Because, California is Always a Good Idea

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.10.16 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.10.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.11.10 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.26.06 PMThis is a quick message to let you know that Skinny Dip is officially on a belated Spring Break. I’ve been working on a new, exciting project for the past month (which, I look forward to sharing with you in the near future!) and on Monday, I’m heading back to Los Angeles for two weeks.  It’s my first real solo trip in years and I’m really excited.

So, while I have so much to say about books and love and Prince (oh guys, last week was rough), it will have to wait until I get back (or maybe not. Perhaps I’ll get a lightning bolt of inspiration while in the City of Angels.)

Until then, just know that I miss this space and you guys. Joe the Intern will once again be joining me on my travels, so in the meantime, make sure you follow our adventures on Instagram at simone_paget and joe_the_intern.

xox

S.

Too Much on The Inside + Other Truths

0402d5ae9968c163d5d9db0d742611bcWhile I was writing my book, which is a coming-of-age memoir about (you guessed it) dating and relationships; I avoided reading anything similar out of fear that I might creatively psych myself out. Now that the manuscript is complete, I’m having fun binge reading female penned memoirs and books set in Toronto. Last weekend, I finally had a chance to pick up and read cover to cover, Danila Botha’s Too Much on the Inside.

When Danila got in touch with me a few months ago, we quickly bonded over the fact that we spent our 20’s hanging out at a lot of the same places along Queen Street West in Toronto. She remembers what the area was like before it became gentrified, when two of my two favourite bars, Nasa and Element still existed. From the excessively greasy pub food to the telephone poles made thicker by six-inches of flyers and concert posters, Danila captures this era and locale so perfectly that I was unable to put her book down.

Set in the sub-cultural heartland of Toronto’s Queen Street West, Too Much on the Inside explores the depths of human connection as the lives of four people in their twenties converge with the impossible task of escaping their pasts in Brazil, Israel, South Africa, and Nova Scotia. They wrestle with love, heartbreak and angst while trying to build new identities.

All of the characters feel like they’re bits and pieces of people I met in Toronto. Whether it’s a violent trauma or their own angst, all of the characters are trying to outrun something, while grasping at the new and unknown. But, as Too Much on the Inside unfolds, it becomes clear that escaping the past is easier said than done.

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[photos of our old stomping ground via erik howard & flickr ]

Told in the first person, each chapter alternates between the perspectives of the various characters, which gives Too Much on the Inside a voyeuristic, diary like feel. One of the characters I found the most compelling was Marlize – a young South African woman trying to rebuild her life after her mom and sister are murdered and she’s violently raped during a home invasion in her native Cape Town. Traumatized but tenacious, she’s determined to move forward with her life. I loved watching her character fall in love, stumble and get hurt while growing stronger and more sure of herself.

Like the characters in Too Much on the Inside, when I moved to Toronto I was also running – from my parents separation, the lethargy of small town life and an aimless relationship with a much older man – in search of a place where I would feel at home. On some level, I intuitively knew that I would find likeminded individuals in Toronto – and I did – but, not without experiencing my own struggles.

When I was 19, I was sexually assaulted. I’d just moved to Toronto. Although the circumstances of my assault were completely different than the rape described in Danila’s book, the effects were long lasting. At the time I really wanted to talk about it, but often just couldn’t; instead I carried it with me, like a weight that felt impossible to shed. Desperately homesick but also determined to build a life of my own; I wanted to say everything, but also nothing at all.

Too Much on the Inside illustrates this dichotomy so perfectly. Dez, Lukas, Marlize and Nicki – the protagonists of the story, literally have “too much on the inside.” Their hurts, anxieties and hopes for the future are concealed from others, but always on the verge of spilling over the top. The title of the book is a perfect metaphor for being in your twenties, but also for living in Toronto – a bustling, multicultural city where everyone is from somewhere else, homesick, striving, forced to coexist in a melting pot of everyone’s different histories, disappointments and ambitions. I’ve always said that it’s hard to describe the inherent tension and energy that’s unique to life in Toronto, but I think Danila does a damn good job.

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[from my Queen West days circa early 2000’s. I was angsty but I liked flowers. Still do.]

For decades people have been writing stories about angsty twenty-somethings trying to find their way in the big city. But, with the exception of maybe Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For (also set in downtown Toronto), Too Much on the Inside is the first I’ve come across that takes place somewhere that I’m intimately familiar with. I can actually see, hear and even smell this story (the weird dirty greenhouse smell of Toronto never leaves you.) I think that’s why this book feels special to me.

When I think about the stories I’ve written about in my own book, Too Much on the Inside feels like a slightly different conversation, but a parallel one – like if I teleported myself back to the early 2000’s, I might look up from my beer and see Dez, Lukas, Marlize and Nicki living out their lives on the other side of the smoky dive bar. Knowing what I know now, I would wrap my arms around these characters and tell them, “This. All of this. It’s going to be OK.”

 Too Much on the Inside is available on Amazon. I received a copy of the book (thank you!) in exchange for my honest review. All views are my own because that’s how I roll. 

Styling Tips | When Your Bedroom is Your Office

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Here’s a little secret: I’m obsessed with online home tours. When I’m not writing, you can find me glued to sites like Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl and Homepolish, drooling over the gorgeous living spaces of strangers.

So, I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into my own live/work space. As I’ve mentioned before, my bedroom and office space are one of the same. When you’re living with space restrictions, I’ve learned that details are important – especially when it comes to making your space feel grown up.

This week I’m over at The Huffington Post sharing tips on decorating when your bedroom is your office. I encourage you to check out the article, but in the meantime here’s the Coles Notes version:

1. Your workspace is important but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

I used to think that I needed the “perfect” setting to finally write my book (cue: sun-flare filled images of me sitting at a typewriter in a charming Tuscan monastery). But, that’s bullshit. There’s no perfect time or space. You just need somewhere that’s reasonably comfortable to do the work.

 2. White paint fixes anything.

Even a hideous looking desk found on the side of the road. True story. My desk is actually a former vanity table rescued from my neighbour’s trash.

3. Don’t work from bed if you can avoid it.

You won’t feel very professional when you work from bed everyday. Trust me.

4. Take ownership.

Make your space comfortable and surround yourself with items that inspire you. I like to decorate with fresh flowers and my favourite books, but if a basket of neon haired lucky troll dolls and poster of Tony Danza giving you the thumbs up is what gets your creative juices flowing, do your thing.

5. Be versatile.

Furniture and decor that can be used in more than one way is key.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

Speaking of versatility, a few months ago, I teamed up with O.co to replace my nightstand (which, I’m still in love with by the way!) So, I was thrilled when the team at O.co offered to send me some new pieces to help make my home office more functional and cozy.

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Skinny Dippers, meet The Paris Wire Arm Chair (aka my “dream desk chair”) and the Natural by Lifestyle Brands New Zealand Sheepskin Rug, the two new additions to my space.

I love, love, love, both of these pieces. The mid-century style Paris Wire Arm Chair is delightfully chic and non-office like, yet comfortable enough to sit in all day. The Sheepskin Rug is super soft and much more plush than my old Ikea sheepskin throws.

Both pieces are incredibly versatile. The sheepskin throw can be draped across the back of a chair or used as a small rug. The chair looks great with my desk, but also helps create a nice reading nook.

Here are a few photos that the team from folkalpoint took of me in my space (thank you!)

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Office tour #2

{My work days: 90% cat wrangling, 10% staring whimsically off in the distance.}

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 Matilda and I are very fond of our new workspace upgrades. Matilda is especially fond of the “fuzzy.” Whenever I’m not using my chair, she immediately hops on and refuses to budge.

Thanks again for O.co for making this post happen. Stay tuned for more photos & goodies from my friends at folkalpoint!

I received the products featured in this post free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. All views are my own. 

Guest Post | On How to Be Single

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Going through a breakup? Our intern Kaitlyn bravely shares her story today about what it’s like to find yourself single after being in a relationship for 7 years. Take it away Kaitlyn! (illustration credit: Erick Davila) ‘ve realized that I do not know how to be single. Not just single –  but independent. I knewContinue reading

When a Whisper Turns To a Yell

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hether it’s going to your first music festival or finally writing your first book, one of the things I’ve learned over the past year is that good things happen when you push past your comfort zone. When I started this blog in 2009 I chose the name “Skinny Dip” because I thought “skinny dipping” was a good metaphor forContinue reading

Giveaway | WIN the Lovehoney Desire Wand Vibrator

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ou didn’t think I’d let Valentine’s weekend go by without an awesome giveaway, did you?! To make your February just a little bit more pleasurable, I’ve teamed up with Lovehoney for a chance to win a gorgeous, luxury wand vibrator from their new Desire collection. This new line of high-end silicone toys was inspired byContinue reading