Thanks to Sasha for arranging our movie pass giveaway to Safety Not Guaranteed on Wednesday night.
I was supposed to attend, but work piled on me like an unkind female wrestler sweating urgent emails. So instead of going to a great movie, I was crouched over my desk watching the Nice Cleaning Lady approach. I stopped her from clearing my garbage so I could forage later on. As the sun was setting over the Gardiner Expressway, I contemplated who has it easier – the young graduates who are scrounging for rent with multiple part-time jobs in bartending and baristing and pointlessly re-arranging vintage bibs in Kensington Market? Or the ones who feel morally obligated to pour every inch of their lifeblood into their 9-to-5, grateful for any kind of steady employment?
There is a reason that it’s hard to be fun after you leave university. It’s because people expect you to get real, fast. You can’t spontaneously stay up until 3am playing cover songs with your buddies, or skip your group meeting because you’re too hungover (“Can you guys just email me the notes, plz? Thx ur the best!!xoxo muah”) This poignant piece on Thought Catalog has been circulating the internet recently for good reason.
That’s why it’s been hard for me to adjust since graduating in June 2011. I moved back to my blue-collar hometown where the barfights are dirty and the pregnancy rate is high, and if you want any chance of hearing good music, eating ethnic food, or making female friends without C-section scars and drawn-on eyebrows, you have to travel by commuter train for an hour listening to conversations about statutory rape.
Last Wednesday, the only thing that kept me from going cuckoo (more so than I already am) was this song by White Hinterland from her 2010 album Kairos. If you’re looking for a cool-girl blog to follow, follow hers! I listened four times in a row with speakers blaring, which is the beauty of working late.
To reclaim a bit of my old self, I tried to have fun this weekend. I thought I had earned the right to be 23 after completely absconding any sense of a social life since returning from vacation last month. What better excuse to stop shaking my cane and adjusting my adult diaper than by going to a few concerts? So on Friday, I went to see the Tallest Man On Earth at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I always enjoy folk concerts in seated venues, because it feels so much more appropriate to quietly circle a folk musician rather than standing around trying to dance half-heartedly.
The concert was a complete cross-section of Toronto Hipsters. Girls were cut from the usual swath of “bohemian” fabric – a subtle mix of Little House on the Prairie and Urban Outfitters Navajo™ Indian. I don’t know if anyone legitimately recalls the original application of the label bohemian, but I’m fairly certain that you can’t shed the trappings of conventionality just by carrying a rucksack and smoking a Camel.
The concert was good and reminded me what a concert should be like. Not worried about dodging the girl tripped out on E, or the tall guy making out with his handsy girlfriend, I closed my eyes and remembered exactly why I fell in love with this musician. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned, but I like a full view of the stage whenever possible, and if it’s not too much trouble, a set of speakers that leave my eardrums intact.
As I left to head back to the last train of the evening, it felt like I was entering a new kind of reality – one where I have to try harder to carve out an identity within a subculture that is largely still focused on aesthetic and narcissism. I overheard this conversation: “Yeah, right now I’m just focusing on my bike riding and baritone ukulele.”
And I’m just going to focus on trying to find a better work-life balance.