Tuesday, September 28, 2010


....okay, enough of my angst and ennui and privileged-white-woman problems. ten positives, listed to myself for posterity:

1. i have a super-awesome boyfriend who's the best combination of lover, friend, confidante and partner in crime. we've been together for almost three years now and i think we're both pretty damn lucky for it.

2. said super-awesome boyfriend and i are about to move in to our second apartment together, and it just happens to be a beautiful downtown highrise. a better situation, i couldn't have even dreamed of. from a moldy west-side basement to an apartment in the sky. love it.

3. my job can be nerve-wracking and frustrating, but the personal high i get when i feel accomplished at it is basically unparalleled. it's a tough slog, but at the end of the day it feels good to be needed and productive and successful.

4. my next two weekends are long ones, with the second one being extra-fantastic in three parts: it's thanksgiving, it's my birthday, and i get to go home and see my family for a few days. these are all most excellent things, and definitely something i'm looking forward to this fall.

5. something else to look forward to in a few weeks: i'm taking my first actual, honest-to-god vacation since may 2009's trip to vancouver. i'm leaving for new york city on october 20th to attend the cmj music festival, and to generally tool around nyc until the 25th. it's going to be a solo trip, because i definitely need to clear my head and reconnect with some things. also, i haven't been to new york city since cmj in 2005, and we all generally know what happened then.

6. my health's pretty decent, once again. also once again, i've decided to take another stab at going off the pill. i was switched to a new one two months ago, but it wasn't solving my delayed-cycle problems, so i think this is my body's way of saying knock it off with the fake hormones already. this time, i'm going to at least give it six months for my body to get back to normal, and i'm going to try my damndest to disregard any pregger paranoia, and how terrible my skin gets when i'm off the pill. oh well. forward!

7. it's officially autumn, and i have a deep, insane love affair with this season. everything about autumn in this city makes me adore toronto even more.

8. my money situation is actually pretty okay, and i have a better handle on it than i've ever had, really. this satisfies me on a level that i cling to as being "i'm not fucking everything up as an adult!"

9. as always, i continue to have a great family system for support. i don't see my parents as much as i wish i did - only on holidays and the odd summer weekend home - but they're always there for me, whether from a distance or not.

10. my life right now may be pretty pedestrian (for now, anyway), but i have a host of some of the wildest, most amazing memories a girl could have. with the background i've got, the things i've done and the life i've led so far, i can take on anything. i always need to keep that in mind.

[ music | white stripes, "fell in love with a girl" ]

Monday, September 27, 2010

on the move

first first! a few shots from the leafs game last friday night (attended with new and old friends):

more available at my tumblr. woo hockey! (unfortunately, leafs lost to the philadelphia flyers 4-3 in a shootout - although phil kessel totally scored in the overtime period, though it was waved off - but seeing a shootout round in person was pretty exciting)

so now, it is the time of crazy busy. check out these shots of our apartment at the moment:

if that didn't tip you off, then yes, we're moving in less than three days. this will be my sixth move independent of my family, and my second move of cohabitation with the boy. (well, technically third, but i don't count the two months when i was living out of a duffel bag in his bedroom.) we're conducting the move ourselves, given that we're both 1) cheapskates, and 2) in decent enough shape to handle it. there's really no other option for us; i've only ever hired a moving company twice - and both times were paid for by my father - and the boy said he's just gotten tired of being rejected by every friend when he asks for their help in moving house. (to be fair, i haven't had the same bad luck -- i once timidly asked the lovely kat to help me move, and she even brought her husband to help!) thus, our only choice from the get-go was to do this ourselves, no matter how many muscles will be sprained and aching friday morning.

really, though, i know it'll be worth it. i think the change of scenery will be good. i feel like i'm headed straight to burnout town right about now, and maybe having a new environment - one with a gorgeous view of the city, to remind me why i'm here and why i'm killing myself daily to stay here - will help.

yeah, things are nutty right now on all levels, packing up all my worldly possessions in boxes and bags notwithstanding. this sort of scares me, because i know that - when i was younger, anyway - my general solution to things getting crazy is to cut and run. but now, there's way too much riding on me not doing that. it's an immature reaction and i know it -- i know better, anyway.

times like these make me miss vancouver, though.

it's not like it was "the simple life" out there for me - which is what i have to keep reminding myself, always - but at the same time...it was monumentally more simple. i was still single, still working at barista jobs (which i reviled at the time, but now i look back and think, "fuck, i don't think i've ever laughed so much at work before" -- and being able to laugh while at work is one of my most valued aspects of a job), still being stupid and nominally irresponsible and trying to figure out what i was doing with my life. i wasn't quite there yet -- "there" being a real adult, i guess. after all, i'd ran away to vancouver to escape the oncoming adulthood. it really was the ultimate cut-and-run move, and i make no excuses or apologies for it. it was what i'd needed three years ago, even if my escape lasted way shorter than i thought it would.

but now, what i was running from is catching up to me. day by day, i feel myself becoming locked into that much-feared adulthood, with the rent and the bills and the long-term relationship and the career. and that's the part that makes me scared and panicky. what if this isn't what i want? what if i can't get back from here? what if this is it?

like i said on twitter - stop the world, i want to get off.

[ music | new order, "bizarre love triangle" ]

Friday, September 24, 2010

take these dreams away

goodbye, summer.

it's sad, really -- as much as i'm utterly in love with fall (nothing makes me swoon for toronto more than this city during september/october), i have a soft spot in my heart - as many torontonians do - for patio weather. maybe it's because we just don't get much of it. maybe it's because to me, nothing says summer more than just lazing around on a patio all day long, with nothing to do but drink your face off with good friends.

vancouver sort of spoiled me for this, i think. not that i had a huge friend network there - more like two or three really close friends - but more that the weather was so crazy non-temperamental. literally, i was astounded the first time someone told me that it almost never snows in vancouver. i mean, i'm a born-and-bred ontario girl. what the hell is winter when it's not a snow-covered wasteland?

and yet i wasn't complaining when i was sitting out on a sunny cafe patio in february in vancouver, while my friends back in toronto were dealing with blizzards on a regular basis.

but anyway, goodbye to you, dear summer. here's to a reasonable, lovely autumn (and the preview we've already seen has been glorious) and to not as much of a gray, soul-crushingly depressing november.

[i have always loved this street sign -- the morning glory vine has actually crawled from the ground right up into the sign pole, so at first glance it just looks like a big mass of free-hanging flowers. (i was actually keen on getting a floral tattoo once upon a time, and a morning glory vine was definitely in the running.
) i'm gonna miss walking past this sight every morning on my way to work.]

otherwise, heart attack of the week has been brought to you by me casually checking my student loan bank account (aka the debt that will outlive me) to see how much money i owe them this month -- and to realize that the amount has doubled. yes, it's that time of year again: the raising of minimum-payment percentage in order to ensure that you pay back your debt no matter what. (it started last year at 1 per cent, so now i guess it's gone up to 2 per cent -- and that's 2 per cent of a whole lotta debt)

[this is what i think of when i think of my bank and my alma mater university combined.]

i mean, okay. i get debt. i know/knew it wasn't "free" money and that i'd have to pay it back eventually. but at the time it was a necessary evil for me, because i needed the means to live in toronto while i was in school. my student loan primarily paid for my living expenses and my schoolbooks - my parents paid my tuition, as insane as that sounds - but even that barely covered it. toronto's an expensive place to live, man.

now, at least, i'm fortunate enough to be working a well-salaried job that actually makes it possible for me to keep up with these debt payments. honestly, if i were still hacking it at coffee-shop jobs now, there would be no way in hell i could pay off any of these minimum payments along with rent, bills, et cetera. i would be buried within three months. so for that reason, i'm especially thankful i landed this job when i did. it isn't always the easiest job in the world, but it keeps me productive as well as affording me the ability to keep the debt-wolves at bay.

i do hate being trapped by money and debt, though. if i allow myself to think too much about it, i get really panicky and anxious, especially if i think about just how long it's going to take me to pay off this debt. one of these days, i'm really going to have to sit down with an accountant or bank employee or whatever and come up with some sort of financial plan, if only for my own peace of mind. i really want this off my plate, fully and completely, so i don't still have this monster looming over my shoulder the entire time. especially if/when i start putting aside savings for an rsp.

oh god, i'm so old.

anyway, enough of this talk. here's two happy pictures from yesterday - boyfriend's birthday cake, fresh out of the oven and then iced with candles (as noted on my tumblr, glittery disney princess candles):

there's not a whole lot of beer in the cake, but i swear you could probably get buzzed from all the baileys in that icing.

the birthday shenanigans went wonderfully, by the way -- the bestowing of gifts (i got him this backpack plus the maple leafs annual, a book about beer and an iggy pop biography) then an amazing dinner at tom jones (fantastic food in the restaurant that time forgot -- really, it was like being in mad men, but with atmospheric prices), followed up by watching the leafs put an epic beatdown on the flyers at a nearby pub. eleven rounds in the shootout! amazing. really capped off a great 40th for the boy.

...and tonight, there will be a leafs game in person for me -- only my second one ever! suffice it to say, i'm just a little stoked over here. just a little.

alright, i have to go get some errands done on my day off, all in preparation for the weekend of purging/packing. move day in t-minus six days now. whew.

[ music | oasis, "live forever" ]

Monday, September 20, 2010

the birthday boy

already posted to tumblr/facebook, but here it is again - my new haircut (random smudges are due to our dirty mirror, not any hair weirdness -- and please do note the awesome uk sisters of mercy tour poster behind me):

yeah, yeah, i know. not so different. god knows i'd love to go back to my favourite hairdo so far, but i almost feel as though i've outgrown short, choppy black-dyed spikes. still, i feel sort of like i could've gone an inch or two shorter this time, if only because i'm still obsessed with short punky hair. it makes me feel like a stupid 22-year-old again.

...says the girl who's turning twenty-fucking-seven in less than a month. sighhhh. it's all downhill to thirty.

yet the boy beats me here, and this is the timeliest of segues: it's his birthday on thursday, the big 4-0. plans so far consist of me taking a half-day so i can bake him a birthday cake (he requested the same as last year, his favourite: guinness chocolate cake with baileys buttercream icing), then to the uber-classy tom jones steakhouse for dinner, followed by hitting up some bar (real sports, maybe?) to watch the leafs take on the flyers in preseason hockey action. good times will be had by all.

[this sexy man is turning 40 in three days. i'm totally still looking for where he keeps his dorian-gray portrait.]

see, my thing as a girlfriend is that i get a total high off of spoiling the guy i'm with. it may be that mothering instinct in me - honed so well on the road with rock bands, where i was the only female presence - but i have such a strong sense of taking care of the one i love. this does not and will not extend to progeny, however -- to me, the idea of actual motherhood is the stuff of my nightmares. never. ever. (and don't even try to tell me "oh, you might change your mind someday" -- it's never been an option for me and i've always felt that way, even as a kid myself)

but i digress. the boy is a huge part of my life - i mean, i should hope so; we've been together for almost three years and have been cohabiting for well over a year - and i really love doing shit for his birthday, even if birthdays are not a huge deal for him whatsoever. doesn't matter -- i still insist on the cake, the card, the presents and the night out together. gives me warm fuzzies inside to make him feel special. (also, y'know, it's his 40th, which feels like one of those landmark birthdays...i suspect he might be amazed he even made it to 40)

this sort of thing both grosses people out and pisses people off, though. they accuse me of being emasculated (or...the female version of it), of not being a righteous feminist, of putting my boyfriend before myself. but these people, honestly? have no fucking clue. they're not me, they're not living my life and my relationship, and they can't say they know how it is because there's only one me. and this relationship, my friends, is something real and honest and it makes me happy.

though, it's funny - it actually surprised some of my longtime acquaintances that i'd finally settled down in a relationship. i guess my rock n' roll idiot persona in my early twenties somewhat cultivated me as a maneater as well; a lot of my friends mentioned that they couldn't even imagine me with a guy, let alone with one for as long as i've been with by now. but this one? this one works. it works, he works, and he is one of the best human beings i know. (case in point: every year on his birthday, his facebook wall is flooded with well-wishes. and he's always surprised and delighted, because he never expects that much attention. awwwwww.)

[still one of my favourite photos of us - it's on my cubicle wall at the office - taken at the tsawwassen ferry terminal in vancouver back in march 2008]

also funny - i remember how i used to smirk at the "domesticated" groupies. i'll never become one of them, i remember vowing to myself. i preferred life without the ol' ball and chain - a way of living that left me free and open to any and all possibilities. sure, i didn't mind the idea of finding the musician who'd be my one and only, but i knew what the odds of that were. (spoiler alert: basically 98% of guys who play in rock bands are egotistical, heartbreaking assholes who'll use you and lose you without a second thought. it's the nature of the person who's attracted to that lifestyle, and i love that it took me so many years to figure that out.) then when it actually happened, i vowed to be the best goddamn rockstar girlfriend i could be, which evolved into being the best girlfriend i could be just by being a good person. it's true, you really do learn from the ones you're with.

anyway, that's enough for now - it's late and i'm rambling (plus the boy is on twitter now, which means there's a good chance he'll see/follow the link to this post and end up reading this). in the meantime, i'm getting psyched up for my shortened week, plus friday -- i'll be seeing a leafs preseason game in person, thanks to a dear friend on twitter. (i'll be going with both her and two of her acquaintances, but absolutely none of us have met in person. potential for awkwardness: high, but there will obviously be alcohol involved as the evening wears on) get ready for a massive photobomb post afterward!

[ music | iggy pop, "the passenger" ]

Saturday, September 18, 2010

indie coffee passport series - part 5

the indie coffee passport is a fun initiative invented to get torontonians out to try the city's independent coffee shops. from september 1st, 2010 to march 31, 2011, $20 gets you a little paper pass that lists off 24 participating coffee shops, and allows you to a free coffee up to $5.

i'm not affiliated with the good people behind this idea, but i figured it'd be a blast to get a passport and try to hit up all 24 cafes in the next seven months. (in the interest of fairness, i will get the same thing at every cafe -- a large drip coffee, with cream but no sugar.) i love coffee - it's been flowing through my veins since i was fifteen - and given that i've been a barista, cafe supervisor and cafe manager across toronto and vancouver over the years, i feel like i'm up to the highly-caffeinated task!

passport stop: the mascot

fall is, most obviously, in the air here in toronto. never mind that the weather network says that it's going to go up to 26C on wednesday - fuck that noise. i want it to stay crisp and just a bit chilly and bright with autumn sunshine. it's this kind of weather that makes me want to hit up coffee shops with friends,
as cliched that sounds. and one of my dear friends that's always up for coffee (even though she's a tea girl) is christine estima.

[today was an "in the shadows" day for chris.]

christine and i have been friends for probably about five years now, the two of us having written for the same music magazine back in the day. chris never failed to amuse and amaze me, given that the girl's 1) a great critic/author/playwrightl; 2) a raging feminist (and this is a great thing); and 3) the person with the most colourful life i know. in the last five years, christine has moved to england, backpacked across europe and the middle east by herself, starred on a uk reality show, appeared in a bunch of films (prince of persia!), blogged for the cbc, and more. she's generally one of those people that make you feel somewhat awed that they want to be friends with boring ol' you. but, such is life, and so christine and i are friends, which i am always happy for.

and what do friends do on an overcast early-autumn saturday? go for coffee to gab and catch up, that's what. and that's what brought us to the mascot this afternoon.

the mascot has taken over the giant space left behind by that sketchy t-shirt shop at the corner of queen west & elm grove, right in the heart of parkdale. i've heard rumblings that having a classy cafe has raised the gentrification alarm among some parkdale folk but, having lived in the area for over a year now, i say bring it on. if parkdale's "charm" consists of smack addicts and drunken toothless rubbies leering at me as i walk down the street, then i won't be sorry to see the neighbourhood improve. thus.

but back to the mascot. it's a huge space that's divided up half between a cafe area and half between an art gallery. the cafe makes perfunctory espresso-based drinks and serves reunion island coffee (plus they made a pretty impressive-looking soy chai latte for chris), as well as selling some cute little sweets like the kind you see above -- which apparently are vegan, according to the sign. non-animal-eaters rejoice!

[no, that's not a nuclear holocaust going on outside.]

the decor is pure vintage hipsterism, which means a lot of random antique decorations scattered about. it all works, somehow; yet the side of the room dedicated to art showcases is conspicuously bare-bones. oh, but yes, that is a ping-pong table to the left there.

for such a big room, though, the mascot feels cramped for seating space. because half of it is a gallery, that leaves only another half for sitting, which means there's approximately two tables and four chairs. and a couch. i think. (there's also a bench outside but you might have to fight a mustachioed dandy or two for it.) christine and i were fortunate enough to snag one of the tables, but due to the lack of people in the cafe area, we quickly learned to keep our voices down to a more conspicuous level so as not to annoy/frighten the quiet hipster boys around us. (also, i noticed a couple people walk in the door, look around for seats, then leave after they saw none available. not so positive.)

standard mug of joe served by a dryly humourous barista who got some laughs and conversation from christine and i. dude was very laid back, which definitely fit with the atmosphere of the place -- a high-paced chain cafe, the mascot ain't. the coffee itself was decent: complex, good mix of flavours right off, though maybe a little lower in temperature than i would have liked (though that might have just been because of all the half-and-half i dumped in). nice aroma on it, too -- reunion island does good stuff. (great sustainability practices, too!) went down fairly quickly, though like i said, that might've been the cooler temp. also, i really needed quick caffeination, and this brew kept me positively jumpy for the next hour and a half. so definitely good if you're looking for a pick-me-up. (remember: it's not espresso that has the most caffeine, but plain ol' medium-blend coffee.)

anyway, christine and i occupied that damn table long enough to probably garner some dirty looks from folks waiting for a spot, but the laid-back vibe of the mascot all but dictated some lazing around -- especially on a saturday. the mascot would be a good choice if you're just stopping in to grab a coffee (and perhaps ogle the cute hipster boys who hang out there -- yes, we saw you, cute boy in plaid sitting by the counter), but a crapshoot if you're looking for a place to sit with friends.

roll on with your improving self, parkdale.

The Mascot
1267 Queen St W

Toronto, ON M6K 1L5
(416) 533-2888

Friday, September 17, 2010

urban wilderness

so, right. you've all seen the wilderness downtown, yes? that's the arcade fire video made using html5, in which you put in the coordinates of your childhood home and google maps mashes it up into the video itself. i actually haven't tried it out, for two simple reasons: one, i don't have google chrome and i'm not willing to download another web browser; and two, google maps has yet to make it out to my childhood home -- because it's a country village far out in the wilds of southern ontario with a population of 49. so.

but what i really wanted to talk about was the area in toronto that i really felt i "grew up" in, and, like so many others, feel like i'm losing: queen and bathurst.

[image via now magazine]

when i first moved to toronto in 2002, one of the first bars i ever visited was the bovine sex club, located right near the crossroads of queen street west and bathurst street. the bovine epitomized everything about that little area -- it was dark, vaguely sketchy and there was shit everywhere, but there was something about it that appealed to me on the most basic level. maybe it was the slight danger factor - it was very much a dirty punk/goth/rock bar at that time, the kind of place polo-shirt wearing 905ers went to feel cool and dangerous - or maybe it was the appeal it held to my post-goth heart, but either way, i felt i had found my home base in my new city.

[not at the bovine, but the nearby reverb, waiting for kill hannah's first canadian show with my friend amanda. seriously, look at the excitement.]

for the years afterward - especially the two years when i was living in the annex, only a short streetcar ride away from q & b - the bovine became my regular haunt and its closest cross-street, queen and bathurst, became my area. i have so many memories of hanging around outside the bovine in my fishnets and stiletto heels, lazily smoking cigarette after cigarette and chatting happily with the bouncers. there were countless evenings spent with my friends sprawled in the booths at shanghai cowgirl, the rock & roll diner next door. there were so many nights spent hanging out in the back room of the bovine until they turned the lights on, ushering our drunken selves out onto the street and to the nearest after-hours (which was either a crummy house down the street that might have actually been a crack den, or the vatikan, an uberdark grungy bar where two of my friends got roofied and i once got threatened by the friend of some musician's jealous girlfriend).

i've stated before that i feel safer at queen & bathurst at 2 a.m. than i do in my hometown of kingston at 2 a.m., and i hold to that. there's something about the lights, and all the people up and wired, and the feeling of this is where i belong that puts me at ease. i have never once felt in danger in that area, which might be foolhardy but is the absolute truth.

[just another concert after-party at the bovine. yes, that's jimmy from mindless self indulgence next to me.]

but, the years went by. i moved to the east end of the city, and once it took me 40-45 minutes to get to queen & bathurst and back (and this was by public transit!), i started to make fewer and fewer saturday-night pilgrimages to the 'hood of my more wayward days. then, before i knew it, i had migrated out of toronto and off to vancouver for that eight-month stint on the west coast (though i did make sure i came back to the bovine when i traveled home to toronto that christmas). and ever since i've moved back to toronto for good, i just...haven't found the urge to go back. it's like a part of me has grown up and moved on from queen & bathurst, which is a sad thing but a thing i can't really deny.

nor can i really deny that the big g - gentrification - is finally taking over that lovably sketchy part of town. now, in 2010, the big bop is gone. the queenshead is now a tim horton's. that sketchy afterhours that i used to hang out at is now a normal apartment over a tapas bar. the pita pit has closed down, as has mr. pong. there's a starbucks on the northeast corner, and a smoke's poutinerie a few doors down (the former a sure sign of gentrification, the latter more or less a smart marketing move towards the drunken last-call crowds). and of course, there was a giant hole left behind by the big queen west fire in winter '08 (i was living in vancouver at the time and spent whatever time i could watching the news coverage on cbc, feeling like my heart had dropped into my stomach), which is now swiftly being filled in with a condo.

it's different being there, too. these days, i barely ever venture to queen & bathurst after dark (though i still run errands in/through the area, including today's jaunt to my hairstylist at the nearby queen & portland, which inspired this post), just because i have no reason to be there. my time as a bovine girl seems to be done. (my boyfriend is a former bovine regular as well, oddly enough -- or maybe not so oddly) every time i'm at that bar, i feel weirdly out of place, like a relic or a ghost. or maybe it's the ghost of my former self i keep seeing, and that's why i stay away. i don't want to be reminded of who i was, both the good things and the bad.

so i've changed, obviously, but my old stomping ground has changed as well, and is still changing to the point where myself and many of my friends from those days are all worried and saddened. it's true that time keeps marching forward and nothing lasts forever, but as the neighbourhood grows old, we're growing old with it. and maybe this is the first time any of us - we're all twentysomethings, children born in early to mid 80's - have had to face the notion of watching our former playgrounds change with the urban shift.

but still -- what right do i really have to raise a great hue and cry about the loss of my favourite area when i barely go there anymore? how do you justify mourning what you've lost when you didn't do much of a damn thing to save it?

[image via urban toronto]

nevertheless, this will always be my true neighbourhood home in toronto. even if you can never really go home again.

[ music | ladytron, "seventeen" ]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the view from up here

[my desk at work. note the giant #1 foam finger.]

hey all. apologies for the dearth of content on here (aside from my ongoing series of super-caffeination, but i feel like not everybody's into that, so whatevs) -- again, as always, my excuse is that real life's getting in the way. god damn it, real life, stop interfering with my digital life! :P

anyway, things are ramping up in just about every area of my little world right now: workload's basically exploded (no seriously, i think i can hear my inbox groaning under its own weight), which is more or less keeping me on edge 24/7. the boy and i have got the apartment, but now we need to sort out packing time, what goes/what stays, and so on. i'm trying to get things organized for my vacation in october. i'm doing my best to keep up with all my social media properties. i'm cognizant of the fact that hockey season starts soon, in which i will begin to schedule all my after-work activities around the leafs' schedule. i'm constantly trying to make enough time for my friends, my boyfriend and myself without falling short.

yeah, mania here.

the funny part, though, is that once i get over the craziness and the stress and the headaches and the feeling of being pulled in every direction at once...i get this real calm feeling of satisfaction, like the relief after an adrenaline head rush. i really get this sense of being useful, of being productive in my life and being of value to other people. this is the feeling that i really missed when i was unemployed. it's that sense of self-satisfaction, of knowing that you're damn good at what you do. and that's definitely worth something to me - something to remember on the days when i just want to toss everything to the wind and run.

[awesome shot from the best fake brainstorm meeting ever.]

here's the other thing i've recently learned from working in the adult world: shut up and don't complain.

this definitely is not directed towards anyone in particular (i think many of us have done this), but seriously - there's always someone with more unread emails than you. there's always someone who has less time than you. there's always someone with more meetings to attend than you. there's always someone who has less of a social life than you. and you know what? there's a good chance that this person isn't complaining about their workload.

therefore, the conclusion: be nice. be nice, and learn from the example of those who take what they get and rock it. the real adult working world is no place for those who whine for sympathy, however covertly. (and i've been as guilty of this as anybody, for sure.)

on another totally unrelated note, i've got something pretty to show off -- snaps from the apartment we'll be looking after! (apologies for the quality, i forgot my bigass camera at home) almost all of the furniture will be left behind, so this is more or less what it'll look like...

[balcony view facing southwest]

[balcony view facing south]

[balcony view facing southeast]

[dining-room area]

[dining-room area view from the kitchen]


[living-room area]

[bedroom + bedroom balcony]

[balcony night view - southeast]

[balcony night view - south]

[balcony night view - southeast]

[definitely not the apartment, but the bathroom stall of the place we ended up drunk and toasting our good luck much later on in the night - good ol' sneaky dee's for their king's crown nachos & pitcher special]

suffice it to say, it's gonna be a long fourteen more days.

okay, it's work time. be good.

[ music | kate bush, "hounds of love" ]

Monday, September 13, 2010

indie coffee passport series - part 4

the indie coffee passport is a fun initiative invented to get torontonians out to try the city's independent coffee shops. from september 1st, 2010 to march 31, 2011, $20 gets you a little paper pass that lists off 24 participating coffee shops, and allows you to a free coffee up to $5.

i'm not affiliated with the good people behind this idea, but i figured it'd be a blast to get a passport and try to hit up all 24 cafes in the next seven months. (in the interest of fairness, i will get the same thing at every cafe -- a large drip coffee, with cream but no sugar.) i love coffee - it's been flowing through my veins since i was fifteen - and given that i've been a barista, cafe supervisor and cafe manager across toronto and vancouver over the years, i feel like i'm up to the highly-caffeinated task!

passport stop: crafted by te aro

"working on a saturday": four words to strike fear in the hearts of salaried monday-to-friday cubicle dwellers everywhere.

such was the situation i found myself in last weekend. not going into much detail because i'm reticent to give any details to my job (aside from the fact that i'm a copy editor), so i'll just say that i had to do my first serious saturday work since i left the joe-job world two years ago. it was kind of a bummer, sure, especially since it had been a crazy hard week of work already...but it had to be done and it was a team effort, so i didn't mind doing my part to help.

so, to get into the mood, i figured i ought to pack up the laptop and haul it over to a nearby coffee shop for some extra get-down-to-business atmosphere. also, caffeine was much needed on this particular saturday. (also, vodka. but it was still early afternoon.) besides which, i also figured i had better knock off all the west-end area coffee shops while i can -- only two more weeks before i pack 'er up and move downtown.

crafted is the newest coffee shop to appear on the ossington strip, being an offshoot of te aro roasted, which is located in the east end at logan and queen. i firmly support te aro, despite having never been there, because they're part of the gentrification happening at logan and queen, which i am all for. i used to live/work there, and it really wasn't the most pleasant place to be. (for example, i was working just up the street when the cops raided the nearby hell's angels clubhouse back in 2007. hurrah.)

[this sight makes me realize that i'll miss this neighbourhood when i go. sighhhh.]

crafted's got a prime location for people-watching, and the front room's nice n' sunny. one caviat is the inside space, though; there isn't a whole lot of room aside from that front area (the few window seats must be prized), although there's a nice little back room - which sadly needs more tables; a nearby couple immediately snatched mine the minute i got up to leave - that leads out into a very cute patio. so if all seats are taken and it's not raining, head for the outdoors, my friends.

[decaf more popular than regular blend?! say it ain't so!]

naturally, crafted both stocks and brews beans by te aro roasted, which roasts their beans using something called
a "sivetz hot air fluidized roaster." apparently this method uses hot air to remove the chaff from the coffee bean, which means no overly-roasted smoky flavour (or that "burned" taste that so many people hate about artisanal coffee). either way, i was game to try their on-hand brew. the friendly barista commented on the amount of initials i'd attained so far, and i sheepishly explained that i was blogging about it, which is one of those douchey things i'd hoped never to say in my lifetime. oh well.

[coffee aside, i actually have a weakness for a really good london fog -- a bombay fog or egyptian sandstorm even more so, although i generally have to explain those ones to baristas and end up making myself look like a dick.]

however, this was probably the first time i sort of regretted my decision to stick with the same plain order for every cafe i hit up on my passport tour -- because seriously, look at the choices! probably the most selection of any cafe i'd visited thus far.
blog to does a great job listing off all the different, wacky coffee drinks you can get here, though you can note from the signage something called a "flat white", "cold extracted" coffee, and "dark and stormy" which seems to be a mix of espresso, sugar and ginger ale. uh, not sure that's for me, thanks. (sounds a little too close to a pearl necklace - which includes mixing coca-cola and milk as well as booze - which i was forced to drink once and was nauseous for the rest of the night.

and so today it was all about the glorious, glorious coffee (as i sat at the one table in the back room and pounded away on my laptop, just like all those self-important losers you see around town):

[large coffee + water = happiness.]

ahhhh - nice, hot, frothy cup of coffee. sure enough, there was no burnt or bitter taste to this brew, and balanced out between sips of water (which had a nice citrus-y taste due to the slices of orange in the pitcher -- also, props to any cafes that offer free pitchers of water), it went down easy. again, this is another safe blend for people who prefer a smoother taste with complexity more in the aftertaste rather than the initial sip. i suppose if you want to live dangerously, you get the dark and stormy.

[latte art - for real.]

sum total: nice little neighbourhood hangout, prime place for the hipsters who've exhausted themselves at i deal coffee up the street, and probably a better use of the space than the raw vegan restaurant that was there before. i might just be back when i'm on the clock next saturday as well.

Crafted by Te Aro

135 Ossington Avenue

Toronto, ON M6J 2Z6

Sunday, September 12, 2010

autumn flashbacks

one year ago, i was talking about the recent screening of the vampire rock musical that my boyfriend was in (which has since been released, being stoked that steve had a blog again (he now has another blog, again), and pondering the necessity of my new glasses (which i've barely worn since).

two years ago, though overexcited for the upcoming sisters of mercy show, i was getting my melancholy on for my lost time in vancouver.

three years ago, i recounted probably one of the most epic stories of my life ever typed up in one of my blogs. it involved a boy, new york city, and equal parts of lust and delusion, but that was fine.

four years ago, i was still exploding with joy over the event that i recently recounted, plus i was sick, working my ass off, and writing a recommendation for the tenure of one of my favourite university professors. i wonder if he ever got it...

five years ago, i was moaning about how school had just started and i was already sick of it (though apparently i had lots of hot classmates), and admitting my shameful love for train's "drops of jupiter". i know, i'm sorry.

[ music | the cure, "a night like this" ]

Saturday, September 11, 2010

quick hits

[leather on and horns up at the fubar II afterparty - taken by hot bloggin' lady christine, who's providing tiff coverage for cbc.ca]

apartment hunt 2010:

it took only nine days, but the boy and i found an apartment for october first -- and what an friggin' apartment it is.

we're looking after his friend's condo in yorkville for the next six months to a year while she works out of town.

yes. condo in yorkville. i'm still not really over that. (for those non-torontonians reading this blog, yorkville is the uber-swank, rich neighbourhood of downtown toronto. this is compared to our current neighbourhood: parkdale, also known as "crackdale", mostly frequented by drug addicts, rubbies, and the dregs of society. i don't mind it - and the boy loves its "character" - but i've gotten awfully tired of not being able to walk by myself in parkdale without getting leered at or having dirty comments cat-called my way)

anyway, it's on the 23rd floor(!!) of a building literally around the corner from my office (no really, i can see the apartment from my office), and is a small but cute one-bedroom with a balcony outside both the living room and the bedroom (double the jumping opportunities, ha ha). and because it's right in the middle of downtown toronto, the view is absolutely mindblowing. i didn't get a chance to see it at nighttime, but i bet you ten bucks that i will cry the first time i see all the city lights from that apartment way up high.

[photo via fuckyeahstreetlights, submitted by rioz-underground.tumblr.com - but this is more or less the view from the apartment balcony.]

however, there was also the apartment we looked at before this condo: an absolutely cute little one-bedroom on the top floor of a house owned by a super-cool chick in brockton village (that area on dundas between dufferin and lansdowne). it was definitely our home base, and the apartment was definitely a want, and so we put our names on the list. landlady said she'd give us a call that night (wednesday) if we got it, but if she didn't call us, well, that was that.

so we waited that night...and waited, and waited. no phone call. dejected, we gave up hope for that lovely little place and instead turned our focus to thursday's viewing of the yorkville condo, which went as described earlier (ie. fucking awesomely).

then, of course, murphy's law kicked in: i got a call on my cell friday afternoon. it's the landlady, wanting to know if we were still interested in her apartment. arrrrrrgh.

then, murphy's law kicked in part 2: my boyfriend got an email back from our current landlord - two weeks later - answering our question about taking over the upstairs apartment here with a "it's definitely possible, let's discuss it further." arrrrrrrrrgh x 2.

...still! even with these head-slapping moments, i'm convinced we got the best deal out of all of them. dean's friend is so glad we're doing this - she didn't want to get a stranger to look after the place while she's away working in miami - plus she's leaving basically all her furniture for us, since it'll be saving her money on storage space. so there's no way we could've gone back on the deal -- nor would we have, really. i have my heart too set on that 23rd-floor view, now.

(oh, and the other fun part: because i won't have the daily exercise of walking an hour to and from my office every day - it'll be more like walking one or two minutes - and also because i hate elevators, i've vowed to take the stairs at our new place. yes, 23 flights of stairs. i may be slightly insane, but i'm going to have a damn good ass.)

so we've got about two weeks until the fun begins: packing 'er up and moving 'er out. ugh, least favourite part of the moving process ever. but necessary. (anybody want to help? i love you, and will give you free alcohol)

october vacation times:

because of all the fees involved with moving house, i'm canceling the chicago portion of my october vacation and just keeping it to new york city.

i'll be in nyc from october 21-25, then truckin' on home. i feel like four days will be long enough, both on my endurance and my bank account. i'm not going to lie -- i love chicago and i really wanted to go, but besides the financial savings, i...wasn't super hot on the idea of flying from nyc to chitown. if you know me, you know how much i loathe air travel with a fiery passion (literally, i fall slightly short of having panic attacks), and i have yet to get any prescriptions for percocet or xanax or anything. so it just started to seem like another crazy expense, and i figured i'd just leave it as one city for my trip.

but, you know, it'll be a trip for sure -- got my hostel booked, gonna do some really cheesy tourist-y things, going to see times square, will be taking in as much of the cmj music festival as possible...whew. it'll be a nice post-birthday gift to myself. (...and then, since i've already booked til the 29th off work, i guess i'll have the rest of the week to sit around the condo and stare at the skyline. heh.)

speaking of new york city...

it's quite obviously 9/11 today. nine years on and i don't think any of us could forget. here's hoping for a peaceful rest for the victims, and peace in general for their families left behind.

[ music | kasabian, "empire" ]