30 Before 30: End of year update; 9 months to go

It’s weird looking at this list and wishing I could change parts of it; there are things that I thought I would want to do, but don’t seem as important anymore. Also, just now realizing that I can change it! I actually have another version of this list on my phone that is slightly different. I think the point is that I’m working towards accomplishing things–even though some of those things change, and some of those things are pretty ridiculous. But anyway! I realize I have only crossed out 6 things, but I have plans in motion to check off another 9 things on the list! I also did some things I never actually thought I would do, like go to England, and see Big Bang–twice! So I’m pretty happy with how it’s all going so far.

1. Learn Korean
2. Go to England Done!
3. Meet Patrick Stewart
4. Get in shape enough to join a masters synchro team
5. Get my masters in something
6. Have Scarlett learn my name as soon as possible
7. Make a video that’s longer than 7 minutes
8. See Big Bang Done! and Done!
9. Finish writing a story
10. Do the splits
11. Get more tattoos Done! and Done!
12. Dye my hair a fun colour Done!
13. Paint a series of paintings
14. Publish an article with a publication I respect Done!
15. Start a magazine/make a clothing line (even if only for myself)
16. Have a real world art show
17. Record a song about my cats
18. Go to New Orleans
19. Do 60 lengths in 60 minutes
20. Frame all art
21. Do the Lakeshore trail
22. Go to three MLB ballparks I’ve never been to before
23. Take a photo at every subway station
24. Learn to french braid properly
25. Build a coffee table
26. Go to a Lions game (I didn’t go to a Lions game this season, but that’s because the weekend we had planned to go, we went to the World Series instead. Acceptable substitute? I think so.)
27. Memorize a poem
28. Create an awesome choreographed dance routine and perform it with people I like
29. Volunteer
30. Cosplay as a Star Trek character at a convention of some kind

Evolution

During hot Australian afternoons, kangaroos move into whatever shade they can find and lick their wrists to stay cool. The evaporating saliva cools the blood vessels near the surface of their skin.

[If your skin had become my earth, your mouth my ocean, your body creating the shade I moved in, we could have spent time there, in the afternoon heat, your tongue wetting my wrists, keeping me cool despite the fires you were setting between my thighs. Instead, your fingers inside me were just a forced necessity, a formality born of the way our natures had adapted to the shit environment we'd created between us over the years.

Inhospitable. Our bodies going on without us, somehow unaware of the barrenness of intentions, the hollowness of our movements. Reminding me of post-apocalyptic literature: picturing your eyes as the cause of both a destructive and a desolate future; the equal opportunists of the right sort of sincerity, left to your own devices. If we were it, all that was left, what could we save? The distance is too great between the fiction of saving you and the reality of not needing to. Our land was a desert lacking all the words I wanted you to say to me. But still containing your wife, most of the time.

I always assumed you were naturally warm--not a person to care for electric blankets, hot tea, fireplaces, updated furnaces, friction, reactions, chemical or unpredictable--keeping us around for comfort, not out of need. Maybe you were warm, but in temperature, not in kind. And baby, wasn't the warmth of my mouth the place you were best familiar with anyway? Is that a warmth we can count as heat? Hot enough to warrant slick forearms and evaporated spit? You have always been too cool to keep me to yourself.

Your hands on my hips, my fondness for complicated goodbyes, your looks across the table, my inability to make it up to you, your questions on what I thought of your work, my preoccupation with someone new, our willingness to leave one another alone and unsafe.

And we stopped saying, "I love you." So what? This wasn't love; even marsupials know you hold the ones you love inside you.]

Real Talk: Am I Living Radically

the untitled mag screenshotI recently wrote an article for The Untitled Mag about living radically. I love The Untitled Mag so I felt very honoured that they chose to publish it (and make very graceful edits). I particularly like the author photo they chose for me! You can read it here.

A lot of what I wrote about was true but what I’m feeling lately is that living radically is hard. It’s hard to say Fuck You to anyone if I want to work and love and live in places where other people exist. It’s hard to be true when I’m expected to lie so often. It’s hard to try to be a better person when I don’t know what for.

It’s impossible to take pictures with your eyes closed. I just reached for my camera because I can feel that tightening in the back of my throat which means I’m about to cry and I just realized I don’t even know where it is.

Real talk: late night sadness

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When it’s late, and you don’t want anyone to see your sadness, don’t take a picture of it.

But if it’s late, and you want to share your sadness, take a picture of it. And then post it online.

And try to write a post about sadness but get too sad to even bother to start it. Start to cry instead. Wonder what justifies sadness. Feel completely unjustified. Absently wish you had a label to justify your being. Immediately feel ashamed for having wished that. Feel ashamed, silenced, unjustified in your being. Regret these feelings as they tend to be cyclical. Think about writing a poem to express your sadness. Remember you can’t remember how to make words work. Start to cry again. This should make poetry easier; instead, it makes you feel pathetic. Complain inwardly that it’s a bit early for SAD, don’t you think? Vow to not be sad anymore. Feel defeated before you even finish the thought. Get angry for letting yourself feel this way. Internalize a disgust for your lack of ambition and surplus of mediocrity. Feel like an idiot for using the phrase, “surplus of mediocrity.” Reminder of idiocy reminds you of your lack of ideas, which leads to your lack of motivation, which inevitably ends in inaction. Want to create a calm and a quiet that will lead to who you are. Cry. Again. Hate the restraints of English grammar. Hate people with bad sidewalk etiquette. Hate how no one in this city smiles. Hate this post. Pre-emptively hate unsolicited advice. Hate everything. Feel rage isn’t justified and that you don’t do it well anyway: give up on it. Wonder why infinite choice has rendered you useless. Stare off into an empty distance as you think on all the choices you’ve been privileged to make until you almost fall asleep.

Come back to yourself with a longing crawling over your entire body. Feel the need to have someone reach out. And touch you. Need someone to touch you. To share in this sadness.

Cry yourself to sleep. Be fine in the morning.

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Take a picture, it lasts longer: Do I still want to take pictures?

I know. I haven’t posted anything for awhile. (Side note: sometimes I just wish that we lived in a higher-context culture so that English grammar wasn’t so confusing.) I’ve sort of been busy? But more just feeling a bit, meh. I have these goals in my life and I’m finding them extremely frustrating at the moment because there’s all these steps required and they are all pre-requisites to the next and it’s making me crazy that I can’t have the end result right now. And I’m feeling frustrated that I’m always so torn about what exactly those next steps should be.

And all of that bullshit is affecting my photography. I haven’t taken many pictures recently and the ones I have, there’s always that little something wrong with them that makes them not what I want them to be. Ends up with me not liking any of them.

I liked the light in this room, that’s why I took the pictures. But when I looked at them after, it just never looked right. And the pictures don’t look right in black and white either, but at least there’s more contrast here. More starkness. But the light was so beautiful! ARGH. I’ll post a colour one too. But I think it looks boring.

This one is actually my favourite of these images I took. It’s got something there, you know? Something you can’t see but you can feel. I like it.

This one is too dark on the left and that would be okay, not everything needs to be balanced, but it makes the top half of me too dark, and I would like skin tones to be balanced. Also it looks like my mouth is open in a weird way which I’m not into.

This one’s okay. I guess. But nothing spectacular. It looked okay in colour too, but my face is stupid. It matches the colour version better but, I don’t know. I like drama in photos, or at least a thickness, a heaviness.

Now there’s a dumb face. But awesome hair. But I didn’t apply the lipstick correctly so it looks dumb.

I almost really like this one, except the depth of field is SO shallow that my face isn’t in focus. And of course the shitty lipstick application.

And here’s an unedited photo of my face that I would probably really like if I had no lipstick or eyeliner or eyebrow pencil on. Make up is really not one of my strengths. It’s always just a mess.

And now I’ve started going back through my photo folders and realizing that I’ve taken a lot of pictures that I’ve been unhappy with. Here! Look at some more!

I took these pictures awhile ago. I didn’t like them at all when I took them, but I sort of like this one now. It’s weird.

I sort of like this one too. It’s like stopping something mid-sentence. The lighting in both of these is hard to salvage though.

Anyway. I am intending to take more picture at some point. I don’t know. It just hasn’t felt right. But I wish it would; I wish I could need it again the way I once did. I think it’s a lot of things piled up that make me feel like I don’t: the debacle at work with people seeing my pictures (though that simultaneously makes me want to post things twice as “inappropriate” and three times as SEXUAL), my current disconnect between me and my body, my focus on work and trying desperately to get a full-time job, being in a city that I really don’t want to be in anymore, seeing other people take photos similar to ones I used to take and feeling like they’re doing just fine representing women who choose to take naked self-portraits and put them on the internet, feeling blahzeh about the whole thing.

I definitely know that I want to still take pictures though. Mostly because I want to repair that bodily disconnect and let myself speak again. Show people how I feel, (over)share with strangers on the internet. I like that shit. I want more of that shit. I have to stop talking about this shit and start doing this shit.

Yep. I’ve been writing this post over three days and haven’t read back over it so I’m sure it’s amazing. I haven’t been sleeping lately. And some other things: 1. Why is there not a UNIQLO in Toronto? 2. Why have BIG BANG tickets not yet gone on sale? It’s really stressing me out.

<3

Work It: What’s in my bag

I have to admit, I don’t have the most interesting things in my bag, but for some reason I’ve always wanted to do this. If anything the most interesting thing about this is my bag itself: a Harrods cat shopping bag that my aunt brought back from England for me and it is just about my most favourite thing I own. Look at all those cats!

Clockwise from top left: headphones, Virgin Mary coin purse, house keys with cat weapon, iPhone charger, knife with glass smasher and seat belt cutter (just in case), prescription sunglasses that don’t fit my face, pens, Advil, iPhone, USB drive, wallet, deodorant, 45 SPF sunscreen.

These are all the things I carry around in my bag at all times. And then there’s usually a book (currently No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod) and a notebook or two, but not always. Sometimes a sweater, because I don’t like being cold. Not very exciting, I suppose. BUT THERE IT IS.

Whew. We just got that much closer, you and I.

Real Talk: My body (tw: self-harming)

I’ve been thinking about my body a lot lately. My body has changed more drastically over the past year than it ever has since puberty. It’s left me with a lot of mixed feelings. So this is a post about my relationship with my body. I’m sure you have a complicated relationship with your body too. I encourage you to share it, because nothing ever makes me feel more confident and more sure than realizing others have lived a shared experience with me. I hope you feel the same way.

I’ve spent a long time being in love with my body, which makes me a bit of an anomaly. I was lucky, because everywhere I looked, magazines, movies, tv, there were bodies that looked just like mine. That’s not to say it was easy to love my body, but that I was lucky. Two separate things. I had no great, radical leap to make to body-love, just the wherewithal to deal with my body on my own terms. It takes a defiant attitude to consciously decide to love your body; there are so many people around us who’d really rather we not. It takes vigilance to remind ourselves how perfect we are. In the face of what seems like certain defeat against multi-billion dollar industries, and everyone we know who has been swayed to agree with them, it’s possible to fight, to look at our bodies and discover something perfect.

Start out perfect and don’t change a thing. Always accentuate your best features by pointing at them. And conceal your flaws by sucker punching anyone who has the audacity to mention them. – Miss Piggy

I’ve always loved what my body can do for me. When I was young, I was a synchronized swimmer and I loved that my body could do that. I loved that it could swim, run, jump, climb, bike, do whatever I wanted it to do and wouldn’t give up on me. I used to love pushing myself in workouts until I was sweating in the water, which is a strange sensation. I’ve never really thought about it, but doing synchronized swimming, practicing six days a week, it encouraged such a defined sense of my body. I guess that’s partially why I was able to make successful self-portraits: I always had a keen awareness of my body, it’s stamina, it’s position, it’s endurance, it’s power, it’s flexibility. My body worked for me.

When I was 18, I realized that my body was a desirous body; now not only did it work for me, but it also worked for others. When I realized people wanted me, I never questioned it or dismissed their want as impossible. I knew that I was white, thin, tall, and cissexual–all very desirous qualities in our society. Though I knew that, I didn’t really know until later the realities of people who do not have that body in my society. Someone needed to tell me, and I’m glad they did. I like to pretend that I would’ve realized it at some point, but I’m glad that the internet didn’t let it come to that and called me on this privilege so I could acknowledge it and learn about realities outside my own existence. When I was 20 I basically only thought about myself, and my own problems and dramas and tragedies. Better people were probably thinking about other things, but I wasn’t. I was trying not to hurt myself or anyone else in the process. During this time I either used my body to get things I wanted and shouldn’t have had, or spent time trying to destroy my body. My depression and self-harming were the worst around this time. It felt like my body was fighting me and I was continually fighting back. I was cutting often. Lying in the bath all day. My joints hurt. My muscles hurt. I was tense and on edge all the time. My body felt like it wasn’t mine, like it had abandoned me and left in its place some weaker, deficient model. But I kept pushing it to stay out longer, to sleep with more people, to drink faster, to drink more, to dance harder, to not fall apart for a little while more. It was all common things that twisted this relationship I had with my body that was once so perfect: school, professors, mental health, the subtle trauma of avoiding truth. These things happen to everyone and many people react the way I did. But I missed my body. I missed the way it would respond to me, and others.

Over time, my body was returned to me. Through stability and routine my body became what I remembered, long and lean and tight. When I see myself in my mind, I see the words “writhe” and “lithe” written along my body. These are words that I became used to associating with my body. My body now was comfortable, controlling, and powerful. It took no prisoners, but it took everyone. Married men, single women, co-workers, professors, younger or older, far away or close. My body was easy and I loved it that way. Giving myself to people who didn’t deserve it but who needed it, or just wanted it. Moving slow in flattering lights, parting lips to give better access. Quietly, and at times not so quietly, flaunting my favourite asset, my easiest strength, my ticket to basically anywhere. My body could be anyone’s but I never loved anyone more than I loved myself. (That only became a problem when my body refused to love the same people I did.)

Sometimes I would forget that there were other parts of me that deserved love too. I often forgot that I was smart, or that people would ever recognize that. My body is often an all-encompassing entity that takes over all other facets of my self. I think that may be my defense mechanism, when I’m afraid or unsure, out comes my body, front and centre. That I understand and control: my body and anything that comes with it. Speaking with my body always came easier to me than speaking with my voice. I was confident in my body, but rarely my ideas. I still work to find some sort of balance where every part of me hovers around the same level of greatness, and, more importantly, receives the same amount of gratitude from my self.

My body looked the same for almost 10 years, but recently, over the past year it’s changed. Today it’s soft, and slopes at steeper angles. This new body doesn’t writhe, and isn’t lithe. It commands, and is more present. To ride my body now would be more thrilling, coasting down curved inclines and climbing higher mounds of flesh. To feel me now would be to hold onto the parts of me that call to you, and get a good grip. It would be pushing into a body that rises up to meet you and then takes you down to warm, yielding depths.

But now my body is weak. I try not to let it bother me, but it does. I walk up three flights of stairs and feel tired. I can’t push myself the way I used to; carrying groceries has become difficult, and the prospect of having to move furniture (a habit I usually enjoy) seems unlikely. I want these curves to stay but I want my body to work for me again. To be strong and flexible, but still soft and inviting. So I’ve started doing things to work toward that, like never taking the TTC (which is actually a really relaxing lifestyle choice), forcing myself to leave the house every day, drinking eight glasses of water a day, I have a 20 minute work-out routine I do every day, and a 30-minute stretching routine. But honestly, I’m saying all this and just started two days ago. I’m a bit of a quitter so who knows how long it will last. I want my body to feel like it can kick someone’s ass again though. And still be this luscious thing that’s meant to be seen naked in morning light, you know?

My body is perfect and always has been. I weigh 155 pounds. I am 5’8″. My measurements are 37-29-37. It is not easy to love our bodies. It becomes easier when we see others with similar bodies, and similar characteristics we always referred to as our flaws. Actively seek out others with bodies that reflect yours. Surround yourself with people embracing their bodies, not hiding/transforming them for a product’s benefit. Find people loving their bodies, expressing their love of those bodies, and encouraging you to do the same. These are the people we need more of. Don’t let anyone tell you you need to be anything more (or less) than what you already are. Your body is perfect and always has been.

Self-portrait from July 2012

Good places to start learning ways to love your body:

Take a picture, it lasts longer: Faye Daniels

The incredible Faye Daniels at our latest shoot at the Gladstone in Toronto. You should click on this photo to view it full-size. It’s my favourite.

I met Faye Daniels a year ago. I booked a hotel room last August and she met me there to model for me. I’d luckily seen Faye’s modeling through Jack Scoresby reblogging her on his Tumblr, and when I discovered she lived in my area, I realized just how lucky I truly was. The woman is beautiful, sweet, adorable, and kind. As soon as she walked in everything was easy. Our conversation was easy, we worked well together, and the woman is a dream to photograph. Some people are so comfortable and knowledgeable in front of a camera that I don’t have to do anything at all. Just press the shutter. Faye is exactly like that. I give her no direction, just occasionally tell her, “Hold that for a minute!” And after that first shoot I ended up with a ton of photos that I really loved.

Faye from our first shoot in August 2011 at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto.

There are those people you come across in life who make you wonder how you went so long without knowing them. Faye is a few weeks older than I am. We both have brothers who are four years younger than us. We’ve had similar experiences with our families. We both have day jobs that have nothing to do with our art lives. But Faye is a thousand times more eloquent and lovely than I am. Spending time with her is fun and she makes me laugh, but also really listens when I talk and is extremely intelligent and self-aware.

Faye Daniels at the Gladstone in Toronto, July 2012.

We got together the other day to take pictures of one another, and though the threat of rain forced us to cancel our original plans of a photo-taking roadtrip, Faye booked a hotel room at the Gladstone and we shot there instead. The photos I took of Faye this time were just as beautiful as the first time. It’s easy with Faye. We had lunch and talked the entire time about our lives and the similarities and differences and it sort of felt like I’d known Faye for much longer than the one year that it’s been.

Faye laughing at the window in the Red Room of the Gladstone in Toronto.

Faye also took pictures of me at the Gladstone. I rarely model for other people and hadn’t done it for a very long time, but Faye didn’t give me much direction and just said “Do you.” So I did.

Me by Faye Daniels in the Red Room at the Gladstone. I do this pose a lot. It would be better if I were more flexible. Watching the Russian gymnasts today has inspired me. Ladies can bend.

It’s always fun to take pictures with someone who is both a model and a photographer because then you end up with photos like this:

From the Gladstone in July 2012.

From the King Edward Hotel, August 2011.

You know. Adorable photos. I <3 Faye Daniels.

Work it: It’s been very hot lately.

It’s actually raining as I type this, which I’m very happy about and may venture out into later because Matt is stranded at work with no umbrella and no change for the TTC so I’d meet him half way with an umbrella big enough for the both of us. However, for the past very many weeks it has been extremely hot. There hasn’t been a day that it’s felt like it was under 30. I don’t remember a summer being this hot for a while. Definitely the hottest I’ve spent while living in Toronto. And humid! What am I? In Windsor? Ha! (It was always hot and humid in Windsor.)

So humid that when I bring my camera outside from the cool, air conditioned environment of my apartment, the lens fogs up!

I am certainly no expert on fashion, nor do I spend much time keeping up on trends or creating my own. When it comes to fashion, I just like it to be practical with a bit of my own flair, not too much. I don’t like wearing rings because I don’t like them getting caught on things. I don’t wear dangly earrings for the same reasons (though I have many many pairs of stud earrings that I never leave the house without). I never wear bracelets or necklaces because sometimes the sounds of them jangling bothers me, or I get them caught on things. I don’t know what I’m doing that I’m continually getting attached to things but apparently it happens a lot! As much as I love the way heels look, I don’t like wearing them because I like to wear shoes I can run in. I like dresses in the summer because they provide a draft but I hate how so few come with pockets. I dislike purses because I don’t like carrying things, but there are certain things I bring with me everywhere to always be prepared so I keep buying purses hoping to find one that I like. (One day I should do one of those “What’s in my Bag” photos.)

I think my obsession with practicality is a result of Matt always being paranoid, my fear of the end of civilization (not really zombies, but anything could happen at anytime and society as we know it could collapse as people lose faith in their governments and revolt against the blatant injustices of our world…or something), and my desire to always be comfortable.

It’s a bit unfortunate because I really love femme and everything it is. Like, totally adore it and all my femme friends, and spend hours looking at femme fashion blogs, but aesthetically, it’s just not for me. Politically, however, I think a lot of what femme is about is giving yourself permission to enjoy things that others may believe weaken you, and also to celebrate the freedom that comes with that mindset. Embracing and owning your choices because you know you made them for yourself is what femme looks like to me. Sometimes I’m like, why am I not living more radically (in fact I have a post in the drafts that is about this notion) but I think it could be a radical idea to just realize what doesn’t work for you and what does and to do that.

So, in this hot weather, I want to be comfortable, and practical, and kinda badass looking. Oh, did I mention I’m unemployed? In the summer months, I don’t have a job and as a result, I don’t leave the house very often. So I gotta be honest with you, most days I don’t even get dressed. When I do leave, this summer has mostly been black short shorts and sheer black tops, or Star Wars shirts and jeans. (I got these jeans at Target a while back and I can’t stop wearing them. Is Mossimo my favourite brand? It could be. Remember when they used to have Mossimo at Zellers? It’s gotten better since then.)

I basically just look hot and awkward all summer. And very pasty.

I just want to stay cool. Temperature wise. I apply sunscreen like it’s going out of style. I never leave the house without putting it on any parts of my body that the sun can see. I just burn way too easily to risk it. I don’t like to sweat so I try to be as cool as possible. Yes, I’m one of those people who walks around with an umbrella when it’s very sunny out. It’s so practical!

Ha! I love how I label these sorts of posts as “fashion” posts and then ramble on about jeans from Target and how I like to be prepared for the apocalypse. If you want to read a real fashion blog, go read Julia’s blog or her tumblr. Julia really loves and appreciates fashion and you will like her, because she approaches fashion with a critical feminist eye and deconstructs the politics of fashion. She is very badass and I suggest you go and read what she has to say. While I am new at this whole real blogging thing and mostly just ramble a lot, Julia comes legit with substance, a point, and all the goods to back it up.

Those black jeans are also Mossimo. I’m secure in this choice. And look at Logan, being all cute and stuff.

I also just really like fall fashion, and sort of spend the summer months waiting for that first chilly night. I like sweaters over button ups. I like not wearing sandals. I like turtlenecks.I like hoodies. I like combat boots with cargo pants and sheer blouses. Sigh. Fall is so wonderful.

I’ll just spend the summer in a bathing suit and be done with it.

Because DAMN. Why wouldn’t I?