NICK CAVE. Obviously the most exciting thing to happen in my life recently is that my One True Love, Nick Cave, announced a tour. If you’ve been following my blog during any previous time that he’s toured you’ll probably understand the degree to which I am obsessed with him (lol). They’re playing one show in Toronto, but because the tour is during my birthday month, my boyfriend earned himself some major brownie points but asking if I’d like to go to more than one show (which is what I usually do). We decided to make a long weekend of it and go to the Washington DC and New York shows as well as Toronto, and we’ve just booked our flights so that’s definitely something I'm looking forward to for October!
DETROIT. With a long weekend looming in mid-May, we decided the Monday before that we might as well go somewhere and make the most of having that extra day off, so we rented a car and drove to Detroit. We chose Detroit because we’ve been to a lot of the places that are within driving distance of Toronto already, and frankly, we figured if we didn’t do it now we probably wouldn’t make the effort to go to there any other time. I really wanted to see the Motown Museum, and there’s an amazing Detroit style pizza place in Toronto that made us want to try more, so we threw caution to the wind and booked everything a few days before going. We had a great time there and I shot a couple of rolls of film so expect to see a post on Detroit coming in the near future.
WORK. Another exciting thing is that I now have a permanent job! I was originally hired on a contract covering one year of parental leave, but that person has decided not to come back, so I was offered the role permanently. Mark and I don’t know what that means for us long term or whether we’ll be staying in Canada or moving back to Sydney when our visas are up (in another year from now), but we’re just going to enjoy our time right now and worry about all of that later!
ANNIVERSARY. Speaking of which, we also celebrated our one year anniversary of living in Toronto by going out for a lovely dinner at Planta. I’ve been once before and didn’t think my food was amazing, but this time we ordered differently and it was MUCH better. After visiting the Motown Museum in Detroit and seeing that the Motown musical was playing at a theatre right near our place, we also bought tickets for that for the following evening and had a really lovely time.
WARDROBE CLEAR OUT. Another thing that’s been making me feel great is clearing out my wardrobe. Because we only moved to Canada this time last year, most of my summer clothes were ones I’d brought with me from Australia and had owned for quite a while. I’d started feeling like some of them weren’t really my style anymore, plus some of them are now too big, and others had started to show a bit too much wear.
When it was time to reintroduce all my S/S clothes I’d put away for winter, I set aside everything I wasn’t really excited about and donated it. Only a few things that I’d bought since living in Canada ended up in the donation bin, which is a really good feeling because it means that for the most part I’m only buying clothes that I actually love and wear, which is really what I’m aiming for. It feels great to be on the right track and to look in my wardrobe and love what I see.
FOOD. I’ve been a vegetarian for 6 years now, and my boyfriend has been for about 3, but recently he’s decided to make the switch to a vegan diet. This has nothing to do with health or #cleaneating or anything like that, for the both of us it’s a purely ethical decision, and although I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to veganism full time, we’ve starting making some vegan substitutes which are new to us and it’s been going great. Really, it’s had very little impact on the food we cook at home because as it is we pretty much only ate eggs, had milk in tea or coffee and had a bit of cheese here and there which are all easy enough to substitute. For me the real trouble is desserts (and eating out in general) because they’re by far my favourite food group. But I’ve always thought that a) the only person I have to justify my choices to is myself, and b) something is better than nothing, so if I eat vegan 75% of the time but have a bit of dairy here and there, then I’m fine with that.
One thing we’ve just discovered is a Toronto-based service called Velovegan – basically a guy home-cooks vegan meats and has someone deliver them to your door by bicycle. You can choose individual products or they do a rotating weekly special of 3 items for $20 and we’ve had a great experience with it so far! Sometimes it can get a bit boring eating the same options from the supermarket, so not only are we excited to have some new flavours, but I also think it’s an awesome idea and we’re really happy we’re able to support a local business like this one.
Some things I've been loving...
The fact that Summer is almost here and it stays light until about 9:00pm.
Finally being able to wear midi skirts again now that we have weather above 20°C!
After trying to switch to milk alternatives a few years back, I gave up because I’m just not that into soy or almond milk, and although coconut milk is decent, it still doesn’t really cut it in a cup of tea. But I’ve discovered cashew milk (Silk brand) and all my prayers have been answered! It doesn’t separate and go all funny in tea or coffee and it doesn’t really change the flavour much either, which was pretty much the only reason I continued to buy cow’s milk until now.
I reached the end of the Moleskine I was using as my Bullet Journal, so picked up the Leuchtturm 1917 journal and have been loving it!
Diet Coke have launched a bunch of summer flavours – I’m not sure if this is global or where else these are available, but the mango flavour is delicious! I know it doesn’t sound appealing on paper but trust me, if they have it where you are you should try it!
What I've Been Watching
Back in April there was a worldwide one day screening of a Nick Cave live show that was recorded/shot in Copenhagen. It's called Distant Sky and naturally I bought tickets straight away. Nothing is as good as seeing the band live in the flesh, but the show was still excellent and I’ll take any excuse for a Nick Cave related activity. Speaking of which, my boyfriend and I also watched The End of the Fucking World on Netflix because we’d heard a bit of buzz about it. I can’t say I loved it, but I did enjoy it, particularly because Nick Cave’s son Earl acts in it! He’s the kid who works at the petrol station, if you were wondering.
Although we didn’t really know much about it beforehand, my boyfriend’s friend invited us to see I, Dolours which was screening as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. It’s essentially a documentary/movie based on interviews done with Dolours Price, who was an active member of the IRA throughout the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I didn’t know much at all about this part of Ireland’s (very recent) history, but it’s a fascinating and terrible story. The director of the documentary did a Q&A session after the screening and although we essentially went in blind it was a really eye-opening and educational experience.
Another movie we watched was the new Avengers. Again, I went in blind not even really knowing there were two previous Avengers movies, and not knowing who about 3/4 of the characters were, but despite that I still enjoyed the movie and thought it was a good watch. I probably would have gotten a lot more out of it if I'd seen more than a handful of the Marvel movies from the last ten years though.
Music I've Been Listening To
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
PJ Harvey – Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
A wholeeee bunch of Motown artists
The Rolling Stones
Shows I’ve Been To
Portugal. The Man & Broken Social Scene
Books I've Been Reading
Ulysses by James Joyce
I have to start by saying that I didn’t actually read this, I got about 120 pages in and decided it wasn’t worth it for me. This is one of those abstract, stream of consciousness style novels that are a big part of modernist literature, and although I enjoy some writers from that movement, I find it hard to connect with novels written in this style on an emotional level, which means I rarely actually enjoy the experience of reading them. I know this book is very important in context and as a reference point within modernism, but I just found it so boring, and frankly I’m at a point where if I’m going to read 600+ pages by a writer I’m not familiar with, I’d rather give my time and attention to someone who is not a white man. I knew from what I did read that I’d have to spend a few weeks pushing my way through it and that I almost certainly wouldn’t get anything out of it at the end. My favourite writer (Jack Kerouac) loved James Joyce which is what made me want to read this, and I’m by no means trying to discredit the importance of Ulysses or suggest that it’s not good, it’s just not for me.
Leonard Cohen: A Crack
This is the book that accompanies the Leonard Cohen exhibit I went to at the MACM in Montreal recently. I went a lil wild in the gift shop and this book, along with a few other things, came home with me. Along with photos of each work featured in the exhibit (this is more of a coffee table book) the book also includes a piece of writing from each artist who typically explains their inspiration behind what they created and their connection to Leonard Cohen. Some of the artists were commissioned by the MACM and didn’t listen to him until they started working on the project, while others were lifelong fans, so it was lovely to read through this book and relive the exhibit again. I’m not sure if this is available to buy outside of the exhibit but that's just another reason to go if you have the opportunity.
The Golden Notebook
by Doris Lessing
Instead of Ulysses I decided to read this (600+ page) book by a woman. It’s largely considered a feminist novel, although, published in 1962 (and obviously written in the years before that) it’s definitely not intersectional. When it was published it was described as “castrating” and although the way she openly writes about sex and male/female relationships aren’t shocking to me today, I can certainly see how they would have been at the time. Structurally it’s very interesting - the protagonist and self-proclaimed “free woman”, Anna Wulf, keeps four separate journals as a way of compartmentalising her life, and the book dips in and out of them non-chronologically, culminating in Anna’s attempt to combine them all into one golden notebook as a metaphor for her own physiological breakdown. It sounds dense but I found it quite easy to read, and although the feminism is flawed, it’s still impressive given that this was published before the women’s liberation movement had really taken shape. I don’t know if I would necessarily seek out more books by her, but I do think this was well worth reading and between this and Ulysses I know I made the right choice for me.
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
The title of this book is unnecessarily confusing, so just to clear things up – Alice and Gertrude were life partners, and this is an autobiography of Gertrude, written by Gertrude, but from the point of view of Alice. If you can put aside the “why” of that, as well as the fact that she refers to herself by her full name throughout the whole book, this is an interesting read. I knew that Gertrude was a key figure in the Lost Generation literary movement and thought this would be a good place to start with her. What I didn’t know is that she was also very involved in the early 1900s French art scene, and she counts just about every painter you’ve ever heard of from that time as a personal friend. Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne and a whole host of others feature heavily in the first part of the book. Her experiences during WWI (detailed later in the book) were very privileged and therefore not particularly interesting, but I’m curious to read more of her work.
Islands in the Stream
by Ernest Hemingway
Published after his death, this isn’t one of Hemingway’s most famous novels. In fact, the main reason I wanted to read this particular one is because Hemingway spent a lot of time in Cuba and some of this book is based there, so I wondered if I’d learn anything interesting about the place before my visit. That didn’t really happen but it was still an interesting story, although not my favourite from him.
Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac,
the Beat Generation & America
by Dennis McNally
I’ve read quite a few Keroauc biographies now, and although I was interested in this one, it wasn’t one of my favourites. I really dislike it when biographers take a lot of creative license in the telling of someone else’s story. In my opinion they’re supposed to be recounting fact, so when McNally describes a conversation between two people and includes dialogue, or describes their feelings in a certain situation, it really bothers me because he wasn’t there and couldn't possibly know that. Unless he has a direct quote from somebody who was there, then it’s editorialising and I don’t think that kind of thing has any place in a biography. I did like that he included some more political and social context at certain points, but overall, like I said, it’s not my favourite Kerouac biography out there.