My draft about New York continues to grow. I'm still struggling to find the words that do the experience justice, and the motivation to lose myself in this search when there are so many other things that I want or have to do every day. Having to catch an earlier bus than I used to means that I also have to get to bed earlier, so I'm aware of the limited window I have to accomplish something, but I often find myself staying up too late when I don't feel like I managed to write that e-mail, edit those pictures, work on the blog post, or even read the book or watch that movie or TV show that I've been wanting to forever. 

I was thinking of writing another post about how I spend a lot of time on social media, but don't really do much reach out or connect aside from the most passive means possible, but I've already drawn from that well in the "30 in 30" exercise. It's not like I'm completely apartment-bound: in the last two weeks I went to a theatre workshop and my friends' annual joint birthday party, but I feel like I'm not as bold about forcing myself to go out and meet new people as I was when I first came to Halifax. The familiarity of places and faces sometimes feels a little oppressive.

I sometimes feel like I've been trained to accept what is instead of actively striving for the life and self I truly want, just in case I can't recover from a false move. I don't trust my judgement, lean on other's expectations and weigh my decisions based on what would get me some sort of pain-free validation. I try to do what's expected, and don't have much energy to reach beyond that.

I'm 33 now. I've been acutely aware of my advancing age. There's a part of me that knows I should be striving towards some semblance of Responsible Adulthood, but have I just boxed myself into this comfortable post-adolescence? Would I be able to gather enough momentum to drastically change my path if it was necessary?

What would it take to break out of "default" mode?

30 in 30: Day 30

This exercise winds down with one last entry. It's a relief to not have to worry about my daily posting quota or feel guilt over marking the day with a one-sentence post, and there's some bit of satisfaction to take in posting every day for 30 days, but the thing I worry about is that I'm going to squander this momentum. Maybe it will channel itself into my renewed focus on the SNL reviews, but what I really want is to regularly update the two streams of my blog. I aspire to the level of writing I see regularly on The Belle Jar and Trans Canada (My Way), and want to have something more to say than what I thought of a 30-year-old episode of a television show. For someone who's been trying to write for years, I'm still searching for my voice. 

I started a new job last week; it's in Dartmouth, so the commute is a bit longer than it was to my old job. This means I have to wake up earlier, which technically means I should be getting to bed earlier than I have been. Old habits die hard. Wil Wheaton just posted an entry on his blog about seven things he did to reboot his life that gave me pause, but do I need a reboot of my life, or do I need to figure out what I want before I can do that?

I'm giving myself two weeks until my friends' party to pare down the growing backlog of photos I still need to edit from this summer (going back to June). I don't know what the penalty will be aside from feeling like I can't stay on top of things, but it has to be done or it will either grow bigger with every event I shoot, or hold me back from wanting to take more pictures.

That's 30.

30 in 30: Day 29

Another year of skipping the Halifax Pop Explosion; the fourth in a row. I keep telling myself that I'm going to go to the next one, but just like Sappyfest, I don't even bother. Maybe I'm being needlessly frugal or maybe I've reached the age where I can't be bothered to get excited about live music. When my friend was in town last week, he suggested just going out to random shows with no regard as to whether I was familiar with the band or knew anyone else that was attending. Sometimes I just prefer to spend the money on a burrito.

There are nights where it hits me that I live in this amazing harbourfront city, and taking advantage of what it has to offer is just a matter of me willing myself to take a bus out of suburbia. And yet, when I do, I'm at a loss as to what to do, or I realize that I spent the time and effort to do something I didn't exactly want to do, and now have to spend even more to make it back home. If I take my camera, it suddenly becomes a load I wish I didn't have to carry or worry about. If I don't, I come across a scene that I wish I could take a good picture of. I have to justify everything to myself.

Random scenes come to me when I'm out and about, but they dissipate by the time I sit down to put pen to paper. I have an idea for a mood I want to create and some of the people that come to mind as the basis for characters, but nothing much in terms of plotting.

I leave you tonight with a 30 year old Prefab Sprout song.

30 in 30: Day 28

I was going to write more tonight, but ended up falling asleep between 6 and 11; I have a number of other things I want to get ready for tomorrow (including finally getting my next SNL review posted), so I'm just going to leave you with Chet Baker's take on Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue".

30 in 30: Day 27

I keep thinking I need to make plans to go for coffee or drinks with people, but by the time I'm back home from work, I'm back into hermit mode and come up with a litany of excuses for not sending the message. It's late. It's early. I just saw them. I haven't seen them in a long time. We're not really that close. I can't afford it. Et cetera, et cetera. (I keep hearing the voice of one of my freshman year Poli Sci profs at Mount Allison saying the "et cetera" part.)

I've always felt that in the unlikely case that I manage to become famous for something, I would handle it poorly. As much as I would like to be able to do something that gives me respect and recognition, or create something of lasting value, I have a feeling all these insecurities I have would only magnify under the spotlight. Would I seclude myself like Jan Hooks did in her last years? Possibly. 

30 in 30: Day 26

There are only a few more days left in this exercise. All things considered, I think I did pretty well so far, even if the daily quota was occasionally filled by short "posts for the sake of themselves" entries. I think the main purpose behind this was to get back into a space where I can write more regularly; sometimes at length, sometimes in terse little one-sentence updates. It's also opening me up to writing at length again and playing around with word placement, something that I felt got away from me in the last little while.

I hope I still have a few longer entries in me for the next few posts. 

30 in 30: Day 25

I could speak at length about the federal election, but I used all my good stuff on social media, and I don't really want this space to get bogged down with my own political leanings. My main hope is that Atlantic Canada is on the receiving end of some major investments: I want economic opportunity, but more than that I want this place to not feel as cut off (in various respects) from the rest of Canada as it often does. 

30 in 30: Day 23

I'm still trying to make sense of why I didn't bother checking out more of Nocturne last night, instead opting to go home almost immediately after leaving Lot Six. I checked even less out than I did last year, which also was a little bit of a bust. Was it just the rain that actually let up fairly early on but dampened my interest to the point where I went home? Was I really in a rush to get home for Saturday Night Live? Do I actually give a fuck about the arts, or do I only try to convince myself that I do?

I haven't really felt that I've been able to take full advantage of living in the city, largely due to financial constraints. Live music, art shows, theatre...I can never really bring myself to go out to any of these. Maybe it's just a side effect of the precarious work I was doing for the last 11 months. It's funny, when I lived in Miramichi, I longed to be in a place with a decent amount of cultural life, but now that I'm in Halifax and close to all this art, I don't normally bother, not even when it's free and involves people I know. Ever since the provincial government gutted the film tax credit in April, I'm afraid that one ripple effect is that the cultural life of Halifax is going to dry up.

How long will I stay in Halifax? I don't know. I'm not especially settled here; I do have a good circle of friends, but I don't have a stable career or family tying me to this place, and I'm very reluctant to be in a relationship or follow through on an attraction until I feel a little more stable on the career front. Life tends to go on even while I'm trying to figure out who I am and what I want: I have to eat, pay rent, try to socialize, and sleep anyway, regardless of whether I write or take pictures. I'm not sure whether either is what I should be or want to be doing with my life.

Then again, as Carolyn Mark sang, "everything happens either not at all or at the same time."

30 in 30: Day 22

The last few days since I got back into Halifax weren't especially good for sitting down and writing, for some reason or another. I really didn't like it, but I don't know why I just didn't sit down and power through it or shut off all the other distractions I had going on in the background.

In the last week or so, I came up on a few reminders of the past: a script from a summer-stock production of Annie; an old website profile with a list of mix CDs I compiled, some for other people... All these mementos of the person I was, the things I thought I wanted, and the people that drifted in and out of my life over the years. Quite a few are still around.

There's a yearly multi-venue art festival in Halifax called Nocturne: I ostensibly went out to it tonight, but didn't really feel like checking it all out. I love what it represents, and that it brings so many people out to check the different installations all through the city, but I think I only peeked at about three or four of them. I was more invested in meeting up with one of my old friends who was in town.

I could make this a long treatise on my changing motivations and desires, but I'm still trying to figure all that out right now.

30 in 30: Day 20

Words aren't coming tonight, so this is just going to be a pair of single-sentence paragraphs:

I would love to find a way to work themes of gender and androgyny into the conceptual portrait project I have vaguely planned.

Post work naps and trips to Sobeys are not my favorite combination.

30 in 30: Day 19

I had a few thoughts ready to post earlier, but I need more sleep so I can sculpt them. Can't dive into the writing game tonight, not unless I stay up until 2 am. Not really the wisest thing if you wake up at 6:45.

30 in 30: Day 18

I use the "like" button on various social media sites as a half-assed way to connect with other people. I've call this the "passive like", where you want to acknowledge the post or just say hello, but you just don't have the energy or words to type a comment or response. Likes are empty calories. I need to stop this pattern, or at least hit like more judiciously and try to comment instead. Elan Morgan (aka Schmutzie) wrote a great article a while back about how she decided to stop reflexively hitting the "like" button on Facebook. I may have tried to do that a while back, only to regress back to the instinctual clicking of the button. Do I really think I'm actually interacting with people this way? It's like going to the convenience store for a chocolate bar, bag of chips and can of pop instead of taking the time to put together a more filling meal.

I worry that I can't really think of anything to say to people anymore. I supposed that's another danger of sharing thoughts and feelings on so many different outlets. Everything has to be so watered down and generalized. I keep meaning to write people letters, but what's my motivation in doing this: the act of sharing pent-up thoughts and emotions, or the hope of a response? 

I have to ask myself what my aspirations and motivations are for my writing and photography. Am I trying to say anything, or am I more driven by the idea of gaining access to certain circles and communities? On some level, am I merely seeking validation for whatever I put out at the expense of authentic self-expression? I'm sometimes afraid everything I put out is just quick crayon drawings of different things I see and like.

30 in 30: Day 17

Another travelling day. I always forget about how much being in transit takes out of me, despite the fact that I'm not the one driving. The bus ride from Moncton was actually a little shorter than expected because it was a limited-stop express coach, meaning I got into the city about an hour earlier than scheduled. I was hoping to get home early enough to vote in the advance poll today, but between my exhaustion and a long trip from downtown to home, I decided I wasn't going to leave the apartment again tonight.

I may not have been as social as I wanted to be on the weekend, but I'm glad I was able to spend some time with the pets, particularly Natalie, the 18-year-old torby. She still has her feisty moments, but she's much more frail than she was the last time I came home: she spent most of her time resting in the kitchen. The other four cats and the older dog all seemed to be happy I was there and particularly affectionate. The 7-month old puppy took a little while to warm up to me.

Been thinking more about the conceptual portrait photography project again (mentioned on Day 4). I want to do something focused on the face and eyes, but I'm also fascinated by the idea of tracking changes through repetition and how multiple shots of the same thing taken over a period of time can tell a story. I'm still having a little bit of trouble trying to come up with a specific enough statement I want to make; if anyone can lead me in the right direction, let me know. I'm also looking for volunteer subjects once I have something figured out for the concept.

30 in 30: Day 16

The SRC is running a French-dub version of Harold and Maude right now and it makes me want to break out my DVD when I get back to Halifax. I have so many movies I bought when I had more income to dispose but haven't watched for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I didn't want to block off the whole chunk of time it took to consume the movie, or I wasn't otherwise in the mood.

Long day today. Thanksgiving Dinner was good, but I'm glad to return to my own space and routine tomorrow evening. I don't feel like I can access my thoughts unless I have enough space and time alone, and both are difficult to come by here. It's only going to be worse at Christmas. There are enough cute animals here to distract me, though.

30 in 30: Day 15

I'm at my parents' place for the long weekend, so since I don't have access to my own computer until I get back into Halifax on Monday, I'm not writing these until late at night when I have a moment to myself and a free computer.

I didn't really do anything today; I slept late with a cat curled up on my legs, watched some Bob's Burgers and BoJack Horseman with my sister, and tuned into the new episode of SNL with Amy Schumer: I thought it was considerably weaker than the premiere, especially that last 10-to-1 sketch screamed Anderlette to me. That's the thing with SNL...sometimes the booking everyone's excited for ends up being a huge disappointment (Looking at you, Robert DeNiro).

I get stir-crazy whenever I'm in Miramichi, but I can't really bring myself to leave the house when I'm up here, especially without firm plans. I feel like this is something I've said countless times before. Give me the anonymity of a larger city over a tight-knit small town any day.

30 in 30: Day 14

I spent about four hours on a bus this evening, plus another two hours in a car, so I'll keep this brief, but pulling into the two airports between Halifax and Moncton triggered memories of my New York and Toronto trips.

A brief stop in Sackville, NB also reminded me once again that my Mount Allison days were well over a decade ago. Time passes.

30 in 30: Day 13

Another late night submission. I'm going to try to make up for the last two days with this post; I supposed it was bound to happen that I would have a few "off" days where the energy or will to write wasn't there.  Then I have days like this one where the will's there but the time isn't: between my bus getting caught in traffic (which also made me regret trying to go straight home after work instead of dawdling at Scotia Square for dinner), a post-dinner nap, and some other things I needed to get done tonight, I didn't get around to writing this until well after midnight.

A few entries back, someone asked me what I thought of last weekend's SNL premiere with Miley Cyrus. I know this is subject matter more fitting for the other blog on the site, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was easily stronger than the last two years' premieres, and the overall vibe of the show reminded me of the 2011 season premiere with Alec Baldwin and Radiohead: not a flawless show, but the atmosphere was relaxed without coming across as too lazy. Taran Killam's Donald Trump was OK, although the writing for the cold opening came across as a little perfunctory; the Hillary Clinton cameo sketch I found to be executed much better. I was actually surprised by Miley's performances though: I knew she collaborated with the Flaming Lips on her new album and guessed they may appear with her tonight, but "Karen Don't Be Sad" actually sounds like a bit of a return to form for them as opposed to just being a pleasant-on-the ears Miley Cyrus song (The Lips kind of lost me after Embryonic). "Twinkle Song" was a little more polarizing, with the repetition of "I had a dream" and "What does it mean", the odd piano dressing, the screaming and the crying, but I thought as a whole it worked.

One of my favorite blogs is AJ Ripley's Trans Canada (My Way). They update weekly (with new posts every Wednesday): it's an unflinchingly honest account of their transition in the one province in Canada that doesn't fund transgender procedures, and it's amazingly written. They participated in a documentary for Vice Canada called On Hold: Investigating Transgender Health Access in Canada, and I urge you to all watch it. I lived in New Brunswick for 13 years; it can be a wonderful place, but it can also feel like a bizarre disconnected alternate universe.

But that's another post.