Sunday, 20 July 2014

Orla Kiely and Art Walk

For as long as I can remember, I have coveted Orla Kiely pieces. I love the styling of her runway shows, unique prints and classic silhouettes of her dresses. Definitely in my top five favourite designers of all time. But waaaaay out of my budget, especially as a student. So when I heard Orla Kiely and People Tree were doing a collaboration, I jumped at the chance to own a dress for myself. Still higher than I'd normally pay for a single item, but hey, you only live once. Plus, everything on People Tree's label is ethically made AND certified organic. Which I can completely get behind. This dress is probably my most worn dress this summer. It is made of the most airy, breathable cotton, and I am in love with the "dancing girl" print.  I've worn it a ridiculous amount, and now it finally gets it's own post: 

I wore it to a fun gallery party for an art festival a while back, one I was actually working for! I am surprised I didn't blog about it, as it consumed so much of my time in late May/early June. Here are a few snaps from the Art Walk party. I had all the free wine and busted a move on a make shift dancefloor in a bakery. 
Sarah and Me. Her outfit reminded me of Daria! 

Samim and I candidly taking in art. I hung ALL these pieces, guys. It took a week, and just me and one other person did it all, across over twenty business and spaces for the festival at which I "interned." Such a good experience! Art walk took place all along 124th Street, finishing with a reception at Duchess Bakery. I stole these photos from the the 124 St Business Association facebook page! They were one of the festival partners. 
Hanging out with U of A Art and Design kids. In this photo, Emmanuel, the Nigerian guy in the leather jacket was crackin' me up something fierce. That guy busted out some Michael Jackson style dance moves later in the night, causing a giant dance circle to erupt. I've met so many great people this year and especially this summer. It makes leaving, if I am leaving, harder and harder. The weight of just how interconnected people are in my hometown, and especially in my extended social circles, makes me feel overwhelmed and socially claustrophobic a lot of the time, because no one is a stranger. No one. Everyone knows each other, has dated, fucked, had a class together, went to pre-school together, you name it.  Even if you don't know someone, you've seen them around, or someone you know knows them. There's no real anonymity, ever. But then I go to events like this, where I am surrounded by friends and like minded people, and I feel so inspired and connected to my city. The community here for the arts is pretty incredible, actually. There is such spirit amongst this community for supporting grass roots, local events, workshopping pieces, collaborating. While cliquey, people really do go out and support local art, music and theatre in Edmonton. I am grateful - despite the sometimes unattractive qualities aforementioned. You can't have it all, I guess, and I need to learn to take the good with the bad when it comes to my relationship with my home town. 
Dance circle evidence: 

Here's to the next six weeks of fun and frolics before deciding what I'll be doing and where I'll living. I am currently going around and around in circles trying to decide, so I am waiting until the end of summer and for my new passport to arrive before I make any finite decisions. 

Charmaine x 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Route 99

Route 99 has long been a favourite spot of mine for breakfast in Edmonton. This charming 1950s-themed greasy spoon serves up classic All-American brunch fare for dirt cheap. It's my favourite place to go with my Dad, or hung over with friends on Sunday mornings. There's no pretension, frills or gimmicks at this joint: just down-to-earth breakfasts and honest prices. Check it out if you're ever passing through Edmonton - the jukebox has some great tunes and their rice pudding is heaven! 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summer Time, Where The Living Is Easy

My week was pretty damn awesome. Summer took her sweet time coming, but when she decided to finally rock up, she came in full force. It's been HOT. Over +30C all week. I've spent my time lounging in my backyard, or out on patios with friends. I've been feeling particularly blessed and busy since July started, reconnecting with old friends and seeing lots of the usual suspects. Edmonton's fleeting summer is short but amazing. Life right now is simple and easy. The calm before the storm that will be fall and before I need to make some Big Decisions. 
The best part of summer is summer attire! Here's a look from earlier this week. 

Stay cool! 
Charmaine x 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Bard

Over the past couple of months, I've rediscovered my love for Shakespeare. Back around Easter, I saw the Citadel Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet directed by a university acquaintance of mine, which then prompted me to re-watch Baz Lurhmann's Romeo and Juliet, then setting me on a spiral of watching countless other adaptations and films inspired by The Bard. So pleased to have revisited 10 Things I Hate About You, and Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead! I think Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet is one of the best films I've ever seen, I love the art direction, the timing, the casting, the soundtrack! I also loved Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing which came out last year. Did you know Joss Whedon is massive Shakespeare fan, and would have the cast of Buffy over for Shakespeare readings to work on diction? 

I grew up doing community and semi-professional theatre, and was one of those lame kids that LOVED The Bard. I always looked forward to Shakespeare plays in English class, and have been in several productions over the years. I love the characters, story lines and fantastical settings for the plays. Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest are my favourites. Some of the most incredible and most famous lines in the English language come from his works, and the influence his writing has had on literature, theatre, and film hardly needs mentioning. It's been years since I've had any Shakespeare in my life, and it's been fun to revisit his works in a recreational way outside the sphere of academics. I forgot how great these stories are, and that Shakespeare is meant to be watched and not read! Back in the day, his plays were performed in what were essentially whorehouses of Elizabethan London, where people drank, copulated and interacted with the plays much like the way  people interact with live sporting events or stand up comedy in this day and age. Lots of heckling and jeering, socializing, talking to each other while also watching the show. Not sitting quietly in a theatre in the dark, or discussing metaphors in an air-conditioned classroom. While beautifully written, they were meant as forms of entertainment! 

We also owe many phrases used in daily life to his plays. I didn't realize he coined so many. For example:

My outfit isn't Shakespearean at all, but my material of my tapestry pants from the '50s could fit a snazzy Elizabethan costume. 

I also found this pretty neat video put out by a linguist regarding original pronunciation. Pretty cool! 

Charmaine x

Friday, 4 July 2014

Do It Now, or You'll Never Do It

So... It's a bit too soon to share, but I think I have some exciting news! I have (un)officially decided I am moving overseas again in three months.
Last weekend I was out for breakfast with my mother, talking about how I was excited about starting my Cultural Management program this fall, but also feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of student debt, especially since I am still not 100% sure the course is for me, although the curriculum looks awesome. Is grad school better? Or are applied diploma courses really the way to go? Should I give it a few more years working hard to make it in the arts and then go back to school? So many choices. The amount of people I know who've obtained great jobs in their fields of choice due to post-graduate certificates or diploma programs after getting their bachelors or masters degrees, is kind of staggering! The program at Grant MacEwan I am taking next year is close to $20 000 for the two years, which is more than my entire four year B.A cost me. Even though I get to knock down some of that cost with transfer credit from my degree, the thought of more student debt makes me uncomfortable! That would take ages to pay back, and how would I travel with that kind of debt? Travel is my drug, what I look forward to most in life! I was lucky to get away with most of my undergrad being paid for through an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan for those outside Canada) started when I was born, and the rest was paid for through bursaries and student loans. I walked away with pretty manageable and minimal debt compared to others I know. The thought of being another ten to thirty thousand in debt sends a shiver down my spine! 

So, bearing these thoughts in my mind, I was teetering between moving back to T.O like next month, forgetting school and making the most of the connections I know there for another year or two, and then go back to school if I really wasn't getting anywhere. And then, my mother said I should just go to Australia, and that she'd been saving to help me afford the flight there. Canadians can get a two year working visa to Australia pretty much at the drop of a hat due to the commonwealth, it's English speaking, and I know a ridiculous amount of people in Sydney and Melbourne (Australians are everywhere!). I have no debt, career, or partner holding me here, a healthy savings from working for The Man all year, and I can only use that visa until I am 30. Why wait? Seriously, there's nothing stopping me. In fact, it feels like the most opportune time to go. Toronto will always be there, as will school and a career. The Australian dollar is on par with Canada, the proximity to Asia is pretty unbeatable, and I'd get to skip Canadian winter for a year. No winter! I am thinking I'll be in Melbourne by October. My friend Darcy in Sydney said he was "violently excited" about my decision. I could be gone from 2-24 months, but I am thinking I'll hang around for 6-8, backpack around Asia for two and then either go back to school or move back to Toronto (or both). I still have to take my remaining holidays in August from work before I leave, so I'll probably do a quick trip out east and visit friends and family in Southern Ontario, and maybe visit a city in the U.S too. I'd love to go photograph Detroit for a weekend or finally visit Chicago! 
I'd been feeling restless and in need of a big solo adventure somewhere, something to shake me out of my comfort zone, and while Australia isn't going to be too crazy a transition from Canada, it's still life in another country for an extended period of time and the challenge I need. If I don't go now, I may never. The timing is ideal. If it pans out, I'll have lived in four cities, on three continents and in both hemispheres before I turn thirty.Everything is in the preliminary stages, of course, I still have to renew my passport, apply for a visa, be granted the visa, book flights, and defer from my course. But that's the plan so far! We'll see what happens! 

So, expect lots of summer dresses, seeing as for one year of my life I could have one endless one. I picked up this dress at a boutique in Seattle this past February, and it's become a summer favourite! I am obsessed with this colour palette this year. Haha, someone asked me the last time I wore this if I was going to a wedding! No, I just dress like a bridesmaid all day, every day. 

The biggest travesty of my life would be to look back and regret not fulfilling plans I've made or doing things when I had the chance. I am looking forward to the new places and faces I will see this year and next. SO EXCITED, OBVIOUSLY. 

"Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen." - Anne Lamott

Charmaine x 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Happy Canada Day!

It's Canada Day! This means BBQs and picnicking, red and white, booze, getting dirty in the river valley, and fireworks. Rather than engage in a patriotic, self-righteous diatribe about how awesome Canada is (that wouldn't be very Canadian, would it!) I'd thought share some Canadianism that don't exist anywhere else in the world, and some random facts about my fair country.

Bunny Hug - What people in Saskatchewan call a hoodie or pull-over.

Garburator- the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink!

Tuque - a woollen hat worn in the winter. Everywhere else in the world calls this a "beanie." Fuck that.

Canuck - colloquialism for a Canadian. There is actually no etymological explanation for this.

Mickey - the 375ml/12oz bottle of booze you get at the liquor store.

Texas Mickey - not Texan at all! The largest size of booze you can get, usually the three litre or 100 ounce bottle.

"2-4" - a 24 case of beer. ie: "Let's go to the liquor store and grab a 2-4 of molson, eh?"

Runners - the Canadian version of sneakers, trainers (UK), and tennis shoes

Poutine - Quebec "speciality" consisting of gravy, fries and cheese curds.

Parkade - A car park, or parking garage

"homo" milk - what Canadians refer to homogenized, whole, or 3% milk as!

Icing sugar - confectioner's sugar.

Keener - a term used for a brown-noser, ass kisser, or suck up.

Give'r - "to give it all you've got"

College vs University - College refers specifically to technical schools or diploma granting institutions. Degree granting facilities are exclusively referred to as university.

House coat - is this one only Canadian!? It's a robe, bathrobe or "dressing gown" in the UK. Think Hugh Hefner.

Pop - soda, carbonated drinks, cola etc.

Chesterfield - a couch or sofa

Eavestrough! - The metal gutters that run along the side of your home!

Washroom - restroom, loos, bathroom, W/C.

Loonies and Toonies: one and two dollar coins, respectively.

Random facts:

- my home province Alberta has a national park larger than Switzerland, Israel and Albania! Canada is also larger than the European Union. We also have the most lakes than any country on earth combined. We're basically a giant bog. Half the world's remaining oil and bitumen supply is located about 5 hours north of Edmonton.

- Canadians consume more Kraft Dinner than any country on earth. We also drink the most whiskey!

- Toronto's Yonge (pronounced "young") street is the world's longest street, starting at Lake Ontario and ending at the Minnesota border! It's almost 2000km long. We also have the world's longest coast line.

- Per 100 grams, cheese is more expensive than the highest quality red meat. Due to the diary board, a regulatory body, Canada has the highest cheese prices in the world.

- Speaking of dairy, milk comes in BAGS.

-We spell things the British way! Colour, honour, etc.

- Montreal is the world's second largest French speaking city after Paris. Canada has two official languages, and 1/3 people speak French as a first language.

-Toronto is statistically the world's most ethnically diverse city. Canadians also hold the most university degrees of any country in the world. According to the G20, Canada is the best place to be born a woman. We welcome roughly 300 000 permanent residents to Canada a year. Roughly 250 000 die a year.

- We invented insulin, basketball, the telephone IMAX, AND trivial pursuit.

- We are commonwealth country, and Queen Elizabeth is technically our head of state. The Queen is on our money. She's aged with time!

-FORGET nessy, Canada has it's own water inhabiting mystery creature - Ogopogo, who lives in Lake Okanagon.

- We produce 80% of the world's maple syrup and 90% of the world's ice wine!

-Sometimes, Canada gets as cold as the surface of mars. The coldest on record is -63C/-81F

But seriously, while I am not terribly patriotic and in general I feel Canada is going downhill due to backward governance, I am grateful for the social amenities and liberties being from this country has afforded me. Such as access to universal healthcare, affordable, quality education, choosing when I can be a parent, and where anyone can marry who they want to. I recognize my entitlement and my luck that I was born here. I appreciate boring old Canada the older I get and the more I travel. So, here's to you Canuckistan! Happy birthday!

Crack a Molson and and eat some poutine, eh?
A witty video for you:

Charmaine x

Sunday, 29 June 2014

It's always darkest before the dawn

Personal growth, self acceptance, redemption, finding oneself are themes that have perpetually popped up in my posts over the past few months, it seems. It's crazy how the realization you've grown or changed hits you so quickly and out of the blue sometimes. Here I was just living, working towards goals quietly and then boom: signs of growth and positive change all over my life. 

Since moving home from Toronto last fall when I was at one of my lowest points ever, I've made a real point to face fears, make concrete goals and, quite frankly, figure my shit out. For a while there, I was feeling pretty cynical, negative, and carrying around a lot of baggage that I was neither dealing with or letting go of. Regretting decisions I'd made and the opportunities I'd missed out on, not forgiving friends and lovers who have hurt me, and not forgiving myself for some not too cool handling of certain situations. While it was a hard decision to leave Toronto, a city I LOVE and plan to end up in again one day, I feel like moving home, regrouping, starting over tabula rasa was the best choice I've made in a really, really long time.  I gave up a lot to come home, but it was something I needed to do. It is, perhaps, too corny and too honest to phrase in this way, but I feel like my soul has reawakened. A shift in perspective has completely changed my life! My two new years resolutions, aside from reading 52 books this year, were to a) to not let fear stop me from doing something, the idea being I'd rather wake up cringing and thinking to myself "I can't believe I did that" rather than, "man I wish I'd done that when I had the chance." The other was complete honest and direct communication about how I feel and what I want with those in my life, no matter how awkward or difficult that conversation may be. Seriously dudes, LIFE. CHANGED. How did I not live this way before? I am feeling content and truly happy for the first time in ages. I feel like I've finally left things in the past where they belong, moved on. There has been no drama or fights, no broken hearts in almost a year. Because I've addressed conflicts with friends, family, co-workers, in a calm, direct manner, rather than bottling emotions up or letting things slide. I feel surrounded by the best people, both in my life in Edmonton and elsewhere. I finally picked out all the weeds and kept the flowers. I've applied for and been given arts opportunities I never would have had in Toronto simply due to competition, reconnected with my community, made so many like-minded new friends, and gained some solid work experience at a huge corporation. While my job is an entry level job and a glorified customer service role, the pay is better than I've had in years, I've gained some real CV building experience, and saved more than my original goal. I applied for school and been admitted to a program I am very excited about this fall, and I even FINALLY got around to visiting Portland, Oregan this year. I recently even worked up the nerve to ask out a rather attractive bespectacled beardo who caught my eye, having never asked a guy out before, EVER, and without even caring if he liked me back! I've told guys I've liked them before, but only after obsessively analyzing signs and when I was almost certain they liked me too, because I always felt like I had something to lose. People are always shocked when I tell them I am shy, something I am not in general, but definitely in the love department. I've been hurt and disappointed before, and it usually takes a lot for me to share how I feel with someone in a romantic way. I don't know what came over me this time, I literally thought he was interesting and cute and just asked him out. Our encounter amounted to little more than a drunken flirtation, but hey, I had fun, and at the very least: I asked. That's HUGE growth for me. And something I will so do again, the next time the sashay of a gent holds my attention. I've missed moments with people I've liked before because I was a chicken shit, but I won't let that happen again. In fact, I feel like I am in the most mature, healthy place I've been maybe ever when it comes to starting a new relationship. I am finally in a place where I am ready to be the kind of partner I've always wanted. 

Six months into the new year and I've achieved so many little goals. Sometimes you just need to Shake It Out, Shake It Out in a Florence and Machine fashion, leave the past behind, and get over yourself. I am glad I finally feel like I have. 
Here's an outfit I wore out recently. It didn't photograph well, but I loved the mixed textures of my tapestry skirt and denim shirt.

Thanks for reading! And bearing with my outpouring of the soul through out so many of my posts these past few weeks. 
Charmaine x