Saturday, February 9, 2013

The L Word

Remember that song I put up, promising there would be a video coming up? Well, it's been a few months, but it's finally done!


So, without further ado, here it is. If you're curious about the lyrics, I've posted them in the description box on the YouTube page where you can easily view them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNMkcAEHKts

Love it, hate it? Let me know...I love reading your opinions and comments. They're so so very helpful, and there's nothing more appreciated than constructive criticism when trying to improve or just try something new in song-writing. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong...your opinions play a big role in that process of trial and error.

On the subject of music, my boyfriend recently showed me a song that has got me absolutely HOOKED. It's called "I Love It" by Icano Pop, a newer band that has amazing dance music. Their "Top Rated" and "Ready for the Weekend" songs are also great for workout playlists, or just rocking out in your bedroom with a hairbrush. Whatever your drive for listening to music, they're definitely worth checking out.

On the subject of things involving the L Word, it's that time of the year again....You know, the one in elementary school when you would cut out hearts and spend hours writing friends' names on cards, all the while secretly praying that taping a heart-shaped candy on there wouldn't be too "riskée" or make someone think you actually liked them (because God knows that shit SO did not happen). A time of brown paper bags or just blushing if you were the crush of that boy that, year after year, always gave the same girl a rose....

Or, in High-School, just not going to school because you were "too sick" (hey, getting ready for that chocolate binge was hard work).

That's right, Valentine's Day is almost upon us. And for the first time, my friends and I are faced with a dilemma entirely out of the ordinary...

not being single. 

I know, I was shocked when I found myself in this situation, too. See, the problem is that we're no longer faced by the fact that we don't have boyfriends (that was nothing a good "let's-all-cry-at-our-lives-and-why-not-add-in-the-human-condition-in-there-too movie and chocolate binge couldn't fix)...we are now panicking over the fact that we DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

We can't be like in High-school and pretend it doesn't exist, press the "skip" button like that Click remote. We can't pull out brown paper bags because....well, that'd just be weird. We can't pop open a bottle of wine because alcohol doesn't solve problems, folks. No, we sit here and wonder what they're going to do or if it's us that have to plan something or...

You know what, I think I'm just going to eat a chocolate. As my friend would say "peace out".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Doin' it in Style


I live in a house of seven girls. We all went to England, somehow became friends, somehow ended up signing a lease and moving in together in a new town for this university year. It's one of those things that, looking back, you could never have seen coming...and it's been a crazy, we're-all-humans-here-so-let's-not-kill-each-other, amazing year.

However, there comes a point when (as you're scrubbing the mountain of dishes that somehow manages to accumulate every.single.day because it's "your job") you ask the "what if?". What if things were different?..."What next?" comes pretty quickly after this. And that's how my house split into three groups. How my housemate (Meg) and I decided that, based on low-iron tendencies to eat the same foods, we should totally get an apartment together.

(Food is the true stuff of friendship, peoples. Whoever said the opposite couldn't have been drunk and must have been lying). 

Sending out inquiries for apartments on Kijiji is like throwing a message in a bottle into the ocean: you're not sure where it's going, and more often than not you never see it again. But after a few days, something beautiful happened...we started getting responses.

And so began Meg and I's Quest for an Apartment.

Certified Apartment Hunters


I ended up going to the first apartment showing alone. The tree cracking through the parking lot, looking very much like the one from Harry Potter that ate people, I turned around and beheld the "gem" before me: A tiny apartment, obscurely nestled next to an addition somehow connected to a mini-mart on top of which a balcony had been attached, barbecue precariously balancing on the edge.

"Possible tanning spot?" I pointed out to the other freezing Apartment Hunters outside. They all agreed.

Andddd that was about the first and last pro of that place. Unless you're into yellow-spotted ceilings, flooding bathroom floors and closet-sized living space...then SNATCH THAT GEM!

Let this be a lesson to you, dear reader: Streetview on Google maps does not lie. I learnt this after making the same mistake twice, dismissing the next apartment Meg and I went to view as "the wrong address" when it was clearly on top of the Chinese food restaurant with the beer store's "open" sign sparkling from the living room window.

Gosh, watta view. Heart-melting and all.

"Maybe they give food discounts?" Meg pointed out. The possibility weighed heavily on our shoulders as we left for the next viewing, just two blocks down the street. 

Now THIS ONE was a true gem.

Though I admired one of the tenant's attempts at sound-proofing his room with egg cartons ("You go, man." *thumbs up* ), the fact was that the third apartment we viewed wouldn't cut it. And I was also fairly certain something was hiding in the wall on the other side of that cardboard.

Having a Brownie living in my house had sounded like a pretty cool idea as a child...the thought of having one now was not.

(PS. If you don't know what a Brownie is, I suggest catching up on your fairy lore and looking it up - you are missing out. Also, they're a fantastic excuse answer to life's problems: "No, it is not my fault that so-and-so went missing, it's the Brownie's!...." No one can argue it. No one.) 

I looked at Meg, trying hard to stifle a nervous giggle. It is a problem when the bathtub is less tub than cement-that's-cracking, and another Apartment Hunter asks how bad the humidity is in the summer (forget air-conditioning ever existed - it does not) as he digs his toes into the already green, mushy carpet.

"It's pretty bad," the landlord admitted. (← THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN) .

Soooo...that was a no.

(Notice the pictures to the right of Egg-Carton Guy's? This is what happens when you can't afford rent - you start building pillow forts in your friends' living room and see how long you can steal their cable). 

The problem about apartment hunting in January is that most buildings (where the non-student populace lives) don't know whether or not they'll have vacancies until March. This left Meg and I in a precarious position: settle on one of these "apartment gems" or wait...So when I got a response to a message in a bottle I'd been sure the sea had swallowed as a side-dish, I set up a viewing with Anonymous and hoped for the best.


"The Best" is exactly what it turned out to be.

We walked in, took one look around, looked at each other, and said: "We'll take it." It was that simple; uncomplicated, and perfect. All the points on our list of Apartment Qualifications could be checked off:

- Everything was clean (the saying that girl tenants are "worse than guys" is the biggest untruth of life - at least they don't take pride in CULTIVATING MOULDY BREAD on their floor). 
- It's just a walk away from campus, 1 minute away from our favorite night spots (no more taxis!) and friends' places.
- It's affordable.
- The coin laundry building is right next to it.
- They were OK with Meg's Bearded Dragon lizard (as long as it stayed "in the tank").

My mother, between phone calls in which I managed the down-payment with my dad and she inserted "that this was a scam" because "that's what happened to so-and-so in Montreal, and...well, look at them now!" (don't you love references from I-don't-know-how-many years ago?), said that I would surely die (if not contract some terrible ailment) from the fumes wafting up to my apartment...But I'm willing to risk it.

(She also didn't approve of the fact that this was above a pawn shop...to which I pointed out that it was actually far enough in the back that we may as well have been on another building altogether.)

Though my mother remains unconvinced that this is actually a step toward my brilliant future, that's OK.  Because it's paid for, my dad's laughing at the whole situation, my sister approves because it means downtown shopping, I don't have to become best friends with mould, and, well....Meg and I have a place!

So here's to moving in May 1st, bearded-dragon and all! :)



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Take Me To India

Oh, family reunions: Discovering that while you were in England, your 3-feet-tall cousin was escaping the clutches of a wild boar while on a safari in Africa (good thing his parents enrolled him in sports)...

That kid is more worldly than I am. 

Though I recognize the immaturity of being jealous of a 6 year old, the need for adventure was enough to make me reach for another glass of champagne. I mean, I went from traveling all over Europe for a year to spending half of one in the same town ...Never mind Caribbean islands, I haven't traveled further than my COTTAGE since the summer.

Where are the life-threatening, wild hero-sweeping situations I had dreamed of as a child? If "life is either a great adventure or nothing" (as Helen Keller said) then I have fallen into the nothing. I've become restless.

So this was the point when I declared to everyone: "I'm going to teach English in India."


Ha! Take that, parents. Because, really, while I was dreaming of being an editor for some big-shot company (my dreams have holes, I know, but I was going to find a name for this said company soon) and having a bestseller that would launch me into super-star book-dome, they were under the impression that I would become a teacher... Fine then, I'll teach: In Syberia India

Because, really, what else are you going to do with a Bachelor of Arts and an English Literature major and French Studies minor? they were thinking. 

What back-stabbers. 


....the fact half of my family believed me, however, came as such a surprise that the idea went from an absurdity to a possibility in the span of 3 seconds. The fact my parents (making loud exclamations of mock-protest) were among the non-believers made me think:

If not India, then what the hell am I going to do with my life? 

I am not saying there's anything wrong with being a teachermy mom is a high-school teacher, my dad the principal of my old high-school; the profession is entirely respectable. I just don't want my kids to have to live through those awkward summer teacher-gatherings I lived through, my sister and I hiding in my room while debating the merits (if there were any) of entering the "teacher zone" downstairs to retrieve food. 

No, being a teacher is not OK. What I realised, however, is that it's not the teaching profession itself that's scared me, just the idea that I would turn into my parents. And there's nothing wrong with my parents, I love them, I just don't want to BE them. 

So hence the idea of teaching in India. 

If you could have a job anywhere, anyplace, anytime, what would it be? Because I'm not too sure what mine is anymore. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Syberia...The New Bunbury.

With Christmas and the new year comes family reunions and resolutions...And though I do love my family and friends, there are moments when I want to run away, curl up with a cup of tea and just escape all the hype to read.

Some books that are so refreshing you read them and come out...different. Not changed, exactly, but more like a kid that's found the really awesome, flamingo-pink sequined dress at the bottom of the toy box and wants to try it on for a bit and see if she, too, can look like a princess...or, in a slightly more grown-up case, a hot mess. 

(I have never been a hot mess by the way - the ''hot-mofo'' gene must have skipped a generation). 

Anyway, the book is this: How To Expect The Unexpected by Jenny Lawson. You know, the one that's been topping the Top 100 Bestsellers List and has a little (taxidermied, I might add) mouse on the cover brandishing a word, all musketeer-like? 

Yeah, that'd be the one.

I had so much fun with the string of ''real or not real?'' bizarre events and The Bloggess' voice that, to my sister's despair, I decided to start having some fun with words of my own. (My little sister is not a book loverI'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that I chose them over her during my hermit years).


So, Welcome to Syberia...

''I'm going to Syberia,'' I told my sister, snapping my book shut. 
She looked at me, non-plussed. 
''Oh, Erika....'' And she gave me THAT look, the one that makes me re-evaluate my life choices. 

FINE, BE THAT WAY....Child. 

So I moved on to the next closest human (really, looking back, I ought to have told the dogat least SHE would have understood), hoping for some kind of reaction that involved more than a condescending shaking of the head.

''Erika, want to go to the store?'' my mother asked me, flipping another page from her home renovation magazine. 
''No, I'm going to Syberia.''

Her gaze, which had once been so non-nonchalantly fixed upon glossy pages as she sipped her third cup of coffee, jolted. And hence followed the look of horror especially designed for moi as I looked up from Kevin O'Leary's book on financial aid (which is really good, I might add: Saving myself from bankruptcy at the age of 19 has definitely become one of my life's priorities).

''Why???'' she asked. 
''I heard it was nice,'' I said, and shrugged, going back to my book. ''Tigers, you know. And...stuff.'' 

(Yeah, that's right - I totally Googled this shit.) 

She then put her coffee down, looked me in the eye. There was more concern in that look than the time she discovered I had lost my ID in a coat at a club...though I must say it didn't beat the Great Bacon Incident of 1999).

''You want to die?''

Face-palm. Just, no, mother! 

My grandmother then pointed out from across the room that I was being ''insensible''. I pointed out that there was a clear distinction between my "Y" Syberia and that of the "I" Siberia of North Asia. No, I am not being insensitive. If anything, people are being insensitive. If Oscar Wilde had a Bunbury, then why shouldn't I?
Syberia is my Bunbury. There. (Also, ignore all the internet articles about the video game "Syberia"...that shit is totally not real). 

The point here, though, is that sometimes it's fun to just get away from all the seriousness and fall into silliness (even if it means ignoring the judging looks of others). Whether it's just getting lost in a book or playing pretend, it can make that 2-week Christmas break so much better. 

If you could pick one place to make your own, what would it be? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let's Make It Better

A number: 2012 

...you wouldn't think turning that last digit into a 3 would make that much of a difference, but it does. It's about those thoughts that kept you awake 'till there was no point in sleeping, about those memories that burned so bright you're scared you'll never get that again, the lessons that made you build and break...and, finally, how to make it better.

Better is a funny word, though. It implies actually knowing what "better" means...and finding out how to make it fit around your life without losing the imperfections that make it beautiful. Or, you know, just stopping yourself from sticking a big fat "I NEVER CARED ANYWAY!" sticker on it before shoving it into a folder...preferably one you'll never have to look at when you pay the bills.

So, in an attempt to find that "better" and make resolutions that will build rather than break, I've put together a list of things that make me...happy. If life is a quest for happiness, then shouldn't those things that make you happiest be stepping stones to finding out what you want?

20 Things I Love & Counting...

1. Dancing: Crazy, stupid, I-don't-have-a-care-in-the-world, give me a hairbrush (do people even do that anymore? I saw it in Raise Your Voice a long time ago and tried it, but it just didn't seem right), drown-out-the-world but Oh, God! don't let anyone else see dancing. 
2. Smiling & Laughing: Two things, I know, but what's better than the first leading to the next? 
3. Shocking: Nothing mean, just unexpected. There's something beautiful about just doing what you want and acting all nonchalant when your friends and family don't expect it.
4. Listening to Music: My sister put me on the One Direction train this Christmas....Hated them, started loving them, never going back. 
5. Funny-Stupid Things That Make You Smile: For example, this song:



Listen to it. Now picture him singing this to a cupcake...
pretty cute, huh? Haven't been able to see it any other way since the day I read it in a comment. 
6. Conversations 'Till The AM: Simply the best. 
7. Writing Songs: I should probably add "About Past Relationships" (I blame Taylor Swift - Except I kind of love her, so don't be too harsh). 
8. Singing: In the shower, in the store when there's no one else shopping (because who buys vegetables at 8:00pm?), with a guitar, it's simply amazing. 
9. Breakfast at Midnight: My sister and I have this ritual of whenever I get back home, we have a midnight snack on the kitchen floor together....
Chairs are completely overrated. 
10. Popcorn at the Movies: Just...yeah, there are no words. 
11. Sleeping: Possibly the most amazing, overlooked thing. I love my bed. 
12. Sparkly Dresses: I was bought the moment my friend screamed at me to try one on because she "wanted to live through me" (a joke, of course - but needless to say, I was hooked). 
13. Listening and Talking: People have the craziest stories and I absolutely love hearing them. 
14. Sun-Bathing: Sunlight is beautiful - beautiful, and warm. (This love includes beaches). 
15. Halvah Bars: If you've never had one, try it - it's absolutely amazing. Like, worth-the-extra-5-pounds-in-luggage-weight going back to England amazing. 
16. Health: Anything health-related fascinates me. Simple as that. 
17. My Cottage: Summer or winter, it's my heaven. 
18. Family and Friends: Another combination, but they kind of all bundle up together. Moments mean little without those special people to share them. It's simple: I love them. 
19. Exercise: Running, especially, and core workouts (I will have abs some day!).
20. Writing: Being able to put something into words is the hardest but most rewarding challenge.


That was my list of "20 Things I Love & Counting"...what kind of things would be on yours? As the New Year rolls in, so will the resolutions accompanying it. I've had a fabulous, completely life-changing year...

Now here's to finding out how to make 2013 even better. 

Cheers!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Take These Broken Words...

...and make them breathe. 

I fell in love with a poem. It was September, the summer fading fasttaking with it things I had thought would lastand Lord Byron`s Stanzas for Music echoed feelings in me that had yet to shape words. It spoke such truth that, reading it out loud, I started to sing instead. And it was beautiful...but I didn't understand it. The first line, "There's not a joy can give like that it takes away," perplexed me, and it wasn't until putting the words to music that I finally understood the poem's deeper meaning. 


A melody formed. It started through voice and was transported by a few plucked guitar strings. If I took anything away from my Literature and Music class this term, it's that anythingwhether it be a word, whisper, sighcomes from feeling. A work's success is generally indicative of its ability to move people, to conjure the author's origin of emotion in another. As interpreter of this poem, I could only attempt to draw from this origin of emotion ("the most melancholy I ever wrote," said Lord Byron), feel as much as I could and try to express it as Byron did, only in music.



Stanzas for Music 
Lord Byron, Interpreted by Me 

There's not a joy the world can give
like that it takes away 
When the glow of early thought 
declines in feeling's full decay; 

'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush 
alone, which fades so fast, 
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, 
ere youth itself be past.

Chorus 
Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and
mirth distract the breast, 
Through midnight hours that yield no more 
their former hope of rest,
'Tis the ivy-leaves around the turret wreath -
All green and wildly fresh without, 
but worn and grey beneath.

Then the few whose spirits float 
above the wreck of happiness 
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt, 
or oceans of excess.

The magnet of their course is gone, 
or only points in vain
The shore to which their shivered sail shall 
never (oh), ever, stretch again. 

Chorus 

Then the mortal coldness of the soul 
like death itself comes down; 
It cannot feel for others' woes,
it dare not dream its own; 
That heavy chill has frozen 
o'er the fountain of our tears,
And though the eye may sparkle still,
'tis where the ice appears. 

Chorus 

Oh, could I feel as I have felt, 
or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept...
...midst the withered waste of life.

So midst the withered waste of life those tears would flow to me...
so midst the withered waste of life those tears would flow to me. 

Chorus 

There's not a joy the world can give
like that it takes away 
When the glow of early thought 
declines in feeling's full decay. 

I sing and play music the same way I do anything elseby feel. I absolutely love this poem, and can only hope that my interpretation brought it to life in a meaningful way. This was a pass or fail project, worth only 5% of my overall class mark...yet I don't regret any time spent on it. Isn't any time spent in love time worth spending?

So I walked in to my professor's office, hair dripping wet from this year's first snowstorm, frozen fingers shaking as I opened my guitar case, and played this song for her. I was so relieved when she said, smiling, that she "loved it" that I could only laugh happily.

The next day, I walked into my last class to the announcement that I could have it professionally recorded, potentially filmed. I am so, so excited and giddy and thrilled! And though I've put up this image-less video for the time being, I'll be updating the new one as soon as it's recorded.

Funny how, sometimes, that tiny 5% isn't so small after all. ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Breathe Out


Did you ever find yourself in a position, a situation, a moment, where you just didn't know what to say? You can feel it crackling in the air, a live thingthis is important, this has meaning!and yet when you reach out to touch it, it slips away. All that's left is the feeling that something precious was lost, even though you don't know what.

And then that moment's past, the person gone...and suddenly the words come.

These are the words written at 2:00AM, the ones I didn't know how to say, but can sing. It's one of those cases, when the person in mind is so simply sad and hopeless, a laugh escapes. It's not joyous, it's hollow. It's breathing out, when you can't even speak. It's caring about someone more than they do for themself...and  having to let go before you get burned, too.

So here's the song I wrote for the words I couldn't say, for people whose names will never be mentioned but that I hope, one day, might listen.

video

Breathe Out 
my original composition

Breathe out, 
these are the words I caught in the wind 
And I smile, as you cast your net 
and cut my paper wings. 

Once upon a time in a land far ago 
the cold city boy met the wood-bound princess. 
And they'd play in the forest 
'till the moon hung low.
...that was, oh, how many years ago?

Pre-Chorus 
And I won't be made guilty for 
decisions I have taken. 
(No)
The day you made yours, 
gave me no other option. 

Chorus 
When the concrete's warmer than the bed you're lying in,
too wound up to see the stop signs caving in; 
when the words won't come 
'cause they're the only ones worth saying. 
Breathe out, breathe out, breathe out, 
breathe out, breathe out, breathe out...
when I can't love you. 

It's called 
The mistakes we make on purpose 
for those who hurt us. 
Damaged, the boy reaches out for more
he always wants more, 'till the castle's burnt 
and they're the last two standing...
Good thing he never knew her 
heart was for the taking.

Pre-Chorus 
Chorus 

And it's hard to breathe out
when i see you
sinking, wasting, burning
in a fire too late to put out.
But what can I do when you
don't want to know you?
(and I thought I didn't know myself)
Look me in the eye,
tell me you're not high.
What can I do when I'm wanting to know you
and I'm reaching out, reaching out,
but you're not breathing out.

Chorus 

Breathe out,
these are the words I caught in the wind.
And I smile, as you cast your net,
and cut your paper wings...





I started writing this song in the summer, when something happened that came back up during recent events. It wasn't until today that I finished it. I apologize for the lack of visual in the video (the sound quality, too)I'll make a better one soonbut, for now, here it is! What do you think?

Do you have that song? The one that, feeling happy or low, you could just hand to those who ask "are you ok?"...and let it speak the words that you can't?