Sometimes it’s easier to think in lists

In no particular order:

1. In each of Jane Austen’s six novels, the heroines are as different as a snowstorm, a sunny day, an overcast day, a windy morning, a rainy evening, a day when you can smell spring. Reading all of books is a kind of an education for any young woman in mind and manners. Aspire to overcome obstacles like Elizabeth Bennet, be patient as Fanny Price, be as blind and as honest as Emma Woodhouse, be as adventurous and indignant as Catherine Morland, suffer and overcome like Elinor Dashwood, and finally, have faith and constancy like Anne Elliot.

2. It’s taken me thirty years to not be afraid of colour. Black is easy to be sophisticated in; to feel put together in. It’s difficult to resist reaching for it in the closet, a suction like a black hole. But there is something brave to me about wearing mustard coloured tights, a dove grey skirt, army green boots, and an explosion of prints and stripes. It seems to invite lightness into the day.

3. Probably the first kitchen purchase I’ll make when I finally move into an apartment of my own are several dozen mason jars in various sizes. I can’t enumerate all the uses for glass jars: drinking vessels, candle holders, pencil jars, containers for hairpins and bath salts, planters for seedlings. Everything seems to look clearer when put into a jar.

4. My gold-threaded straight-leg dark Levi’s, which I bought about three or four years ago, have achieved a perfect state of softness. It has also taken me all winter to come up with my uniform for the season. It only came together after I finished some termpaper-induced procrastinatory knitting, including an aran cardigan I’ve been knitting for several years. This sweater, my Levi’s, a couple of striped shirts, brightly coloured tights, canvas boots and my men’s rubber converse boots, along with a chambray shirt and an Alfred Sung blazer my mom and I found at value village have been the basis of my uniform. Uniforms are efficient, and once you’ve found your own, makes it easier to be comfortable with being in your body.

5. Today I read about eighty pages of affect and political theory, and drafted a one-and-a-half page scene. After finishing this list I’ll probably read another twenty pages. The scene is why this day is not a write-off.

6. I was asked the other night about how often I get asked on dates. The person asking was male. I had to put down my beer for a moment to answer. “I’m texted, messaged and facebooked an awful lot,” I said, and felt how inadequate and ridiculous this situation was. I’m sure every woman has their own definition of what being asked out means. For me, it is a proper phone call invitation to dinner or drinks. Even an email is acceptable if it’s unambiguous, and doesn’t include those words every female agonizes over and overanalyzes: “let’s hang out.” I have felt this for awhile but I think I will cement it as a resolution: serious inquiries only. I know it’s intimidating asking someone out, but the payoff is substantial. The last person I can remember who took the trouble to do this (feel free to work up the courage with a glass of brandy), I dated for a year.

7. It has been a slow and difficult process, to stop overanalyzing the opposite sex and all their gazes, hints, flirtations, emails, texts, and other strategies of masking themselves, but doing so freed up an enormous amount of psychic and creative energy. I recommend other women doing the same: focusing your attention makes you so much more attractive to everyone around you.

8. A chocolate cupcake and a cigarette once in awhile is not going to kill you.

9. I find a frustrating imbalance between what other people view as who I am and what are my actual preoccupations. A disproportionate attention seems spent on appearances, my gender and ethnicity, throwaway comments, my favourite TV shows, my vegetarianism, where I go to school, what neighborhood I live in, what courses I’m taking, etc., when in fact these things occupy very little of my thoughts. And vice verse, the issues that I obsess over, such as the poetic line, the ethics of environmentalism, the predominant use of concrete in cities like Toronto and the effects it has upon the population, the stories of people who’ve lived here before us, are rarely asked about or discussed in a meaningful way. I’m just as guilty of this as others are. Yet I’m always craving to delve into conversations about morals and beliefs even while it seems more amusing to banter about Mad Men or to argue over the best roti in the city.

10. I’ve been obsessed lately with The National. It took me awhile to get to them because I initially dismissed them as anthem rock. But I am loving the craftedness of their songs, and how the whole band creates a space around the limitations of Matt Berninger’s baritone. I’m helpless before that baritone.

We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us
Do whatever the TV tells us
Stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days
We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us

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