August & September: In My Secret Life

August & September: In My Secret Life

I guess summer is officially over, and although I’m not happy about it, it’s been a pretty great one so it’s hard to complain. I’m just praying it doesn’t start snowing until after Christmas because autumn is actually quite nice in Toronto compared to winter!

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE


I’ve had so many things going on in the last couple of months, I thought it would be easiest to write most of this post out in list format.

01. One of my best friends from home came to stay with us for a week and it was so great having her here and catching up in person. It had been over a year since we’d seen each other! We went to Canada’s Wonderland and rode rollercoasters and ate at all my favourite vegan spots and it was such a lovely week.

02. One of Mark’s best friends came to visit as well which was a lot of fun. We really enjoy having people to stay, it’s so nice being able to introduce someone to all the things we love about Toronto, and it feels like a holiday without even going anywhere.

03. An old friend who I hadn’t really been in touch with for a while recently moved to Toronto with her boyfriend and it’s been so nice catching up with them. They’re in the same position we were in a year ago, so it reminds me of what it was like when we first moved here, and the experience of finding our feet in a new country. It’s always nice having new people to spend time with, and I’m glad that we can be a little taste of home for them too.

04. It’s my 30th birthday this weekend, and although I’m not particularly thrilled with the idea of entering a new decade of my life, I do feel like I’ve got a reasonably good handle on things at the moment and by all reports your 30s are far more stable and generally better than your 20s anyway. I mean, on one hand there’s the fear of getting old and boring, but on the other, the passing of time brings experience and knowledge and lots of other good things. The older you are, the better you’re able to cope with the shitty things life throws at you, and the less you worry about the little things. You can also only get closer to achieving your long-term goals as time passes (they’re called long-term for a reason), so getting older isn’t all bad. I don’t really like celebrating my birthday, but my parents have booked Mark and I a degustation at a vegan restaurant which I’m very much looking forward to. Other than that, my birthday coincides with the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend so as long as I get to eat pumpkin pie and a variety of other baked goods I’ll be a happy girl.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
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Our friends Mike & Chelsie went swimming with their pizza floatie
in the lake at Chelsie’s parents’ cottage.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

05. My brother and his wife had their son baptised (or christened, is there a difference?) recently, and although I obviously wasn’t able to be there for the ceremony, I was there via a video call and was made one of his godparents, which is such an honour. I haven’t met him yet as he was born after we moved, but I’m looking forward to meeting him one day!

06. After getting a haircut I hated last year, a couple of months ago my fringe had grown out enough that it was finally time to get a professional to sort it out, and since then I have been SO happy with my hair. I’m definitely due for another fringe trim by now as it’s grown out a lot but it feels so good to like the way my hair looks and to finally have it the way I want it.

07. We don’t have Aerie in Australia so I’d never shopped there before, but I recently decided my bras needed to be overhauled as my sizing has changed and a lot of the ones I owned were looking a bit tatty. The first one I bought was the Real Sunnie Bra and it’s literally the most comfortable bra I have ever owned. It’s super soft, fits perfectly, doesn’t show up under t-shirts and the pricing is really reasonable. A bra may be a bit of a weird thing to recommend, but I saw someone talking about this online recently which is what made my try it, and I’m so impressed I thought I’d do the same.

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In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
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01. We’ve had a few trips recently, including one overnight stay in the Niagara region with friends. It’s a really popular thing to do a biking winery tour in that area, so that’s what we did. I don’t drink but I enjoyed the ride and getting out of the city to do something different.

02. We also had a super fun weekend away with our friends Mike & Chelsie at Chelsie’s parents’ cottage. I think in Australia it’s more common for people to go to beach houses, but in Canada it’s all about the lake-front cottage. Everyone seems to go to a cottage at least once in the summer so it was great to have that experience (and that’s where most of these photos were taken). We even had a fire and made s’mores for the first time and now they’re all I ever want to eat!

03. Mark and I had a weekend away in Chicago that turned into a longer trip than we planned. We were initially set back by plane delays and lost our first day there, but when we were due to fly back home on the Monday (a public holiday) there were storms that meant that a couple of flights got cancelled, including ours, and the airline couldn’t get us on another flight until Wednesday! Luckily my work was understanding about it, and we tried to make the most of our extra time in Chicago despite the fact that I got sick and the airline didn’t cover any of our additional expenses. But aside from all the drama, we loved Chicago and had a great time there. I shot a few rolls of film so I’ll be putting together a little travel guide to the city sometime soon.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE


01. One thing I recently tackled is a little wardrobe declutter. I probably got rid of about 10-15 things, and almost all of them were clothes I had owned for years that I just wasn’t feeling anymore. That’s a good feeling because it means I’m on track with what I’m buying and not making too many mistakes that didn’t work out. It’s definitely jackets and tights weather now so I’m thinking about storing away my summer dresses and midi skirts since they won’t be getting any more wear for a while to come, but I haven’t gotten around to that just yet.

02. I want to start thinking about my goals for 2019 and what I want to do with the year. I already know it’s going to be a super busy one that’s going to require a lot of planning so I’d like to tackle some of that in this last quarter of the year so I can make my life easier down the track.

03. I’ve booked in to get my first tattoo, which I’m so excited about! It’s not until mid-November because the artist wasn’t available on a weekend until then (they’re pretty popular) but I honestly can’t wait. It’s an idea I’ve had in mind for a while now and I feel like it’s absolutely perfect, so I can’t wait to see what the artist comes up with as I’ve left a few design decisions up to them.

04. Although I’m definitely a summer baby through and through, I’m trying to get in the spirit of embracing autumn. Autumn in Toronto is a bit colder than a Sydney winter (which I complained about every year of my life before moving here) so although I would never be happy with weather like this under normal circumstances, knowing how bad winter gets is making me appreciate weather in which I can still wear tights and jackets rather than jeans, thermals and a parka every single day. Plus I’m a basic bitch and I absolutely lose it over pumpkin flavoured or scented things.

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I put a marshmallow from the s’mores in my coffee and it was good! Why is this not a normal thing?

Things I’ve Watched

The most important thing I’ve watched recently that I really want to encourage everyone to see is Nanette by Hannah Gadsby (on Netflix). As someone who doesn’t have a clue about the stand-up world and could barely name 3 comedians, I went into this with zero context, but I absolutely loved it. It’s part comedy, part social commentary and it’s completely worth watching if you’re interested in learning about the world from different perspectives and treating people with compassion. Aside from that, Mark and I watched and loved the newest season of Bojack Horseman which is one of my favourite shows. I really don’t watch much TV at all, but Bojack is something I will watch as soon as it’s released. Speaking of which, there is a new season of Daredevil coming out in a few weeks and I can’t wait! In the meantime, we’ve just started watching The Wire – we’re almost at the end of season one and I’m really enjoying it so far. I know I’m behind though, the show is so old they use typewriters and pagers, lol.

For movies I watched Call Me By Your Name again and it was just as beautiful the second time around. Definitely one of my favourite things I’ve seen all year. I was a sobbing mess by the end and I think I would be no matter how many times I see it. I also saw Eighth Grade which was a very funny, but also heart-breaking look at what it’s like to be 13 in this day and age. I feel like the intended audience is people who are a bit older, rather than eighth graders themselves, so you can have a laugh while being reminded of how painfully awkward it was when you were trying to figure out who you are and what you’re about. The last one is The Florida Project, which offers some pretty intense insight into the realities of living in poverty in a Florida motel. This definitely isn’t lighthearted but I’m glad I saw it.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

Shows I’ve Been To

  • The National (who I will forever love and adore)

  • Drake (you can’t move to Toronto and not see Drake)

  • Childish Gambino (I’m a huge fan of his last album, Awaken, My Love! and I loved finally getting the chance to see those songs live).

Music I’ve Listened To

  • Call Me By Your Name Soundtrack (though pretty much only the songs by Sufjan Stevens, Love My Way and Lady Lady Lady).

  • Fucked Up - Glass Boys, The Chemistry of Common Life

  • Nicki Minaj - Queen

  • Logic - YSIV & Bobby Tarantino II

  • Weaves - Wide Open

  • Little Richard

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

Links I’ve Loved

  • I absolutely loved Tenniel’s post about being a small blogger and being okay with it. She and I share pretty much the exact same views on the subject, which is why she’s my blogging bestie!

  • I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the influencer world, and not only have I absolutely loved Sam’s videos since discovering her earlier in the year, but I loved her super honest take on influencer culture and really recommend watching it.

  • On a similar but less serious note, Chloe Morello made a hilarious video about ~her truth making fun of over the top, drama queen influencers and I loved it.

  • A different Chloe this time, from The Little Plum, who I also discovered this year and whose posts I really enjoy, particularly this one about class status in blogging. This is what I want to see more of!

  • My one true love, Nick Cave, has started up The Red Hand Files where fans can submit questions and he personally answers the ones that interest him. Each time he answers a new one and it lands in my inbox it brightens my day.

  • Mariah Leonard, another YouTuber I really like because of her authenticity, made a No Brand Makeup Tutorial video, where she talks about products and techniques without mentioning the brands to encourage people to use what they already have rather than feeling like they need to buy whatever she’s using.

  • While I personally have a lot of female friends, I still really enjoyed Samantha Maria’s post about struggling with female friendships in her 20s as it’s not something that gets talked about a lot and it’s can be a scary thing to open up about.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
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Books I’ve Read

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

You might know Jeffrey Eugenides as the writer of the Virgin Suicides, which I read about 10 years ago, so that’s an indication of how long I’ve been meaning to read this. He’s a very talented writer who includes a lot of detail that makes the world he creates feel very vivid and real. His characters are complex and compelling and I’m really glad I finally got around to reading this. It’s written as though it’s an autobiography, and a lot of the events and characters are based on his actual family, but unlike the protagonist, Cal, Eugenides is not intersex.

The book begins with Cal’s grandparents and tells the story of how they fell in love and immigrated from Greece to Detroit. It continues through the lives of Cal’s parents, and we only properly “meet” Cal when they’re born about halfway through the book, although they’re the one narrating the story. As someone who is not intersex, I’m not really in a position of authority to say whether this is a perfect depiction of growing up intersex or not. But as an outsider looking in, I found this story to be moving, beautifully-told and I think it’s a very nuanced depiction of what it might be like to be intersex. Obviously it’s fictional, but if you’d like to have a greater emotional understanding for those who struggle with gender identity, this is a wonderful book to give you some perspective.

The Place of Dead Roads by William S Burroughs 

This is a bit of a tough one to review because William S Burroughs is kind of in his own category. I wouldn’t even really say he’s a “love it or hate it” kind of writer, it’s more like either you’re game to read him or you’re not. Some of his books tell a linear story, and some of them you can barely make sense of. This is the second part of the Cities of the Red Night Trilogy, and thankfully the trilogy is somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I will eventually read the third book, although I don’t really know if I can recommend or not recommend them. If you’re interested then give it a go, but if you’re not sure then don’t!

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers 

I’ve been catching up on my Dave Eggers reading over the last year or so and have read his 4 most recent novels, and this is probably the best one. I think if you enjoy one you’d enjoy them all as the characters are all pretty relatable and are often facing some sort of identity crisis. Eggers is a very funny writer with a natural, conversational flow. There has been a movie made of this book starring Tom Hanks and I haven’t seen it yet, but after reading this I’m keen to give it a go.

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This is a collection of essays from self-professed bad feminist, Roxane Gay. She considers herself a “bad” feminist because she likes things she knows she shouldn’t (like hop hop and reality TV) and I appreciate that she rejects the idea of there being a perfect, prescriptive idea of feminism, because in certain circumstances it will look different to everyone. She dissects her past, current events, race, gender and sexuality and how all these things intersect, and I think she does it in a very intelligent and nuanced way. If you’re interested in reading about contemporary intersectional feminism I really recommend this.

The Sea is my Brother by Jack Kerouac

As you may know, Kerouac is my favourite writer, and this is the first book he ever wrote that wasn’t actually published until 2011. This was written long before he’d developed the writing style that I love so much, so I didn’t find it particularly good or inspiring. The edition I read was bulked out by some shorter pieces of writing and some correspondence with his high school best friend, which was the most interesting part to me. Unless, like me, you’re super into Kerouac and are reading every one of his books, I wouldn’t really recommend this as he has many others that are far better.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

The Blazing World
by Suri Hustvedt

The Blazing World tells the story of Harriet Burden, an artist in her 60s whose lifetime of work has largely been ignored. She decides to enlist the help of three younger men, presenting them as the creators of her work to expose the biases of the New York art scene. The third man, Rune, betrays her and claims the work as his own, and the story is told after both of their deaths. It’s a very interesting (and depressingly real) feminist argument as well as a depiction of the insular art world.

The book is structured as a series of interviews from people who knew these characters, as well as Harriet’s posthumous diary entries. Initially I thought it would have worked better in a traditional novel format - the interviews and footnotes had me questioning whether Harriet Burden was a real person (she’s not), so I suppose I can attest to how authentic it seems. In the end I could see why the author did it that way – in presenting the work as though it’s non-fiction, she was able to include lots of references to other real life texts that don’t really fit into a fiction work, and it also meant that Harriet and Rune didn’t really get to have their say directly (beyond Harriet’s diary entries). It was a very interesting, and at times, heart-breaking read but it has made me want to read more from the author.

A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh is someone I’ve been reading since high school, and since I’ve read most of his work I’m very familiar with his style and a lot of his characters (they mostly all live in the same world and will pop up in different books, which I really like). This one is centred around Juice Terry, who I know from Glue and Skagboys and by the end of the book I was surprised by how much I grew to like him. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’d be friends, but it was nice to see that he has a moral compass after all. Anything by Irvine Welsh isn’t for the faint of heart, but because I’ve read so much of his work it’s easy for me to overlook a lot of the baseline offensive stuff that’s part and parcel of his books. I don’t know if I would be too happy reading my first book by him in 2018, and there were definitely parts of this that were pretty shocking and uncomfortable, but I did enjoy the book and feel like it’s a return to the Irvine Welsh I know so well.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

The Narrow Road to the
Deep North by Basho

I spotted this in a second hand bookstore in Chicago and figured I’d pick it up. I’d heard of Basho, who is a very famous Japanese poet from the 1600s, because Kerouac was heavily influenced by him when he got into Zen Buddhism and writing haikus. Although this book is part haiku, part prose, there were some beautiful moments in there and if I come across more books by Basho then I’d probably pick them up.

In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

Off The Road
by Carolyn Cassady

This is only required reading for Beat Generation fanatics like me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Carolyn was Neal Cassady’s long-suffering wife and mother of three of his children. Having read biographical, autobiographical and fictionalised accounts of his life, it was super interesting to read about him (and Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg) from the perspective of a woman(!) who doesn’t gloss over the ugly parts, and who has a first-hand account of what happened. If you’re into the Beat Generation I really recommend this, and I wish I had read it sooner.

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In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE
In My Secret Life  |  LITTLE HENRY LEE

I had to get through the last couple of shots on a roll of film so here are
two blurry photos that Mark took of me outside the camera shop.