Word of the Week [HIBERNATE]

Word of the Week

It’s been a cold one this week, I can’t tell you how many days I spent in doors, typing away on my laptop or writing in my journal with a warm blanket on my lap and a cup of hot chocolate by my side. Winters were made for hibernating and I can’t help but love it. The day has finally come when it’s acceptable to stay inside, no questions asked. I know that there are tonnes of winter sports and activities to take part in, but even in warm weather sports are not my scene. The first (and only) time I went skiing I ended up in the middle of the mountain, flat on my buns. One of my skis was nowhere to be found, my ski poles were scattered on the mountain. The first time I went snowboarding I couldn’t hack it and spent the day in the chalet listening to some guy tell me what a loser my boyfriend at the time was. So, to winter sports I say no. I’m sure I’ll find myself headed to the city to bask in the beautiful Christmas lights and tree, or out at a friend’s house, but that’s pretty much it.

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. — Anaïs Nin

It’s one thing to hibernate for the winter, it’s another to hibernate from your life. Once again I’ve got some decisions to make; answers to questions I’ve been successfully avoiding since August. What am I good at? What do I want for my future? What am I willing to do to get it?

Send hot chocolate, positives vibes, and help*

– Vanessa

Word of the Week [INIMITABLE]

Word of the Week

It’s a well-known fact that if you want to write well you must read a lot and often. Reading improves your own writing  in style, form, and vocabulary. I read a lot of great books, magazines, and try to mix up the genres too. I love it when I find a word I don’t quite know the meaning because it’s kind of humbling. Also, I want to have a kick-ass and diverse vocabulary.

This morning I posted a photo of a word on Instagram. It’s a word that I read in Women in Clothesa word that I think is worth sharing. My bestie’s brother commented on the photo and suggested I post a word of the day every Friday. I liked the idea, so welcome to the first WORD OF THE WEEK segment!

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“The most compelling women are the ones who are distinctive, who are most like themselves and less like other women. There is no other Marilyn Monroe. There is no other Anaïs Nin. And being as iconic and INIMITABLE as they were would be better than being like either one of them.”
Talk soon,
Vanessa
Quote from page six of Women in Clothes *

When life expands…(ADMIRATION DOESN'T PAY THE BILLS)

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

photo 3Every single time I head downtown I can feel my eyes open a little wider, my heart pound with excitement, and my mind expand with wonder. Saturday was the perfect day to walk around Queen West — the sun shone brightly, the air was fresh and crisp, and yet incredibly warm.

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The day started out with choosing a random restaurant for lunch — which turned out to have the best chicken panini I’ve ever had, complimented by the smoothest, richest, cup of coffee IN THE WORLD. After lunch we walked into every vintage clothing and furniture store we saw. One store was a rare beauty, with a dank musky stench that crawled up your nostrils and died. There were suitcases piled upon suitcases, typewriters, cameras, microphones, old photos of unknown people, and keys from a letterpress, all piled on top of each other. The cramped store was a sight for sore eyes but magical just the same and filled with so many stories. I smiled at the angry-looking store owner and complimented his inventory on the way out, I was feeling pretty good about it too, until I saw a handwritten sign that said ADMIRATION DOESN’T PAY THE BILLS. 

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After walking all of Queen Street West and strolling through Kensington Market, I realized two things:

A: my feet hurt

B: Toronto makes me feel confident, curious, and alive. 

Walking around with my head held high, a coffee in one hand and a great friend by my side, I saw the CN Tower outlined by a bright blue sky and I thought — this will be my home.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [WEEK 2]

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. —  Anaïs Nin

During week 2 of my internship I took some time to people-watch on the subway ride downtown– apparently most writers do it so it’s not creepy. In the morning almost everyone is quiet, they stare at their hands or close their eyes. A lot of them have headphones in their ears; I wonder what they’re listening to or if they’re listening to anything at all. I rarely listen to music: my headphones help create a bubble my personal space. I’m in my own little world, or so it appears to everyone else, meanwhile I’m eavesdropping on their conversations. Most mornings you’ll see people pull out a newspaper or a paperback novel while others pull out a pen and notebook. I saw one guy writing out intense math equations that I couldn’t understand and all I really wanted in that moment was to be inside his head. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT?! WHAT DO THOSE NUMBERS MEAN?!

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The other day an older woman sat across from me, she had salt-and-pepper hair and wore a long red skirt with brown stockings and brown loafers. She walked with a cane and when she sat down she rested both hands on it. Then she looked off into the distance and smiled. It looked as if she was remembering something, as if she was lost in her memories. That’s when I noticed a faded tattoo of a spider on her hand, in between her index finger and thumb. It was quite large with a black outline and red belly. I wondered how long she’s had it, why she got it, what it means to her. I wondered about the Story it represented. I wish I asked her about it…

As far as my internship went this week, I feel more confident when performing tasks and I’ve also headed home with a huge pile of books *heaven*. I attended and helped out at the Mount Pleasant launch – you may remember my review of the book. It was a great event and even with the crappy weather we had a wonderful turnout. This event was also held at the beautiful Ben McNally Books store, I’m obsessed with that place by the way. I also got to help out with an author lunch held in our offices, which meant putting my hospitality background to good use – cutting up fruit and veggies, setting up the boardroom, running errands, and cleaning up with my fellow intern. Is it odd that I LOVED it? I love being involved in these events!

Yes, the events are tiring but I’m telling you it’s worth it. Being a cog in the publishing machine is a great feeling – I’m helping a book get recognized. I’m a tiny part of a wonderful team that PUBLISHES BOOKS. How wicked-awesome is that? So far, I’m enjoying the entire experience. Sometimes I feel tired when I get up in the morning but by the time I get to the subway I’m pumped and excited to get into the office. And the commute downtown isn’t bad at all. I love being downtown (even when it’s raining). I literally bounce off the subway hoping that I’ll make it upstairs just in time to hear the church bells ring, in time to get a seat at Tim’s and enjoy my coffee before work.

It would seem that I enjoyed week 2 as much as I enjoyed week 1 and I did. Every day I see something new, I learn something new, I try something new, I see a new face, I walk down a new street. I’m not hibernating anymore, I’m living, breathing, exploring, and I cannot wait for week 3.

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Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

P.S How are you liking the new layout?

New Notebook Mantra

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve said before that my pen is my voice, my journals hold onto my stories, and each new journal is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I’ve mentioned that I start every new journal with the date on the inside flap and a quote just below it. The quote is supposed to be my mantra for the journal, for where I am in my life at that particular moment. I’ve also previously stated that I have a thing for Anaïs Nin and so the best of both worlds collide for the start of my latest chapter.

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“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anaïs Nin

Courage comes in all kinds of shapes and forms, sometimes it is needed to do trivial things and sometimes your life depends on it.

Be courageous each and everyday and live the life you’ve always dreamed.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

My drug and my vice.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

I’ve never been one to do certain things alone, like go out for a meal or to a cafe to read. Yesterday I decided to give it a whirl. I went to my work, Caruso Gourmet Pizza, ordered a minestrone soup and took out my copy of The Diary of Anaïs Nin 1931-1934.

This is the half-eaten version of my soup. It also came with toasted bread and oil and vinegar to dip it in -- SO GOOD.

This is the half-eaten version of my soup. It also came with toasted bread and oil and vinegar to dip it in — SO GOOD.

I sat in the sweet silence of my own bubble and read and ate to my heart’s content. The soup warmed me, fueled me, nurtured me. The words of Anaïs Nin inspired me, moved me, woke me up.

“This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice. Instead of writing a novel, I lie back with this book and a pen, and dream, and indulge in refractions and defractions… I must relive my life in this dream. This dream is my only life.” (ix)

Her words are so smooth, simple, and silky. She writes in a way that I only hope I aspire to. My pen is my vice, my diary (and my extension this blog) is my drug — Anaïs Nin took the words right out of my mouth. That is all I thought about after finishing the introduction of her book, realizing that I had spent more than 45 minutes eating and reading, alone. I had eaten slowly and consciously. I enjoyed every morsel of my food. I read with purpose and I felt the words come alive within me.

When I finally went on my way, with a coffee in hand, I drove slowly and looked around. I absorbed the pastel blue sky and watched it being chased by the slow-moving, soft clouds. In fact everything around me looked soft. The snow looked like velvet — touchable. The dead and thorny trees somehow even looked friendly to me.

And then I realized … I should probably keep my eyes on the road…

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Oh, but what a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I felt refreshed, light, focussed, and prepared to see and appreciate the world around me. 

When I reached my destination I took out my pen and my pink Moleskin, and wrote about it…

Love Always

Vanessa Xo