I have a hilarious and slightly embarrassing confession to make – many of you lovely people expressed your sympathy at the loss of my film from New York, but it turns out that I’m just an idiot and I got my film mixed up and handed over new rolls to be developed. I only realised when I went to load my camera and realised my film had already been shot! So I took the REAL rolls to be developed and they turned out just fine – LOL. I’m still probably going to request that my film be inspected by hand at airports just to be safe, but clearly that wasn’t the issue here. So these photos are a mixture of ones I've shot in Toronto and the remaining ones from New York. At the risk of being completely redundant, I’m not going to repeat what we did while we were there, but if you like you can refer back to my New York post for the stories to go along with the photos – soz.
We weren’t planning on going away again for a little while, but the weekend before Easter we decided to hire a car and go to Montreal with friends. It’s five & a half hours away, and we only had the Friday off work but not the Monday (in Australia you get both days off) but we still made the most of our time there. I was most excited about visiting the Leonard Cohen exhibit at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal because I knew it only had a few weeks left to run, so that was the total highlight for me. I shot some film while I was there and assuming I don’t fuck it up and get the wrong rolls developed again then you can probably expect a post about it soon!
Goals & Plans
I always like reading about what bloggers have coming up or what they’re working on and I think it’s a great way to keep people updated about your life, so I’ve decided to include a little goals & plans section here so I can talk about some things I’m looking forward to.
Research & plan for Havana & NYC
I know we were only just in NYC, but my boyfriend and I are already looking forward to going back again in July. My parents are coming to Toronto at the end of June and then the four of us are spending 9 days in Havana and New York together. I haven’t seen my parents since we moved in May last year so we’re all very excited to spend some time together! Havana will be a completely new experience for all of us, so if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them. I’m also excited to show my parents around New York as they haven’t been for about 30 years.
I went back and forth about bullet journalling for the longest time, but eventually I realised that it didn’t have to be that big of a deal. I had a half-finished Moleskine lying around that I wasn’t really using, and I figured I’d give it a try in the back of that notebook and if it didn’t work out I could cut my losses and move on without feeling like I wasted too much time or money getting set up. I’m the kind of person who is constantly writing to do lists in varying levels of priority, but I thought bullet journalling would take up too much time and I’d have to spend a day every month setting up my new layout.
But actually, the whole point is that it can be whatever you want it to be. I don’t bother with the mood or habit trackers that everyone does online, I just use my journal exactly how it suits me. I do weekly spreads so I can keep track of events and what I need to get done that week, and I’ve been finding it super helpful to have all my to do lists in the one place. I can also plan blog content if I feel like it, or write a list of upcoming gigs that I want to go to so I don’t forget about them, and the best part is doing a new weekly spread only takes me about five minutes!
Shoot more film
Obviously it’s easy to shoot film when you’re on holidays because there are always interesting things to take photos of when you’re in a different city, but I want to make sure I’m taking photos even when we’re in Toronto, because it’s not like we go away every weekend (although we've been doing pretty well this year). Especially with summer coming and the days getting longer, not to mention the crucial fact that I have somewhere within walking distance that develops film, I really want to take advantage of that and shoot a lot this summer.
Find new recipes
I shared in my 2017 recap / 2018 goals post that I was meal planning and prepping all my work lunches on the weekends, and that’s still going strong. It’s just that lunch is the most boring meal of the day, and trying to find new recipes that suit my needs and taste preferences that you can make for the week and bring in to work is annoyingly difficult. I’ve got a solid few that I rotate between but it would be great to add some more into the mix so that things don’t get stale. But either way I’m still on track with it and that feels good.
Trial my new skincare
While in New York I picked up two things that are very hard to get your hands on elsewhere in the world. The first is Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50, which is a cult exfoliating toner that I’ve been hearing about since I first got into skincare about 5 years ago. So far I’ve had a great experience with it, but I’ll be talking about it in more depth in an upcoming post so I’ll save my thoughts for that. The second thing is Differin, which is a prescription strength retinoid that’s now available over the counter in the US. I’ve never reacted badly to a retinoid before, but this is a form that I haven’t tried, and given the strength I’m going to proceed with caution. I don’t necessarily open skincare the minute I get it as I’d rather finish up what I have open first, but once that happens I’ll be giving Differin a try and will let you guys know how I get on with it.
(The "best doughnut I've ever eaten" according to my boyfriend, from Dunwell Doughnuts, Brooklyn.)
I’ve been going to a lot of shows lately, partly because I work in music and get to go to a lot of things for free, and partly because there have been some great gigs, and lots more have been announced for the spring & summer too. I don’t know that it’s worth me trying to review every show I go to, but it doesn’t hurt to keep a little list as a reminder to myself – blogging started out as a way of documenting our lives after all.
I also saw DJ Khaled, which was both bizarre and a lot of fun at the same time. I was wondering how he’d be able to fill a whole set, because although he’s collaborated with basically every single big name in hip hop & R&B, he doesn’t sing or rap himself so what was he doing to do? Most of the set was him playing about 6 seconds of a song and then cutting the music so the crowd could sing all the words. He also went on and on about his son to the point where it was a bit weird. In fact, he’s a bit of a weird dude but he knows how to make a banger, that’s for sure.
Probably the one I was most excited about was Justin Timberlake. Although I don’t think his latest album is anything special, I’d never seen him live before and I love his earlier work, so I was still really excited. Although some of the songs from the new album were a bit slow, all the hits from his catalogue were top notch, and the production was unbelievable. He definitely knows how to put on a show, and I can imagine even someone who doesn’t care one way or the other about his music would still have a great time.
Valerie June is another one I was excited about. I saw her a few years ago in New York and thought she was great. She’s from Tennesse and makes lovely bluesy folk music and just seems like a total sweetheart. I also saw Lights for a friend’s birthday, a band called Wallows, just because, (they did a great Beatles cover), and a couple of Aussie artists – The Rubens and Amy Shark, because it’s fun to support them when you’re overseas (and when you’re at home too, of course).
Film & TV
After visiting the Guillermo del Toro exhibit recently at the AGO here in Toronto, and hearing that The Shape of Water won Best Picture at the Oscars, my boyfriend and I were looking forward to seeing it. Firstly, I was surprised that they basically recycled the Abe costume from Hellboy II and recast him as the amphibian guy (he doesn’t actually have a name) – both movies are directed by del Toro, and the same actor plays both characters. Aside from that, although all the characters were not what you would call typical heroes, it was still a fairly typical love story, so I was kind of surprised that it won the Oscar. I mean, I liked it, and of course I think it’s great that the heroes in the story are so diverse, but I don’t necessarily think it was compelling enough to have won.
Call Me By Your Name was also nominated for Best Picture, and oh my god, you guys. This movie is achingly beautiful. Everything about the way it was shot, and particularly Elio's acting (played by Timothée Chalamet) was stunning. I haven’t read the book but I feel like the movie captured so many things so perfectly in a way that I don't know that writing could. The warmth and feeling of summertime, all the awkwardness and earnestness of being 17, and the electricity of falling in love. There’s a scene between Elio and his father that is so moving, I honestly didn’t know what to say when it was over but I woke up in the middle of the night and cried thinking about it. I urge you to see this movie.
Another one that was up for Best Picture, and that I thought deserved it until I fell in love with Call Me By Your Name, is 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I went in not knowing anything about the story, but it was incredible. It’s definitely a difficult one to watch at times, but somehow they managed to strike a balance between very intense, confronting scenes, and humour. There were actually quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, although I definitely wouldn’t call it a comedy. But I think the fact that they managed to do that is quite an accomplishment and it’s a testament to how well written and directed the movie is.
The last movie I want to talk about is Black Panther, which I loved! I mean, if you go in expecting something wildly different from a comic book movie you’ll be disappointed, because it still does follow that same format. But of course superhero/comic book movies that celebrate POC, and certainly those that depict a more diverse range of cultures, are long overdue and the success of Black Panther proves that. You don’t have to keep putting out the exact same, cookie-cutter movies over and over again – people are bored of them, and, at least from what I’ve seen, Black Panther has had a far more enthusiastic response than just about any other comic book movie since The Dark Knight. If I’m going to watch an action movie, I want it to be something like this, and it’s good to see Hollywood finally starting to catch up. And of course the soundtrack is great too!
The only TV show I’ve been watching lately is the new season of Jessica Jones on Netflix. I have to say, after how good season one was, this was pretty disappointing. I don’t want to give away any spoilers by talking too much about what happens, but it just feels like they dragged on a fairly simple storyline over 13 episodes and tried to fill in a lot of time. Also towards the end Trish (Jessica’s best friend) is just the worst and now I can’t stand her. Let me know if you’ve watched because I’d love to hear what other people think!
Moving on to Toronto photos...
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I adore John Steinbeck. He’s one of my all-time favourite writers – I’ve read several of his shorter works, and The Grapes of Wrath reduced me to tears, so I was looking forward to finally reading this. Initially I found it strange because it took about 200 pages for him to introduce any characters that I actually liked, but in true Steinbeck fashion they emerged and I loved them. He’s a wonderfully nuanced writer who depicts the balance of beauty and sadness that make up the human experience in a very authentic way. His prose is rich and vivid but has a natural, easy flow. He’s the perfect example of someone who makes a story great just because he is the one telling it. If it sounds like I’m making very grand claims about him, it’s because I am and he completely lives up to them.
(This is our little wall of cute stuff at home in Toronto.)
Hunger by Roxane Gay
This is a heartbreaking look into so many personal nooks and crannies of Roxane Gay’s life as an overweight woman. She says at the start that this isn’t a success story about how she managed to tame her unruly body and get it to an “acceptable” weight, and she goes on to talk about the many ways in which the world refuses to accommodate larger bodies. I have long thought that what could be called “overeating” should be considered an eating disorder, because that’s exactly what it is – disordered eating. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, and the primary treatment is varying forms of therapy. But eating disorders are reserved for people who have lost too much weight, not the opposite. People who eat too much are “lazy” or “greedy” and there’s never any thought given to why someone might eat that way.
Certainly when Roxane talks about eating past the point of discomfort, about intentionally making herself bigger so she feels protected against a massive trauma she experienced at 12 years old, it makes me think that if she had access to treatment and/or therapy for that trauma then her life may have been completely different. I don’t pretend to have all the answers or to be an expert on eating disorders, or to even assume that people with larger bodies are unhappy the way they are, or that they should try to be different. I just think the world could do with being a lot more understanding towards people when it comes to food and weight. We are not more valuable the less space we take up, and we should not be making assumptions about people based on their weight because you never know what someone else may be dealing with.
I See A Darkness by Reinhard Kleist
I read Kleist’s Nick Cave: Mercy On Me recently and loved it so much that as soon as I realised he’d written something similar about Johnny Cash, it was in my Amazon basket and I was checking out before taking my next breath. While the Nick Cave one is more abstract and centres on certain characters that Cave creates in his songs, I See A Darkness is a biography in graphic novel form. As someone who doesn’t really read graphic novels or comics, these have given me a new appreciation for the genre. Granted, the subject matter is intensely interesting to me so I’m going to be a little biased, but reading these has made me realise that you can tell a very powerful story using this medium, and Kleist is an excellent writer and artist. Now I just need him to write one about Leonard Cohen and I’d be all set.
Selected Letters: 1957-1969 by Jack Kerouac
I’ve said it before, but I’m just working my way through Kerouac’s catalogue since I read his earlier Selected Letters volume last year. The second half of his correspondence gets harder to read (as someone who is very emotionally attached to him) because not only does he suffer increasingly from the effects of his alcoholism, as well all the unwanted fame and criticism that came after the publication of On The Road, the ending is a sad one. Obviously I knew how and when it was going to end, but it was still upsetting to read how misunderstood he felt throughout his life, and to think about how different things might have been if he were able to stop drinking.
(Behind the scenes from my recent Makeup Declutter post.)
Born To Run
by Bruce Springsteen
I'm not a huge auto/biography reader unless I'm very interested in the person that's being written about, but I believe pretty firmly that just because there’s an interesting story to tell, doesn’t automatically mean the person telling it is a good writer. It’s definitely possibly to tell a good story poorly. Sometimes biographies can read like trashy tabloids, particularly if the author wasn’t there themselves, and while the subject/writer of their own autobiography may be incredibly talented in many areas of life, long-form writing isn’t always one of them.
Fortunately, Springsteen is quite a good storyteller. Although there are some stylistic and grammar choices that aren’t what I would call subtle, at times it feels like he’s telling you his story face-to-face, and it comes across in a very authentic way. He is very self-aware and open about his relationships with friends and family, and says that he largely attributes this to having seen a therapist since the age of 30. He talks about his own emotional shortcomings in his personal relationships, how therapy helped him work through it all, about going on and off anti-depressants and about his complicated relationship with his father who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder much later in life.
Frankly, I wasn’t expecting this level of honesty as people often don’t share this much of themselves with the general public. Given that a large portion of his fanbase are probably 50+ years old, I think it’s great that he spoke so plainly about mental illness as that’s not typically an age group that’s been exposed to these kinds of conversations. I’d like to think he probably helped a few people understand themselves or the people around them a bit better with this book, which is always a good thing. It was also really interesting to hear first hand how he created each album and why he made certain decisions throughout his life. If you’re a fan this is definitely worth a read.
Dear Ijaewele: Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Like We Should All Be Feminists, this is a quick read, but it packs a punch in terms of wisdom and practical feminist attitudes. Adichie originally wrote this as a letter to her friend who asked for advice on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. As someone with no interest in having children, it’s not something I can directly apply to my own circumstances, but it did make me want to give a copy of it to all my friends and family who have, or plan to have children. Here’s hoping the next generation will be raised as feminists and that we’ll be able to see true equality within our lifetime.