Episode #4: Iris Simpkins is my spirit animal

If you haven't watched The Holiday before, please do.

Even though I get extremely loud and cheerful whenever I am around my friends, I am - believe it or not - quite an introvert. I don't feel comfortable at social situations. I don't like any kind of public display of affection. I hate being around mushy couples. Some might say it sounds a bit bitter, but that's just how I roll. But one thing that I do enjoy a lot are romantic comedies. I never tried to understand why until yesterday, when I was re-watching for the zillionth time my absolute favorite rom-com: The Holiday.
If you never watched it before, The Holiday starts with an amazing monologue by Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) about unrequited love. It's one of those scenes that resonates with me every single time. I know all the words to it, so allow me to share them with you:

"I've found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said "Journeys end in lovers meeting." What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind". Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual. And I have willingly loved that man for over three miserable years! The absolute worst years of my life! The worst Christmas', the worst Birthday's, New Years Eve's brought in by tears and valium. These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I've been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can't swallow! All the usual symptoms."

After that, you just feel compelled to root for her character during the entire movie - at least I do. She's a fuck up just like me when it comes to love. And I think that's why I enjoy this kind of movies, deep down I do believe there is hope for everyone. But let's talk more about Iris, shall we?

She is relatable. Iris is like every other average women out there: she has a regular job, a dog, a home, she's healthy and apparently very normal. But of course she has been cursed with a horrible relationship with a guy who didn't really want her and it's not like the guy is willing to let her go either.
Her character shows us that letting go isn't as easy as it seems and it takes time to get over someone. It's okay to go MIA for a while and get some me time. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to go away, then by all means just go! The process will be way smoother if you enjoy yourself and do whatever makes you happy.
Even though she knows the guy is an asshole, she holds on to the good times they had in the past. And when he suddenly reappears in her life she shows us that is normal to have a moment of weakness. We can't be strong 100% of the time and that's fine. 

Despite the fact that she is heartbroken, she doesn't shut herself from new experiences. When we are hurt, our first instinct is to bring our walls up. By doing that, we can miss out on really amazing opportunities. So I always try to remind myself of that. Thanks, Iris!
I am going to spoil the ending for you if you haven't watched it yet by saying that she ends up meeting this amazing and caring guy who has just been through some shitty stuff as well and they bond over it. Sometimes we might be afraid that we are too damaged to deserve love. Or we might be afraid of committing to someone that carries some sort of emotional baggage as well. I'm not going to say it's a rule: but I do believe that two broken people can make a great relationship and Iris is a poster girl of that. And I love her character for it.

Episode #3: The dark side of creativity

Seattle, WA - January, 2016
Where there is art, depression often seems to follow. After some shocking deaths in the past few months (e.g. Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington), I couldn't help but to get this thought out of my head. Growing up, I guess I was always naive enough to not realize that the art I was consuming - either music, literature or anything else - reflected real struggles and pain.
I could not fathom how, or even why, those creators would come up with such deep, meaningful and dark content. How could they even imagine such things? At times, I felt like it was borderline unreal. No one could possibly experience that. Now, it's clear to me how we lacked the discussion about mental illnesses in the 90's. We came a long way, but there is still a lot to talk about.
Chester's death bothered me a lot more than I thought it would - considering I was never really a massive fan of Linkin Park. I mean, I liked the band and their first couple of albums were a huge part of my teenage years...but still. I came to the conclusion that to me it was always about their lyrics. What made Linkin Park stood apart from other bands of the genre was their highly emotional, raw lyrics. So I decided to take a look at their last single "Heavy".

I don't like my mind right now
Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary
Wish that I could slow things down 

I wanna let go but there's comfort in the panic 
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything's about me
Yeah I drive myself crazy
'Cause I can't escape the gravity
 I'm holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
Holding on 

To so much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what's bringing me down 

If I just let go, I'd be set free 
Holding on 
Why is everything so heavy?

The art is a reflection of the artist. Whatever we create, is somehow related to what we experience and feel. Sometimes, we hide behind metaphores. Sometimes, the cry for help is crystal clear. How can we still miss the signs? How can we be of any help? I honestly don't have the answer to any of those questions but it is something that lives in the back of my mind every single day.
Yesterday, I was reading an article about the letters Tchaikovsky wrote to his family and friends. I was amazed by how fully aware he was about his lapses into depression and how he kept holding on to the beauty and meaning of things even though he often felt like his soul was wrecked.

“Life is beautiful in spite of everything! […] There are many thorns, but the roses are there too.” - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The autor of said article wrote that artists have both the poison and the cure to their problems because, like Tchaikovsky, they can see the meaning and beauty of life despite how they feel. I kind of agree with him. But I am gonna end this today with a few questions for you: Is depression so intrinsically related to art that we can't separate them anymore? Do artists need to be depressed to create or even just to feel inspired? 

Episode #2: How I became a coffee addict

I grew up watching my mom drink her coffee almost religiously. I loved the smell of it but I was never curious enough to actually drink it. When I was in high school, I decided to give it a try: I hated it from the first sip. I tried it in all sorts of ways you could possibly imagine. Not for this gal.
But besides the internet, caffeine is probably one of the most addictive things in the world - I would dare say that caffeine is the backbone of our society. And that's how I discovered the not so great world of energy drinks. During college, they were the reason I'd function. With my crazy schedule, internships and everything I would spend pretty much all day outside the house. I suffered from insomnia and anxiety and when I got to do some actual sleeping, it was never more than 3-4 hours a day. I was a zombie, I know.
When I started my first job a few years ago, the coffee ritual would come back and taunt me once again. Twice a day I would smell the freshly brewed coffee, followed by an invitation to join the staff for a coffee break. I politely refused, every single time. Until one fatidic day I decided to join them. After a copious amount of sugar, I managed to finish my first cup of coffee. I still disliked the taste, but I had such a caffeine rush...I still remember it to this day.
Every now and then I would join them for coffee. I started drinking cappuccinos with my friends. I actually ordered coffee at Starbucks for the first time shocker, I know. I liked the sensation it gave me afterwards, but I was far from enjoying it. Fast forward to my trip to Canada, in 2016. Waking up early in the morning, jet-lagged and with a freezing cold weather I found myself reaching for a pick me up: coffee. That's when I discovered Tim Hortons - aka the reason I became an addict.
For less than a Toonie (the Canadian two-dollar coin) I was able to get a giant - and I truly mean giant - cup of coffee. I was introduced to one of the Canadian wonders, the Double-Double (a coffee with two creams and two sugars) and that simple yet powerful combo got me hooked. It started with a single order a day...but by the end of my first week, I was a loyal customer of Timmies. I was rarely seen without coffee or whisky during that month. It still upsets me that Tim Hortons is not available here, I miss you Timmy!
Little by little, I started exploring this whole new world: espressos, french press, hario name it, I've tried. I became a regular at my local Starbucks. I know all the baristas and they know me by name. I started exploring all the coffee shops around me. I wanted to try everything. I was obsessed. Some of my friends found joy in this new addiction of mine and kept messaging me with tips and places to visit. Great.

I tried to deny it. I tried to stop. I just couldn't anymore. I was in love with coffee. I am in love with coffee. I enjoy the warmth, the flavors...everything about it. And then my coffee addict friends presented me with yet another challenge: cut the sugar. Would I be able to venture into the world of black coffee? 
Since I like a good challenge, of course I gave it a try. I can't say I've cut it entirely, but I guess I can say that at least 90% of the time, I am now drinking coffee without sugar or any sweetener for that matter. I was mesmerized by how it actually changes the experience. It is not for everyone, but if I were you I would try it at least once in your life. 

Episode #1: Adventures on the dating world

I don't remember exactly the moment it happened but, somehow, I became a skeptical when it comes to dating. When I was a teenager, I never really understood the appeal and why my friends would go batshit crazy over their boyfriends sometimes - to me it's always been about connecting with someone on a deeper level.
I have had my fair share of heartbreaks and failed attempts of relationships. And I'm not gonna lie to you: I always thought I had some sort of issue. Maybe I wasn't pretty enough. Maybe I wasn't skinny enough. Maybe I wasn't interesting enough. Maybe I should've been more polite. It has taken me years to let go of this mentality and finally accept that there is nothing wrong with me. I'm awesome just the way I am. And as one of my favorite characters, Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, would say:

"Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you're pretty sexy and you're taking  your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with."

I have lived my life to its fullest so far: college parties, clubs, dates and all that jazz. Don't get me wrong, I loved doing all that in my early twenties but not anymore. I spent a really long time forcing myself on the dating world - Tinder (and plenty of other similar apps) has led me to some insane experiences but I'm 100% done. And let's say that I am doing pretty fine on my own: I have a job, a dog who loves me, I pay my bills and I have awesome friends who are there for me whenever I need them. I don't need a man to be complete. Or happy. Or to achieve success. With that being said, I am out of my comfort zone once again: there's this guy... I didn't see it coming. Like I said, it's not like I'm actively looking for a boyfriend. And it all started in the place I least expected: the gym. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. We met about six months ago and to be fairly honest, we barely talked to each other at first.
We share the same alma mater and that's how we started talking a little bit more. I have a degree in International Relations and he's got a degree in Social Sciences. And the thing is: he is a pretty interesting and smart guy and he keeps on fascinating me. Inspiring even. I wish I could get to know him better. But we most definitely have our walls up, for different reasons. I can't bring myself to ask him out, for the first time in my life I'm lacking the courage to do so OH THE SHAME. I have no idea how he feels towards me, anyway.
Like I said: dating and flirting were never my strongest suits. I went through all of the stages of overthinking the situation and right now there are only three little words in the back of my mind: let it be. But if the stars allign and I get lucky enough for him to read this: let's have a coffee sometime, shall we? Hey, it's worth the shot - don't judge!
Anyway, I can't help but wonder...How do y'all feel towards the whole dating experience? What's the best date in your opinion? I never gave it much thought until I went on some truly horrible ones. In the end, all it matters to me is actually getting to know the other person. No walls, no sarcasm - just a real good chat with no inhibitions.