Canada, weeks 21 and 22: vacation edition!

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Hello again!  Look at me sort of kind of getting back to my normal blogging schedule, golly.  It’s almost like I’m a responsible adult who has her life pretty much together or something.  So weird.

ANYWAY:  There is actually going to be zero Canada in this post (literally nothing of note happened last week), so the title’s a little deceptive.  But instead, you all get a wealth of pictures from my reading week vacation!  I spent approximately two days in Madison and two in Chicago, hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in ages and eating so much good food and basking in great architecture.  Tactically speaking, going on vacation probably wasn’t the best decision–I have so much to do now that I’m back–but it’s fine, I got to snapchat museums, I’m good.

So, without further ado…

First up:  the saga of the garbage cookie.

I flew out of Toronto via Billy Bishop City Airport for a change.  The only airline that flies in or out of that airport is Porter, which I’d never even heard of till a couple of my professors recommended it to me.  The thing about Porter is that they only have about 60% of their life in order at any given time–my flight was supposed to leave at noon but we didn’t even start boarding till 11:55–but they valiantly attempt to make up for it in their free food and beverage selection.  Most airlines will give you peanuts, maybe, or super bland pretzels or terrible trail mix.  Porter, on the other hand, gives you three food options:

  • Terra brand veggie chips
  • Blue Diamond almonds
  • Some sort of cookie thing!

When the flight attendant came by and offered me the basket full of needlessly highfalutin’ food, I saw the word “cookie” and immediately pincered one of those things.  I started lifting it out of the basket–so I was already at the no-takes-backsies point, right–and that’s when I saw it.  The cookie flavor.

Milk chocolate raisin.

What kind of sadistic, horrible person would PURPOSELY put RAISINS in a PERFECTLY INNOCENT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE?

But I’d already touched the package!  It would have been weird to be like “nah tho,” especially since neither of the other choices looked too appetizing at that moment.  So I took the cookie, gave the flight attendant my most sympathetic, I-worked-in-customer-service-once-too smile, and stuffed the cookie in my backpack the second he moved on.

Fast forward a few hours:  I was on a bus to Madison, I wasn’t due to arrive in town for another couple hours at least, and I was absolutely frelling starving.  “Aw darn it,” I thought, “I don’t even have any food with me–”

Wait.

I still had the cookie.

I won’t lie, I debated just going hungry for a solid ten seconds.  But eventually I went “screw it,” fished the cookie out of my backpack, and ate the garbage cookie, raisiny parts first.  Tasted like humble pie.

(And on my return flight, I got the veggie chips.  Fool me once, Porter.)

Anyway, now for more pretty pictures and less garbage-cookie melodrama.

Madison, Wisconsin:

Y’all, I love this place.  I could totally live here.

For real, Madison perfectly blends that hip college town vibe with a Midwestern sensibility.  The sheer hipster of it all can get a little ridiculous at times, I’ll admit; the moment I clambered out of my friend Isaac’s car on Willy Street, I heard the dulcet tones of a street marimbist, of all things.  But honestly, I ate it up.  I loved every second of it.  It’s everything Hamilton wants to be–and can be, I think, once it deals with its gentrification growing pains and figures itself out.  I could rhapsodize more, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The state capitol building:  Wisconsin has the most chill capitol building I’ve ever heard of.  You can just walk in and gawp during normal business hours, easy as you please.  And it’s well worth gawping at–the outside is impressive enough, but the interior is stunning.

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‘Round town:

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Monona Terrace:  Hi, Mom.  I know you’re reading this, and I also knew you’d probs fly up to Toronto just to chew me out if I didn’t see something Frank Lloyd Wright-related while in Madison, so here ya go. ūüėČ

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FLW only designed the outside of the building, apparently; the interior, in contrast, is super-duper Generic Convention Center.  But the outside is rad as heck, and the views in all directions are gorgeous, so that’s cool.

The UW-Madison campus:

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When you visit a botanical garden in the dead of winter:

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I’m generally not a beer person, but… apparently fruit beers are a thing.  Giant shoutout to Nathan for introducing me to cranberry beer and cherry cider.

And now for what I’m sure y’all have been waiting for with bated breath*:  Snapchats!

*sarcasm.

Whitney Snapchats the Madison Public Library:

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Whitney Snapchats the Henry Vilas Zoo:  A small yet free zoo in the middle of Madison that–forgive me–scratched the zoo itch I’ve been having lately.  Perfect.

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Whitney Snapchats the Chazen Museum of Art:

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Coffee:  Beyond all the excellent coffee I consumed in conjunction with excellent food (detailed below), I dropped by a chain coffee shop that, for a chain, is pretty excellent.  It’s called Colectivo, and it needs to come to Canada asap because I miss it already.

Food:  Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  I think I’ll be dreaming about all the food I ate here for years.  Let’s do a quick rundown, shall we?

  • Buraka:  Ethiopian food, which I’d never had before but now want to stuff my face with for a week solid.  I went here with Isaac on Monday night, and we caught up over curry chicken and other sorts of chicken and injera.  Injera is a flat, spongy, almost crepey bread that you can use as an excuse to eat food with your hands, so naturally I was a huge fan of it.  We also had lentil samosas with this super spicy sauce that almost burned off my taste buds (because I’m a wimp who can’t handle spicy food).
  • Culver’s:  Okay, sure, I’ve been here before because there’s one in Mason City.  But honestly, this was what really made this place feel Super Duper You-Betcha Midwestern(TM) to me.
  • Bradburys:  Breakfast the next day, with Sydney, Nathan, Isaac, and our new Japanese friend Yuto.  I got the dark chocolate and salted caramel crepe, which was lifechanging, but Sydney was gracious enough to let me try her trout crepe as well.

    And here’s a nifty little deal Bradburys does, for all you caffeine hounds out there.  They’ll give you a free teensy cup of espresso, provided you drink it in the restaurant and you don’t put anything else in it.  So that was a much-welcomed wake-up call.

    Oh, and did I mention the place itself just plain looks cool?

  • Great Dane:  Tuesday lunch.  Pretty standard pub fare, except with about 100000% more cheese because this is Wisconsin.  I was stoked to see my beloved poutine on the menu, and it held up about as well as could be expected to actual Canadian poutine.  The gravy was a little different; I’m guessing Great Dane’s recipe has more flour in it.
  • Sal’s Pizza/Table Wine:  Tuesday dinner.  Sal’s is one of the legendary pizzerias in Madison, but it tends to not have enough seating to accommodate all its eager patrons… which is where Table Wine comes in.  I don’t know who thought one day, “Hey, what if I open a wine store where people can bring their own food in but buy wine to have with their meal?”  But whoever it was, they’re an absolute genius.  A whole bunch of us split three pizzas and two bottles of excellent red wine, and a phenomenal time was had by all.
  • The Chocolate Shop:  Sydney, Nathan, Jen, and I headed here after Table Wine and had assorted chocolatey goodies, including a teensy cup of Parisian hot chocolate split four ways because god, it was rich.

    (And their decor was perfect.)

  • Porter:  Wednesday breakfast.  Hilarious because I flew to Chicago via Porter, but probably only hilarious to me.  I had a liege waffle, which apparently is like a god-tier, mega-dense Belgian waffle coated in cinnamon sugar–and also super hot, as I found out when I tried to tug it out of the paper packet it came in and almost burned my finger.  Whoops.

    Also, it’s one of a few stores built into a literal old train depot.  As if this place wasn’t hipster enough already.

  • Estaci√≥n Inka:  Wednesday lunch.  Pretty much everybody had told me this place served fantastic Peruvian food.  I’d been wanting to try Peruvian food for a good long while, and my god, was it ever worth it.  The arroz con pollo had cilantro rice.  I was in heaven.
  • Babcock’s:  The half-price ice cream parlor on the UW-Madison campus.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Baskin Robbins, but this was quite literally the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.
  • Morris Ramen:  Wednesday dinner.  Y’all, this place is so hipster it doesn’t even have a sign out front.  This ramen joint is in an unmarked friggin’ building.  And as you’d hope of such a painfully hipster restaurant, the food is painfully good.

Next up:  Chicago!  Approximately in order…

God, I love this city:

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Whitney Snapchats the Art Institute of Chicago (Again):

Some of you may remember that I snapchatted this place in October 2015, when I went to see Laurie slay as Feste in Twelfth Night.  Well, unfortunately, my old phone threw the biggest of temper tantrums about two months afterward, restarted randomly one night, and in the process deleted several folders’ worth of pictures (and its entire learned dictionary, which is actually what I complained far more about).  I’ve been itching for a second chance at the Art Institute ever since, and it’s a good thing I was, because it turns out there’s so much I didn’t see last time.  I didn’t snapchat the whole museum–there’s a particular sweet spot in Western art history in which art can be ridiculous yet take itself extremely seriously–but I nevertheless spent about five and a half incredible hours in there.

Anyway, here, have yet more snapchats.

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And now for some serious photos of cool art:

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Star Wars trivia:  Laurie and I teamed up with another team of two, and together we had a pretty respectable showing despite being absolutely ripped to shreds in the first round (out of nine plus a bonus round).  I’m still perhaps overly proud of myself for remembering that Poe Dameron’s call sign is Black Leader.

Also, a signature Whitney(TM) moment:  during the “Star Wars in pop culture” round, the emcee asked, “which Marvel movie features Star Wars on a list–” and that was all it took.  I basically launched myself across the table at a teammate to spit out, “Captain America:  The Winter Soldier!”  Never let it be said that I don’t stick to my brand.

The UChicago campus:  Last time I was here, I spent a brief amount of time on this campus, but it was dark, so I didn’t get to fully appreciate the gorgeous architecture.  I was content just to revel in the atmosphere for several hours.

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Women and Children First:  Only the coolest little feminist indie bookstore I’ve ever been in.  I don’t know how I managed to only come away with one book.  If I’d had the means, I probably would have bought the entire bookstore and toted the inventory back to Hamilton with me.

The Neo-Futurists:  After dinner (more on that below), Laurie, Erin, Ashlyn, and I went to see the Neo-Futurists perform “These 30 Plays.”  Admittedly, I haven’t seen nearly as much theater in my life as I’d like, but this was still unlike anything I’d ever seen before.  There was no set order for the titular thirty plays–they just color-coded the plays and randomly selected one for whichever color-coded audience group screamed the loudest.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Some of the pieces were surreal, some were just plain funny (in particular, “The Life and Death of a Zit” was hilariously unpredictable), and some were absolute truth bombs.  I actually got recruited to participate in one, “The Abstract Art of Getting to Know You,” and here’s the proof:

(Getting this back to Canada was interesting, lemme tell ya.)

I could gush about the show more, but frankly, I think that’d spoil the sheer frenetic joy of it for the rest of you.  So if you’re in the Chicago area or just planning to be in the Chicago area anytime remotely soon, definitely go see the Neo-Futurists.  The tickets are cheap, the plays are eclectic, and you’ll have a cracking good time.

Coffee:  So, uh, I was going to go to the Museum of Science and Industry on Friday afternoon, but I kind of ended up at Robust Coffee Lounge instead before just giving up on maps and heading back to the UChicago campus.  All I got here was a plain ol’ cup of coffee and some welcome wifi access, but it was definitely the kind of place I could relax in.

And wouldn’t you know it, the TV above the counter was playing the final episode of this year’s College Championship.  That was a nice little bit of serendipity.

I also had a pretty good vanilla chai from Peet’s, when I first got to Chicago.

Food:

  • At Fad√≥ on Thursday night, I got these teensy little smoked salmon blini.  They were bite-sized, fantabulous, and half-price because it was happy hour.  Win.
  • Lady Gregory is in the same part of town as Women and Children First and the Neo-Futurists’ theater space.  I was cheap and only got a small plate of deviled eggs, batting cleanup for the others when needed, but the eggs were absolutely worth it.  They served them on a bed of cilantro, which pretty much made my entire life.

And a little bit of trivia for ya:  Lady Gregory is named for Isabella Augusta, the world’s most badass Irish dramatist and theater manager who you’ve probably never heard of.  (I hadn’t heard of her either, not till Laurie looked her up.)  She was a huge force behind the Irish Literary Revival and generally a super cool and underappreciated person.  New historical idol?  I think yes.

What I’m reading:  I got Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here at Women and Children First, after talking myself out of getting it at A Room of One’s Own Bookstore in Madison, and I started reading it on the plane ride back here.  It’s already terrifying.

What I’m watching:  Why did none of you jerks tell me Jon Batiste was on Colbert’s show????????  He’s my favorite.

(tbh I haven’t seen La La Land but I’m pretty sure this video alone is better than that whole movie don’t @ me) (I’m looking at you, Carl)

Action items:  Totally forgot about this section in the last post, whoops.  Anyway, here’s what you can do to help save the world this week:

  • Sign up for Daily Action!  It’s a super handy automated text service that’ll give you one thing to do each day.
  • Call your state-level reps about anti-protesting bills, if there’s one in your state.  I know the Oklahoma legislature is batting one around, and I also see Iowa on the map in the link.
  • This one is Oklahoma-specific:  seriously, people, call your state legislators about that divorce bill.  In case you somehow haven’t heard about it, one effect of this bill would be to make divorcing due to incompatibility a lot harder.  The bill’s author, Rep. Travis Dunlap, is trying to couch this in family-values language, but a bill like this would make it so much harder for people trapped in abusive marriages to get out.  Given that Oklahoma ranks sixth nationally for the number of women murdered due to domestic violence, this bill could be downright devastating.

Music:

Whew, that was a long update.  I may not be back with a post next week, because I’ve got a lot of schoolwork to get done in a very short period of time, but regardless, you’ll be hearing from me again soon ūüôā  Toodles!

 

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Canada, weeks 18 and 19 and 20… I think?

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Man, I’m losing track of time here.

Ugh, anyway, I had a draft all written out here (on mobile, for reasons), and then my app decided to be glitchy so I had to un/re-install, which deleted the local draft, and frankly I’ve had so much technology trouble over the past month that my reaction was pretty much just “oh, of course.” All that to say: I am nonetheless bringing you Content(TM) for the first time in a while. I know I said it wouldn’t ever be this long before I updated again, but this semester has absolutely been eating my lunch. In a good way, mostly, but still.

So, without further ado, here’s some of the stuff I’ve gotten up to in the past, god, almost three weeks:

Data Que/e/ries: I’m taking¬†a class on big data this semester, and a few weeks ago, my classmates and I each gave short presentations at a seminar my professor organized. The topics themselves, while not necessarily in my normal academic wheelhouse, were fascinating (one group talked about data companions, ranging from your average smartphone to BB-8 or Data), and the visiting scholars had so many fascinating things to say about the subjects at hand.

The Mac Dance showoff:¬†I finally got to show off my ballet and tap dances! While performing was fun, though, I’m really feeling the void that Mac dance classes have left in my life and my schedule. Thank goodness for swing dancing class.

Sunset Boulevard rehearsals have officially started!¬†We had our first vocal rehearsal on Sunday. Considering one of the songs we worked on, “Let’s Have Lunch,” is pretty much the worst game of choral Round Robin ever (seriously, Andrew Lloyd Webber, did you have to change the time signature every measure?), things went smashingly well, and I’m super excited for the show. ūüôā

More Toronto sights:

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I GOT TO RIDE A FERRY: Yeah, sure, the ride lasted all of two minutes, but it was still fun and I got some killer views of the Six.

Coffee: Dineen Coffee Co. is at Yonge and Temperance. The interior is the perfect mix of marble and filigreed Gatsby-style metal grills and reclaimed industrial parts… oh, and their iced vanilla chai is pretty good, too.

Food: I haven’t been anywhere special lately, but I did find out recently that 7-Eleven taquitos are comparable to QuikTrip taquitos. Not quite as good, but sufficient. (God, I miss QuikTrip.)

Music:¬†Sorry if these links don’t work like they usually do. I’ll fix them once I get back on Majel.

That’s all I’ve got for now! I’m actually out of town till Saturday for reading week, relishing first Madison and then Chicago, so next week’s post (and there will be one, I promise!) will recap those shenanigans. There will be art museum Snapchats. Get excited. ūüėÄ

Canada, weeks 16 and 17 and sort of 18

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GUYYYYYYSSSSSSSSSS I AM SO SORRY THIS IS SUCH A LONG TIME IN COMING.  I swear there are several good reasons for this:

  • I got sick pretty much right as I got into Pearson on January¬†6th, and I subsequently dragged myself through customs and baggage claim and all the way back to Hamilton while running a fever. ¬†I’d gotten a flu shot the day before, and I’m pretty sure it just straight-up gave me the flu. ¬†So not fair.
  • My first week back was just kinda slow, in part because I was kicking whatever bug I’d picked up.
  • I was going to have a post up last week, but my poor long-suffering computer Majel’s wifi is shot to hell, which I spent a good four days last week figuring out. ¬†Till I can get ahold of a wireless USB doohickey that actually works, which won’t be till sometime next week, I’m pretty much confined to the multimedia lab if I want to get anything done. ¬†Siiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhh

Anyway. ¬†All that to say: ¬†I’m back, ish. ¬†I may not have enough material for another post by next Monday, but I swear I won’t go two and a half weeks without updating y’all ever again. ‚̧

The Yoplait video is¬†online and miraculously not embarrassing. ¬†If for some reason you haven’t heard the story of how Yoplait punked me,¬†here you go.

Women’s March on Toronto: ¬†I went to the march with my friends Charlotte and Robyn, where we were among a crowd of 60,000. ¬†The group pretty much shut down University Avenue for a solid hour. ¬†The energy was fantastic, and I saw so many incredible signs, including a lot of signs evoking Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia. ¬†I wish Carrie could have seen it. ¬†I bet she would have been thrilled.

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The TTC:¬† Yeah, it took me this long to brave the TTC. ¬†I only used the subway on Saturday, but it was actually a lot of fun. ¬†I felt like it was back in London again. ¬†(Side note, does anybody know if the TTC actually uses the same fonts as the Tube? ¬†It looked like it, but I’m not sure.)

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Other Toronto sights:

I finally found bean with bacon soup! ¬†I hadn’t seen the stuff at all since moving up here, until one fateful Sunday trip to Food Basics:

A histrionic reaction? ¬†Perhaps, but what can I say–I missed that stuff. ‚̧

Lindy hop till ya drop: ¬†I’m officially learning swing dancing! ¬†McMaster offers several dance classes through the Pulse Fitness Centre, and the lindy hop class works perfectly with my schedule. ¬†I’m learning the lead part, which is extra fun.

Snakes and Lattes:¬† So after finding the coffee shop listed below, through an extremely fortuitous series of events, I ended up striking a conversation with four super nice girls in a Shoppers* and joining them for board games at Snakes and Lattes. ¬†I’d wanted to go there for ages, but given that it’s a board game caf√©, it’s not necessarily the kind of place you just hit up by yourself. ¬†But I ended up having¬†so¬†much fun playing Cards Against Humanity and some trivia card game that for the life of me I cannot recall the name of with these wonderful people I’d just met. ¬†I have the best Toronto mojo, y’all. ¬†It’s unreal.

*Shoppers Drug Mart, for all you non-Canadians.  Basically like CVS or Walgreens.

Action items: ¬†This is a new section–I figure I might as well make these posts useful. ¬†So here are just a couple suggestions, off the top of my head, for stuff you can do to aid the #resistance. ¬†I’ll include a couple action items in each week’s blog post from here on out.

  • Swing Left is an organization dedicated to connecting volunteers with House districts only narrowly won in their last election. ¬†The site will help you find your closest swing district and get you on the mailing list for volunteering opportunities. ¬†I’ve already signed up to help IA-03 (that and a district in Kansas were my two closest swing districts, haaaaaaaaaa).
  • CALL YOUR REPS! ¬†The linked article specifically refers to defeating the ACA repeal, but it contains a lot of good advice for touching bases with your elected representatives in general. ¬†I know, it’s nerve-wracking. ¬†I stumbled through the first time I called Bridenstine’s office. ¬†But there are multiple sites that will give you call scripts, just a Google away.
  • Along those lines, read Indivisible.
  • Follow Sarah Kendzior and Celeste Pewter on Twitter. ¬†Sarah, a freelance journalist, literally got her PhD studying authoritarian regimes, so she knows what she’s talking about. ¬†Celeste has been a fount of important Congressional news and useful advice and action items.

K, now back to our regularly scheduled rapid-fire travel blogging.

Coffee: ¬†Dave on Twitter (I’m sorry, I don’t remember your handle!!) recommended Empire Espresso to me, so after the Women’s March, I went in search of the place. ¬†It’s a tiny little coffee shop–not much room to really settle down and read or anything–but the Nutella latte I got was lovely, and the interior is still really cute.

Food:  I had brunch with Charlotte at Over Easy before the March.  The Bloor Street location is pretty small, and it was quite busy when I arrived, but the food was nonetheless wonderful.  I had the smoked salmon platter, which was basically like the lox bagel at Einstein Brothers, except I had to construct the bagel myself.  Deeeeeee-lish.

Books: ¬†I’ve been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut lately. ¬†It’s therapeutic. ¬†I’ve been recommending¬†A Man Without a Country¬†to pretty much everybody, and at the moment I’m working my way through¬†Palm Sunday.

I’ve also been reading¬†Richard II. ¬†Despite taking four different Shakespeare or Shakespeare-related classes at OU, I can’t say I’ve ever had a favorite history play, but now¬†Richard II¬†may be it. ¬†It starts out intense and it hasn’t let up for a second. ¬†Every time I think someone, just one person in the whole ensemble, might be in the moral right, they do something shady. ¬†I’m riveted.

Music:

That’s all I’ve got for now! ¬†I’ll be back with more news from the Great White North soon!

The Phantom Coach, or Ghost Theft Auto: The Masterpost

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Hey there! ¬†I’m blogging twice in one day, which never happens, but what better way to finish 2016 than with a good old-fashioned livetweet post?

In keeping with an old British tradition, I livetweeted a ghost story on Christmas Eve,¬†The Phantom Coach¬†by Amelia B. Edwards. ¬†I know, I’d never heard of it either, but it made for a fun little read. ¬†Here’s the lowdown:

  • the story kicks off with our first-person narrator prefacing something that apparently really happened to them twenty years ago.
  • “I want nothing explained away. I desire no arguments. My mind on this subject is quite made up” – k, wow, gosh
  • anyway, wind the clock back 20 years, and our narrator is on some desolate moor in northern England, having like the worst hunting day ever
  • it’s the (ha) tail end of grouse season, so rather fittingly, he’s… erm, grousing about the lack of grouse to be found.
  • anyway, Ye Olde Google Maps has completely failed this poor sod, so he’s stumbling about in the middle of a snowfall, looking for shelter.
  • the snowfall graduates to a snowstorm, the specter of hypothermia rears its ugly head, & meanwhile the poor sod is on about his lovely wife.
  • “We were very much in love, and, of course, very happy” – maybe rereading Lady Audley’s Secret so much lately has made me a cynic but lol.
  • sure… uh, John. sure, John.
  • “Death! I shuddered. How hard to die just now, when life lay all so bright before me!” – is everybody this extra when they have hypothermia?
  • a wild old man with a lantern appears! John is saved!*

    *probably not, given that this is a ghost story, but whatever

  • good lord, according to Lantern Guy, John is literally so lost that he’s twelve miles from the nearest village and twenty from his home
  • it’s times like this when I really see the merits of GPS tracking
  • anyway, John invites himself into Lantern Guy’s house, which in any other circumstance would be rude af, and Lantern Guy’s like lol.
  • “It ain’t o’ no use,” growled he. “He ‘ont let you in–not he.”
    “We’ll see about that,” I replied, briskly. “Who is He?”
    “The master.”
  • (anybody else hearing drumbeats?)
  • so they get to the house and there’s a dog and suddenly I’m distracted wow ANYWAY
  • “the door was heavily studded with iron nails, like the door of a prison” – okay yeah I’m sure this is TOTALLY fine
  • “my, what an assortment of nails you have on your front door, Grandma!”
    “the better to hang Christmas lights on, my dear!”
  • “In another minute he had turned the key and I had pushed past him into the house” – okay, rude
  • did he just walk into a Walmart or
    screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-11-46-54-pm
  • regarding that bell:
    “‘That’s for you,’ said my guide, with a malicious grin. ‘Yonder’s his room.'”
    dun dun dunnnnnnnn
  • “I crossed over, rapped somewhat loudly, and went in, without waiting for an invitation” – OKAY, RUDE. GOSH.
  • watch, the Master will be Irish, and this whole story will be a metaphor for British colonization
  • “‘Who are you?’ said he. ‘How came you here? What do you want?'” – k like I know this guy is old & white-haired but I’m picturing Edna Mode
  • oh and our narrator finally gets a name! James Murray. cool.
  • I can finally stop referring to him as either “John” or “poor sod” in my head
  • the master: tf is this guy doing here
    Lantern Guy (whose name is Jacob, apparently): dude don’t blame me, this guy barged in
  • the master: no seriously tf are you doing here
    James: trying not to die
    the master: ……………………………fair
  • “I placed my gun in a corner, drew a chair to the hearth, and examined my quarters at leisure” – wait when did the master give you quarters
  • James. bruh. honeybruh. literally one line ago you said he “waved [you] to a seat.” you’re still in the same room.
  • and yet you’re claiming this room as “your quarters”? jfc no wonder neither the master nor Jacob likes you
  • I swear to everything if this doesn’t end up being a metaphor for colonization…
  • an incomplete list of entitled male narrators in the books I’ve tweeted:
    -Robert Audley
    -George Talboys
    -Raoul
    -Jekyll
    -this meatbrain
  • “The whitewashed walls were in parts scrawled over with strange diagrams”
  • “shelves crowded with philosophical instruments, the uses of many of which were unknown to me” – lmao I doubt they’re actually philosophical
  • unless somebody’s invented a Platoboe and nobody thought to tell me
  • or a Voltaireinet
  • (if anyone wants to jump in here with philosophical instrument puns feel free)
  • antithesousaphone
  • I need to stop
  • BACK SORRY had to shred some things for my mom ANYWAY WHERE WERE WE
  • oh right:
    “a small organ, fantastically decorated with painted carvings of medi√¶val saints and devils”
    Ghostbro would be over the moon
  • idk “a long array of geological specimens, surgical preparations, crucibles, retorts, and jars of chemicals” doesn’t sound super cozy to me
  • now James is staring at the master and making it weird, because of course he is
  • “much of the ruggedness that characterises the head of Louis von Beethoven” – ok what the snot
  • I’ve been googling away for like two minutes and I can’t find a single good reason why “Louis von Beethoven” is anything other than a typo
  • “His master then closed his book, rose, and with more courtesy of manner than he had yet shown” – oh you’re a FINE one to talk about manners
  • man, I gotta hand it to the master, I would have been way too petty to give this dude ham and eggs and only eat porridge for dinner myself
  • turns out the master’s been basically a hermit for a solid 23 years and he wants James to tell him what’s up with the rest of the world
  • like…….. I love the internet, you all know this, but rn the master is honestly
  • the master is mostly interested in what new scientific discoveries have been made, and at this point I’m pretty sure he’s just Doc Brown
  • (also, like. not that it’s actually relevant at this particular juncture, but what’s with him and Jacob. are they a thing.)
  • ah yes and now he’s going on a Jekyll-like bender about how ghosts actually exist despite what science says about ’em. charming
  • exactly one Venkmanesque rant later, it’s stopped snowing! cool! James is still a good twenty miles from home, though.
  • ooooookay–here, at least, is the “coach” part of the titular “phantom coach.” the night mail coach.
  • what do they say exactly–neither sleet nor wind nor… eh, whatever, it’s something like that.
  • ahahaaaaa the master just volunteered Jacob as a tour guide for James, and Jacob’s like “dude really?”
  • “A glass of usquebaugh before you start?”
    I have no idea what that is but it sounds awful
  • HUH now this is interesting
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  • and sure enough, my main squeeze says it originated from the Irish “uisce beatha”
  • oh my god yall if I was right about this Irish invasion metaphor after all I’m going to be over the MOON
  • anyway, James drinks the usquebaugh, it’s sufficiently awful, and he and Jacob are on their not-so-merry way.
  • “My thoughts were full of my late host” – if this is a pun, I swear…
  • they reach the road James needs to take to get to the mail coach and Jacob is just like
  • in what might be an attempt to make up for his truly terrible manners earlier, James gets out his wallet to pay Jacob for his trouble.
  • and Jacob’s just like “on second thought lmao”
  • oh goody, Jacob only loosened his tongue to tell James about a nasty fatal accident the night mail coach had nine years ago.
  • that totally won’t come up later as a plot point or anything. totally.
  • at any rate, James is now left to find the way to the night mail coach on his own, and he’s trying not to think of the master’s stories.
  • “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” – James, probably
  • an admirable sentiment, James, but you should definitely be afraid of hypothermia. which is setting in once more.
  • so James looks back the way he came and sees a light… and then another light.
  • sure enough, there’s the Dwolding Express, barrelling along. James manages to get it to stop for him, hops on, and off he goes.
  • nobody on this coach takes James’s conversational bait and it’s a leeeetle bit awkward
  • in news that should probably surprise no one at this point, the coach itself smells awful and looks held together with spit and prayers
  • James, poor sod, still hasn’t realized there’s a very good reason this coach smells like death. I’ll give him a pass bc of the hypothermia.
  • ooooop, the other passengers on this coach are quite literally giving him death glares, and now the penny has dropped.
  • so I guess all these guys on this ol’ hellsmobile are………….. ghost riders?
  • it’s going down
    I’m yelling timber
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  • so like, obviously James lived to tell the tale, but the whole incident quite literally cracked his skull open a little
  • don’t mind me, I’m just having wild theories that the master and Jacob are the ghosts of the two passengers who died later
  • dag nabit, I just went back and counted the passengers on the hellsmobile. no cigar. that would have been diabolical af
  • missed opportunity, Amelia B. Edwards, missed frelling opportunity
  • anyway, James never told his wife any of that freaky business, the surgeon who patched him up thought he was off his rocker, the end.
  • not kidding, that’s the end of the story.
  • WHEW. anyway, it’s nearly 1 am here, so I think I’m going to turn in for the night. toodles, kiddos, and happy Hogswatch to all of you ‚̧

So that was fun, and I may or may not be rewriting the story in my head at the moment (honestly, the master and Jacob should have been secret ghosts or something). ¬†Stay tuned–I may be ringing in the new year in similar fashion… ūüôā ¬†Till then, though:

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Canada, week 15/general catching up

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Good Lord. ¬†It’s been a heck of a fortnight (and then some). ¬†I’m writing this post, or at least starting to write it, from CHOCS in Tulsa. ¬†It’s been a little surreal to be back. ¬†I know it’s been about three and a half months, but it almost feels like no time at all.

I may update some more during break–tell all my Canadian readers about Tulsa and stuff–but I’ve also got a lot of catching up to do, with friends and books and research, so I may not. ¬†We’ll see. ¬†In the meantime, here’s a boatload of updates from my last week in Canada/the first half of my winter break.

SNOW SNOW SNOW:

The cohort holiday party: ¬†To celebrate being done with our first semester of grad school, my class hung out at a ping-pong bar called Serve for a couple hours. ¬†Yeah, you read that right. ¬†There, I learned that I’m far too enthusiastic with a paddle to be much use at ping-pong, and therefore that I should probably take up tennis.

Hamilton being pretty and stuff:

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‚̧

A whirl up and down Ottawa Street: ¬†Apparently Ottawa Street is¬†the¬†antiques street in Hamilton, sort of comparable to Main Street in Jenks. ¬†It was late on a Sunday afternoon when I was checking out the street, so I’ll have to return at some point and actually check out all these stores. ¬†Will report back.

I accidentally found the first Tim Hortons.  I knew it was in Hamilton, but I had no idea where specifically till I found it on my way to the bus stop.

Also, whY DID NONE OF YOU TELL ME THE DUDE’S NAME ISN’T ACTUALLY TIM HORTON. ¬†I FEEL CHEATED, DAG NABIT.

Christmas shopping and slushpile slaloming in Toronto: ¬†I like this city so much that I just had to see it one more time before I left for break. ¬†It ended up working out quite well, because I wasn’t finished with my Christmas shopping. ¬†Blue Banana, in Kensington Market, saved my skin in that regard.

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Also, I almost fell while navigating slush at least six times.  Womp womp.

Sellers and Newel Secondhand Books, on College St.: I know, I know, as if I need more books. But I only got two this time–Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut, aaaaaand whoops, for the life of me I can’t remember the second one.

Oh, also, I’m officially going to be in a musical! ¬†Hammer Entertainment is putting on¬†Sunset Boulevard, and I got cast in the ensemble. ¬†I’m SUPER DUPER excited for this… ūüôā

That¬†Lady Audley’s Secret¬†adaptation is a thing… ¬†I wrapped up the first part of the story about a week and a half ago and archived it through Scalar, a project run out of USC that’s being used to create interactive books and expand the model of academic publishing. ¬†Figuring out the interface was a bit of a struggle, but the cool thing about Scalar is that you can create different paths through your content. ¬†With¬†Lucy Audley’s Secret, you can journey through just Alicia’s side of the story or just Lucy’s, or see all their posts in context.

(For the record, I’ve been informed that Scalar doesn’t always want to work with Chrome for some reason. ¬†So if it doesn’t load for you, that may be why.)

TFW you get punked by a yogurt company…

Some of you have heard about this, but here’s the full story. ¬†Back in May, my melodramatic ass tweeted this.

And then I completely forgot about it, till about two weeks ago when my mom and I came home from a day of eating Asian food and chilling at CHOCS (and in my case, working on the 20-page paper I had due the next morning). ¬†I’d been warned told that we were going to have a family picture taken that afternoon, so I figured we were just meeting my dad and sister at home and going to the photographer’s in one car.

I could see my sister sitting on the couch as I walked up to the front door. ¬†When I got inside, she was¬†really¬†happy to see me. ¬†In retrospect, that’s the point at which I really should have gotten suspicious–we have literally never been that demonstrative, ever–but hey, I hadn’t seen my little sister in three months, so I was pretty jazzed myself. ¬†“So I’m really impatient,” Claire said after the initial hellos were over. ¬†“Your Christmas present is upstairs in your room.”

“Oh, okay, cool.” ¬†I walked to the bottom of the stairs and saw this hanging on my door:

“Oh, that’s so nice!”

(Claire: ¬†“No, look on your bed.”)

Then I got to the top of the stairs and saw this, on an easel beside my door:

Yep, it was that tweet I’d forgotten about.

“cLAIRE WHAT DID YOU DO HOW DID YOU PRINT THAT OUT WHAT THE–”

And then I opened my bedroom door.

Turns out Yoplait is bringing back Custard Style yogurt, and as part of their PR push, they’d found people who tweeted about Custard Style and organized surprises for them. ¬†In my case, since I tweeted about my childhood, their idea for me was to recreate, in spirit if not entirely in substance, my childhood bedroom. ¬†They initially DMed my sister on Twitter to ask if they could do this thing, and apparently the conversation went about like this:

YOPLAIT:  Hey, did you know back in May your sister tweeted about how her childhood died when Custard Style yogurt disappeared?

CLAIRE:  That does not surprise me at all.

So the people at Yoplait colluded for two weeks with my parents and sister, behind my back, and I suspected nothing, not even when they followed me on Twitter.

All this to say, when I walked into my bedroom that afternoon… Jesus Herbert Hoover Christ.

My room looked¬†completely¬†different. ¬†It was like my childhood had exploded in there. ¬†I’m talking dinosaurs, dogs, stuffed animals, ballet (including some old dance pictures, and my god, did I ever have stick arms when I was a kid), drawings I barely remembered doing, a harvest of fake sunflowers, and SO MANY YOGURT CUPS. ¬†SO MANY. ¬†But that’s not even what weirded me out the most. ¬†No, no, what¬†really¬†made my brain short-circuit was that there was a dude in the corner with a camera,¬†filming.

MY POOR OVERLOADED INTJ BRAIN:  Man in bedroom.  This never happens.  Does not compute.

ME: ¬†Hi, uh …not to make this weird or anything, but who are you?

And he wasn’t the only one there either. ¬†I heard laughter or something from the next room, backpedaled, and lo and behold, I saw two other people in the room next door. ¬†A couple minutes later, I turned around for some reason and there were about six of them, and I was like “WHERE DID YOU ALL COME FROM?”

So yeah, for the next thirty minutes or so,¬†they filmed me walking around my glo’d-up bedroom, looking at all the stuff in it. ¬†My brain was pretty much a fizzling mess of circuits at this point, but apparently I’m quippy under pressure:

  • “Oh look, a Protoceratops! ¬†Mom, how did you remember that was my favorite dinosaur?… how do I still remember that name?”
  • “Ooh, an Ankylosaurus! ¬†I have no idea how I remember that name, either.”
  • MOM: ¬†Are you surprised I could deceive you this much?
    ME:  Yeah.  I mean, I knew about the eyes in the back of your head, but this is new.
  • *examining a group dance picture* “Oh yeah, we had to make our own masks for this dance, and everybody else had really well-designed masks, and I just put on whatever I found at Hobby Lobby that I thought was cool, and it looked terrible.”
  • And then the perfect encapsulation of my life: ¬†“This is not the first time I’ve been embarrassing on camera.”

At one point, they wanted to get footage of me eating some of the yogurt they’d brought. ¬†So for about five solid minutes,¬†they filmed me sitting cross-legged on my bed, eating yogurt, and then smiling into the camera. ¬†I felt like a stock photo. ¬†“Woman Laughing Alone With Yogurt.”

On the bright side, I’m getting far more out of this than yet another source of public embarrassment and a probable wealth of new reaction images of my face! ¬†A year’s worth of free yogurt, for one thing, which is about the best Christmas present I could have asked for. ¬†I also got a gift card, a picnic blanket, and whatever I wanted to keep from the stuff they got for my room. ¬†Hey, it’s the first time I’ve ever actually made money from being melodramatic on Twitter, so I count it as a win.

(Oh, also, I finished the paper in time.  Just for the record.)

Coffee:  CHOCS is the love of my life and I missed it a lot k bai

Food: ¬†I hit up Smoke’s Poutinerie on Spadina when I was in Toronto. ¬†The cheese curds weren’t quiiiiite melted enough for my taste, but regardless, I’m drooling just from typing this. ¬†Overall, I’m still ridiculously addicted to poutine. ¬†Literally, I got poutine again from the student union¬†the very next day. ¬†It’s a problem.

Music:  Technically I missed my window for posting Vince Guaraldi Christmas music, but see if I care.

See y’all in a little over a week, when I return to Canada!

Canada, week 14

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Hello again! ¬†This will be the penultimate post from Canada for this year, because I’m heading back to Oklahoma on December 14. ¬†I plan to cram as much fun as I can manage into the week between the end of classes and my flight back (in addition to, y’know, actually doing my schoolwork and grading papers and stuff), and all of that will be in next week’s post. ¬†For now, let’s recap the last week:

York University, again: ¬†My research team went to York last Thursday for another archive dive. ¬†The public computer terminals in the library were largely occupied, which meant we got to see even more of the on-occasion-literal concrete jungle that is York. ¬†Unfortunately, my phone battery petered out before I could take more pictures (thanks to all my snapchatting, oops), but I did manage to get this shot of their engineering building…

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Yeah, I’ll admit it, that’s pretty cool.

Whitney Snapchats the Proquest Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive:

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More pretty Hamilton architecture:

Bryan Prince Bookseller:¬† I finally got around to checking out this place, right on the edge of Westdale Village. ¬†It’s a super small bookstore, but the high ceilings and giant shelves make it feel imposing nonetheless.

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The spoils.

And an announcement: ¬†Some of you may know already that I’ve been working on a modern-day retelling of¬†Lady Audley’s Secret for my new media methods class. ¬†I’m telling the story through Alicia Audley’s mostly anonymous Tumblr and her stepmother Lucy Audley’s very much public Instagram. ¬†If you want, you can review my livetweet of the book here¬†(though it’s not strictly necessary), and the posts Alicia makes that directly pertain to the plot are here. ¬†However, I’d encourage you to browse through the rest of her blog–see what sorts of pictures she reblogs, get a better sense of her as a person. ¬†Happy browsing. ūüôā

(Side note, I’m still trying to figure out how to archive the story posts so that they form some sort of coherent narrative after the fact. ¬†If anybody has any suggestions on that front, hit me up. ¬†I’ve tried Storify and it’s absolutely not going to work.)

Coffee: ¬†Ark + Anchor Espresso Bar is blessedly close to my apartment, just a few bus stops and a nice scenic walk past the Freemasons house away. ¬†The bulk of the tables are upstairs, in a lovely high-ceilinged place with a lot of natural light. ¬†This place is a lot like Durand in that their bookshelf is chock-full of stuff I’d love to read if I weren’t, well, a horrifically busy grad student. ¬†The mocha I got there was absolutely killer.

Food: ¬†I’ve been walking past Basilique, right across the street from Bryan Prince Bookseller, for the whole semester now, and tonight I finally decided to stop by there for dinner. ¬†I got the beef shawerma, and yes, that’s how the menu spelled it. ¬†I’m not sure if it’s a misspelling or some sort of regional difference.

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Turns out the last shawarma I had, at the now-sadly-closed Al Sultan Grill and Bakery in Tulsa, misled me a little bit. ¬†Imagine my surprise when the shawarma I was served had lettuce in it rather than French fries. ¬†It was still great, though–very gyro-like, and I actually found the meat easier to chew than gyro meat for some reason. ¬†I definitely want to go back and try their falafel and pizza.

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Music: ¬†WE’RE SO CLOSE TO THE END OF THE SEMESTER I CAN TASTE IT

That’s all for this week. ¬†Next week’s post should be jam-packed, so… till then!

Canada, week 13: special edition!

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Hey all! ¬†It’s been another relatively slow excitement week/fast grad school week, but I’m bringing you another update anyway, because oh my sweet lord you all will not believe what happened to me on Sunday afternoon.

I’d spent the whole day inside, working on a term paper, and I was about fed up of being indoors. ¬†“Hey, self, you know what would be a great idea?” I thought. ¬† “Walking over to the Second Cup in Westdale Village and getting coffee.” ¬†So I got dressed and headed out. ¬†I was on King, approaching Marion, when I noticed there was a weird traffic snarl up ahead and a lot of people on the sidewalk ahead of me. ¬†There was a police officer standing in the middle of the intersection directing traffic, and one of the cars up ahead was at a slightly weird angle, so at first I thought there’d been a car accident. ¬†But as I got closer, it didn’t look like anything was actually damaged. ¬†“Huh,” I thought, “I guess all these people are just doing their holiday shopping. ¬†Supporting small businesses. ¬†That’s so nice of them!”

I made it across the street, still a teensy bit confused as to what was going on, and approached a small knot of people, all of whom were standing behind a dude in a bright safety-orange vest. ¬†This vest had a neon-yellow X on the back, and on one stripe of the X was written “GOOD WITCH.” ¬†As I got closer, I saw that literally everybody was standing still. ¬†The people hanging out behind Mr. Orange Vest were just chillin’, and there were people further down the sidewalk just chillin’. ¬†Nobody was moving at all.

Honestly, this was the point at which I really should have turned tail and gone back home, because clearly I’d stumbled into something. ¬†But unfortunately, three of my several Tragic Flaws(TM) were at play here:

  • I can be singleminded as all get-out. ¬†When I really want something, like coffee, I’m frelling getting it no matter what.
  • I can be PAINFULLY oblivious.
  • To put it charitably, I’m inquisitive. ¬†To put it uncharitably, I love poking my nose into stuff that has nothing to do with me.

Anyway, I sidled up to a nearby couple and said something like, “So this is the holdup, huh?” ¬†I figured they were normal people like me who were temporarily inconvenienced by whatever the heck was going on. ¬†They looked at me a little weirdly, and I don’t remember precisely what their reply was, but I got the distinct feeling I was missing something. ¬†Unfortunately, these folks didn’t have time to disabuse me of any of my half-baked notions as to what the sitch was, because at that moment, somebody (I think it was Mr. Orange Vest) was like “k, y’all can go now.” ¬†So the people around me went, and I went. ¬†And this is the fourth-best part of this whole ridiculous story, because somebody (Mr. Orange Vest again?) called out something like “take your time, don’t be in a hurry.” ¬†AND I JUST ROLLED WITH IT. ¬†It took me about 0.2 seconds to start moseying, easy as you please, even though I literally had no idea what was going on.

I kept moseying down the sidewalk, and it was at this point I noticed one of the shops (don’t remember which one) had been temporarily replaced with a fake shop bearing the marquee “Bell, Book, and Candle.” ¬†There was a rack of really cute jackets on the sidewalk near that shop, which initially got my attention. ¬†There was¬†also¬†a really attractive guy browsing the rack, which was the second thing to get my attention. ¬†I looked through the jackets for a bit and then casually asked him, “So what is this all about?” ¬†He looked confused and asked me if I was actually looking at the jackets, and that’s when it hit me:

Literally everybody else in this entire area was an extra, and I was the utter nincompoop who’d wandered right onto set DURING A TAKE, WHILE THE CAMERA WAS ROLLING.

I completely short-circuited, in part because¬†Jesus Woodrow Wilson Christ what have I DONE, and in part because this guy’s face was distracting me big-time, and I just mumbled something like “oh my god, I’m so sorry, I’m just gonna–” and I didn’t even care, I just strolled right outta there, getting in the way of at least three other people in the process but like heck I was sticking around.

The third-best part of the story is that the full extent of my bumbling came to light in front of this ridiculously attractive man, right? ¬†The second-best part is that I was wearing SWEATPANTS. ¬†I’d almost dressed kind of cute earlier, when I was getting ready to leave the apartment, and then I was like “but sweatpants though.”

And then the best part–guess what else I was wearing?

My deerstalker.

I literally crashed the set of a TV show, in the middle of a take, while wearing sweatpants and my godforsaken DEERSTALKER.

So yeah, that’s pretty much the most embarrassing thing to happen to me since the Klahom face, and if I somehow make it into the background of this show, I’ll ascend to another plane of existence and scream.

Here ends the story.  Till next time!

(P.S. I guess I know what I’m bingewatching over break.)

(P.P.S.  The coffee was still totally worth it.)