Monday, September 27


Spirituality has been on my mind lately. Which is interesting because, personally, I don't feel the need for any form of spirituality in my life. It is not exactly that I know there is no God. I don't know. Some people would classify this as Agnostic. Agnosticism, however, seems to imply some deep wrestling with the eternal question. For me it isn't as much about whether God (god?) exists or not but whether I care about his existence.

There are some down sides to leaving religion behind though. For instance, believing in biology leaves much to be desired. Biology itself is lovely and quirky, full of surprises. Take the recurrent laryngeal nerve. But for all of its beauty it is fairly shallow. Believing in biology gives no real hope. There is no reason to believe that life or the future has to tip the balance in favour of happiness for any one person. Or that any written rule or fate would ensure that a person is provided with another chance at happiness. This belief is often commonly held in North America even without basis. And perhaps, as humans, we need to believe in this ultimate "righting" in order to function. Maybe that is where I falter, as a realist. We are not owed a happy ending. Our culture of plenty and self-fulfillment seems to teach that we are. Ask all the people who never had a chance, those kids-starving-in-africa who are not ever going to be able to reach out to God to comfort them when they succumb to horrible malnutrition. God is a concept that works out better for those with opportunities. Adjusting to this type of reality is not necessarily easy. The source of hope for those without spirituality can seem a mystery.

Saturday, September 25

Growth and Friendship

This week has been a week of learning. Life has taught me (from both sides of the coin) that someone can hurt you in ways that they never meant to by doing what they need to do for themselves. It still hurts.

There are four people in my life that I owe some major thanks. The giant, pay-it-forward kind of thanks. Hi-C and ShanWow thanks for all your time you could have been studying craniofacial anomalies and deglutition sacrificed for something entirely less glamourous.

For the two others, I haven't mentioned them on here before. We have known each other since I was an incredibly awkward teenager and I was wholly intimidated by them. Funny how things change as you grow up ;) I have been struggling to write this post. The best way to explain them would be: if you asked me if there was anyone who, regardless of whether I choose to believe in God or not, truly represents the fundamental message of love for other people that Christianity claims I would immediately say yes. Of course people can be loving without religion, that isn't the issue. However, when someone lives their faith as honestly as them who am I to question where that comes from? Perhaps I am forced in this instance to bend my worldview ever so slightly to fit them inside. I aspire to live (and love) like that some day. Thank you.

Monday, September 20


This weekend kept me busy but not too busy to have some fun too. Both Friday and Sunday were spent earning "free" film passes by ripping tickets at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and reading my book in between. A slow day on Friday also meant free movie while volunteering. Except I went in knowing only the title and that it was French. There definitely should have been a caveat for those who dislike seeing women be violated.

Brief synopsis of Deep In the Woods (Au fond des bois): Creeper with dirty fingernails (barf, the nails!) exits woods. Charms family in upper middle class 19th century French home by performing magic tricks and pretending to be mute and mysterious except the prophecies he writes. Accosts daughter the next day where he does some hocus pocus, rapes her (which happens repeatedly throughout the film...) and causes her to follow him around the French countryside. Way too Stockholm Syndrome for my tastes. The caveat should have read: "Warning: for serious film buffs only or people who can look past horribly uncomfortable scenes for symbolism that probably really isn't there". The cinematography was quite beautiful though.

Now, on to the update I titled this for: couchsurfing. Having been a member for a few years I had yet to actually surf or host until this weekend. Mostly because I haven't traveled somewhere that I needed to surf (or, in Boston, 4 proved too many to house) and have never before had a space to host in. Things have changed; my new roomie (The Roomie) is all over it and even has experience. Other than being on a loud street with no curtains on the living room windows we do alright: futon, blankets, warm apartment, witty conversation. Friday until this morning our futon was occupied by two sisters from Germany making their way from Montreal to Boston and New York and back again. E accompanied me on my run Saturday morning (and took it easy on me). K made us wonderful crepes. Both prepared a lovely soup (that I had as leftovers after my last TIFF shift). It could not have been a better first couchsurfing experience.

In an unrelated note: the friend currently referred to as Sharon on this site will henceforth retain the moniker "ShanWoW" for various reasons. One being an obvious play on the product "Sham Wow" and another (although this one was explained to me) a play on the Jersey Shore based on a character's nickname (ShayWow) and ShanWoW's lovely bicycle painted after the Italian flag.

Sunday, September 12


I am not a person that follows the lives of celebrities. Until today I had never crossed paths with a real one (some hometown ones at some point I'm sure).

Perons I saw (distance from person)

Rachel MacAdams (2 ft) - from many things but The Time Traveler's Wife stands out to me.
Maria Bello (3 ft) - you may recognize her from e.r. or coyote ugly.
Michael Sheen (3 ft)
Amy Ryan (3 ft) - aka Holly from The Office
Daphne Rubin-Vega (3 inches)
Michael Sheen (3 ft)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (25 ft)

The cliche is true, they really are regular people like everyone else. Except maybe Rachel McAdams, she is fabulous. And Amy Ryan looked adorable in her red dress.

Saturday, September 11

My Own Personal Nightmare

This is not an emo post. Do not fear. I was, however, out for a run this morning and went to a cutesy neighbourhood nearby. There were people everywhere and streets closed in an area that is usually quiet and peaceful. Then I saw them. GARAGE SALES! I guess, technically speaking, yard and sidewalk sales. Every three houses or so someone was selling their old crap, for cheap! Here is the nightmare part: I had NO MONEY. Not even a quarter to bargain with. Besides, had I stopped in my odorous state it may not have been appreciated.

Obviously you are all horrified by now. But it gets worse. I have to run OWeek all day today. I CAN"T GO BACK AND SALE! Nooooooooooooo! I'm heading out now for an even I've been excited for all week (summer) but now it is tainted.

Wednesday, September 8

A New Take on an Old Classic

When my father goes to Wawa he often buys perogies from the Polish Hall. He cooked up a batch while I was home and this got us brainstorming delicious combinations. Of course the Polish ladies make fabulous perogies, it's just that they make the standard ones. We came up with some ideas:
-Greek: feta, olives, oregano, potato
-Indian: potato, lentils, curry paste, peas (a little like a samosa), mild cheese
-Local: smoked fish (by my uncles), red skin potatoes, chives, local cheese

In all of our daydreaming we never got around to making the perogies (although I'm still game if you are, dad).

Today, Hi-C bestowed upon me her perogie skills and we improvised a scrumptious filling. We even decided to forgo more perogies and just ate the left over filling with a spoon. These little babies take hours, but they sure are worth it. First, you make the dough. You can find dough recipes online. A handy tip: use a pasta maker to get your dough to the right thickness (ie. flat). Cut out many many circular shells.

The marvelous filling (we used a recipe as a guide to proportions but just wing it)
-3 large sweet potatoes (baked until super soft then peel and mash)
-chopped chives
-chopped and caramelized onion
-genoa salami
-goat cheese
-pinch of salt

Fold mixture in and seal (by squishing or with water if necessary). Fry up right away with some onions and butter or freeze to enjoy later. We did both of those things. We happened to get 25 each so I can have 3 perogies 8 times and one wonderful day with 4.

I was still feeling bake-y when I got home so I ripped open the box of cake-mix in the cupboard (ok, not that bake-y) and made THE MOST ABRASIVE cupcakes on earth. Strawberry flavoured with an unnatural pink hue. You see, I have an obsession. When I venture to the grocery store in the states I have to buy at least one thing. The sheer variety available, all the insane flavours they test on Americans before mass marketing in Canada is overwhelming. You thought choosing a flavour of Mini Wheats was a challenge at your local Canadian food basics???? Try it in the US*.

All this to say that the last time I went across I scored: strawberry cake mix, lemon icing (lemon!) and pineapple jell-o (I'm not entirely sure that this one is exclusively for the yanks). After opening the box of cake mix and pouring it into a bowl I discovered my need for three eggs and possession of two. Never fear, google is here. I felt smart replacing one egg with some apple puree until I "poured" in the puree and found it to be chunky. Now I have strawberry apple-chunk cupcakes. And no muffin liners. But with enough margarine they only semi-stuck to the pan. Oh, and they taste fairly awful.

*Upon further googling I have discovered that many of the flavours of Mini Wheats that once seemed totally insane have now been unleashed on the Canadian public.

Monday, September 6

I Know that Mangoes are Sweet

Camp songs anyone? "I Like Bananas" was high up there on my favourites list. But this post is about mangoes, peaches and pectin. It was on my to-do list to make jam while home in August and I made it on the very last day.

Initially, I found a recipe online for mango-peach jam that required no added sugar due to some fancy-schmancy, no-sugar-needed pectin. Except it wasn't available when I went to get supplies. Scratch that plan. I ended up with Certo pectin and just improvised with the peach jam recipe on the inside of the box. Half peaches, half mangoes. 5 cups of sugar (!) Even though the recipe didn't call for it I added a little cinnamon. It is tough to go wrong with fruit and cinnamon. My mom helped me (so I guess it wasn't all on my own) with the hardcore canning. Bake glass jars at 150F to sterilize. Boil lids, seals (plomb not phoque), tongs, funnel. When jam is all bubbly-boily ready funnel into jars then quickly apply seal and lid. Wait. If the lid compresses (can't be pushed down, like before you've opened your Snapple) you're good to go. Officially preserved.

Sunday, September 5

Back in Toronto

The move was successful and I have been spending my days unpacking, planning Orientation Week, hanging out with friends and generally getting settled. We already have internet and it only took about 2-3 hours to set up. But I did it all by myself! I figured it out, even making our connectino all secure (so I think). The apartment is quite big although it has its quirks. My room has two large closet doors for the entrance which, I learned while changing, blow open if the window happens to be open at the same time and a stiff breeze is traveling through. The internet is plugged in to an outlet that is controlled by a light switch. Turning off the light also turns off the internet. Now we have to remember to use the switch on the lamp. There is only one outlet in my room and it happens to be 4 feet off the ground. This doesn't sound that bad but it did suck up two hours with my mom searching for a power bar with a long enough cord.

Not to complain. There are lots of good things. Right in downtown Toronto we have both a giant living room AND an eating area. Both! In the same apartment! The windows are large and give tons of natural light. There is SO MUCH STORAGE! Three large closets and a pantry. My closet is enormous, we should rent it out for extra cash. It is on the 5th floor of the building so it is just high enough up to get a workout from the stairs but low enough that it is totally reasonable to use them (not that I've been doing that).

Due to my recent bloggin hiatus I feel like there is so much to catch up on. Here is a sneak preview of things to come:

1. My first running injury. Actually, I'll finish this one off now. I can't say if the injury is from running but it is hindering my running. I had to stop after 10 minutes today from my pain on the top of my foot. Methinks it is some muscle up in there but the hours I spend walking each day probably haven't been helping. It is frustrating because I have only been going out 2-3 times per week lately so I don't need an obstacle I need everything in my favour since the chub is catching up with me.

2. Jam! I made it. It tastes great. Photos to follow.

3. Orientation Week. Fingers crossed that it goes smoothly.

[ETA: There is another positive about this building: ghost-vator. The elevator has a ghost and it is friendly. My mom noticed this first. Most of the time when I leave my aparment I press the elevator button and it is just chilling on the 5th floor waiting for me. I know, not THAT weird. BUT! The button for the first floor is also already pressed. But who pressed it? And why hasn't it gone to the first floor if it is pressed? Weird..... Thanks ghost/Patrick Swayze.]