Everybody has that friend who defies all previously held notions of “effortlessly cool.” You know, the one who wakes up in the morning, picks out any of the perfectly classic numbers hanging in her closet and spends a little under five minutes preparing her face for the world. Everything just clicks. They just seem to get things. For me, that friend is Adrienne, the bold-browed beauty smiling coyly below. We’ve been best friends going on a decade, which is half of my life thus far (winning at friendship, to put it bluntly), and she only embodies this stereotype more and more with each year. Should I be resentful? Hell, no, because she imparts her wisdom and unbridled inspiration on me every time I see her. This past weekend, though, my whole idea of my best friend just catapulted out of an ornate ceiling with stringed lights draped from an archway. In short, I visited her house and quickly died, went to the heaven reserved for vintage wares, crisp white walls, fireplaces-in-bedrooms, and historic architecture, and then came back to go for waffles. Her apartment almost brought tears to my eyes. So what kind of girl would I be if I didn’t share with you a home so perfect that I almost cried? Not an effortlessly cool one, let’s say that.
Four things that are making me smile.
a. one that brings me back to my girlhood, when I’d rearrange my dolls into a position where they could surely be entertained for long hours at a time (reading or talking to one another were some favourite activities of theirs). My auntie Leanne has a knack for picking Christmas gifts that cue squeals of girlish glee no matter how old I get. This charming little fox suited up in a red christmas sweater and English schoolgirl skirt is no exception.
b. this vintage locket stirs up thoughts of beloved heirloom jewels that were passed from generation to generation, harbouring stories from each, and keeping them pressed between the locket’s doors. I just imagine a long line of ancestors eagerly whispering their vivacious stories to my heart. (Disclaimer: I snatched this up from a thrift store, so my great-grandmother is not, in fact, whispering vivacious stories.)
d. the late afternoon light that pours through my makeshift, hippy dippy curtain is tinged in the warmest hue. I can hardly articulate the satisfaction I get from seeing my room lit up in this way… but it does remind me of the ephemeral joy of birthday candles. It’s like I think that if I soak up this moment as best I can, and if I linger as long as possible, I won’t blow the whole scene away.
Yesterday, I was perusing through some architecture schools, and before I knew it, I was on the streets. Okay, before you panic, let me clarify – I am not suddenly homeless. Nor am I a busker. Rather, I was drawn into the streets (in the most poetic sense of the word), camera in hand, ready to capture what makes the city I’ve been living in for the past few years so captivating.
Quite simply, the architectural beauty that fills the humble streets of Hamilton demanded to be documented.
This city and I, we know each other pretty well by now. My friends and family back home in Vancouver practically guffawed when I said I’d be heading to Hamilton for school. “Good luck with those winters.” “Steel city, eugh.” And just the simple, “Wait, why on earth are you-“. But ever since first year, I’ve been acquainting myself with the many, many pockets of this city that have been virtually untouched by its industrialism. The streets are dripping in history, every ornate architectural facet speaking to a time long gone. Yes, the grizzly sides of this place really are grizzly. The stench of smoke permeates the downtown core, and it’s completely likely you’ll walk by a number of individuals struggling with a crippling addiction, but that side of the city doesn’t illustrate its potential. In fact, Hamilton has acted again and again on its potential. This video articulates what I want to say in epic proportions, and drums up serious Hamiltonian pride.
The grizzly sides, yes, they’re evident. But they’re also just one side of Hamilton. Look around for just a day and you’ll see what I mean. Hamilton’s best sides – the charming, vibrantly creative, and academic angles – are often left out of discussion. And let me be clear: the best sides of a city aren’t necessarily the “photo-ready smiles”, if you will. Catch Hamilton in candid form, and you’ll see young women draped in vintage coats, old men with Dumbledore-esque beards (even one or two literally smoking a pipe), and snappy young folks lingering in some of Canada’s most charming coffee shops. You’ll see a city that is the definition of untouched beauty. And you know what? I think the fact that this city has so many untouched parts to it is what makes it so entrancing. So absolutely vital to catch on camera. It’s as though Hamilton is an old woman who has wholeheartedly embraced her wrinkles as a part of who she is. Every crease that tells a story is so much more beautiful than a woman who has resorted to artificial means to stay up to par to what society expects of her.
And so I did try to catch the worn out sides of Hamilton. That aged quality is unattainable in so many cities today. It’s being wiped out in favour of modernism at every corner. But today? I’m sick of perfection. I’m ready to embrace the untouched world. Here’s a snippet of what I mean.
I’ve always had a knack for standing still. With the likes of that skill, you might think I’ve already paved a very successful future for myself. A mime with a single pose, an FBI agent who excels at eavesdropping until the guy leaves the room, one of those silver-painted humans downtown who think they’re statues. My options were endless from the beginning… And even if that doesn’t become my life’s passion, standing still makes for some excellent entertainment. For example, sometimes I pretend to freeze on Skype. Throwing in a good ol’ mime act in the middle of a conversation (most likely a virtual conversation, but if you do so in real life then you are the most excellent human being I know) offers up some serious bonding with me, myself & I as we all wait and see if our mime act is so good that they hang up on us. Ah, the only time being hung up on is an unmistakable victory.
So that’s what I do for fun! What do you do?
I kid, I kid. But I do enjoy, in some weird way, seeing life as though I were frozen, while the rest of the world continues. It’s a bizarre version of the classic aspiration to put life on pause – where everyone else around you is a mime in a single, generally mundane pose – and you go on your merry way for an hour or two to travel the world, see the Eiffel Tower, shave Kim Jong-un’s hair off, and sift through your enemy’s garbage can. But this doesn’t interest me as much. Seeing the the world around me in a motionless, robotic state would be paralyzing as it is. If I were the one person on Earth who still had some remnant of life in me, well, the world’s outta luck because I’d join them in their paralysis.
There is, however, a subtle fascination with the world’s resistance to stopping when I do. Yes, I just realized this. I’m not the center of the universe, someone pinch me. Okay, thanks for the pinch – the hard truth has been swallowed.
What I mean is that we don’t often contemplate, or contemplate enough, the world’s ignorance to us – these tiny little human beings motoring around, laughing at bad jokes, gossiping, making love, picking their noses. Just as we don’t contemplate breathing or an occasion of rain as anything more than a fact of life. Recognizing this ignorance, as scary as it is, grants you the most genuine form of modesty and brings you back into reality, in that you are not the centre of the world and the world will most literally keep spinning without you. The clocks will continue ticking, rest assured.
Does that scare you? Perhaps. But should it scare you?
Let’s pause for a moment. Take a breath, and be completely still. Your eyes alone scan my words, your chest rising like the tide in tune to your breath. Register the fact that everyone else around you – every human, every bird, every slug – is continuing on, ignorant to your stillness. You are not the sun, you are not the moon. You very well may be to your loved ones, but to 99.99999% of the world, you’re as pivotal as the slug on your sidewalk. Your time spent on this Earth is for you. Your time is no one else’s.
For me, I use the power of time as motivation. Or at least that’s what I strive to do. Because time shouldn’t need to scare us. As a child, I remember my mum once told me I was given thirty seconds more to play on the playground and I distinctly remember thinking, oh my gosh, what is my mum thinking? That’s so much! What will I do with all this time? And I ran like a mad-woman in the body of a seven year old up and down a slide, through the monkey bars, and underneath the ladder until she said it was up. That time was glorious. Time empowered me then, and it can empower me now.
The perspectives we have as children are valuable. We may grow older, we may grow wiser, but if only we could harness some of that innate optimism we had as children. To marvel at the world around us and recognize joy in the little things is momentous; It’s those moments of marveling that slow down time and center us in the present, and allow us to recognize just how much power we do have over time. Because it’s you who chose to pause and it’s you who chose to marvel. No one else.
The following series of photographs evoke that sense of wonder in the little things. A brilliant collection by Christopher Boffoli entitled Big Appetites. Feed your eyes some serious whimsy with these shots, and please let me know your favourite!
Today, I thank the world for photography. Correction, Alice Gao. Because, unfortunately, under the realm of photography is the likes of selfies, and so I can’t say I thank the whole world.
But I’m just gonna come clean and say it – selfies are such a gift. Come on, they’re super liberating. You have all the power in the world to be as pleased as you like with your photo, rather than having your face’s fate quivering in the hands of that stranger at the party who snapped you and a friend out of the blue, leaving you like a couple of deer in headlights with excessive makeup on. (What an image. I enjoy it.)
So on second thought, yes, I thank the world for photography and selfies.
Alice Gao, though, really must be the reigning queen of this world. Or at least for me, on this day, and since I’ve found her. For example, I can’t decide whether or not I’d like to hang the finished painting alone or the photo itself of the painting still dripping from the creative process. As in, with the palette still fresh and the bottles looking as if they have given every last drop of their creative juices to the canvas at hand. And the strips of moody navy, slowly peaking towards the colour the artist was looking for. She makes her photo a piece of art, when it is itself featuring a piece of art. Now that’s ingenuity.
And here, although these flowers look as though they’re fit for a palace or among tight circles serving high tea, the griminess of the sink and the crossing strips of metal on the window serve as a humble stage for the royally strewn stems.
Caught mid-packaging, I see every bit of the efforts we take in creating something beautiful from head to toe for a recipient we care about. Cut string, labels messied about from choosing just the right one, stamps even. It’s as if Gao is floating in and out of our lives and pauses these moments in the most unexpected lights.
Ah. This I adore. The composition has allowed for an immense dark sky to hover over the vibrancy of the flowers, the normalcy of morning tea. But this colour to me is not laden with grief or gloom, but blanketing comfort, lifted just enough so that we can see the light she has captured.
I almost feel as though I’m viewing more so a portrait of a portrait than a scene of an apartment. The framing of this portrait, however asymmetrical, focuses the lady staring right back at us. The to-die-for gold and marble end table elevates her to a point of eye-level, as if we’re about to enter into an enlightening conversation with the woman before us (who I have no doubt has some bad-ass stories to tell).
ps. white brick wall alert. yes, i am swooning.
And oh my golly gee willickers, I just found her blog, Lingered Upon, and I did a helluva lot more than just linger. I think I just moved in unannounced. Here’s a sneak peek of her posts, slash justification of my rudeness:
Just everything about this outfit makes me feel like a savvy, stylin’, successful photographer.
And just everything about this makes me want to just be her for a day. Those boots. That espresso. That style.
What I should do with my summer and what I do, in fact, do with my summer are two very different things. And not that I’m not enjoying myself, with this intellectual enlightenment I’ve been granted during summer school – it’s just, I need some variety up in hur. Don’t get me wrong, I relish summer. It parades into my life once a year, with baskets of confetti and absurdly large sunglasses, and we all dance around like old pals in front of some kid’s lemonade stand. We then haggle the dollar price on the lemonade and leave with a real bargain! (I kid, I kid. I pay fair price for that lemonade. It’s fair trade.) But here comes the real tragedy. I haven’t been to a single lemonade stand. This doesn’t necessarily define my summer, believe it or not, but I also haven’t been to the beach more than two times, maybe thrice (I am Shakespeare with that word). And I also haven’t had a week of lounging on my couch where my laziness has taken on the shape of another Miranda, dressed in a pair of lounge pants that are never allowed to leave the house and Hermione level hair.
Hey, you might be thinking, ah jeez, what a debbie downer (imagine if your name was actually Debbie Downer for a moment and bask in gratitude), but all I’m thinking lately is how I should be painting my front door bubblegum pink and putting up my favourite number on it.
Or that I should spend more time making use of all of the dishes in my kitchen, whipping up crepes and croissants and declaring, “C’est parfait!” with a triumphant kiss to the air (even if the croissants resemble a popped balloon more quickly). If my kitchen was on the airy, crisp level of this beauty above, I don’t think this could be a problem at all. As soon as the aroma of the culinary masterpieces had settled in the kitchen and seeped into the unsuspecting noses of my family members, we would all take a celebratory dip into the most inviting, modest pool I’ve seen. A pool like that is unassuming, and almost more luxurious in its simplicity because it’s not demanding your attention. It’s more of a pleasant peek-a-boo once you enter the kitchen.
Most importantly, why have I not found a place like this to have all of my meals in? This space begs to be filled with slender women dressed head to toe in breezy sundresses on a strictly gluten free diet. There is a certain elegance to this room that is very natural, most likely due to the abundance of greenery spilling from each corner. And the candle-lit lighting is always a suggestion of both intimacy and luxury to me.
Really tempted to do something my mother would do, and bring a bundle of tree branches into the home, but then top it off with a myriad of lights and/or orbs with candles set in them. I think I may need to dedicate an entire post about why I am so obsessed with stringed lights.
And a final quote to leave on.
“I still love the people I’ve loved, even if I cross the street to avoid them.”
Had a special someone send me this song, and it only makes my infatuation with Daughter multiply by a hundo. If Keaton Henson and Daughter were to get together, I would be the happiest girl in the world. The world needs more perfection.
Things cannot be reversed, learn from the ones we fear the worst
And learn from the ones we hate the most how to
Blow out all the candles, blow out all the candles
“You’re too old to be so shy,” he says to me so I stay the night.
I think of all the months, January very well may have it the hardest.
Just around the corner of New Year’s ecstasy lies the first of January, gleaming in the light of a fresh start. She’s dressed in garments of hope, and ambition, wearing a beret made up of future artistic endeavours, and peers through sunglasses moulded with confidence. We practically knock her over when saying hello, bursting with anticipation as we shake the hands of a new year. We begin to recite to her the dreams of 2013, and she smiles and nods and agrees with our aspirations. After all, how could she deny us this giddy desire for a whole year’s worth of days? The first of January is no stranger to such greetings, as it comes every year without fail. Whether we publicize our greeting with her or not, everyone has the same twinkling wish in the backs of our minds for the best year yet.
Then we meet up with January 15th.
How are the daily runs going? January 1st told me all about them. Sounds really great. You mean you didn’t actually get up every morning at 7 to go for a jog? You know what, that’s cool. At least you go three times a week? O-oh, well once a week is really good too! Oh, no times a week? I guess you can’t succeed in all of your resolutions. I’m sure your school work is going swimmingly then. No? Have you been keeping up with the readings? Have you dedicated an hour to blogging everyday? Have you made sure to line up a summer internship yet? No? NO?
WELL THEN. I GUESS YOU FAIL.
January 15th pretends to be sympathetic, but we all know she’s a judgemental bastard. You came to January 1st with such ambition and innocence, and now you’re slowly admitting defeat to every day after. But hey! Wipe those hypothetical tears away! Go back into your closet and grab those hypothetical garments of hope and ambition and all that jazz! Snatch those glasses moulded with confidence that are gathering dust and put ’em on with pride! I challenge you to face up to one of your New Year’s resolutions for today and push that condescending reminder of your procrastination to the very back of your mind. Put it out of the way. January, as hyped up as it is with new dreams and rules, is just another month to try and be your very best. Every month should be greeted with such anticipation. Every day should be greeted with just as much excitement.
And by digging, I mean obsessed with. Alex Clare is the most dreamy combination of foot tapping goodness and hip swinging grooves and actually poignant lyrics.