Here and Now

I am currently in the process of figuring out how to manage this blog, that is, figuring out what to post and when to post it. My goal is to write five posts a week. I am saying this, of course, as I enter the busiest weeks of term, but five posts a week remains my goal.

In thinking about why I started New Woman Old World and what I want to do to with it, I realized that one of my goals throughout the process of relocating is to be in the moment and that New Woman Old World would have a part to play in keeping me grounded in the (to use a rather overused and buzz-wordy phrase) “here and now.” I have been thinking about why exactly I want to document this period of my life for, as a fairly private person, I have been feeling a bit strange about my desire and my decision to begin writing about my life on the internet. In thinking about all this, it struck me that the process of documentation demands a certain attention to the details (both material and emotional) of what one is experiencing and that the process of documenting, of taking pictures and regularly writing posts about this transition, might help ground me in my life at the moment. Yes, a part of me is (preemptively) mourning the change and what I will leave behind and, as discussed in Friday’s post, that is okay, but I am also here, in Toronto, now. I do have lots to look forward to in the future and a lot to sort out, but I am currently surrounded by the people and places I know I will miss, so the smart thing to do would be to enjoy being where I am, now.

So, in the spirit of the above, as a (sort of) side project of this blog I would like to document Toronto as I know it: my neighborhood, my favorite places, U of T etc. When I move, I will do the same thing as I explore my new town.

Here are two pictures of my cat, Rasmus, who I rescued as a kitten a year and a half ago. Truly, I think we can all learn a lot from cats in their ability to thoroughly and unapologetically indulge in the pleasures of the moment.

Ras, sleeping sitting up

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Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The first big Adult Decision

Deciding to move with my boyfriend to England is the first really big, life shaping, future-affecting decision that  I have made. It is indisputably an Adult Decision. It is not that I have never had to make big decisions before, but this seems like the sort of decision that capital-“A” Adults make. It is the kind of decision where I had to really look at my life and ask myself about my priorities and the kind of a life I want to live. Of course I didn’t think about the decision exactly in these terms when I made it (I kind of made it gradually, and one day realized, to my surprise, that I had decided to go), but along the way I had to ask important questions of myself.

Yesterday I was feeling rather scared and sad about leaving. I am in this weird place emotionally where leaving Toronto and my family is constantly on my mind even though it won’t actually happen for another ten months or so. Despite this the decision to leave hangs over my head. I am excited and sad and scared all at once. Mostly I wish that I could just skip the leaving part – the packing up my room, hugging my younger brother goodbye, saying bye to my close friends, my parents, family friends etc. I will be moving away from a really wonderful and supportive community. It is not the actual going away that I am scared of, it is what it means. Taking this leap signifies that I am leaving a part of my life behind – my childhood and my teenage years – and stepping out the door (across an ocean, more like) and figuring out what it means for me me to be an adult in the big wide world (i.e. an adult who does not live in her parents’ attic). I feel as though I am a character in the opening pages of a bildungsroman and I feel like things are about to change forever (because they are) and that is scary.

It is the end of an era for my family, too. My brother will be finishing high school about the same time I will have finished my last credit of my B.A. My mother just finished her Ph.d. and is figuring out what to do next. For the past three years my boyfriend, myself, my brother, my mother and my father have all coexisted in our big old ramshackle house in Toronto. We eat together most nights and get along surprisingly well, considering our rather unusual living arrangement. When my boyfriend first moved in I thought it would be a bit weird to cohabit with both him and my parents. Over the past three and a bit years, however, many of the kinks have been smoothed out and our full and busy household operates fairly well. I am feeling a bit sad at the moment that this will all change.

I randomly stumbled across a  a post on another blog that talks about the idea of allowing oneself space to grieve the “small deaths” in one’s life. The post points out that for any choice we make there are an infinite number of things that we did not choose – and that it is alright, and even healthy, to grieve for these things  even as you stand by your choice (or are elated about your choice!) and that the grieving for the lost possibilities does not necessarily mean that you have chosen erroneously. This idea is helping me to put in perspective how I feel about deciding to move. I am really REALLY excited to go have an adventure, but I am also really sad that things will change and it is scary that I am deciding to make a big change when everything is already going pretty well, as opposed to simply being passive and waiting for change to happen to me.

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hello! (my first post)

What is New Woman Old World?

This blog serves two purposes, the first being that it documents a highly transitional period of my life, that is, the moving out of my family home in Toronto, Canada – where I currently live with my mother, father, brother, and boyfriend – to the United Kingdom where my boyfriend will be attending graduate school. The second is to provide a place to explore some of the issues that this transition raises, may of which are not particular to me. How does a 22 year old woman  facing the end of her first university degree and moving to a different country navigate the complexities of a post-modern, recession-riddled, existential-crisis-inducing world?

New Woman: a figure that began to appear in literature and popular culture in the 1890s of a type of modern independent woman. This “New Woman” was depicted in varying, and often contradictory, ways: she was independent, vocal, and asserted her equality with men; she was often depicted as being a writer,  living an ascetic lifestyle, as being critical of heterosexual norms but also representative of female sexual license and free love. She was very often depicted as riding a bike. The image of the New Woman was often the subject of satirists and cartoons, but, it has been argued, the figure of the New Woman opened up “an imaginary space in which a range of ideological struggles over female agitation were conducted”*  and it is for this reason I find the term appealing and even useful.

Old World: Europe (for my family) or for me, England, where my father was born. In fact I may be moving to the university town where my grandfather took his law degree.

*quote from: Matthew Beaumont, “A Little Political World of My Own”: The New Woman, The New Life, and New AmazoniaVictorian Literature and Culture 35 (2007): 217.

Published in: on October 31, 2010 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment