I think I am hilarious.

My name is Natalie. I live and study in Toronto.
I really do think I am hilarious. Sorry.
Not Sorry.

Five seconds after a collision between me on my bike and a woman in her car at Bloor and Avenue:

  • Driver: Oh my god, I am SO sorry. Are you okay!?
  • Me: Yes, yes, I'm fine! Oh my god, I hope your car is okay! I am so sorry!
  • Driver: No, no, I don't care about that -- I'M sorry! Are you sure you're fine? This was totally my fault!
  • Me: Yes, everything's fine! It was kind of my fault too! I'm sorry!
  • ~*~ Canadian stereotypes, wuddup ~*~

I love this city, but I feel like my relationship with it is slowly starting to sour.

It happens in little things from time to time, but it’s kind of building up.  

I love this city more than words can say.  I love it.  I love it so, so much.  I love biking down Markham street when the sunlight splotches are all over the road and the trees are green and the air is fragrant.  I love being able to bike down to Harbourfront and sit on the benches by the water and sip iced coffee and read and watch tourists clamber onto the boats.  I love Kensington Market and buying weird new food I’ve never seen before (white grapefruit!  kohlrabi!  seaweed snacks!).  I love working on Church street and I love my bosses and co-workers and customers.  I love being on the subway in the winter at 7 in the morning and watching people all bundled up and still sleepy, holding their lunch bags and going off to work.  I love going to see movies that aren’t playing anywhere else in the country and sometimes having almost an entire theatre completely to myself at the little cinema on College and Yonge.  I really do love this city.

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But there are these little things, and they happen here and there, and they make me so sad and like maybe this city isn’t the healthiest place for me to be in.

I was unlocking my bike at Bloor and Palmerston and I overheard two women talking as they passed behind me, and one of them said to the other, “Yeah, it’s cortisol — cortisal is what makes fat happen.”  As they passed me, I peeked over my shoulder to look at them, and as they walked away from me, the one woman gestured to the area around her stomach and hips and said, “See?  All of this.  All of this fat is from cortisol.”  Both women looked like straight-up models — they were much taller than me and much thinner than me, and it made me feel so sad that that is just an everyday conversation.  I know it’s not tied directly to Toronto, but I feel like in this city, there’s such an emphasis on appearance.

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Last September, I noticed a GAP ad on a bus shelter at Hoskin and St. George, which is right in the very heart of U of T, and it featured an incredibly thin woman in a bikini and you could see her ribs.  I hate the whole “real women have curves!” campaign because I have friends that are five foot nine and they will eat all day long and still have ‘model’ figures because hey!  Bodies are different and some bodies metabolize things faster and others don’t and some people have boobs and others don’t and some people have more muscular thighs or flat feet or tiny waists or whatever and they’re all important and worthy and lovely.  But still — I found it a bit icky to have put such an image in the heart of a university campus, where a huge chunk of the population is young women and men and it might affect them in certain ways.

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There’s more to this all, though.

I’m just feeling tired of the city, I think.

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I love Toronto, but it’s fast-paced.  And it’s competitive.  I am constantly in a rush.  I am constantly anxious.  I have trouble sleeping a lot.  I worry about what I should be doing.  I worry about being successful and impressive.  I am so afraid of missing opportunities and chances that sometimes I just shut down and actively avoid them.

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I am surrounded by some of the greatest things and people in the world, and I feel so much pressure to be one of the greatest as well, and it makes me want to crumple up and go away, sometimes.

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Sometimes, it’s amazing being able to interact with a professor that’s one of the world’s most treasured and respected Jane Austen scholars, and then go for sushi with friends, and then catch a cheap comedy night at Comedy Bar in the evening, laughing over a pint of Mill Street.  But sometimes, you’ll get a low grade on a paper and while you’re biking home a taxi will cut you off and make you swerve and almost fall off your bike and then you’ll want to do your laundry but the machines in your building are being used all night long and you’ll ache for the sound of the sea and you’ll feel this resentment kind of bubbling up inside of you.  

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I know that my anxiety and my own issues aren’t tied to Toronto, but sometimes, I really wonder what kind of person I would be living somewhere else.

Today I went on a brunch date

with some guy and I’m gonna call him Ted even though Ted wasn’t his name.  But like, picture a guy called Ted, and that’s pretty much the personality equivalent of the dude I hung out with.  He had the personality of unsalted potatoes.  If he was a pair of pants, he’d be khakis.  If you asked him what his favourite TV show was, he’d say Wheel of Fortune.

I don’t think I’m some exciting wildchild, but like, I’m pretty sure I can lead an animated conversation — but trying to get a conversation flowing this morning was like trying to stuff toothpaste back into the tube it was squeezed out of.  Just impossible.

Anyway — the reason I’m writing this is because I was thinking about dates and stuff while biking back home, and I realized that this is the third Ted I’ve gone out with in the past couple of years.  Like, meaning, same name, three different dudes.  AND THEY’VE ALL BEEN UNSALTED POTATOES AND KHAKIS KIND OF GUYS.

So, blawg, I learned something new today.  I can’t date any more Teds.  Can’t date Sagittarius men (they’re too much for my ~*~sensitive~*~ Pisces self), can’t date homophobes, and I can’t date Teds.  An easy and concise list of my personal red flags. 

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Spent the evening with my friend A watching Obvious Child at the movie theatre at Yonge and Carlton.  I watched the trailer a couple months ago and remember thinking, “Ooh, yes, I should watch this,” but then I forgot the details of the movie — I didn’t want to spoil it too much, so I decided to go in blind and ended up crying at least four times and laughing at all the other moments.

This movie is the first movie I’ve ever seen that’s dealt with abortion in such an unapologetic and judgement-free way.  I love that it’s not afraid to explore the ugly and scary and sad moments, but that’s not new and different.  What I found pretty heartbreakingly wonderful, however was the level of compassion and empathy that some of the characters had regarding the issue of abortion.  Maybe I don’t watch enough movies.  Maybe this has happened before in a show or play or something else, but I’ve just never seen it being dealt with and discussed in this way.

I watched an interview with Jenny Slate (who plays Donna, the main character) and at one point, she says,  "When it comes down to it, Donna is in charge of her decision and she is by herself in that way.  And that’s both powerful and scary, and it’s okay for it to be both."  Yes, exactly, perfect.

Yes for Jenny Slate. Yes for Obvious Child.  Yes for looking compassionately at an issue that’s littered with religious propaganda and twisted by judgemental people.  We need more movies like this.  We need women’s issues brought to the forefront in this way.  Abortion’s easy to talk about when you’re a dude in a suit and you’re not the one dealing with it yourself, and that’s what this movie brings to light in such a lovely and weird way.  

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye.

—Margaret Atwood

(Source: observando)

Why it is not okay that Rob Ford did not attend Pride.

The other day, I was having a conversation with some people and the issue of Rob Ford coming back from rehab was brought up. I do this thing where I sometimes I assume everyone is on the same page as me (don’t we all, from time to time?) and so I rolled my eyes dramatically and said, “Ugh, how convenient that he scheduled his return from rehab to be right after Pride.”

And one of the other people I was talking to kind of just blinked and looked at me and said, “Well, what does it matter if he went or not?”

What does it matter?

It matters a whole bunch, actually.

They went on, saying, “I mean, him not attending Pride isn’t as bad as him, you know, saying actually homophobic things, don’t you think?” — Well, suuuuure, on a certain level. Except you’re ignoring the fact that he HAS said homophobic in the past. Furthermore, saying his non-attendance is blame-free passivity isn’t okay. It would be like if a bully was picking on a kid, and there were a bunch of other kids standing around, not doing anything. You wouldn’t go up to them and say, “Hey, bystanders! Good for you for not partaking in the bullying!” You’d probably be more likely to think, “Uh, why aren’t you getting involved and sticking up for that poor kid that’s getting bullied?” Same thing here, except on a much bigger scale.

Then they continued on, saying, “Well, I didn’t go to Pride. Does everyone have to go to Pride?” Nope, not everyone. But keep in mind that you’re not the elected mayor of the largest city in Canada, which is home to the largest LGBT population in Canada, which is hosting World Pride, an event that only happens once every four years and brings in tourists and business and an unbelievable amount of happiness to the city. Elected politicians have different responsibilities than everyday citizens. Maybe big crowds cause you anxiety, or maybe you didn’t want to face the extremely hot temperatures that were goin’ on that day — that’s fine, if you’re an everyday citizen. But if you’re an elected politician — a representative of the population you’re supposed to fairly serve — then you’ve got a responsibility to show up, wave, say hello and make an appearance. Show your support. Be a responsible human being. Accept and celebrate the population of Toronto.

So it’s not okay that Rob Ford didn’t attend Pride. It’s not okay that he never has, and that he (as he himself stated) never will. But, then again, maybe it’s for the best that he wasn’t there — nothing crashes a party quite like blatant racism and homophobia. Stay home and keep making excuses for yourself, you giant buttface.

Today’s yoga class was all about basking in the good, and sitting in the bad — easy to say now, but hard to deal with when you’re sitting in paripurna navasana, aka full boat pose, aka making your core shake and your whole body sweat.  I liked the message, though.  My whole instagram and facebook feed is littered with quotes like “love every moment!” and shit like that and it’s like, no, let’s deal with the fact that sometimes people disappoint you or your feet stink or you spend an entire day preparing for a nice meal only to burn and ruin everything or you’re sitting in a yoga class sweating ur ballz off and mentally counting down the minutes until you get to chill in savasana, but it’s cool bc we are these things called ‘human beings’ and we’ve got to deal with both good things and bad.  

Bask in in the good, sit in the bad. 

Also, another reason why I like this whole ‘bask in the good, sit in the bad’ is because the first two words of that phrase make me think of Baskin Robbins which is pretty much my ultimate happy place.  So there’s that, too.

Namaste, mothafuckas.

Questions I have for fashion bloggers:

1. What do you do all day?  I feel like all you do is take three hours to get dressed, take fifty pictures of yourself, and then do nothing afterwards.  What are you going to get done in five inch heels?  NOTHING, that’s what.  Like, what do you guys do all day other than eat brunch and take pictures of it???

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2. Why are you anti-sweatpants?

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3. WHERE DO YOU GET THE MONEY???  WHO IS FUNDING ALL OF YOUR MIU MIUS AND JIMMY CHOOS AND MANOLO BLAHNIKS?  My concept of “rich” is owning a metro pass.  Like, if you buy your lunch at work, you are WEALTHY in my mind.  DO YOU PEE MONEY OR SOMETHING???

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This is rude as bananas.  I think gyms should be one of those places that are completely judgement-free (though really, all places should be completely judgement-free).  You don’t know anything about anybody — you don’t know if someone worked out extra hard yesterday and is takin’ it easy today, or if this is someone’s first workout after not having gone to the gym in a really long time and they’re nervous and embarrassed.  You could be a shitty runner and last five minutes on the treadmill, but you could also be the most flexible person in a yoga class.
The gym — meaning like, public places where people go to get a workout in — isn’t a fucking competition zone.  (Obviously there are competitive sports and what not, and that’s a different realm.)  You’re there for yourself and that’s all you should care about.  Don’t look around and compare other workouts to yours and make yourself feel better by putting other people down.
What a gross shirt.

This is rude as bananas.  I think gyms should be one of those places that are completely judgement-free (though really, all places should be completely judgement-free).  You don’t know anything about anybody — you don’t know if someone worked out extra hard yesterday and is takin’ it easy today, or if this is someone’s first workout after not having gone to the gym in a really long time and they’re nervous and embarrassed.  You could be a shitty runner and last five minutes on the treadmill, but you could also be the most flexible person in a yoga class.

The gym — meaning like, public places where people go to get a workout in — isn’t a fucking competition zone.  (Obviously there are competitive sports and what not, and that’s a different realm.)  You’re there for yourself and that’s all you should care about.  Don’t look around and compare other workouts to yours and make yourself feel better by putting other people down.

What a gross shirt.

Sunday, June 1st, 2014.

I’m laying in bed right now with all the lights off and two candles lit, one on my dresser and one on my bedside table. The window’s open and the streetlight is pouring in. I left my window open last night, as I do every night — who can sleep with a window shut without suffocating at night? — and I was woken up at least five times by what felt like a thousand ambulances and so, so many drunk people walking by — the price of living on Bloor, I guess. Every once in a while, I go through a period of having lots of trouble sleeping at night. I’ll wake up three, four, five times, and each time I’ll just sit in bed and sigh and re-arrange my blanket and wait for my mind to drift back to sleep, and it makes each night feel like it’s a thousand hours long. Sometimes, when I’m having one of those nights where I wake up at 1:31, 2:17, 3:43, 4:40 — I’ll long for my alarm to ring and will sometimes just decide to get up at 6 am.

I don’t know if people that read this blog care about what I do in my day to day life. I don’t mean that in an angst-y way. I mean, like, if you’re reading this, that’s so cool. You don’t have to be reading this. Thank you for listening to me and my feelings. I don’t get any hateful messages ever, and I think part of it is because I’m not popular enough to get hate, and because I’m pretty good at surrounding myself with positive people — but still, if you’re reading this, thank you. The only messages I’ve ever gotten on this blog have been warm and kind and supportive. That’s so reassuring, hey? The world is a lovely place, and people are great.

The other day I was working at the cafe with my co-worker Priscilla, and my boss, Gary, called out and asked for someone to help him lift something. Priscilla and I looked at each other and burst out laughing because I have the strength of a new-born and obviously he wanted Priscilla to help him. As she walked to the back, I thought to myself, “One day, when I can help by talking about my feelings, I’ll be the one that he calls for.”

I had a really full day today and I’m feeling really refreshed and hopeful about the rest of the summer. I went to a friend’s yard sale and bought a little globe, just because. I had a yam burrito for lunch. I went to a Blue Jays game and sat in the sun and got a burn on my chest and legs. We went out for a sushi dinner, and then my roommate joined us when we got london fog ice cream. The three of us sat on a little wooden bench outside of Bakerbots and ate our ice cream in silence because it was so delicious and everyone needs a moment of silence when enjoying something delicious.

I went to my first yoga class in several months tonight. I was so, so nervous — it was a hot yoga class, and I was coming up with so many excuses in my head to not go (let’s get a drink at the Communist’s Daughter, let’s go for a walk, let’s get more ice cream) — but we went anyway, and it was the perfect class. It was a good class and there was a nice flow with movement and a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t discouraging or overly hard. Feelin’ good, guys.

So here I am, sitting in bed, putting on after-sun aloe lotion, listening to cars pass by on the street.

Sometimes there’s a group of seagulls that gather around Christie Pits and they’ll eat garbage and fly around and screech their gull screeches. Sometimes — it doesn’t happen very often — but sometimes, the passing cars will sound like distant ocean waves, and sometimes, you’ll hear the gulls screeching in the background, and when that happens, if you close your eyes, sometimes it isn’t too hard to imagine that you’re not in the city at all but by the sea shore instead.