Canada, week 28

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That’s right, folks! I’ve officially done enough Canada-related stuff in the past week (and beyond) to merit another Canada update, at long last! Without further ado:

Pillow fight!¬†I’m not actually sure who organized this, but I heard about it from a friend who was going and I was like “dude, I’m so in.” So yeah, I spent part of my Saturday in Nathan Phillips Square in a crowd of people who were whacking each other with pillows, sometimes half-heartedly and sometimes downright viciously. For my part… well, let’s just say I had a lot of pent-up frustration to express, no thanks to the week I had last week, so anybody who tried to dunk on me got pretty solidly walloped. (If any of you are reading this, perchance, sorry about that ūüėā)

What a beautiful day for a giant pillow battle.

Just more pretty Toronto pictures:¬†in case it wasn’t already painfully obvious how much I love this city.

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(I didn’t actually go looking for Honest Ed’s — I just happened upon it. Funny how that tends to happen to me in Toronto.)

Food:¬†I’ve got several highlights from the last few weeks to make up for the lack of Canada posts.

  • Manna Korean Takeout in Westdale. I’ve been eyeing this place ever since I moved here, but I only tried it recently. I feel like getting ramen takeout, which I did at Manna, is just peak college. Holy crap, though, it was so good. I don’t know what the lady there put in the broth — possibly Sriracha? Whatever it was, it reminded me of the ramen my family had every Monday night when I was a kid, which was augmented with a generous dollop of Ragu. Perfect comfort food. I want to go again, but I’m also kind of irrationally afraid that it won’t be as good the second time.
  • Hosu,¬†at Queen and John in Toronto. The place doesn’t exactly stick out amid the explosion of restaurants on this section of Queen Street, but the wonton soup and avocado salad I got (which was quite literally just a thinly sliced portion of avocado on top of some lettuce) was nevertheless good food for a good price.
  • The Starving Artist, at College and Ossington in Toronto. Everything is waffles here. I’m not kidding — everything.¬†Unfortunately, I went late enough that they were only serving dessert waffles, so I have yet to try their lunch options, but you can bet I’ll be back. The two guys on staff when I was there were incredibly nice, too, so the place gets points for great customer service as well.
  • New York Fries. ¬†Shoutout to this place for having poutine gravy that’s so good I still can’t believe it’s vegetable gravy.
  • Eden’s, on Main Street in Hamilton. My cohort met here for breakfast the last day of our Wednesday morning pro-seminar. I was a little too sleepy to remember much about the place beyond (1) the pancakes I got were fantastic, and (2) the place had a piano I somehow resisted the temptation to play.

Also, I’ve got another episode of Grad School Kitchen for ya! I didn’t actually create the recipe in this episode, but I’ve been using it a lot regardless because it’s probably¬†the easiest bread recipe ever. Yeast-free, takes like ten minutes to mix, makes a really thick country-style bread. Storebought? Screw that.

Coffee: Yeah, sure, I’ve been hitting up Augusta and Tim’s a lot, but I do have a couple other places to highlight as well.

  • Cannon Coffee,¬†at Ottawa and Cannon in Hamilton. This place is right across from the church where Sunset Boulevard rehearsals take place, so I’d probably be going there a lot even if it wasn’t anything special. It is absolutely something special, though. I’ve had quite a few things off their menu by this point — maple latte, some phenomenal tea I don’t remember, apple cider, goat cheese and dill scone — and I’ve never been disappointed. (I have yet to try their waffles; I’ll make it out there during waffling hours someday.)
  • Chocolat on James.¬†This place is a candy store and an ice cream shop as well as a coffee place, but I only got a chai latte. The barista was savvy enough to ask if I wanted cinnamon on top, and I now know that is the absolute best way to consume a chai latte ever, so that barista is kind of my hero.

What I’m reading: I worked my way through Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake Two¬†this week, while various loaves of bread were baking. Like any other Vonnegut work, it messed me up. In a good way… I think. For example:

Or try this on for size:


Yeah. I’ll just leave that there. ¬†Along those lines, though…

Action items: ¬†As always, pay attention to all the important stuff Celeste Pewter is saying on Twitter. ¬†Also keep an eye on the special senatorial election in Georgia; depending on how big voter turnout it, Jon Ossoff could have a real chance at winning Tom Price’s old seat. ¬†If you live in Georgia or know anybody in Georgia, particularly in that district, go vote or encourage your friends to go vote. ¬†Even if you’re like me and don’t live in Georgia, spread the word.

What I’m watching:¬†Buffy,¬†of course (and there’ll be more of that coming this week!), but also Bomb Girls,¬†for a different class and a different paper. Bomb Girls is so soapy and melodramatic — and surprisingly graphic in a couple places? Maybe I’m just squeamish but I had to look away — but even so, I’m captivated. The main characters are very realistically flawed, they screw up in some really morally gray ways, and the show embraces that ambivalence rather than trying to neatly resolve things. (For the most part, anyway. Gladys, as much as I like her, is a little too perfect.)

Music: 

I’ll probably be back in a couple days with more Buffy livetweeting. Till then, adieu!

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An announcement.

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(I’m putting this in a separate post from all the vacation shenanigans because I don’t want it to get buried.)

Because apparently I like making more work for myself than I need, I’m doing another one of those class project things this semester, like I did with¬†Lucy Audley’s Secret. ¬†This time, the class¬†broadly concerns memory studies and issues of cultural memory and nostalgia in the media, and the project… well.

If you know me at all, you probably know how woefully behind on pop culture I am. ¬†You may have even stared at me, dumbfounded, and said, “You didn’t watch that?!”, to which I probably replied, “I basically wasn’t even alive in the ’90s.” ¬†And it’s not entirely an exaggeration, either. ¬†I missed a¬†lot¬†while I was homeschooled. ¬†So with this project, I’m at least putting a dent in the frighteningly long list of Things I Missed in the ’90s. ¬†Over the next few weeks, I’ll be watching¬†Matilda,¬†Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and¬†Groundhog Day, as well as listening to No Doubt’s¬†Tragic Kingdom–and livetweeting everything, so keep an eye on Twitter. ¬†These essays will be posted on a website that is currently under construction. ¬†The ultimate purpose of this project is twofold: ¬†to understand the particular breed of nostalgia that manifests itself among the self-styled ’90s kids, and to make sense of my own childhood and how it’s shaped me.

Now, I actually need your help with one part of this thing: ¬†a title. ¬†I’ve wracked my brain for weeks, and I still cannot come up with a title for the project to save my life. ¬†I am open to any and all suggestions, and if you (yes, you) suggest the title I end up using, you’ll get a shoutout on the site and my undying gratitude ‚̧

So that’s the latest manifestation of my tendency towards extreme academic overcommitment! ¬†Hit me up with your best title suggestions, in the comments or on Facebook or via carrier pigeon.

Well.

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(I couldn’t find it in me to title this post “Canada, week 11.”  This isn’t really going to be about Canada.  Sorry.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Kitty Genovese lately.  When I first heard about her, in my freshman year psychology class, I was enraged.  My professor went on and on about the bystander effect, and I still absolutely could not accept that people could witness such evil and do nothing about it.  At the time, I used it to justify my general (and frankly, very much affected) disdain for human nature, but I think deep down I was crushed because I wanted so badly to believe that people were better than that.

Kitty Genovese’s real story was slightly different from what I heard all those years ago.  She was a lesbian, for one thing–I’m not sure why my professor never saw fit to mention that.  There were around 49 witnesses, as compared to the 38 the New York Times initially reported, but not many of them witnessed much, and two neighbors even came to assist Kitty while she was dying.  One psychologist, Frances Cherry, has even suggested that in line with research conducted by Gerald Borofsky and R. Lance Shotland, people didn’t intervene when Kitty cried out for help because people in general don’t tend to intervene when a man’s attacking his female SO.  But even so, the bystander effect has been tested over and over again, and it’s shown up in cases far less ambiguous than Kitty’s.

That’s partly why I’m so terrified right now.  I’m terrified that not only will the most marginalized among us suffer horribly under a Tr*mp presidency and at the hands of Tr*mp’s diehards, but also that the unaffected will be silent.  That we’ll see suffering right in front of our noses and do nothing about it.

Look, I get it.  I get that it’s easier to freeze or flee than to fight.  I get that confronting bigotry and violence is terrifying, that most of us would rather shrink back and keep our heads down so the nasties don’t get us too.  It’s so tempting to go into survival mode right now, to just look out for yourself and maybe your family, to not make waves.  Believe me, I understand.  There’s nothing I’d like more right now (well, besides world peace) than the power to turn invisible, just so I could go back to the States and walk around and not feel like I’m exposing myself to possible danger every time I’m in public.  I can’t count the number of times over the past few years that I haven’t even dared to talk about politics on Facebook.  I’ll like some political meme or another, and then I’ll think I won’t share this, though, because I don’t want to start arguments.

Thing is, though, the waves are already happening.  Tweety McTangerine and his minions have done a collective cannonball into the deep end of the pool, and the waves are rollin’.  We have to splash if we don’t want to drown.  We have to swim.

And we have to help others, too.  Yes, it’s scary, I get it, we’ve been over this.  But we (and when I say we I’m mainly talking to my relatively privileged white friends here) absolutely have a responsibility to help others in distress.  We have to step in when we see racism or Islamophobia or sexism or homophobia or transphobia or anti-Semitism or, or, or.  We have to educate ourselves, listen to what people of color/women/queer people/trans people/Muslims have been trying to tell us for ages, get rid of all our assumptions and assume we know nothing.  We have to fact-check.  We have to organize.  We have to support existing organizations that are already doing good work (and there are so many).  We have to get out the vote.  We have to talk to people we’re tempted to block on Facebook, and my god, that one is so so so important.  Take it from me, having to debate your own legitimacy as a human being worthy of respect is exhausting and frustrating and emotionally draining.  We cannot ask marginalized people to do that work for us.  We have to first know the burden and then share the burden, however we’re able.

Now I want to take a minute to address my marginalized friends, because I know and love so many people who, like me, will be ten kinds of screwed very, very soon.  I’ve got three things to say:

  1. I’m so terrified for all of you, I love you, and I swear right hand to God that I will do everything in my power to help you.
  2. Please don’t listen to the people who are urging reconciliation with the other side, who tell you to just accept that this Animagus who got stuck halfway between human and blobfish won “fair and square,” who insist you’re upset over nothing.  You have every right to be upset–and every right to stay upset, for that matter.  Hold onto your anger.
  3. With that said, though, please take care of yourselves.  The next four years (maybe only two, if we can get out the damn vote for the midterms) will be exhausting, and being pissed off will only get you so far.  There are so many forms of rebellion you can engage in.  In the last episode of Inhuman Condition, Linc says something that’s been rattling around my head for the past week:  “The most radical thing we can do is love each other harder than they can hate us.”  The people poised to lead the US come January want us to feel nothing but fear and shame about who we are, what we believe, who we love, and it’s for that precise reason that we have to chase joy anyway.  Anger and terror will fuel us, sadness will ground us, but love will heal us.

I wish as much as anybody that Captain America or Ms. Marvel could swoop in to save us from ourselves right now, but we’re not in the MCU.  There are no caped crusaders in this world. Nobody’s coming to save us.  We have to be heroes, every single one of us, both for ourselves and for others.  Even after this crapshow of an election and its aftermath, I still wholeheartedly believe that we can fix what’s gone wrong–but it has to be all of us.  We don’t have Captain America, so we have to be the Avengers.

So c’mon.  Let’s put on our masks and go save the world.

(Cue the music.)

Canada, week 2

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Adventures! ¬†Adventures everywhere! ¬†Let’s just get right into it:

Wednesday’s day trip to Toronto: ¬†My feet were so sore by the end of the day, but oh my¬†god¬†do I ever love this place already. ¬†I took loads of pictures, so here, have a slideshow.

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Also, I purposely ran through some sprinklers on the U of T campus because I am actually three years old.

Hiking:  I explored the Ravine Road Trail and the Sassafras Point Trail on Friday morning.

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I’m definitely having a picnic here before it gets too cold.

Supercrawl: ¬†Tulsa folks, think of it as First Friday meets the Tulsa State Fair. ¬†Food trucks, artists’ tents, street musicians, actual musicians on stages (The Strumbellas and Four Tet were among the bigger names). ¬†Also, there was a completely mind-blowing performance group called Circus Orange–I was too enthralled with their performance to get a good video–and a game of giant flaming skee-ball. ¬†Not kidding. ¬†The whole thing was chaotic and noisy and a little rainy and a lot wonderful.

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The festivities.

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A giant art installation in the middle of the street.

Miscellaneous weird/different things I’ve noticed:

  • No pennies! ¬†Canada got rid of the penny a couple years ago, as it turns out.
  • Bills are plasticky here instead of papery. ¬†More durable that way, I suppose.
  • I got a bottle of water at Supercrawl and it tasted just weird enough to freak me out. ¬†Turns out it had about 550 ppm of mineral salt in it.
  • Hot dog stands are a big thing here. ¬†Especially on Queen St. in Toronto, my god, so many of them.

Coffee of the week:  I took a much-needed break from walking at Mövenpick Café on Yonge Street in Toronto.  The place was expensive but beyond cute.

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And also small enough that I would have felt weird just whipping out my phone and taking beaucoup pictures.  Hence the subtly-sneaking-a-picture-over-my-shoulder thing.

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Food of the week: ¬†I TRIED POUTIIIIIIIIINE I’M IN LOOOOOOOOOOVE

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Fun fact, I actually forgot to get a pic for the blog until I was more than halfway through the stuff.  I went from zero to inhaling it in about 0.2 seconds.  Where has it been all my life?

Also, this week I’ve got a recipe for you! ¬†I’m not quite sure what to call it, honestly (any suggestions are welcome), but I’ve eaten it for dinner at least three nights this week and it’s delish:

  1. Make a serving of couscous according to package directions.
  2. Mix shredded cheese with about a cup and a half of roasted red pepper and tomato soup (I just eyeball this part, really).  Nuke the lot for a minute or so.
  3. Combine couscous with the nuked soup.  Serve with milk and pita chips.

Music of the week:  I saw The Strumbellas live at Supercrawl.

And this one’s just been stuck in my head constantly.

That’s about it for this week! ¬†I’ve only had one class so far, so any reflections on this big scary thing called grad school will have to wait till future posts. ¬†Also, hopefully I’ll have time this weekend to explore all over campus, so look for photos from that in next week’s post!

Canada, week 1

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Subtitle:  Holy Crap, This Is Actually Happening

Hello from Hamilton!

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I‚Äôve only been here a week, but it feels like longer than that. ¬†So much has happened already. ¬†To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to sum up this week in a blog post, but here are some highlights:

The moment I landed in Toronto:

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This is the face of someone who has no idea how frickin’ long she’ll spend getting past immigration and customs at Pearson…

Super cushy hotel room:

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Shoutout to my parents for putting me up here until I moved into my apartment.

The best pillow ever, which is a throw pillow rather than a proper bed pillow but see if I care:

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Sights of the week: there are a lot of beautiful little churches in my neighborhood. Weirdly, that more than anything makes this place feel like home. I live across the street from this one:

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And these two are just up Cline Ave.

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There are two Jewish temples near my apartment as well. This is one of them, Temple Anshe Sholom.

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Also, another thing I’ve noticed while out and about: ¬†black-furred squirrels! ¬†What’s with that?

Coffee of the week:  My Dog Joe.  One of two coffee shops in Westdale Village, an easy walk from my apartment.  I hung out there briefly this morning and did some reading.

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You know, just a little light reading.

Food of the week:  Williams Fresh Cafe, five minutes from my apartment, across from the McMaster Children’s Hospital.  It has the vibe of a First Watch but the menu selection of a Whole Foods deli.  I’m in love.

Music of the week:

I also stumbled on a concert during WestFest (again, in Westdale Village) on Saturday night, and I pretty much discovered my new favorite band.  Busty and the Bass, a nine-piece act from Montreal, reminds me a lot of Deluxe.  Here’s just one track they played at WestFest…

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for undergrads, but I don’t start classes till the 12th.  I have to get some pretty crucial errands done, but I plan to cram as much adventure as I possibly can into the next week.  At least one art museum, the McMaster campus itself, probably Toronto on Wednesday, Supercrawl on Friday… it’s going to be a jam-packed week.  Till next time!

song of the firecracker (a poem)

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a memory: i am eight years old. the parking lot at 21st and yale is packed, and the whole sky is rumbling. the pepsi logo flashes bright above us for one, two, three seconds before fading into the night like all the brilliant sparkling dandelions of light before it. someone fifty feet away shoots off a roman candle. i ask my father what it is, and he begins to answer, to explain how it works, but then another salvo crackles through the air above us and i am gone. fireworks may not be magic, but i am still enchanted.

a myth: they say prometheus gave us fire because he pitied us. he saw us shivering in our caves, inches from death, and he took pity on us. and for that, zeus wanted his liver pecked out for as long as fire will burn. which is to say, forever.

a memory: two summers in a row, we bought sparklers and lit them in our backyard. i waved sparkler after sparkler as fast as my arm could move, watching the tiny fiery stars fizzle out as they fell to the grass, a little thrill pulsing in my chest every time i didn’t get burned. the second summer, a spark landed on my arm, next to my birthmark. i ran water from the garden hose over my stinging arm, and i have never held a sparkler since.

a fact: the color blue is the hardest to produce in a firework. scientists have tried for hundreds of years to make the perfect deep blue firework, to little success. to this day, they’re still trying.

a memory: i am on a hill in salt lake city with a few dear friends, watching fireworks. four, five, six explode at once, their gold sparkles melting into shimmering city lights, the cracks echoing faintly through the valley like a car backfiring four blocks over. they look so small from here. college is already a distant memory. my twenty-second birthday is in three weeks. i am on top of the world, and i don’t know what will happen when i come down.

a fact: calcium chloride makes orange fireworks, and sodium nitrate makes yellow fireworks.
another fact: when stars die, nuclear fusion forms elements up to and including iron.
(i wonder what the stars think of fireworks.
i wonder if they are satisfied with the afterlife.)

a memory: i am in iowa, watching fireworks from across a cornfield. my sister sits on the grass beside me. all the lights, green and gold and red and blue alike, are stark against the night sky. the cracks and rumbles roll across the field like the waves in clear lake, some reaching us and some fading out amid the cornstalks. i slap away a bug on my arm and think that maybe the magic was never in the fireworks, but in the people who make them, who mix and remix the ashes of stars, who can turn destruction into creation into spectacular shining destruction.

a wish: next year, maybe i’ll hold a sparkler again.

The best of Whitney Snapchats Her Finance Textbook

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If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen me complaining about my finance class. ¬†I’ve been frustrated by the textbook’s approach to ethics…

…groaned at its sense of humor…

…and just generally disliked the subject as a whole.

But I haven’t just been tweeting – I’ve also been Snapchatting my way through the textbook.

I knew doing this was a great idea right from the get-go.

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Though I was puzzled by all the badly colored (and/or just plain bad) pictures in the margins.

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Sometimes the book sounded as if it’d been written by the Department of Redundancy Department.

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And sometimes it went in the opposite direction.

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Other times, I wondered how well the book had been reviewed.

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Occasionally, I was just plain done with everything.

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As mentioned above, I had serious issues with the ethics section.

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Then there was that time the author quoted himself…

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…and that other time…

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…oh yeah, and that other-other time.

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But there were high points, definitely.  For example, all the celebrity look-alikes.

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And then there was this guy named Jon who got super snarky, which was rad.

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Overall, though, I think this Snapchat sums things up best.

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The end.