Saturday, April 17, 2021

How (not) to keep your head on your shoulders

You know that feeling when you have a weeks' worth of tasks just sitting there on your neatly scheduled to-do list (in my case, tried doing the whole Notion thing) and your mind STILL has trouble focusing on one task at a time? And then, like a lightbulb that you tried turning on a couple of times but gave the impression that it needs to be replaced finally turning on - that was a really long metaphor but let's just roll with it -  you find yourself doing the thing that you love doing and were seeking inspiration to do for weeks, amongst the many chores you had set up for yourself. It's 6:11 PM Elena, you scheduled a quick shower and (a much-needed) hair wash, followed by two hours sitting on your computer finishing up the work you didn't end up completing this morning. Why the hell are you going off on such a long tangent? We have things to do, dammit! 

Pictured: Homebound on a random snowstorm in March. Gotta love climate change :)

If you managed to read that whole previous passage and not get lost, then hooray! You shall receive...a virtual high five! That's the most I can do right now, sorry! Anyhow, back to what I was potentially saying -  I LOVE moments like these. When you've consumed something that just instantly strikes up inspiration to do whatever (in my case write, more specifically write without stopping to correct my grammar or the typos that mark my words with a red underline). I guess this all stems from the neverending need for others to bring out the best in you, which is kind of sad and ironic if you think about it, but I think that if I went on that tangent this post would be the size of my graduation paper. Agh, why did I have to go there? Just the mention of that thing (grad paper thesis dissertation thingy, whatever you can call it) is slowly making me lose my mind. I don't even know why these two sentences had to pop up into my mind, they threw me off my writing groove! I think that at this point, my brain can handle as little of gated (as in, condensed and narrow) information intake as it can get - so throwing a whole ass author of some kind and analyzing someone else's work, when I have enough of my own, sounds like the most excruciating thing I can do to my brain. So, I consider this sort of proactive procrastination a form of self-care. And don't you dare ask me if I'm planning on graduating any time soon because you might get blocked. Physically and mentally. 

Pictured: Those 30 minutes of rest I give myself from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM on occasions to have a cup of coffee and read a few pages of whatever book I'm distracting myself with at the time

Okay, 6:21 PM. Shoot, where was I going with this? Agh yes, my whole point (if I even have one) is to just let the people know how/where I've been. Mentally that is because physically things haven't changed in over a year and we all know why is that :) So, after a small pause to collect my thoughts, I can safely say that I am in a constant overwhelmed state. And that's okay. Through so many conversations with friends recently, I've come to the conclusion that it's OKAY to let your mind freak out and be a right old mess because it's normal. And it's natural. And that's how our coping mechanisms work. I am yet to know a person that will (with assertiveness) say: "Oh, I adapt to changes so quickly, it's practically unnoticeable!". Huh? Like, that sentence was even hard for me to formulate, the concept is THAT foreign to me. However, the chances of someone saying "I am internally struggling and I have no idea why" are far greater, and far more consoling to me as a fellow overwhelmed human. At this point, I think that even the most chill people in the world have their brains working overtime on the weekend when the rest of us try to relax. 

Pictured: Waiting for the bus home suddenly turns fun when you find out you can take reflection photos 

Update from future Elena, editing the jumble that you just read. It's 11:38 PM on a Saturday, which is way past my usual bedtime. What can I say, I've started to get accustomed to avoiding the usual 7-9PM nap that plagued my sleeping pattern for months on end. Is this what adulthood feels like? Oh, while we're on that adulthood topic, another thing that made me stop and think was the fact that I intentionally subscribe to newsletters now. Like, never in a million years did I picture myself as a newsletter girl but I gotta admit - I'm loving it. I have to reiterate here and say that the newsletters I'm subscribed to or will potentially subscribe to are ones that offer mostly entertainment value and spark potential inspiration, with a splash of education here and there; no more - no less. The only heavy topics that will find their way into my inbox are emails from my university and the occasional Duolingo reminder saying that they miss me, which in retrospect isn't that bad to wake up to. 

Pictured: Back when restaurants were open and we could enjoy eggs on a bed of cream cheese and delicious bread

Another thing that frequently pops up in my head is the realization of the reality I'm creating for myself. I know, this is kinda jumping off the deep end but I'm not gonna swim on this topic for too long; I just want to address it. I've found myself in this predicament where I consciously make things harder for myself which consequently makes me feel devoid of joy when I do the things that made me excited in the past. So, in order to find joy again, I've taken up new hobbies. They're small, practically minuscule in importance, but make my mind take a mental break by introducing a new set of tasks for it to concentrate on. Tasks that repeat themselves, require little to no conscious thinking, yet still, make me feel creatively fulfilled. I think that's the key to fixating on something that's actually good for you - seek for something you can sense the benefits of without reaping some sort of an external validation-type of reward. We live in an age of (over)sharing, where we need that pat on the back from people we don't even care that much about and create a list of what's "bad" and "good" for us based on other people's opinions. In a way, the fact that I'm sharing these thoughts for you to agree or disagree on is ironic in itself, but it's the reality of the situation we've all put ourselves in. It's like constantly saying social media is bad for your mental health and then scrolling on Instagram the rest of the day. Duality is a bitch, isn't it? 

Pictured: Looking out into a snow-covered wasteland (not quite the one T. S. Eliot described, but pretty close) from the inside warmth of a cafe

Okay, it's past midnight and definitely past my bedtime, which is a sign I need to wrap this up before shit gets too deep (even for me). If you've read this whole thing, thank you. If you want to talk about anything I've mentioned so far, my messages are always open. And if you wanna give me a virtual smack for taking up 5(?) precious minutes out of your life, you are completely entitled to do so. I too know the useless power a brain dump holds. 

I owe you a playlist and a book review post, so keep your eyes peeled for those. I can't promise it will be anytime soon, but it will definitely be posted for mine and your enjoyment at some point. Goodnight, sleep tight! 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

February Playlist | 2021

Photo: Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Hello all! 

I'm back with the February installation of my monthly playlists, and this time around I'm serving music to daydream that "you're on a yacht somewhere chilling with your friends and having some summer fun" to. And honestly, with the warmer weather we had in February, I think it's totally fair that my playlist is basically anything BUT winter-friendly. And while we're at it, what the hell was February?? It literally flew by and I'm still processing all the things I did (and definitely didn't do) in the past month while trying to balance being productive and taking a chill pill in March. I guess that's maybe why I've been feeling not up to making this playlist because in my mind it's still Feb, and this post is not two weeks late... 

Anyhow, while I'm trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my headspace atm, enjoy some new music! 

Kicking this February playlist with "Alone" by Q, an artist that many say resembles Frank Ocean. I don't know about Frank Ocean, but this song is short and sweet, hitting at just 2:15. And with that being said, I love absolutely every second of it. It's super chill but that guitar and drumbeat in the background just make everything 10 times better. I'll definitely be checking out more of Q's discography in the future!

And now, something a bit more upbeat! "Irrational" by Shay Lia kept on popping up in my recommended and little by little it really grew on me. The song samples Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet" but in a more chill and groovy way. Also, when I found out she's the girl that makes an appearance in Kaytranada's ICONIC Boiler Room set (which I have spent hours watching and laughing at) I just knew I had to include the song here because it's just destiny!  

Hope Tala and Amine's "Cherries" has similar groovy vibes with the above-mentioned "Irrational", with a specific bossa nova meets R'n'B sound. In short, it sounds like the perfect track for your upcoming summer (warm weather themes here). I would also like to point out that the music video is super cool! 

The piece de resistance for me in February was "Baby Powder" by Jenevieve. It's the most smooth, chill, and sexy R'n'B song I've heard in a while, and I recommend you all give it a listen. Her vocals are out of this world and the whole vibe of the song is totally late 90s.  

I gotta admit, February was just filled with powerful asf female vocalists and I just can't believe my luck that I found all these amazing artists! Adding onto my extended list is Amaarae with "Leave Me Alone" and "Jumping Ship" in collaboration with Kojey Radical & Cruel Santine. The first one is very smooth and upbeat, with a super catchy (and relatable) chorus, while the latter is afrobeat goodness with a very eyecatching music video to match.  

While on the topic of afrobeat, Nao's "Antidote" featuring Adekunle Gold is straight gold! (bad pun intended hehe). At this point, anything Nao releases I'm *extremely* down for because she just can't do no wrong. Her signature vocals have the range to be in any kind of song, which is why she's on this playlist again, but this time around on a Disclosure electronica/house track. "Superego" is completely switching gears from the previous songs Nao's been on, and I gotta admit I haven't listened to a Disclosure song in a while, but I'm slowly getting back into the groove with them. This one is textbook Disclosure, part of their 2015 "Caracal" album which is like a more mature version of their signature "Settle" circa 2013 sound. Anyways, I went on a bit of a tangent here, but yes, this song is good, listen to it hahaha. 

DEJA's "Losing Game" is not one to be confused with that Eurovision turned Tiktok song with the same name, as this one is very, VERY different. I'm talking hair flipping, music to turn up to, and feel like a boss bitch to. So yes, if that's a mood you're in, I highly recommend this one to match the vibes.  

And of course, it wouldn't be an Elena playlist if a couple of dance/electronic songs didn't make an appearance. I'm sure that by now, you've all heard "Your Love (9PM)" and "The Business" so I don't need to explain why I listened the crap out of these songs in February. All I will say is, they're 100% mood boosters and if I close my eyes for a minute, and really think about it long and hard, I'm at a party somewhere in a seaside town, drinking gin and tonic and watching the sunset while the DJ blasts these songs in the background. 

And that wraps up another playlist! As always, click HERE for the Playlist on YT, HERE for the Playlist on Spotify, or on each individual title above. Happy listening! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Personal History of Pink

When it comes to dressing for the winter season, my whole mantra is "Wear color to brighten up your day" and even though I too sometimes want to just blend into the crowd and disappear with the gray, most of the time I'll be the girl with a bright yellow hat on, or, in this case, in a full-on pink outfit.  

So, in honor of pink, let's go through a brief overview of my history with this color because we go waaay back. I think every single girl to ever exist on the planet has been adorned with everything pink since coming out of the womb. Pink baby clothes, pink toys, pink room, pink everything. Although I think (or, should I say, hope) people are over pairing specific genders with specific colors, as in pink is for girls and blue is for boys, at this point, it's pretty clear that it's mostly associated with being a girl. And I feel like that's why every girl has gone through a phase where she "hates pink", and honestly, I can't blame us. Pink is associated with femininity and fragility, and there are only so many stereotypical comments one can take before fully refusing to wear this cliché-ridden color. 
Tuesday, February 9, 2021

January Playlist | 2021

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Wait, is this the first post for 2021? It must be true, and it must be in the form of a playlist too since that's most of what I want to actually write about this period. So, firstly HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone is having a *somewhat* better start to the year than whatever the hell happened in 2020. I gotta admit, I'm not one for keeping high expectations for each new year, but I too like the rest of the world felt a tiny spark of hope when the clocks passed midnight. Of course, not much has changed since then, but I implemented a few new habits that have been keeping me feeling like I have control over some microscopic parts of my life in a very uncertain time. Perhaps that will be a future post all in itself, but for now, let's talk music!

This month has probably been the most musically cohesive one thus far, as every song could easily fit into the R'n'B genre. However, some songs are slower and some more upbeat, depending on the mood I was in at the time. And by the look of this playlist, I've been in A LOT of moods in January. I think everyone can find something that might fit their liking in this playlist, so without further ado, let's kick 2021 off with what I've had on repeat all of January!

Masego is back on another playlist, this time with "Bye Felicia" which is probably one of the coolest songs I've heard this year. The tempo of this song is unmatched, and I absolutely love the dark undertones of the beat, and boy oh boy don't even get me started on the last 25 seconds of the song and that epic saxophone! I am definitely loving everything he's been putting out in the last year, and will definitely explore more of his music in 2021!

"Fue Mejor" is one of those extremely sultry songs that always manages to catch your attention upon first hearing - and then she hits us with the Spanish. "Tu no me conoces" indeed, yesss tell em Kali Uchis! And then PARTYNEXTDOOR's part kicks in and completes the equation on how a songstress and a rapper's collab should sound like. 

I haven't had Drake on a playlist in a looong time, but hey it's a new year I guess? However, I must admit that "Outta Time" is way more low key than anything Drake related, mainly because it's Bryson Tiller's song and the vibes are chill and strictly R'n'B. After a few repeats, I came to the conclusion that this song sounds veeeery early 2000s R'n'B and that's what initially drew me to it. 

This next one is like a mishmash of multiple songs but somehow sounds amazing together? "Track 6" by Ty Dolla $ign feat. Kanye West, Anderson .Paak & Thundercat sounds exactly like you'd imagine, a whole lotta different hip hop/r'n'b styles mixed together, yet sounding completely in unison! My personal favorite is Anderson .Paak's part, but I guess that's to no one's surprise. 

Duckwrth is my absolute hidden treasure find of this year! This man can't do wrong - and yes I am saying this with only having heard two of his songs. And those two of course made their way into my January playlist (and I'm sure he will be back again in February!). So far, "Kiss U Right Now" and "Super Bounce" have been on constant repeat, but let me tell you, they couldn't be more different from one another even if they tried. Kiss U Right Now is downtempo, moody, a bit more lethargic, while Super Bounce is exactly what the title entails - upbeat, groovy, with a 70s flair and a bit of an Anderson .Paak influence. 

Brent Faiyaz is yet another musician that is yet to be fully on my radar, but with a song like "Dead Man Walking", I can definitely say that I'm on the right track. This one is a slower R'n'B track that has a slow linear buildup, which I quite like in songs (e.g. Banks and her music are a top-tier example of slow buildups). And finally, you'll be glad to know that I did not find this song through Tik Tok, but through a friend so we're making progress! 

My queen Doja Cat is back with "Candy", which isn't a new release but it was new to me when I first heard it back in December! Apparently, this one was a Tik Tok song too, so I guess I can check off "token song(s) Tik Tok made famous" off the list. 

You know when someone asks you about your relationship status, and you fight back every cell in your body telling you to make things awkward by saying Single as fuck while singing it off-tune and high pitched, sorta like a commercial jingle meets 90s whistle tone Mariah Carey? Yeah, Fousheé did exactly that and now we have "Single af" which is probably one of the more fabulous songs on this playlist. It's so hilarious that it's genius: a slow 90s style groovy ballad with the most catchy chorus ever. I love her for even coming up with this concept, and let's not even begin to talk about her superb vocal abilities. 

From one badass lady to another, we're switching language gears and hopping onto the Senidah train, this time with "Strava". It's, say it with me kids, groovy as hell! I completely fell in love with this one, you know I'm a sucker for a good 80s synth-wave sound, and it's so subtle yet effective here that it makes me so proud to be living in a world where there's quality Balkan music. 

"No Kink In The Wire" by Cosha was one of those random suggested songs on my Spotify, and boy is it a gem and a half. I love how soothing this song sounds, and I looove the hook and chorus. Her voice sounds like a warm hug, and now that I think about it this whole song sounds like that as well. 

In my previous playlist post, I praised the hell outta Galimatias, so it's only natural that he's on here too. This time, it's in the form of a collab with Bas, and they created the masterpiece that is "GPS". It's got all the signature Galimatias aspects: dreamy ethereal electronica, and it's just as good as it sounds. 

And that wraps up the first playlist for 2021! As always, click HERE for the playlist on Spotify, HERE for the playlist on Youtube, or just on each individual title above. Happy listening!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

December Playlist | 2020

Photo by Maryna Yazbeck on Unsplash

Hello all!

It seems only fitting to end this year with a December Playlist, the blog post that kept me from completely falling behind on blogging in 2020. This month has been filled with lots of sitting at home, lots of reading, lots of writing. I truly feel like the first half of December flew by and the second half is just holding on for dear life, dragging on just to make us all look forward to the end of this godforsaken year even more. At first, I wanted to include a little recap of this year in this part, what I've learned and what I've achieved, but I am so completely over this year in general that it pains me to reflect and go off on a tangent (yet again). So, I'm keeping it short and sweet, and letting all the songs I've listened to this month tell the story I'm dreading to write. So, grab a drink, turn down the lights in your room and take a mental trip down my December memory lane. 

The second half of December was marked by Mystery Lady by Masego and Don Toliver - it has been on repeat literally 24/7 and the people that follow me on Spotify can confirm. It's so vibey, chill yet upbeat, and a complete sensory experience. I absolutely love the simplicity of this track and Masego's vocals that are just pure butter on hot toast. Also, if I could listen to the first 25 seconds of this song on repeat for hours, I would. 

Token Tik Tok song for December issss *drumroll please* No Role Modelz by J. Cole! This one went just perfectly with the whole lights atmosphere I had set up for myself and it quickly became my favorite part of the day. If I squint just enough it's like I'm in a chilled-out club which IDK if that's a thing but in my mind it is. 

Okay, but why was Zabranjujem such a VIBE this December for me?? I don't have an answer, just the fact that the song is really cool, the simple RnB beat is super chill and that chorus is super catchy. It's moody but chill at the same time which is, as we know, one of my fave types of songs. And that video is super cool as well, really refreshing to see from the Serbian music scene. 

If you're listening to Californian Soil for the first time right now, yes, it does remind you of something. And that something is Teardrop by Massive Attack. However, this Maya Jane Coles remix takes the original melodic and transient Californian Soil, flips it and creates this whole dimension of darkness and intensity. Although I like the original version as well, this remix evokes images in my mind that are much more intense. 

You might recognize Galimatias' name from his EP with Alina Baraz (which is truly iconic), and he's back once again with his signature experimental ethereal electronica sound, this time with Shy Dancer which is both the grooviest and most chill sound I've heard in a while. It's as if EDM and RnB had a child, and this is it.

My fave Swedish duo Bennett is back baby! This time, it's a groovy and upbeat collaboration with Kamohelo for Lev Med Mig. This is one of those makes-you-wanna-dance-in-a-club types of songs, and I think everyone who'll listen to this one will agree with me, especially with that chorus. I was reading this interview with the two brothers that make up Bennett and there was this one comment from Sammy Bennett that I completely agreed with when it comes to listening to music that isn't necessarily English, which said: " I think that Swedish music, or I can speak for Swedish hip hop at least, with all the rhythms and flows and all of that … it’s all universal. You don’t need a language to understand that “ouff this strikes, this flows”." So, don't be basic, expand your music horizons ;)

The Code is back on my playlists, this time with East London, SA which is an electronica-afrobeat mix that sounds exactly as good as you think. I really respect The Code because they have such a distinctive sound that even when I heard this song (which sounds rather different from their previous sound) my mind immediately went to them. It's a short but sweet track, so I highly recommend giving it a listen!

Matveï's Overdose is a BOP! It's such a cool experience with headphones on, I can't recommend it enough if you're looking for something that will teleport you to a seaside party in the Mediterranean. It has slight Latin vibes, yet not Latin at all. It's like a really cool electronica hybrid but think Ibiza on a yacht. 

Okay, let's bring some funk into the mix, shall we? Z++ released a new album (which I am yet to fully go through) and Moj Svijet completely blew me away. It's catchy, it's funky, it's reminding me of Anderson Paak? If you're looking for a feel-good song with a catchy bass line, this is the one for you. 

I keep on talking about how I love the 80s and 90s sound in more modern songs, so I think it's about time I included the real deal in a playlist. Poison by the group Bell Biv Devoe is just early 90s RnB in its true essence - so if you're looking for something funky and groovy, this is the one for you!

And that wraps up 2020! As always, you can click on each individual title above or click HERE for the whole playlist on Youtube and HERE for the playlist on Spotify. Happy listening & see ya in 2021!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Books of 2020: The good, the bad, the show was better

Photo: Bisera Donevska

If I have to name the three most frequent activities people took part in during this pandemic they would go as followed:
1. Working out, because suddenly laying in bed all day doing nothing doesn't sound so appealing
2. Baking, because we have all the time in the world + need to emotionally stuff our faces 
3. Reading, because we came to the realization that looking into a screen all day every day isn't that good for our health 

And so, I did work out, and that lasted for about 2 months and then I stopped so there goes the idea of making a blog post about my favorite workouts (not that I was really planning on doing that). Next up - baking. I did bake, but not a lot due to our broken stove that did produce delicious baked goods in the end, but also produced a lot of headaches as well. So, ladies and gentlemen, that leaves reading on the list, and boy did I read. 

Here's a short summary of my relationship with books & reading: when little, I was a big bookworm and loved reading. That all changed around the highschool mark when I thought I was "too cool" and "did not have enough time to read books". Then, I enrolled in Uni and since I study English Language & Literature, the Literature part did, in fact, entail a lot of required reading - which I absolutely hated because of the way the classes were held & how the program worked. And then, the pandemic hit & I had a huge assignment for class where I had to compare a book of my choice's translation in Macedonian to the original English. My two brain cells chose Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and let's just say that I could have gone the easier route and not taken on an author famous for his extravagant style of storytelling. Alas, I did, in fact, finish the assignment and after reading Lolita in both English & Macedonian, the reading spark was ignited once again. I did always say that there are books I want to read, but never actually pursued buying those books or borrowing them from a library or friend for some unknown reason. So, I made a Goodreads account and started to make a list, which quickly grew from one book to over 50. I first started by going through my personal library, then raiding the ones of my friends, and purchasing some books for myself as well. 

For a "beginner" I think I've read as much as I could have this year, and that all those exams on Literature and the discussions held in class did help me to eventually be able to put into words what I liked and what I didn't when it came to a book. I'm an opinionated person by nature and like to share things that are on my mind quite often, so it was only natural for me to do a blog post solely dedicated to books. I've picked 9 books that I read in 2020, and these are the ones I have the strongest formed opinions on. I read other books that are objectively praised books, but I did not want to just place my stamp on approval on a book without some deeper explanation to it. With that being said, I did throw in a couple of reads that personally disappointed me, which if you have already read and loved, I would love to hear your opinions on them!

So far, most of the books I've read in 2020 are mainly in English and by foreign authors, but I do want to change that so one of my resolutions for 2021 is to read more Macedonian authors. Also, I sometimes post about the books I read on my Instagram, so that's where you can see what I'm reading in real-time! 

*Disclaimer: These are my opinions only. I know books are a very subjective experience, some can love one book and others can hate it - but what matters, in the end, is the discussion and exchange of ideas & opinions. Every opinion is valid and there are no hard feelings when it comes to literature - so even if I don't like a book, but you find the synopsis appealing, PLEASE go ahead and read it. 
Sunday, December 6, 2020

October & November Playlist | 2020

Photo by Karl on Unsplash 

It's kinda funny how I've been merging playlists together (mostly because one month is always lacking in enough new tracks to share), not thinking that this part of the post, which is usually reserved for my monthly reflections, will be a lot harder for future Elena to write. It's easy to reflect on what you did last week, even a month ago, but two months is a bit of a stretch for me. October seems like thousands of weeks ago, and all I can vaguely remember of that month was that it was still pretty warm, I had my birthday, started a new job, and listened to "Put Your Records On" on repeat. Yep, that pretty much sums up all of October, and I'm sad to report that November had no major plot twist as well. But, I am grateful that I even managed to get the opportunities that I did in these past two months, they've been keeping me busy (and sane) and I feel calm(er) now. Oh, I just remembered another big thing that happened in November - I made a Spotify account! I know, I know, this is as good news for everyone as the Covid vaccine being in the final phase. I really am out here singlehandedly making people happy :))) Okay, no more sarcasm, If you'd like to add me on Spotify you can find me HERE (yes, that would be Robert Pattinson as my PP), and I also transferred my whole SBSF 2020 Playlist over there too. 

Okay, MAJOR life updates aside, here are all the tunes I've had on repeat for October and November. A whole mix of moods over here, so don't say I didn't warn you.