if you think adventure is dangerous…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

photo-1Somehow summer is nearly over and I haven’t done anything that I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to go to a cottage, head over to the beach, have lunch or brunch on a patio downtown, take a stroll down Queen Street and maybe hit up Kensington Market again, and I definitely wanted to plan a girl’s weekend. The only thing I “did” so far this summer was read and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m not complaining so much as I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the time to do the things on my SUMMER LIST.

After completing my internship at Random House and going back to Caruso’s Gourmet Pizza, I slipped back into a routine. Wake, eat, clean, work out, shower, read, write, eat, read, work, shower, sleep, and it’s been pretty steady for the last month or so. Contiki tours tweeted that Paulo Coelho quote yesterday and it’s been screaming over my thoughts ever since.

If routine is lethal, I’ve been dead for years.

So what can I do exactly? Head out on the open road and wish for an adventure? Try to pack in all of the things I wanted to do this summer in the last few weeks? FINALLY plan that girl’s weekend I’ve been itching to plan?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

ADVICE in the comments would be delightful!

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Love Always 
Vanessa Xo

P.S If you haven’t picked up your copy of Twenty-One Truths or My Pen, My Voice on Amazon.com please do so shortly — they will only be available for a few months! XOXO

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 6]

Bursting the Bubble

After going nonstop on my Vancouver Vacation/Adventure, Week 6 felt like it went by reallllllyyyyyyy slowwwwwwww. Does anyone else feel seriously depressed after returning from vacation? I didn’t have the same spring in my step this week, my thoughts were like anchors, weighing me down, my body folding in half from the pressure until I finally collapsed on the ground.

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I find that the BEST way to get over a funk like this is the read a great book, write it out, and talk to people who understand you. I wrote a hell of a lot this week (mostly emo-diary entries that I refuse to subject my wonderful readers to), I gabbed with the lovely Lindsey over lunch, and I read Sunset Park. I found the book incredibly moving, it pulled me out of my own self-inflicted misery, and it helped me understand what was really weighing on me.

“…he wonders if it is worth hoping for a future when there is no future, and from now on, he tells himself, he will stop hoping for anything and live only for the now, this moment, this passing moment, the now that is here and then not here, the now that is gone foever.” (Page 308)

Okay so that quote sounds morbid and depressing but what it’s saying is to live in the NOW. Something my parents, my boyfriend, and Lindsey have told me this week on some level or another.

* POP * * Cue Bubble Burst Moment *

The question remains, can I live in the moment and NOT let my thoughts consume me? What should I be doing to better understand what I WANT to do in the future? What choice can I make today to ensure that I am living in the moment and not thinking so much about what will happen after June 27th? So far I’ve enrolled in a seminar at Ryerson about getting published (which I think will help out with my own writing aspirations and better my understanding of what the publishing industry is all about). I’ve been poking my head around in different departments at work to try to figure out which one interests me most. I’ve also been looking into writing classes offered by Ryerson. Right now I’m interested in books, publishing, and writing so each day I do something that relates to them in some way.

I wake up every morning and ask myself what do I want to do today? What interests me? What would make me happy right now? It’s amazing to start the day that way, to really put thought into yourself and each moment. I hope to walk into Week 7 of my internship with a bigger spring in my step than ever before! I’m looking forward to the other half of my internship and will think of each day as its own entity — making each one count.

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But that’s next week.

Right now it’s Saturday morning and nothing would make me happier than eating breakfast with the boyfriend and family.

So THAT is exactly what I’m going to do.

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND from my heart to yours.

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [Week 5]

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, Toronto Adventures

It’s been a wonderfully busy week, filled with events, mailings, coffee, and picture-taking. Funnily enough, the only thing I can think about while writing this recap is the horizon. The cityscape that comes into view every morning as I merge onto another highway on my way to work. On Wednesday, the sky was a palette of pastels; blue, purple, and pink, separate and then bleeding into each other. The sun was slowly opening its eyes, its arms stretching across the sky. In the distance I saw buildings, all of which became a part of the pastel sky, like chameleons. There was something so terrifyingly calming about this scene. It whispered softly, This is exactly where you’re supposed to be.  

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That is what Week 5 if my internship has been about, hitting my stride, finding my place.

I feel most in my element, or most excited when I get to attend events. On Monday evening I attended the Full Count launch as – get this – the photographer/intern. I wonder if I can add that to my resume? Anyhow, the launch was held at Opera Bob’s, a really wicked pub on Ossington and Dundas. The event was filled with hot dogs, peanuts, beer, and some pretty famous names in sports (starting with the author Jeff Blair).  Needless to say, the bf and dad were bursting with jealousy for missing such a great event. Although I’ve yet to read Full Count I was blown away by the amount of support Mr. Jeff Blair received from his friends, co-workers, and complete strangers. It was a FUN event and I really enjoyed playing the role of paparazzi – although I felt bad interrupting people to get a photo or blinding them with my flash.

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On Tuesday I joined in on the Random House Retreat Book Club’s online chat with Tanis Rideout about her novel Above All Things. I’ve never been part of a book club and I am really glad I decided to join this one. It’s amazing to discuss and analyze books with other people, it’s even more amazing to chat with the author about their masterpiece. The next book up for discussion is Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay —  LET ME KNOW IF YOU JOIN!

On Wednesday I attended the Drunk Mom launch. It was another lovely event held at Ben McNally Books store. This launch was interesting for two reasons: I wasn’t working the event so I really got to mingle and  I read the book (and really love it!). There were three highlights to the evening:

a) Meeting Grace O’Connell the author of Magnified World, who is super cool and very down to earth

b) Listening to the speeches made by Jowita and her editor – they both have a way with words, as well as, a wonderful presence

c) Meeting Jowita

I had a serious fan-girl moment while waiting in line to get my book signed, all I kept thinking is what do I say? What do I say? What do I say? So, when my turn came I said, “Hi I’m the intern who tweeted you that I was too shy to say hi at the office.”

Yep. I did. I said that. I am THAT cool.

Thankfully, Jowita smiled warmly and actually remembered me! She signed my book, commented on  my review of her book, and posed for a photo with me. It was a wonderful moment. #InternPerks

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 On Friday I woke up a little tired but ready and willing to tackle the day. The sun was shining, the birds were conversing happily,  the lady at Tim’s made me the most delicious cup of coffee, and I had one of mom’s (famous) peanut butter muffins for breakfast — all was going well until I got to Wilson subway station and realized there was no service from there to Eglington.

Hello0000 shuttle bus crammed like a can of sardines with sweaty people!

Hellooooo Mr. Bus Diver! Although I appreciate the ride you, COULD have warned me that I was standing too close to the doors before you opened them — my foot was nearly severed.

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I guess I shouldn’t get too upset about all of that nonsense because in the afternoon I got to go with Anne (Publicity Assistant and Awesome Person) and Anthony Marra (Author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena) to a few bookstores so he could sign stock. And then, he signed my copy too! I’ve been reading his novel for a few days and am at the point where I genuinely care about each character and can’t wait to find out what happens next. You can follow Anthony Marra on Twitter and talk to him about his novel (it comes out on TUESDAY).

All in all I had a pretty sweet week. I’m exhausted and not even remotely ready for my trip to Vancouver but who cares? I met some incredible authors, attended some great launches, and learned a few more things about Publicity, Online Marketing, and what it takes to get a book OUT THERE.

It can’t get any sweeter than that…

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…okay… maybe it can 😉

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

P.S. Stay tuned for some “beauty/fashion” posts during my trip to Vancouver, as well as, a trip recap on Chic Darling. Bursting the Bubble will be back after Week 6 of my internship (May 18th).

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

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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.

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [New BLOG Series]

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

I start a twelve-week publicity internship with Random House Canada tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited!!!!!! <– notice that’s 6 exclamation points worth of excitement.  I’m even more excited to share this experience with all of YOU. So, I’ve decided to start my very first blog series called Bursting the Bubble. 

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I know the whole little girl, big city blog is a little redundant nowadays but this is a huge step for me. It might only be a three-month chapter of my life but it’s a very important one. So, every Saturday for the next 12 weeks I will be posting my thoughts, challenges, and feelings about the 9-5 life of a publicity intern in one the greatest publishing houses in the world — with a one week break when I go to Vancouver.

If all goes as planned the first post of this series will go up on April 6th!

Until then, I’ll be blogging, working, and embracing this new (life) chapter that I’m about to write.

Wish me luck 😉

Love Always

Vanessa Xo