2018: A YEAR

The joy of discovering my personal brand

The joy of discovering my personal brand

In 2018 I:

I learnt:

  • the power of the podcast (and Oprah)

  • why I had so much academic anxiety

  • how to be ok with sitting still

  • how to disconnect

  • Toronto transit system

  • that faltering does not mean quitting

  • that growth isn’t something that stops and begins—it’s always happening

I listened to:

  • lots of Travis Scott and Ariana Grande

  • lots of podcasts including Girlboss Radio and Thirst Aid Kit

  • The songs on this playlist (and this one)

I watched (and loved):

  • Widows

  • Roma

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (I’ve now seen it 8 times)

  • Frances Ha (rewatched because it will forever be a favourite)

  • Lady Bird

  • Bob’s Burgers (again and again)

  • Big Mouth

  • That’s Chic YouTube videos

** my complete 2018 watched list

I read (and loved):

** complete 2018 read list

What I’m looking forward to in 2019:

  • reading more books

  • Greta Gerwig’s Little Women

  • making more friends

  • growing more confident in my abilities

  • trying new things

  • finding balance in all things

  • more movies

tulips in the garden

the tulips that grew in the garden
were a reminder of
when my father lived his life
with soil underneath his fingernails and
sweat dripped from his lashes
like tears
sometimes he did cry
over the majesty of his garden
the garden he had built
after the world
made him a ghost
the only way he was able to hold on
was by reaching deep into the Earth
scooping out its hot core
letting it warm his cracked
and dirty
palms

in his weakest moments, he made
offers
to the sky
begs for his Father’s judgement
begs for his light to shine on him
begs for one more day

in the mornings
i look out at the garden
think of all the
dreams
and all the
lives
that are planted there
faintly, my father’s heart
bends with the wind
faintly, my father’s heart
bats its wings
always in constant flight
yet rooted in the ground

Look Ma, No Makeup

image: Into the Gloss

image: Into the Gloss

I’ve been wearing makeup to cover up the variety of blemishes that cohabitate on my face since I was twelve years old so it feels pretty fantastic to be in a moment when I wear a full face of makeup only once a week, and that’s only because I want to make money. While I’ve always wished I was Glossier-esque and could get away with only brow gel and a glittery lip balm, the dark spots that scatter my face like a confetti gun went off and the deep, DEEP dark circles under my eyes tell a different story. Despite all my skincare routines and rituals, I’ve always depended on makeup. Recently, however, I’ve taken a renewed approach to skincare that makes me feel less like I need makeup and lets me enjoy it. It’s meant being less concerned with following the routines of people I admire or wanting to try the latest thing even if it doesn’t make sense for my skin, and using products that work for my skin and using them consistently. My skin is healthier, I’m busting out fresh & glittery eye looks. Here are the products that are helping me out:

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

Surprisingly and unsurprisingly: I love, love this mask. I was pretty hesitant about purchasing it despite its rave reviews because Instagram endorsed products have a hard time living up to their name and this mask is a bit pricey than the clay ones I slather on my face with abandon. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, no matter the arguments I made against it and so as soon as the Sephora VIB sale hit, I made the leap. I have yet to regret it. The Jet Lag Mask is all about nutrients that make my skin look plump and filter glowy after immediate use, and since it requires you to remove it using a small towel, there’s the added benefit of exfoliation. This mask is perfect for those mornings where not even a buttload of Vitamin C Serum or eye cream could save me. And because you only need a little bit to make it effective, that $59 price tag seems small in the long run.

Paula’s Choice BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid

Liquid exfoliants are a very terrifying thing that I’m still weary and cautious despite the fact that I sing praises for this baby from Paula’s Choice every time I use it, which is every single night. After the first few uses, I could see my skin peeling off which was both kinda scary and uber cool, and after just a week my notoriously oily and large pored face started looking smooth and glowy. Do we sense a theme yet? Now my skin is feeling pretty balanced, and using it every night has been helpful when any wayward blemishes rear their ugly heads.

Paula’s Choice Balancing Cleanser

Accepting that I had oily skin also meant accepting that I couldn’t just use any cleanser like I was a cool and effortless vlogger who could use Dove bar soap and still look fantastic. I picked up a balancing cleanser at the recommendation of Into the Gloss and have been enjoying its benefits since. No more mornings of waking up with a thin layer of grease on my face or having my makeup separated as my skin got more and more oily throughout the day. The best part of this one from Paula’s Choice? It deep cleanses like nobody’s business meaning makeup removal happens in a snatch.

Laneige Water Bank Hydrating Gel

After a short period of using Weleda Skin Food and JASON’s Vitamin E cream turned my face into a rashy, blemish-y mess, I was looking for a face moisturizer that was so light that it melted into my skin on contact. Laniege’s Hydrating Gel is the lightest cream that I’ve ever used and is still extremely effective. It gives my skin just the right boost it needs and makes me feel a little bit like a glistening cyborg. And it’s hydrating enough that I despite the intense dehydration I experience overnight, my skin still feels moisturized when I wake up. It’s like magic.

Trois Choses: Getting into a Groove

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Robin Givhan is renewing my fashion obsession

There was a time in my life when fashion felt like my whole life. I used to obsessively flipped through the same issues of Vogue, tried to learn as much fashion vocabulary as I could and wrote the most amateur-ish of fashion show reviews. Over time, that passionate obsession faded into a vague liking and these days, I doubt that I could call myself a fashion fanatic. But in recent weeks, there has been a strong light in the very dim tunnel: Robin Givhan’s reviews for The Washington Post. Givhan is a respected fashion critic, who’s books on historical moments in fashion—fashion’s battle at Versailles, Michelle Obama’s fashion choices as a first lady—are groundbreaking and provoking. Her fashion reviews feel equally the same; her perspective always feels fresh and she seems less concerned with the sensationalism that often surrounds things and instead focuses on the collections at hand, the precedent the sent and what that means for the future of fashion. The more I read, the more I am reminded of why I loved fashion in the first place: for its possibilities, for its expansiveness, and its ability to bring beauty into the world while saying something worthwhile.

The new Blood Orange music video

Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, just released the music video for “Chewing Gum” from his album Negro Swan and after just one watch I was overwhelmingly impressed. I’m constantly awed by Hynes’ unique brand of artistry and the layers of his work, and this was no different. Like the other videos from the album, the “Chewing Gum” video isn’t overly complicated—it’s Dev Hynes and A$AP Rocky driving ATVs in hazy, sunset dripped desert, looking fierce and free. Apart from its visual beauty, what struck me most about the video was the fresh perspective it gave me on the song and what it means. When Hynes looks straight into the camera and sings “Tell me what you want from me,” it has a fierce demand that feels unexpected from the soft tone of his singing voice. A big theme of Negro Swan is the freedom of being fully yourself, of doing the most, and the power that you get from being surrounded by the right people, the people who let you be free. In this video, both Hynes and A$AP are not just demanding their right to that freedom and power, but taking it. As their scarves dance around them and the drive on seemingly endless strips of road, they become more free and you as the viewer, feel it too.

On Being Podcast: Alain Botton

Lately, I’ve been feeling like maybe I’m interested in pursuing and entering a romantic relationship and if so, why. Despite this desire, I’m also hesitant and a little afraid of what that would actually mean. I love listening to and reading radical perspectives on love and relationships, and so was especially excited to listen to Alain Botton’s episode of On Being with Krista Tippett. Love is Botton’s subject—he’s been writing about love since he was 23—and his perspective on it feels valuable and increasingly so the more I think about it. He said three things that stuck with me, the first being that the scariest part of entering into relationships is that we have to make ourselves “weak,” to not con. The other two things: relationships aren’t just the lovey-dovey parts, but also involve everyday responsibilities; and we shouldn’t be fear imperfections in ourselves and our partners but be open to them. It’s such a good listen and I’ll be talking about it with everyone I meet for the next little while.

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.