Friday, July 30, 2010


Well, I've finally started packing in earnest, It helps that some major pieces of furniture are gone, like all five of my bookcases. So now the books are going into boxes. Next, unused clothing and desk supplies will go into boxes. Next ... I dunno. Packing is so overwhelming. You get halfway through and you think, "Oh, that's not so bad. I'm sure I'll be able to fit everything in the car after all." Then you actually finish and survey the 17,379 boxes that take up four rooms, holding things that used to only take up two and a half rooms, and you find modern-day proof for the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

My problem is that, because I'm a worrier, I always start things too early. I've discovered that getting an early start on things, in fact, does not make me any more efficient about getting it done, or make me worry about it less, or help me to just get it out of the way, etc. It just make me feel like I'm getting something done. So then when I'm worried about it, I can console myself with, "Well, at least you've made a dent in it." I'm addicted to feeling productive.


I was out and about very early this morning, thanks to an unplanned trip to the blood lab followed by a trip to the library. This involved me walking from my street, through the northern edge of McGill campus, down University to Sherbrooke, then along Sherbrooke into Westmount. The air was wonderful. It was only about 18 degrees Celsius, tshirt and jeans weather, and the air was cool and clean, and the sunlight sharp, my favorite kind of sunlight. It was, by all accounts, a perfect day for early fall.

For whatever reason, it reminded me so much of when I first moved here, that first couple of months when everything about Montreal and McGill was new and exciting. This feeling was magnified by the fact that I was walking through all the places that I used to frequent in first year. I hung out at the music building a lot, I explored the upper reaches of Penfield and Pine, I wandered along the edge of the Ghetto, thinking it very exotic, I sang at a church in Westmount near Greene and my best friend lived in a condo bordering the park. I was in a half-daze all day, slipping into daydreaming and remembrances without wanting to or realizing it. I remembered details about rez and people and things I used to do, stuff that I hadn't thought about in six years. I probably missed about three-quarters of my day because I was living in the past.

I'm still kind of daydreaming. It's still a beautiful fall day.

Little about the city has changed in these last six years. But the person I was then almost doesn't exist anymore. In many ways that's a good thing, but it sure made for one heck of a discombobulated trip down memory lane.

Where will I be six years from now? Three years? Next year?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Panda Belly

This evening, I had what amounted to a minorly horrific incident involving guy sweat, my own sweat, and public transportation.

I had my usual 3 hour practice tonight, working extra hard because my poor sad little body could not comprehend working out after having had such a relaxing 10 days off doing nothing. When you spend three hours not only getting yourself really sweaty, but also rolling around in very close personal contact with various other people who are equally as sweaty as you, you end up smelling like something Osama bin Laden has not yet thought up as a weapon of mass destruction for the NYC subway system. Post-judo showers are what heaven is made of.

By the time I got out of the shower, the other girls had left. I started to get dressed, reveling in the awesome feel and smell of nice clean clothes once again gracing my body. Then I realized, to my horror, that I had forgotten my nice clean tshirt on my bed at home.

I paused, I swore, and then I panicked. It seemed that I had few options. I could put on my smelly sweaty wet tshirt from practice and wear that home, but I thought I might get arrested and thrown in the drunk tank with all the other smelly homeless people. I could wrap my damp towel around myself and pretend like it was normal, but I figured I would probably end up the same way a scenario A, or possibly with getting solicited on the streetcorner. Option C was simply to walk home wearing my jeans and clean sports bra. After all, I figured, I would be wearing more clothing than at least 30% of the women I would be walking past during my retardedly long late-night public transportation excursion. This is Montreal, after all.

I had pretty much decided on Option C, despite the extreme immodesty of such a getup. I went to the mirror to check it out one last time, and then I stopped short. I glanced again. And then I realized I would just have to wear my haz-mat tshirt home on the metro.

Standing there in my sports bra, with my oh-so-tanned arms and chest and my hasn't-seen-the-sun-since-I-hit-puberty belly, I realized, to my horror, that I greatly resembled a panda.

That's right, dear readers, I looked like this. But not nearly so cute, furry, or endangered.

I slipped on my wet, smelly tshirt, apologizing in my head the whole way home to any human being who passed within ten feet of me, and I meditated strongly on how comparing oneself to one's favorite childhood stuffed animal, especially inadvertently and unexpectedly, can be so, so different from loving the animal itself.

I have a panda belly. And that is why I was able to get home retaining my modesty (though not necessarily my dignity) this evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Body Beat Me

For the first time in my life, I left a judo practice before the end, and not because of an injury.

In fact, I can remember only one other time in my whole life that I willingly backed down from a physical challenge. I had signed up for a ballet class at the McGill Gym, which was advertised as "all levels, beginners welcome" and which insisted that "even if you the last time you danced was back when you were five years old, you'll be fine" (those were the teacher's exact words). But it was lying! I went to the first class, full of girls and guys in tights and proper shoes who had obviously been dancing their entire lives. The six of us in a class of 40 who clearly were not in that category all grouped together at the same barre in the back, all crowded together and trembling, while all the experienced dancers grouped four to a barre and followed the teachers commands (that did not include explanations) without batting an eye. We six in the back were simply lucky to be able to figure out what she was doing before she changed commands, never mind having a prayer of keeping up.

The kicker, though, was when she had us all head down to one end of the studio, and proceeded to call out while demonstrating once through an eighty-count choreography across the floor, to be performed in groups of 3 and 4 in front of everyone else so she could see where we were at in our dancing skills.

I watched the first group, one of the Front Barre dancers and including a dude wearing black tights who stood over 6 feet tall and weighed probably 135 pounds, as they sailed effortlessly across the floor, not missing a move. I promptly sat down, removed my Irish dancing shoes, and went downstairs to unregister.

Guuuh. Dancing is something I enjoy, but not something I'm naturally good at. Except maybe salsa and waltzing, but only when I have a good lead. I busted my ass in show choir to make it to front and center, and it took me four years to do so. My partner was a freshman. Guuuuhhh.

So today I showed up early to practice, but I guess my kata partner forgot that I was going to be back this week, because she wasn't there. Hopefully she remembers to show up tomorrow. But it was a good thing anyway, because there was some sort of training camp going on and there would have been no space for us to practice.

Good grief, I so miss going to training camps. There's no way I'd be able to keep up with it now, though. I have to be realistic about how hard I push myself.

So I stretched a bit and watched, and a few rounds into matwork Sensei asked me if I wanted to work out with some of the girls. Now, I just got back from a vacation during which I hardly slept, I ate a bunch of crap, I didn't work out, and I drove everywhere. But I was feeling pretty energized, so I said sure. I went two four-minute rounds in a row with two brown belts, one of whom was about the size of the girl I fought at the last competition. And I did really well, which was both surprising and relieving. When I was younger, I was excellent at matwork. I dominated. But since I've been back this year, I just haven't gotten my groove back. My brain hasn't gotten back into the game. But this morning, I was spot on and dominating both rounds. Then I took a round off, and finished with a boy from my little brother's club in PEI. He's a wrestler and a lot stronger, never mind that guys fight differently from girls, and I was pooped at that point anyway. He dominated.

Then the 11am class started, which is what I had come for in the first place. I tried the warmups, and had to keep dropping out because I was so tired and getting dizzy. It was pretty embarrassing, actually. Then I paired up with my buddy Michel for uchikomi (fit-ins for throws), and again, I kept having to stop because I was getting dizzy. But I've gotten dizzy before, no problem, just keep going until it goes away. But it was getting worse, not better. Even Sensei asked if I was alright, since, as he said, "You're all white like a ghost!" Considering the vicious shade of red my face always turns when I'm undertaking any sort of physical exertion, that made me a little nervous. After a few more rounds of uchikomis, thirty-five minutes into the class, I told Michel I needed to go home. If I can only get through three or four fit ins and throws before having to stop, I should probably get off the mat before I get hurt or hurt someone else.

I was embarrassed. I downed a nice cold gatorade on the way home and felt a lot better by the time I had gotten through the shower and cooled down a bit.

I hate not being able to make my body do what I want it to do, and it's been happening more and more lately, in seemingly little and insignificant ways. More on that in a later post. Tomorrow, I have a double-header practice in the evening. I'm going to load up on gatorade beforehand, and conquer. I gotta get my dignity back, yo!

I gotta beat this body back into submission.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Little Too Much Excitement

Hoo boy. Hoo boy hoo boy hoo boy. Tornado. Hoooooo boy.

I spent the last ten days in Iowa and had a fantastic time. The stories will surely be trickling out over the next few days. But by far the most exciting event was the tornado on Friday night.

Now, I have to preface this by saying that I was raised on the east coast, and when I was a child I was absolutely terrified of tornadoes. My mom reassured me that it was impossible for tornadoes to strike where it was so hilly. That gave me some comfort.

Logically, I also knew that where I was staying in Indianola, Iowa, was also probably too hilly for tornadoes, and there were too many houses to allow for one to strike ground. I didn't worry about it. How often do tornadoes happen, anyway? It's not like Twister is a documentary.

I was in bed early on Friday night, reading and listening to a crazy-ass thunderstorm that was going on outside. It was not the first crazy-ass thunderstorm we'd had that week, so I didn't really think much of it. It was getting pretty wild though, and in my sleepy state I started envisioning trees crashing into the house and other such excitement. Then I heard this most unearthly wailing, which I could not for the life of me identify. I was just starting to recall something that Kathy had mentioned about tornado sirens in the town that would go off if there was danger, when I hear Kathy yell from the next room, "Kathryn! We've got to go to the basement!"

Tornado sirens. Good grief. We went to the basement, and I was managing to keep all my panicking internal, mainly because Kathy didn't seem very concerned. We curled up on the couch with the dog and some blankets, and flipped on the TV to see what was happening. They had the Doppler on the weather channel showing the storm right over us, but we weren't too concerned. Then they had reports of a tornado touching down outside Indianola. The weather guy kept clicking and zooming in, and Kathy said "Whoa, that's right near us." Then I started getting very nervous. Then the weather camera at Simpson College, a little ways up the street, kicked on. It was basically pointed down our street, and the funnel was in full view, and getting closer. We realized from the landmarks visible in the camera that we were in between the camera and the funnel, and closer to the funnel than the camera. (Check out the picture of what we were watching in TV here.) The weather man clicked back to the Doppler over the street map of Indianola, and Chris yelled, "Holy shit, that thing's right on top of us!"

Even Kathy was nervous now. While I had spent the previous several minutes looking around in vain for something attached to the ground to hold onto when the tornado inevitably took our entire house away (remember, Twister was my main tornado education), she was taking it in stride. So when she looked at me and said, "We need to get into a corner," I nearly died. We grabbed the dog and shifted position to under the steel support beam that runs along the length of the house, and watched the tornado on the weather camera start kicking up debris as it moved from a field to a subdivision just down the street. Kathy just couched there and whispered, "They say it sounds just like a train coming through." Chris opened a couple of windows in case it got close enough for the air pressure to blow them out. I didn't want to hear any trains.

We watched the funnel on TV, and then watched it go back up into the cloud. After a few minutes, the sirens shut off, and we went upstairs to watch for more warnings on the TV up there. I was mainly just fascinated with the sky at this point. I have never seen so much lightning so close. It was all around, in all directions, and going at at sometimes multiple flashes a second. The thunder just kept coming in waves. But this was the worst: the sky was green.

Green, green, green. I have never seen a green sky like that.

Now I know what my friend's roommate was talking about when she said the weekend before that she was wondering if we were going to have a tornado, because the sky was green. It was still pretty light out, and the light was the color of filtering through layers upon layers of bright green leaves in a forest, but brighter and hazier.

I stood at the back door and watched the lightning and the green sky. Because as much as I was scared of tornadoes as a kid, I was even more fascinated by lightning. I will take any opportunity to watch it. The best is in my current apartment, with my 19th-floor balcony overlooking Montreal's South Shore, where I can watch all kinds of storms developing from a safe distance.

I eventually headed back to bed, once the tornado threat was passed. Didn't sleep though. Not with all the adrenaline from being scared and the racket from the storm going on outside. The thunder was going all night long.

I rethought my growing decision to move to Iowa next year, something that has been years in coming, and the reason I headed down there this summer.

It only lasted a few minutes though. Then Kathy let me drive the truck the next day. And I decided that Iowa was the place for me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On Vacation

On The Watch is On Vacation! I'm in Iowa for the next week visiting some long-lost friends. Therefore, posting here will be less frequent, if at all. But I promise to continue again once I'm back in Montreal, where I have nothing better to do with my life than update my blog and eat ice cream sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Evening Hilarity

Hmm, this is so much fun, maybe I should regularly post ridiculous poetry every Tuesday! Would that brighten your day? Or would it make you want to swallow a pack of ball-point pens, since that is more fun than reading my poetry every Tuesday?

Whatever your feelings, you're not escaping this week's installation of Bad Spammer Robot Word-Pairing Haikus.

"Nuisance Excuses"

I taught eighth graders.
They were pros at giving me
Nuisance excuses.

"Fountain Mayflower"

See the old ship there
By the fountain? Mayflower
the Third is its name.

"Thomson That"

I don't know the man
Whose name is on Thomson House,
But they sell cheap beer.

"Bickle No"

Who is the guy called
Sargeant Bickle? No way to
know why I know him.

And one from yours truly:

My wallet left me
Like a lover scorned, for an
unknown jerkface thief.

Seriously though: Sargeant Bickle? Why do I know that name?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Thoughts

To make up for yesterday's rather depressing (or at least super-aggravating) content, please accept some happy photos to make you feel better. I just know you were crying your eyes out of my pathetic stolen wallet story. I re-read it, and cried too. Then I had an ice cream sandwich and some peach schnapps. Now it's better.

For those of you who wish you were a kid again, here is Theodore the Tugboat. In real life. Yes, I mean it.

If you wish you weren't stuck in the city right now, here's a beach at sunset.

For those cursing the heat, here is a snow-covered driveway, c. mid-February.

And finally, just to make you a little jealous, this is what I had for lunch the other day:

Yes, I know it looks like brains. But it's actually a seasoned, pan-fried steak with sauteed onions and mushrooms. And an ice-cold can of Coke Zero to boot. Yummmmmmmm. =)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Stolen Wallet Saga

I have had a rather exciting weekend, though not in the way I would have wished.

On Friday after some people came to buy my poor little purple ugly desk, I headed out to the library. This is the far away one that I had been meaning to get to all week because I had one book to take out so that I could get some work done this weekend. I motivated myself by looking forward to the lovely air conditioning. That motivating factor was dulled, though, when we experienced torrential downpours the entire bus ride there.

I got to the library, did some printing on the second floor, then proceeded to the third floor to get some work done. I set up my stuff, found the book I needed, organized my things, and made a quick trip to the bathroom. After about a half-hour of not getting very much done, and noticing a break in the rain, I figured I should just check out my book and go home before it started pouring again.

I packed up my stuff and realized that my wallet was not in its usual pocket, where I was sure I had put it (and zipped it closed) just 40 minutes before. I headed downstairs to the checkout counter, retracing all the places I had been on the off chance that I had forgotten my wallet at one of the computers or photocopy machines. I asked the security guy if anyone had turned in a tan Roots wallet, and when he said no, I headed back upstairs to check again.

As I was doubling back, Visa called to ask about some potentially fraudulent charges on my card. That's when I knew it had been stolen. Then I started to freak out.

Someone must have been watching me downstairs, saw me put away my wallet, then followed me upstairs and watched me head into the bathroom (where I spent absolutely no longer than 2 minutes) before unzipping my bag and taking my wallet out. By the time Visa caught them, they had charged $11 (four metro tickets) (sorry, but wtf?!) on my card at Vendome, then headed to Lionel-Groulx to try it again, which is when Visa shut off the card and called me.

Luckily, they only managed to charge that $11, and they got the $40 from my desk sale that was in there. But all of my IDs were in there too: Medicare, driver's license, bus pass, student ID, everything. There are no cameras anywhere on the library premises (again, please: wtf?!) so I don't know who the people were. I went to the metro station to try to check those cameras, to perhaps be able to see them have my card rejected at the ticket machine, and then perhaps throw the wallet in the trash. But only the police department has access to metro cameras, and they won't check unless Visa launches a fraud investigation. Those trashes are emptied a couple times a day, so if my wallet was in there it is no longer. I checked all the ones I could myself.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not much more than a major inconvenience. I'm travelling on Thursday, so I need to spend the next couple of already busy days running around and getting replacements and temporaries for all of my IDs. But the thieves didn't take my computer, I wasn't mugged, it wasn't my passport or something like that, and everything in the wallet, pretty much, is replaceable. But it was really scary being caught unawares like that and having to deal with it alone. I had no one to call to help me or advise me what to do or even to calm me down, and I couldn't even get a hold of anyone for a ride home (the security lady took pity on me when I was on the verge of tears, realizing that with no money and no metro pass, I was stuck very far away from where I live with no way to get back. She gave me the $2.75 so I could get home).

But this is part of growing up, I guess. I wanted to cry, I wanted to freak out, I wanted to sit down and have someone else take care of it, and I wanted someone to tell me it would be okay. But I'm alone here. I couldn't do any of that because I needed to take care of calling the police and the various companies to get this taken care of before they closed for the weekend. (Waiting for 25 minutes on hold with the credit union and then having my call rejected because it was now 4:30 and they were now closed for the weekend was particularly special, let me tell you.) And when I had done what I could considering the day and time, and had started to head home, I was proud of myself, in a way, that I was able to handle that so well. I didn't cry, I spoke to all the right people, I remembered everything that was in the wallet so that I could get everything replaced, and I made a day-by-day list of what I had to do in order to get everything settled as soon as possible. Of course once I got home I pouted a bunch and growled some and ate an ice cream sandwich and called my mom so she could commiserate with me, but at least I waited until I was home and had done all the important stuff. Tomorrow I have to spend all day running around and waiting in lines and paying replacement fees. This is right up there with "run ten kilometers in the sun" and "contract E. coli again and spend a week being violently ill" in the list of things I want to do on a hot Monday in July, when I should otherwise be getting my research done. *sigh*

Oh, and since my ID was stolen and the circulation desk closes at 1pm on Fridays, I couldn't even take out that damn book that was the whole reason I had gone to the library in the first place. Bah humbug.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I said goodbye to my beloved desk at noon, and headed out to the library. Sometime in the 40 minutes that I was there, in the 2 minutes that I had gotten up to get a book, someone stole my wallet out of the zipped pocket of my backpack. I had money for the desk for less than 2 1/2 hours. And I miss my desk, on top of that.

Cleaning Up, Cleaning Out

This summer I'm going through the process of selling my furniture. "Oh, selling furniture," you say, "How nice." No indeed. I have this semester in Ireland coming up, and I'm not sure where I'll be going after that. Even if I do come back to Montreal, it will hopefully only be for a semester or two just to finish writing my thesis, in which case it will be easier on the whole to just sublet an already furnished place. Then I have to leave Montreal. It's for a variety of reasons really, but one of the big ones is that I came here in a transition phase, and even though I stayed longer than I had originally planned, and I've integrated into the community and learned how everything works, it's just not home. And after six years of undergrad, working full-time, grad school, and various sports, parishes and religious groups, if it's not home by now, it never will be. I need to find a place I can call home so I can settle down. Being in transition is fun and exciting, but on the long term, it is also exhausting.

But back to the furniture. Originally the plan was to rent a truck and drive one-way to my parents' place in PEI with some of the things that I wanted to keep. But thanks to the baseline price of $2,000 at UHaul for the smallest truck, that plan is out the window. Now the plan is that Mom will drive out in our Scion, which is about the size of a small SUV, and whatever can fit in one trip gets to stay. All the rest has to go.

Now, I'm a person who doesn't like change. I understand that it's necessary, but to me it's necessary like going to the dentist is necessary. I'll do it, but only when I must. Like I said, I've been in this city for six years, and in the same apartment for the last three. I've worked hard to get nice things and make the place more home-like. Now I have to tear it all up and make it go away. I have to let go of it. So far, the hardest part was getting rid of my couch. I love that couch like I have never loved a piece of furniture before. I fit into perfectly for naps, it was great for watching movies, it was pretty, and I scored it for a super-low price. Today, someone is coming to look at my desk. This will be the next hardest. We pulled this desk off the curb when I was in second grade. It was dark green, and we painted it white, and then it was in my room for a long time. In eighth grade I went through a furniture painting phase, and painted it dark purple with huge light purple polka dots. My mom and sister did macramé on the drawers with tissue paper and wrapping paper of various patterns. It fits all my stuff perfectly and it's been through my whole life. I love this desk. But it has to go.

On the whole, this will be a good thing. With nothing tying me down, such as an apartment that I love waiting for me or a bunch of stuff in storage, I will be much more able and inclined to leave Montreal for good. Because even though I'm not very happy here, since I don't like change, I've so far found it easier and less scary to stay.

But this is my big break. Will I move to Des Moines after my degree? Maybe Chicago (though I think I need to get out of the city for a while)? Live near my family in Charlottetown? Go teach in Toronto? Okay, probably not Toronto. Maybe I'll miss Dublin so much that I'll go back. Or head to the West Coast, even. Who knows.

So even though it's sad to see my beloved things go, I know it's for the better. I feel lighter already, less burdened, more free and flexible. I'm going to Des Moines for a vacation next week, and when I get back it'll be time to really get down to the nitty-gritty of what's going to stay vs. what has to go, and when and how and to whom. In the heat of summer, no less. Ugh. But once it's done, it's done, then I head to the beach in PEI for a couple of weeks with the family, then I fly from Halifax to Dublin in early September. And I will have nothing in Montreal to hold me down or worry about or consider. I'll be gone. And it will be wonderful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Total Being Workout

I won't post about judo tonight, aside form the fact that it was 40 degrees with the humidity and the dojo has no air conditioning.

But one thing I did do today was have an excellent voice lesson. I've been working with the music director at my church who is a professional musician who trains professional singers, so the quality of teaching that I'm getting is super high. I've basically been working with him for two months, if you take into account weeks off for vacations and stuff. My voice has improved so much during this time I can hardly believe it. He's doing great work, tweaking little things and offering suggestions that seem small, but end up working wonders. Even just today we did that, where we found, through various experimentation, that if I mentally focus on the shape of my lips while I sing, it brings everything together and totally changes the timber of what I'm producing.

The best part about it, though, is that it's really fun. It helps that I feel like I'm making progress each week. But he's just such a great person and wonderful to work with. He's very encouraging and always has lots of exuberantly positive feedback for me. He really enjoys working with me and I really enjoy working with him, and we just feed off each other's energy to produce some really great results. Unfortunately, I find it hard to translate all the awesome stuff we do at a lesson into my own practice time, but I think it's more a matter of muscle memory needing to kick in than anything. Two months of new stuff every week is a very short time in which to be forming good habits.

I also enjoy singing for the same reason I enjoy judo: it's extremely physical, and I have to work very hard to master how my body performs various unusual tasks in order to produce something awesome. The best voice lesson is one after which I feel like my body has been through the wringer, but my throat feels nothing and my mind just wants to keep singing. Every week I have that with this teacher. I will be very sad to leave him at the end of the summer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I think that poetry is ridiculous. Therefore, I will share with you some ridiculousness of my own making. These are based on the random paring of two words that you must type into the box on CraigsList before you can post an item, to prove that you are not a spammer robot.

"Probing Author"
The probing author
Waits for his writer's block to
Vanish from his mind.

"Spaulding Was"
Of all the brands I
Saw on sport shirts, shoes, and balls,
Spaulding was my fave.

"Florio Here"
Places dancers for the show.
"Kim there, Florio here."

"It Tubae"
Anemone waves.
Aquarium sign says name.
It "Tubae Verdae."

"Sometimes Nixes"
My computer works fine.
Often it saves what I want,
But sometimes nixes it.

Now for one of my own:
It is so hot that
I woke up at five, and now
I write bad haiku.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Some Seasonally Appropriate Weather

It is so, so hot today. I know, I know, wah wah wah, you live in Canada. But seriously dudes, inland, the weather hits extremes that we just didn't have on the coast where I grew up. The reported high today was supposed to be 34 (Celsius, obviously), but since the thermometer was reading 36 yesterday at 10am when the high was only supposed to be 29, I wouldn't be surprised if today was much higher. Never mind the Humidex, which was most likely pushing 40. No breeze, and the humidity is so thick that the graveyard across the street is hazy looking.

The upside of all this was that I managed to get quite a lot done in the library today. The cool, cool library, with central air conditioning, big windows, and comfy chairs. First I was at McGill, where the thermostat read 20.1 -- and I was freezing! I had enough forethought to bring a long-sleeved tshirt, but I was sitting there in my shorts and flip flops freezing my butt off and trying to not let my toes go completely numb. But I was able to find a gold mine of an article, one that gives lots of detail about a set of debates that I'm looking into, so it was definitely worth the trek over there. (Yes, I said "trek". Here in Montreal we have two seasons: winter and construction. The two closest bus stops to my library were closed due to construction, so any time that I would have saved by taking the bus in the first place was lost during my doubling-back. Yeesh.)

When I had finally lost all feeling in my extremities, felt my eyeballs rolling around my head, and began losing the ability to type simple words, I decided to pack it in for lunch. I took a nice break with a friend of mine at a local food court where I rudely brushed off a guy hawking magic tricks table to table. All he said, though, was, "Well, thank you for your candor" before heading on his way. So I felt like a jerky schmuck. Or a schmucky jerk, whichever.

Then I detoured down to the Concordia library to finish up my notes, and I am officially over 100 pages on my secondary source notes. But good grief, the primary sources are so hard to sit through. I was seriously considering just printing out the hundreds of pages that they take up, because paper is always easier to deal with than a computer screen. We'll see.

I'll try to sleep tonight. Ha ha ha. It's just so dang hot. One day I will have a house with air conditioning, but that's a different post for a different time. Right now all I can hope for is a breeze.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July in a Foreign Land

Well, I suppose Canada isn't that foreign. Normally I spend the Fourth of July in Prince Edward Island (yes, Canada) with my family at their cottage. We have a good mix of both Canadian and American families down our road, and even some families who have both American and Canadian branches, so we usually have some nice little celebrations for Canada Day and July 4th.

For Canada Day, one of the cottages down front hosts a lovely party that just about everyone comes out to, where we wear red and white, sit around in Maple Leaf lounge chairs from Canadian Tire, drink red Kool Aid and eat red and white cupcakes, listen to various versions of O Canada on loop (en français ici), and try not to get too many Canadian-themed fake tattoos on ourselves, courtesy of the little kids running around and tagging everyone.

For July 4th it's a bit less organized -- sometimes we have a bonfire on the beach, or maybe we get together with some people and grill burgers and sit on American-themed lounge chairs from Wal-Mart. Though, there was one year that was a bit more exciting than usual. It was the first year that the 911 system had been implemented across the Island, and yes, this is important to the story. The American couple in the cottage just down the lane from us were preparing a little celebratory lunch, including burgers on the grill. Well, something in the grill caught fire, and rather than let it burn his deck down, the man launched it off the front of the house with his bare hands so it could burn in the yard. So that year we got our fireworks a different way. Everyone was excited for a chance to call 911 and see how well it worked, so about 25 minutes later (when the grill had just about burned itself out) the fireman from Crapaud showed up, stood around and chatted with us a bit and made sure the grill fire didn't spread to anywhere else, and then they left. It was an exciting Fourth that year.

This year I was up early, thanks to an evening cup of coffee and a crazy amount of sushi from a night out with friends, so I rigged up my American Flag (bought at a military base!) on my balcony railing where it can be seen by the thousands of cars and buses that go through my intersection every day. It is a celebration of Yankee ingenuity: lacking a flagpole and rope, I managed to make it work using caribeeners, a twisty-tie, a guitar capo, and ribbon tied to a chair. Yee-haw. Later I hope to engage in some good old American-style capitalism by selling some furniture of mine online. And maybe I'll wander around my apartment singing patriotic songs, just because I can.

So to all you Americans, enjoy your holiday. And for you non-Americans who are not celebrating, please give your silly neighbors a break for the day. We heart our country and we want everyone to know it! Maybe if you wish your neighbors a Happy Fourth they'll grill you a burger and split a can of crap American beer.

Happy Birthday, America!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freedom and Responsibility

I'm back from judo tonight, sipping a nice cold Coke Zero and meditating on the fact that my right forearm will soon consist of more bruise-colored skin than skin-colored skin.

I should have gotten work done today, but I didn't. I went clothes shopping instead for the first time in probably 8 or 9 months and scored some great stuff for summer. Now my credit card is curled up in my sock drawer, weeping and pleading for mercy and threatening to set itself on fire. But whatever, because now I have shorts and more than one pair of jeans.

It's a little difficult to be consistent about getting work done. I work best in the library, especially in the afternoons and evenings, but the library closes at 10pm Monday - Thursday, and 6 (!)pm on Fridays and weekends. I can usually get some stuff done during the day, but between the fact that my desk is in my bedroom with all of its lovely distractions, and the beautiful weather that I can see out my window when I'm in the apartment, it's difficult to make myself do more than about 45 minutes at a time. Then there's also the issue that I've now made myself move on to the primary documents (read: seventeenth-century printed texts with weird spelling, weirder grammar, and all on the computer, like this) which just makes it harder to sit down and do stuff for large chunks of time.

But I'm getting through it. The subject is interesting even though the sources can be challenging to work with, and since it's a thesis I have the freedom to mold it however I want. It's daunting to think of it that way, but also nice to have so much flexibility going into the project. My supervisor (who is awesome, just saying) has basically told me that I've surpassed his area of expertise in terms of Irish context, so he can give me general pointers but as far as the actual content goes it's really my own project; I'm the only person in the department even coming close to this area of research. Pretty exciting, and it kind of makes me the go-to person for Reformation/early-modern stuff in Ireland, which has already landed me one guest lecture back in March and hopefully more to come. Maybe after I come back from Ireland I'll be able to wow the undergrads by lecturing in a fake Irish accent. Or something.

I'm going to go ice the hematoma which has been developing on my forearm since Wednesday night. I can't say I've ever had one there before.

Good night, everyone.

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music...

I didn't post anything last night because I was too busy watching The Sound of Music which my roommate just got as a present. It's been at least 15 years since I last saw it; back when my attention span was too short for the whole 3-hour movie, and I knew that Nazis were bad guys but didn't know about the Anschluss or the importance of the Captain's Austrian patriotism, and I had to have my mom explain to me the dynamic between Maria and the Baroness but I still didn't get what happened between them. I liked the songs, found the love scenes boring, and thought that the family walking over the mountains was alternately the saddest and stupidest ending ever.

But whoa. I would like to recant everything I've ever said about that movie, and simply say that it is The. Best. Ever. Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews are incredible actors! A subtle movement or a certain look on their face speaks volumes (yes, I realize that's ungrammatical). The various plot elements were surprising to me since I was basically seeing them for the first time. The history that is playing out in the background as well, now that I know all about the war, adds a whole new dimension to the movie as I remembered it. I loved the way the nuns were portrayed, too: it's so easy to caricature nuns, but these women were devout, strong, realistic, valued God's plan above their own, saw married life as a beautiful and worthy vocation, had personalities, and managed to foil the Nazis by, of all things, removing parts of their cars' engines. I love it! But most of all, besides the music and the scenery and the history and the acting, I loved above all else...

Just look at the picture! What else can be said? It's elegant, simple, modest, stunning. I want it.

My mom is encouraging me to visit Salzburg in December, when I have a couple of weeks free after my term in Ireland to do some travelling before I fly home. My original plan was to trek around Spain and go to the beach, but after watching this movie again, I might have to rethink my little plan.