shows. I definitely preferred visiting smaller showrooms that were more intimate over the trade shows. I did spot Rachel Antonoff at Capsule though, which literally made my day!

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We were meant to go to Jack's Wife Freda for brunch, not realizing that NY brunch lines are HELLA LONG. It was an hour and half wait, in the rain, so we went searching for other options. We ended up at The Egg Shop which I honestly think was meant to be because the food was amazing and I fell in love with cold brew there, so it was a win-win. 

A Day in Brooklyn〰Sunday

Sunday was pretty great, and definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I met up with my best friend from middle school and we headed to the Brooklyn Museum to see their small Basquiat exhibition. And we were in Brooklyn! It was great, even though the neighbourhood wasn't super vibing on a sleepy Sunday but I felt so comfortable and so excited, it was great!

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I was definitely a tourist at Grand Central because GOSSIP GIRL PEOPLE!

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The Brooklyn Museum was honestly a treasure! From Judy Chicago's Dinner Party to their singular Basquiat painting, the exhibitions felt really unique and inspiring. I'd have to say that my favourite exhibition was Infinite Blue which took up most of the first floor and focused on all these variations of blue. There were cool installations, like this weird underwater video that I wanted to watch forever. And its open all year, so people can still experience its magic. 

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We had brunch at Shane's, which I'm pretty sure is a black-owned restaurant which was really exciting for me. There's not a lot of unique, special black spaces in my current city, and so there was something really comforting being surrounded by black people who were just enjoying their Sunday brunch. I had their chicken and waffles, which was tasty and homey.

We spent the rest of the day just hanging around uptown--going to Barnes and Nobles and brainstorming in a Starbucks. It was just a nice, quiet day--a dream Sunday tbh.  

Monday

Monday was our last official day, and we didn't really have too many appointments, which gave us a chance to explore. Honestly, we went to some of the best places this day, including Coming Soon NYC and Totokaelo. This was the day that I felt the most like I belonged in New York, and not like I was just floating around with my eyes wide at everything. It was pretty great. 

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Combine des Filles

Combine des Filles

COMING SOON NYC

COMING SOON NYC

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TOTOKAELO

TOTOKAELO

Once we were done with appointments we went to Ruby's Cafe, which is Australian cuisine and was really cozy. Even better, as we were finishing up I saw that FREAKING SUBRINA HEYNIK WAS THERE! I love her vintage store and her Instagram even more, not just for her aesthetics but also because of how much she speaks to what she believes in and never excuses herself from talking about important issues. I said hello to her as we were leaving, we hugged and we both almost cried. It was honestly one of the best ways to end the trip.

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I finally got to visit the Glossier Showroom which has been my dream since they first launched. To be honest, as beautiful as it was, the experience wasn't as special or exciting as I had built it up to be in my mind. Probably because it was a dreary Monday afternoon, and there wasn't much going on. I was too distracted to really try a lot of different products as well so there was that. Overall, I am glad I got a chance to go. 

STREET STYLE

STREET STYLE

We spent the rest of our evening at some weird Amazon summer event, where I got pretty drunk, danced to some major bops and got really nostalgic about leaving the next day. 

Even months later, I still think about this trip often and how it confirmed that my dreams could be a reality. I'd wanted to go to New York for so long and I really built it up in my brain, and I was afraid it would disappoint. However, I felt so comfortable there and leaving was especially hard. But I'm definitely going back! 

It's All About the Hands

When it comes to matters of the hands, specifically taking care of my hands, I'm no expert. I know what I like and why I like it, and that's about it. I've always loved doing my nails, although when I was younger I was pretty sloppy about it. I would let my nail polish chip away, loving the strange shapes left over. But after my crush called me out for my messy nails (I KNOW!), I definitely became more self conscious about it. Recently, I've been really into taking care of my hands and my nails for a few reasons. The first is that I fell in love with Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, which is the best hand cream I've ever used. It's thick but not greasy, gives you major moisture with only minor slippage. I can put it on in the morning and not reapply for the rest of the day if I'm not washing my hands a lot. The second reason is that I love Yana Sheptovetskaya (@gelcream) and the articles she does for Into the Gloss all about nail polishes and nail care. She's also responsible for my third reason for loving all things hands right now, and that's J. Hannah nail polishes. They're like the It Girl of nail polishes and really easy to apply. Ever since I started using them, I sometimes hold up my hands in the air to admire how beautiful they are. And when I'm ready to try a new colour, I just dip my fingers into Sally Hansen's Kwik Off. It's a sponge soaked in gentle nail polish remover and gets rid of nail polish in less than five minutes. When everything is quick and easy, messy nails aren't even an option. 

ADDICTED: COLD BREW

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Cold brew is one of those hyped up things that I took my sweet time paying attention to. When I worked at Starbucks, I remember everyone getting really excited for cold brew season but hating it from the very first sip. And I especially hated it because all the people who ordered it were usually really pretentious. But now I'm the pretentious,only-drinks-cold-brew person and I'm fine with it. It all started with my trip to The Egg Shop when I was in New York. It was late on a Saturday, I was tired and we still had appointments to go to. I just needed something to revitalize me. So I ordered an iced coffee, and was instead presented with a cold brew that was so good from the first gulp I couldn't stop talking about for the rest of the day. I spent the last few days of the trip trawling the fridges at Whole Foods looking for the best bottles and cans, and drank cold brew basically every day. 

When I got back home, I couldn't find cold brew anywhere (it was still winter) and the options at my grocery store didn't look great. But now the sun is out, cafés are serving cold brew with abandon, and I'm guzzling down a glass a day. It's probably the only thing that keeps me functioning past noon. To save on costs, I've been purchasing a random one from my local grocery store, but it just doesn't compare to any I had in New York. For now, I'll make do. But I'm still on the hunt. 

AT HOME W/ HANNAH (NEW CLASSICS)

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At Home W/ Hannah Editorial for New Classics. Showcasing New Classics sustainable and ethically made intimates. Featuring Pansy, Baserange, and Suzanne Rae

MODEL: Hannah Schmidts
PHOTOGRAPHY: Darleen Masakhwe
STYLING: Darleen Masakhwe and Akosua Adasi
CREATIVE DIRECTION: Akosua Adasi
WORDS: Akosua Adasi

Start Spreading the News

I've wanted to go  to New York ever since I was 11 years old and dreamed of being a writer and dating a Dan Humphrey type. The trip was made the more better because I went with the New Classics team and got to visit a lot of cool showrooms and get a firsthand look into what buyers do and a real behind the scenes look into the fashion industry.

I had the best experience in New York. Every moment there was something new and I've never really felt so comfortable in a place. I adapted pretty quickly; the first day I could barely stand up on the subway and by the end of the trip, I was navigating the system like a young pro. 

Arrival

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We arrived at LaGuardia just around sunset which made everything feel romantic and as if it was destined. We headed into the city, went to pick up the keys for our AirBNB, dropped our stuff off and headed to Brooklyn. We'd all ordered a few things to a friend's place there, so we went to grab dinner and then get our hands on our purchases!! I'm not sure where we had dinner but it was a really random place, and the food wasn't all that good. 

Wednesday

We dove into appointments right away, but not before making a morning stop at Cha Cha Matcha. I see the cafe on Instagram all the time and wanted to discover the hype and tbqh, it's the real deal. From the aesthetics to the product, it's all pretty amazing. AND it's easy to pretend that you're just taking a break from working at one of the very cool places around the neighbourhood.

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Maryam Nassir Zadeh Showroom 

After appointments with Suzanne Rae and Lauren Manoogian, we headed to Vanessa’s Dumpling House for a quick little lunch. It was pretty busy and we ended up sharing a table with a random guy. The food we had was good but I don't think I would go back, or I would go at a less busy time and order a lot more stuff. If you're in a rush though, definitely get their fried dumplings. Delicious!

Before we headed to our next showroom, me and Darleen got our auras taken at Crystal Magic in Chinatown which was honestly a beautiful experience. It just solidified a lot for me and I treasure it a lot. I wish I lived in New York because I would go like once a month if I could. 

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Delfina Balda

Delfina Balda

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After a long and fast-paced first day we headed back to our AirBNB, making a stop for dinner at Lucien. I was desperate to try their signature cocktails but unfortunately I'm still a year underage. I didn't take too many pictures there because the lighting wasn't great and our table got into a pretty heated conversation so I got quickly distracted. But the food + atmosphere was amazing. 

Thursday

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One of my highlights of Thursday was getting to visit Mulberry Iconic Magazines which I swear had every mag title I had ever heard of and more. I had to show some restraint, as it was the beginning of the trip, but you can bet I got my hands on some fantastic titles--including the Timothée Chalamet issue of V-MAN. 

Thursday was even more hectic than Wednesday, as we went from appointment to appointment. We scarfed down lunch at Ivan Ramen in between two showrooms. I'm not like a major ramen fan by all means, but it was good although a bit salty. The best part of our appointments on Thursday? Getting to meet Yana of @gelcream (which I'm a big fan of) and Valerie Quant of LoQ, who also happens to be a good friend of Rachel Nguyen. 

Once all of our appointments were down, we stopped at a Van Leeuwen's for a treat, and I had THE BEST (vegan) ice-cream I have ever had. We had dinner at Westville, where I realized how much I loved burgers because that was all I wanted.

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Friday

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Friday was a bit of a weird day because we didn't really do much and I felt so tired my whole body was locked up. It was that feeling when you go, go, go and all of a sudden you stop and your body is like *shutdown*. Friday was our day to fully explore but we had a business lunch at Macy's Stella 34 Trattoria, and that ended up being longer than expected but was a very educational experience. 

After lunch we head to The Met, which I could not hold in my excitement about. We walked through Central Park to get there and I couldn't help but feel Blair Waldorf/Dorota vibes as we did. And then of course, THE MET which is just as amazing and beautiful a you would expect. Since we didn't really have the whole day to explore, I focused on seeing the temporary exhibitions I wanted to see, specifically the David Hockney one and the William Eggleston one. 

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    Our last stop of the evening was at The Strand which has been like a dream for me for so long. And it was honestly the most revitalizing experience. I love bookstores and so there was nothing better than trolling through this iconic spot. Definitely one of the best parts of the whole trip. We didn't do much for dinner--the hot bar at Whole Foods = everything--and I just laid on the couch and watched Gossip Girl. A perfect end to the week. 

    The first few days were pretty jam-packed but it pretty much slowed down from then on. The rest of the diary is coming next week, so keep an eye out for that!