Tag Archives: year in review

2014: Standing out from the pack

I reminisce that I was once a novelty. A novelty, at least, when it came to the fact that I shared my life on the Internet. I remember, over a decade ago, being the only person with a digital camera at a party in our parent’s basement. I remember the MSN messenger noises that would ping when people asked me when I was going to share the photos they saw me took, the ones they posed for. And I remember Photobucket (or shutterfly, or snapfish, or whatever now defunct photo hosting website I used at the time) crashing from the traffic. The dozen or so teenagers wanting to laugh at the digital photos I had taken only hours earlier, emailing them to the people who weren’t there, look at this, the novelty of the instantaneousness of the thing.

I also remember my sisters asking me after having read my blog, “how can you share so much of yourself with strangers?” The concerned voice of my parents, the emails from strangers about the audaciousness of it all. It felt harmless for the most part, but so good, too.

A screenshot of an old blog description, an awkwardly written teenage biography. The text shows broken links and broken image links.

Re-reading those dead blogs now, I can remember the feelings even more vividly, as the heat of embarrassment fades from my face. Fuck, it felt brash, it felt good, it felt original to a certain extent. And it felt necessary.

Things have shifted since then. For me, and for the Internet. Since 2010, at least, I have been joking about being the last of my friends (my generation? insert relevant emoji here) to not have a smart phone, and this remains true today. In recent years, I decided I didn’t want to swim in The Stream, as it had been dubbed. An apt term in many ways, but I often imagined it more as tsunami than a peaceful babbling brook.

I used to blame these factors – no cell phone, nostalgic almost luddite-leaning tendencies – for the disconnect. How maddening it is for me to try and understand virality as a measure of merit or quality, the thinkpieces… if you could call such thoughtless things something with the word think in the title, the megaphones for the masses which instead of fostering fruitful discussions often felt like a cacophony of idiocy. I would find solace in the idea that maybe I just didn’t “get it” because the Beast of the Internet had grown and evolved so much, and because my online habits, in many ways, hadn’t. I worried that maybe I had become the curmudgeon, shaking his fist at a screen because it didn’t reflect him, his face, his ideas, his values or beliefs.

A bright red megaphone emiting cursors (representing clicks) on a yellow background

Image by Oliver Munday for the New Yorker

Whereas I once felt like I was the first of my IRL friends to be on X platform (myspace, friendster come to mind), now I feel late to the party. Late to a party I wasn’t invited to, yet still I often found myself feeling beholden, obliged.

I didn’t like where I saw the Internet going, how I saw it being transformed as a tool. But I’m hardly above it all, and had grown so dependent.

So I shifted. I put my guard up. I succumbed, in many ways, to what is expected of online behaviour. I resisted in others. I typed out – and swiftly deleted – status updates about food or cats or overly emotional moments (positive and negative). I shared fewer and fewer of the thousands of photographs I take.

Instead, I put on an online game face. A mostly faceless online game face, really.

This is what I read, what I liked.

This is an image that strikes me, that I want to reblog.

This is a song that moves me, here are the lyrics (I needed this, I often say).

Here, here is a like or heart or a favourite to let you know I am reading, I am watching, I am here.

 

2014 is easily the year I shared the least of myself online. The fewest photographs, the lowest word count, the least personal. I measure this idea, this “sharing” of myself online, mostly in the public sense – the things I shared open and accessible to anyone who wants to see them. But the same could be said of the amount of emails sent, photos shared within smaller, more personal networks. (I was shocked to find I had only uploaded 36 photos from the year on Flickr, and those, namely for a dear friend who lives halfway across the country and doesn’t use Facebook.)

A screenshot of open tabs on a Google Chrome browser

This is the one thing that stands out to me, that creates a gulf, a rift, between all the other years I’ve stepped back from and taken the time to reflected on online. The lack. How hard it is to piece it all together, to map it out.

In past years, every December, I would spend hours poring over old livejournal or blogger entries, back when I used to write in my livejournal at least once (ONCE!) a day. It was a simple one stop shop for me. Not today. Today it is five or six tabs open, it is instagram/twitter/tumblr/facebook/soundcloud/etc. It is work email accounts, it is split personalities. Livejournal instead feels like a graveyard now. Mine, filled with the names of friends I no longer know, photographs of old lovers, the corpses of questions I asked myself, I asked out loud that have since been answered. In this, I am not alone. It has felt like a graveyard to many twenty somethings for more than half a decade now, so much so that we often joke about it on newer social media platforms, using hashtags, a tool that did not exist back when we used to email each other invite codes to create our very own novelty livejournal accounts.

These are among the multitude of things that struck me as I tried to map out 2014.

No, these feeling of not being able to/not wanting to keep up are not new.

But the feeling of repetitiveness, of sameness, of lost novelty, is.

A film still from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) showing Chaplin's character stuck in the gears of a giant machine

Sometimes I feel complicit. Complicit in the self-serving navel-gazing break-neck speed at which the Internet whirrs these days. The term “digital native” has dropped out of view but I think of how it felt like me, like a key aspect of my identity even though I’m not technically part of that generation. Sometimes I step back and look at the long term impact of the way the Internet has changed the way we communicate, the way we work, and how we are paid for that work. And when I do, I feel like I’m part of the machine, the same machine mocked by these satirical pieces.

I find solace in the way Jes Skolnik puts their finger on it here, articulating some of my apprehensions:

I am exhausted by clickbait media seeking to capitalize on the frustration of the marginalized by churning out thinkpieces (by often-terribly-paid freelancers, the labor exploitation of which is its own thing and has been elegantly written about by many; it is a seriously complicated issue, as any labor issue is, particularly in this economic context) which we are urged to share over and over until the next incident happens and then we share and share until we forget about the last thing and nothing gets solved. It is only reactive, only consumer-based (see: why talking about what cultural product is or isn’t feminist is exhausting too) and very little structural inequity often gets challenged.

Hearing someone else say it feels like a weight off my shoulders.

These reflections were all spurred on by the daunting task that has been looming these past few weeks: tomorrow’s year in review, recommended reading, which songs I was listening to. This ends up being more of a digital version of a diary, a filtered one but very diary-esque in spirit. This is what happened, these were the images and sounds and ideas I consumed, but this is how I felt, this is who I was, as well.

Selectively filtering through, pinpointing the things I want to remember and hold on to. Even though the links will die, the digital platforms they are hosted on will decay. Unendingly nostalgic Julia wants to remember, reminisce, before things have even ended/happened.

A screencap of the author's old livejournal account

What was new about 2014? What did I learn that I didn’t know before? At this distance, my nose still pressed against the glass, my head groggy from lack of sleep, it all feels like a foggy mess. When moments do come into view, when I look at images of police officers wearing shirts that read “I can breathe” – oblivious to the physical and psychological violence they enact – when I read about the most underreported horrors of the year… it all feels the same. Déjà-vu broken record cliché as fuck the same. The propaganda machine, distractify, how the social media sites feel even more effective at the spin of it all than old posters and radio broadcasts. The world is an awful place but a place where I have to live just the same. The sameness.

It makes me angry that the same issues, the same stories, the same dead bodies are the ones that stand out to me about this year. In August, I tweeted that this essay “broke my heart and haunted my dreams.” Sometimes I feel like that’s what the world did to me this year. By the same token, though, I rediscovered rage. The power of it, the empowerment of it. Rage expressed in music with voices like Perfect Pussy, New Fries, Run the Jewels. Rage expressed in art, in a rambling email to your best friend, in an essay you boldly share with millions of strangers on the Internet.

It’s all a balance, right?

Earlier this week, Nathan Jurgenson tweeted this which put some of this mess in perspective:

In my own attempt at slowing the blur, focusing in, some truths have emerged. In 2014, I shared very little of myself online – representations of my visual self. But I did not become cold. I was more frank face to face than I have been in years. I shared, I tried to amplify who was saying it better than I could. I was more intentional. I tried to take more time. I spoke less, I listened more. That’s really not so bad when you look at it.

A self-portrait of the author taken in a mirror. A half-dozen old alarm clocks are in the foreground.

Hopefully reading this, and tomorrow’s year in review, will make you feel like the world has slowed down just a bit.

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2013: year in review

Two weeks into 2014, I’ve still got my neck craned, looking back on the year past. And in my mind, if writers and critics can publish their “best of 2013” lists in November, I can publish mine a whole 2 weeks into the new year.

It’s times like these when I miss the days of faithfully writing in my (live)journal almost every day. I have definitely fallen out of the habit of dilligently documenting my life, but still relish in reflecting: stepping back at least once a year to take stock of my accomplishments, my failures. On what has changed, and what hasn’t.

2013 was eventful, to say the least.

If you’re a longtime reader, you know how this goes. Scroll down below to see 12 pictures of my face, accompanied by a brief summary of what went on in my life that month, paired with recommended reading/listening.

If you’re new here, here’s 2012 and 2011.

I put three stars next to the pieces I find ***Flawless.
julia-blue

January:

  • My cat Louise moved into my house and my heart
  • Dealt with a lot of stress at work
  • Was frustrated by a lot of political issues, namely media coverage of Idle No More, and you know, the usual I’m always writing about here.
  • Was completely enamored with Caroline Polachek for a hot minute

Recommended Reading:

02-Feb

February:

Recommended Reading:

I was babely in the month of March so you get two photos:

Julia poses in front of old books in Quebec City's historic Morrin Centre

feminist fuck you

March:

  • Said goodbye to a very important mentor in my (radio makin’) life
  • Admired the awesome new graffiti in my neighbourhood
  • Cheered on Simon has he published a phenomenal new book, Mélanie.
  • Cried my heart out when Jason Molina passed
  • Cut my hair real short again and had lots of feelings/questions about gender

Recommended Reading:

S0031986

April:

  • Visited my family in Trenton for the last time before they moved
  • Spent a lot of time thinking about place, home, dis/location
  • Was fascinated and terrified by rape culture, consumed far too much media about it…
  • Listened to excessive amounts of Mykki Blanco
  • Read that piece by Ariana Reines again and again and again
  • Enjoyed freakishly warm temperatures

Recommended Reading:

Such great heights

May:

  • Was really really pissed by tragedy in Bangladesh
  • Enjoyed my partner’s newly acquired 1963 Mercury Meteor a lot
  • Became really interested by sound art

Recommended Reading:

06-June

June:

  • Was pretty sad all the time
  • Thought a lot about this

Recommended Reading:

july 2013

July:

  • Worked a lot, challenged myself
  • Started spending too much time/money at the new record shop
  • Met Nadège
  • Went out lots of amazing little weekend roadtrips in our Meteor
  • Found my dream house for sale
  • Worked too much

Recommended Reading:

August 2013

August:

  • Iris came to visit
  • Went to Sappyfest (after years of saying I would, finally!)
  • Went swimming in the OCEAN
  • Drove more in one day than I ever had before (I learned how to drive in 2013!)
  • Got a flat tire
  • …and then spent the rest of the month working way too much.
  • Oh yeah! Hosted a lovely house show

Recommended Reading:

Septembre - Palais des Papes

September:

  • (proposed) charter charter charter charter (of “Quebec values”)
  • MARSEILLES!
  • Seeing Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith pieces in the Palais des Papes, par hazard
  • On my way back from France, a 5-day pit stop in Montreal
  • Going to see the expos at Musée McCord with Karina, loved Wearing our Identity
  • Spent a lot of time thinking about pop culture criticism

Recommended Reading:

trois-rivieres

October:

  • Worked a lot.
  • Saw La Corriveau’s cage
  • Read… a lot.

Recommended Reading:

novembre

November:

Recommended Reading:

dec

December:

  • Went to Toronto for work for the first time ever
  • Met some of my radio heroes
  • Spent (quality) time with great old friends
  • BEYONCÉ
  • Accomplished some major goals
  • The Atlantic called me “an inquisitive Canadian researcher
  • Walked along my favourite beach in Petawawa on a winter’s night with my parents

Recommended Reading:

Happy new year.

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2011 in review

for those of you who have been following my adventures via livejournal for the past decade, you know i’m quite fond of taking the time to look back and reflect on the last year this time of year. it’s not so much about “the new year” for me, but moreso about taking stock of what i’ve accomplished in my private life in semi-public ways… my birthday is on the 26th of december, and one of the (few) advantages is that i feel more like i’m reflecting on my year than a compulsory calendar year pros/cons list, you know? i usually do that in friends-locked posts on livejournal, but this time around i thought i’d make a more “public” version.

on top of that, i’m also finding that as social media grows and changes, in the era of endless scrolling and constant connectivity, it’s really hard to find links you’ve shared over the year. so this is a combination of a personal archive for me and a best of the year for you! get ready! it’s a doozy. i’ve tried to keep it as fashion focused as possible, but you should know by now how all of my interests run into and over each other. enjoy!

january 2011

january

  • my best femme iris came to visit ❤
  • delicious food and fun craft nights with sarah
  • celebrated my belated birthday with some of my all-time favourite people
  • went to visit simon’s aunt and uncle in their beautiful home in the country, walks in the woods

recommended reading:

  1. What is Glitter Politic? by Majestic Legay (january 11th, 2011)

february 2011
february

  • tried lots of winter survival tips, like writing letters and making mulled wine
  • had my fantastic family come visit for carnaval in quebec city
  • participated in fa(t)shion february

recommended reading:

  1. fa(t)shion february and unfashionability by j. bee at sassyfrass circus (February 1st, 2011)
  2. living single at crunk feminist collective (February 7th, 2011)

march 2011
march

  • played with the new 35 mm holga camera karina gave me (as pictured above and in april, may, june, july photos)
  • went to the sugar shack!
  • really really wanted to chop all my hair off
  • read a whole lots of zines

recommended reading:

  1. Helpful tips: How not to be a boorish body-policing jerk by Leslie Kinzel (March 22nd, 2011)

april 2011
april

  • torn between my desire to devote myself entirely to writing and journalism… and being paid a living wage.
  • bike rides and visits to lévis to see sarah
  • thinking a lot about apartment renovations
  • working really hard!

recommended reading:

  1. On Punk Pants: Duration, Devotion and Distinction by mimi thi nguyen at Threadbared (april 4th, 2011)
  2. passive aggressive status updates: a fine example of girl hate by amber forrester at fight boredom! (april 27th, 2011)
  3. I was here then i wasn’t here then i went somewhere then i came back then i went away then i came back and now i’m going again to paris to read books and be alone by Jenny Zhang at Fashion for Writers (April 27th, 2011)

may 2011
may

  • visited my sisters in ottawa
  • saw austra and bumped into an old friend from 8th grade! isabelle!
  • met amber at slutwalk in montreal
  • hahaha “planked”

recommended reading:

  1. The Faux Vintage Photograph by Nathan Jungerson at The Society Pages (May 11th, 2011) *** this may be my favourite piece of non-fiction writing of the year****
  2. Slutwalk March or not march by Harsha Walia at Rabble (May 18th, 2011)
  3. Things to do if you are a hustling class artist or other person with no trust fund or much of an economic safety net by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (May 23rd, 2011)

june 2011
june

  • launched three major projects i had been helping work on since the fall
  • fell in love with biking once again
  • was kind of bummed about sarah leaving, but decided to make the best of it
  • took so many rolls of film!
  • spent a lot of time thinking about and planning a certain incredible event

recommended reading:

  1. Pointing out small-scale problems at better living through beyoncé (June 3rd, 2011)
  2. Understanding Vancouver’s Hockey Riot by Dave Zirin at the Nation (June 16th, 2011)
  3. Communities of care, organizations for liberation by Yashna Maya Padamsee (June 19th, 2011)
  4. wedding day as a celebration of love, not of coupledom by me at simon et julia (June 21st, 2011)

july 2011
july

  • left my job at exmuro feeling satisfied and accomplished
  • chopped off and donated 14 inches of my hair
  • made my very first radio documentary on that very subject
  • had dinner with and was reinspired by neil bissoondath

recommended reading:

  1. Sustainable Style Series via jesse anne o (july 26th, 2011)

august 2011
august

  • had the most incredible party of my life aka got married!
  • saw so many wonderful people, morgan, my sisters, everyone
  • slow danced with nicole brossard
  • went for a roadtrip in the eastern townships

recommended reading:

  1. Moving toward the ugly: a politic beyond desirability by Mia Mingus at Leaving Evidence (August 22nd, 2011)

september 2011
september

  • started working nearly full time in radio + loved it
  • beginning of my weekly writing dates with karina at librarie st-jean
  • biked 60 km with simon!
  • went without power for nearly eleven days (!!!) after post tropical storm irene

recommended reading:

  1. An Open Letter to my local Hipstersby Sarah Hunt at Media Indigena (September 20th, 2011)
  2. Urban Outfitters is obsessed with Navajos by Adrienne Keene at Native Appropriations (September 23rd, 2011)
  3. Unintentionally Eating the Other by Minh-Ha T. Pham at Threadbared (September 12, 2011)
  4. Antifeminist Frills by Eline at A Fluffy Blog (September 22, 2011)
  5. Fashion is a feminist issue by Greta Christina (September 2nd, 2011)

october 2011
october

  • celebrated karina’s birthday
  • first halloween in ages i didn’t dress up (i was sick & busy)

recommended reading:

  1. Occupy Together in the age of conspiracy by Syed Hussan at Rabble (October 13th, 2011)
  2. Fauxgress Watch: “Born this way” by Rachel at Social Justice League (October 10th, 2011)
  3. An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day by Sasha Houston Brown at Racialicious (October 10th, 2011)
  4. Fat babes illustrated by Natalie at Definatalie (October 23, 2011)

november 2011
november

recommended reading:

  1. Not every girl is a riot grrrl by Lindsay Zoladz (November 16th, 2011)

december 2011
december

  • visited trenton for the first time of the year
  • took a lot of time for myself
  • said goodbye to my best friend karina as she headed off to sudbury
  • celebrated my champagne birthday with lots of sequins and glamour and fun

recommended reading:

  1. Why the “Native” Fashion Trend is pissing off real Native Americans by Lisa Hix at Collector’s Weekly (December 1st, 2011)
  2. Make your own stuff by Maranda Elizabeth (December 3rd, 2011)
  3. “Hello, I Love you” or “Why Fashion Blogging Smells like Raw Fish” by isabel at hipster musings (December 23rd, 2011)

phew! what a year. a new pair of glasses, three haircuts, tons of babes and incredible amounts of personal challenges and accomplishments. it took me way longer than anticipated to put that together. i’ll be sharing my favourite music of the year elsewhere in the next month or so, and best things i’ve read/seen in 2011 but i think those articles should sate your palates for the time being.

what were some of the best things you read or saw this year? i love lists! share yours with me. here’s one of my all-time favourites:

Woody Guthrie’s 1943 “New Years Rulin’s.” Found in one of his journals dated January 31st, 1942.

Woody Guthrie’s 1943 “New Years Rulin’s.” Found in one of his journals dated January 31st, 1942.

goodbye 2011! hello 2012!

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Filed under politics, pop culture, Uncategorized, vintage, what i wore today