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):

Things are good

I have a tendency to be an anxious fish. The past few weeks some stressful things happened in life plus I got sick, so I was a little bit of a mess. But I’ve noticed a peacefulness on my head this week which I want to hold onto, so I figured it was a perfect opportunity for another happy things list:

  • My new niece was born a couple of days ago and seeing her at the hospital, just hours after she was born, was the most magical experience.
  • I have plans to see lots of my friends this weekend.
  • Even though I uploaded my cover of “Drive On” a few months ago, I got a nice new comment on it the other day.
  • Photo 22-07-17, 11 52 25 PMOn Saturday, I spent basically the whole day with my beautiful kitty cat.
  • A year ago when I got my first desk job, I put my shoulder out of alignment, probably because of my terrible work posture. Since then it’s been pretty uncomfortable, but I’ve finally started seeing a chiropractor and can feel myself healing. Slowly, but still healing.
  • The other night I had dinner at an awesome restaurant (Great India, if you’re curious – lots of wicked veggie and vegan options).
  • I’ve been with Lox for nearly three years and he still makes me happier than I thought possible.
  • Kesha is releasing new music and I am SO here for it – that ridiculous note in “Praying” and the whole sassy vibe of “Woman” – she’s incredible.
  • Since moving out of home, my mum often comes into town to have lunch with me, so today I had a lovely lunch with her.
  • I just remembered I have half a brownie in my handbag left over from said lunch, so I’m definitely going to eat that now.

Little life update

I have been neglecting not just this blog, but writing in general. I miss it and will find the time to dedicate to it, but in the meantime here is a tiny update of what’s going on in my life:

  • I’ve been at my job for a while now (2 whole months!) so I’m trusted with more which means that my workload has increased a lot. I like work being busy – nothing makes the day drag longer than being at work with nothing to do – but by the time I get home, I’ve got no energy left to do anything but laze in bed and rewatch the terrible perfect nostalgic 00s teen comedies of my childhood. I’m trying to convince myself to start running again but the temptation of watching old MK&A movies is sometimes too much…
  • We are properly into winter in NZ now and I can’t help but notice just how different it is from Canadian winter. The equivalent of this time in Canada, snowbanks were about 2m tall and I couldn’t go outside without gloves if I wanted to retain the use of my hands. In Wellington, I’m just slightly cold and slightly damp.
  • I haven’t eaten meat in an entire year now (in case you’re curious, my final non-vege meal included bacon and it wasn’t good enough to convince me to stay carnivorous). I miss Vancouver’s wicked vege restaurants and I dearly miss Gardein’s crispy tenders, but Wellington is a pretty vege-friendly city (I highly recommend Laundry’s vegan pulled pork burger) and I’ve discovered the joy of Quorn pieces so I’m still loving my diet – plus here I can get a spring roll and chips from the local fish and chips shop for $5, so maybe NZ is the real winner after all.
  • In the three months I’ve been back in NZ, I’m positive I’ve drunk more alcohol than the whole year I was in Canada. I’m not a big drinker by any means, but I can definitely see how drinking culture is wildly different in NZ. While it’s not great, it still doesn’t compare to the ridiculous drinking culture I witnessed on my exchange in England.
  • As I said in my last post, The Horrors finally released some new music and have now announced their upcoming album, V. I am so excited to hear all their new songs but I also feel like a bad fan because even though I love the new single, I hate the album art. I’ve bought every Horrors album (I have Skying and Luminous on vinyl as well in CD form) but I’m feeling like I might have to skip out on getting a physical copy of this one. I know art doesn’t have to be beautiful, but I am not deep or artistic enough to appreciate the art of V.
  • The bed in my not-so-new-anymore flat has a very pronounced bed frame which I keep walking into, so my legs are constantly covered in bruises and it makes me feel like I’m a clumsy 8 year old again.
  • I recently spent the weekend in Auckland and took this picture from the plane, and it reminded me how beautiful the world is in the quiet moments:

I had to wake up at 5 to catch my flight but the sky did this so it's all okay ✈️

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

On My Way Back Home

I haven’t done a life list in so long (probably because I’ve actually been writing real posts about my life) but the times they are a-changing so I wanted to do a quick update post:

  • I leave Canada in four days. My head can’t comprehend that I’ve been here for almost an entire year and that it’s almost over.
  • This also means it’s been nearly a whole year since I’ve driven a car.
  • All the Northern hemisphere blogs I follow keep saying things like “Summer is almost here!” whereas the kiwi ones are saying “Bye summer, see you in December!” Having a real winter with actual snow and freezing temperatures has been really cool, but it’s also felt kind of interminable, and I’m a little gutted that I won’t see summer until the end of this year.
  • I’m really going to miss the awesome veggie restaurants in Vancouver, and the ease with which I can find decent meat alternatives. Gardein crispy tenders, how will I survive without you??
  • I’m also bracing myself for the moment I log into Netflix in NZ and see there are half as many shows available.
  • Canada has been amazing and I’ve loved living here, but I’m so ready to go home. I miss my friends, I miss my cat, I miss my piano, and I really miss Wellington. It’s fun to travel and see new places but I’m convinced Wellington is the best place in the world (especially when I haven’t seen it for a while).
  • I’m a little concerned about how my body will function when I get home. I’ve been road tripping with no real schedule for close to 5 months so I don’t know how I’ll cope with a regular 9-5 job (which, hopefully, won’t take me too long to find).
  • Actually, coffee will help. Delicious, consistently perfect Wellington coffee.
  • Everyone seems to love telling me how difficult it is to find housing in Wellington at the moment, which has to be the least helpful thing you can tell someone who is looking for a place to live. Pro-tip: if someone is about to undertake a task that is possibly difficult, wish them luck and give them optimistic thoughts, instead of a boring and unhelpful “that’s going to be really hard, you probably won’t find anything”.
  • I’ve essentially only hung out with Lox for the past year so I’m going to have to make sure I haven’t got too weird and I’m actually still okay to be around. He still likes me when I’m mean and grumpy but other people probably won’t.
  • The title of this post is, unsurprisingly, a song title from a band I’ve seen live, and I’m really hoping some decent concerts will be happening in NZ this year.
  • In 5 days I reunite with this tiny man and I am so excited to see him again:

🐱 #mactomnom

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

Dreaming of a White Christmas

All my life I’ve wanted to experience a white Christmas. The Northern Hemisphere idea of Christmas permeates culture everywhere, so much so that typical emblems of the holiday are basically synonymous with winter. And now, I’m in Canada and it’s Christmas Eve, there’s snow outside, the temperature essentially demands you wear that ridiculous jumper – and it just doesn’t feel at all like Christmas to me.

Something that I probably should have realised is that traditions are a big part of how you define things. To me, Christmas has never been about snowflakes and woolly jumpers – it’s been about 25°C sunshine, being mildly annoyed about waking up at 8 to go to church, sleeveless dresses, the inevitable game of backyard cricket, pohutukawas in full bloom, and being surrounded by all of my family. It’s lovely here in Ottawa (plus our Airbnb has 4 cats, a definite bonus), but it doesn’t feel any different to any other day. I’m excited to finally get my white Christmas, but I’m preparing myself for the homesickness that’s bound to hit pretty hard tomorrow.

Merry Christmas 🎁🎅🏽🎄 #flossumthepossum

A post shared by Clemmie (@seaalley) on

Nobody likes you when you’re 23

The title of this post is purely because I just turned 23 and I love making somewhat relevant musical references, not because I feel unloved. If there is another song referencing being 23, please let me know so I can expand my age-related references!

This birthday felt like a lot of firsts. I’ve never had a birthday anywhere other than Wellington, NZ. Every birthday has been prefaced with a prayer for clear skies, which was usually answered. This year, for the first time, I had my birthday in winter, complete with an opaque white sky and even snow (snow is still so exciting to me – you can’t understand how exciting snow is unless you’ve grown up in a place where it doesn’t happen). Lox and I are currently in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so we spent the day at the Assiniboine Park Zoo where I saw polar bears for the first time ever, as well as arctic foxes, sloths, and sleepy red pandas.

For my birthday dinner, we went to Boon Burger, a vegan burger place, which was exactly what my heart craved. In keeping with the theme of first times, it was the first birthday I’ve spent as a vegetarian, and I’m still totally happy with this new-for-me lifestyle. We finished the festivities with ice cream, which wasn’t new, but it was perfect.

As I’ve always been home for my birthday, this was also the first year where I didn’t spend it with my family. My parents FaceTimed me while visiting my grandmother with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, so I still got to see most of my family. I also usually spend the day with friends – being a kiwi with a December birthday means classes are usually done, so my friends and I are nearly always free – so it was also a little different to not see anyone other than Lox (fortunately, I’m a little bit fond of him, so it wasn’t a bad difference).

I don’t know exactly what 23 holds for me, but I’m looking forward to the vague plans I have for it. I have a few months left in Canada, a whirlwind European holiday, and then back to reality in NZ – where I will continue figuring out what on earth I want to do with my life.

Road tripping around Canada: The Prairies

Whenever I told anyone that Lox & I were going to drive across Canada, every person said to get out of the prairies as soon as possible (as well as “Oh, it’ll be cold!”, as if we were unaware that Canada gets cold in the winter). Everyone had sold the “flat, boring” prairies as the worst part of Canada, so much so that I was actually really excited to see them.

We left the beautiful Banff for Calgary, and noted along the drive that everything seemed to vanish around us. The hills slowly flattened and sunk into the ground, letting us see hundreds of kilometres into the distance. The flatness was so absolute that my first impression of Calgary was a vague sense of feeling unsettled, though I got used to it pretty fast – you kind of have no choice, as there is nothing else around. The highlight of Calgary, aside from the three cats at our Airbnb, was going to Studio Bell, which is like a museum dedicated to Canadian music. As well as learning a ton about Canadian musicians (Alanis Morissette is Canadian?), they also had a few different pianos on display (including the white piano that Elton John composed “Your Song” on!) and tech stations where you could practice mixing tracks.

We then headed to Drumheller, population: 8000, and known as the Dinosaur Capital of the World. We went solely to go to the Royal Tyrell Museum because we are both mentally 8 years old and dinosaurs are still so exciting. It’s a fantastic museum with a lot of really astounding fossils, so if you’re a dinosaur nerd/were ever an excitable child, you’d absolutely love this place.

img_0191

Drumheller was also great because it had hills. Dinosaur Valley is obviously not flat so I immediately felt much more at ease. I didn’t realise just how much hills meant to me ’til we were surrounded by them again. NZ is mainly mountains and volcanoes, so evidently I need some variation in the landscape to feel at home. But we didn’t stay in the hills for long – Edmonton was calling our names.

We spent most of our time there at the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America. Often being in a big city will highlight to me how little NZ is, and this mall really brought the message home. In my experience, a mall is a place with lots of clothing stores, a foodcourt (just one), the odd café, and there might be a movie theatre if you’re really lucky. The West Edmonton Mall has all the normal features of a mall, plus a theme park, a waterpark, an ice rink, two mini golf courses, an aquarium, a bowling alley, a mirror maze, and a hotel. We got two-day passes and managed to see pretty much everything the mall had on offer, including riding the world’s largest indoor rollercoaster, which we later learned crashed in the ’80s – pretty glad I didn’t know about that beforehand.

Saskatchewan was next, so we spent the past few days in Saskatoon doing very little, other than see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (non-spoiler thoughts: overall it was very good, I loved the costumes, Eddie Redmayne was great, disappointed in the Grindelwald casting, also I would like a niffler please), and we’re now in Regina. The prairies have definitely not been terribly boring like I was led to believe, but I wouldn’t want to stick around for long – I’ve discovered I really love my hills.