FYI – THIS POST IS A FIRST DRAFT, COMPLETELY UNEDITED DUE TO MONUMENTAL BABY MELTDOWN
Seeing as most of my readers are American and that I was born in Detroit, seems fitting that I should not only acknowledge Thanksgiving (Happy Day of Thanks, y’all) but also take a moment to give thanks.
Remember this post, when I vowed to make a point of pointing out the nice things in life? I’m happy to say that I kept my promise. From the day following that post onwards, here are some of the things I’ve been grateful for:
- The British Museum
- Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for writing this book.
- Having a husband that gets up in the middle of the night to help settle our girl (sounds like a given but there are so many husbands that don’t).
- That I’m going to be in Canada with my family for Christmas. Also, family.
- My first night out with good friends since giving birth, and unexpected poutine joy!
- Full. Body. Massages.
- Colourful doors make me happy. Lucky for me, colourful doors abound in London.
- Wren, Wren, Wren. That face! That smile! That laugh.
- Mahonia. Just as the last leaves fall to the ground and everything starts to look a little bleak, this fragrant shrub, which smells like lily of the valley, blooms.
- Flower deliveries with notes thanking me for being such a good mother.
- Two words: Indian takeaway.
- Melt-in-your-mouth salmon, smoked for hours by my husband.
- The girl sleeps for three consecutive hours. It’s a bloody miracle.
- Having a couple of hours to myself.
- There’s something in the air today that felt like the first time I landed in London. I’m not sure what it was, but I spent a good hour walking around in that giddy state as if I were seeing the city for the first time.
It’s so easy to forget how lucky we are and it’s so important to remember. What are you grateful for today?
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.
— Mary Oliver
A few years ago, as we were driving down to Salem, Massachusetts, my sister and brother-in-law popped Neil Young’s Harvest album in the CD player. It was the perfect soundtrack to the day — the dawn of an autumn morning, the start of a new season, New England’s forest ablaze with crimson and gold. Harvest, according to them, is meant to be listened to in the fall, and only in the fall. These folk take their music (and their movies) seriously — each album unto its own season.
I can’t say that I consciously play certain albums at only specific times of the year (except for Christmas music), although I do tend to play different genres, depending on the season.
November is a tough month. It’s cold, dark, temperamental, melancholic. November is about little deaths and the beginning of a long stretch, which is generally met with resistance. It is a limbo month — no longer the glorious colours of October, not yet the festive season that is December.
I usually listen to indie folk in November or sad music the likes of Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Gillian Welch and, lately, Marika Hackman.
Case in point. Here are the most played songs on my iTunes this month:
- Wasting My Young Years by London Grammar
- Pink Rabbits by The National
- Tomorrow by Daughter
- Wash. by Bon Iver
- Hunger of the Pine by alt-J
That, and Scandinavian music, which is often quite moody. Although, I’ve recently discovered that those Scandis can drop a mean beat. So I thought I’d make a playlist for y’all – a Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish mash-up of mostly infectious pop music to help get you through these dark pre-winter days… noir pop, electro pop, synth pop, atmospheric lo-fi pop, all sorts of pop, and ending on an emotional and hypnotic note, bien sûr, in compliance with Rob Gordon’s rules for making a good mix tape.
“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” — Rob Gordon, High Fidelity
I hope you enjoy it.
Today, I’m taking a leaf out of Xanthe’s book and sharing some of my all-time favourite frames, except that I can’t limit myself to five frames because I’m far too indecisive. I first narrowed it down to film photos taken before the year 2013 (because I’ve hardly shot any film photos since moving to London), then chose 25 pictures, then nixed half of them, then struggled to delete three more to make it an even 10, then added five back again for good measure. I told you I was indecisive.
Here they are in no particular order:
Because it’s one of the first pictures I ever took with my Pentax K1000, on a terrace, in Montreal, at the height of summer. I love how blurry it is. So much trial and error in those first weeks.
Do you remember the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and the massive ash cloud that covered a huge chunk of Europe? That was back when the British boy and I were in a long-distance relationship and we decided to meet up in Iceland (little did we know that a volcano was about to erupt — you can read about the whole saga here). It remains, to this day, one of my favourite trips and these Reykjavik rooftops are one of my all-time favourite shots.
After Iceland, we flew to NYC and stayed at an amazing airbnb apartment in Williamsburg. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a long-distance relationship. All the longing that’s been building up for months and 10 days to unleash it. It’s intoxicating.
When I lived in Montreal, I spent a lot of time by the train tracks (top photo) or on rooftops (bottom photo) or in abandoned buildings with my friend Roma. It always felt like we were on a little adventure. I love the unexpected diptych of that second shot.
I take pictures of my feet all the time. This isn’t a particularly striking photo but it was back when I first moved to Montreal, hanging out at the Osheaga festival on my own. It was after ending a 12-year relationship and before embarking on a new one… the years when I really got to know myself. Those years helped to shape who I am today.
Things that make me happy: making pancakes, drinking coffee, spending time with my husband.
Camping: fresh air, soft mornings, breakfast cooked on the campfire, lying down under the stars.
We had the most amazing honeymoon in 2013. I’ve never been anywhere as chaotic as India. Imagine your senses being set on fire and then add the smell of incense and urine and roses and chai tea brewing over a fire on the side of the road. And imagine a dust that never settles and how it puts a golden filter over everything. And imagine a thousand cars and tuk tuks and mopeds honking all at once. And children with babies on their hips walking barefoot through rubbish, women working in the fields in colourful sari with long scarves trailing behind them and a big metal bowl on their heads, “evil eye” talismans made of lime and chili peppers hanging over every door and garlands of marigold wrapped around Hindu Gods on the dashboard of most taxis, the smiling eyes of old women sitting on their doorsteps, the rose-petal dawn, children waving and dancing as trains go by…
Back when I used to shoot with expired film. Montreal by night. Dark, grainy, moody, nostalgic and perfectly imperfect.
And I couldn’t resist three bonus shots because Scotland holds such a special place in my heart.
For more favourites, see my portfolio.
This weekend, it snowed for all of five minutes in London and then the sun came out.
British weather – you can always count on it being consistently inconsistent.
Here is a synopsis of what I was doing last night, instead of blogging, in case you think I was just playing hooky, out on the town, three sheets to the wind. No such luck, y’all. I spent my Saturday night at home, in full combat training with a 21-week-old baby. This is the real deal, people — battle of wills, see who breaks first, extreme endurance workout. It’s like trying to train a bloody T-Rex to sleep.
Last night looked something like this:
18:09 – fed for 10 mins
18:35 – asleep, took 15 minutes to settle
19:59 – woke, took a few minutes to settle
20:43 – woke, took a few minutes to settle
21:15 – fed for 10 mins
22:45 – woke, complete meltdown for 35 mins
23:20 – fed for 10 mins
01:36 – fed for 5 mins, took 20 minutes to settle
4:00 – fed for 10 mins
5:55 – woke, took a few minutes to settle
6:08 – woke, took a massive poo, changed nappy, a few minutes to settle
7:00 – woke, started the day
In other words…
18:00 – present boob to t-rex and watch her devour everything in under 10 minutes.
18:09 – wrestle the tiny godzilla into her cot while she roars and tries to scratch your face off.
18:35 – the beast finally sleeps. cue for parents to drink ALL THE WINE.
19:59 – the princess of wakefulness calls for her court jester to sing her back to sleep.
20:43 – we have come to the conclusion that these constant wakings are the work of the devil. i call in reinforcement and together my husband and i work to drive out the evil spirit.
21:15 – feed me NOW!
22:45 – a 35-minute mega nuclear meltdown follows.
23:20 – moo.
01:36 – i wasn’t really hungry, i was just testing you to see how quickly you would come. and now i will act as if you just cut off my leg and scream in your face for the next 20 minutes.
4:00 – where is that giant woman with the boobs? i demand to be fed.
5:55 – we are convinced she is a trained assassin hired to kill us.
6:08 – WTF woman, can’t you see that I just shat myself?
7:00 – wake up zombie motherfuckers, i’m ready to start the day.
I remember telling Joe, when I was pregnant, to please shoot me if I became one of those mothers who talked about sleep deprivation all the time. Nobody really cares about how much sleep you got last night. Am I right? But that was before I spawned a demon child. I didn’t realise that so much in life depends on a good night’s sleep.
Because I “failed” to post yesterday and because I was so tired today, I almost quit nablopomo. I so very nearly wrote that’s it, I’m out folks because sleep training a tiny human and creativity don’t really mix well. This is very typical of me… if I can’t do something perfectly, I’d rather not do it at all. Which, of course, is total rot. We’ve all seen those cheesy motivational posters that adorned almost every office and gym wall in the 1990s. You know the ones… with the black border, large text, inspirational photograph? We all know that it’s about the journey and not the destination and blah blah blah.
So, here’s to the next 9 days. I feel a second wind coming on.
On that note, Baby Godzilla wakes.
Back when I used to blog regularly, I’d occasionally take part in five senses friday, a concept started by Shari at this joy+ride. The idea being that every friday, I would take a moment to reflect on the week using my five senses. Today being friday, and this month being nablopomo, I figured why not bring five senses friday back. Everyone loves a good old blast from the past, right?
The past week looked something like this:
this song, on repeat, blends well with the grey weather
this plum crisp is tasty as, and easy to make too
rain, jasmine green tea
the last few leaves of autumn falling
a lot tired and a little overwhelmed
Sometimes, you just have to say fuck the blog. Fuck the laundry, the dishes, the phone calls, the emails. Fuck the shoulds and the coulds, the responsibilities and the obligations. Fuck the to-do list. Fuck all that noise.
Sometimes you just have to pour yourself a glass of wine and watch an episode of Catastrophe and put your tired mama ass to bed my 9pm. All those things will still be there in the morning.