September + October 2017 Behind the Scenes

Posted on November 04, 2017 under Life

Well, this one is big! A lot has changed since my last Behind the Scenes post, so let’s get into it.

Moved to Scotland

I arrived here the morning of September 6, so it’s been just about two months. Luckily the transition was pretty easy since I spent the third year of my undergrad in Glasgow. I live pretty close to where I was before, and I shop at the same Tesco and Superdrug. The biggest adjustment has been leaving all my friends and family behind. After I graduated I moved back home to Toronto and got to spend a year and a half seeing my friends and family all the time, and now I’m back to being separated from them. Luckily, FaceTime exists – I talk to my parents every week and my friends almost as often.

Started grad school

I’m about halfway through my first semester of grad school now. I really missed being in school and this is the goal I’ve worked towards for four years now! This semester I’m taking two classes: a core course which runs all year, and Advanced Topics in Film Studies. Next semester I’ll be taking Advanced Topics in Television Studies and a class on festivals alongside the core course. I’m really looking forward to that because I’m way more interested in TV than film, and the course is co-taught by one of the professors I had when I studied abroad who I loved. There are three different streams in my department, two practical and then the academic programme that I’m in, and it’s cool to mingle with the students who are making films and training for careers within the film industry instead of academia.

I thought transitioning back to school might be difficult, but it wasn’t – I feel so comfortable in an academic setting. It was a bit strange to go from working 40 hours a week on someone else’s schedule to being in charge of my own time minus my ~10 hours a week on campus. But the workload has been manageable and I’m not struggling with the content. Around half of the people in my programme studied something other than film in their undergrad, and I can see that sometimes they’re lost – so I’m grateful to my film/cultural studies background for giving me a leg up here!

I wouldn’t say the classes, assignments, or reading are significantly more difficult than what I was doing in the last year of my undergrad. My biggest struggle has been the pace of my core course – each week is taught by a different professor on a single topic, and the next week we move on to a totally different topic. It’s so different from the in-depth courses I took in fourth year. If there’s a topic I’m interested in and want to explore in an essay, I can’t rely primarily on the content presented in class – that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a lot more independent research to do on my own time. It obviously makes sense that grad school would be more research-based, but that’s been the biggest transition for me.

Cut my hair

I mean, I literally cut my own hair. I’ve done it a few times before, and it always turns out far less terribly than you might think. I keep oscillating between wanting to maintain a short cut and grow it out to its eighteen-year-old glory:

However, my hair is far too damaged to be past my shoulders. I’m also attempting to stay strong now that I’m eight months bleach-free, and growing out the blonde paradoxically means cutting my hair to get rid of it. Anyway, it was time for a cut – the ends were fried and it was becoming shapeless. I’m sure it’s a total hack job if you look closely, but I’ve been living my life this way for the past three weeks and it’s been fine. I do really like it at this length, but now that my hair is back on the road to health I’m yearning for the ability to have it long again. (And I REALLY miss doing high ponytails!)

Went to a drag show

A classic Clem move is getting really into a TV show in the first few weeks of a semester. Past obsessions have included The OC and Scandal. This time, mainly inspired by the lack of selection on UK Netflix, it was RuPaul’s Drag Race. All my friends love the show so it was only a matter of time before I copied them. I will not tell you how quickly I watched all nine seasons plus the two All Stars seasons, but it was fast. And then I went to see some of the most popular RPDR queens (Sharon Needles, Alaska, Courtney Act, Willam, Jinkx Monsoon, and Trixie Mattel) when they came to town for a Halloween show. (Aquaria, Sharon’s drag daughter who is rumoured to be on season 10, was also there.) The show was the day after Trixie was officially announced as an All Stars 3 cast member, so when she came onstage the energy was incredible. She was very smiley and happy and the other queens were really supportive of her. Sharon Needles spent a long time complimenting her and calling her a genius, and later Trixie mentioned that in her season 7 promo she said that Sharon was her favourite RPDR queen, so everything came full circle. Jinkx also blew me away – I really liked her on season 5, but she fully won me over live. She was so funny and energetic, and she unexpectedly sang “Life On Mars?”, which, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you will know is one of my favourite songs of all time.

I was about four rows back and had a really good view of the stage, so here are some of my pictures:

Alaska, Willam, and Courtney Act, aka the AAA Girls; Courtney Act dressed as Britney Spears; Alaska dressed as Peter Pan

Trixie Mattel; Trixie performing with Courtney; Jinkx Monsoon in a very “Life On Mars?”-esque colour scheme.

Trixie; Trixie performing with Sharon Needles (two winners?!); Sharon

Sharon is my favourite of these six queens but I barely got any good pictures of her because she would not stay still. She was the last queen onstage (since she’s the Queen of Halloween she was saved until the end!), and she came out of a coffin.

All in all, a great experience, and one that I’d totally repeat and recommend. I have a ticket for Trixie’s solo show in January, so that will be fun!

Went to southern England

Over the summer I stayed up until 5am to buy tickets to see Harry Styles in London, and the show was this past weekend. I stayed with Aisling in Brighton. I’ve been to Brighton twice before and the weather was terrible both times, so I was very excited that last weekend it was sunny and clear. On Sunday Aisling and I went to the adorable town of Lewes, where I had my first ever cream tea. (By the way, I tried both the Devonian and Cornish methods and I am 100% Team Devon. It’s a lot harder to spread clotted cream on top of jam than vice versa!)

On Monday I spent eight hours outside in the cold lining up to see Harry in London, which was inevitable. I’m an unashamed adult One Direction fan, and now that the band is unofficially dead Harry is the only one whose career I’m following closely. (He’s always been my absolute favourite.) He bought Pizza Hut and hot chocolate for the hundreds of fans who waited in line for him, which just makes me love him more. Sadly the GA audience was awful and basically treated a small show like a One Direction concert in a stadium, so the show itself wasn’t the best experience for me. But Harry was great and I’m excited to see him again in April.

November promises to be pretty busy what with the end of the semester (only three weeks left!), and in December I’ll be in Canada, so we’ll see what I have to report in my next update.

Behind the scenes: July and August 2017

Posted on September 11, 2017 under Life

Back when I was taking driving lessons, my instructor asked me when my summer break would start. It was early enough in my lessons that the idea of speaking and driving simultaneously was ludicrous to me, so I just laughed and said shortly, “I don’t have a summer break.” So, yes, July and August were spent working 40+ hours a week (as all my months have been for the past year), but they were also spent preparing for my move to Scotland. (Which is a thing that happened, but in September, so you will hear about it next time.) However, I did manage to get a bit of stuff done outside of working and packing!

Officiated a wedding

I mentioned this already, but my amazing friends Paige and MJ got married in July and I officiated the wedding! It was an absolutely perfect day! It had rained all week but the day of the wedding it was sunny but not too hot. The ceremony went smoothly, the vows were beautiful, and the reception was so much fun. What an honour not only to celebrate their love but to officiate their wedding! I get a little nervous with public speaking, but the rehearsal really soothed my nerves. It went well and it was in front of everyone who mattered, and on the day of I was able to pretty much tune out everyone but the beautiful brides. I tend to speak quickly when I’m nervous so I was very careful to pace myself, and it all turned out well. Then when the ceremony was over I got to celebrate by dancing so enthusiastically that I managed to give myself a mysterious and very large bruise on my leg. As a bonus, my friends and I rented a farmhouse in small-town Ontario for the weekend of the wedding, which was awesome. It came with a barn in the backyard!!!

In case anyone was wondering, here’s a picture of my dress (which is also the FIRST picture my friend/old roommate Katie and I got together in daylight in three years):

I literally looked through thousands of dresses online and hated everything I found and ordered this one from ASOS in a moment of desperation. It fit perfectly and the brides loved it because it contrasted nicely with the peachy-pinks the bridesmaids wore. All in all a success!

Went to Montreal

I feel like there is a trip to Montreal in all of my Behind the Scenes posts! I moved back to Toronto in April 2016 and since then I don’t think Katie and I have gone more than about 2 months not seeing each other. The Megabus journey isn’t fun, but it’s worth it to get to hang out. In Montreal we did private room karaoke (a classic activity for my friend group) and went to see the excellent Revolution exhibition at the MMFA. Oh, and we ate a lot of really good, cheap food (Montreal is the best for that) and drank canned sangria by the Lachine canal. All in all, pretty perfect. (Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” literally contains the line “Drink sangria in the park”, although that song is also very melancholy and possibly about heroin so maybe not the best descriptor of my weekend with my friends.)

Passed my driving test

I finished my driving lessons in May, but I definitely wasn’t ready for my test at that point. I was nervous about how to proceed since my dad sold his car in the early 2000s, but luckily his good friend has a car with his name on the insurance. He was so patient and wonderful taking me out driving a few hours a week. He’s a great teacher and really built my confidence. And it all paid off, because I passed my driving test in mid-August!

The test is a bit of a blur – it was only 15 minutes long and felt even shorter. I remember taking a left turn and thinking, “Oh my god, did I check my mirror? Wait, have I checked my mirrors at all this entire time?” Then my examiner told me to parallel park and I said, “No problem,” which I immediately regretted because WHAT IF THERE WAS A PROBLEM AND I JUST LOOKED LIKE A COCKY JERK FOR NOTHING?! Luckily, I did it perfectly, and then completed a perfect 3-point turn, so I was feeling very confident heading back to the testing centre. Then my examiner threw me a huge curveball by asking me to front-in park. Now, I had been told that I would be asked to either parallel park or back-in park, so naturally I spent nine million hours practicing back-in parking since I found it pretty difficult. OF COURSE I had to front-in park. The combination of the surprise and the fact that I hadn’t practiced it nearly as much led me to unfortunately do a terrible job of it, and I was 100% convinced I had failed my test because, really, how are you supposed to pass when you end up parked in two spots? I took my test at 3pm on a Friday and I think my examiner was just done for the week because he shrugged and said, “Eh. I’ll pass you.” My instructor was waiting in the parking lot and witnessed the whole thing and said he was sure I had failed. (Me too, buddy!) I think my excellent parallel park is what saved me. Anyway, I actually DO know how to drive despite the error and now I have a license to prove it.

I know driving isn’t an especially impressive skill, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I had no interest in driving until I was 20, and I felt a little overwhelmed because I was quite a bit older than average when I actually started the process of getting my license. (I was 3 weeks away from 22 when I got my learner’s permit.) I went from having never touched a steering wheel to a licensed driver in about 4 months, and I passed my test on my first try at a testing centre with a 50% fail rate. So… I’m going to toot my own horn a bit here. ;)

Had a going away party

I hosted a going away party in my backyard before I left, and it was so great. It was lowkey and fun, which was exactly what I wanted. I felt super lucky because I had multiple friends come out of town for it. Also because my mom made 3 pitchers of sangria and her sangria is the best ever. ALSO because my friends brought a shrimp ring because I had been complaining about how expensive they are. I like shrimp but I mainly wanted a platter because they are a vehicle for cocktail sauce, which is one of the best things ever invented. So, friends, sangria, and cocktail sauce – who can complain?!

And that is pretty much that for July and August. I think I’ll probably have some more exciting stuff to share in my next behind the scenes post!

May + June 2017 Behind the Scenes

Posted on June 30, 2017 under Life

So… we’re already halfway through 2017, and I have a little over two months left in Canada. (One of the things I did in May was book my flight to Glasgow!) Here’s what I’ve been up to since the last time I checked in.

Saw Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling is one of my favourite musicians of all time. She released her sixth album in the spring and it was as glorious as I had hoped. Her folk-inspired music is intimate, haunting, and beautiful. She’s also an incredible performer: understated, mesmerizing, powerful. I’ve loved her music since 2011 and I will take any opportunity to see her live. I truly think she’s one of the most talented living artists. (The first time I saw her, St. Vincent and Cara Delevingne were in attendance, so clearly she’s doing something right.) If you haven’t heard her music, her new album Semper Femina is wonderful, and I Speak Because I Can and A Creature I Don’t Know are tied for first place in my heart.

Got a tattoo

When my grandpa died in September, I knew that my next tattoo would be for him. I spent a long time really thinking it over, for obvious reasons. I remembered a photo my uncle had taken of him kayaking a few years ago and decided that I wanted that image rendered in traditional style. My grandpa was in the merchant marines as a young man and he loved nothing more than being on the water. Even as his health began to decline, he always made it a point to kayak each summer, although it was very difficult for him to get into and out of the boat. He was determined to live his life to the fullest, physical limitations be damned. The picture symbolizes so much about him. I absolutely love how the tattoo turned out and I’m so happy to have my grandpa with me always. (By the way, I’m big on flower symbolism – I have four tattoos that all include flowers – and when I found out that forget-me-nots were his birth flower I squealed at how perfect that was.)

Turned 23

My birthday was on June 19. I managed to wrangle myself a nice little 4-day weekend, which I mostly took pretty easy. My family went out for sushi to celebrate on the Saturday before, and then on my actual birthday I went to the mall to treat myself with birthday money. It was a low-key day, but I also managed to wake up with a summer cold on my birthday, so that’s alright!

Went to my friend’s bachelorette

Two of my good friends are getting married in a few weeks, and one of them had a bachelorette in Toronto which I got to attend. It was super fun and made me so excited for the wedding! I’ve never been to a wedding before, and I can’t wait. It’s in just two weeks now and I’m buzzing with anticipation.

Took the guinea pigs outside

Now that the weather is nice, we’ve been taking Cassius and Wally outside. Since they’re hairless we can only do it when it’s overcast, or they’ll burn. But they just love standing there eating grass like mini cows. Also, Cassius made a new friend…!

And that is what’s up with me!

Books read: 11
Times I woke up at 4am to buy overpriced tickets to see Harry Styles in London: 2
Percent of my soul that loves Lorde’s new album: 100 (Writer In the Dark and Liability, though, am I right?)