Thursday, July 31, 2008

'Cuz you keep me coming back for more and I feel a little better than I did before.

I've been MIA for about a week since I took a trip to good ol' St. Ratford for a few days. While there, I get to enjoy the retro-ness of dial-up internet, which means my internet activities are limited to checking email. Which is actually great, because it means that I stay away from my crack (ie celebrity gossip blogs).

Anyway, I'm back in the city (yay!). I took the late train last night, and didn't fall asleep until 3 am, but for some reason I was up this morning at 7:45 am which is not typical of the summer vacay version of me at all. I'm doing laundry right now actually (where did this domestic energy come from?), and blogging. Once the stuff is in the dryer, it's off to get some caffeine for me.

Here's some randomness from the last week:

1) I got to catch up with a lot of friends while in the Rat. Is there anything I like better? I think not!

2) I finished reading Stephen King's memoir on writing, called, well "On Writing". I liked it. My dad said the parts about grammar were boring. Those were the parts I dug. Am I getting more boring than my father, who I consider the boring-est man on earth? Egads!

3) For some reason I picked up a couple of stupid magazines while in the grocery store. I generally detest magazines because my feelings are that I might as well buy a book, but well, maybe it was the lack of celebrity blogs that drew my tired brain to a different type of mindless candy. However, I think it was totally fortune that lead me to buying these magazines because one of them had a picture of the shoes of my dreams.

Red Chucks with birds!!!! Could I dream up a more perfect shoe for me? (Maybe if they were purple. Purple is my fave colour. Red is #2.) They were designed by an artist named Lena Corwin for the product(Red) campaign. I <3 birds. If I ever get a tattoo (doubtful) it will be a bird. Christielli fact: my favourite four things are birds, stars, hearts, and flowers. I always have at least one of those things on my person each day. On a really good day, I'll have all four...

I did some research, and I can order them from the Converse website, but I'll totally get screwed on shipping, taxes, and duties. However, I've decided that I'm going to give myself until school starts to search for them in Toronto and where-ever else I may go, and if I don't find them by then, I will say screw it, and buy them as a back-to-school present to me from me.

4) Did I mention that I'm officially done my stupid online course and that I passed? Well, I am and I did! I just have to wait for my results to be processed, and then I have to do some nasty paperwork, and I'll get a nice raise (to fund my dream shoes and more perhaps?). You'll be pleased to know that I got As on all of my assignments, except for the one that I wrote when I was hungover from the end-of-school pub crawl, upon which I got a B+.

5) The only time I listen to any radio is when I'm in St. Ratford. As a result, when I come back to Toronto, I have a new set of guilty pleasure pop songs. The current crop are Damaged by Danity Kane, Shake It by Metro Station, and If I Never See Your Face Agian by Maroon 5 f. Rihanna.

6) I love how a lot of pop songs are by someone featuring someone else. I want to do a blog post by me f. someone else one day. It will be done, maybe not immediately, but one day.

7) Claire warmed my heart by giving me a cool blog award, which I would so place on my awards shelf if: a) I had one; and b) it wasn't virtual. Still cool though. I think I'm supposed to do my own awards now, which will take some thought...

All right, that's the randomness. Time to chuck my laundry in the dryer and then go acquire myself some caffeine.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When you feel your tree is breaking, just bend. You've got the music in you.

Lately I've been thinking that I need a good meme to do on my blog, and I just came across a really great one on Claire's blog, so here goes...

Twenty years ago...

I was eight years old, and I would have just finished grade 3 and been making that big step from a primary kid to a junior kid in elementary school. I'm pretty sure it would have been the first summer where I persuaded my parents to send me to art camp despite the fact it was rather expensive. It rocked though, and I loved it even though I have never been artistically-talented. I would have spent the rest of the summer riding my "Blue Angel" bike around the neighbourhood. It had blue tires and made wicked blue skid marks on the pavement. I rode it to the local corner store to stock up on baseball cards and stickers to trade with all of my neighbourhood boyfriends. When they weren't around, I'd play Barbies or She-Ra with Jeni who was my best friend/worst enemy. It was a great summer.

Fifteen Years ago...

I was thirteen years old and about to make the transition from grade 8 to grade 9. I remember that my best friend, Melissa (who I'm still friends with today), and I would ride our bikes to our high school and look at it in awe and fathom how the heck we would make it in that huge place in September. This would have been the summer just before the one where we discovered the fun/evils of alcohol and older boys, so I think we spent most of it hanging out at her place, babysitting her younger sisters, watching movies, playing boardgames, and stressing about what high school would be like.

Ten Years ago...

I was eighteen years old, and was about to make the transition from high school to university. That summer, I kept with the crappy restaurant job that I'd had since I was fifteen, and was okay with it despite its crappiness because I worked with some of my friends, so at least some of the time I was socializing. I know that deep down I was really really nervous about the decision that I'd made to go to the University of Toronto. I knew that academically, it was the best decision for me, but I had no idea how a quiet small-town girl like me would make it in a school with a student population twice that of the town I grew up in.

In between worrying, preparing for, and being excited to go to university, there was a focus on spending as much time as possible with my friends from home as possible. I'm sure we made a lot of trips out to the beach in Grand Bend, and I remember our final party before we headed our separate ways at my friend Christa's house. Basically, I learned that alcohol + trampoline = broken foot for Christy. It sucked, but it is one of those things that I now laugh (really hard) about.

Five Years Ago

I was twenty-three and had just finished teachers' college and had zero job prospects. I had moved out of my beloved Toronto and back to Stratford with my 'rents while I figured out where I wanted to go with my life. My brain had always told me that Toronto was for university, and then it would be sensible to look for a job closer to home and settle there.

I spent the summer visiting my pals in Toronto as much as I could, and half-heartedly searching for jobs for September. On a lark, I applied for a job in a remote community in Northerwestern Ontario, got it, and had a week to pack up everything I'd need for 10 months and go. If I'd had more than a week to think about it, I would have come to my senses. However, I ended up taking a huge risk, surviving an incredibly challenging experience, and coming out a stronger and better person for it.

Three Years Ago

I was twenty-five. After my year up north, I listened to my heart instead of my brain and moved back to Toronto. This choice had proved insanely right; I had a job within two weeks of moving back to Toronto. I ended up loving the school a lot, and was so happy when the temporary job I had for one year turned into a permanent position.

This was also the summer when I went on my amazing trip to Australia. I had a friend who was doing teachers' college in Brisbane, so myself and another couple friends went to visit her, and then travelled around the country. It's funny; I'm going on my trip to the East Coast with the same friends this summer.

One Year Ago...

I was twenty-seven. I had just moved into this apartment, and it was the first time I had my very own place. Becca T and I went on a fabulous trip to Western Canada. It was a very busy summer, since I had to take a course and move, but a great one.


I woke up early and met up with Becca T for a morning coffee. I went to the gym, and then I spent my afternoon booking hotels for my trip to the East Coast. I then spent most of the evening chatting with friends.


Today, I slept in a little bit, had breakfast and watched stupid morning TV talk shows, then met up with my friend Jane for gelato. This evening I need to clean and pack for my upcoming trip to St. Ratford. I was going to run out to get a coffee and a couple of things at the grocery store, but it just started to pour, so I'm going to maybe attack those dishes after I'm done posting.


Tomorrow, I'm meeting up with a friend from work for lunch, and then I'm taking the train to St. Ratford in the evening.

In the next five years...

Well, in five years from now, I'll be thirty-three. The rest of it, well, that's a big question mark. I notice that for a lot of my previous answers, I was in times of transition (going into high school, university, etc.), and I think that I might be in a time of transition right now. I'm really happy with my career, so I envision myself in more or less the same place in five years from now. I guess it's the rest that I need to figure out. I'm definitely happy in Toronto, that's for sure. I love travelling, and I hope that I'll have done more of that in five years too. I love my friends, and I know they'll all be around in five years' time too.

I think right now I'm feeling like I did five years' ago, ten years' ago, and fifteen years' ago. My life is going to change, and I'm not sure exactly how, and it makes me nervous. I see the future as a giant question mark, and I really wish I could see what's behind the question mark. However, I can't... or maybe I can if I go to the psychic who reads tarot cards in my neighbourhood coffee shop, ha-ha. Anyway, all the question marks in the past have always turned out exceptionally well for me, and I must believe that this next question mark will turn out well too. I should quit worrying about the future, and enjoy what the present has to offer me.

Argh, well, no matter what, in five years' time, I will be absolutely freakin' fabulous, that's for sure. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

When you're finished struggling, are you free tonight? Did they stick you in here 'cause you weren't working right?

Usually my Sunday night posts are pieces of fluff (like 98% of my posts) about what I did on my weekend and how fabulous everything is.

However, upon reading this article in this morning's Toronto Star, I spent a good deal of time today thinking about the contents of the article and how they relate to my own experience.

The article is about the over-representation of Aboriginals in Canada's penitentiaries. According to the article, aboriginals "make up 19 per cent of inmates in federal penitentiaries but only three per cent of the Canadian population". It is even worse for young aboriginal Canadians: "they represented 33 per cent of young people in custody in 2003, but just 5 per cent of Canada's population, according to the federal justice department".

I have been teaching for five years. Four of my years of teaching have been in Toronto. However, for my first year teaching, I taught and lived on an isolated Northwestern Ontario reserve. I know I've blogged about it once; for me, it's actually one of the most memorable posts I've ever written.

My 10 months in this community changed my perspective forever, and made me very aware of problems facing Aboriginal Canadians. I don't have any answers. During my year up north, I came home a couple of times, and many friends would ask me about what it was like living in such a place, and would ask me what I thought needed to be done. I still don't know, but I do know that the cycle of poverty, crime, unemployment, family break-down, and substance abuse that plague Aboriginal communities is very real, and there needs to be more focus on these problems. Before my year up north, I knew about these problems, but I was completely unaware of the severity, and tragedy of the situation. I used to be like an average Canadian, I suppose, but now I guess I am far more troubled and concerned by articles like the one in today's Star.

The reason why this article resonated with me so much, was that it brought to mind one of my students. Looking back at my situation, I find it mind-boggling. I was 23 years old, and this "kid" that I was teaching was 19, so there wasn't a huge age difference, really. (Aside: I actually had some students who were older than I was that year.) Anyway, this student had come back to the community from jail, I believe, and he decided to enroll and take some courses. To his credit, he actually earned three credits while he attended my program.

Just being in this boy's presence, you could feel the anger and rage pent up inside him. Later, I found out what he went to jail for, and it was such a disturbing crime that I'm glad that I did not know about it while he was in my class, because it would have made me even more uneasy in his presence than I was already. We tolerated each other; he made me nervous, and it frustrated him that he had to ask me for help with his work. I remember talking about how I used to live in Toronto in class. He was quick to ask me if I'd ever seen the Don Jail or the Kingston penitentiary.

The Star article describes how prison culture can breed more violence in Aboriginal prisoners. As I was reading this article, this former of student of mine popped into my head. I'm not sure what happened to him; I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that he is currently one of the imprisoned Aboriginal youths that make up the statistics.

Was I able to make any changes during my 10 months up north? Nothing huge and notable; at the very least I was able to be a support for my students and help them earn some credits. As a teacher, you never really get a sense of how the little things you do impact your students. If you are lucky, you may have a student who lets you know how important you are to them. Often, your job is thankless, but you know that the encouragement and kindness that you show your students will make a difference in their lives. Even if I wasn't able to make change during my 10 months up north, I think the more important change is the change that was made in me. I probably never would have read a newspaper article like this in this past, let alone become positively haunted by it.

I know that in the next election, I am going to pay careful attention to candidates' stances on the issue of the plight of Aborginal Canadians. I just wish that there were more Canadians that had enough awareness of this to make it a bigger issue than it currently is, because it is indeed a national disgrace.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And we live in our actions and our reactions.

Argle-bargle. So, I'm invovled in a program that is running at my school the last week of August, which means I'll be working when I am technically still on vacation. Now, I'm actually getting paid extra for this program, which is really going to help me pay off some of this summer's travels. Anyway, I was supposed to have a meeting regarding this program at 10 am this morning (a bit early for the summer-sloth-version-of-Christielli's liking), and I just got a call reminding me that it is at 11 am... Anyway, I know that it was scheduled at 10 am, because I remember thinking "crap that's early", and I have the piece of paper to prove it. Anyway, not only did this disorganization annoy my inner-teacher, I'm up and dressed far too early and I have an hour to kill. Oh, and it's going to mess up my lunch plans with my work spouse too. Yeesh.

Anyway, so there is a point to this post besides complaining. Do I complain too much? I asked this question as I was chatting with my mother last night. Maybe I do. I find that I'm a very verbal person: the only way I can make sense of the thoughts going through my head is to talk them out, so unfortch, that means a lot of people have to hear my venting. Oh well, I guess I can tell my friends/family that's the price to pay for being lucky enough to have me in their lives.

But, yeah, as I was saying, there *is* a point to this post, besides time-killing and complaining. I just got a facebook message from a friend in regards to his personal theme song. This caused me to wonder if I had a personal theme song, and if I did, what is it?

It took me maybe 2 minutes to figure this out: my personal theme song is "When it Flows" by Great Lake Swimmers. I knew that that it had the lyrics to be my personal theme song, but was it upbeat and catchy enough? After a listen, I definitely knew it was meant to be.

I couldn't find a YouTube clip or anything of this song, because it is fairly obscure (not surprising, right?), but you can hear a snippet of it here, or it's at least on the Canadian iTunes store.

When it comes to music, I'm definitely a lyrics girl, so here are the lyrics for you:

When it Flows - Great Lake Swimmers

When it flows from the fingers
And turns to stone
It shatters with the touch
Feel the air, breathe it in
Turn the corner, take the bend
Give or take the bend
It's a spiralling cork-screw path towards you
It's a sinking, twisted path from me to you

For a second I saw you so clearly (clearly)
For a moment I knew you so dearly (dearly)
I looked into your eyes and into your mind
You were laughing like a statue come to life

The subtle piano raindrops
The creaking of the buildings and their cellos
The wind was our violin
The sky was a symphonic mural of stars
Hiding behind perfectly placed clouds
Because everything is the way it is
And everything is perfect in their imperfections
And everything is placed the best
And it is now, and it is here
And tomorrow is another now
Waiting to happen

The roar of an action silences all the words
The cry of an accomplishment
Drowns the whimper of ten thousand words
And we live in our actions and our reactions
And we live in our actions and our reactions

I love every word in this song, but I especially like the third verse. I'm drawn to the imagery of linking the environment to musical instruments in the first few lines. The line "everything is perfect in their imperfections" is a bit of a mantra for me, and it helps me deal with the imperfections that rattle the perfectionist inside of me.

Note: My personal theme song is #32 on my most listened-to tracks on my iPod. I wonder if identifying it as my theme song will improve its standing?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a moment of weakness, I should examine my head.

Every now and then, I seriously contemplate getting rid of this thing.

I often feel over the whole blogging thing. I started it on a total whim, because I really liked Matthew Good's blog, and thought it was so cool that I got an inside look into one of my favourite musician's minds, and thought it'd be cool to publish my own thoughts on the internet. I think deep down I assumed that this would become like any other journal that I started: I'd be very faithful in writing for maybe a month and then there would be the inevitable "so it's been a year since I've written in this thing..." entry.

However, as you can see from my archives, my blog miracualously did not succumb to this pattern. Why? A lot of it is that a few months into blogging, I actually got *readers*, and the second reason is that I have learned to appreciate the history of myself that I have created on my blog. The other evening I couldn't sleep (I honestly think I'm still on San Fran time), and I caught myself reading through my own archives, and well it totally validated the upkeep of this blog. I loved being able to relive important moments in my life, like my various travels, birthdays, friendships, getting my permanent contract, and moving into my own place (Monday was my first year anniversary living in this apartment!).

So, I guess what I'm saying is that even though I've been tempted to click the delete blog button and disappear from the blogosphere, I don't think that I ever could because I could never ever erase 3+ years of my own history. It's funny how even the most meaningless of posts can bring me back to times in my life that I would have otherwise forgotten if it wasn't for this blog, and I'm glad that they are not lost.

Funny things I've noticed as I've randomly perused my archives:
a) I've more-or-less always used song lyrics as post titles. This came from the practice that one of my high school friends and I had of titling our emails when we were in university. I've noticed that I've inadvertantly repeated some of my favourites.
b) This still works even though I drew it three years ago.
c) I used to talk about my friends by inverting their initials (ie Becca T used to be TB), but I dropped this practice.
d) My top-ten most listened to songs on my iPod on Sept. 13/05 were:

1) Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars
2) Souvenirs - Christine Fellows
3) Sleeps with Butterflies - Tori Amos
4) Natural Disaster - Joel Plaskett
5) Every Day is a Holiday - Esthero
6) Mushaboom - Feist
7) Reunion - Stars
8) Lola Stars and Stripes - The Stills
9) All That I've Got - The Used
10) Agoraphobe - Matthew Good and Ryan Dahle

Now they are:

1) Sleeps with Butterflies - Tori Amos
2) Souvenirs - Christine Fellows
3) Light Years - Sloan
4) So Long, So Long - Dashboard Confessional
5) The Con - Tegan & Sara
6) Your Braids - Colin Munroe
7) In the Cinema Alone - Memphis
8) Reconstruction Site - The Weakerthans
9) Reunion Tour - The Weakerthans
10) Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars

e) I've always enjoyed making lists, especially lists about music.

Anyway, sometimes blogging can be a little narcissitic, it's true, but I've been a little bit sad lately (not sure why... think a trip home will do me good), and being able to seen a concrete record of my awesomeness helps. That and Stewart Smalley affirmations, and fun nights with friends, and a bit of social butterfly-ism.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

All the way from San Francisco, as I chased the end of your rope, 'cause I've still got miles to go.

So I'm back from trip #1 of the summer of fabulousity. And, well, it was a fabulous trip. It ended up costing me a fabulous amount of money, but it was worth it. I guess I'm learning that it's worth paying the price for a fabulous time.

I spent my first day back sleeping in, seeing "Kung Fu Panda" with my pal Mathew (it was really fun), catching up with friends, playing with pictures, and eventually stopping the procrastination, and settling down to do the assignment for my stupid online course that is due tomorrow (or today rather since it's now Sunday). Again, me completing this online course is going to result in a nice raise next year, which will pay off the trip I just went on, so it's worth staying in on a Saturday night to do school work, I guess.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is a trip rundown complete with photos, so here goes!

The first day, we did a lot of shopping. We took the bus to Haight-Ashbury (which passes through a sketchy area on its way... we lovingly nicknamed this area Crackton). In the Haight, there are so many funky shops, and I got some neat stuff like a Tshirt to wear next Earth Day and a sushi stapler for Becca T. I'll have to take pictures of it. Then, we returned to our posh-area (Union Square), did more shopping, and had dinner at a really good Asian-fusion restaurant.

On the second day, we went to the "literari" area near Chinatown. It was cool because there were all kinds of famous cafes where all of the beatnik writers drank and wrote at. At the end of Jack Kerouac Road is the really cool bar, Vesuvio, that he and other writers spent a lot of time at. I'd spend a lot of time there too because it was really funky inside. I would have *loved* to have a drink there, but it was still the morning at this point, so... Anyway, here is a picture of a really cool mural outside the bar.

We then walked through the North Beach area, which is San Fran's little Italy, and then walked up a huge hilly street to Coit Tower. Here's the beginning of the hill with Coit Tower in the background. Afterwards there was a bunch of stairs to climb and then another hill. A good workout for sure.

As we were climbing the hill, we saw some men brining a fridge up the stairs which made us feel, well, glad that we didn't have fridges with us. It made me think of one of my favourite books "Round Ireland With A Fridge" and I had a good laugh. It would be definitely much more difficult to get around San Fran with a fridge, with all of its crazy hills.

I also noticed that my name is all over the streets of San Fran. Here's my name with my feet.

We walked to Fisherman's Wharf for some pictures and lunch. Here are the seals.

After lunch, we went to Ghiradelli Square, where I had some *amazing* ice cream which I deserve after navigating so many hills by foot. After that, we waited in line for what seemed like 45 minutes for a cable car back to our hotel. It was worth it. Zipping up and down those hills in the open air is awesome. We also had a really funny driver who kept making quips like "sometimes when I brake I like to close my eyes". Definitely worth the wait. Here is a picture of one of the workers turning the cable car around before it was boarded. It's awesome to see something so incredibly old school.

On the third day, we headed back up to Fisherman's Wharf area, and stopped by Lombard Street (the crookedest street) on our way.

We then rented bikes to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, which ended up being my absolute favourite part of the trip. We had to bike across town, through the Golden Gate Recreational Area, which includes Chrissy Beach (good name - my parents and family actually call me Chrissy). Thankfully there weren't too many hills. Here's a view of the bridge from the beach.

Then, it was across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was windy, but the views were spectacular.

After the bridge, we biked down a wicked hill to the little town of Sausalito. All in all our bike ride was about 15 km, which I think is good for a girl whose last bike ride was last summer in Stanley Park. I wish I had a good picture of Sausalito but I don't yet. My friend took some, so I'll have to get them from her. (She's a much better photographer than me anyway.)

We took the ferry back to the Wharf. Here's a view of Alcatraz along the way. I still think it looked extremely spooky. We didn't have time to do the tour, which made my inner goth a little bit sad.

On our last day, we rented a car, where my pal braved driving the hills of San Fran. (You didn't think I'd drive there, did you?) We drove out to Sonoma, where we did a little bit of wine tasting and winery tours in the morning, had a fabulous lunch at a restaurant called "The Girl and the Fig" (where we also had dinner because we wanted to try more of their menu). In the afternoon we went to a spa for manicures, pedicures, and much-needed massages, after the previous day's bike ride.

Here's a view of the hills behind the first winery we visited.

Here are some grapes.

Here is a picture of Sonoma City Hall.

Anyway, after dinner we headed back to San Fran, which was much chillier than Sonoma and dragged our heavy wine bottles back to our hotel from the rental place. We then decided to use our hotel gym to work off some of the calories we'd consumed during the day. Then there was the really ugly job of packing all of the stuff we bought. My friend, who'd packed heavy to begin with, had to cram a lot of her stuff into my luggage and we even ended up having to do some shuffling of objects in the airport the next day. She joked that I was her camel and bought me a bottle of water and a celebrity smut magazine to keep me happy.

So, it was a really really fabulous trip. I have to say I love San Fran. I've been to some really awesome US cities in the past year (Seattle, New York City, Austin, San Fran). So, ummm, congrats to all you Americans out there for having some really cool places. ;)

Less than a month and I'm off to explore the East Coast of my own country! :D However, there will be lots more fabulousity in the interim.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

You think you're on your own just taking it slow, but something always happens whenever we're together, it shows.

I love travelling, but I hate packing. Can't a packing-elf come and do it for me?? (And while he's at it, hire me a marking-elf for the school year, and a cleaning-elf for all year too.) Anyway, hoping for elves isn't really going to get me anywhere, nor is blogging, but here I am, procrastinating away.

Oh, btw I am going to San Francisco to officially kick of the fabulous portion of the summer of fabulousity! This week was my first full week of vacay, but I laid low and did a lot of reading, and even did some work on my stupid online course. I did go to a wicked bachelorette party on Friday night, and that was pretty fabulous.

All right, while I'm psyching myself to pack my brand new suitcase (my old one got wrecked on its way home from Austin), I'll go all random.

For the past two days, I've been obsessively listening to Sloan. More specifically, I've been obsessively listening to Jay songs. (FYI - Sloan has 4 singer/songwriters. Jay's my fave.) I bought the new Sloan album when it was released in June, but have just started listening to it properly. The three Jay songs (Cheap Champaign, Witches Wand, and If I Could Change Your Mind) are the bestest, I think. Anyway, that's today's nugget of music geekdom.

What do you think the worst thing you can forget to pack is? Deodorant? Toothbrush? Nah, those are easy enough to buy. Passport would suck, obviously. Camera? I have to remember to bring the charger for my new camera's battery... that would suck to forget. The other thing I hate forgetting is the charger for my iPod. I hate having to be thrifty in my music listening. Also, it sucks if you forget a piece of clothing you really like. I'm all about the fashion.

All right, now that I've thought about what I should be careful not to forget, I suppose I should get to that packing. I'll see you post-San Fran. I'll leave with this video that I came across today that made me laugh really hard.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

True Patriot Love, a la la la la...

Listening to this song/watching this video is my Canada Day tradition. I <3 Joel Plaskett.

Happy Canada Day!

ps This is my 500th blog post and it's terribly anti-climatic.