“Michicant” cover & remembering how to piano

Coming back to NZ meant reuniting with my lovely piano, which I missed dearly. Any time I found a piano in Canada I played it, but that only amounted to about 10 times (strangely enough, you don’t often find pianos just hanging around) so I’ve been super excited to actually have regular access to a piano again.

The other day I had a full face of makeup on because I had a job interview, so I figured it was the perfect time to finally record a cover on the piano. Despite the fact that I’ve been playing since I was 9 years old and I know this song like the back of my hand, I spent an hour messing it up and cursing at myself. Eventually I remembered how to piano, but I was frustrated enough to not feel self conscious talking to the camera, so please enjoy the sound of both my talking voice and (hopefully) my singing voice in this cover of my favourite Bon Iver song:

EDIT (11/4): Clearly I’ve been away from the piano far too long because I published this under the wrong song name initially. Woops.

Am I a good person or am I just lazy?

While catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen since before I left for Canada, I mentioned that I was now a vegetarian. When she asked me why, I explained that my flat in Vancouver didn’t have any decent appliances to cook meat so it felt like an unnecessary expense. Eventually, I found I didn’t miss it so fully embraced the vegetarian lifestyle.

It made me realise that a lot of the decisions I’m proud of and that I associate with my identity are not necessarily because I’m a good person or intent on breaking societal expectations – they’re mostly due to laziness.

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I’m a vegetarian – because animals are cute, but mainly because I hate the way raw meat feels and cooking it is a lot more effort than cooking veges. You won’t get sick if you undercook a carrot, but that pink chicken on the other hand…

I don’t shave my legs – partly because I think the societal expectation that women need to shave their legs is ridiculous, but also because I really hate shaving. One time I shaved my legs after 6 months of not doing so, and it took me half an hour to achieve dolphin-level smoothness. I’m now going on a year and a half of leg-hair growth and I really don’t have the time to spend forty five minutes removing it (not to mention 5 minutes every week keeping it at bay).

I use a Diva Cup – because it’s better for the environment, but really its major upside is you don’t need to change it multiple times a day. Put it in in the morning and take it out 10 hours later – that’s it. Plus one menstrual cup lasts several years and you better believe I’m too lazy to buy pads and tampons on the regular.

It extends past those examples. I often catch the bus because then I don’t need to spend time finding a carpark. I don’t wear a bra much because putting one on adds about 30 seconds to my morning routine. I prefer hanging washing on the line because I don’t really know how to use the dryer. I go barefaced 90% of the time because I hate taking makeup off in the evening when I’m sleepy and want to go straight to bed. I’ve had the same phone for close to 4 years because the effort involved in getting a new phone feels like a little too much.

I love knowing that my choices are good for the environment and I love feeling that I’m not subscribing to all the beauty rules women are tacitly told to follow. And while I’m proud of these little decisions I make in my life, I’d be lying if I said it took a lot of effort. When it comes to school or work, I put in all the effort, but in my everyday life I crave laziness and downtime. Sure, I’m motivated by the thought that my choices make a difference in the world, but I think I’m equally motivated by knowing those choices are actually easier for me than the alternative.

Here’s to living a sustainable, defiant lifestyle with minimal effort – and if you have suggestions for more ways I can be both lazy and efficient, let me know!

March ’17 Favourites

March has been a ridiculously full on month. I started the month skiing in Banff and now, more than 12 000 km later, I’m back in New Zealand. I’m happy to be home but I’m also exhausted because my body thinks I’m still in Pacific Time and I now need to find work and a place to live – fingers crossed that April will bring me some good news in that department. I feel like a years’ worth of things happened in March but here are some highlights:

VANCOUVER: Despite its reputation as being constantly rainy (which is mostly accurate), Vancouver had the most beautiful weather when we left. The clouds skirted away and the snow of the previous weeks melted, giving us the first blue sky and sunlit warmth we’d experienced in a long time. Our final day we had brunch out and then wandered the Granville Island market, Vancouver ensuring it was hard for us to say goodbye.

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The view of Vancouver from Granville Island

NEW ZEALAND: Lox and my homecoming wasn’t nearly as lovely as I had hoped because Wellington saw literally the worst traffic ever on the morning of our return, so no one was waiting for us at the airport. Having been out of the country for a year, neither of us had a working cellphone so we spent the first 15 minutes of our arrival feeling very abandoned and very confused. Eventually, Lox connected to the airport wifi and my parents called him through Messenger, letting us know that the traffic meant they had moved only about 500m in the past 2 hours, so it was basically impossible for them to pick us up. Despite the lack of an emotional homecoming, it was so good being back in Windy Wellington, driving along the harbour, seeing our hills (somehow greener than anywhere else I’ve ever been), and now we have a story to tell about our return home. It’s been really great catching up with people who I haven’t seen in forever and I’m so happy to be back here (and I’m so happy to be drinking our tap water again wow).

MUSIC: I wasn’t sure if I liked Lorde’s new song when I first heard it. It’s so different from anything on Pure Heroine that it felt wrong. The song has grown on me and now I realised I do like it, it just doesn’t quite feel like a Lorde song. Despite my initial doubt about it, I fell absolutely in love with this cover of “Green Light”, I can’t stop listening to it:

TV: I am several years late to the party, but I have been loving “The Mindy Project”. It’s super refreshing watching a show where I actually relate to the protagonist – I see so much of myself in Mindy and her insecurities and I love it. I left Canada with about 6 episodes left of the most recent season, so I’m hoping kiwi Netflix will be a bro and get the rights to it soon.

CATS: No surprises here. I was so happy that Tom still loved me when I came back and I’ve spent the past week reminding him that, despite the awesome Airbnb cats I met, he’s my number one (I am aware that it’s weird to talk about your cat like that, but hey, I’ve never pretended I’m not weird about my cat):

Canada, I’ll miss you, but New Zealand, I’m so happy to be back.

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

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On body positivity

First off, let me be clear – I am all for the body positivity movement. I am a feminist and I have a body – there’s no way I could be against it. How could I not support a movement that aims to lift people of all sizes into the spotlight and show that not only proportionate size 6 blondes are beautiful? I think it’s wonderful that social media has given people a platform to show off the fact that beauty doesn’t have to come in the narrowly prescribed ideal.

I have a lot of privileges: I’m white, I’m young, I’m able-bodied, I’m middle-class, I’m fairly average size-wise. In most ways, I see myself represented all around. The body positivity movement faces criticism for not including more people outside of these categories – for example, disabled people are constantly left out of these conversations. I can’t speak for them (though here is a good article on that subject) but I can speak about my own experience of something I feel that body positivity is ignoring.

Acne.

People see pimples and either assume hormonal teenager or unhealthySomeone who eats too much chocolate and drinks too much soda. Someone who doesn’t wash their face properly. Someone who doesn’t take care of themselves.

Like most people, I had acne as a teenager. And when I left puberty behind, my skin cleared up. Aha, I thought, I’ve finally grown out of it! Which, sadly, was not the case. I was blessed with a couple of years of calm skin, only to have my hormones freak out on me at age 20 for no discernible reason. It is incredibly frustrating thinking you’ve outgrown acne, only to have it rear its head again as an adult. Now, at age 23, it’s calming down again, but I’m still left with scars and hyperpigmentation that make my bare face far from clear.

I see body positivity videos and articles proclaiming titles like I finally feel good at my size – and you can too! And I am truly so happy that they exist, and that the authors found beauty in themselves. But it’s hard to take the message that I too can overcome my insecurities when I cannot think of single example of a person with acne portrayed positively. Having a pimple is either a punchline or plot device in tv shows. Characters with acne are coded as ugly in novels. The only people who get any kind of public acknowledge of having acne seem to be YouTubers who offer tutorials on how to cover it up. I’m not saying that those tutorials are bad (totally the opposite, I love me a beauty guru who gets my skin). All I’m saying is that it’s hard to feel comfortable – let alone beautiful – when society tells me my skin is ugly. If flawless skin is smooth and even, I am flawed.

Maybe it’s selfish of me to want more space for myself in a movement, because it’s obvious that society has already carved out plenty of spaces for me to exist in. But I still don’t think that there is a space for this particular part of my identity – my acne and my scars – to exist openly. I want to feel like it’s okay to have skin that doesn’t look perfectly airbrushed. I want a world that doesn’t tell us there is only one way to be beautiful.

*In case anyone is wondering – I am not unhealthy. I promise you that I take excellent care of my health and body. This is just how my skin is. I really don’t want any recommendations for what I could be doing, because that’s not the point of this post and honestly, I’ve probably already tried it and it didn’t work.

February ’17 Favourites

LUCK: Right now we’re in Banff again, getting a few days skiing in before heading back to BC. Banff is continuing its trend of being the best place ever – after our first night, we went to the front desk at our hotel because our key card wasn’t working. Instead of replacing our card, they upgraded us to the “King Jacuzzi Fireplace Suite”. The biggest thing I’ve ever won is a free coffee from Tim Hortons and I have never ever been upgraded, so I am beyond stoked to have a fancy room for no extra cost. It also has a ridiculously beautiful view – when I look out the window, I’m greeted by mountain. I’m pretty sure Banff is the most beautiful place in the world, I don’t think I could love it more if I tried.

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The view from my hotel room

MUSIC: I know she’s been around for awhile, but I only just discovered dodie and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her music. “Sick of Losing Soulmates” was the first song I heard and adored, but I think “When” is my absolute favourite. She’s already super popular but if you haven’t already heard of her, you should absolutely check her out because her music is lovely and heartfelt.

COFFEE: In Vancouver, I searched for the best coffee and thought I found it. But despite being my least favourite Canadian city, Toronto actually has the best coffee in Canada. Technically I discovered Fahrenheit coffee last month, but I did visit it again this month so I’m classifying it as a February favourite (plus it’s so unreasonably good, I really needed to mention it here at least once).

TRAVEL: I’ve been in three different countries this month (Canada, Iceland, and the Netherlands) and now I’m hyperaware of the fact that in less than 3 weeks I’ll be in New Zealand. It feels very strange knowing I’ll be home soon but also pretty welcome – Canada is cool, but wow do I miss my cat.

Going Dutch

On Saturday afternoon, exhausted from flying and from our chronic lack of sleep in Iceland, Lox and I arrived in Amsterdam. We basically crashed as soon as we checked into our hotel, but the next day we woke up suitably refreshed and decided to explore the city. Amsterdam is one of those places that is unreasonably beautiful without even trying. I took the picture below with no filter, no fancy camera, and no real skills – just pointing my phone vaguely in the direction of the pretty view gave me this result:

🇳🇱 #amsterdam #netherlands #nofilter

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Throughout our time in Amsterdam, we covered basically everything you could want to do there. We’re both John Green fans, so we spent an afternoon scoping out the filming sites from The Fault in Our Stars movie. When we found the bench, there were a bunch of other people taking photos by it, plus some people had attached padlocks to it, turning it into a kind of lock-bridge-bench. Later in the week, we visited the Anne Frank Museum, also featured in the movie. We booked the Introductory Programme because regular tickets were sold out (pro-tip: book well in advance!), and even though it was more expensive, I’m so glad we did. Hearing someone speak about her life instead of just reading about it on the wall was so moving. I’m the sort of person who cries about old teddy bears so I’m a mess when it comes to things like the Holocaust. I can’t really say anything about it that hasn’t been said before, so all I’m going to do is urge you to visit if you ever have the chance, and also to be aware that things like that are still happening and could still happen.

On a more cheerful note, Valentine’s Day fell about halfway through our time in Amsterdam. Neither of us is that fussed with the day, but we decided we should probably do something for it, so we booked ourselves a cruise through the canals (pro-tip: a cruise with a bunch of other people is much cheaper than a private gondola ride). This was a super cheap and convenient way to see the whole city, plus it continued the trend of Amsterdam being unreasonably beautiful. We continued the day by going to Madame Tussauds. It wasn’t highly recommended in lists of things to do in Amsterdam, but Lox had never been to one before and I’d only been to the one in Vegas. It boasted a pretty large collection and was actually a really good time. We finished off the day by wandering around the Red Light District – perhaps not the most romantic way to round off Valentine’s Day, but it seemed like something you had to do while there, and the neighbourhood itself had quite a cool vibe to it, similar to Commercial-Broadway area in Vancouver.

We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, which was probably what I was most excited about. If I haven’t mentioned it enough, I’m a giant art history nerd and adore Impressionism/Post-Impressionism. Van Gogh in particular holds my heart – there is no one whose art compares and whose story rips apart my heart more. He’s often associated with French artists because he spent a lot of time in Paris, but he was Dutch so I was super excited to see how he was commemorated in his own country. The museum was set out in a way that beautifully told his story and contained most of my favourites, and I possibly teared up when I actually saw the Almond Blossoms painting (the header of this blog). We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the art but I did get a picture of his actual paints and palette, as well as a selfy in front of a screen showing his most noted works. Later when we walked around the city, any mention of Van Gogh rendered me slightly useless as I stared at it sadly.

All up, we spent 6 days in Amsterdam which felt like the perfect amount of time. There was nothing that I felt I missed out on or anything that I wished I could have done. I also felt totally safe there, despite its reputation as a place of debauchery. Only one person on the street offered us drugs (which we politely declined), but there was actually very little evidence of anything even vaguely illicit. In all honesty, Vancouver is much sketchier and has a much stronger marijuana presence (read: “smell”) than Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city and if you ever get the chance, you need to visit it. If you have been before, or want to visit, tell me about it or ask me any questions!