Mini Break: Montreal in Mid-July

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Coming home from Montreal, on a train, brings back memories similar to coming home from Europe.  Maybe not the entire trip, but for sure coming home from a smaller trip like Ireland or Brighton, you leave the simple oasis of a city unfamiliar to your own and slowly slug back to reality.  For me, right now, as I start this post, I am listening to an audiobook and sipping a glass of red wine in a blissful air conditioned carriage, bumpy and bright, cool and calm.  It is less like Europe now I think, heading back to Toronto, but that is only because Toronto is now my home, and I do not feel bitter upon my return but feel…”recharged.” “Recharged” in parentheses because I still need a bit of a sleep, but my week is due to be productive and full, my mental state however feels recharged, so if there was a way to be half recharged then that is what I am by. By mid-August I hope to get back up to the green light to start everything all over again.

A few highlights from the trip would be wandering around Old Montreal with my good friends as I won’t be seeing one of them for a long time, and then entering a courtyard nirvana to have some sangria and poutine, and then eventually adventuring north to find some good bagels.  We never went out for breakfast but slept in (as it was vacation) and have a bagel with good juice and a small coffee, as well as guac and cream cheese, apples, bananas, it was basically just a lovely morning every day in an air conditioned, quiet, dark room before heading out into the heat.

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Saturday was rainy, which we only managed to get wet for five minutes total as we hopped from coffee shop to bar to hotel and back to dinner, finding beverages and snacks and most prominently wine, and ultimately ending the day off with some fireworks at the old port.  It was a cooler day, which was welcomed happily by two little intoxicated Ontarians all day.

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Sunday was warmer, and we set out in the quieter neighbourhoods to have coffee and wander the beautiful houses and streets before waiting in line at Schwartz’ Deli for some tasty sandwiches and, again, more importantly PICKLES.  We ate in a small park and ended up just finding more beers and ice cream before heading back to the train where we rode business class to have more space and a comfortable trip home to Toronto.

Travelling to Montreal is always a bit strange because it is like home but not, there is always something a bit different…not quiet, not challenging, I know enough French to get by and I am a nice enough person to be patient when we get lost, but there is something fun about being in an unfamiliar place that makes every moment, every uphill walk in the sweltering heat, every photograph, every laugh, every loud or quiet minute just a bit different than those that I remember in Toronto.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I will be back in November and again a few times next year for conferences and visiting good folks so if there is anything I took away from this trip is smiling, regardless of how I feel, to smile and to breathe in and remember there is a quiet moment in every minute.

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xx Jess

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My Love Letter to Toronto

It has been over a year since I moved to Toronto. My first few months here had admittedly been a few of the worst ones in recent memory. Being away from any family or friends had made my life “living for the weekend’s that I would head to my rehearsal weekends in Cambridge or to the beach with my family as opposed to the beautiful city where I was actually residing 90% of the time. The city was empty for me, lonely, big, and the times when friends would come and visit for the weekend or for a dinner would give it a short lived glimmer and then it would evaporate as soon as they would leave, leaving me to sulk alone in my gross, damp apartment.

Finally something clicked when the summer ended and I started school. I like being busy, and being busy in the city gave me structure to explore it and after being here and loving it for a few months, I have found myself a home.

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That isn’t entirely accurate, I think I’ve carved myself a home here, in my neighbourhood in the Annex where I’ve lived now the entirety of my existence in Toronto, and I love it. I love how close I am to the drugstores, to nice coffee, to cheap bookstores and the subway. I love that I can hop on the streetcar and find my favourite brunch spots, my favourite shoe shops, my favourite vegan Mexican food and everything else that I love about King/Queen West.

I love that my apartment fits me now, or I fit it, or maybe we are more like a well worn sweater…sometimes broken, sometimes too hot or to cold, but all of the time comfortable. All of the time.

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I love cooking and listening to podcasts and drinking on my balcony and inviting guests over to see my place. I am proud of my existence here now, and that is a superb feeling.

I love my bookshelf, soon to be spilling over into multiple as I expand my collection, and I love that I rotate through these to find quotations through my writing every week.

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I love the people I’ve met and the places that they take me, and I love the adventures I get up to be it on a bustling Thursday evening home from book club, Saturday morning at the markets, or quiet Sunday afternoons writing and drinking coffee. Meetings, drink nights, jazz music in Kensington market, tapas on King, sailing next to the CN Tower, subway trips up north to the CNIB, walking the malls a few times, walking the city a few times, Toronto suits me…or I suit Toronto, or maybe we’re like an old, well worn sweater, too.

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If you’re overwhelmed or against this city I challenge you to try it for a few months, et it sink in before judging it. It is busy and has very interesting and sometimes disgusting smells and people. There are too many places to get sushi (but the food here is incomparable to any other place I’ve been in its variety and goodness), and the public transit is unreliable and hot at best. But the thing about Toronto is is that it welcomes you, no matter who you are, and challenges you to adventure inside of it, even if that’s running across the city to get to a play on time, or a sit-in during the Pride Parade detours you on your way to work.

It is full of beautiful, powerful, and important surprises. Or it has for me, and I hope that everyone could give it a chance.

xx Jess

Calgary Vibes

Good morning friends,

I am writing to you this morning from my sweet “hotel” aka dorm room on the University of Calgary campus in Calgary, Alberta! What a cool way to start this post, because really I’ve been wanting to write something but things don’t always get done. There’s yoga to be had and a final mammoth paper to finish, but today I am in Calgary. The non-humid, delicious coffee-totalling city that, despite having only seen literally forty minutes of campus life, is wonderful.

It could be because Ontario is currently in a huge heat wave nonsensical flood of humidity and there is nothing but fresh, albeit mildly wet, air here, it could be because this trip feels like a cool academic retreat/holiday somewhere new, and it could also be because I slept for the first time in a few days last night being so jetlagged and so breathing fresh cool air with my coffee after being well rested realy has just hit me in a wonderful way, a way of wonder, if you will.

I am in Calgary for Congress, and more directly the Canadian Association of Theatre Research conference, which begins tomorrow and follows on until Tuesday afternoon, to which I will then take a bus to Banff and spend nearly two days loving my life near mountains and good friends. Ah, the academic’s life, full of spending the only morning you have off in Calgary editing, transcribing and reading, and also planning on doing more reading in the evening, and then planning out your budget for the journals/books that will come upon registration for these events.

Jenny (my room mate and I’d like to say good friend from the Drama Centre at UofT) dropped the book bomb yesterday: every academic publisher brings their books to congress. We had a good twenty-five minute conversation about where I’d put these books and we finished on I’d have another carry on for the trip home full of them. I will update you later.

This is so exciting for me, to be on my first “lurk and learn” in the professional academic world, and I have some great birds who’ve taken me under their wings to introduce me to the people and show me the ropes, its een a good day settling in here.

The next five days might be exhausting, and long, but I am positive they are going to be full of beautiful and fascinating panels and conversations had by people researching important things for our culture. On the brink of sounding sentimental I hope that this begins my life long presence at conferences such as these; where the people are smart and nice and welcoming, the food is present, and the books are abundant. Oh, and maybe the ideas that are generated are brilliant, as well.

xx Jess

The Big Spring Clean

While on my hands and knees this past bright and warm Saturday I found myself stereotypically following through this season’s motions of cleaning. “Spring Cleaning” means a lot to me, as does “Back to School Shopping” and “Christmas Starts December 1st (or as soon as the poppies come off people’s jackets)” because having my surroundings be clean is important to me as an adult. It wasn’t important when I lived in my parents’ house as a teenager and would hardly clean my room, or when I lived in dorms and lived extremely alone, but now I still live alone, in an apartment that I take care of myself, and yet I find myself scrubbing the bathroom floor, sink, and toilet as if I owned the place.

I just kind of like to clean.

Its like doing a mind-hijacking yoga class or having just enough wine for a buzz; cleaning numbs the mind to other worries because I’m preoccupied with my end goal of cleanliness.

I tend to ignore cleaning when other things like deadlines come up, but when I do put my Bad Girls playlist on my speakers, open the windows, light some candles and put my hair in a bandana I feel as though I could clean right through the walls. The freshness of the apartment when it has just been cleaned is unparalleled.

I am looking forward to be in a space with multiple rooms for just this reason: more places to clean? Maybe, but more importantly more windows and windows to open.

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The changing of seasons has finally begun from cool winter into Spring and the windows in my apartment are open, my winter tights are being packed away, and florals are back. I almost bought flowers for my kitchen table this morning but refrained: in due time flowers wiil be back in my life, but for now I will rejoice in the windows being open.

I also love the new season because I feel inspired to cook again, and buy fun vegetables and make cocktails with lemonades, Spring provokes me to change things up in general, which I hope it does for everyone because it really is the time to. The changing seasons mean new weather, new holidays, new things in general. Some people are afraid of change, but I have learned to embrace it.

As I online shop, shop in person, cook, bake, establish new routines, and make new and exciting plans with people I try to remember that as much as I am planning to move forward this is the time now. There is a future coming, yes, but I can’t always plan for it, there has to be living in the moment too.

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“Live your truth” as a friend of mine told me last week, and I would venture to put “Live your truth, NOW” at the end of that.

So as I pour myself another glass of lemonade in a wine glass (Beyonce-inspired), open my window, and don a nice sweater for the weather, I am living my truth now, because that’s the only way to be.

xx Jess

Self Care: Breathing | #28

This week has been charged with overwhelming hysteria, on my part, because there is a frazzle in the air. Appropriately, I ended my stress week in Sassafraz, over a great meal with one of the best people on the planet. After eating and drinking and laughing, we faced the rain to spend an hour and a bit inside the largest, most beautiful Indigo books.

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We found the Bowie TIME magazine, and I finally found the John Keats poetry book that I’ve been waiting for for…well, for a very, very long time. Finally, Ode to Psyche is mine.

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After returning home I ran a bath, poured some champagne, turned on a new romcom on Netflix and snuggled in the bubbles to read my vogue and breathe. That is the best part about life, that we continue to breathe, it is the running thread that knits our memories together. What can you rely on? Your breath. Taking that in in moments of stress as well as moments of peace is extremely important to me, because it connects those peaceful moments as a memory, as something to recall in moments of crying into your coffee early in the morning mid-week, there is breath, there is peace, you are not okay now but it will come.

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It will come.
xx Jess

Saturday Morning Relationship | #27

I do love mornings.  I love breakfasts.  I love the way that the air is cold, and crisp and new.  I love the light early on, when its just new and brightening, not stagnant like the afternoon.  I love the smell of coffee, and yawns and pulling the sheets to my chin before being able to get up.  Fighting off the urge to clean or write or get to the to-do list, to just sift through Twitter and laugh out loud and breaking the morning silence.  I love mornings, I do, I am in a relationship with the mornings.

I would consider myself a morning person.  Lately I must be accompanied by a coffee, but I do love to get up and listen to my YouTube and drink coffee and watch the sun lighten the sky.  This morning I spent the first two hours of consciousness in bed watching the FFiles (post coming soon…with my thoughts…of the first season, upon first watch) and then made a lovely breakfast and read vogue while listening to some internet women, which you can see above.

Living alone has changed mornings for me.  When I am at my parents’ house I am used to spending the morning with a coffee and a mimosa and football with my dad and mom, big breakfasts, noise, talking, laughter, phone calls, multiple showers in succession and brunches or lunches out.  Here, I spend the morning in silence.  I wake up to nothing and no one, and that’s very different.

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I’ve been trying to do yoga in the morning to ground my body and help my seminar-ridden body get a bit of time to lay on a mat and not sit in a chair reading/writing.  I didn’t do yoga this morning, but I’ve not felt so comfortable in a long time.  I don’t have any plans until this evening, and not being rushed is the best part of mornings when you live alone.  No fight for the shower, coffee machine, milk, etc.

How do you spend your mornings?  I made two eggs with avocado for breakfast and a small piece of baguette, no apple this morning but I’ll be having a few early this afternoon.  Breakfast is a bit standard for me right now which has become boring and I am looking to explore some different breakfast options that are healthy, energizing and quick.  I’m going to be trying some stove-top oatmeal this week…We shall see how this is.

Happy Saturday, folks!

xx Jess

 

Where I’ve Been: 24 Years | #24

Yesterday my family came down to Toronto to celebrate my birthday with me, and after trying to stay at one restaurant we ended up at the Duke of York, a small pub that had good beers and good food.  We are the kind of family to need an atmosphere where we can laugh and eat with our fingers without feeling like we are alone?  So this was the place for us.  Amidst good conversation, I got my birthday meal of steak, Caesar and fries and a Fuller’s beer, which is a prequel to the amount of English beers that are about to be in my future when I head there for mywinter break.  Afterwards, we had some tarts for dessert.  My brother and sister really dug their toffee pudding, but I got a milk chocolate salted caramel tart, shown above, that was so delicious I just sat there looking at it for a while.  I am not a huge cake person (unless it is mccain deep dish, cold from the freezer, eaten out of the tin with a fork) so small little treats like this are perfect.

And then on the way home from the bar later, I picked up a bag of chips, which I just remembered aren’t finished and I should hide them because I will eat them all in the first half of this week with all of the stress I have!

After the celebrations are over (kind of, I have more this week, prolonged birthday celebrations!) I have been reminded how important it is, not just for the birthday girl, to celebrate on birthdays.  They are special days, and when things are tough its nice to be acknowledged and taken care of, and have people offer for you, and celebrate as a community, come together, and forget the woes of the days around and just focus on the good things, the good times, the laughter, the boys, the mixed messages, the bruised hearts, the gay-lean as Tita would say, and anything else that comes with that.  There is nothing more fun to me than a no-stress environment, drinking a champagne sangria, with good people who keep conversations going without even trying, and smiling.

Birthdays are for smiling, and I smiled a lot yesterday.

Where have I been lately?  I’ve reached my twenty-fourth year of life, and I have decided to be healthy and happy and embrace the work that I love to do, the people that I love and want in my life, and do.  Just do.  Just be.  Because there is nowhere better than where I am right now.

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xx Jess

Bits and Bobs and Pirelli | #20

I’ve been at this blog for 20 days and I haven’t had much time to just sit and blab, so hey!  Let’s blab!  First thing’s first: I need to grab something to eat or I might just keel over.  I am back, it has been ten minutes and I have eaten a snack of champions:  an avocado, a crumpet with Nutella, and a banana.  I know that sounds crazy, but trust me it was delicious and exactly what I needed.  I cleaned my apartment tonight and it feels so lovely, and I’ve just sat down to write to you all, its been a busy start to term.

 

But its been actually really good.  Late at night, when I’m walking home from the theatre, and I’m exhausted and pms-ing, I am grumpy and mad and too tired to function, and just want bed and don’t want to go back to school.  But, I do, in the mornings, and I smile and am so happy to be here.  So grateful to have this structure and support system around me.  I don’t think we acknowledge enough the people who support us, so thank you if I’ve leaned on you this week, you can lean on me anytime!

 

As for other bits and bobs, there’s a lot going on that I could talk about.  I could ramble on for an hour or three about the papers that I’m currently editing, because in the void of creativity that was my theatre company I have filled with academic papers about things that I love and I care about and are cool.  I am also in a writing workshop course for school where I should be working on my play, but as for right now that’s on the back burner until next weekend, where I’m going to dive in headfirst.

 

It is exactly (almost) three weeks until my trip to England for reading week.  I am hping to take a bit of reading, but mostly just my sense of adventure.

 

The one thing that inspired me to write this post was this link that I came across randomly on facebook about a month ago was Pireli’s calendar for this/next year, it doesn’t matter, but its this amazing photo article of influential women in the world today dressed in whatever they want, so some of them are naked or in their underwear or just in a power stance in their power suits being their powerful selves.  I clicked on this link tonight hoping to be inspired to write some feminist response to media, but instead its inspired me by way of strength.  Its inspired me to aspire to be a powerful woman in the power stance of my choosing.

 

Here’s the link:   http://pulptastic.com/pirelli-put-the-boobs-away-and-did-something-amazing/

 

This week seems to be moving at a glacial pace, so I want to internalize my own power stance, really focus on that, breathe into it, and mebrace it as I turn TWENTY FOUR this weekend.  As my new year begins, and I celebrate with great friends and family, I am reminded of all the things I have accomplished and done in my twenty four years so far on earth, and am confident that the next twenty four are only going to bring amazing things.

 

As busy or stressed that I get, I cannot forget the quality of my life, and how lucky I am, and I am just so happy.

 

xx Jess