What's Getting Me Through

So this website has turned into a place where I post once every four months which sucks for me because I spend money on it and I want it to be more than a domain that I upkeep. I feel like I go through this every time when I realize it's been forever since I've written. I'm currently working three jobs, working out 4-5 times a week and attempting to have a bit of a social life (really, I could be seeing more people, I spend a ton of time by myself). When I do have days to myself, I hate how I spend my time. It's fruitless and useless. I could be writing, or engaging with the world in some productive way. I could be figuring out ways to make more money. I could stop feeling sorry for myself.

Sometimes I feel like I put too much pressure on myself and other times I'm not putting enough. It's tough sometimes living by myself, because I have to be the one to hold myself accountable for everything. It's freeing and at the same time, deeply distressing.

Anyway, all this to say that there are a few things lately that are making me very happy, pop culture-wise, and if I ever wanted to view these entries at anything approaching a diary, I sure as hell want to keep track of the good things too, and not just my usual bitching and complaining.  

Star Trek: The Next Generation and two podcasts dedicated to it: The Greatest Generation and Star Trek: The Next Conversation

Star Trek: The Next Generation and two podcasts dedicated to it: The Greatest Generation and Star Trek: The Next Conversation

Big Little Lies and its soundtrack

Big Little Lies and its soundtrack

The Flop House

The Flop House

Living Big in Japan

I've been struggling to put my trip to Japan (Oct. 8-Oct. 16, 2016) into words. I know the longer I go without writing about, the more I will begin to forget and lose about the trip. For my entire writing career, I've found it difficult to write when I want to, and I constantly feel like I'm letting myself (and now my writing partner) down, because I can't seem to get it together to get things in on time. Like the procrastinator that I am, my mind tells me that tomorrow everything will get done, because tomorrow will be a good day where I'm excited to write, but tomorrow turns into today and the cycle repeats. I've had to force myself to sit down at my table, put on human clothes, pour myself a cool glass of tea and just start. 

When my dad said he wanted to go to Japan and asked if I wanted to go with him, I honestly wasn't too excited. Japan was far. Japan seemed overwhelming. I wasn't into manga, anime or zen, and we have good Japanese food in Toronto, so why take a 13 hour flight to get it made "authentically?" However, I hadn't been on vacation in over 3 and a half years and I was in dire need of a break from work and life. This was an adventure, and I needed an adventure so I said yes, half-heartedly. What a brat. 

As the trip drew closer, I started to feel nervous. We were going to Tokyo, the most populous city ON THE PLANET. I get panic attacks in slightly crowded malls, how was I going to handle this? We were also going to a place where the national language could not be further from English. Despite being assured by my dad that everyone there would speak English (uh... no... they don't. As well they shouldn't.), I was sure everything would be lost in translation. Would we be respectful enough? What if we got lost? What if I didn't like it there?

After a restless flight where my knee seized up multiple times and I slept for all of 20 seconds, we arrived at Narita airport. I braced myself for the crowds that were sure to envelop us when we emerged from the plane. Instead it was... quiet? There was no one there. Okay, okay, when we get out, we'll be swarmed by people and we'll lose each other in the sea of locals and drift away... except that didn't happen either. We boarded our train, then subway, and got to the neighbourhood where our first AirBnB was located, all without incident. Yes, there were people, but everyone kept to themselves. Everyone gave everyone space and no one was squashed or thrown violently into a train (yes... we heard that people do this. In no way, shape or form is this true). 

We got a bit lost getting to our AirBnB from the subway station and asked some locals for help. Immediately, anyone we asked whipped out a phone to Google our situation. No one looked at us like we were weird, or stupid, and all tried to help. We made it to our little home and headed straight out again (despite our immense fatigue) in search of food. We turned one corner and found ourselves at a pizzeria. As sacrilegious as it felt to have our first real Japanese meal in Japan be Italian, we were too zonked to try anywhere else so we settled ourselves in there. I had probably the best pizza I've ever had there. 

I'm not going to detail the rest of the trip as minutely, but to suffice it to say, I have two big regrets. One is that I wish I hadn't been so prepared. And two, I wish I had been more prepared. I was so sure I knew what the scene was going to be, and I couldn't have been more wrong. I readied myself for chaos and I found nothing of the sort. I wish I had been more prepared in the sense of learning Japanese phrases (we felt like real assholes making everyone we came across struggle with us in English), reading some manga and watching some anime, and learning more about shrine etiquette. The stories in my head were only that, stories. The reality was so much more than I could have ever anticipated.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about my trip, now a week on. I'm constantly dreaming about it, I wake up in the middle of the night, not knowing where I am, thinking I'm still in Osaka, ready to go on another 13 hour walk through the city, I put on Apple Music J-Pop playlists to carry me through rough patches of the day, I flip through my Japanese version of Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, not understanding a word but enjoying the knowledge that one day I may learn the language, I think about kneeling in front of a statue of Buddha and for the first time in a long time, understanding a sense of religiosity and peace, I miss sleeping on Tatami mats and the smell of the bamboo, I long for toilets with bidets, I yearn for a transit system THAT WORKS, I relish the memory of walking through book store after book store, feeling one step removed, but feeling so excited to be there, I miss the food, GOD THE FOOD, probably the best food I've ever eaten anywhere, and the people, so lovely, so helpful, so considerate to two foolish tourists wandering around in puffy Uniqlo vests, trying to understand a country and its culture in 8 days.

It was a trip of a lifetime. I can't quite grasp how much it affected me. I didn't expect it. Never could I have imagined I needed this adventure as much as I did. I feel like I only just scratched the surface of a completely new universe and I'm clinging by my fingertips, 13 hours in the past, to stay in it.  

Full-Length Mirror

I bought a full-length mirror for my apartment as I didn't have one. I bought a full-length mirror so that I could see my whole outfit before I left for the day. I bought a full-length mirror so that I could see what I looked like. Looking down at myself isn't the same as looking at a full-length mirrored reflection.

I bought a full-length mirror and put bags on it so it wouldn't get scratched in the car over to my apartment. I put my full-length mirror in the entranceway of my home, where it would soon be hung by a handy-man. I didn't remove the bags from the full-length mirror.

Until today.

I removed the bags from the full-length mirror. I was in a sports bra and shorts. I looked at my body for the first time in a long time. It had been easy to fool myself. I've fallen into this kind of delusion before. Body dysmorphia but in reverse. Oh, I would say to myself, I'm not actually that big. No, there are people far large than me. I'm not even plus-sized! And then I would eat an entire pint of ice cream.

Today I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw why my pants don't fit me anymore. I saw why it feels like a tighter squeeze sitting next to people on the subway. I saw what I had done to myself out of pain and ignorance. And I knew I had some choices.

These are choices that, as a daughter of two counsellors, I know well. I could choose to accept the way my body looked and stop complaining about it. Or do something about it.

I've been here before, many many times. Addiction and eating disorders are a pass time in my family. We have all struggled and we continue to do so on a daily basis. Once an addict, always an addict. Round and round I go, my weight fluctuating, up and down, up and down. 

I took pictures of myself in the full-length mirror. I want to be able to remember how I felt today. I know it's unlikely, and I foresee myself making a similar post like this a few months down the line. Why would this time be any different? Halfway up the mountain, and then I slide back down. Every time. 

I want to take the latter choice. Do something about it. After looking at myself in the full-length mirror, I exercised. Hard. My body is capable of it, though it might not look like it to others. Underneath the expansion are muscles, muscles that carry my body where it needs to go, muscles that hold me up so I don't fall, muscles that I desperately want to hold on to and use and push to their limits.

So today I did something about it. Tomorrow I might not. At least I'll keep the bags off the full-length mirror now. 

Spending an Evening with Noel Fielding

This year has been filled with sadness and trauma from the very get-go. From the untimely deaths of people like David Bowie and Alan Rickman, to the many horrible attacks around the world, we have slingshot from one morose event to the next. 

I had a chance to see Noel Fielding on his first North American tour this past Tuesday, the day of the Brussels terrorist attack and the day that former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford died. What started out as a sad day ended in mirth and laughter. Because that's what Noel Fielding does. 

Noel Fielding understands pain and he knows that other people and his audience feels it too. He chooses to use his talents to transport people into a fantasy world for 2 hours. He erases the pain for awhile. You forget you're in a an uncomfortable chair with someone's purple toque blocking your way. You're in Noel's world which is a happy place full of Hakuna Matata. No worries for a small amount of time. 

I got quite frustrated a few days ago when someone on Twitter said that every time, before you hit publish on your latest podcast (which could sub in for blog post, review, comic, song, movie, etc.), ask yourself whether it's special. And if it's not, DON'T PUBLISH IT (won't say who it was, but if you go far enough back on my Twitter feed, you can probably figure it out). I felt quite upset about this and it took me a bit of time to figure out why. Not only is it an incredibly snobby thing to say, I would never write a single word ever again if I had to make sure that everything coming from my keyboard was "special". 

How do we even determine what's special? We're already constantly concerned with censoring ourselves. If we had to stop and think  about each and every creative output, would any creativity even exist anymore?

Noel works in the "throw it at the wall and see if it sticks" capacity. You never know what's going to happen next. You don't know if what appears to be a misstep is actually highly calculated or was in fact a simple goof. He takes you out of reality for a couple of hours and you enter his world of "what if". From straightforward to absurd to surreal jokes, Noel covers the gamut of comedy with exuberance and childlike playfulness. Like my other fave, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Noel's genuine happiness and excitement to be on stage performing is palpable. 

I felt like I had witnessed something incredibly special watching his show. I know for a fact that I will never see anything like it, with its mix of stand-up, plasticine animation, costume changes and beautiful shirts. If you're lucky enough to be able to remove yourself from reality for two hours, please go spend an evening with Noel Fielding.