Thursday, January 29, 2015

March Break Booked!

In typical Christielli-fashion, it was a concert that was the impetus for me to actually plan something.

I had been planning to use my March Break to visit all of my pals in Vancouver: Becca T, Wes, & Rawbean (and I'm also hoping to make it to Victoria to see Jabba).  I was dawdling because well, I didn't want to think about the cost of a flight etc etc.

Then today, my #1 crush Hayden tweeted an article about his new song, which also had a listing of his upcoming shows, including one in Vancouver DURING MY MARCH BREAK. He's playing w Dan Mangan, and I am seeing them in Toronto at the end of February.  I bought those tickets way back in August when I was eating delicious Indian food at Claire's place in London.

Anyway, this concert would be a great show for Becca T and I because we both love Dan, and I used to drag her to Hayden shows all the time in university.

So, I booked a flight, and booked the show.  And within a span of 1.5 hours, now Wes is joining us for the show, and Rawbean and I will visit Jen in Victoria on Sunday.

This is all shaping up to be a lot of fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Concert of the Year.

I had a super fun weekend, which I needed after last week which didn't start out the greatest.

On Friday, I went to the mall with Mathew because he had to return a bunch of things, which I made fun of him for.  Then we saw the movie "Selma" which was very powerful.  I haven't seen many of the films that have been nominated, but I can't help thinking this one was so powerful and important that it should definitely get more recognition.  Also, I think EVERYONE should see it.

Before my I went out on Friday, my friend Paul messaged me to see if I wanted to see a concert on Saturday night with him: Elliott Brood & The Wilderness of Manitoba.  I was happy that I was free and able to go to the show. They are both bands that I've seen before and enjoy live, even though I haven't kept up with their albums. Also, I hadn't been to a show with my friend Paul since the summer; it seemed like all of the fall concerts conflicted with his work/travel schedules.  It was great to reconnect with a friend, and live music.  It's been two months since I've been to a show!

I always feel like myself most at shows.  It's weird, but live music puts me in such a great space that it's vital for my mental health.  Even though I'm one of the most logical, methodical people you'll meet, I have a huge creative side that loves the arts whether it be music, literature, film, or visual arts.  I think the arts in general bring me the closest to my spiritual side than anything else on earth, and they are essential to my well-being.  As soon as the first band hit the stage, I felt re-centred and oh-so-better about everything.  Elliott Brood were great because they closed the curtain in between sets, and opened up to a stage filled with balloons and lights.  It was a magical evening.

Today was a nice day because I was able to catch up with other friends over brunch and dinner.  Just as art centres me, so does friendship, and I'm lucky to have a life rich in both.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Teaching is Ridiculous.

On Monday, I had a little bit of a bad day, and it soured my mood for the next couple of days afterward.

However, yesterday out of the blue I got an email from a former student wishing me happy belated new year and asking me how I was doing.  In my reply, I told her that her email really brightened my day.  She replied back to me updating me on her life in university and how yesterday she just had a feeling that she needed to email her favourite teachers from high school. Awwwww.

As I read her email I thought that it's kind of ridiculous that I get paid money to form these awesome relationships with the students I teach.  It's so rewarding that I get paid a healthy salary to make an impact on lives, and in return, such an impact is made on my own life.  I estimate that I've probably taught almost one thousand students at this point in my career, which is rather awesome.

Anyway, I need to keep this in mind next time I'm frustrated over the enormity of my marking pile*, a jammed photocopier, kids not doing their homework, a slow computer, a busted electrical fuse, a dusty chalkboard ledge that makes me sneeze, extra pointless paperwork, a grumpy colleague, and all of the other little things I complain about way too often.

*My marking pile is actually non-existent right now.  I finished marking all of the term work for this semester. Next week is exams, which is a bit of a break.  Woo-hoo!  A guilt-free work-free weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't Let People Mess You Around.

Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" is a pretty good anthem for when people have got you down.  Very 2014.

However, I have realized that my ultimate feel-good anthem is Sloan's "If It Feels Good, Do It". Very 2000.

I have been listening to this song for years and years, and I don't think I ever even realized that it was about shaking it off, until recently. I really just listened to it without thinking, but now it's become my go-to when someone's messing me around.



Also, the video is freakin' awesome. (Note: there's another longer more artsy version with people talking about rock 'n roll, which I like, but today I'm in the mood for the song straight through.) 

I love the crowd jumping around and their energy.

I love the scissor kicks and guitar-shredding in time to the lights.

I love the "Sloooooo-oooooan" chant in the middle of the song.

I love how the song takes me back to when I was in university, and I had nothing better to than study, cause hijinks with my friends, and obsessively listen to this song.

I low how this song is ultimately an ode to rock 'n roll, yet at the same time really is about being true to yourself.  The line "you can't wear your heart on your sleeve, if you're just going to leave" is one of my favourites, and I wish I could quote it to people all of the time, but just not enough people out there are up on their Sloan.

Anyway, it's one day past Blue Monday, the supposedly mathematically-calculated most depressing day of the year, and I was having an okay one, until somebody messed me around, but you know what, I'm not going to let them, because I'm just going to listen to Sloan instead.  And maybe some T. Swift too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lines.

The other day I was looking at myself in the bathroom mirror.  I can't remember why, other than I was lost in thought at the moment.  I was surprised to notice a deep vertical line right beside the inside of my left eyebrow, which was pulled down at the moment.

I relaxed my eyebrow to its regular position, and the vertical line was still there, although less pronounced.

I started thinking about this line, and noticed my left eyebrow going back down on my face.  Then it hit me: I have a wrinkle from thinking! I have never noticed this before, but when I am thinking, I scrunch up my left eyebrow, and this action has lead to a permanent crease on my forehead.

I'm almost 35, and I haven't worried too much about wrinkles yet. I don't own any anti-wrinkle creams, because I am very skeptical that they even work. I'll admit that my skincare regime is best described as low-key, whereas perhaps some may say it's straight out negligent.

However, I've always believed that it's working for me since I often get compliments on my skin.  One day I was talking to one of my VPs and she stopped mid sentence and said "you have beautiful skin... What do you do?" I thanked her and admitted that I don't do anything special.  I wash it, throw on some moisturizer as needed and that's that.  And it seems to be working, I guess.

But this thinking wrinkle...

As I was staring at this line on my face, I remembered something that I read recently on the celebrity gossip site that I frequent (guilty pleasure = dlisted.com). Kim Kardashian had stated that she tries to smile as little as possible because it causes wrinkles. (Although what about duck faces, Kim?)

What a sad statement, I thought, which reflects how messed up our society is.  We are so obsessed with looking youthful that a woman will willing admit that she tries not to make the best facial expression out there that signifies joy, makes you look better, and actually makes you psychologically feel better.

Smile lines should be battle scars that anyone should be proud of.  They say "fuck yeah! I've had lots of fun and laughter and happiness in my life and I'm proud of it!" Really, people should want smile and laugh lines at as young an age as possible because it means you've lived well and with happiness.

Which brings me back to my thinking line.  As I stood there thinking about it (and cementing it further on my face no doubt) I realized this thing on my face is a battle scar hard-earned by all of the planning, calculating, writing, creating, problem-solving, reading, reflecting, hypothesizing, wondering and thinking that I have done over my almost 35 years of life.  I'll keep it, thank you very much.  And I'm going to be proud of any lines on my face because it means, that I have lived, goddammit.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

On track (ish).

Last week I was maybe getting a B- on my new year's resolution of being healthier.  I was rocking the healthy eating, made it to the gym on Tuesday, but then started feeling sick and congested and could not bring myself to exercise on Wednesday.

During the weekend, I felt worse, hibernated indoors and ate some garbage, which definitely brought my overall mark down to failing. However, I managed to get to the grocery store, buy healthy food for the week, and I've rocked the healthy eating again this week.  Even better, I made it to the gym on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and feel awesome.  I did some weight training yesterday and I feel sore and I'm so happy because I missed the feeling of the after effects of a good workout.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy that a crappy first week of resolution did not knock me down.  I'm often really hard on myself if I'm not feeling well.  All weekend I was internally berating myself for being lazy, but now that I have a clearer head, I realize that no, I was actually not feeling well and that's okay.

This week, I'm pretty high energy and have been getting lots of shit done at work and even feel like my workload is under control.  Awesome.

Not only that,  my place is relatively clean, I got my nails done, went out for drinks with my friend Joanna Go9 who was in town for a convention, and registered for the Sporting Life 10K in May.

I think the moral of this story is to remind myself that sometimes I do need to rest and recuperate, and that's okay.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Random Pointless Post

Wow the January blues have come at me fast and furious and earlier than usual this year.

This time of year is always super busy at work.  One semester is ending, and I'm trying to cram a few more concepts into the kids' heads, while trying to catch up on marking and write/prep my final exams. All while it is bone chillingly cold outside.

This weekend I was supposed to write an exam, and catch up on my marking but what I did instead was hibernate and finish reading two books.  However, I stayed late today at school and got so much done. I grudgingly have to admit that I am far more productive at work than I am home, probably it's because I have the motivation of that when I complete my task I can leave the building and go home.  When I'm home, I'm already home and I don't have that push.  I think that I need to put a few more hours in at work, as opposed to dragging my marking around all the time and not doing it.  Sigh.

Anyway, that was boring.  Let me think about what else is going on these days.

I was running some errands this evening, and a dude at the checkout near me at Shopper's gave me his Optimum Points.

I have started watching this season of The Bachelor because apparently I hate my brain cells and want to kill them.

I should probably do a book review post because I've read three already this year.  All involve mysteries and death.

Nerd confession: my Lego sources told me about a set of Lego songbirds and I bought it online and they arrived tonight. It's completely geeky but they'll look good on my windowsill.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

After 21 days, behaviours become habits, right?

Or that's what I tell myself as I rather grudgingly force myself to be better.  Hopefully after 21 days I'll remove the words grudgingly and force from that sentence.

In a way though, re-capturing my good habits from 2013 and the first half of 2014 feel like slipping into an old comfy sweater.  Sunday night veggie chopping session? Check. Healthy lunch and gym bag packed before I go to bed? Check.  Dishes washed? Check. Settling in my bed before11 pm... well, I'm working on it.

I also have to work on not being frustrated with myself and berating myself.  I worked really hard for a year-and-a-half and felt so much stronger, healthier, and happier.  But for whatever reason, exhaustion, a touch of depression, boredom, stress, or just sheer laziness, I let it slip away.  A week's break became a month, and then more.

However, I'm relying on muscle memory to get me back on track.  The planning, chopping, and organization feel like old friends that are returning to me.  I'm a creature of routine.  Once I make taking care of myself routine again, I'll be heading in the right direction.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

My favourite 2014 albums

I always enjoy compiling my favourite music from a year gone by.  Whenever I read top album lists in my favourite music magazines, blogs, and newspapers, I always feel appalled on how much music I miss out in a year, but man, the older I get, the harder it is to keep up with all of the things I'm interested in, on top of having a job.  

My favourite albums aren't all necessarily "the best" (not that you can really compile music into a list based on merit; it's so subjective), but they are the albums that made up the soundtrack of my life during the year.

In 2014, there were really great new albums put out by Beck, Jenny Lewis, The New Pornographers, Andrew MacMahon in the Wilderness, and Damien Rice that are definitely worth a listen in my opinion.  Also, I just recently bought the album by Canadian band Alvvays, and it's excellent.  (It made a lot of top ten lists that I read at the end of the year.) But since I'm just getting into right now (in 2015), I can't fit it into my list.  But you should check it out!  The song Archie Will You Marry Me? is a definite earworm.

And now onto my list..

10) 1989 - Taylor Swift  I think almost everyone came out in 2014 as a Swift fan because of this super fun pop effort.  When someone besmirches you, Shake It Off, is the perfect song.  I unabashedly enjoy this entire album and feel no shame for including this pop gem on my top ten list.



9) Strange Desire - Bleachers This side project by Fun's Jack Antonoff was an excellent soundtrack to the summer of 2014.  Wild Heart and Rollercoaster are the standout songs for me, and I also love the guest appearances by Grimes and Yoko Ono.  If you like electronic pop with an indie flair, check out Bleachers.


8) Little Machines - LIGHTS Again in the electronic pop veins, Canada's LIGHTS puts out yet another strong album (I was a fan of her previous album Siberia).  I also got to see her live at the Danforth Music Hall, and she's definitely can put on a great live show that showcases her songs.


7) St. Vincent - St. Vincent I love this album.  Even though it came out early in the year, I rediscovered it December and had it on heavy repeat.  Usually when I'm listening to this album, all I can think is that St. Vincent kicks ass.


6) LP - Twin Forks Twin Forks is the newest band of Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba.  Not only did I see them three times, I had this LP on heavy repeat throughout the year.  I have it on vinyl, which is beneficial because this album has a sides A & B with vastly different feels.  Side A consists of fun, bluegrassy sing-alongs, whereas the songs on side B are a bit darker and more brooding.


5) Commonwealth - Sloan Sloan is going strong after being together for more than twenty years.  Commonwealth is a creatively interesting album; each of the four sides of this album features songs by each of the members of Sloan.  Side A are Jay Ferguson songs, Side B are Chris Murphy songs, Side C are Patrick Pentland songs, and Side D is one very long (18 minutes) Andrew Scott song.  I'm definitely a fan of Jay's songs the most; Side A is pure perfection.  I'm a fan of sides B & C too, and I even have a spot in my heart for the sprawling insanity of Side D because it features a throwback to one of my all-time favourite Sloan songs, Delivering Maybes.  


4) We Loved Her Dearly - Lowell I saw Lowell briefly at Field Trip this year, and liked her performance, and I was pleasantly surprised at how strong this album is.  Some songs are pure pop gems, like Cloud 69 and Summertime, whereas Words are the Wars and I Killed Sara V. are heartbreaking and beautiful.  Lowell is a young artist on Arts & Crafts, and I can't wait to hear what she releases next.


3) Second Sight - Hey Rosetta! Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta! always impresses with me with their albums, and their latest is no exception.  It's one of those albums you can just throw on, and each song stands out in its own right.  I'm really looking forward to seeing them play these songs live when I see them open for Stars twice in February.


2) No One is Lost - Stars According to my LastFM statistics, Stars is the band that I listen to the most by far.  Why? Because every two years they release a pop noir masterpiece.  The cover of their latest album has the name emblazoned in neon lights with an image of a roller-coaster, and many of the songs have a deliberate disco feel to them.  Album opener From the Night, and the title track are both fun and heartbreaking at the same time.  Stars are one of those bands that keep putting out great music album after album.


1) Darlings - Kevin Drew This album is hands down my #1 album of 2014 because I listened to it so consistently month after month.  For me, 2014 will be forever linked with songs like Body Butter, Bullshit Ballad, You Gotta Feel It and You In Your Were.  When it comes to the Broken Social Scene catalogue, I've always gravitated towards Kevin Drew's sweeping dramatic vocals, and obviously this album showcases his songwriting and musicianship.  I'm just sad that I wasn't able to catch him play this album live, and my fingers are crossed that maybe he'll do some local 2015 shows.


What were your favourite albums of the year?

2014 Reading List

For my archives...

My goal in 2014 was to read 35 books, and I read 40 in total (counting my re-read of Gone Girl).

  • 39) Ugly Girls - Lindsay Hunter (excellent)
  • 38) An Untamed State - Roxane Gay (excellent)
  • 37) Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay (amazing)
  • 36) Yes Please - Amy Poehler (amazing)
  • 35) The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty (OK)
  • 34) My Salinger Year - Joanna Rakoof (good)
  • 33) Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham (okay)
  • 32) I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman (good)
  • REREAD: Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
  • 31) The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh (quite good)
  • 30) Petals on the Wind - V.C. Andrews (an epic of awful)
  • 29) Trust Your Eyes - Linwood Barclay (decent thriller))
  • 28) Before We Met - Lucie Whitehouse (decent thriller)
  • 27) The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (rather good)
  • 26) Landline - Rainbow Rowell (not as good as her others)
  • 25) The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin (amazing!)
  • 24) Where She Went - Gayle Forman (good)
  • 23) Attachments - Rainbow Rowell (very pleasant & sweet)
  • 22) Summer Home With Swimming Pool - Herman Koch (ugh)
  • 21) If I Stay - Gayle Forman (good)
  • 20) Reconstructing Amelia - Kimberly McCreight (I had issues w this book)
  • 19) Maya's Notebook - Isabel Allende (good)
  • 18) We Were Liars - E. Lockhart (excellent summer read)
  • 17) All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner (quite good)
  • 16) Flowers in the Attic - V.C. Andrews (trashy throwback)
  • 15) Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King (good)
  • 14) Mrs. Hemingway - Naomi Wood (very good)
  • 13) Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell (excellent!)
  • 12) What Kind Of Mother Are You? - Paula Daly (good)
  • 11) Magnified World - Grace O'Connell (Toronto book!)
  • 10) Under the Wide and Starry Sky - Nancy Horan (good)
  • 9) After Her - Joyce Maynard (okay)
  • 8) Return to Love - Marianne Williamson (very good)
  • 7) Secret Shared - L. Marie Adeline (meh)
  • 6) Labor Day - Joyce Maynard (quite good)
  • 5) Crazy Town - Robyn Doolittle (page turner)
  • 4) The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd (amazing)
  • 3) Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alchol - Ann Dowsett Johnston (very well written)
  • 2) Burial Rites - Hannah Kent (quite good)
  • 1) The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (cute)

If I had to pick my five favourite books that I read in 2014, they would be:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - This book is about Sarah Grimke, who becomes a feminist abolitionist in 19th century America.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - A heart-wrenching teenage love story set in the 1980s.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - A gothic YA novel with a twist.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler - If you don't already love Poehler, you will after reading her book.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay - An excellent and thought-provoking collection of essays on feminism, race, gender, pop culture, power, and privilege by a woman who is fast becoming one of my favourite writers, tweeters, and GoodReads friend.

Did you read any standout books in 2014?

2014 Concerts

For my archives.

A lean year for me; only 14 shows, and two were actually Hawksley Workman's one-man play.  I counted them as shows, because they felt that way to me.

Every show was really awesome though.  I managed to see Twin Forks three times, The Constantines twice, Sloan twice, and The National (or part of the band) twice.  Pretty good year.

  • Nov 29th - Sloan @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
  • Nov. 7th - Twin Forks @ Lee's Palace
  • Oct 26th - LIGHTS @ Danforth Music Hall
  • Oct 25 - Dream Serenade with Hayden, Feist, The National and more @ Massey Hall
  • Oct. 3rd - The Constantines @ Danforth Music Hall
  • Sept 13th - The God That Comes by Hawksley Workman @ The Stratford Festival
  • July 8th - Twin Forks @ The Horseshoe Tavern
  • July 6th - TURF w Neutral Milk Hotel, Jenny Lewis, Twin Forks, and more @ Fort York/Garrison Commons
  • June 29th - The God That Comes by Hawksley Workman @ Tarragon Theatre (This is a play, but I'm counting it.)
  • June 8th - Field Trip with Broken Social Scene @ Fork York/Garrison Commons
  • June 5th - Sloan @ The Art Gallery of Ontario
  • May 9th - Neko Case @ Massey Hall
  • April 10th - The National @ Massey Hall
  • Feb 19th - Blue Rodeo @ Massey Hall

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Still, pretty good year.

I'm sitting here, home, after a very nice low-key New Year's.  I went out for dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant with my friends Elaine & Vern, went to see a movie (Into the Woods), and then had some New Year's drinks.  The movie ended exactly at 12 am, which was perfect for everyone in the theatre to shout "happy new year!"

Now I've got a record on, my little Christmas tree lit up, a glass of red wine, and a candle burning.

Whenever I reflect on a year that passed by, the song "Pretty Good Year" by Tori Amos pops into my head.  I think it sums up 2014 perfectly.  (Also, I didn't listen to nearly enough Tori in 2014.)



I accomplished some cool things in 2014.  I think I'm most proud of the half marathon that I ran in May. (And the two 10Ks and three 5Ks I ran too.)  However, that victory is a double-edged sword in that I burned out in the fitness area for the last half of 2014, and I feel that I need to re-commit to my health in 2015.  I miss running and training; my goals for 2015 are to train for a decent 5K in April, a 10K in May, and be back into half marathon shape by October.

On the travel side of things, 2014 was amazing.  London/Paris, St. Louis, my awesome solo Europe train trip (Prague, Vienna, Munich and Brussels) that finished with Claire's wedding in London, Florida, and Montreal.  I especially enjoyed the challenge and freedom of traveling by myself.  It worked out perfectly too since I met up with a friend in Brussels, and was of course surrounded by friends in London.  It was a great combo of being alone and happy, meeting up with friends, and exploring new places.

When it came to friends, 2014 was definitely the year of the wedding, and allowed me to celebrate with lots of friends.  I was a bridesmaid in two weddings, both which were great experiences (wearing the same dress too).  I also got to see a lot of faraway friends this year too.  I visited with my pals Matt from Winnipeg, AlieMalie from Missouri, Wes from Vancouver, and Claire from London on *two* occasions each which were awesome.  Also, I spent a lot of time with my good old pals from home.

Another notable thing from 2014 was baseball.  My pal Mathew totally helped me rekindle my childhood love of the Jays; it was helped by the fact the team had an outstanding month of May that raised hope for the rest of the season, and the fact that we went to a lot of games thanks to our flex packs.  I sit here now actually counting the days until Opening Day.

Professionally, I end another year being thankful for my job and how I am consistently blessed with lovely classes and students that I work with on extracurricular activities.  I celebrate ten years at my school in November.  My friend Elaine, also a teacher, commented on how I'm one of the happiest, most upbeat teachers that she knows, and I'm really thankful that I work in a community where I can stay inspired in a very challenging career. 

As I write all of this, I think that heck, 2014 was indeed a pretty good year, but I do know that I felt a little bit down and blah during maybe the last four months of the year.  However, I am optimistic for 2015, and I'm pretty sure that if I can return to a consistent exercise schedule and eating better, I'll feel better in 2015.  I also want to commit to having phone/Skype/Facetime convos more often with friends in the new year because I feel that social media gives the illusion that we are connected to our friends, but I could use more actual conversations with my friends.  I think that would also help alleviate any blahs.

So goodbye 2014, you were pretty good, and hello to 2015 - I hope you're even better!  Happy 2015 to you too!