“Issues are boring. Feelings are important”
About the images:
I had a particularly delicious cocktail (above) at The Emerson last week, which is saying a lot, because I’m a very occasional drinker. It was called The Corpse Reviver 2, and although I can’t say the name of it did much for the appeal, the flavor of juices mixed with gin was refreshing and made it feel like summer, just long enough to make me forget that it’s been an unusually cold spring here in Toronto.
Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures, hoping to string together some semblance of what my life looks like on the outside, for the future people in my life who might stop by this blog someday. You never know.
For many years now, I’ve been reading Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology in NOW magazine (which was the first magazine I ever freelanced for, coincidentally). His column has recently been bumped from his hometown San Francisco newspaper, which is really too bad. He announced his disappointment on his Facebook page, which I’m a ‘fan’ of. Whether you believe in astrology or not isn’t the point when reading your horoscope – it’s how it’s written and how it communicates with you in that particular juncture in your life that matters. That’s what gives astrology readings weight. And the Leo horoscope from last week really had me choked up – it resonated with me. A lot. Maybe, just maybe, it even made me a bit teary. But I can’t say for sure.
(side note: I’m so sick of Facebook – too much social media in my life, to much to keep up with; I’ll be shutting down my own page this summer – so many people in my circles are feeling the same. We’ll see who can parts with FB the fastest).
The Ace in Roncesvalles has a great plate of fish n chips, although my favorite fish dipped and fried in batter remains to be halibut. I think this fish was haddock…which really doesn’t make the best fish n chips dish in my humble opinion, although this dish (pictured above) I’d recommend in a flash. I think it was around $17.
The rest of these images are of my neighborhood, the Junction, which I’ve been getting to know quite intimately over the last few months, since I sold my car last fall. What freedom! I’m a full-fledged city walker, TTC taker, Car2Go user or taxi cab flagger when I need to get somewhere. And I like it. Not having a car in Toronto’s exhaustive traffic has eased my stress levels a good chunk. Also, I don’t have the $1200 in parking fines to contend with, which was the sad case this time last year.
I really think this city is becoming less people-friendly in some areas, with all the traffic, construction and general flux in population these last five years. I’m falling out of love with my own city, but I’m not ashamed to say it. I think that’s what love is like – falling in and out of it over the course of your lifetime, enjoying the ebb and flow of feelings as they swarm, and then pass. My sour feelings for Toronto will recede someday, I know this, but I don’t imagine any time soon.
My city is growing and changing rapidly, like a teenager trying to find its way in this mess. So I get it. I was a teenager once, too. I only wish that Toronto was making better choices, better friends, and maybe not trying to be like the cool kid next door, New York City. We are not New York or even Miami (all the condos!) or Chicago. And we shouldn’t try to be either. It’s really giving Torontonians a complex. And I’m one of them.
More photos soon.
Sometimes, I really think about being a mom. I really do.
But then, other times, when I hear mothers wish for things like “long naps”, “alone time” or “enough time to read a book…or take a bath”, I get scared.
The stories that especially paralyze me are the ones about being ambushed by your children in the bathroom, as you’re taking a shit or dealing with your period or something wonderful like that.
My other thought is: why don’t these people have fucking locks on their doors?
It became painfully clear to me last year that, no matter how you slice it, time is running out; if you want a biological child, it’s science calling the shots, not your career or even your relationship.
No self-help book or therapist can will your eggs into staying put until you’re ready to make them into something special. They just continue to age, at a rate that is so much faster than the average woman’s mind, it’s almost unfair.
Then again, that’s evolution. And it always wins.
All this talk about freezing eggs and having children before 35 “or else”, makes a person like me (a too analytical for her own good kinda person) freak out in small sums, over a period of time, until finally, one day, I have a panic attack about Life Choices and question everything I’ve ever done.
That happened to me once. I was 29. It was awful.
If only. I wish.
So, even though I don’t nap all day or take a bath every afternoon, just because I can, I do love the flexibility in my life of being able to, if I want to, for now. It keeps me sane. And that’s about as much as I know about wanting to be a mom.
This weekend, I will be celebrating the holiday devoted to a club that I don’t belong to, but worship so much. If it doesn’t rain, my sister and I will take our mom on a picnic. And if it does rain, well, then sad to say we’ll be stuck indoors with a bunch of other angry people in line for brunch on Mother’s Day, too.
p.s. – I’m on Instagram.
(photo: circa 2009 – testing beauty products for a magazine shoot)
I came across a blog post about success recently, which made me think about failure.
The diagram included in the post was especially good at deciphering the unconventional paths we must sometimes take to reach our goals.
Then that got me thinking about the times I perceived my failure as a writer, based on other people’s assumptions, which aren’t always the most accurate reflection of anything, particularly your work, and particularly in writing.
Here is a personal story about that, because it’s something I really wish I knew in my 20s. I would have cried less.
I was young (27) and freshly married for five months when I got the job.
Riding high on top of the world, I landed the role of my dreams: an editor for a women’s fitness magazine.
After years spent as a fitness entrepreneur and struggling writer, I felt I had hit gold. And, for a time, I did, I had struck gold in every way. Or at least if felt like it.
About three months into the job, I get an email from our magazine’s Big Boss-
“S, come to my office in five, need to talk.”
Immediately, my heart jumps into my throat. I am nervous and suspicious, but figure, fuck it, at least I’ve been here this long and can put it on my resume.
I reply with:
“Be right there.
When I get to my Big Boss’ office, I’m not the only one there.
Sitting in one of two chairs in front of his desk is my Senior Editor (SE). No big deal. Up until now, I like her. But that will be short-lived.
Unfortunately for everyone working at the magazine, SE and Big Boss are secretly dating and, although that’s another story full of details that aren’t mine to share, I can tell you that this piece of information is something I wish I had known before that meeting. Why? Because sex between co-workers fucks everyone.
But I digress.
That day, in his bright, big office, right in front of SE (/his secret girlfriend), Big Boss tells me that I’m a “rising star” at the magazine (his words, not mine). He wants me off all web content and strictly writing for print, taking on more responsibility.
I was thrilled! Relieved! Still employed!
I couldn’t believe this was happening to me: someone had noticed my work. I can do this writing thing after all, I think to myself, And maybe, just maybe, I am even a little bit good at it.
Too young and in love with my life to see past my own happiness, I wish I had noticed the darting eyes of SE that day, as she listened to her boyfriend/Big Boss give orders to mentor me and see that I continued to rise in the organization.
Mentoring in the publishing industry isn’t really a “thing” people do freely, and these circumstances were especially laced with the stench of office politics. I do not know this at the time, since it’s still early in my career.
I left Big Boss’s office on Cloud Nine after that meeting, only to be brought down to ground zero within a few months.
Slowly, things around the office grow tense between SE and me, but I have no idea why. I keep this to myself, not sharing it with anyone, but this starts to wear on my self-confidence over several weeks. I have no clue the damage she will do in the months ahead.
Maybe I was too young and naive to see it. Maybe I’m just too trusting in general. But most likely, I just wanted a mentor so badly, that I was blind to the reality: I wasn’t gaining a mentor in SE, but an enemy, whether I liked it or not.
I’m sensitive by nature, so I was blown away when I saw that being a “good writer” and “hard worker” would be received so poorly by my superior. It nearly broke me. But I took SE’s criticism anyway, hoping to prove to her that I was good enough, until I started noticing that she was shutting down story idea after story idea, with no reason to stand on.
Then, one day, she stopped saying hello in the halls when we passed each other.
I would run ideas by my supportive colleagues often, to make sure they were smart, relevant and padded enough to pitch at meetings. But still, SE hated them all and gave me less and less work to do, exactly the opposite of what our Big Boss had promised in that now infamous meeting all those months ago, back when I was still a rising star.
In time, I began to realize that SE took this same passive-aggressive wear-down approach with all editors who showed any kind of potential or who ‘spoke up’ at editorial meetings; it was a Catch-22 for all of us: say nothing and risk looking like mutes in front of our publisher (the owner of the magazine), or say too much and risk the passive-aggressive wrath of our superiors.
This is what we in the business called being “fucked”.
One day, months later, Big Boss pulls me into his office again and tells me that, in fact, I can’t write.
I’m mediocre at best, he says. He doesn’t like my confidence, I just know it, and he loathes when I speak my mind in editorial meetings, something he once praised me for. His tune for me has changed, without notice, and I don’t know the lyrics to this new song.
I am up Shit’s Creek, no paddle, as they say.
Most of my story ideas are shot down, week after week, and soon my editor in chief joins in on the witch hunt, too, making my work life harder than it has to be, accusing me of doing things I don’t do, like visiting celebrity gossip sites during work hours, which is something she actually does several times a day. She also accuses me of missing deadlines I was never given. This devastates me. With my tail between my legs, I apologize and start to recede into sadness.
My editor in chief uses me as a scapegoat, I later find out, figuring that, if she dislikes me as much as Big Boss and SE do, she might save her own ass – it was no secret that she was constantly on the brink of being fired.
The office mimicked the halls of high school, but with the added pathetic whiff of immaturity, because grown-ups were acting like bullies, all in the name of ego and insecurity.
But why? I ask myself, why is this happening to me, to my career? For months, torturing my young and sad heart with doubts and self-criticism, I cry a lot and feel confused a lot, and it is awful.
How did my fall from editorial grace happen so fast?
I may never know the whole truth, but I can assure you it was an experience I look back on now with a smile (maybe even a slight smirk) because I learned something about humans, their insecurities, and how it all stems from how they feel about themselves. In other words, if your boss is a nightmare, it’s not your fault.
During the time I spent as an editor on the fringe, teetering between good days and bad days, all based on the mood of my superiors, I learned that other people’s opinions (OPO) only matter when they come from respectable sources. And none of the people in charge at that particular magazine, at that particular time, deserved an inch of respect, even though they got it every day, from all of us.
I quit that job (twice!) in 2010, finally leaving on May 7, with a box of my belongings, some free makeup samples, a tank top with the magazine’s logo on the front, too many lip glosses, two staplers and a lift in my spirit: I finally had the courage to move on and be myself again, unedited.
Since then, the editors who made my life miserable have all been fired. Yep, all three.
Secret celebrations were had by all of us who once suffered under their pathetic tutelage. But that’s where it ends. No further malice, because anger takes up too much creative energy and those three once drained me enough.
My skin has grown twice as thick since those days and it shows – I’ve been successfully freelancing ever since.
Like learning not to touch a hot stove after you’ve touched a hot stove, I won’t be repeating the mistakes I made back then, but I will continue to share what I’ve learned as a writer. Getting burned happens to us all at one time or another…and it’s nice to know you’re not the only one with a few scars.
So I’m reading this book right now, “Your Voice in My Head” and it’s really good. But maybe everyone wouldn’t think so, because the subject matter is profound – profound in a human-suffering kind of way, not intellectually. Although, it is intellectually written…
This quote, from the book, deserves to be shared. I wanted to remember it, so I’m putting it here, like a sticky note:
“We all perform. It’s what we do for each other all the time, deliberately or unintentionally. It’s a way of telling about ourselves in the hope of being recognised as what we’d like to be.”
(Quote by photographer Richard Avedon, taken from the memoir by Emma Forrest, Your Voice in My Head)
It’s been a week of keen observation. I’m on the hunt for five or six truly Toronto-esque locations to be the backdrop of this documentary I’ve been plugging away at since last fall. This is work I love. It’s not being close enough to the “end” that makes me nervous, keeps me up at night. Sometimes I wish being a bank teller or an orthopedic surgeon was in my destiny, but instead….art is my passion. Fucking art.
It both kills me and lifts me up. The perfect relationship.
So much change happening all around me, in the leaves, in the sun, in the way the light hits the Rail Path in the afternoons. And above all of it, I’m changing, too – morphing – right alongside it. I think this is what they call spring.
There’s a whole section on this blog called, “Videos Worth Sharing”. It’s not really a section so much as it’s just a category. But I try to fill it, nonetheless, with great things to watch. Some videos have great ideas, others have good lessons, and some are just fucking funny. This video, of Chelsea Handler, is a mix of all of those things, plus honest. And I like honest. A lot.