Changes, And Changing is Never so Simple

Hey there,

Apologies for the silence on here. Getting back into the groove of things at work kept me busy, and then reading kept me busy, and then writing poetry kept me busy. Blogging took a back seat.

A lot has happened since I last wrote in this blog. I think, looking back on my second last post, it was filled with a lot of longing and a lot of unhappiness with my own life. It was a clear reflection as to the changes that were on the way.

The biggest change that has happened in my life: I ended my relationship with my partner of four years. I won’t go into details out of respect for him and because the road to this decision was a long and winding one, and I don’t have the time or energy or desire to divulge it all here. Despite this, know that it wasn’t an easy decision. He was, truly, my best friend. We had everything in common with one another. We spent most of our youth saying we were male and female versions of one another. But alas, that isn’t enough to build a life upon. Not when there is are so many other cracks that need to be filled and aren’t.  So I had to say goodbye. I had to say goodbye for both me and for him.

And with that big change comes a lot of internal changes. He told me in a letter that I was an electric powerhouse when he met me, and I’m becoming that firey, spunky, and lively woman again. I’m learning to truly love myself again. I never gave myself enough time to be alone before jumping into another relationship to soothe the pain from those prior, and I promised myself a year this time to really get to know and love myself. I’m already treating myself to everything I need to be happy again. I wasn’t happy as a piece of a pair, I lost myself, and finding myself again has been such a joy.

Has it been weird? Yes. Has it been difficult? Absolutely. But no change is ever simple. No great change for the better ever had a smooth path. Change takes work. Change takes heartbreak. Change hurts. Change takes disappointing everyone else and putting you first. But change is important, because your personal happiness is the most important thing in the world. Don’t. Ever. Settle.

In other news, I’ve also been selected to be a rep for Frostbeard candles. They’re a bookish candle company who has scents related to books or book shops or libraries, etc. I’ll be receiving three candles every month for four months (including a monthly exclusive which I will only be able to post after Frostbeard has shared the release!). I’ll also be getting a special rep code that will get you a percentage off your own purchase. As soon as I get that, I’ll share that here. I’m so thrilled, so excited, and I feel so lucky!

Unrelated to emotion:
I have cut coffee out of my routine. If you know me at all, you know how hard this is because I LOVE coffee. I love the taste, I love the smell, I love the feel of it. I absolutely adore coffee. But I’ve switched to herbal teas: some with ginseng, some with “calming effects”, some with “invigorating effects”. I find I don’t have an afternoon crash anymore. I also have far more energy in the morning, I am going to bed later (and not tired…) and despite getting less hours of sleep, I feel more rested. It doesn’t make much sense, but it feels great. Also, coffee tends to have a horrid effect of making my heart race and not giving me energy; there is nothing pleasant about that.

OH! I got a typewriter (as you can see in the featured image). It’s so beautiful. I named it Hemingway (of course). It was my mother’s and I found it in my parents’ basement on the weekend. I just ordered new ink so I’m excited to truly bring it to life.

Well, that’s the gist of what’s new. And I really think it’s nothing but great things from here on — because I won’t settle for anything less than spectacular anymore. Me first. Me always. It’s time to be selfish.

xo
C

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Oh, How This Heart Leaps for Hemingway

Hey there,

Depending on how well you know me, you may have a general idea about my love and obsession for Ernest Hemingway. Here’s the strange thing, though; it extends beyond an appreciation for his texts. It gets into literary husband territory.

What’s literary husband you ask? It’s like when someone “fangirls” about a celebrity crush, but is obviously someone who is an author (and a real person – not like a “fiction boyfriend” which is a whole other category of fangirling, in and of itself). Hemingway is my literary husband. Get ready for a ridiculous blog post, ahead!

Now wait, I know what you’re thinking: he was so bad to women and you’re a feminist, what’s going on here!? I can’t deny that he was, without question, a poor husband and a womanizer. But in my fictional world in which 1920s Claudia is being courted by 1920s Ernest in a Paris cafe, Claudia reigns queen. Womanizer no more! Hemingway has been captured, weak in the knees by the grace of 1920s Claudia! (Hahaha… a girl can dream…)

Even though he was said to be the kind of man that I don’t fancy in the least – over-compensating masculinity, womanizer, loved to watch bull fights (gross), and loved to hunt (double gross) – there was just something about that man and the way he wrote that gets me fanning myself in admiration.

His writing is so raw, is so honest. It’s wholly and truly him. It’s like he pours his soul onto paper, and how could I not fall in love with a man who is able to do that?! His sentences are clean, they’re pure. I read Hemingway as though I’m talking to Hemingway, and that’s just a vulnerable way of writing. I like to believe he was far more vulnerable than he made himself out to be (read: A Moveable Feast, as it confirms this theory).

He writes about love in a way that is so dirty, and I don’t mean that in the sexual sense. Love and passion is not clean-cut and perfection; it’s messy and it’s exploding with undertones of lust and it’s exposed, and ughhh… it’s perfect. It’s really perfect without touching on perfection in the least. It makes a girl swoon. Here’s a small example:

“You’re beautiful. You walk wonderfully and if I were here and saw you now for the first time I’d be in love with you. If I saw you for the first time everything would turn over inside of me and I’d ache right through my chest.” 

Whatttt!? Hemingway, I love you.

Also, it cannot be denied that Hemingway was an immensely handsome man. Even as an old man, with that thick and glorious beard upon his lovely face, he was beyond handsome. A man who writes like he does + that handsome face + a glorious beard and/or mustache = swoonfest.

As I sit here and write this, my Great Gatsby mug beside me reads: “The tale of a man who built himself an illusion to live by,” and I can’t help but believe I have this illusion of Hemingway and his existence and that my fantasies about him as a man are probably way off. But I don’t think that the way Midnight in Paris captured Hemingway was far off. I  think he was dark, brooding, stubborn, charming, direct, and secretly very sensitive. And I cannot help but discover him in his writing and love the man behind the words so passionately.

Calm down – it’s not love – let’s be serious.  People love authors. People love the writing of authors. I’m not that crazy. But maybe, if past lives are real, 1920s Claudia in Paris (which, let’s face it, must truly be a thing for it to be imprinted so heavily on my soul) had a brief and fleeting passionate moment with Mr. Hemingway, and the memories of such an encounter linger on today. Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and wish that into reality… yep… mmhmm… alright… excuse me for a moment… sigh…

Ernest Hemingway was a sad man with a lot of struggle going on in his soul, and the way his life ended is heartbreaking. But he gave this world authentic writing that was unpolished and I’m so grateful for that. I wish I could have known him, but truly, I feel as though I do and that’s an example of his skill as a writer. The world was lucky to have him in it, as short as it may have been cut by his own hand.

I will continue to swoon over this literary husband. I cannot be stopped.

xo
C

A Commentary on La La Land and Dreamers

Hey there,

I saw La La Land for the second time last night because, yes, it was that good. It was right up my alley; a movie about following dreams, romanticizing life, and it was tied all together with a nostalgic, vintage feel of an old-school Gene Kelly movie. And there were a lot of hints and talks of Paris, so you know those were bonus points for this Parisian-at-heart.

There are a few themes in the film that I want to talk about, but I’ll do so in a spoiler-free manner because the content focus here is a commentary on dreamers and dreaming and not on the film. This won’t be a review, I’ll just tell you to please go see it. Even if you don’t like musicals, go give it a shot. It doesn’t have the same overarching feel of a musical because the music is really just a feature to tie the story and messages together. It’s used as a tool of storytelling in the film, but not in the same manner of modern musicals (it’s not like High School Musical or Grease).

I cried when I watched this movie. I cried both times in silent little whimpers, and I would have cried more but I’m one of those people who try and hold that lump in her throat when she’s out in public so she doesn’t become a blubbering disaster. The movie warmed my heart and made my heart break, all because of the self-reflection it created as the story progressed.

Alright, here begins a stream of consciousness response to La La Land themes…

Firstly: I cannot imagine what actors who move to LA must go through trying to follow their dreams. I cannot imagine how soul-crushing it must be. You really feel the hopelessness in this movie. I once felt the pull to “that life” as a youth (but it was crushed in high school by students running the school play). I wanted to move to New York and perform on Broadway. I remember the secretary in my elementary school (Mrs. Clarke) had me sign a piece of paper because she said I would be famous one day. I had two dream roles: Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway – hence why I dyed my hair bright red come high school.

I didn’t follow that dream because I knew I couldn’t be faced with the disappointment it brought. I knew I couldn’t watch myself fail a hundred times over and still be motivated and driven to follow through. It was at that point that I realized maybe those weren’t my defining dreams; it wasn’t what I really wanted in my heart of hearts. Perhaps they were dreams set up for me because I was told how good I was at it. Were they ever my dreams at all?

Maybe that’s what pushes dreams into the “goals” category: the desire to pursue them despite the possibility of constant failure. It’s the underlying feeling I have with regards to moving to Paris, France. I know I won’t be able to afford to buy a house, city-centre, but I’m fine with renting. I know I’ll have to let go of a lot back home, but I’m fine with that too. I know I might have to settle for a mediocre job at first, and that’s okay. I know it may not be everything I envisioned from the comfort of my home and based off of my trips there, but it’s worth the risk to me. It’s worth losing a lot just to find out. I’m willing to deal with being disappointed. I wasn’t ready to do that with my Broadway dreams, so does that make my Paris dreams more realistic?

Second, I want to make a comment about love: there is foreshadowing at the opening sequence of the film about the importance of fleeting glances at passionate love. Especially when you’re young, you become dreamers with one another, you push one another, you fill the drive to dream with excitement, with support, etc. But it’s when those relationships no longer fuel your dreams that you need to begin to let go of them. The same could be said about adult relationships. If they’re no longer passionate, if you don’t bring about ambition in one another, a push to be successful, the motivation to be better versions of yourself (whatever that may be for each person), is there a point to the relationship? There was a quote I read once; something along the lines of, “There are too many mediocre things in life, love should not be one of them.” I’m not saying that the “honeymoon stage” be a constant stage you remain in, in your relationship. There is no logic or reality to that. But there should always be that push to grow, there should always be that support that drives you to greater things, to being a better person, to following dreams. If you aren’t dreaming together, are you truly living together?

There is a purpose to all relationships in our lives. Even my worst relationships have helped me grow and recognize what I want in life, what I need in a partner, where I need to take myself to become happier. It’s okay to dream about “what could have been” if things had been different, but it’s important not to live in those fantasies. Don’t stop that constant pathway of growth with “if only”s. We cannot change the path we already traveled down but we do have constant control over how we shape and create our future.  Get up off that ground; the morning rolls around and it’s another day of sun! 

The constant theme of growth and change throughout the film, shown in many different lights and ways, really resonates with me.

Third, I want to comment on the subtle hints at dreams being traced back to Paris in this film. You know that hit a deep chord within me. Do all my dreams exist separate from Parisian dreams or do they exist because of my love and passion for Paris? Does Paris help shape this romanticized image of how I want to live my life because Paris is this beautiful, romanticized place, in and of itself? Am I living for Paris or am I living for me? Are they one and the same? These are all questions I have been reflecting upon. I don’t have answers for them, yet.

Alright, I’m done for the morning. I might come back to all of this again.
Please go watch La La Land. It’s so captivating, just as dreams are captivating.

xo
C

Post Scriptum: my poetry page has been updated, today.

When Adult Choices Mean Putting Dreams on Hold – or do They?

Hey there,

Don’t you love that click-bait title? Oh yes, such mystery…

This morning I went to sign my mortgage renewal. Yes, I can’t believe it either; four years ago, on February 1st 2013, a day before my 25th birthday, I signed on the dotted line and purchased myself a home. Me. All by my lonesome. My own, detached, two-story, finished basement, single family unit for a girl and her dogs. I had always wanted one. I knew this independent lady needed her own space and I didn’t want to funnel my money into the pockets of another. I wanted an investment. I wanted to make a home for myself. And I did which, in these markets, in this area (GTA) is really hard on your own. So, yay for me!

As I was saying, the mortgage renewal was coming up in 2017 but I wanted to get it out of the way. If I was going to have to deal with increased interest rates, might as well set myself up for disappointment in the crap year of 2016! Thankfully – and surprisingly – interest was significantly lowered. But that’s not the point of this post at all. The point is that I signed my mortgage for another four years.

If you know me, you know I’m a dreamer. Hell, I started this blog as a way to chronicle my path towards making Paris, France  my home(the broker thought I meant Paris, Ontario and was very confused as to why I had dreams of living there). I need Paris. And here I am signing away to another four years of living here.

Have I just resigned myself to the fate of the comfortable and reliable? Did I just settle? Did I just sign away my dreams? I had goals of making it my home in my 30th year – I’ll be 29 in February. Now what? Do my “goals” and “dreams” really have a purpose? Are they just fairytales?

I can’t say I returned home excited by my lowered interest rate and lowered monthly mortgage payments (yes, these things excite adults) because it was overshadowed by the loss of years I could have been in Paris. It was clouded by the idea of four more years in a place where I am not truly happy, fulfilled, inspired.

People say make the best of the time you have and stop dreaming of the future, to make your home into a place you want to be, etc. Don’t get me wrong; my house is awesome. I am constantly moving around the space to suit my needs and make it more wonderful to be immersed in. There are nerdy things everywhere you look. It’s a house full of life and fun. But it’s a house on an urban street in an urban city in the GTA with the Western mentality of “work until you die”. I can’t do it. It’s eating away at my soul.

And yet I’ve resigned myself to another four years of it. What have I done?

xo
C

Post Scriptum: I’ve decided to compile all my poetry into a new poetry category (which should be listed at the top of my home page). New poetry will be added to the top of the page, rather than making individual postings for poetry, alone.

Yearly Wrap-Up — Books Read in 2016

Hey there,

The year is almost up – just a few more weeks to go – but I thought I would get working on my wrap-up. I don’t anticipate I will finish many more books before January first. Once work ends, we jump right into Christmas celebrations and then Boxing Day and there are a few days in between where I’ll get some reading in but I’m working on a Lord of the Rings reread which takes time and dedication!

I started this year with a big Star Wars focus because the release of Episode VII had me off-the-charts happy about being immersed in that universe again was my favourite thing. I slowly transitioned into Parisian themed books, anticipating my trip to Paris in the summer, and had splashes of 1920s themed authors or historical fiction which touched upon life in Paris in the 20s. Late spring into summer transformed into non-fiction about fashion, beauty and the like. And then autumn brought about young adult novels and interesting pieces of fiction. It’s a very curious thing to write all that down and see how my “reader moods” changed over the course of a year!

Alright, here’s a list (though I know I’ll forget a few) and I’ll just be putting titles, not authors, because time etc…:

  • SW: Before the Awakening
  • SW: Smuggler’s Run
  • SW: Weapon of a Jedi
  • SW: Moving Target
  • SW: Young Jedi Knights – Shadow Academy
  • SW: Bloodlines
  • SW: Darth Plagueis (best SW book I read this year)
  • SW: Ezra’s Gamble
  • SW: Rey’s Survival Guide
  • SW: Lost Stars
  • SW: The Force Awakens
  • SW: The Dark Disciple
  • The Gardener of Versailles
  • Finding Myself in France
  • A Family in Paris
  • Paris Street Style
  • The Diary of a Nose
  • A Year in Provence
  • The Sweet Life in Paris
  • Parisian Chic
  • Z – A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
  • The Paris Wife
  • Hemingway in Love
  • A Moveable Feast (x2)
  • The Sun Also Rises (reread)
  • The True Gen (halfway)
  • The Vogue Factor
  • Leave Your Mark
  • #Girlboss
  • The Little Book of Feminism
  • Love x Style x Life
  • Capture Your Style
  • The Cursed Child
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Six of Crows
  • We Have Always Lived In The Castle
  • House on the Hill
  • The Miniaturist
  • Red Queen
  • Cruel Crown (halfway)
  • A Monster Calls
  • Caraval
  • The Forgetting (Best book I’ve read in 2016 and easily one of my favourite books of all time)
  • LOTR Fellowship of the Ring (reread)

Did not count: movie companions, information books, magazines, reference texts, graphic novels/manga/comic books, crappy books I read halfway but then returned or got rid of, etc

In total: 44 books are listed as having been read this year. This doesn’t take into consideration the ‘Did Not Count’ list, and I read a whole bunch of those. I’d same my numbers are pretty good considering there are 52 weeks in a year and some of those weeks are so busy that I didn’t read a thing (eg. this week…).

I think for the new year, I’ll stick to the same reading goal and not put too much pressure on myself.

How many books did you read this year? Do you set reading goals for yourself?

xo
C