Almost a year! ALMOST A YEAR!

I’ve been incredibly alluring to strangers lately. The particularly creepy ones. The ones who don’t see the fact I’m wearing massive headphones and largely ignoring them as reason to stop trying to talk to me. Who talk in spite of the fact that I cannot hear them for exactly long enough to get me to take off my headphones and tell them I’m listening to music. And cannot hear them. Who then proceed to walk with me and try to chat me up with no success whatsoever because, not only am I confused by that sort of attention, I’m annoyed at strangers interrupting me as I go about my business. And awkward at conversation. And I don’t want to be around them. Particularly worrisome was the man on Monday night who did all these things, then responded to my lie about having a boyfriend by telling me we could just be friends, and then called it juvenile to expect friends to have common interests. Oh, and then admitted he’d been following me for quite a while trying to talk to me. Noooooope!

I don’t know what it is, though. I’ve been trying to carry myself with more confidence, and I guess I’m succeeding. Upon the realisation that the Doc Martens I bought back in May have had their heels worn down to an alarming angle, I realised it’s time for me to do my best to stop shuffling around bowlegged and walk like a person who really, really likes herself.

At least for the sake of my shoes.

So much of self-confidence is forced, though. I used to be an emotional mess (I want to throw a “haha, used to be!” in here, but the fact is I’m a trillion times better than I was, at least the majority of the time) but I forced myself to stop all my worst thoughts in their paths, and it improved the way I thought about myself. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m in a constant state of self-improvement. Always on some fucking quest, really.

And it’s a newish year! I mean, it’s not as new a year as it would be if I’d posted in the last four months (Leslie, that sentence doesn’t really make sense?!), but nevertheless! It’s a perfect time to think of a trillion more ways in which I can and should improve myself. And I’ve made a list. And it’s up on my wall. And it’s multicoloured, so I’ll pay attention to it. And while it doesn’t always make logical sense (it’s me, so it’d be surprising if it did), listing “save money” immediately beside “more tattoos” and “travel”, it’s important.

The reason it’s important is because I didn’t put “lose weight” on it. The reason it’s important is because everything I have listed on there are things I genuinely think will improve me as a person (“own who you are,” “accept your intelligence,” “be happy”), and not things that I feel the need to do because society tells us we ought to be a certain way. Sure there’s a large part of my brain that’d still like for me to lose weight, but doing so is not necessarily an improvement, because the size I am at the moment isn’t the wrong size to be. I am trying to get back to eating well and exercising (apart from the huge walks I frequently go on), but the best reason to do both of those things is to feel good. And if they do result in my losing weight, as they stand a fair chance of doing, it’s not as though I’ll be upset by it. But I won’t make changing myself to fulfil societal expectations of what’s right and good my ultimate goal. Because I have to save money while simultaneously doing very expensive things like travelling and getting tattoos, y’see! And, y’know, I need to love myself for who I am, and all that junk.

In a week and a half I’ll have been here a year. A moment and several lifetimes. I can’t really wrap my mind around it. There was life before this, there was so, so much beautiful and glorious life before this, and there’ve been so many things that have happened in less than a year, and I can’t comprehend it. I really, really can’t. I think often of past Leslie, of Ottawa Leslie, of Leslie who knew what she wanted out of life but couldn’t imagine any of it coming to fruition. I think of her and I think of how she’d react if she knew what was going to happen.

It’s a widely known fact (well, I’ve… I’ve told some people) that, upon the invention and subsequent general availability of time travel, my best friend Nidal and I would use this amazing technology to go to 1973 and see David Bowie’s last Ziggy Stardust show. That’s just what would happen. I mean, we both know a lot of other times we’d carry on to visit with our time machine, but it’s Ziggy first, because that is the correct way to go about it. I think now that I wouldn’t really be able to resist popping in and telling a past incarnation of myself about some of the cool things still to come.

I mean, obviously I did resist it. (Don’t tell me travel back in time isn’t really possible. Don’t you dare.) And maybe it’s better that I did! It’s nice to be stunned. It’s nice to pretend everything’s pretty much normal and then have it sink in later that you’ve just been spending time with a person you rightly could’ve only ever dreamed of spending time with. It’s a pretty cool way to live a life.

There was this weird moment just over a month ago. My friends and I were at a gig, and Dave Brown was doing a DJ set. It was my friend’s birthday, and he very kindly bought her a drink. My other friend and I looked at one another as if to say imagine how she must feel right now, just as Dave went on to offer us beers because he had drink tickets, and because he knows us from a few previous meetings, and (above all) because he’s ridiculously and absurdly kind. But, anyway, he was DJing and he put on a song by Tame Impala called Desire Be Desire Go. Tame Impala are one of my favourite bands. Desire Be Desire Go is one of my favourite songs. And you know why? Because, back in 2010, Dave Brown recommended that very song to me via Twitter when I, an astonished fan, asked him where I should start with Tame Impala. And I listened to it, and it was amazing. And here it was playing again in this wonderful scenario.

2010 Leslie, guess what your future holds…!

In 2011, on my month-long trip here with Nidal and Jen, I went to see Dee Plume do two DJ sets (y’know, speaking of DJ sets) within a few days of one another. The first time I met her I was so nervous I was shaking, somehow hit so much harder by meeting someone so relatable and easy to chat to than by any of the other heroes we’d interacted in that short space of time. The second time, accompanied by Nidal, Dee recognised me. I mean, this was a few days later, but it was still absolutely unbelievable to me that I could be recognised by someone who was such a big deal to me.

This is the first time I met Dee, and me being astonished by it:

In late January, Dee Plume and Paula Faircloth (the incredible Psycho Delia vs. the Ward, to give them their proper name) did a gig in my friend Jenni’s living room, for her birthday party. Dee called on me to participate frequently, remembered details about my life, and asked me questions. And then the group of us took a bunch of selfies. A bunch.

And I got roped into taking all of them because of my arms. The longest in the world, probably.

2011 Leslie, I got something to tell you…!

Gosh, imagine me time travelling. It’d be disastrous. Apart from the Bowie times. Those will be the best of times.

It’s been less than a year, and it’s been astonishing.

2013 Leslie (by way of Twitter, because this photo is the one I posted closest to one year ago)…

… meet 2014 Leslie! She’s slightly concerned by your Luna Lovegood glasses, but don’t worry, she’s probably just sad because she doesn’t know where they are at the moment.

I mean, I post comparison pictures, but I don’t know if the change is that visible, except for my hair. I just like comparison pictures. I’ve changed and stuff. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ll do a lot more. London is magic. I’m mainly tired at this point, because it’s 3:36 a.m. and I really should be sleeping. I really, really should. I’m determined to finish this post.

There’s so much that’s happened since the last time I wrote in this blog. So, so much. Glorious gigs and late nights in the company of terrific people. There was my entire visit home for Christmas, which was ten days of drinking and hangovers and family time and friend time and eating far too much and having more emotions than I remembered existed. There was something about being in Ottawa in the freezing-cold wintertime that brought back that feeling from my last few months living at home of uncertainty and disbelief. All those major life changes, the leaving my apartment and moving back into my parents’ place, the late nights trekking home through the snow and ice because I’d missed the last bus. That feeling that none of it could ever really lead to anything, and the panic of sealing my fate once I’d submitted my visa application. The terror that it’d be rejected, and then that absurd joy when it was approved. And the drinking, and the goodbyes. All of that coming back to me at once, because of a location and some weather. But it was good, and it was important, and the influx of emotions made me reassess certain feelings that I’d been holding onto fairly foolishly, and I decided to move past them because certain things just aren’t worth hurting yourself over. Positive life changes, you know? And there was so much fun and so much laughter and so much socialising, and it was a bit hard to come back to London. But I was reminded, really, of how magical it is to have two homes, the one I’m from and the one I’ve chosen. To be able to say “I’m going home” and mean it, regardless of which flight it is.

And it’s 2014. And I’ve lived in my dream city for nearly a year. And I still can’t believe I do. I don’t think I ever will.

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