Friday, September 30, 2011

You better get your story straight.

I am super pumped that I have NO PLANS for this Friday night. I can't remember having a weekend evening where I'm not doing something. It's not that I don't like doing stuff, but a quiet night is a nice treat.

I had a really great day at school today. Assemblies and literacy test prep meant that I actually had a lot of time to get caught up, and not feel like I go for eight hours without a moment of calm.

I spent some of my day being ticked off by a nasty newspaper front page about "BAD TEACHERS!!!" that made it sound like we were a bunch of drunks who belittle and abuse our students. I'm all for getting rid of the bad apples, but seriously, fear-mongering journalism is not cool at all. Happy World Teachers' Day (yesterday) indeed. This article has accomplished nothing except to stir up anti-teacher rhetoric from people who do not understand what a demanding and important job we do. However, it doesn't matter because at the end of each and every day, I know that I've made a huge difference in the lives of my students and that's what keeps me going.

I'm going to shut up about that article because I've gotten it out of my system by writing a letter to the editor with my work spouse, running 4.18 miles, and doing a little bit of shopping. Roots had a 15% of sale and I bought this interesting cowl-necked sweatshirt. It's made of sweatshirt material, and is totally comfy but looks pretty funky. It'll be great for the cool weather that's coming our way this weekend.


This weekend will be fun too. I think I might have an afternoon of coffee and shopping tomorrow, a re-viewing of "The Help" on Sunday, and Saturday night is Nuite Blanche. Jason and I are planning to go late to avoid the crowds (hopefully). I'll definitely write about it next post.

But for now, I'm thinking that a hot bath, a glass of wine, reading, and hitting the sack early are the way to this Friday.

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Change your sheets and then change me.

This post is going to be mostly about music. There's so much great music coming out this fall and I've barely even dipped my toes in, so to speak.

1) Dan Mangan - "Oh Fortune"

This album came out yesterday, but thanks to a pre-order, I've had in heavy rotation for about a week. I really like this album: I think Dan's definitely taken it up a notch since his fabulous album "Nice, Nice, Very Nice". My favourite song is the first track "About As Helpful As You Can Get Without Being Any Help At All". "Post-War Blues" is great too. Watch the live performance below if you are interested. It's a great performance, and makes me really excited for the end of October, when I'll be catching him live.



2) Tori Amos - "Night of Hunters"

This came out last week, and admittedly I've only listened to it once, but I know I'll be spending a lot of time figuring it out. This record was put out on a classical label: Deutsche Grammophon. All of the songs are based upon classical songs, and melodies weave themselves throughout this concept album, which is all about Tori meeting up with some spiritual guides, some of the parts of which are sung by her eleven year-old daughter. I think you'd totally have to be a Tori-phile to be interested in this album, but I look forward to getting to know it better, and to seeing her live in December.

3) Feist - Metals

I have to admit it: I have a huge girl-crush on Feist. It's a very innocent crush - I just like looking at pictures of her (I think she's beautiful), and I love love love her music. I like Feist so much that I recently bought Elle Canada because she was on the cover, and then immediately read the story about her, and put the magazine aside because I don't really like fashion magazines.

Anyway, the new album comes out next Tuesday and I am so excited. It actually just started streaming on www.listentofeist.com and I'm on my first listen and I'm already loving it big time.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm looking forward to seeing Feist in December too?

4) Kathleen Edwards - Wapusk

I just came across this single on iTunes yesterday. I don't think the LP will be out until January, but I really love the "b-side" to this single: "Change Your Sheets". I saw Kathleen perform both of these songs a the little show that Jason and I went to at the Dakota Tavern at the end of the summer. "Change Your Sheets" stuck with me at the show. When she was performing the song, I could really identify with the lyrics. I've been listening to this song non-stop all day. I have a tendency to obsessively listen to a new song repetitively, and this is my new compulsion.

5) Other new releases

I still need to get the new Elliott Brood album, and I'm interested in the new Ohbijou too. Also, my favourite emo band, Jack's Mannequin, is coming out with a new album next Tuesday as well. And, November brings me new Los Campesinos! too, for which I am beyond excited.

Anyway, that's my music rant. You'll probably get some more of these this fall.

I was going to watch TV tonight, but I sort of forgot about it when I started streaming Feist. Oh well. I haven't been reading much lately - I got stuck on a book about Cleopatra's daughter, but luckily it was due back at the library and I couldn't renew it, so I can abandon it now. I'm going to go start a new book, and listen to Feist. You should too. Read and listen to Feist. It's a recipe for bliss.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Open your eyes, put it in drive, get on the road, and just go.

Road trips make for fabulous weekends.

It rained very consistently all of Friday, which made for less than perfect driving conditions on my way to Sturgeon Falls. I managed to leave the city by about 4:15 pm, but I was slowed down by a lot of traffic while heading north on the 400. I think I drove for about 45 minutes at about 30 km/h.

However, even if the weather didn't improve, traffic finally did. I essentially drove straight north for about 400 km to reach my destination. I took a quick break at a Tim Horton's in Gravenhurst for coffee and a sandwich. My timing ended up to be perfect, because as I was driving by Huntsville, I was treated to some impressive fireworks for whatever random reason. They were in the sky just to the left of the highway, and were actually happening at the same time as some sheet lightning. It was cool, but then eventually I passed and couldn't see them anymore.

Even though I was driving toward North Bay at 8 pm - 9 pm in the evening it felt so much later to me because of the sheer lack of traffic on the road. Sometimes I felt like I was the only vehicle on the road. What a contrast to what I'd experienced leaving Toronto!

I made it to my friend Sandee's house before 10 pm, and we had a nice evening catching up and staying up late chatting.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, Sandee, her six-month-old daughter, and I headed to Leisure Farms so that I could meet Arnold the pig, and pick up some very delicious butter tarts. This farm had a lot of things going on at it: there were corn mazes, wagon rides, piles of pumpkins, bales of hay sculpted into various creatures, and a lot of yummy fruits/veggies and freshly baked goods for sale.



Unfortunately, Arnold the pig was nowhere to be found. We even asked around. I guess we should have booked an appointment? What a disappointment to go to a farm to meet a pig and not be able to find him. Luckily, I bought some strawberry jam and butter tarts to ease my pain. (Note: the butter tarts were unbelievably delicious!)

We drove around Sturgeon Falls a little bit so I could see the sights, and also went to drop off some mail at a friend of Sandee's. When we got back home, we got Sandee's husband Jason (yes, another Jason... there are now three Jasons associated with the group of 9) to pick us up some poutine and pogos from the best chip stand in Sturgeon. Yum!


In the afternoon, we all went for a small hike, because it was threatening to rain, past a cranberry bog to Lake Nipissing. Then, the skies cleared up a little bit, so we went back out to Leisure Farms to try our luck with Arnold again. Luckily, he was there that time! (Note: small town life is so different from Toronto life... I don't two trips to meet a pig have ever happened in this city.)


After our hike/successful Arnold meeting, I had a nice afternoon nap, and then went for a little walk in downtown Sturgeon. It has the highest concentration of francophones in Canada outside of the province of Quebec. Most of the signs are bilingual, and that fact might also explain the prevalence of awesome poutine.


Sturgeon actually has a sushi restaurant, so Sandee & Jason took advantage of having a true sushi aficionado in their midst to evaluate it. We ordered in some sushi for dinner, and I'd put it on par with any reliable sushi place in Toronto.

This morning I was treated to a delicious breakfast of French Toast made from raisin bread from Leisure Farms. Then, I had to hit road for 400 km straight south. Luckily, the weather was beautiful today. It was sunny and bright, which was perfect, since the leaves had already changed colour in the north (they've just started to turn a tiny bit here). I stopped at Duchesnay Falls outside of North Bay for a small scenic hike up a hill to see a waterfall.


I stopped at a different town at about the halfway mark for a break and an iced coffee. Bracebridge is a classic Muskoka town. I drove around the downtown for a bit, and stopped at a local coffee shop, the Muskoka Bean. Instead of eating there, I decided I would eat at Weber's Hamburgers just a bit north of Orillia. Sandee recommended it to me, and I have driven by it on other trips, but never stopped. It's always got a huge line up, and even though it's on the north side of highway 11, they built a bridge over the divided highway so that you can access it from the south side of the highway. Even though the line was long (as evidenced below), they have a pretty efficient system for getting you through, so I got my food pretty quickly and enjoyed it outside in the sun at a picnic table.


The drive back into the city was very smooth, thankfully. I think the trip home took the same amount of time despite the fact that I stopped for breaks three times, plus once for gas, along the way.

I had such a great time catching up with my friend Sandee and her husband Jason. I was completely spoiled by them: poutine, pogos, pig meet and greets, sushi, french toast, and I was sent home with vegetables from their garden. I left them with a celebrity magazine, and I lent Jason the CDs that I brought with me, so at least it wasn't only me being spoiled, ha-ha.

I love having friends spread out all over the place, because it gives me an opportunity to experience places that otherwise I never would. I really do like the north. I love the fact that I passed what Sandee and I have coined the "moose line". The moose line is the point at which you begin to see moose crossing signs. It's pretty exciting to cross, even though you have your fingers crossed that you don't actually have a moose cross in front of your vehicle.


Despite the fact that I love living in a big city, I love being able to get away from it all. Yay for roadtrips! Hopefully I can take another this fall before winter takes over.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drive there and then drive back again.

I would rate myself as about 70% from my damned malady. Voice is back. Throat is only sore in the early morning or late evening. Nose is slightly stuffed up. I'm still prone to coughing fits and I'm often dead tired by the end of the day. However, I have energy to make it through the day at school, and have spurts of creativity, and be my usual fun self in social situations.

I've almost made it through another week. I'm really excited for the weekend because this weekend is ROAD TRIP weekend! I'm renting a car and driving four hours up north to visit my pal Sandee (Go9) near North Bay, ON. I've been wanting to make this trip for years, but have not done so because I never settled on a weekend. At the end of the summer I booked it, and now the weekend has arrived!

I was really hoping for some nice sunny weather, but the forecast is calling for rain. It might make going on a hike not possible, but hopefully the forecast is wrong. *fingers crossed* However, no matter what it will be fun catching up with an old friend, and emails have mentioned things like a pig meet 'n greet at a place with pumpkins and a corn maze. You can't go wrong with that!

I'm looking forward to the long drive. I essentially drive straight for the entire trip. I've thrown a motley assortment of CDs into my bag for the drive, since I don't own the cable to connect my iPod, and I haven't had time to make a mix. In addition, I'll have plenty of time to think. I'm not sure what I'll think about, but I'm sure my brain will come up with something to keep be occupied.

Well, I *am* exhausted and heading to bed. I'll let you know how the trip went. Happy weekend! :) I'll leave you with one of my favourite road songs.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh Fortune.

I'm sitting here, still stuffed up, cold feet, wearing my favourite hoodie, cat on my shoulders, listening to the CBC Radio 3 Podcast about new fall releases. Grant Lawrence has declared Feist's "Metals" the most anticipated Canadian album of the fall, with Dan Magnan's "Oh Fortune" as the second. I'm psyched for both, as I am for non-Cdn releases by Los Campesinos!, my emo-sweethearts Jack's Mannequin, and Tori Amos. They're playing a song by my new year's band, Elliott Brood, and it's good too. My ears are going to be oh-so-happy this fall.

Anyway, I closed out last week in zombie mode. I took Wednesday off of work and thankfully regained my voice. I really should have stayed home for the rest of the week, but I decided to go in and do my best. At least I could speak again. My plague seemed to move from my throat and into my head. My entire head felt congested and just yuck. As soon as the school day was over on Thursday and Friday, I just came home and slept.

However, I am me, and I had some social plans that I didn't want to break. Jason had won some tickets to some TIFF screenings. I had elected to stay home for the movie on Wednesday, but decided that I could drag myself out for a 10 pm screening on Friday. We went out for pho before the movie, and I didn't even finish mine since this cold has messed with my sense of taste and eating more seemed pointless.

I had faith that the movie was going to be okay because it had been recommended by the Toronto Star. The movie was Americano, a French film that was about a man dealing with his mother's death. Well, all I can say was that it was very film festival-y, if you know what I mean. The dude two seats down from me fell asleep and was snoring. I would have followed suit, but the theatre was about two degrees too cold for me to fall asleep. I give the movie one gigantic MEH.

Yesterday, I had sushi-lunch plans with my friend Flora. I actually started to feel like myself again during the lunch, and I had some energy and animation. It was fun catching up. As always, whenever I meet up with an old friend, I realize how lucky I am to have so many awesome people in my life.

I ran some errands and came home for a nap before heading out again to meet up with my friend Elaine to see The Help. I read the book years ago, and the movie is a good adaptation.

At one point during the movie, a loud beeping, perhaps an alarm, started to go off. You could feel everyone in the theatre sort of thinking the same thing "What's that? Someone should go tell them. I would, but I don't want to miss the movie."

Then over the loudspeaker there was a voice that said "This is Toronto Fire Service. There is an alarm in Tower 1". The beeping stopped, and we continued to watch the movie. Then, maybe ten minutes later, the movie (which was about 95% finished) stopped, the lights went on, and we left the cinema.

It seemed like there was a half-hearted rather slow evacuation going on. People were lining up to go to the washroom, and milling about. There were people still buying stuff at the refreshment stands. There were employees handing out free movie vouchers, and we made sure to get some. We decided to leave the building to go have coffee. We saw fire trucks outside, but seriously, what kind of evacuation is it when people are still buying popcorn? And, fire be damned, I don't think anyone would have left without their free movie coupon.

I joked that if this had happened during Americano, I would have evacuated very quickly, vaulting myself over the snoring man.

Good thing I've read The Help because I've yet to see how the movie is resolved. I bet there were maybe like 5 minutes of the film left. Elaine and I have re-booked to go see it again.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty OK today. Still stuffed up, and I'm going chill out this afternoon/evening with Jason. I should be in good shape for school tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ugh.

I have almost completely lost my voice. I can't believe I'm going to have to take a day off so early into the school year. BLERG.

My throat was hurting last week, and I attributed it to the fact that I was using my voice a lot again with being back to school. Well, it's just gotten worse this week, and I really should have stayed home today, but my classes don't have textbooks yet, so I dragged myself in. I tried to talk less than I normally do - I showed a film (related to the curriculum with corresponding assignment, of course) period 2, and actually connected a computer to a projector and typed out instructions to my period 3 class. I took the subway home from work with my work spouse. I had my iPhone out and was typing messages to her on it. It was pretty funny. I'm going to save that note to laugh at for later.

However, I realize that it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I kept wanting to talk and talk and talk. I'm sitting at home now, resting it, and slightly going insane. Seriously, I'm sure that I wouldn't be talking now at all if I didn't have this ailment, but the fact that I can't call my mom and complain really bothers me.

You totally don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, ha-ha.

I'm also really stuffed up and tired too. I am the worst when I get sick. I get into a battle of wills with my body, and my body always wins. It pretty much goes like this:

Christielli's Body (which sounds like a robot): "Warning, warning, I am sick."

Christielli: "I don't have TIME for sickness. I am going to work, going to the gym, and doing every other thing I have planned. You will bow to my will."

Christielli's Body: "Do not push me. Rest now. Or else things will get worse."

Christielli: "Never!!!" And then I proceed to continue to do all the things I want to do, and maybe a few extra things to show my body who is boss.

Christielli's Body: "Enough. Total meltdown commences."

Christielli: "Oh shite. I should have listened. Okay Body, I will rest now and take care of you. Let's never fight this way again."

Of course, I forget about this the next time a sickness rolls around.

So yah, I'm hoping that my voice comes back soon. Because really, I don't have TIME for this. Yeesh. Okay, I'm going to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich to make myself feel better.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I have been dreaming you've been dreaming about me.

Now that I'm done holidaying hard during the summer, I think I've started weekending hard during the school year.

On Friday, two of my work pals and I had massages booked at the spa to celebrate the end of our first week. As we congregated in the parking lot, another colleague asked us "Hey are you ladies in the cycling club?" (The cycling club is new. They go for a bike ride on Fridays, I guess.)

"No, we're going to get massages. I guess we're the spa club," was our reply. Of course, the questioner wanted to join our club.

After a really nice massage, during which my therapist commented that I didn't have much tension (wait, just, wait), I met up with Jason in the Yonge-Dundas neighbourhood for dinner. We went to an old-school diner that's hidden on a street behind the commercialized craziness that's become Y-D. It's basically Toronto's wannabe Times Square. Anyway, dinner was really nice - cheeseburgers, fries, coleslaw and red wine for the win.

After dinner, we headed out to Yonge-Dundas square for an indie show: Jason Collett with Zeus. Jason Collett put on a really nice set that was sometimes rocking, sometimes mellow. It was perfect music for a warm summer evening: my favourite songs were "Love Is a Dirty Word", and the BSS song "Looks Just Like the Sun".

After being Jason Collett's band, Zeus was going to do a set on their own, but someone was really tired and incoherent and could barely stand, so we headed home for some tea.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning to head down to the Summerhill Running Room to pick up my race kit for that evening's night race. I also hit up Starbucks; I am IN LOVE BIG TIME with the salted caramel mocha frappucino (you can get it made light if you are watching your calorie intake FYI). Then, I ran to Staples to stock up on some new Sharpie marking pens and other fun school supplies. School supplies keep me motivated.

My friend Heather took the train down from London, and met up with me at my place. Our race was at 7:55 pm. So what to do with our afternoon that wouldn't tire us out? We went out for a nice lunch in my 'hood, and then got manicures and pedicures. Then we headed back to my place to chill until race time.

The race was at Sunnybrook Park, which isn't too far from where I live. When we got there, the park was filled with runners wearing their headlamps (which made you look like a miner) and black race Tshirts (embellished with some fluorescent stripes and reflective words). When our race started it was just dusk, but it got dark pretty quickly. The weather was perfect: a little bit cool, so that you didn't get too hot while sweating. The neatest part was that during a curve on the course, you could see the lights of all of the runners ahead of you. I wish I could have taken a picture of that, but heck, I wasn't going to slow down.

I finished my race in a time comparable to the other 5Ks I've run this year. I'm pretty consistent. Heather was right behind me; only 1.2 seconds separated us. I didn't realize she was so close until I stopped running and she was right there behind me. We'd started off the race together and then kept passing each other. She would have beaten me, but her shoelace got untied at one point, despite double-knotting, so she had to stop to tie it.

The post-race was a bit of a party. Everyone put their lights on their red setting afterwards, and each runner got a complimentary hamburger/hot dog. I went for the hot dog and it was delicious. The MC dude kept telling us to go to the beer tent for a free glass of beer after the race, and thought that was awesome, until it turned out it was a free shot glass of beer. Boo!

Supposedly, there were full beers that you could buy, and we'd made sure to tuck beer money into our pockets, but we couldn't find where to buy the tickets, and we were feeling cold standing outside in our sweaty running clothes. We decided that we'd drink at home instead, but by the time we got here, we just wanted tea, Modern Family, and then sleep.

Today we headed off to the Jays game. Seriously, sitting for three hours in the sun has probably exhausted me more than the race. The Jays managed to beat the Orioles, despite the fact that they went through pitchers like they were going out of style. We got to witness two Jay homeruns in the bottom of the seventh, and the wonderful Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly to get the go-ahead run.

I always love going to baseball games because they remind me so much of my childhood. My family are all huge Jays fans; my parents watch every televised game. I was a huge Jays fan in the 80s, and in the glory days of '92/'93. Every baseball season I say I'm going to go to more games and follow baseball more closely, but I usually just make it to a game or two. This was my first of the almost-finished 2011 season.

Now I'm just tired and ready for bed at 9:12 pm. I'm so hardcore. I've been drinking lots of lemon-ginger tea with honey. My throat is unhappy from me talking a lot in my teacher voice, so tea, and cough drops, have been helping a lot.

I've also been listening to a new Los Campesinos! track on heavy rotation. It's so catchy! I can't wait for their new album, Hello Sadness, that comes out in November.

Hope you all had great weekends and will have good Mondays!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back to School.

I had an excellent last weekend of summer, even if my plans did not turn out the way I'd thought they would. In fact, because I made another scheduling error (remember this?), I ended up with a bit more culture in my life.

The culture started on Friday night when Jason and I visited the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). They had a great exhibit about water, and it satisfied my inner science nerd, which really needed some nurturing before the big day (i.e. today). Then, I dragged Jason all over my favourite floor of the ROM: floor #2. That's where you get to see dinosaurs, and all kinds of non-extinct creatures in the biodiversity gallery. Oh, and there's the bat cave too. The bat cave is one of my favourite parts!

By the time we headed over to Ancient Egypt, we were losing our attention span and getting hungry, so we popped across the street for some pho. Yum. Then we wandered down Bloor St. and visited Greg's for ice cream (roasted marshmallow FTW), and did some record and book shopping.

On Saturday, I thought I'd booked a morning train to Stratford, but it turned out that I had accidentally booked a train the day before. Argh. When I went to the ticket counter to try and buy a ticket for the proper train, it turned out to be sold out. Also, the ticket lady gave me some attitude. She said "didn't you double check the date in your verification email?" And I replied "well no, I didn't, because I assumed I clicked the proper date on the calendar." Also, at that point I had been a teacher on summer vacation, when dates really have no meaning to me, and I wouldn't have noticed anyway.

So, I ended up begrudgingly buying a ticket for the evening train, and texted Jason saying "are you still going to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)? I'm still here!"

I also had to call my friend Teresa because we had plans that evening to see Harry Potter, and it didn't look like I could make it. However, luck smiled my way, because Teresa caught a ride with her husband and kids to visit his mom in Toronto, and we saw the movie here, and then I got a ride to Stratford with them on Sunday. I was able to get a refund on the new ticket that I bought earlier that day.

Also, it really worked out that I was able to go to the AGO with Jason, because it was the last weekend of the Abstract Expressionism exhibit that was visiting from MoMA in NYC. We had a good time looking at the AGO's extensive collection of Canadian art, and then we both enjoyed the Abstract Expressionism exhibit. Once our attention span started to wane, we went for a nice late lunch on Queen St. W.

I find that after about 2 hours at a museum or gallery, I can't really take in much more. In fact, my brain gets so filled up, that I'll do something ditzy like say "Hey Jason, is the model ship area?" when we are in fact looking at photographs about industry. Yah Christy, photographs do not equal model ships.

Once I finally made it to Stratford, I was kind of tired, and spent a lot of the less than twenty-hours I had with my parents napping. However, we did watch some fun Sunday night TV, and I chatted with my mom a lot.

I got back into the city yesterday, and was still really tired. I guess lots of culture zaps me. I had a lazy day reading, and then in the evening Becca T arrived! She's staying with me this week as she takes care of some work stuff in Toronto.

And that bring us to today *drumroll*: the first day of school. Really, it was easy. We just had introductory meet 'n greet classes, and then an afternoon of meeting. Tomorrow I'll have to really get back into instructional mode. The first week of school is always nice: I tend to be on top of my planning, because I haven't been swamped yet with marking and extra-curriculars.

Well, so that's that. Day one down, many more to go until I have the opportunity to sink back into summer brain. Ahh, but it does feel good to be back into routine, and having more purpose to my day.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I'm yours to keep, oh won't you keep me, I'm a keeper.

I went into school today for a couple hours. I wanted to sleep in, and couldn't get there until about 1 pm, and then they kicked us out at 3:30 pm, but it was enough time for me to remember how to plan. I feel like I know what I'm doing for the first week, and I'll go in again tomorrow to do some more planning and photocopying.

The first visit back to school always reduces my back-to-school anxiety. I think all teachers have back-to-school nightmares. This year's nightmare involved me being forced to teach geography. Really not all that horrific, but I didn't want to teach another subject. I like my science, thank you very much.

This long weekend will be pretty fun. I have ROM plans with Jason, then a quick visit to Stratford to see my parents, and then on Monday Becca T will be coming back to crash on my couch for awhile.

Then on Tuesday, it's back to the grind. Wish me luck! I hope you all enjoy your long weekends!