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.

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.

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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.

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!

New eyes

I didn’t know what to do with myself today. It was Labour Day so I didn’t have work, but I also didn’t have anything to do. I did my washing, I watched (far too many) episodes of Gilmore Girls, I played the ukulele until my uncalloused fingers cried out in defeat. I still felt restless and listless, so I decided the only thing that would save my brain was peach rings (I’m currently ignoring the possibility that they’re made with gelatin because I am too in love with their sugary goodness). On a spur of the moment, I decided to take my polaroid camera out with me and take some pictures of the walk to the store.

I go this route at least three times a week, so I’m well used to it. But there was something about having the intention of taking photos that made it feel different. I’m not saying the walk was magical or that I was overwhelmed with the beauty of mundanity – I’d like to think I’m not that pretentious. But it made me look harder at the things I often noticed but never gave much thought, and to pause when I saw something I thought was beautiful. You can’t capture the moment when you’re always on the move.

I really believe in having reminders of the everyday, of the mundane; maybe that’s why I’m doing my photo-a-day challenge. Taking pictures of a well-trodden path helped remind me how lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful neighbourhood, and (hopefully) will stop me forgetting that fact once I’m no longer here. Life may be a bunch of sequential transient moments, but those moments turn into memories, and memories don’t need to be transient too.

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“Everything”

I was looking through some of my old writings and I came across this:

“It’s funny how when I first saw you, I didn’t like you at all. My changed attitude didn’t creep up on me though. I just realised one day how much you meant. Now you mean everything.”

I stared at the sentence and felt utterly confused. I have absolutely no idea who I am referring to. This baffles me – that sometime within the past couple of years there was someone who clearly meant a lot to me and now I cannot for the life of me figure out who that someone was.

Anything seems important when you’re close to it. It blinkers your vision and fills your thoughts with it solely; nothing else can get through. But time has this strange way of slowly eroding the barriers and showing you the bigger picture, until eventually whatever was consuming your thoughts is tiny, insignificant, forgotten. Someone who means “everything” at one point in time won’t necessarily be there in your future, and you won’t necessarily mind their absence.

Not everything is eternal. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Searching for inspiration

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The wider my eyes are and the harder I look at the world around me, I see that inspiration is in fact everywhere. That there is joy and beauty in the everyday. That if my forgetful 90 year old grandmother can see the wonder of the different colours and textures in something as common as a garden, why can’t we all? Why do we struggle for inspiration and motivation when really, it is everywhere? I think I realise now that you must search for it. Be open to what you discover. Everything is subjective, so everything can be beautiful. We just need to be looking with the right eyes.

A pondering on good and bad

Occasionally when life is not as cruisey as I would like it to be, I start thinking about things far too much. And for some strange reason today, I was pondering about what makes someone good or bad. Is it our thoughts or actions or something else entirely? Like, say you unintentionally find yourself in conversation with someone you find incredibly annoying. In your head you’re saying, “oh my god, please stop talking to me, this is excruciating, leave me alone”. But on the outside you smile, look at them in the eyes and reciprocate their conversational efforts. You’re polite and friendly and leave them feeling better than they did before. So have you just done something good or bad? Is it the thought that counts or the way you chose to act? Are you fake for disliking them internally but acting the opposite when you spoke? Or are you good for being kind to them when you really didn’t want to? My mind is far too full and I am perpetually puzzled.