Thankful

img_9620Canadian October feels strange to me – I’m used to October holding longer days, temperamental spring weather, and not much else. Obviously, the seasons here are flipped, but even North American fall is a far cry from NZ autumn. I’ve never felt the change in seasons so distinctly, or seen leaves with such vibrantly different colours. (I also never realised that those giant orange pumpkins were what pumpkins actually look like over here.) October in Canada also means Thanksgiving, a tradition that doesn’t exist in NZ. I know Thanksgiving doesn’t have the prettiest history, but I think the idea of a holiday based on being thankful is really beautiful, so here are some of the things that I’m thankful for:

  • Minus the turkey, most Thanksgiving food is actually completely vegetarian-friendly (I think yam fries are my new favourite thing), and on Friday night I had a delicious meal with my flatmates (and I had tofurkey and didn’t feel left out at all!).
  • My flatmates are a really great group of people, and I don’t think I could have been luckier to fall into this living situation.
  • Pumpkin pie.
  • On Monday, a friend of mine hosted a vegan Thanksgiving, and it was really cool to try a bunch of foods I ordinarily wouldn’t – who knew that vegan ice cream was actually almost as good as the real thing?
  • I’ve been working in a really cool job with a wonderful team.
  • Fuzzy socks.
  • After many years of struggle, I think I’ve finally mastered how to french plait my own hair.
  • I’ve spent the past 6 months living in a beautiful, vibrant city that has so much life (as well offering so much delicious food – I’ll definitely need to do a food post about Vancouver soon!).
  • Tim Horton’s double doubles.
  • Even though it’s still a ways off, I’m excited about how my life will be when I’m back in NZ.
  • I can afford to travel the world with my favourite person and I cannot wait for our next adventures.

Vancouver living

I’ve been in Vancouver for half a year now, which means my working holiday is halfway over, and that there are only six months left until I head home. This post is kind of a little life update, as well as some of the things I’m feeling about this strange and beautiful city:

  • October is my last month in Vancouver, after which Lox and I will head off into the great unknown (which means travel around the country, take pretty pictures of the Canadian landscape, and hopefully find work in a mountain town).
  • This also means that I have just over 2 weeks left at my current job, which is conflicting because I really like my work and my coworkers, but simultaneously I’m so excited to take time off from having responsibilities and to spend all my time exploring this country with my love.
  • I made a reservation at the Catfe (exactly what it sounds like) and even though it’s not for three weeks yet, I am so pumped.
  • Over the weekend I went to the Whitecaps v Colorado game, and despite the fact I’m not into sports and know next-to-nothing about soccer, it was actually really fun (I particularly enjoyed how, in true Canadian style, the commentator thanked the crowd for cheering, and in return the crowd yelled back “you’re welcome!”).
  • I was super excited about having access to makeup brands that we don’t get in NZ, but I’m scared of falling in love with a product I can’t easily get back home, so I haven’t bought any ~fancy makeup since arriving here.
  • It’s only just turned Autumn, but it is already getting really cold, and I’m just realising that I mainly packed summer clothes and my winter wardrobe is woefully inadequate.
  • The leaves changing colour gets me way too excited – I didn’t realise just how much of NZ foliage is evergreen.
  • Vancouver is both weird and wonderful, and it’s strange thinking it won’t be my home for much longer.

#nofilter because Vancouver doesn't need one ⚓️

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Little things

I had a couple of very frustrating things happen this week – ultimately unimportant and inconsequential, but frustrating nonetheless – and I don’t want to let that taint my memory of the past 7 days, so here is a list of little things that were actually really great this week:

  • Canada’s public holidays are spread out so that there is essentially one every month – I haven’t even been at my job for a full three months, but there have been three public holidays since I started – so on Monday I slept in and had brunch with my housemates.
  • I got some really lovely comments about my newest cover.
  • On Wednesday Lox and I had dinner at Dark Table, a restaurant that is entirely pitch black; not a glimmer of light anywhere. Eating when you can’t see anything started off being incredibly stressful but I eventually relaxed into it. There was nothing else to focus on but the food, so the tastes felt much more intense (though it was a bit of a surprise when I realised I had finished my meal and was futilely stabbing my fork into empty plate).
  • A few days ago I bought a new notebook to inspire me to write more creative pieces, and I’ve actually made a start on coming up with some ideas that I’m really excited about.
  • I stumbled upon Wildlife Aid, the most beautiful Youtube channel ever, and spent Friday night happy-crying and in awe of this wonderful human saving the lives of animals:

  • Lox often works late, so I’ve been binge-watching Gilmore Girls on nights where I’m alone. Somehow I missed watching this show when it actually aired, so I haven’t seen it before. I get really anxious and involved in stories, so Gilmore Girls has been quite calming to watch as it has such low-levels of drama (probably an odd thing to praise in a show). In weeks like this where I have my own dramas going on, watching this show definitely didn’t add to my stress and made me feel much more relaxed.
  • I got to FaceTime with my mum, brother, and cat, and I’m positive they all still love me and miss me.
  • The train station by work is a Pokemon hotbed and this week I caught enough Eevee to get my first Vaporeon (called Ariel, because obviously).
  • On Saturday I went to Lynn Canyon Park and recreated the Pinterest picture that made me fall in love with Vancouver:

🌲

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  • I could only think of a couple of happy little things when I decided to write this list, so I’m thankful that more moments sprung to mind while writing. My happy lists hold a lot of little memories I probably wouldn’t remember otherwise and I’m going to endeavour to write them more often, so I don’t let my happy fade away.

Grindin’ the Grouse

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not at all athletic (in this post from 2012 I said I had never been to a gym and that is still completely true), so I’m not sure quite what I was thinking when I agreed to do the Grouse Grind with Lox.

For those who don’t know, the Grouse Grind is a trail up the front of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver – 2.9 kilometres made up of 2830 steps, with an elevation gain of 853 metres. Pretty different from my usual choice of activity, but it was on every ‘things to do in Vancouver’ list, so two Saturdays ago, Lox and I made the journey out to North Van to tackle the Grouse.

I spent the first half hour sure I was dying. Like I said, I’m not athletic but I do a fair bit of incidental exercise, so I thought I’d be mostly physically prepared. Perhaps unsurprisingly, walking to and from the train station everyday doesn’t exactly prepare you for two hours of constant climbing. Within 10 minutes, I was struggling to breathe and doubting my ability to continue. But I had said I would do it and I don’t like to be wrong (plus the sign at the start said there was no turning back), so I told my lungs to toughen up and forced myself to continue.

Fortunately throughout the hike, there were markers so we could tell how far we had left. The closer we got to the end, the more determined I was. I think eventually my body stopped freaking out about all the unexpected exercise, like my brain told it, “we don’t like it but she doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, better not let her die”. After 3 hours (2 actually spent moving; I needed a lot of rest stops), we finally reached the top. All I wanted to do was collapse and eat everything, so it seemed kind of cruel that the cafe was up a flight of stairs. Though by that point I was kind of numb, so the only thing I felt was overwhelming relief.

The Grind was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I can’t say I recommend it to anyone – I’m more into food and music recommendations – but if, for some reason, you decide that you’re into grindin’ the Grouse, I have a few tips:

  • Bring plenty of food and water (my 500ml drink bottle was woefully inadequate).
  • Wear appropriate clothing, especially footwear. The amount of people wearing Vans made my feet have sympathy pangs.
  • If you’re going to listen to music, listen through headphones. Don’t be that asshole (there were 5 on my hike!) who blasts their music for everyone to hear. It’s a dick move and, honestly, feels a little sacrilegious when you’re surrounded by nature.
  • Don’t get to the halfway point and turn around: 1) You’re halfway, you’re not saving yourself any distance by turning around now; 2) The Grind is steep; you will destroy your knees by walking downhill; 3) It’s literally not allowed. It’s dangerous and annoying and against the rules. On that note…
  • Read the sign at the entrance of the climb that says what’s allowed before starting. It’s not there for bonus reading material.

Despite my gripes, it was all up a great experience and something I’m super proud of completing. And something that I will happily never do again.

Sometimes travel is hard

After four years of study and twenty years living in the same place, I left my beautiful New Zealand for a year of the unknown in Canada. I felt like I was suffocating in Wellington and desperately needed a change of scenery. I still love Wellington and think it’s probably the best place in the world, but adventure was calling. I needed a new chapter to start, and that chapter couldn’t be in New Zealand. It’s been nearly four months since I landed in Canada and, for the most part, I’m doing really well.

But sometimes being away from home is so hard.

Last week, my grandma died. I’d known when I left NZ that it was possible that she wouldn’t be there when I got back, but that didn’t make it any less of a shock or any less hard when I found out she was actually gone. Knowing I couldn’t be there to say goodbye to her or to be with my family felt awful. Along with that, several people who are important to me are going through hard times, and I can’t be there to support them. And today I found out that one of my cats died (the artistic and photogenic Tim Tam).

I’m loving this little life I’m building in Vancouver. I’m living with the love of my life, I’ve found a job I actually enjoy, and I’m relishing the fact that I’m doing everything on my own terms. But it’s hard to focus on all the beautiful things happening here when there is so much happening back home that I can’t do anything about. While Skype and Messenger are wonderful, they’re no replacement for a shoulder to cry on or a cuddle with your old cat.

Version 2

Everything’s not lost

I’ve always been good at dwelling on the bad – and I feel like there’s so much bad going on in the world right now – but whenever I feel like this, I try to make lists of all the good in my life so that I can remember that everything’s not lost:

  • I somehow ended up in a really great workplace so even though I hate waking up at 6.45am, I don’t hate going to work
  • My favourite part about commuting is that on the outside I look like a young professional so no one can tell that I’m secretly listening to Cute Is What We Aim For
  • I have unreasonably generous co-workers who are constantly bringing treats to the office and giving me food to take home
  • My parents are coincidentally in Canada so I’ve been able to see them for the first time in three months
  • Dad saved leftovers from our dinner out and gave them to a homeless woman and I’ve never seen someone look so surprised and grateful
  • Next week I’m going to Vegas with my parents (!!) and we’ve got tickets to see Britney Spears and I’m probably going to cry (fun fact: Britney’s “Oops!… I Did It Again” album was the first cassette tape I ever bought. Not CD. Cassette tape.)
  • I get to wake up next to my favourite person every day
  • Lox and I are now living as “casual vegetarians” which means that we’ve mostly cut meat from our diet (but we don’t feel guilty if we don’t stick to it too closely) and we’re eating so well that I don’t feel like I’m missing anything
  • We found a brand of fakon that tastes 90% like real bacon and I’m thoroughly impressed with it (Yves Veggie Bacon Strips , if you’re wondering)
  • For the first time in my life, I’m completely responsible for myself – my rent, my food, my everything – and I’m loving it
  • So far I’ve only forgotten to take a picture for my photo-a-day challenge 3 times, which, over the course of half a year, is pretty impressive
  • Somehow this quick picture I took of the cherry blossoms in Vancouver ended up getting over 3000 notes on tumblr:

  • I am safe, generally healthy, mostly happy. I can’t ask for much more than that.

Ellie Goulding On My Mind

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been in Canada, and (other than a drunk man yelling at me at 10am) everything has been unnervingly wonderful. And when I found out that Ellie Goulding was playing a show in Vancouver, I thanked the stars for aligning and decided I needed to see her. My concert game has been pretty weak lately as I’ve been in constant saving mode (moving to the other side of the world is expensive!), so I was excited to finally see a show again. I was especially stoked to see that the kiwi band Broods was opening – back home I once very nearly went to one of their tiny shows, but uni work proved too much so I wasn’t able to go – so another reason why I needed to see this show. Despite some difficulties in buying tickets (can someone please replace Ticketmaster with something actually functional?), I managed to nab two seats for relatively cheap.

The tickets said 7pm and, unusually for a concert, the lights dimmed as soon as it hit 7 and Broods came on. I was really impressed with their set. I wouldn’t have thought that their sound translated well on stage, but they sounded fantastic, especially as they were the openers and opening acts have a history of slightly dodgy sound. I was sitting pretty far away so I couldn’t really see them (the screens were only used during Ellie’s set), but I could still tell that they had great energy. When I was looking up the music video, I saw Broods described as “dream pop” which is pretty accurate. They’ve got a very synth-based sound and a little Lorde-esque (probably because they have the same producer, Joel Little), so if you like music you can dance to, I totally recommend them. I feel second-hand pride whenever kiwis do well, and my bet is that Broods is soon going to blow up in popularity.

It wasn’t long after Broods finished that Ellie’s set started. When I saw that she had backing singers and several dancers, I realised that I’d actually never been to an actual pop concert before. I’ve definitely seen pop artists play live, but seeing a whole show with costume changes and dance routines was really different and really cool.

She mainly played songs off her new album, but she did play a few older songs, including “Figure 8” and “Burn”, which are probably my favourite songs of hers. I’m definitely an Ellie fan and I like listening to her songs, but they were so much more fun live. I’m not that into some of her big songs, like “On My Mind” and “Anything Could Happen”, but seeing them live just made me want to dance and sing along. While most of it was pretty high energy, at one point she got her guitar and played a stripped down version of “Devotion”. It was a nice reminder that she is actually a really accomplished musician and, in my opinion, made the song feel so much more sincere and emotional than the album version.

A particular favourite moment of mine was when she was introducing the song “Army”. She said that her best friend is so important in her life and always there for her, so she wrote a song about their friendship. When she sang, pictures of the two of them played on the screen behind her and it seemed so genuine and lovely.

Throughout her set, she chatted with the audience and made unintentional jokes and she seemed to be a really sweet person. It was a fantastic show – her voice is great live and I applaud her fitness levels (it was very high energy). Having Broods as the opener was a great way to start the night, and Ellie killed it – she was truly amazing.