Canada, week 8


Oh man, is it time for another update again?  It’s totally time for another update again!

I don’t know about all of you, but this week has just flown by for me.  And it’s been one packed week, too, so without further ado:

The Paper Street Journal knows how to do Halloween.  I’ll admit it, I wanted to go to this shindig almost entirely so I could bust out my Phryne Fisher costume:


But the party itself was great too!  They got some super-talented bands to perform; GREY \\ WATER reminds me of the xx in the best way possible, and Edgar Breau was so delightfully folksy that he made me miss Oklahoma something fierce.  They rented out the Staircase Theater on Dundurn, this amazing vintage theater.  (I may or may not have briefly played the piano in the theater proper…)  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, and the lighting wouldn’t have been good anyway, but you can bet I’ll be back in the future.

The Dap-Queen:  I won a free ticket to see a screening of Miss Sharon Jones! on Saturday night, as part of the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s film festival.  They screened the film at Collective Arts Brewing, so y’know, I got to sit in the middle of a working brewery.  That was pretty cool.  The movie itself was even more emotionally brutal than I’d been bracing for–I knew Sharon Jones had had cancer, but they showed her going through chemo several times, so my wimpy needlephobic self had to look away from the screen on a couple occasions.  But the music was phenomenal, and Sharon herself is a force of nature on stage.  She’s so dynamic.  Even if she weren’t wearing the hippest, most sparkly dresses known to humankind at every show, your eyes would still be drawn to her.

I think the most moving scene for me was when she went to church, still in the throes of chemo, and felt compelled to get up and belt a gospel song and dance like she did at her concerts.  Her feet were going a mile a minute, and afterwards she sat down and just gasped for breath for a solid minute.  I felt so viscerally how badly she wanted to dance, so when she finally sat back down again, I was almost gasping along with her.


Buffer Festival:  There were so many great screenings and panels at Buffer, and I only wish I could have gone to more of them.  But alas, things cost money and things are expensive, so I only ended up going to the LGBT+ screening on Sunday.  It was 500% worth it–the quality of filmmaking on display was fantastic, and the panelists themselves were all so cool.  I went in only knowing Kaitlyn Alexander, but I came out wanting to check out everybody else’s YouTube channels.


Before the panel.

I rode my first Canadian train!  The Gardiner Expressway was closed for maintenance this weekend, meaning I had to take my normal Hamilton-Toronto bus to the Aldershot train station, figure out how trains worked in a right hurry (sue me, it’s been over four years since I went to England), and take a train to Union Station.  It was kind of slow going, actually–I definitely like the bus better.

Coffee:  Durand Coffee is a bit of a walk down Caroline Street.  I first went there when it was raining outside, so I was a little miserable and my TOMS were a lot soaked by the time I got there,* but I loved the place nonetheless.  The decor is gorgeous, for one thing.

I want to go there someday when I don’t have homework or grading to worry about and just spend a day reading the books they have on their shelves.

Coffee-wise, I had something they call an “autumn spice latte”–cinnamon and nutmeg, very reminiscent of Finch on Locke’s cinnamon brown butter latte from two weeks ago.  Deeeeeeeee-lish.  10/10 would recommend.

*Side note, please remind me NEVER to wear TOMS outside when I know it’s raining.  I have no idea why I always do this to myself.

Food:  I hit up Maki My Way, on King St., with a friend before Buffer on Sunday.  It’s a sushi place with remarkably fast service–I got my rainbow roll maybe five minutes after I ordered it.  I’d never tried a rainbow roll before, so I can’t really comment on the quality of this specific rainbow roll as compared to Yokozuna or something, but it’s definitely something I’ll get again.

Also, I got fried tofu for an appetizer, and it was heavenly.  (I feel like that’s the most American thing I could have possibly ordered off that menu, but it’s whatever.)

Bonus:  This week you get another installment of Grad School Kitchen!  Our special guests are the packets of tamarind sauce I got with frozen chicken samosas.  I didn’t use the sauce for the samosas, but there was no way I was going to waste it (I’ve gotten WAY weirder about not eating food I bought in the last couple months), so I’ve been putting it in other stuff.

An Incomplete List of Things That Are Bettered by the Addition of Tamarind Sauce:

  • chicken noodle soup
  • ramen
  • scrambled eggs

I plan to add it to poutine later this week.  Will report back.

Music:  Guess what I’m going to put here.  Just guess.

Also, this one’s just plain catchy.

See y’all next week!


Canada, week 7


Sorry this is late!  I had to put it off because my literature review for research methods was due Monday evening and I had a presentation in that same class on Tuesday.  Fun times.  But hey, y’all are going to get LOADS of pictures and updates this time around, so it’s a win-win.

Here, then, are all the highlights from this past week:

A little bit of Locke Street, again:

Whitney Snapchats the Art Gallery of Ontario:

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The Thinker:  My memory’s a little hazy on this front, but I seem to remember this guy being in a Rodin exhibition at the Philbrook about ten, fifteen years ago.  And then I ran into him again at the AGO.


Long time no see, pal.

The Campbell House Museum:  Located at the corner of Queen and University.


I learned SO MUCH about history in the half-hour I spent here:

  • The house itself was built for Sir William Campbell, former chief justice of “Upper Canada,” and his wife Hannah.
  • Sir William stepped off the boat that took him to the US and pretty much immediately met Hannah, who was a fisherman’s daughter.
  • “Upper Canada” – what was that, exactly?  The southern part of Ontario, apparently.  As if this couldn’t get weirder, Quebec was “Lower Canada.”  Ooooooookay, then.
  • Sugar wasn’t always granulated–up until about 1900, the method used to process sugar involved draining it in a funnel-like thing, which created a cone of sugar about two-and-some feet high.
  • Subsequently, in order to chip sugar off this big ol’ cone, people would use these things called “sugar nippers.”
    Yeah, I know, it totally looks like an old-timey torture device.  Happy early Halloween…
  • The US actually tried to invade Canada during the War of 1812, and the Canadians beat them back at Stoney Creek–well, okay, I knew that part already, but it turns out it was a dang miracle that Canada won that battle.  The US had the military might and all the odds in their favor, and yet somehow a scrappy bunch of resettled former Americans, French, and god knows who else sent them scurrying back to the States.
  • Not only that, but the Canadians were the ones who set the White House on fire.
    “say maple syrup is awful one more time I DARE YOU” – a thing some Canadian commander totally said at some point

The waterfront:  guyyyyyyysssssssssss I can’t handle how gorgeous this place is

Just meandering around Toronto:

Iowa!  (Yeah, I know this isn’t Canada, but whatever.)  I spent the second half of reading week in Mason City, Iowa, visiting my extended family (if you’re reading this, hi ❤ ).  Initially I wasn’t sure I’d cover that trip in this post, but I just have to give shoutouts to a few places:

  • The Decker House.  We’ve stayed at this bed and breakfast the last three or four times we’ve been to Iowa, and every time has been fantastic.  The place itself is beautiful (as you’ll see in the photos below), and the staff is always endlessly kind and helpful.
  • The Macnider Museum, where my parents met back in 19mumble–my mom worked at the museum, and my paternal grandmother was and is super involved in the local arts scene.  My mom and I were talking about this just the other day, and she called me a museum rat, and it’s honestly one of my favorite things anyone’s ever said about me.  I kind of want it on a shirt now.

We spent a whole morning just walking around Mason City, and I got some really gorgeous shots.  Fall has come to Iowa in spectacular fashion:

There’ll be more Iowa shoutouts in the coffee and food sections…

What I’m reading:  I got free books for the class I’m TA-ing, and I’ve been reading one of them on the various planes and buses I’ve been on in the past few days–The Culture of Connectivity:  A Critical History of Social Media by José van Dijck.  Not only is it a fascinating subject, but the book itself is super accessible, and even the academic jargon is explained really well.  If you can get ahold of this book, do it.

Coffee:  I just have to talk about Jitters, in Mason City.  I adore this place.  It’s not a proper visit to Mason City if we don’t go to Jitters.  I honestly wish I could teleport purely so I could go study at Jitters.  I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee there (though I recommend the sugar-free mocha frap and the Mexican mocha in particular).

❤ ❤ ❤

Food:  Four spotlights this week!

First up is Hey Lucy, on King St. in Toronto.  It’s a really oblong restaurant, with brick-wall ambiance and a strange yet lovable mix of sportsy Harley-Davidson decor and vintage stuff.  I had the bruschetta, and the taste is still haunting me.


I also got a pic of the restaurant itself.


Also, I didn’t manage to get a picture of it, but taking up the entire left wall in that back section was a poster that looked something like this (I don’t think it’s exactly this one, but it was the closest thing I could find):


Yeah, apparently the Supreme Master of Magic is named… um, George.  I asked the waitress about it, and she said the old owner of the building knew this George guy, and they inherited that particular bit of decor from him.

Next up is Bareburger, on Dundas near Yonge.  It’s actually a chain based out of Brooklyn, but it’s gained some measure of Internet fame recently due to this sign:


I saw that when I was walking down Dundas, looking for someplace to grab dinner, and I went OMG I SAW THAT THING ON THE INTERNET.  So obviously I had to check this place out.  I didn’t end up ordering that burger, but rather creating one of my own, and it was wunderbar.  One of the spread options on the menu was guacamole, and man, did they ever deliver on the guac.  The stuff was spilling off my burger.  It was great.

Moving on to Iowa:  Borealis Station is another one of our perpetual stops.  It used to be a DX station before it was converted into a coffee-and-ice-cream place.  We all had some killer raspberry sorbet there on Saturday.


Lastly, I’ve got to sing the praises of the Decker House again, specifically of what seems to be one of their standard breakfast offerings:  eggs mornay.  Y’all, their eggs mornay are so good.  When I saw it was on the menu for breakfast, I literally heard an angel choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus in my head.  I’m not saying I’d stay there just for the eggs mornay, buuuuuuuut…

Music:  Since my literature review was all about superheroes, I’ve been listening to a lot of MCU soundtracks this week.

Whew, that was a lot of updates.  That’s it for this week, though!  See y’all on Monday!

Canada, week 6


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!


me being thankful for blankets and pillows and couches and sleep

It’s also reading week here at Mac, which means I get my first actual fall break since high school.  (Sorry, OU, Texas weekend doesn’t count.)  Technically it’s unofficial for grad students, but what matters is that I get a solid week off of classes…

…during which I have more work to do.  Yay.

This week’s recap is going to be a little scanty.  Between grading papers, working on my lit review, and the obvious fact of barely anything being open on a holiday weekend, I’ve pretty much been a pajama-clad homebody lately.  But I did do a couple cool things this week, so without further ado:

Locke Street is so cute, seriously.  I mainly just walked its length, with a couple coffee-shaped waystops, but I’m definitely going back in the near future.


Anybody noticing a pattern here?

Mac Dance Team started classes this week, and I am ALIVE.  I’m so glad to be back at dance, it’s ridiculous.

What I’m watching:  I watched the first episode of Luke Cage, and can we talk about that soundtrack?!  Also, Misty Knight is the new queen of my heart.

What I’m reading:  Mostly stuff for my lit review–but it’s all about superheroes, so I’m actually having way too much fun with it.  I’ve learned so much about the X-Men and Captain America just in the last few days.  (I know, I know, of course I of all people would find a way to make this degree all about superheroes.  Sorry not sorry.)

Oh yeah, and this.


Hopefully nobody on the bus saw me taking this picture…

I’m only a few pages into it, though, because of everything else I have to do, so no spoilers if you’ve read it!

Coffee:  Finch on Locke, formerly Johnny’s Coffee.  They were advertising their cinnamon brown butter latte, which sounded too good to pass up.


I loved it.  It was deliciously mild, not too cinnamon-y.


That second picture was taken about two minutes before a train roared right past the coffee shop.


Food:  Since I’ve been at home so much, I’ve mainly been eating leftover chicken and burrito bowls.  I do want to give a shoutout to Bridges Cafe, though.  I’ve been there twice now, and I love the atmosphere.  The samosas they serve there are huge, too, though a bit saltier than the ones at Taro.


That’s all I’ve got for now!  I’ll be in Iowa for the latter half of this coming week (whether I’ll talk about that in next week’s blog post, I’m not sure just yet), but in the meantime, I’m hoping to make it to Toronto on Wednesday to snapchat my way through the Art Gallery of Ontario.  You can follow along @toboldlywrite if you want, but I’ll be posting a recap of those shenanigans next week for sure.  Adieu!

Canada, week 5


I’ve officially been here over a month.  I wish I could say I’m feeling more settled now, but the truth is, I’m pretty sure this thing will still feel impermanent in another month, in two months, in five months.  Honestly, I don’t know how long I’m going to be here.  I could stay an extra year on a postgrad work permit, I could get a more permanent job here, or I could do a host of other things.  I have next to no idea what I’ll be doing this time next year.  So no, I really don’t feel settled, per se.  It’s a disquieting feeling, after spending so long in the same place (or same two places, rather, counting Norman).

But by the same token, I think this strange floating unsettled feeling is what I need right now.  I told a friend shortly before I left Tulsa that I think a part of my psyche thrives on some baseline level of chaos, of unpredictability, and what is grad school but an onslaught of chaos?  I’m a dancer, after all–I like being on my toes.

Anyway, that’s enough reflection for now.  Here are the highlights from last week!

When Twitter friends become IRL friends:  I hung out with the one and only RJ Lackie in Toronto on Friday!  We spent four solid hours talking each others’ ears off while wandering around the Ryerson campus/the Yonge Street area and it was AMAZING.  I’ll talk about some of the other cool stuff we saw elsewhere in the post, like…

The coolest board game shop ever:  Hairy Tarantula is only marked by an unobtrusive sign on its recessed door.  The shop itself is at the top of a long, narrow staircase, the walls of which positively explode with color.  It’s basically an attic crammed with every board game and comic book you could possibly imagine, and even more you couldn’t dream up if you tried.  I had zero idea board games were this much of a Thing, but now my eyes have been opened.

Hamilton Comic-Con:  I went on Sunday with my classmate Brittany.  We saw Denise Crosby and David Prowse (only from a distance, though, because autographs and photo-ops are expensive), and we were also lucky enough to catch a Q&A session with Brian Herring, one of the puppeteers who piloted BB-8.  It turns out there are actually seven different versions of BB-8 used in TFA, for different types of shots.  Oh, and that scene where BB-8 clunks his way down the stairs in Maz’s place?  That totally wasn’t planned.

Also:  I may not have met David Prowse, but I did meet Darth Vader.


Uhhh… R2B-8?

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum:  Admission to the museum was free with a Comic-Con ticket, so Brittany and I checked out the planes afterwards.

A truly gorgeous view:  The scene outside the museum reminded me of Iowa.


Speaking of gorgeous:  This is St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, on James Street.  I can’t deal with all the pretty churches here, seriously.


A very important announcement:  I miss dogs.  Like, a lot.  So if somebody in the HamOnt area needs a dog walker or a dog sitter, or just has a dog I can pet, hit a girl up.


Coffee:  Cafe Pamenar, in Kensington Market.  I got my first-ever cappuccino there, on the recommendation of the barista there (who bore a delightful resemblance to Lin-Manuel Miranda), and it was fantastic.

Food:  RJ introduced me to the wonder that is Salad King.  The name is a little deceiving–it’s actually a Thai place with a kooky sense of humor.


I feel like the three exclamation points completely undercut the message here.

I had the Siam noodles, and oh my god I’m drooling at the mere memory.

ALSO, editing after the fact because of course I forgot something:  shoutout to Aberdeen Tavern!  I was lucky enough to go to dinner here on Tuesday night, with some of the professors from my department (among others) and a visiting scholar, Virginia Eubanks.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend any of Dr. Eubanks’s lectures because of class and other obligations, but she’s doing amazing work.  She got to work with Barbara Smith on the book Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, and the talk she gave last Tuesday was all about digital regulation of the poor–great timing, since I had to read a chapter from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish for a class last week.

…oh, and I suppose I should mention the food, too.  The spaghetti carbonara I had was unreal.

Music:  Oh boy, do I have some jams for you this week.  Google Play and the Songza stations they acquired continue to be excellent.

That’s all I’ve got for now!  Till next time!