Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend of Win

I'm a lucky person: my weekends are always super fun, enriching, and leave me feeling like I've accomplished something, or learned something, or discovered something, or at the very least, rocked out a little bit. I think I did all of the above this weekend.

Friday was the Dan Mangan Show, and I'm so glad that so many of you liked the song I posted previously. It is my favourite, and he actually opened the show with it! I really enjoying seeing Dan live yet again. He's always on the top of his game, and seems to have a genuinely fun time at each and every show. Stand out songs for me were the opener, Basket, and Rows of Houses. If you enjoyed the song I posted early, pick up his new album (Oh Fortune), and while you're at it get his previous one too (Nice, Nice, Very Nice).

I had a really nice Saturday too. Jason and I went to Kensington Market and found a new yummy brunch place called The Bellvue. It's a tiny place. We had to sit at bar seats by the window, but that made for lovely people-watching on a sunny fall morning. I had truly epic French Toast with apples and home-made whipped cream. Yum.

We were in Kensington on a mission - I had to buy about 15 various flags of the world for my school's Multicultural Day which is fast approaching. Luckily, Toronto's Flag District is on Spadina right near Kensington. I went to my favourite flag store, where they cut me a deal last time, and got the vast majority of flags. They had everything but Peru. Of course, being that I was in the Flag District, I just had to walk a couple doors down to another flag store to get Peru. Mission accomplished.

Got home, went to the gym for a run, then had my first Skype conversation ever (welcome to the 21st century Christielli) with Becca T who is settled nicely in Paris. Then, I spent my entire quiet Saturday night reading. What a treat.

I also treated myself to a quiet Sunday morning/afternoon. I read in bed, took myself out for a sushi lunch, and then read a bit more in a coffee shop. Then I met up with my friend Ali to head off to the 32nd annual International Festival of Authors at the Harbourfront Centre.

We got there early enough to browse the programs and look at all of the books. I'd never really paid attention to the event before, but wow, I'm definitely going to go back another year. It consists of two weeks of readings, round table discussions, etc. by a wide and impressive array of authors. I love Toronto because there is always something awesome going on in this city, and there are always new things to discover.

I was going to see Rachel Simon, author of The Story of Beautiful Girl in a round-table discussion. I had tweeted that I was enjoying this book at the beginning of the month, and she responded and invited me to this event.

The round table discussion could be called "The Advocates" because each author wrote a book advocating for group who normally doesn't have a voice in our society. The Story of Beautiful Girl is a novel that is centred around a love story between a couple with disabilities. In addition, it partly takes place in an institution for people with disabilities in the US in the 1960s, and it's an eye-opening look at how horribly people were treated in the not too distant past.

Conor Grennan, author of Little Princes, was another participant in the round table. His book is about his experiences as a volunteer in Nepal, which lead to him founding an organization that reconnects children who are victims of human trafficking with their families.

The third participant was Andrew Westoll, author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. This book centers around a family of chimpanzees that were used as biomedical test subjects. They are now recovering at a sanctuary near Montreal.

I enjoyed listening to all authors speak about their books, and their motives for writing about their subjects. Each author was very passionate about his or her work. I have only read the first book, but I definitely would like to read the other two; I think I'll ask for them for Christmas.

After the discussion, there was opportunity to meet with the authors for signing. My friend Ali and I got to speak with Rachel for a bit, and she was truly a lovely and warm person. She wrote a very nice inscription in my copy of Beautiful Girl, and it's such a neat experience getting to connect with an author in real life because of twitter.

To all my book lover readers out there: you should all read Beautiful Girl. It will hook you on the first page. When I invited my friend Ali to the event, she picked up the book and read it in one night. In addition, I'm currently reading Rachel's memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister, which is about her experiences with her sister Beth, who is an adult living with an intellectual disability. I started it last night, and I'm really enjoying it.

In summary, I got to hear new songs from an old favourite, discover a new brunch place, buy new flags, experience new technology, go to a new event, and meet a new favourite author. That's why I had to borrow from my dear friend Claire's lexicon and declare this a weekend of win.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Both feet together, slowly progressing, always in time.

What a week.

I'm happy that it's Friday tomorrow, oh-so-happy.

I have to say that I'm blessed with particularly wonderful classes this semester. Today I was previewing the optics unit with my grade tens by explaining how the image formed by your lens on your retina is upside-down; your brain flips the image so that you see things upright. That always tends to blow kids' minds, and I made the comment "optics is trippy" and instead of booing me for saying such a lame thing, they laughed. Because it is true: optics is trippy.

This eye/brain optical phenomenon always reminds me of a lyric from the song "A Lack of Color" by Death Cab for Cutie:

And when I see you
I really see you upside down
But my brain knows better
It picks you up and turns you around

I'm looking forward to this weekend. Jason and I are going to see Dan Mangan tomorrow night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I'm excited. I saw him about a year ago at a church downtown, so it'll be nice to see him play a slightly larger venue. He was also great at Hillside over the summer. I look forward to hearing new material from his new album "Oh Fortune".

This is my favourite song from the new album. If you get past the symphonic cacophony for the first 45 seconds of this live performance, you'll get to the opening lines, which make me kind of want to waltz down the street. If my life was a movie, this song could be the soundtrack to the opening credits.

I have no plans on Saturday, which I'm pretty excited about. I haven't had a weekend day like that since... since... I don't know!

On Sunday afternoon, I'm going to an authors' round-table as part of The International Festival of Authors. Remember, I was invited to this via twitter. Actually, I think the night of the invite was my last bit of weekend downtime. I can't believe it's been almost a month since the invite, and I still haven't finished the book. That's not like me. I guess it shows just how truly busy I've been.

And with that, I think I'll read a bit, have some hot chocolate, and go to sleep a bit early. I need the rest.

Happy weekend all!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Now you're just somebody that I used to know.

Right now my life consists of marking, followed by quick marking breaks. This is one of them. After this post, I'm going to go to bed, so I can wake up early and mark some more before the start of the school day. School is CRAZY this week. I have extracurricular stuff 3/5 evenings, and tonnes of marking, and the planning, the never-ending planning. Oh, and a student teacher arrives this week. Busy, busy, busy.

This weekend was fun. It was great having catch-up time with old friends and bringing them to a lot of my favourite Toronto haunts. I brought them to my gym, my mani-pedi place, my gelato place, my fave Middle Eastern restaurant (on belly dancing night!), and my fave burlesque bar (who knew I had one of those?). The last isn't that shocking. There's just one dancer on the bar. The music was pretty good too. Anyway, the weekend was good.

While I've been marking, I watched the show "The Sing Off" for the first time. It's on it's third season, and I've never watched even though my beloved Ben Folds is one of the judges. Anyway, I follow him on Twitter, and he was tweeting, and I thought "hey! that'll help my marking!" so I tuned in. It's a singing competition between a cappella groups, and the singing caliber is quite high. I really enjoyed it. I'll be marking with it next Monday, I'm sure.

I also randomly came across this song tonight, and I'm addicted to it. I think the harmonies in the latter half of the song are great, and the singer's voice reminds me of some singer from the 80s/90s (I think) but I can't put my finger on who. I dunno, maybe Sting? Listen and help me on this! I think the video is neat too. And of course, emo songs like this are always good in the fall.

I guess the moral of this story is that even when I'm insanely busy, I always have time for new music.

Oh, and I'm counting down for the end of this week because I'm seeing Dan Mangan on Friday! Woot. And then I'm going to an author roundtable at the International Festival of Authors on Sunday, but I still have to finish the book for it! Argh. This book is great, but I just can't seem to finding any reading time. It's sad that I haven't finished a book in FOREVER. Sigh.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caught a long wind.

Today was one of the those days that was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. I don't know what was up, but little annoyances that I could usually brush off really got to me. However, the bright side of a roller-coaster day is that there are ups to go along with the downs. And some of today's ups were definitely out of a sitcom.

This morning I saw two student council kids in the staff room and their faces were beet red and contorted into expressions of pure pain.

"What's going on? Did you injure yourselves?" I asked, because they looked like something really bad happened.

"Miss, oh ewwwwww, this fish STINKS!!!" was the reply.

We had helped organize a charity fundraiser for a local homeless shelter where kids donated loose change to have their favourite, or more realistically most unfavourite, teacher kiss a dead bottom-eating fish. Today was the kissing ceremony, and the boys were getting the thawing fish out of the fridge.

I was one of the teachers who had a jar, but not too much spare change when to charity on my account. I guess I'm just not mean enough. I pretended to be relieved when I heard the result today, even though I had known before that I wasn't going to have to pucker up.

At the end of the day, I was leaving work and got a nice thank you card in my mailbox from my friend for whom we'd organized the baby shower. I dunno, it was a well-written card and brought tears to my eyes. (Oh, btw, I totally schooled her in the swaddling competition!)

To make things worse, my work spouse also got a card, and read hers to me which made me more emotional. Both of us were crying and laughing at ourselves at the same time.

Anyway, I guess I'm feeling better remembering the fun parts of the day, apart from the incidents that truly annoyed me. Oh, and as always, it's adults who are the cause of my problems, never the kids. If I just stayed in my classroom and hid out from grown-ups, I think my blood pressure would be so much lower some days.

So yah, one more day and it's the weekend! This weekend promises to be fun. I have a much-needed massage booked tomorrow evening. Well, hopefully, because oddly enough they didn't call me with a confirmation, so hopefully it didn't get messed up.

Then, I have visitors coming for the weekend. Vern and Teresa (Go9) are staying with me, and we're going to have lots of fun. In addition, my friend Wendy is gonna drop by tomorrow night too! I was going to cook dinner for them, but that was before I remember my massage booking, and now I've decided that cooking would most likely kill my massage buzz, so we're ordering in instead. Yay!

Hope you all have fun weekends too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I've been running such a long time.

Good weekend. I'm so sad that it's Sunday night at 8:19 pm already. I would like more weekend please.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day running errands. I had stuff to mail, groceries to get, and I also had to go pick up my race kit. I also went for a run at the gym; I find running before a race prepares me mentally... If I can do it the day before on a treadmill, I'll be able to do it the day of, right?

I met up with Jason in the evening for a nice splurge-y dinner (cheeseburger, fries, two big glasses of wine, and we shared two desserts - carrot cake and chocolate bread pudding). Then we went to a late performance (10:30 pm) by Louis CK, a comedian whom I only really knew from this:

It was a really funny show. The guy's hilarious. Even when he says something totally wrong, at least he follows it with "that was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life." I think my favourite jokes revolved around how he has two daughters, and part of the problem with parenting is that it's rather boring. For example, there are fifty books about Clifford the big red dog, and the only thing that really happens in them is that Clifford is always big and red. I also liked his jokes about Monopoly, a psycho kid with the pseudonym Jazanthepus, and the awesomeness of bears.

This morning I was up at at them for my final 5K of 2011. I can't believe that I've run four of them this year. Last year at this time I would have thought it was impossible. Anyway, today's race started rather far away - all the way at the Exhibition grounds. However, there were shuttle buses that you could take from near finish line downtown to the starting point. There were so many shuttle buses available. I was amazed by the organization.

The race itself was great. It was a cool day and the rain thankfully held out. I was so happy when I crossed the finish line: this race was my personal best, and I came in about three minutes faster than my last race in September. I credit my friend the phys ed teacher (for whom we're having the baby shower tomorrow) for giving me a good training tip.

Jason met up with me at the finish line. It was kind of amazing that I came across him in the crowd so easily. There were an estimated 20,000 people participating today in the marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. We were separated by a fence until I got my medal and picked up some food. Jason got a pic of the insanity of the food station.

I grabbed an apple, a banana, water, and gatorade. The idea of a huge dry bagel after a race didn't really sit well with me. Plus, I knew we were going out for lunch, so the banana was perfect. (I saved the apple for school tomorrow.)

Next on the agenda was my brilliant plan of how to get out of my sweaty running clothes without having to a) change in a gross washroom somewhere; or b) go all the way home. A new Goodlife gym recently opened up at Yonge and Adelaide, right by the finish line, so I took advantage of my membership privileges and showered and changed there. And wow, this new gym is so new and shiny! It's seven stops farther south on the subway than my regular gym, but I think that if I have extra time, especially on a weekend, I'll trek out there to enjoy its beauty. (And then go shopping... after I complete my shopping diet. I'm 9/31 days of buying nothing besides essentials for myself.)

After I was clean and changed, Jason and I headed to Kensington Market for my post-race treat: a meal at The Grilled Cheese. The soup (butternut squash with pear or something like that) was delicious, and I just had an original grilled cheese (made using aged cheddar) with bacon. Perfect comfort food on a gray chilly fall day.

Anyway, I've spent my evening relaxing, napping, watching some silly TV, and now blogging. I should be marking, but umm, I can do that tomorrow, right? What a shame that I dragged ten pounds of it home. Oh well, I consider that some additional strength training.

Being that I live in a temperate climate, that will be my last race of the season. I'm already planning my goals for next year. I'd like to try an 8K race in the spring, and also make it a goal to get my 5K time under 30 minutes. Heck, if I shaved off three minutes between September and October, by April, I'll be running 5K races in about twelve minutes, ha-ha. But seriously, I will run a 5K race in under 30 minutes in 2012, and do the spring 8K too. I have about six months to prepare myself.

Well, more silly TV and some reading are calling my name. Oh, I also have to make a playlist for the baby shower tomorrow. Happy Monday all!

p.s. A hundred year old man participated in the marathon today. Wow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

We are just these people running around.

I thought that I'd have some time to myself this evening, but really, I've only had this past hour that I'm keeping myself awake while I wait for some laundry to dry. Then, it will be some glorious well-deserved sleep.

Yesterday was a busy day. I stayed after school to help a student, then went to Body Pump, then met up with friends for dinner, then saw Private Lives. It was quite good. I saw another Noel Coward play, Fallen Angels, years ago in Stratford with some members of the Go9. I recall that I thought of it as Sex in the City set in the 1920s, and now ironically I've seen a star of that TV show in a different Noel Coward play. Both Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross were good in their rolls, and I'd definitely recommend this play. It was laugh out loud funny. I hear it's making its way to Broadway after its run in Toronto, so that's pretty cool.

This morning was one of those busy days at work where I didn't feel that I had time to breathe. After school until 10 pm, I spent time with work friends preparing a baby shower for another friend at work. We went shopping, then wrapped presents, prepared favours, and made decorations. I also had to learn how to swaddle a baby.

Our friend is a phys ed teacher, and also one of the most fit people on earth. She's super competitive, so we've planned a series of competitions where she has to compete against a seasoned parent in different tasks such as putting a baby into a baby Bjorn, diapering a baby, and dressing a baby. We are hoping she will lose all of these competitions. I should also mention that no babies will be used in these competitions - we've borrowed the dolls that the parenting class uses.

Then, to make her feel like she can win, we're going to give her a shot at competing against a non-parent. That would be me. I'm known for my lack of baby skills. I have never changed a diaper in my life, and I'm generally apprehensive around little folks. Little does she know that I got trained in swaddling this evening. I took notes, practiced, and I think I'm going to win this thing.

There are some students with spares who have volunteered to help us set up for the shower. Fea was telling them about my roll in the competition, and one of the students exclaimed "I don't think it's going to work! Ms. Christielli is the nicest person ever and never lies. She won't be able to pretend that you guys taught her how to swaddle a baby."

So not only do I have to prove my swaddling skills, I need to prove my acting/lying skills during this baby shower. Sheesh.

It will be super fun though, and I'm looking forward to it. And even though all the preparations have been tiring, it did give me some time with friends, and that was fun.

Tomorrow will be busy too, as will Sunday. I feel that I have so much on my plate right now. I'm at the point where if you'd like to hang out with me, you do have to make an appointment. I also have to get my marking under more control this weekend, because quite frankly, I might have a panic attack due to it. I think on Sunday night I'll banish myself to a coffee shop for a few hours.

Hope the rest of you all have great weekends!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's only hope that springs eternal, and that's the reason why.

Hello from a rainy fall night in Toronto. It's one of those rains where the drops collect and sparkle on my windows.

I had a busy day. I stayed late at work marking and planning, then went to the gym to run in preparation for Sunday's race. It was dark by the time I was on the bus home, and I have to say that I rather enjoy bus rides on a rainy evening.

Last night Jason and I saw the movie 50/50. It had a lot of good shots of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character riding buses, and tonight's bus ride reminded me of the movie. The movie was quite good, although I was rather unprepared. After a weekend of unseasonably warm and sunny weather, I'd left my jacket and home, and neglected to pack Kleenex in my bag when going to a movie about cancer. As a result, I ended up getting some tears on Jason's jacket, which I had to wear inside the chilly theatre, oops.

I'm obsessively listening to the title track, Hello Sadness, from the forthcoming Los Campesinos! album, out on November 15th. I like it. Now I've heard two songs from the album, and the band is definitely two for two.

Of course, I am still obsessed with the new Feist album. As I listen to it, I can't help but think I could have used this album about a year ago... still, I love that I have it now. I also love this article about Feist in Spin magazine.

I also picked up a bunch of tickets today. Jason and I are going to see Louis CK on Saturday. It's the first time in my life that I've ever seen a comic. I also picked up my Dan Mangan and Matthew Good tickets too. As I did so, I realized that, holy shit, I do see a lot of stuff, eh?

Speaking of seeing stuff, tomorrow night three of my work besties and I are going to see Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross in a Noel Coward play: Private Lives. We're doing dinner first, and it will be a lovely night. I'm feeling thankful yet again for being able to see so much stuff, and for having wonderful people to share it with.

On a completely different note, I can't help but feel like I'm falling behind all the time. The pile of marking is growing at an exponential rate, as is my housework, and other assorted things I have to prepare for. I was going to tackle another set of marking tonight, but I'm feeling like a mug of peppermint tea, a book, and early bed will be a much better call. I'm always ever hopeful that maybe I'll get myself out of bed earlier tomorrow, and get some work done in the morning.

I really do wish that there were a couple extra hours in each day, don't you?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful (in no particular order).

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful that it's a long weekend, and that I got two restful days in Stratford during said weekend. Oh, and the weather's been insane! It's like another taste of summer. It makes me feel that winter will never ever arrive!

Anyway, taking time to reflect on what you're thankful for is important, and I'm going to take this post just to do that. So here's my thanksgiving thankful list (which I really should do every year) in no particular order.

~ I'm thankful for my job. I get to wake up each and every morning and do something that I absolutely love, and something that makes a huge difference in the lives of many. In addition, I get to work with some of my closest friends. Plus, I've taught some pretty awesome students in my years. I need to remember how lucky I am when I start to complain and get sucked into the vortex of negativity. I am thankful that overall my job is awesome.

~I'm thankful for my parents. They haven't had the easiest lives, but they do their best, and they rock for it. My dad cooked up an awesome turkey this year, and it was nice spending some time with them this weekend. Sometimes I get so mad at the universe because of my mom's illness, because I feel like stuff would be so much better if she wasn't sick. But, she's strong, and such a great example, and I'm lucky to have her. And my eccentric bizarre dad. :) Oh, and I'm thankful for my aunt who lives in Stratford, and is an immeasurable support when it comes to all parent-stresses. (Except she can't make my dad less bizarre, that's for sure, ha-ha.)

~I'm so thankful for my friends. They're all spread out over the place, and rather hard to keep track of sometimes, but seriously I have LUCKED out in that area. It's pretty cool to have so many people who care about me, like me for who I am, always want the best for me and have their fingers crossed for me at all times.

~I am thankful that my pal Claire and I have had the good sense to schedule monthly phone-calls. We used to always say "we should chat on the phone!" and then a year would go by. We just chatted yesterday, and it was lovely. She always makes me feel better about the silliness in my life (i.e. chocolate almonds).

~I am thankful for the furry monster who lives with me. She has completely lost her street cat humbleness, and can be especially demanding for her treat at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning, but she's cuddly, good-natured, funny, and cute too.

~I am thankful for the AMAZING music that has come out this fall. I've spend my weekend listening to the new albums by Feist, Ohbijou, and Jack's Mannequin, and they are all great.

~I am thankful for running, and that I haven't given up on it this time. I've started running at least three other times, and gave up when the couch-to-5K program got too hard. (Or more likely, I was running it too fast and tired myself out.) Well, somehow, I got it together, and I'll have run four 5K races this year (after next Sunday). I had a great run today (to work off all the turkey, stuffing, and pie I ate last night), and running does wonders for my state of mind. Oh, and the new Jack's Mannequin is a great running album by the way. I'm thinking maybe next year I'll try a 10 K since I feel that I've gained much more endurance than I used to have.

~Okay, I'm going to get mushy here, but I'm really thankful for Jason. Seriously, I am a lucky girl. He loves music and shows just as much as I do, and it's nice having a built-in concert buddy. I bet he'd even go see Jack's Mannequin with me (I might have to bat my eyes a bit, and ply him with beer, chickpea curry, and cupcakes... but they're not playing Toronto anytime soon, so it's a moot point). But more importantly, he's sweet, caring, funny, supportive, and a really good boyfriend (as Becca T pointed out when she met him). He'd carry my bag for me no matter what, and I don't think he minds hearing me ramble on about how someone calls croissants "cold socks" after I've had a couple glasses of wine.

~I'm thankful for blogging. It gives me an outlet where I can vent, and it's created an archive of my life. More importantly, I've met so many great friends from this little hobby of mine.

~Lastly, I'm thankful for my life. I live in a city that I love, have a permanent and secure job, freedom and opportunity to travel, and I want for nothing. A lot of people in the world would love to have my problems, and that's what I have to remember when I'm letting myself sink into some vortex of negativity. I have a great life, with so many great people in it, and that's what is important.

What are you thankful for this year? (American friends, consider this practice for your later Thanksgiving!)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Insomnia randomness.

Man, that in-store performance by Ohbijou last night was great. Hearing a band with such an immense sound (sweet vocals, violin, upright electric bass, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums) play inside a little tiny indie record store was rather awesome. It felt like hearing a band inside of a house, and was a perfect way to start a long weekend.

I bought their new album "Metal Meets" a couple weeks ago, and have listened a few times, but I look forward to listening to it more while I'm on the train this morning. My favourite song is Niagara Falls. Check it out.

Post-show, we had a lovely dinner on the patio at Kalendar (remember our dinner there Alex and Claire?). We're having really warm weather this fall weekend, and I made the patio call since this probably is our last taste of patio weather. The food and wine were delicious, but our server disappeared, so we decided to go for a walk to a dessert place. It was a good decision, because I had this yummy key lime raspberry tart.

I bought a new orange bag today. I've never found a bag to truly go with my brown winter coat, and I'm pretty sure that this one will really add a splash of colour to my winter ensemble. It'll go well with my back fall coats (but not my red wool in between fall and winter coat). It's super light (made of nylon), and really roomy too. It's my treat to myself for keeping up with healthy eating/exercise goals for the past 1.5 months, and for running four 5K races in 2011 (as of next weekend).

On a related note, my weekend travel bag needs to seriously be replaced. My weekend bag is bubblegum pink with a silver dragonfly on it. When I was heading to Sturgeon Falls, I brought it to school with me since I was leaving from work, and my work spouse laughed at it. She said "It's cute, but it's totally the type of thing that someone would buy in their twenties." And it's true, it *is* the kind of thing that someone would buy in their twenties; I was indeed 25 when I bought it. I should probably invest in something new (it's also falling apart a little bit), but now I feel like I don't want to replace my twenties travel bag... It represents a younger more carefree me in a way.

However, I can't carry my new orange bag with the bubblegum pink travel bag, that's for sure. It'll be too hot this weekend for the orange bag; I must be wearing a coat to carry that sucker.

I will also have to take pictures of these bags some day. The bubblegum pink one is hilarious.

That's a lot of writing about bags just there, at 3:46 am on a Saturday. I do think really deep thoughts sometimes too, I swear. I just like stuff a lot, and often feel so shallow for it. Does anyone else ever feel guilt over their love of shopping and material goods? I often do, because I think "wow, you could be spending your time/energy/money on things much more significant and meaningful."

I challenge myself to a one-month shopping diet. Could I go one month without buying any material goods for myself? It would be worth a try. I should do it. It would be good blog material. I would only be allowed to buy food, necessities, and music, because music is a necessity to me. Although I don't know if there's any albums I'll buy until the new Los Campesinos! on November 15th so it's almost a non-issue.

I think I'll do it. Guess old bubblegum pink won't be replaced soon. :)

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Phew, Ontario's government will stay Liberal. We've kept the blues away for now.

I accidentally wore a blue shirt today. D'oh. I'll wear my red "victory" sweater tomorrow. My local candidate crushed the opposition handily.

Right now we don't know if it's a Liberal majority or a Liberal minority. There are many ridings where it's so close. I don't know if I will know before I go to bed. My parents' ridings is one of the ones that's too close to call. Right now, the PC are ahead by only 70 votes.

I can live with either a red majority or a red minority. If there's one thing that we can all learn from this election is that your one vote really does count.

And, it's almost time for the long weekend! I'm looking forward to it very much. Tomorrow night, Jason and I are going to check out the band Ohbijou who are playing a set at a record store. Then we'll go for dinner in that area.

Saturday morning, I'll head out to Stratford to spend a couple of days with my parents, and to eat turkey. Then, it's back to Toronto for sushi and a movie with my pal Mathew.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

We break with speed, that girl can read my racing thoughts.

Today was an insanely busy, but very nice day at work. I took two groups of students on an environmental science field study at a nearby river. I brought one group there and back, then did the same with the second group.

However, being outside on a sunny day in a pair of jeans that become muddy as the day goes on is a nice change from being inside a classroom. All of the kids were really great too. I love how even the toughest of teenagers will lose his/her swagger when immersed in identifying insects. "Miss! It's one of those sideways swimming bugs you told us about! That's so wicked!" "Miss we found a crayfish! Come quick!"

Here's a picture that I took from our site. The subway goes above the river, and it was nice when I had a few seconds to watch the trains go by.

Anyway, it was a fun day. I look forward to analyzing our data tomorrow and going through pictures in class. I'd also brought some isopropyl alcohol and vials to preserve some of the bugs to show samples to future classes, but I didn't have the heart to preserve any of our fine specimens, so back in the river they went.

After school, I went for a nice run at the gym, then ran some errands. I stopped by to pick up a button for my local Liberal candidate for MPP. He co-founded War Child Canada, so even if I have NDP leanings, I have to vote for this man because he's a very strong candidate. Heck, he's even endorsed by K'Naan.

This upcoming provincial election is very near and dear to my heart. Even though I'm passionate about the environment, health-care, employment, social justice, poverty, and social programs, let's face it: education is my #1 political priority. I believe that providing children with a quality education will inevitably help with all of the issues above.

Of course, since I am an educator, I have a huge vested interest in the system, and in working conditions for teachers. However, good working conditions for teachers are best for students. If you look at countries with the top education systems in the world, teachers come from the top of their graduating classes in university, are respected, and paid fairly.

Ontario has been following this model in the past eight years, and we've made leaps and bounds. Our system is ranked #5 in the world. We've had no labour stoppages during these eight years, unlike during the Harris years. And why do teachers go on strike? It's not about money: it's about issues like prep time and class sizes. Could I teach as effectively as I do now with less preparation time and/or with more students in my class? I certainly could not, and that would be a shame to my students.

This is why this election is so important to me. The current government that we have is not perfect by all means, but it has done a good job overall during the past eight years. It has been campaigning by specifically mentioning its accomplishments, and not with cheap political ads that throw around inane phrases like "taxman" around.

So, Ontarians, please vote on Thursday, and when you do so, don't forget about the damage that was done to our province in the 1990s. Do we want to go back to that?

Anyway, I was planning on doing a separate post about the election, but it all came out here. Now, for a laugh, go to the "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" site, scroll down, and watch the McGuinty attack ad. It's great satire on negative political advertising

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bittersweet Melodies

I enjoyed my Friday night in. Something neat came out of it. I tweeted about the book I was reading, "The Story of Beautiful Girl" by Rachel Simon, and the author tweeted back at me! She told me she's going to be in Toronto at the end of the month to do some readings, and I'm totally going to go. I love how Twitter allows some interaction between you and the artists/authors/musicians/etc. that you love.

On Saturday, I met up with a neighbourhood pal for some shopping and coffee. I got some nice bird earrings, and some stuff at the Body Shop. I also picked up this clock at Indigo since it was Teacher Appreciation weekend so I got 20%. Unsurprisingly, I've had my nerdy eyes on it. It now lives by my desk.

Saturday night was Nuit Blanche. Nuit Blanche is an all-night art event in Toronto where the city is supposedly transformed by installations. Jason and I decided to go for a good sushi dinner, then have a nap, and head out at about 10 pm to hopefully beat some of the crowds.

We followed a plan of attack that was printed in a weekly newspaper. We started at Wychwood Barns Community Gallery which was away from the downtown sites, but supposed to have some stuff. There were a few installations there and some artists had their spaces open, but nothing particularly worthwhile. At least we had to walk through a nice neighourhood to get there.

We headed to Zone A, the north part of downtown, from there. We went to quite a few installations, but found very little that we liked. Too many of them were video installations, which don't particularly lend themselves to photographs. The only video installation that was somewhat remarkable was the upside down Niagara Falls. The only other thing I liked in Zone A was the installation in Bay Street subway station.

Bay Street station has an unused "ghost" station located below the regular station. It's apparently used in the filming of lots of movies. Anyway, the installation turned the ghost station into a TTC slumber party. The station was decorated with lights, and had yoga mats lying around everywhere for you to nap on if you wished. There were trains on either side of the platform that were pitch black, and had sheets hanging over some seats to create forts. It was pretty neat, but too dark to take any photos.

When we got to Zone B, the mid part of downtown, the closed-off portion of Yonge St was insanely busy and not overly pleasant to stroll down. We decided to cab out to the Distillery District which had a few installations, as well as some food trucks for the event. By that time we were both hungry, and got some snacks. I got a maple bacon donut (yummy, but definitely a sometimes food, ha-ha) and we split a grilled cheese sandwich. We went to the Distillery location of Balzac's coffee for hot chocolate.

After feeling better after food and warm drinks, we found the installations in the Distillery District which included a "circus" although it wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped. By this time it was 3 am, so we made the decision to go home as opposed to heading to Zone C. I think we were both cold and tired, and Zone A, where we'd spent most of our time, had been so disappointing that we'd lost our momentum.

I've done Nuit Blanche twice before, and both of these previous times I'd only stayed out for 2-3 hours. Both of those times I saw many more memorable installations as opposed to this year. I think next time I go, I'm going to start in Zone C, since maybe this year that's where all the good stuff was?

We slept in this morning, and after breakfast and some TV, we went out to Soundscapes Records on College St. so that I could buy my copy of Feist's Metals a couple of days early. They were also doing a Willy Wonka contest where tickets to a tiny Feist show next weekend were hidden inside one of the albums in that store. I didn't get the tickets, but I was actually glad since I couldn't really go since I'd already booked my tickets home for Thanksgiving weekend next weekend.

After that we wandered to Sonic Boom records in Kensington Market. I found the coolest thing there: an indie rock colouring book! It has things like a Stars connect-the-dots, a page where you can colour in Hayden's friends, a maze where you can help members of Broken Social Scene get together and make a new record, a page where you can draw the proper hair on the band members of Rilo Kiley and more. How could I not buy that?

After Kensington I headed out to meet up with my friend Elaine to see the movie "The Help" again, so we could see the ending. You might remember that we saw the movie a couple weekends ago, but got evacuated from the theatre due a fire alarm before it ended. The ending was really good, and worth seeing the movie again to see it.

And now it's time for me to crawl into bed with my book and read until it becomes to go to sleep in preparation for Monday. However, the great thing about this week is that it precedes a long weekend. Woot!