Tuesday, August 28, 2007

...everything's better in colour...

Alright, so since I'm not home and since there has been so much 'wordiness' going on in my blog thus far, I'm going to post some pictures. No, I didn't take them myself. I thought about it though, so it's almost the same thing.


Just say right.

So this is The Annex...well, sort of. The first two are, and the first is not far from my house. Note the lovely Victorian architecture. My house looks nothing like that (and you've wondered why I'm such an individual? I can't help it. Even my house is 'different').

The second is, that's right, SNOW. I will see some of that in about 2.5 months. I may die. As it stands now in the middle of August, I'm going outside with long-sleeved shirts and polar fleece jackets. I'm sleeping with a duvet and a blanket. Lord help me when snow arrives.

The final picture isn't really 'the Annex" I suppose. It's Spadina Ave. which runs through the Annex, but it's mainly a picture of Chinatown and Kensington Market. But you can see the CN Tower, and it's sunset-y. So really, who wouldn't want to look at it simply for it's ability to capture the complexity of Toronto culture. Yes, in my high school I was a minority. (I'd say roughly it was about 60% Asian, 25% Portuguese/Italian, and 15% the rest of us).

Oh ethnic diversity, how I love you.

That's one great thing about being back in Toronto.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

...uh huh...

I did a little historical research (uh huh...I talked to my dad) and he told me the following:

Once upon a time, Toronto was smaller than it is today. In fact, back then some of the BIG names in business and politics (Lippincott, Borden, Robert) used to live outside of the city (I think it was then called York, or Hogtown...who knows....probably my Dad). Anyway, these bigwigs didn't want to live outside of the action (I mean really, who does?) so they decided to create an 'annex' to Toronto so they could still live 'in the city' Ergo, "The Annex" was born. Of course, The Annex eventually became part of the downtown core (if you ask me THE downtown core...but that's probably just because I'm from The Annex...la dee da...).

Isn't that fascinating??

I hope no one lost any sleep over that unanswered question.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

...kickin' it in the 'hood...

My neighbourhood is called "The Annex." I'm not exactly sure what it's been annexed from, because it certainly seems like it's located smack-dab in the middle of things...but no one's really been able to tell me. I'm sure it's historical, and being a historian perhaps I should make a more concerted effort to find out. Or, it could be one of those moments where when I do actually find out, I go..."ooooohhhhh, yeah, I knew that already." Unfortunately, for a historian I have an utterly crap memory.

So my neighbourhood, 'The Annex,' is fairly student friendly being located about 5 mins or so from the University of Toronto. It's also a bit 'crunchy granola' if you know what I mean, and slightly artsy. I fit right in. My street is surrounded by the growing and expanding Harbord Street to the south, and the ever-changing, hip-and-happening Bloor Street to the north. Bloor Street seems to be one of those places that if you walk up and down it for a long time, you'll run into just about every person you've ever known, as well as no less than 20 new sushi restaurants. As a bonus, you can take every person you know to a different sushi restaurant.

Today was a funny day around my neighbourhood. I ran up the street to fax something off to my University and then go to the drug store and supermarket. I saw a few people I recognized from high school on my street and then in the supermarket ran into a guy I vaguely knew from OPC - Adam Pounder. Don't worry, I pretended not to know him. He did the same. Maybe now though, people will do a search for his name and my blog page will come up. Then as I was walking home, I saw some more people from school, this time elementary. I swear, no one moves in this neighbourhood. I mean, why would you?

It is, after all, THE Annex.

We're no Austria.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

...he's got big hands...

I was anxious. She was late meeting me. I know we're all running on Afircan time now, but whe you only have an hour to visit with someone you haven't seen for over a year and who you won't see for another 6 months, being half an hour late is a little excessive. But then, she was leaving the country that night and traffic on the QEW is always bad; tardiness is inevitable, really.

I was anxious waiting for Kyla in the Timothy's next to Mountain Equipment Co-Op. A man struck up conversation with me. "Do you work for MEC?" After being gone for a year I had forgotten what opening lines beyond "Hey, white girl!" actually sounded like. Turns out he was South African and couldn't understand why on earth I'd go to Sierra Leone. He asked me if I didn't have any people around me who loved me enough to not let me go. I don't think it really operates like that. I thought, well, I seem to have enought peolpe around who love me enough to let me go even if they don't want to. Isn't that better? When Kyla walked in he said "Why on earth do you let her go to Sierra Leone?" Well, Ky was just in Liberia, so I don't think she'll have an answer for you...

Seeing Kyla again was wonderful, if not very brief. Of course I was emotional again, but managed to keep it (mostly) together. After saying goodbye, I hopped on the streetcar to head up to Spadina and Dundas to catch a Greyhound bust to Orillia where I was going to meet up with Lindsay for her bachelorette. The streetcar driver was particularly chatty, and we talked about the utter failure of self-tanners and the women who abuse them...riveting stuff. But he managed to distract me from my distressed state, so for that I was thankful. Unfortunately, I missed a flock of streetcars at Dundas (why is it that streetcars always travel in packs?) and I had to wait 15 mintues before another one came. The minutes ticked by and I new I was going to miss my bus to Orillia.

The 15 minute wait was not my shining hour and involved much internal cursing as well as a few muttered threats thrown towards the streetcar tracks, as if my open animosity towards them would magically bring a streetcar whizzing towards me. I tried not to worry too much, tried to say the situation was out of my hands and also did a little peading with the good lord to get me to the station on time.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to make the 2pm bus and this was confirmed when saw the enormous line up for tickets at the terminal. Thankfully the departures screen floating above my head while I waited to purchase my ticket, seemed to indicate that there was another bus to Orillia leaving at 2:30pm. Perfect. The ticket agent confirmed this to be true and that it was scheduled to arrive in Orillia a mere 20 mins. after the 2pm bus. No harm, no foul. As I was paying for my ticket (VISA: priceless), I turned my head and saw Paul Cox standing at the booth on my right. I did a leadership course with him in 1997 and then worked as staff at the same program 7 years later. Paul was another welcome distraction from my own thoughts and we chatted and caught up on the first half of the bus ride. (Paul is an accomplished artist, and he has a website. Check it out: www.paulcox.ca). Paul lives in the Annex and we got to talking about churches in the area...it was a good chance to see what else is out there and to talk to someone about the possibilities.

Now just think, if I hadn't missed the streetcar and needed to take the later bus I would never have run into Paul, never had distracting and valuable conversation, and instead would have ended up crying out my window all the way to Orillia.

Like I said, God's got big hands.

Monday, August 13, 2007

...Another aeroplane, another sunny place, I'm lucky I know...

"But I want to go home...let me go home.
And I feel just like I'm living someone else's life,
It's like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right."
~ Michael Buble, 'Home.'

They say that "home is where the heart is" but that can't be true because my heart is in so many different places at once that it's impossible for me to claim any one place as my 'home.' I left part of my heart in Sierra Leone when I boarded the Hoovercraft on August 3rd, part of my heart lies in Halifax with the people at the church I attended there, and at Dalhousie, a piece of my heart is in Peterborough with my friends from university and the 'good old days', and what is left of my pulpy-mess-of-a-heart is here, in Toronto at my childhood home. It's strange to be back. It's a bit like stepping into a time warp...my room still has the red and white stripped IKEA wallpaper with the 'magic mushroom' border (it's a wonder I wasn't a druggie at a young age), my book shelves are filled with "The Real Mother Goose Collection," Trixie Belden mysteries, and the complete Anne of Green Gables series. Throw in a few eclectic Australian chidlren's novels and picture books and you've got my childhood in a nutshell. Oh, and don't forget the Narnia Series. Mustn't forget C.S. Lewis.

I spent today catching up on emails and figuring out some sort of schedule for the next few weeks. I'm hoping to catch up with friends - I've missed them! I rearranged my room and now the chaos has just increased since it's a major undertaking. I'm sitting in what looks like the aftermath of a hurricane. I also washed all of the clothes I currently have with me, most of which are horribly inappropriate for what I can only assume is the fast-approaching fall and winter. I need to get back to Halifax to pick up my stuff from the very kind Braun family who are housing it. Then maybe I'll feel more settled?

In a piece of uplifting and hilarious news, my good friend Ryan and Rebecca Paulsen are going to become my new neighbours!! How exciting is that? Very, let me tell you because they are uber-cool and I haven't seen them for years...mainly because they've been in South Korea and I've been in Africa. Go figure we'd end up living one street away from each other in downtown Toronto. I saw Ryan's new address on Brunswick Street and was thinking "what are the odds they're moving to Toronto?" Seemingly excellent! It's a nice coincidence...incidently, Cam Fraser, you should come down and visit all of us after Sept. first since we're now centrally located! :)

It's time for bed, I think. I'm still jet-lagged and ridiculously grumpy. It's good that I haven't actually seen anyone yet. I actually havve a t-shirt that says "grumpy" on it (from an old boyfriend...was he trying to tell me something??) I think I'll wear it all week. The highlight of my day tomorrow: my first real haircut in a year! Today, I had my first bath in a year.

You've got to appreciate the little things. Like bathing; never underestimate cleanliness.