Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sleep Masks


Because my job is a 24-hour position, I work a lot of night shifts. The shifts themselves aren't so bad (although if my bosses ever monitored my internet activity, I'm sure they'd be like "Who needs to read so many nail polish blogs at 4 in the morning?") but the days following are the worst. I usually get home around 8am, when the sun is bright and my landlords dogs are barking away in the backyard. 

This is a pretty accurate representation of my personality at that time: 


My room has tons of natural light which is great most of the time, and terrible when I need to sleep during the day. My makeshift solution of sticking a pillow over my head is not cutting it so I've been thinking about investing in a sleep mask to block out the light (and make me feel fancy and glamourous). Here are a few options I've found:

(Pictures are linked to their sources)

Retro Glam
This one from Etsy is my favourite, but at $41 Canadian, a little out of my price range.

Sweet and Sleepy
I love love love yellow and pink together, and this also has little birds on it! 

Tossing and Turning
This one has two (!) adjustable straps, which would make it a lot more likely to stay on my abnormally shaped head. 

Plain and Practical
This navy one is simple but seems highly rated, I think because of the material used and the shape around the eye area.

The Dark Night
I'm sure there's no need to explain why this is awesome. 
I've also been toying with the idea of making one myself. I found this tutorial on Pinterest, but I'm not sure my sewing skills are up to it. 

What do you guys do when you have to sleep in less-than-ideal conditions?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book Review: Good Oil


The second I read the description for Love and Other Perishible Items (Good Oil in Australia) by Laura Buzo, I knew I had to read it: 
(From GoodReads) "From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?"
I am a sucker for romances that involve huge age differences--who knows why? 
Amelia's story sucked me right in. Her voice was real and honest and heartbreakingly relatable. I had flashbacks to being sixteen and working at the local video store the entire time I was reading. One quote, in particular, felt like it was pulled directly from my own (hypothetical, and more articulate) diary: 
"The yawning six-year chasm between my age and Chris’s is not the only fly in the proverbial ointment of this “loving Chris” business. I’m not even sure what “getting” Chris would involve; all I know is I want him. I want to be enfolded by him somehow, and to possess him. To have unfettered and exclusive access to him all the time. To feel how I feel around him all the time. To know that he loves being around me too. To feel more of his skin on my skin."
How freaking accurately does that describe your first (possibly inappropriate) crush?

The book is told from alternating points of view, meaning that we hear about events from both Chris and Amelia's perspective.. At first I found the transition from one to the other, not to mention Chris's angst, a little annoying. By the second half of the story, as Chris tried to figure out what to do with his life, I was able to relate to him, and his particular brand of mid-twenties confusion, more and more. 

I also really enjoyed reading about the social politics of the Woolworth's. Anyone who has ever worked a part time job could probably relate to the bizarre power structures that exist when you have a primarily youth-staffed workplace. There was also Amelia's first exposure to drinking, drugs and sex through her older coworkers. I don't know if it was the universality of the experience, or if it was just incredibly well written (I suspect both) but again I found myself feeling as though the author had picked my 16-year old brain. 

This novel made me sad, in many ways. The characters don't have an easy time of it, and that felt very realistic. Amelia never gets much of a break, whether it's her parents financial problems or her best friend starting to drift away. There are no fairy tale makeovers in this book, and despite my love of fairy-tale makeovers, I think that's why I connected with it so much. Amelia had to survive on the strength of her own character, which meant that by the end of the novel I was still left with a sense of hope for her. 

I enjoyed this book more than I have any in a long while, so if you get a chance to read it, I would highly recommend it. I think it would be especially good for: anyone who has every harboured an impossible crush, those experiencing mid-twenties angst, people who are not robots. 

You can also friend me on GoodReads, if you want!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A genuine personality

Lauren Claire wrote a great post recently about trying to make yourself in imitation of other people. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, as I deal with meeting tons of new people and trying to figure out where I fit into the flow of things at my new job.

I have a bad habit of assuming that other people's personalities are superior to my own. All during high school, I tried on personas like they were dresses, trying to find the one that people would like the best.   I would do this (especially cringe-worthy) thing where I would quote clever lines from movies or books--but not make it clear that they were quotes and not my own words! It was like I thought that if I could memorize little quips, I would somehow develop a sparkling wit that was all my own.  I did, eventually, develop my own sense of humour, but it took a while for me to figure out that being disingenuous was actually making it harder to relate to people. It caused loads of anxiety that really just made it worse. 

Inevitably, I would always find that when under pressure, my own personality is the one that would take center stage.

This is a nerdy analogy, but I was watching X-Men: First Class with my roommate the other day, and there is a scene where Magneto tries to prove that Mystique is using half of her energy and abilities on trying to look "normal". He drops a weight on her, and and in order to catch it, she switches into her normal form.


When I'm concentrating on maintaining a facade, my focus is not on what I'm supposed to be doing. And as soon as things get stressful, the first thing to go are whatever pretences I'm trying to maintain. It's kind of like going to the gym. I might look great when I get there, but if I'm really giving it my all, I look like hell when I walk out--and I don't care, because I feel great.

The absolute weirdest thing about this is exactly what Lauren Claire points out, which is that the best personality I've ever had is the one that is the most me. I might have a moment of regret when I blurt out exactly what I'm thinking, but more frequently I'm rewarded by someone saying "I feel exactly the same way." I might feel tragically uncool because I can't help but laugh at my own jokes, but I would so much rather be a sincere dork than be coolly cynical and unable to laugh at silly puns

I think I will always strive for self-improvement, and I'll use others as models for how I would like to be (see: my post on "What would Tami Taylor do?"). At the end of the day, however, it takes much less energy to develop and hone the traits I already possess, rather than try to superimpose another personality on top of my own.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Chocolate hearts and gratitude

This is not related to the post below. I just think it's wonderful. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 
(I didn't have access to internet yesterday, hence the late post)

I spent the day in London with my best friend for life (or Biffle, as my cousin would say!)

I’ve never been one to hate or love Valentine’s Day. I’ve been both single and attached on V-Day, and I never found it made much of a difference either way!  I have noticed, however, that February 14th falls in kind of an awkward place in the calendar year. The glow of Christmas has worn off, summer still feels pretty far away, and if you’re not with someone special, it can feel like the world is conspiring to remind you of that fact.

Since I turned 23, I’ve felt that being single was a choice. After two serious relationships, I really wanted to remember what it felt like to be myself again, rather than part of a couple.

But I have to admit, on the drive down to London after work on Thursday, I started to feel a little…well, down. It was silly, really, and I felt even sillier for letting it bother me,  but it was a difficult feeling to shake.

Then yesterday morning, my friend’s sister was packing up her two kids to take them to the library. She has an adorable two-year-old girl and a newborn boy. “It took me 45 minutes to leave the house,” she told me.

“Is it a lot harder with the two kids instead of the one?” I asked.

“It’s way different,” she agreed. She spent every minute I saw her with the kids, feeding, bathing, playing, or soothing. And I had a moment of realization about how very...self-involved my life is.

Almost every decision I make, everything I think about and do, revolves around myself. I don’t schedule my shifts around anyone; I don’t support anyone; I can (and do) sleep in until 11 on days I’m not working, and I decide to head to London on a moments notice without checking in with anyone.

While initially, my thought was “Wow, my life is so selfish,” my next thought was: “No, my life is SO awesome.”

One day I hope that I meet someone amazing, who won’t mind that I’m scatterbrained and who hopefully enjoys taking spontaneous road trips. And when I have two kids and it takes me 45 minutes to leave the house, I hope that I also think that my life is totally awesome.

But for now, I’m just so grateful to be where I am. To have a great home and roommate, to have friends all over the world, a job I am starting to love and a family that will support me no matter what. I’m so grateful that I can make the choice to work 60 hour weeks if I need to, or watch 60 hours straight of Dawson’s Creek if I want to, without anyone complaining.

I am in no way saying that being single is better than being attached (or vice-versa). For me, it’s all about being appreciative about where I am now, and remembering that that is exactly where I need to be at this moment in time.

I hope everyone ate a lot of delicious chocolate and cinnamon hearts yesterday!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Snow day!



Last year, some friends and I were out for dinner, freaking out about a test we had the next day. We were joking with the waiter that we were crossing our fingers for a snow day.

"What are y'all taking in school?" he asked us. 

"Emergency Management," we replied, faking exasperation, a hint of pride in our tone. 

"Won't you guys be working on snow days, not taking the day off?" 

It was kind of like the moment you realize that aside from teaching or becoming a permanent student, not many professions include two months of summer vacation. Emergency managers don't get snow days. My dream job might involve working on Christmas, snow days, the apocalypse...

I decided I was okay with it. 

The really awesome thing about my job right now is that it's not yet my dream job. I'm still getting there. Which means that while I worked 12 hours yesterday and had to battle a 3.5 hour commute home in this snowstorm, today I get to take the day off, just like everyone else. I'm spending the day staying in bed, catching up on my favourite blogs, reading trashy fiction and drinking hot chocolate. It is awesome. 

Here are some things I am reading/browsing today: 

Kaitastrophical has me seriously convinced that I need some Lands End seersucker pants

A friend posted this on facebook and I had to share, because it's perfect: What It's Like To Be A 20-Something As Told By "Mean Girls," "Bridesmaids," And "Girls"

Remember that 3.5h commute home I was talking about? This song helped me get through it with only moderately murderous thoughts. 

I am a long time West Wing fan, and have recently become addicted to the Newsroom. I love this article about how Aaron Sorkin inspired a new generation of politicians and bureaucrats. 

It's a little cheesy, but I find this Levo League article on Career Lessons from Taylor Swift completely endearing. TSwift keeps me endlessly upbeat, which is probably the most valuable career booster there is! 

I am seriously considering getting a Keurig or a Tassimo, but I can't decide on which. Considering I drink mostly lattes and am scared of real coffee, does anyone have any opinions on this? 

I hope y'all are staying safe and getting a chance to relax at home instead of braving the cold/snow! 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Disconnecting


I finally have internet again! 

Okay, in reality it's only been 3 days since I moved into this house, which means it's only really been three days since I haven't had internet. But when you only work 1-2 times a week, those three days feel endless. 

As happy as I am to have internet again (yay blogging!), there was something a little freeing about being so disconnected. While I could still check Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail on my phone, I couldn't waste time nearly as efficiently as I used to, by streaming endless hours of Gossip Girl, or meandering pointlessly around the internet. I had to actually, you know. Entertain myself. 

And it's been great. I actually attempted a Pinterest-worthy craft, instead of just pinning and thinking "Oh, that's nice." I made real dinner, instead of calling for take-out or settling for a sandwich. I've read, and watched a few movies all the way through (as opposed to watching a movie while my laptop is perched on my lap). It forced me to focus on one thing, rather than twelve. 

All that being said, excuse me while I go catch up on all my favourite blogs! 

Do you ever take a break from the internet? How does that go for you? 

Monday, 4 February 2013

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