Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Could I Be Your Girl?

Today's weather is absolutely disgusting and bone-chilling. I am huddled up right now in a hoodie (hood up), buried under blankets, and drinking hot chocolate (with a splash of Kahlua). Right now I wish I had a pair of those socks that you make a sock monkey out of. What are those socks even called?

Anyway, it's Tuesday night, which makes me happy because it is inching ever closer to Thursday. What's Thursday?, you might ask. FEIST @ MASSEY HALL. Yes, I am yelling. This is probably the concert event of 2011 that I am most excited about, and I can't believe it's only two sleeps away. I've really only seen one proper Feist show before, and that was at the Air Canada Centre. Massey Hall is so much smaller, more intimate, and has better acoustics. I can't wait. And I can't wait to get a T-shirt too. I've really been into wearing concert T-shirts lately, and can't wait to add a new one to the rotation.

I had a rather restful weekend. I attempted to start Christmas shopping on Saturday, but just ended up getting a new hoodie for myself, so that was a bit of a fail. On Sunday I went for a run, ran some errands, Skyped with Claire, and spent the evening reading instead of doing schoolwork.

Last night I finished Jann Arden's memoir Falling Backwards. I highly recommend it. For non-Canadian readers, Jann Arden is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been around since the nineties. Her songs are rather depressing, but she is a funny, funny woman. I firmly believe that she should be the permanent host of all Canadian awards shows.

Her memoir did not disappoint. It covers her childhood up until the time she signed her first record contract (when she was almost thirty). Most of her memories are funny, however there's tragedy in everyone's life, and I think it's awesome that she shared those parts of her life too. I highly recommend this book.

Reading Jann's memories had me remembering too. My friends and I listened to her her music in high school. Her songs, and Sarah MacLachlan's music, makes for some good depressed teenage-girl listening, I tell you. I remember that some members of the group of 9 would go to her shows sometimes, but for some reason (crappy fast food job?), I never made it. In fact, I've never seen Jann Arden live.

My main Jann Arden memory involves a party at my friend Joanna's (?) house back in high school. It could have been someone else's house, I'm not sure. I am sure that the party was out in the country, that's for sure. Anyway, we girls were all pretty wasted, and singing and dancing along to Jann Arden's song Insensitive. I remember that Joanna's kind-of-creepy neighbour (a couple years older than us) was videotaping us. I hope that tape is in a landfill now. Anyway, it's an even funnier memory to think of the fact that camcorders were so giant back them. Now I could film silliness like that with my phone. Actually, thank goodness that was back in the 90s... your foolish teenage moments were safe back then. No YouTube yet.

Speaking of YouTube, this is my very favourite Jann Arden song.

Interestingly, three of my favourite books that I've read in 2011 have all been memoirs by female musicians: Just Kids by Patti Smith, From This Moment On by Shania Twain, and Falling Backwards by Jann Arden.

Oooh, I hope Feist writes a memoir someday!

I would also really like Dave Grohl to write his memoir. I know there's a recent biography about Dave that came out this year, and I'll very likely ask for it for Christmas.

I've also always wanted Courtney Love to write a book... Maybe she has, but I doubt it was coherent. I should rephrase that: I would like Courtney Love to write a coherent book.

Have you read any good musician memoirs? What musician's memoirs would you be interested in reading? Who else's memoir would you read? Please discuss... it'll help keep me occupied until Fest. ;)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Best. Job. Ever.

On days like today, I realize that I am blessed to have the best job in the world.

I get actually get paid to make a difference. Sure, some days it's tough slogging, and some of the attitude that I have deal with, from both teenagers and adults, is utterly ridiculous, but that's just a needle in a haystack.

I get to put aside myself selfishness, and work hard for others. Sure, you could argue that at the end of the day I get a fair wage, benefits, and those two months in the end of the summer, but I do a freaking awful lot that I don't have to. You could argue that my extracurricular involvement isn't selfless at all because I get so much joy and meaning from it. But, at the end of the day, I put in countless extra hours and energy because I believe that student involvement in their school community will allow them to overcome obstacles and grow into great people. I am so thankful that this is my life.

Moreover, I do get to work with other people, many of whom have become my dear friends, who have the same beliefs and work just as hard, and harder, than I do. I enjoyed this day so much because so many of us worked together to pull off a fun meaningful day for our students.

After a month of ongoing planning, countless emails, late evenings working in the caf with student council, two trips out to the flag district, resolving quite a few conflicts, and fighting the mighty foe of teenage apathy, my school's multicultural day went off beautifully. As a packed cafetorium cheered on performers as they danced or sang their hearts out, and kids wandered around happily stuffing their faces with food from eighteen beautifully decorated pavilions, I realized how all of the preparations were yet again more than worth it. I loved how wired the kids were today, especially when one of the more negative people on staff complained about it. (Seriously, who complains about kids who are excited to be at school?) Mission accomplished. Apathy put aside for one day. It's nice knowing that I was involved in implementing one of those days that you know that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

I've earned my rest, and I look forward to a couple of days without planning. On Monday, student council begins planning our next big event, but I know we'll all enjoy our weekend.

Oh, and for my favourite multicultural day moment: a kid's mom came in to the school with a worried look on her face. She was concerned because her son told her she had to make Ethiopian food for four hundred people for Friday. (Who wouldn't be?) We explained that no, there would be four hundred people in attendance, but just small samples were required, and she would be reimbursed. I think she was relieved. Oh, and for the record, we had at least 525 students participate, well above our goal of 400. Go us! In the end there was plenty of African food for all.

Also, one of my former lovely grade 9s from last year made amazing Portuguese egg tarts. So good! Definitely memory worthy.

Oh, one last funny story, the Scottish pavilion served non-alcoholic beer mixed with ginger ale. Word got around that Scotland was serving beer, and their line-up soared astronomically. That explained why I heard some kids say "Scotland has the best pavilion!" as I was wandering about.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy List

1) Multicultural Day reached financial solvency today. So no matter what happens, at least the events that I organize at school don't drive us into debt. Hey! Maybe I should be a world leader! I'd be better than most, based upon my track record.

2) Making hot chocolate at home and drinking it out of a Starbucks Christmas mug.

3) The new Florence and the Machine album. It's been on repeat since I got it.

4) Chocolately granola bars with mint chips. Yum.

5) I'm about 50 pages away from finishing Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. It's actually gotten really good again. I'm glad I slogged through it.

6) I'm looking forward to starting a new book.

7) I'm very excited for The Muppet Movie tonight.

8) I'm glad that my search for African artifacts for MC day lead me to spend yesterday evening and my friends' place. I had a good time catching up and laughing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

So I like to keep my issues strong, but it's always darkest before the dawn.

I had a good weekend. My spa date with work friends, followed by a delicious dinner, was the relaxation that I needed following a busy week. Saturday morning I went for a pretty long run, then ran some errands before catching a ride to a baby shower in Midland with my work spouse, her daughter, and her real-life spouse.

Midland is about an hour and a half north of Toronto, and we got there, there was (melting) snow on the ground. A chilling vision of things to come, I suppose.

The shower was fun. It was for a former work buddy, a science nerd like myself, and that breeds a special friendship. It was a pretty fun shower; one that's more low key where men were invited, and there weren't any lame shower games. The spread was really good: cabbage rolls, lasagna, and turkey. The cabbage rolls smelled just like the ones that my grandma used to make, but didn't taste quite as good (still very good though). It's too bad that my grandma never taught either my mom or I to make them before she died. My grandma was a wonderful woman, but never had the patience to teach anyone. Somehow, my mom and I, both teachers, ended up with some patience. That must have been passed down from my very patient grandfather.

The point of that story is that smells and food brings back memories, don't they? I remember reading that the olfactory part of your brain is located near the part that stores memory, and that's always made a lot of sense to me since smells so often evoke vivid memories.

At the end of the shower, just before we were heading back to Toronto, land of no-snow-yet, the mom-to-be insisted that I shotgun two glasses of wine to help me cope with the ride back. Who was I to say no? I had a giggly/sleepy ride home, where I stayed up late enough to watch the Muppets on SNL.

On Sunday morning, I went for another run and ran some errands/did some housework. Jason and I braved the families going home from the Santa Claus parade to meet up with a friend of his (shout out to the lovely Stephanie!) to attend a benefit screening of the movie The Goonies, which is an 80s movie that I somehow missed during my time as a child of the 80s. It was pretty fun, but I have to admit that I fell asleep a bit. I blame the running around that I did in the morning.

But alas, lovely weekends have to end, and bring Mondays with them. Today was OK. Final Multicultural Day preparations are underway and keeping me busy. I have to return some outdated flags, plus get a few more. Can you believe the flag store sold me the former flags of Ethiopia and Vietnam?? Yeesh. I also have to pick up some wall hangings that I'm borrowing from my friend Ali to help decorate the African pavilion. Busy, busy.

However, I'm taking mid-week break to see the Muppet Movie with Jason on Wednesday when it opens. I have my priorities straight.

Now, it's time to spend my Monday evening curled up in my pjs and finishing off Freedom so I can read one of the better books that I picked up this weekend. I'm 400 pages in, and dammit, I've invested too much to give up now. I'm also listening to the new Florence & The Machine album which is quite good. I'm glad that she performed on SNL to remind me to check it out.

Hope you all have lovely weeks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I guess I got my swagger back, truth.

The shopping diet is so over. In fact, I believe that I obliterated it this evening.

After school today, I stopped in the Bay/Bloor area to a) buy a $12 pair of mittens, and b) bring my Swarovski ring that I got in NYC repaired. One of the stones fell out.

Anyway, all of my mittens are falling apart, and I need a pair that will go with my fall/winter coats which are black, red, and brown. I saw a nice cream-coloured pair when I was at Aritzia at the Eaton Centre this weekend, but the music in the store was annoying the hell out of me, so I left and decided that I would buy them another time. Note: I only wear mittens, never gloves. I feel this is an important thing for people to know about me.

So, I dropped into the Bloor Street Aritzia for my mittens and since there was no annoying music, I figured I could look around a bit. And, why not try on some clothes for fun? I've never bought much before at Aritzia, save my brown winter coat, because anything I've tried on there fits me funny. Hence, I figured on trying on a bunch of things would be harmless, right?

Wrong. Everything fit rather well, so I ended up spending much more than $12 at that store.

I got this plaid shirt, because, it's purple plaid. Purple's my favourite colour, and I've been looking for a plaid shirt. It was supposed to happen.

I also got a purple V-neck raglan shirt to go underneath the plaid.

Then, I came across a long cashmere dark grey cardigan. I love long cardigans, and the two I own are falling apart. The buttons are broken. There are various little holes in the sweaters. This new sweater is so soft, not falling apart, and appropriate for work too. This purchase was so easy to justify.

I also wanted a blazer to wear tomorrow night for p-t interviews. I usually wear a dress or a skirt or something dressier than my normal attire for the evening, but I've decided it's time for the power blazer. I found a black one that I liked at Smart Set, but wasn't sure what to pair it with. I tried it one with a white button-down shirt, but I felt like a waiter. I asked the sales girl to help me, and she brought me a couple of shirts that went with it. One was a dark purple long-sleeved tee, which also goes with the new plaid shirt and new sweater. The second was a lace top to wear over a camisole. It looked really nice, so I got everything. Luckily, Smart Set is a relatively affordable store, so the damage wasn't too bad.

After that, I went for a run at the gym in that area, did a bit of grocery shopping and came home to play with my new clothing. I'm sure all of the female (and maybe male) readers know exactly what I mean. Whenever you buy new clothing you have to try it on with stuff you own in all kinds of different combos. So much fun. This is when I really miss having a roommate. (Awwww, Becca T.)

Now it's time for sleep. Tomorrow's a long day.

Note: The title of this post comes from the song Otis Redding by Jay-Z and Kayne West. It is one of my fave running songs right now. I thought you should know that. I do tend to branch out of my indie-rock comfort zone when I'm running. Also, I appreciate this song because I did study hip hop in university (Hahaha, that sounds funny, but it's true. It was a topic in my "World of Popular Music" course.), and I can appreciate two MCs on one song.

Also, I feel like this vacuous post will require a deep follow-up. Ugh, I loathe my materialistic ways, but I really enjoy fashion. A lot. Bah. I wish I could just wear the same things all of the time and be happy.

My friend Teresa, to whom I gave a bunch of old stuff to when she visited me earlier in the fall, asked me "when did you become into fashion so much? I don't remember you being this way in high school..." to which I replied "I was like that in high school, but didn't have the funds to maintain my desired lifestyle as I was saving for university." High school me was so thrifty. I would put away all of my paycheques for university, and only withdraw small amounts for spending. I wish I was more like that girl now.

Also, since I gave so many old clothes to Teresa, I do have many hangers for these new ones. Yay!

Also, I am re-commencing the shopping diet again until the new year. Only gift purchases from here on out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Do what you can do with what you got.

I've gone a solid week without posting, which I haven't done in, well, I don't know how long.

Life has just been really busy and I think I'm burning myself out a little bit. October was my month of social butterflying. This month seems to be more of a month of work, work, work.

I just got through report cards. Parent/teacher interviews are coming up. I've been staying late many evenings with student council because we are busy planning the school's multicultural day.

This weekend I have my second baby party in less than a week. Gotta find time to buy a gift.

Thankfully, I do have a massage booked on Friday after school (it's a PD day actually), and then my colleagues in the spa club and I are going out for a nice dinner. I look forward to that.

And that's what I got. Better post next time, I swear.

Monday, November 07, 2011

These things rattle around my head.

Remember right around the time of (Canadian) Thankgiving, I declared that I spend too much money on myself and that I was going on a one month shopping diet, and then you never read about it again?

Well, I made it!

I haven't bought anything frivolous for myself in a month. No clothing, no purses, no shoes, no magazines, no books. The only thing I bought for myself was a Dan Mangan Tshirt at the show, but that doesn't count since I can't buy that in every day life. It was an occasion, dammit.

So yah, I made it through the month. I'll be honest with you, I am jonesing for a shopping spree. Some new running attire would be nice, but I really should be turning my finances towards Christmas gifts. I also realized today, while buying a present for a work friend, that I do enjoy buying things for others a lot, so getting a good start on my Christmas shopping will be fun.

Anyway, I've been feeling quite forgetful lately. I don't like it, because I pride myself on my memory. I don't think it's my memory that's failing me. I just haven't been very focused as of late.

It was my turn to bring in snacks for this week's student council meeting. When I showed up, the president and vice president asked me where the snacks were, and I realized I'd completely forgotten. However, I had some leftover Halloween snacks in my filing cabinet, and I stole a three-quarters full box of cookies from my work spouse's desk. At least it was something.

My friend Fea, who is also a student council moderator, arrive after the snack debacle, and said "Hey! I like those Hershey caramel bars! Oh, and these cookies look yummy!" El Presidente and VP were giving me sneaky looks and laughing as I just looked over at the wall. Anyway, I'm quite glad to have that Halloween chocolate out of my filing cabinet (can we say temptation?) and I have already got replacement cookies for my work spouse. In fact, I'm just going to sneak the new box of cookies on her desk and see if she notices.

I have signed up again for snack next week. This time I'm going to overwhelm them, as opposed to underwhelming them.

Can you guys remind me about this? ;)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

These years of cloak and dagger have left us disappeared.

Random list of stuff from this weekend:

1) The Matt Good show was amazing! The opening number almost made me cry. He came out, shrouded in darkness, and sang a stripped down version of the song While We Were Hunting Rabbits which is a song I love. It was gorgeous.

All of the new songs from this year's album Lights of Endangered Species were great, as were the old classics. I first got into Matt Good (well, back then it was the Matthew Good Band) while in first year university, and I remember getting really emotional the first time I saw him live. I listened to the album Underdogs on heavy rotation while I studied through first year chem/bio/calc/phys and it was just very affecting to see those songs live.

The performances of classics like Hello Time Bomb, Apparations, Load Me Up, Weapon, and Giant were awesome. And, Ian Browne, the drummer from MGB days was on drums, so that was cool. I have to spend more time listening to MG back catalogue. Except...

2) I got a link to an early download of Los Campesinos! new album Hello Sadness! I've been listening to it in heavy rotation all weekend and I LOVE IT. It's a great collection of ten songs. I dunno, I've been thinking that LC! could just take over as my favourite band ever. However, in order to take that title, they'd better come play Toronto in 2012 is all I have to say.

3) Saturday was relaxing. I went for a run, met up with Fea for a rather unproductive marking session, and then relaxed and watched TV in the evening until settling in for an hour of sleep.

4) Today I went for a really good run. I want to do either an 8K or a 10K (or both) next spring, so I ran 8K today instead of my usual approximately 6K. It felt good. Maybe next weekend I'll go for the 10.

5) Then I went back to my old hair salon in Kensington to get my hair done. I think I've found another stylist there that I like. I gave him a carte blanche: I wanted something new done but I didn't know what. It's now much shorter, and a little bit darker with some highlights to frame my face. I really liked this new dude. He took a long time making sure my hair was perfect, so I'm going to go back to him again for sure.

6) I finished a set of marking, so now I'm going to spend the rest of my evening reading the tome that is Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I've read the first "chapter" and so far, so good. Also, it has a bird on its cover. In those cases, I do judge books by their covers.

And with that, I'm off. Happy Monday folks!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Baby being polite never got me nowhere.

I can't believe Halloween was only on Monday. It seems like a lifetime ago. It's been a long week. Hence lack of posting.

Anyway, I'm heading off soon to see Mathew Good at the same place I saw Dan Mangan last week. It's funny that I'm seeing two Vancouver musicians at the same place exactly one week apart, but the concerts will be very different. Matt Good tickets cost a lot more, and there is actual assigned seating as opposed to general admission tickets that allow the opportunity to sneak side seats not too far from the stage.

Matt Good's dark music suits my mood more this week. I think I'm going to wear my Dan Mangan shirt to the show because it makes me happy.

I think it's funny how I started this blog in 2005 (lifetime ago) because I was a fan of Matt Good's blog. I don't even know if he's still really blogging. I sometimes want to stop liking Matt Good's music because he seems a little curmudgeonly on Twitter, but then he puts out a new album and I can't help myself but love it. Falling out of love isn't something that I'm good at.

I'm happy there's an extra hour to this weekend. Apart from this concert, this weekend is for catching up on sleep, housework, exercise, and marking. I plan to go for long runs both days of this weekend. I hope the sleeping and running will give me the fortitude to deal with the other stuff.

Happy fall back!