Steptember, coffee & other good things

It’s Friday night, the Wellington wind is howling strong, and I’m tucked up in bed because it’s so very cold. I don’t want to focus on that though, so here is a list of good things that have happened recently:

  • The barista at the coffee shop by my work has finally memorised my name and coffee order, which could be seen as a sign I go there too often but I’m choosing to take it as a sign that they like me.
  • I now have my own email address at work, which makes me feel much more important than I actually am.
  • Lox and I had dinner out at Ombra the other night and the eggplant parmagiana was a revelation.
  • I got my roots touched up so I feel like myself again (because for some reason, I only feel like myself when my hair is firetruck red).
  • My new jeans make me unreasonably happy.
  • The lineup for Laneway 2018 has been announced and I am so very tempted to go.
  • I’m taking part in Steptember, which means I’m aiming to do 10,000 steps a day while raising money for services, research, and programmes for cerebral palsy. I’m forcing myself to be much more active and I’m feeling better for it.
  • Last week I went for a run for the first time in forever and it turns out I’m not as unfit as I thought I would be.
  • While on my run, it was clear that it was worth it because I happened upon this view:

Further proof that Wellington is the most beautiful place ever 💙 #wellington #newzealand

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Skinny Love: a love letter to my new jeans

Until you, I didn’t know what I was missing.

My old love was fine, kept me moderately happy. I stayed because I was somewhat comfortable and I thought that it was as good as it would get. Even as the seams slowly started to split, I didn’t realise things weren’t working out. It had to completely fall apart before I realised that I deserved more.

Even so, I was nervous. Finding a replacement seemed impossible. I flirted with potentials, only to find them stiff or keeping their distance from my body, sometimes refusing to see past my calves. I settled once again and resigned myself to a life less-than-perfect: always feeling sightly self-conscious and certain that perfection didn’t exist.

But then I saw you.

I knew I liked you, but I was apprehensive. I’d been burned before by unflattering cuts and gaping waistlines. But from our first touch, I could tell that you were perfect for me. It was natural, effortless. I thought surely you must have a flaw somewhere, but from every angle, it’s clear that we belong together. You fit me like my missing puzzle piece. Nothing compares to the feeling I get when you’re wrapped around my waist: gloriously unselfconscious and beautiful. I don’t know how I lived without you for so long.

***

A few years ago, I wrote a post about my old computer finally dying and forgot just how much fun it is writing love letters about inanimate objects. I genuinely mean it though – if like me, you struggle to find jeans that fit your legs without gaping at the waist, you will probably also fall madly in love with these jeans. And if you’ve never struggled to find jeans that fit, you are very lucky and I probably hate you.

August ’17 Favourites

MUSIC: Choosing one musical favourite this month is basically impossible, with a ton of artists releasing new music. I’m in love with dodie’s whole EP, especially “In The Middle“, the best song about a threesome I’ve ever heard. I’m also super impressed with Kesha’s “Rainbow”, and am strongly considering covering “Hunt You Down” at some point. I’d also be a filthy liar if I denied being into Taylor Swift’s new song – say what you want, but it’s breaking all kinds of records and it’s constantly in my head. Regardless of your feelings towards the song, I strongly encourage to you watch the Google Translate Sings version because it’s hilarious.

SHOWS: I went up to Auckland with my friend Sarah to see “Matilda the Musical” and it was phenomenal. I’ve seen a lot of musicals now – 14 at last count – and I’m pretty convinced that Matilda is the best show I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Les Miserables on the West End in London, so that’s saying a lot). The songs were clever, the kids were unreasonably talented and it was hilarious & heart-wrenching. If you have a chance to see it, you must.

"To change the world, it takes a little genius" ✨ #matildathemusical #civictheatre #matildainnz

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MOVIES: Earlier in the month, I saw “The Big Sick” and it’s possibly the best movie I’ve seen all year. It was hilarious and thought provoking and is the first movie in a long time where I’ve laughed embarrassingly loudly in the theatre. The only reason I say “possibly the best” is because I also saw “Get Out” this year and I cannot decide which is better because they’re both amazing.

LIFE: Lox and I celebrated our three year anniversary this month. I don’t talk much about us on this blog because I’m sure I’d sound obnoxious and like the sort of person that single-me would have hated, but I feel super lucky to have met my person and that he still likes me even though I’m incredibly annoying most of the time. Our anniversary was on a Monday, so we just celebrated by going out for dinner and giving each other presents, so now I’m finally the proud owner of one of these bad boys. (If you’re curious, the photo below is from when our flat in Vancouver held a “Rock of Ages” party and we had to dress up in our best 80s gear.)

SPRING: The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom and winter will be over within a day. I’m so excited to finally exit this interminable winter I’ve been experiencing since October 2016. It’s been so long since springtime.

I Don’t Care, I Like You (original song!)

Usually, I don’t write happy songs because I find sad, dramatic emotions so much easier to write convincingly. I find the line between “happy & sweet” and “cheesy & obnoxious” really difficult to tread, so I’ve written maybe two happy songs in my life. I think I managed to get the balance right in this one, so here’s a little love song I wrote a couple of years ago:

If you have a youtube channel, it’d be awesome if you subscribed to me – and I’m always game for song requests!

You’re not cool for hating pop music

As a quiet and insecure 14 year old, music felt like a way for me to define myself. I wasn’t sporty or outgoing, but I did know about music. I thought because I could read music, I had a better understanding about what was good music. I had this idea in my head that only people who truly loved music listened to obscure artists, because we went out of our way to find music we liked. I prided myself on having an iTunes library filled with artists no one else had heard of. I bought too small t-shirts from obscure MySpace bands, feeling smug every time someone asked me “who’s that on your shirt?” I blasted Metro Station on my iPod nano until the day “Shake It” hit radio stations; I then deleted them from my playlists and felt embarrassed they had ever been there in the first place. I felt like I needed to change my favourite songs if they became popular and fell into a weird rabbit-hole of obscurity, where I wouldn’t listen to anything if it was on the radio.

mitchel-lensink-236502

Photo by Mitchel Lensink.

It wasn’t until I got a bit older and actually developed a personality outside of my tastes that I realised how silly it is to blanket-hate a genre of music for no other reason that its popularity. Your taste in music means nothing other than which particular vibrations tickle your eardrums. I was denying myself the opportunity to listen to so many great and fun artists for completely arbitrary reasons.

Recently I read a really great article called “The Mozart-like complexity of Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest hits”. Musicology professor Nate Sloan points out that people have a tendency to dismiss pop because a lot of it sounds similar, but that that line of thinking is kind of ridiculous because “musical style is defined by stylistic cohesion. I don’t think it should surprise us that Top 40 has some sonic similarities. But I think the pejorative connotation is undeserved.” The argument of not liking Top 40 because “it all sounds the same” kind of falls flat when you realise that the vocals in every emo/pop punk band are sonically very similar and mostly about grabbing Juliet by the hand and getting out of this town. I’m not hating on that style of music – to be honest, I’m still very much in love with it – but it’s definitely hypocritical to think it’s a superior genre based on that line of thinking.

“Everything Except Country and Rap: What You Really Mean” is another fantastic article, going in-depth about why people dismiss musical genres – specifically here, country and rap. The crux of the argument is that people don’t want to admit to liking music that signals something they perceive as negative, in this case “something other than white, and something lower than middle class“. While dismissing pop music doesn’t have the same racial/classist connotations, it rings true on the representation note – I didn’t want to listen to pop because it signalled that I was similar to other people. At a time in my life when all I wanted was to be different, I hated that thought.

As well as it being unreasonable to not want to be associated with popular taste, it also makes no sense to hope that your favourite artists won’t become popular. Artists can’t survive off indie points – they need radio play, record sales and concerts with more than 20 attendees. Not to mention, even big-name artists don’t often tour NZ – by avoiding pop, I was limiting my choices of live shows, as well as basically hoping my favourites wouldn’t succeed.

I’m 23 now and obviously in a very different place – musically & in every other sense – than I was at 14. Fortunately, I’ve moved well past the “I’m not like other girls!” stage and liking what’s popular no longer seems like a bad thing to me. I’m still a slightly obnoxious indie kid: The Horrors are forever my favourite band, Laneway is definitely the best music festival NZ has to offer, and my iPod is still filled with obscure hipster bands. But I’m not writing off artists for silly reasons anymore – my current favourite playlist has the likes of Kesha & Selena Gomez mixed between CHVRCHES & Chaos Chaos. Yeah, I get sick of hearing the same song over and over again on the radio, but overexposure is not the same as “legitimately terrible”. My musical life has been so much more fun since I realised that.

The story of a blog

As I’ve mentioned a million times, I’ve been feeling super frustrated with the writing process, so it was really lovely to find out that Eliza had nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award! I didn’t realise that blog awards were still a thing because the last one I got was in 2012, but I’m super glad they are coz it totally made my day.

I’m supposed to give a brief story of how my blog started; I outlined the reasons why I made this blog in my first ever post, but basically I was in a cycle of creating blogs, writing one post, deciding I didn’t like the platform so deleting it and starting again. When I finally decided I wanted to make something that would last, I did a lot of research on different blogging platforms before deciding WordPress was the best choice for me. I guess that research paid off, because this blog is the longest running of any of my creative endeavours and even though I don’t write as much as I’d like to, I’m still mad proud of it.

I’m also supposed to give two pieces of advice to new bloggers, which feels a little weird considering I’ve had this blog for 5 years and it’s still just a teeny tiny corner of the internet. One thing that has taken me far too long to realise that if you enjoyed a post, you should comment on it. It doesn’t have to be anything super thoughtful or meaningful – it’s just nice to let someone know “hey, I read your post and I enjoyed it”.

My second piece of advice isn’t technically just for bloggers because I think it applies to everyone: you should record your memories, even if you don’t publish them anywhere. The main thing I’ve gotten out of keeping a blog is that it’s a really great way to remember emotional snapshots and fragments of memories that otherwise you’d have forgotten. When I’m feeling blank or fidgety, I like to read through my old happy lists and remember little things that made me smile.

Even though I’m supposed to finish this off with blogs that I nominate, I’m just going to list some sites & posts that I enjoy (because I love lists, and not all the blogs I love are on WordPress):

July ’17 Favourites

FAMILY + FRIENDS: My niece was born a week ago and is actually adorable – and I’m of the opinion that babies are strange and scary, but she really is so cute. When I was having lunch with my mum the other day, I told her that I thought she was very cute and not weird looking like most new babies and I’m positive the server who came to refill our glasses overheard me, so my local cafe might think I’m a little mean now. As well as becoming a second-time aunt, I also spent a lot of time with my girl friends this month which was lovely – I had no idea it had been so long since I actually hung out with a group of just girls. We played the 2000s edition of Trivial Pursuit and I still managed to lose terribly – I guess I can’t blame it on not knowing 70s trivia anymore.

MOVIES: One of the awesome things about NZ winter is that it’s North American summer, so a ton of wicked movies come out at this time of year. I saw “Baby Driver” on Sunday night and it was fantastic – I’m not really into action movies but this kept me hooked the whole time and was a really great movie – I’d highly recommend seeing it!

(During the intense driving scenes, Lox whispered to me, “Gus has gotten much better at driving” and made me cackle in the theatre.)

MUSIC: Over the past few years, I’ve been becoming less judgemental about music and it’s definitely widened my taste horizons but oh man, even two months ago me is judging this choice – I’m really liking Selena Gomez’s song “Bad Liar”. I don’t think much of her voice or range, and somehow this actually works with that and makes for a really great song. I still feel pretty “meh” about everything else she’s done, but I cannot get this song out of my head (I’ve also had other people who aren’t into her confirm that this is actually a very good song, so I don’t think it’s just a “me” thing either).

THE WEATHER, I GUESS? July has been cold as hell, but interspersed throughout the freezing nights & gale force winds have been the most beautiful, crisp clear days. I’m still super over winter, but having days like this just might tide me through til December: