Explore. Dream. Discover.

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

It comes for you when you least expect it: comfort bordering on laziness or giving up. You get into a new routine that suddenly becomes an old routine. You don’t feel like leaving the house, or having adventures. The thought of staying out late gives you anxiety. You forgot how much you’ve accomplished in the last year by taking little chances, taking big risks, and leaving it all out on the line. You suddenly start to care about what everyone else thinks about you and can’t make a concrete decision without talking to everyone you value. Instead of helping, this just jumbles your head with possibilities, all of which seem impossible to you. You forget to do the things you love and worse of all, forget why you love them in the first place. You need to relocate your passion and understand your desires.


I am a victim of my own mind; accepting comfort and all of its dangerous forms. I tend to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side, but sometimes I forget to take care of my own lawn. I am a victim of self-induced paralyzing fear. If I am a product of my childhood, I still walk around in a bubble, but this time it’s of my own doing. If I don’t try anything new, I’ll never learn or grow. Comfort is great and accepting certain unalterable aspects of your life is fine, but not when you’re only twenty-five.



– Vanessa

Bursting the Bubble [Week 12]

Bursting the Bubble

Looking back on my previous Bursting the Bubble posts I’m amazed at how much fun I had, how many authors I met, how many events I was apart of, how many wonderful people I got to work with, and how hard I actually worked! Week 12, my final week, was all about the race to the finish line. There was a lot to do in the seemingly short four-day week BUT it somehow all got done. Thursday was a little sad to say the least. I know I am going to miss the subway ride to work, walking up the steps from King Station and having the beautiful sun blind me to the point that I nearly trip, walking into my little cubicle and getting to work. I’m going to miss the people at Random House, as well as, just being in Toronto.

As I sit back and re-read my own journey, I can’t help but notice how much I’ve grown and changed thanks to this internship. I went from the girl who never took the subway on her own to the girl who feels completely comfortable and confident with exploring the city by herself. I’m not afraid to wander around and find new things, I’m not scared to hail my own cab if that’s the only way to get home, and I’m no longer afraid to jump in feet first to any situation. That’s what they do at Random House, they trust you enough to throw you right into work and I think that that trust is what allows you to gain confidence both at work and in other facets of your life.

On the subway ride home yesterday I couldn’t help but feel a little excitement well up inside me — there is still so much to see and learn, so much to experience. I’ve become the confident and independent woman I always thought I could be and I’m ready for the next step. I have a feeling that I will be back, back in Toronto (maybe even back at Random House). Even though I was sad to leave it’s not like I could be an intern forever, interning is just the first step. I want to advance and excel, and if I keep perusing my goals and working hard it will all fall into place.

Until my next adventure I’ll leave you with some photos from my final week.

Who knows, maybe this series will be back sometime — there’s always room for growth, change, and bursting your own bubble…

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Thank you to everyone who followed along with this journey and thank you to the entire Random House staff for this amazing opportunity.

Bursting the Bubble [Week 11]

Bursting the Bubble, Toronto Adventures

Yes, you read that correctly, I just finished WEEK ELEVEN of my internship — next week is the final week. But before I dwell on the sadness that envelopes my heart at the thought of that, I’ll tell you what happened this week.

Random House of Canada, Chatelaine Magazine, and Flare Magazine teamed up to celebrate the launch of Crazy Rich Asians at the Shangri-La Hotel on Tuesday. Although I’m still an intern, I got to attend as a blogger which meant I received a wicked gift bag at the end of the evening. This launch was by far the swankiest I’ve attended. The hotel is GORGEOUS and the Museum room was perfect for the event — plus the hotel is mentioned a few times throughout the novel, so why not!

I started the night out with the signature drink: Shangri-La Lemonade. A delicious concoction of vodka, cranberry juice, ginger, orange juice, and soda. Then I mingled with my fellow bloggers and watched the room get pretty packed with both book people and magazine people. It was great to attend an event where the two worlds intertwined. Kevin Kwan took the stage, as did the publisher of Doubleday Canada, and two seriously fashion forward ladies from Chatelaine and Flare – which was my favourite part of the evening. Kevin Kwan gave a sweet, sincere, and witty speech, mentioning his love for Canada and his gratitude for Canadians who love to read!

Week 11 was FULL of binding and mailings but just as full of good weather, hard work, and a few laughs. I love working with positive, passionate, and upbeat people who listen, answer, and understand. Everyone has taught me something about the world of publishing and I am so glad I decided to come into this internship with an open mind and all the energy and passion needed to back it up. I now understand why internships are so important and how great they can be if you give your all.

Also, this week I’ve been preparing for interviews (that I hope will come up). I’ve been sending out my resume, gathering references, and researching all I possibly can about interviews to ensure that I make a great first impression. This internship has made me want to work, to start a career, and to devote my energy, time, and passion to a job I enjoy.

largeIt’s also helped me appreciate many of the people in my life. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but my family waits for me every single night to eat dinner with them. I get home anywhere between 6:35 and 7:10, and for a family who used to eat dinner at 6:00 on the nose, eating at 7:00 would normally cause a serious kind of HANGER. Even if they’re hangry, they don’t mention it. We eat together and discuss our days and they ALWAYS listen to my stories and to my anxious yammering (even my 16-year-old brother who probably doesn’t care at all). Getting home and talking to my family makes the subway delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 400 disappear. I definitely appreciate the bf and my best friend a lot more too — I don’t see them as often as I’d like and when I do, I usually fall asleep! I always miss them and I appreciate their encouragement and their constant belief in me — I owe you two, forever!

Next week is my final week as a publicity intern at Random House of Canada. I’m a little sad at the prospect but you never really know where life is going to take you. It will be the end of a three-month chapter but the beginning of something else too.

I feel like I’m on the edge of glory.

I know that I’ll have to make a leap to something bigger? different? and I have less than a week to do it…

Here goes nothing!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 9]

Bursting the Bubble

311997_217056328351539_100001415190739_627228_2236282_n_largeAn old man sits alone and plays Solitaire at my local Tim Horton’s. He’s concentrating intensely and yet he’s so far removed from angst. You can tell that he’s enjoying himself. The shuffling, the flipping of every card, the way he holds it in the air until he finds the right spot for it – there is something calming about it. I’m mesmerized. There’s something so sweet and serene about this entire scene that I realize I’ve lost my spot in line. I’m a young girl creeping on an old man and his deck of cards, who has just lost her spot in line. I wonder who noticed. I wonder why I never saw this solitary man, with his deck of cards, his empty coffee mug, and a few crumbs left on his plate. I wonder how many other people noticed him at all.

Solitaire. I guess I’m a solitary person. I like to be alone. I like the quiet. I enjoy silence: I hear it’s golden, although I’ve always pictured it as a shade of pastel pink and tasting like bubble gum. Silence is sweet and sometimes we need to give our mouth a rest and let our eyes take over.

So, this week I let my eyes take over.

* A white box with a huge carrot cupcake appears on my desk with a plop, a lovely handwritten note is stuck onto it. It’s dripping with positive words and beautiful thoughts.

* A young woman with her legs crossed tightly sits across from her friend at Starbucks. Her eyes are rolling so far into the back of her head that I can’t see what colour they are; they’re lost in her lids. A look of disgust is on her lips as she speaks. What is she saying? I don’t want to know. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

* An abandoned bright orange construction helmet resting beside a sign that screams DANGER! WORKERS ABOVE!

Red and white business cards falling out of my wallet – I pick them up the same way I’ve picked myself off the floor many times before.

* A seagull’s lonely quill feather sleeping on the sidewalk, smiling at me. It recognizes the writer who walks past but doesn’t pick it up because she’s also afraid of germs.

* Construction. An ever-growing city.

* Cotton candy clouds spanning further than the end of the earth, shaped perfectly to the dome that is our sky.

* A girl with a smile from ear-to-ear, a spark in her eyes, and a story to tell – I catch her reflection in the subway window and realize that its me.

I saw a lot this week and I tried my best to listen as well. I heard everything around me. I heard praises, scorns, advice, beautiful music, panic, fear, private whispers, and laughter. Hearing. Seeing. Actions we do without thinking, without noticing. My goal for the final three weeks of my internship is to be conscious of what I’m seeing and hearing. I have a few more events coming up, a few more books to read, a few more manuscripts to bind, a few more questions to ask, and plenty more to learn — I want to absorb it all.

I want to learn it all. 

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 8]

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time

photo 2The fact that I get to see the publishing world as an intern, book lover, aspiring writer, AND book blogger is something that amazes me week after week. I’m starting to understand just how important this internship is and I am so thankful that I have still have about four weeks left!

This week I went to an author event and a few stock signings with my wonderful colleague Anne, Rhidian Brook (author of The Aftermath), and his lovely daughter. We started at The Novel Spot in Etobicoke, where Rhidian signed books and answered questions. This is where I learned that writers should also be great speakers. Having a great sense of humor and a true belief in your story can really engage your crowd. During Rhidian’s talk, he was challenged by someone who read his book. The gentleman wondered if Rhidian had maybe gone too far, to which Rhidian replied, Thats what writers do. They spin plates and see how much they can get away with. I love that line.

That evening I attended our monthly Indigo Bookseller Reception but you can read more about that on the Retreat website next week.

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend a blogger lunch with Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and photo 1the Cursed. I love blogger events like this, they’re small and intimate which allows for the chance to really get to know the author. Page (or should I say Angie — Page is her pen name) answered any question we asked, chatted about various books she’s read, gave us some behind-the-scenes stories from novel-writing, and signed all of our books.

So after all of the fun events this week and the weeks prior, what am I feeling? A little nervous as the job-search has begun but mostly I feel guilty. I swear the printer spews out pages and sounds like a beating heart. If you start the binding machine at the same time, the sound bangs through each beat. Yesterday I thought, now that is the sound of a heart breaking.

Am I the one breaking hearts?

Well, I have been 110% committed to this internship and I don’t really make time for anything else. To make things worse, my family is amazing (yes you read that right). No matter what time I get home, be it 6:15 or 7:00– my family is waiting for me to have dinner with them. I sure as heck wouldn’t wait, not if I was starving.

My VERY pregnant sister never says anything when all I talk about is what happened at work, or what author I met, or what book I brought home. She lets me gab and gab and doesn’t seem the least bit phased if I forget to ask her about her day.

And my boyfriend, that wonderful man, who comes over during the week, knowing very well that I have to eat dinner, workout, and shower before I spend a second with him. Who doesn’t get mad when I fall asleep within five minutes of sitting down in front of the TV. I would probably go into full insecure-girlfriend-mode and freak on him for not putting me at least 2nd.

The only one who seems to be holding a grudge is my dog, who doesn’t even come to the door to say hi when I get home. I give him treats to sweeten him up though 😉

So, what can a girl do in this situation but give thanks: Mom, Dad, Joseph, Jessica, Alex, and Waffles — I’m sorry for being so selfish lately. Thank you for understanding, for being there, and for loving me. Thank you for believing in me and thank you for not making me feel guilty.

This guilt is all my own creation and with every beat of that printer, I’m learning from it.

There’s got to be a balance somewhere and I will work hard to find it.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

P.S. Amanda featured me as her latest Everyday Beauty — check it out HERE.

Bursting the Bubble [Week 7]

Bursting the Bubble

Every person I’ve met in publishing has an interesting story to tell. A story that often starts with a lot of work and no pay, a lot of learning, a lot of growing, and a lot of MAKING a place for themselves in whichever publishing house they come across. This week I went to CanBPA’s Mentor Mash at Cadillac Lounge. CanPBA is The Canadian Book Professionals’ Association: providing professional development and building community within the Canadian book industryThis particular event was like speed-dating for interns/publishing students, where publishing veterans went from table to table to tell their story, to answer questions, and to give us an inside scoop to the publishing industry.

The mentors were:

Production: Valentina Capuani (Random House of Canada)

Sales: Sarah Labrie (Scholastic Canada)

Agent: Ali McDonald (The Rights Factory)

Publicity: Evan Munday (Coach House Books)

Design: Ingrid Paulson (Ingrid Paulson Design)

Digital Marketing: Lindsey Reeder (Random House of Canada) — Yay Lindsey!!

Editorial: Alana Wilcox (Coach House Books)

The event was a great eye opener and the perfect way to learn more about each sector of publishing. I found Ingrid Paulson’s story and talk particularly interesting. You don’t often think about how important a book cover is, or how it has to convey the novel’s entire message and a world of emotions. You don’t realize that authors write in colour, in shades, in night versus day. You don’t think about a book cover as an emotional experience for the author either, but it’s the first time they really realize that their book is being published.

Mostly what I gathered from the Mentor Mash is that publishing is full of hard work and pretty long hours. It’s important as a student or intern or someone who wants to get into publishing to make yourself an asset, to use whatever creativity you have to help the company, to get a book sold. It really helps if you’re passionate about books and reading.

jennie-rooney-port_2516546bAlso this week, I met Jennie Rooney, the author of Red Joan. I was lucky enough to tag along while she and my colleague, Dan, went to sign stock. I find it extraordinary to meet authors — particularly if I’ve read their book. I hope I’ll be in their shoes someday and I find it interesting to meet the person behind the story. I had a great afternoon accompanying Jennie, she a wonderful person with quick wit and she has great taste in music. Jennie is an inspiring novelist (from what I can tell by Red Joan) and I am thoroughly interested in picking up her other books.

This week was a great one for me and I’m feeling really positive. I had the chance to ingest and digest a lot of information, to interact with many different people in the industry, and I even took the time to ask questions. I’m understanding how important it is to put yourself out there as an intern, how important it is to ask questions. Thanks to all of this information, I’m finally starting see where I want to be in the world of publishing. When I started this internship I wasn’t all that sure about Publicity, I wasn’t sure if I had the personality for it, but now I’m almost certain I could do it. I would also love to try my hand at Online/Digital Marketing — I love the combination of interacting with people online AND in person. I love the idea of spreading the word about a great book.

I love that this internship is opening my eyes to a world of possibilities that I didn’t know existed.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 4]

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble

It wasn’t until I purchased my second Metro Pass that I realized I’m almost a month into my 12-week internship. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! The weeks are literally flying by! The good news is that I still love it, I’ve haven’t gotten over the sincere calm I feel when I’m on the subway, or the excitement that flutters in my heart as I walk toward my building, or the spring in my step when I hear the church bells ring – people told me that all of that gets old pretty quickly, I’m glad they’re wrong so far. I am thoroughly enjoying every minute.

THIS week I’ve been mesmerized by Paul Auster’s memoir Winter Journal, where he gives a sensory account of his life –

…put aside your stories for now and try to examine what it has felt like to live inside this body from the first day you can remember being alive until this one. A catalogue of sensory data.” Page 1

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 10.08.22 AM

This memoir made me think about my childhood and made me wonder about the memories I could conjure up if I sat down and really thought it out. I spent an entire subway ride home in this contemplative state, probably making odd faces as the past resurfaced. Is it odd that my memories are few and far between? I don’t remember anything before the age of 4 (or is it 5?). I remember the first house we lived in (where I was born, not conceived in case you were wondering), my old friends, the musty smell of our huge basement, the blue toy room we spent our days playing in, and the kitchen (also in the basement) that never seemed to be used. I remember our court being very quiet – I remember a wiener dog running around on our patch of grass.

Most vividly, and perhaps only because it pertains to this week, I remember my father taking us all to a Jays game. My brother wasn’t born yet, I wore my favourite red dress with small white polka dots, the dome was open and the sun was blistering hot. We took the subway down, an adventure in and of itself, and I remember seeing people sleeping in the middle of the floor, some sitting up and holding signs, some playing instruments, most begging for money. I remember being afraid of these dirty, loud people (give me a break I was 6). Then I remember my dad, throwing coins into whatever hat, cup, or case sat in front of them. I remember him handing cigarettes to a man when he ran out of change. I remember some of them saying thank you, over and over again. I don’t remember thinking much of it while watching the game but my dad’s small form of generosity stuck with me long after that.

It would be silly to pretend that I haven’t noticed people sitting on the streets since I’ve started interning downtown. I spend a lot of time on my lunch walking around and of the many homeless people I have walked by, I only helped out one of them. Why? In truth, I tend to get distracted when I go for walks — I’m busy taking pictures or admiring buildings. Other times I try to walk by as quickly as possible since I never have change on me (that sounds horrible). BUT the other day I made eye contact with the lady who sits outside the nearest Tim’s and as she wished me good day, I found myself asking her if she wanted a coffee. She replied yes-please-thank-you-so-much. So, I bought her a coffee and a muffin, handed it to her, smiled and walked off.

Only as I walked away did I realize that this woman held a genuine kind of gratitude in her eyes. Her hair was ashen with dust, her teeth yellow and chipped, but her eyes were filled with thanks and life.

Moral(s) of my story: be generous like your father (and mother).

The smallest gestures go a long way.

You can see so much if you just OPEN YOUR EYES; if you slow down a little.

Isn’t that what new experiences are about? Isn’t that the only way to burst your bubble?

By looking, seeing, and paying attention.

image copy 2

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 3 – Part Two]

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

Part Two of Bursting the Bubble involves a more frivolous nature. This week I got a little adventurous with my lunch hour – heading for longer walks in different areas, heading over to Ben McNally Books to pick up some books for my future niece, and discovering a lovely little garden behind my office.  For this week’s event (my last one until I get back from Vancouver) we headed over to The Cookbook Store to celebrate the launch of The Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain, which was another wonderful evening. I urge anyone who is into cooking to check out the store, I have never seen so many different books about cooking!

Before the event, I went to grab a bite to eat with my co-workers. Where did they take me? Well to the one place I would have never chosen on my own. An Indian restaurant attached to a car wash – cue bubble burst. The restaurant: King Palace on Church Street.



When I told my co-workers that I had never been to an Indian restaurant , they smiled brightly and looked at me with eyes that said Trust us, small-town girl, this will be a treat!  I opted for the safest of choices, just to dip my toe in the food so to speak, and went for a ¼ chicken with rice. My taste buds seemed a bit confused. I’ve had a lot of chicken and rice in my day but it’s always been cooked with the same spices. After the first few forkfuls, my taste buds finally caught up with my brain, saying You like this, Vanessa, keep eating. The chicken was delicious, moist, and not overcooked; it had a little kick to it, which I rather enjoyed. The rice was great too, I can’t name the spices but I would definitely recommend it. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself there again sometime. I’m kind of intrigued by the butter chicken with naan bread – my co-worker said it’s delish!

What else can I throw at you about my week? Well, the wonderful Lindsey Reeder is back from vacation and I got to chat with her about my progress so far. I gushed about how much I love it, how much I enjoy events, and how sad I will be once my twelve weeks are up.  Her advice was simple:

Keep going to events; keep meeting people, and keep working hard because you never know where it will lead you.

And so, I will walk into week four with her words ringing in my ears.

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 3 – Part One]

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

This week, Bursting the Bubble will be split into two sections, one I will post tonight and the other tomorrow morning – I think you’ll understand why once you’ve read both posts. I don’t think this whole Bursting the Bubble thing could be complete or as effective without an attempt to understand and learn about the world around me, not just the beautiful block where my office is located. The day after the Boston Marathon bombings, I picked up a copy of the local paper and commandeered a copy of The Globe and Mail from the office. I poured over them, devoured information, details, and photographs. I then Youtubed, searched Twitter hashtags, and went through various News photos and reports.

I became a collector of stories, real stories (or as real as any outlet of media allow them to be). I’m not going to sit here and hash out a week’s worth of news but I will say that whatever bubble I’ve been living in over the years has made me blind and naive. However, I’m proud of the fact that I’m not desensitized by all that is going on around the world. Some stories brought me to tears, others tugged at my heart, some made me fear for my own safety, and others made me wonder why certain things happen. I know we can’t stop our lives or live in fear when bad things occur close to home or even far away but I think it’s important to be aware of them – they are someone else’s reality.

I now understand the importance of knowing even just a little bit about what’s going on in the world and although I may not get a chance to read the paper every day, with the dawn of social media there is no excuse good enough to walk around in a cloud of ignorance, in naive bliss. I might not be able to change the world by reading the paper but there are ways to help – sometimes bringing attention to a subject is enough.

Sometimes it’s just the spark that’s needed…

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo


Bursting the Bubble [WEEK 1]

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

I’m happy to call Random House of Canada my 9-5 home from Monday to Friday. The commute isn’t as awful as I thought it would be and I really enjoy taking the subway (believe it or not :P). I normally get a seat which gives me plenty of time to read and relax. I’ve also started walking around my work-hood if I arrive too early or even on my lunch. I’ve found some awesome coffee shops, some restaurants that I want to try, and I’ve started to appreciate the beauty that is Toronto. Yes, I still feel like a tourist but the best part about downtown is no one really cares if you’re taking pictures of buildings they see everyday, or staring in awe at the beautiful church, or smiling broadly when you hear the church bells ring — as long as you stay out of their way no one cares! I love the independence I feel when I’m walking around downtown. I love not knowing what I’ll discover when I walk down a new street. I love it all.

It’s been a busy week but I’m enjoying this whole publicity intern experience even more than I imagined. Yes, my days are filled with filing, answering emails, couriering, mailing out books, binding 900-page manuscripts, and lifting boxes of books but I actually enjoy it — even the binding. There’s something about the monotony of it that allows your whole body to relax and your mind to wander. It’s also placed in the mailroom, a central location in the office which ensures that you’ll always have someone to say hello to. There’s always someone to chat with about a book that you’ve read, there’s always someone to ask if you need help, and there’s a wicked book room that is my kind of heaven.

I’ve learned quite a bit this week but the highlight was helping out at the launch for The Juggler’s Children by Carolyn Abraham. The launch was a wonderful experience and I think I put all of the skills I learned at Caruso’s into good use. I enjoyed setting up the venue with my coworkers at the beautiful Ben McNally Books store and interacting with the attendees who were there to support Carolyn. As an aspiring writer who hopes to have her own launch one day, I got teary-eyed listening to her speech and seeing the happiness in her eyes. I hadn’t read her book yet and just hearing her speech made me want to pick up a copy — you could tell that she has a way with words. I’m sure I’ll have a review of The Juggler’s Children up this month.

Overall I’d say my first week was pretty fantastic. I’ve met some wonderful people, learned quite a bit, and I’m starting to feel more at home. I’m getting into my own little routine and rhythm that will ensure another great week (I hope). Although I know there will be more traffic, a few train delays, more paper-cuts, and more 900-page manuscripts to bind, I’m going to make the most of it — that’s the only way to burst the bubble.

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Love Always 

Vanessa Xo