For Pup’s Sake

Here’s a little mind chow: why do so many kids want dogs? I know it looks really good through a good quality camera in a sunlit picture with tons of grass behind, but here’s the thing: you probably have never seen a good quality camera in your life and have accepted your iPhone as a permanent substitute, there are no “sunny” days in the winter, and going by the climate reports, there isn’t much of that grassy plain left for you and the pup to roll in.

I’m serious, we’re more city-kid than we’d ever thought we were. For example, I had a little trouble digesting spring allergies, and it’s not because I never had heard of them before. Spring fever, hay fever, pollen allergies, they’re all fundamentally your body attacking spring because it thought it was something dangerous. Putting it this way, your body has no idea that spring’s just this harmless, temporary reprieve from the winter and reacts to it the way you did if you saw a flying dog in supers garb, i.e., undies.
… Just to be really clear, I meant surprise, shock, whatever. Something tells me a lot of first reactions would probably be to whip out a Real Good Quality phone camera and yell, “Awwww!!” as they film.

That’s probably why a lot of kids think a dog is a great idea.

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credits: the internet and someone who took my previous line too seriously.

I don’t have spring allergies though. I don’t think I’ve had enough regular, periodic exposure to spring, pollen, grassy smells or clean, non-city air enough for my body to recognise it and go, “Here we go again team, those damned seeds are back again! Lock into anti-seed mode; nose! I’m gonna need all the ammunition you can get! Call on Sinus and Lung for backup, hear?”
“Standing by!”
“Eyes, you’ll have to gain system attention, signal that idiot to get out of there on the double and back to safety indoors! No one likes casualties and we can do to avoid an unnecessary fight.”
“Sir, I don’t think that’s how it—”
“Water!!”
“Oh well, if you insist.”
“Pores, get ready! The bigger you appear to your enemy, the greater the intimidation. Swell up those arms and legs, soldiers!”
“Sir, I think you’re cooking up the wrong allerg—”
“PREPARE FOR WAR, FIENDS OF SPRING!!!”

At any rate, why I’m so familiar with them is probably because literally everybody else in my house seems to be a walking weather cursing machine.

I’d only really given that sort of credit to dust allergies before. That seems more up my run down city alley. *Cough, cough*
*Sneeze!!*

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Turns out it’s a very real thing. There exists this exact piece of unedited memery I found on Google.

 

So the dogs. God help you if you’re also allergic to them or their hair. That perfect photograph with the spring and the dog and the dust gathering on it must really be the perfect nightmare for you. Why kids want dogs, I cannot fathom. Dogs are too much like people. My cousins’ puppy runs away from new people in an explicit fashion that my own social anxiety finds admirable. Because if there’s one thing worse than having to talk to people, it’s both parties being awkward, and then you going the extra length to make it seem like you’re not awkward, only for you to realise afterwards that your trying too hard probably made your awkwardness more obvious and then you worry to death that the next time you catch a glimpse of them you’re going to remember the incident and will need to find a place to hide, but in truth, (in my case, at least) you don’t even remember who they are the next time, but they, my friend, remember everything. So much for your personal Annexe.

The other thing with dogs being so similar to humans, is that you, the kid, need to manage them. It’s like going through puberty while you’re still going through puberty. It’s like volunteering to go through puberty for someone else. Maybe if this ever became official a theory, schools and convicts would start counting dog-keeping towards their hours of community service.

That’ll be the day.

In the meanwhile, if you want a pup, try some PUP. I’m really just throwing in this link because I’m happy to not be looking at NYC or Seattle in videos for a change. And because it’s nice to see Toronto again.

Hide And Seek

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It’s been raining all day. After a pretty uncharacteristically and suspiciously sunny Tuesday, the skies have shown their true colours today: grey.

I don’t know if we should be worried about incoming alien attacks in the near future, because that right there is the clouds having basically eaten the CN tower.

I don’t know of an attack on anything more Canadian than that.

Except maybe the winter and poutine. (But you’re expected to eat that, aren’t you? Yes, well, you’re right, not me, but other people in general.)

I don’t know really. Maybe I’ll be that person who teams up with the aliens just because they seem cool. At any rate, I’m not particularly worried about an alien attack. (No, it’s not true that I’ve been preparing for one for years, what gives you that impression?)

I’m just honestly kind of pleased with the picture. The tree provides a nice frame in a contrasting colour that would make design rule purists real happy. That frame is also the only way you’d know what actually the subject of my photograph is!

If you do really want to see a jaded, cloudy CN tower though, I may have a little something for you.

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There. Now can we get a smile on this gloomy day already?

Still can’t wait for this week to end, because I’m going home!

Polishing Up The Sharps

Over the past few weeks, I have attended tons of orientations on campus: academic orientations, school spirit parades, Computer Science frosh, computer science frosh, getting used to living on campus orientation, laundry orientation…

And so, this weekend, I put the wonderful advice my seniors had so painstakingly put together for a week’s worth of sermons to great use: I ditched my Sunday laundry, ignored my psychology homework, forgot all about my math and went out for the afternoon and evening, for not one but two music festivals.

Toronto has a pretty unique music scene in that its festivals have a uniquely Toronto vibe. When you think of outdoor music festivals, you normally think of parks or farms like those employed for European summer music festivals (arguably the best in the world) (and perhaps, with the sixteen hour drives like the ones to Pilton for Glastonbury) and American music festivals in the blazing summer (like Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, or the Warped Tour) and to be fair, music festivals elsewhere in Canada (Montréal Jazz). Perhaps you may even think of large, open air arenas and stadiums.

Toronto presents to you a different kind of intimacy when it comes to its summer music festivals (and I mean summer when I say it. Twenty eight degrees has never felt as much like thirty six and as relentless as it did on Sunday). Enter the Kensington Market Jazz festival (taking place for three days over the weekend, their packed schedule can be found here), a weekend full of jazz music (and a few stretches over to some rock and blues) on guitars, pianos and more. The festival is spread out over fifteen venues all over Kensington Market, the whole event being indoors—in shops!

My buddy and I had time only to head to one venue, having left at 12:00 PM and remembering that we hadn’t had breakfast, nor would have lunch for quite some time and making a pitstop by a Tim Hortons, and caught one set at Tom’s Place, a suit shop.

So here’s Peter Hill, on the piano, in a suit shop, furiously churning out some jazz for a seated audience (I wonder if it’s quite what he’s used to).

IMG_0155It did make for a most interesting sight!

Standing behind a mostly older audience seated so disciplined and listening and nodding along with such enthusiasm it felt slightly out of place to whip out my phone and snap a shot, so this is all I have to offer, I suppose.

But there are tons more elsewhere, for after that, we hopped on the TTC streetcar (I’m still adjusting to not calling it a tram…) and tripped down to Roncesvalles for the annual Roncesvalles Village Polish festival. Roncesvalles is known to be a centre for the Polish Torontonian community, and every year, with official patronage from the Polish Consulate, hosts this day-long music and food fest.

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Arrival!
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I can never take a decent panorama… I think a poor passerby just got cut in half in my snap! Thanos would be proud, eh?
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Giving the accordions their due in pixels
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A most sweltering yet beautiful day. I almost prefer it through the camera now.
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Books, books and more books!
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Very Polish set up. Though it must be really hot under all those layers.
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Living for the brass section

If you’d like to listen to snippets of some of the music being played around (and Polish festival or not, not all the music was lyrically in Polish), I have included a drive link with some of the videos I shot around Roncesvalles (three days, and I still screw up that spelling.) WordPress doesn’t currently allow me to upload any media that aren’t photographs.

The entire festival takes place on Roncesvalles Avenue, that’s one long street for the whole festival. A little different from the Reading and Leeds you’re used to, perhaps!

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It really is just this one long stretch of road.

And that was the whole stretch of the road.

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Wow, such empty.

My buddy and I, not quite convinced that we were done walking for the day, decided to head further up and cross the street to do some exploring. It turned out to be a lovely idea!

Cross this bridge to the other side to find the waves of Lake Ontario lapping at the sandy, gravelly shores. Welcome to Budapest Park!

And since there was water, we ran into some little friends of ours…

… silently quacking away about their shit day jobs on their way to downtown. Sunday’s the only day they can go downtown with fun on their minds. It was a well used break, or so I heard.

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Between my friend and I, we quite thought this one picture summed up our year ahead at university quite well: the first ten days, you walk along a carefully planked, well-defined path. Then as you head onto the sands, you tread through a downward curve. From there on, you gain velocity as you descend further down your path with heavier, more uncontrollable steps. There’s a sign board explaining what the various flags to watch out for are, but of course you didn’t notice that. Then come the midterms where you dive into the cold water (absolutely no reference to respite from the heat here, by the way) and try to get swim to the shores but a sudden wave arrives on the waters that honestly seemed pretty still from the admission page far. You try to salvage your record swimming through December (in the icy cold (frozen?) water too, yikes) and finally reach the stones. Congratulations, it’s Christmas and you haven’t died from hypothermia! Time to fix your mental health. You get up and walk along the top, regrouping as January and February go by, only to find that your path has abruptly ended and there are rocks under the water surface and it’s April again. The lifeguard’s off-duty today, of course! (It’s Sunday.)

Pretty apt, eh?

We decided to head back to Roscenvalles Avenue to revel in the festivity for a little while longer. Midterms can wait!

 

We also ran into some unintentional queer support, so yay for Toronto!

As we passed by a band belting out the blues, a lot of enthusiastic older couples starting waltzing (though I’m not dance expert, so don’t hold me to that!) There was this one guy, amidst them all, in a real mood of his own, dancing by himself.

That was, until a real nice lady stepped up and began to dance with him. It made for a more inspirational story than I as a university student could provide you anytime in the next half decade, so you’re gonna have to take it. I managed to get some of that on record too, and to be honest, compared to the videos, the story the pictures tell is underwhelming.

He starts out an awkward lone man dancing, ends up owning the floor, and then winning hearts. What a champion.

[That, and other videos are up right here.]

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And then that was it. We headed back home with trumpets in our ears, crumpets in our stomachs… no, I just said that because it rhymed. Keeping with the Polish theme, we had pierogi. Pretty good, and surprisingly filling!

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That sort of sums it up. Yes, this is part of my dorm room. Don’t judge me. I cropped out the sheer mess. I also cropped out the ‘Computer Science department’ sticker I’ve had since orientation, so are we on speaking terms?

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If not, then this piece of sheer madness I found at the university bookstore should come in handy.

Until I resurface!

Mileage

As a traveller through unfamiliar lands
I’ve quite a specific quest
The idea is to get home
And you’ve no idea that’s a fucking test

Because I’m walking the plank
Where the captain toots a horn
At 160 decibels or so;
My mental drapes have torn

One step forward, two steps back
Is a waltz in my head
Only it’s played on a landmine:
One wrong step, kiddo, and you’re dead

I’ve nearly slipped and drowned
And I was only walking on a road
My treasure chest is getting heavy
And so are my breath, my curses and my groans

I threw away the map
After tearing it to shreds
Around these parts
Only my eyes can get cred

And my legs seem made of lead
The green man’s laughing at me
Only fifty metres away
Arrive to give the dust company

Who’d have thought crossing a road was hard?
Who could possibly have known?
At just a few hundred metres distance
I’m still a long walk from home.

City

The stars begin to fade
To their billionth blissful oblivion
Rising from the ashes of the blade
Dust flies up over the horizon

Showdown begins at sunrise
You’re snatched out of a broken dream
The ceasefire of the night dies
Shattered by an early scream

Two sides of the same coin
Hide the other with a mask
Another chance to drown the disappointment
No, you nor her were up to task

And home’s a long way to bide
Uncertainty comforts your stay
The grass may be greener on the other side
But I’d rather lose myself in the hay

The bright lights everlasting
Don’t you know she never sleeps
Please smile while you choke on plastic
Heart heavy every night she weeps

She’d like to say she tries
Blend a palette with many hues
Heed joy and despair in her cries
And the rasp of overuse

She’s seen the rise and she’s seen the fall
She sees the minds walk on thin ice
Knowledge is heavy and she knows it all
Always broke, but she pays the price

Taken for a ride
A million dreams away
The grass may be greener on the other side
But I’d rather lose myself in hay

While the dream keeps her alive
Memory washed on a sunny bay
The grass may be greener on the other side
She will live to see another day.

Here Comes The Stage

I had no idea until 3 PM.

Wolf Alice are in town. I’ve been at school till 3, I get home, blissfully unaware and then check the newspaper.

Band I really like is playing in town. According to the paper, the festival begins at 3. I check the time: 3:30 (it’s now 4:30).

Crap.

I have to get to town.

I have my tests coming in a month.

Bands never come to town. Or anywhere within a 1000-mile radius. I’m a hypocrite to complain, because I just went for a blues festival half a week ago, but there’s a difference when a band you like is coming to your OWN CITY. You covet the gig. You have to go.

I have to go.

I have to go.

Mum won’t take me. Mum won’t let me go.

She doesn’t have a point here, I won’t concede.

I talked to a friend, I talked to dad, he said find a buddy.

We have exams in a month.

I call a buddy.

Buddy stays close by.

Buddy’s a partner-in-crime. (Hi, buddy!)

Buddy’s helping me sort out my appeal.

Of course, it’s hard to convince your parents to let you go for a gig because your friend stays close by. Especially when their real problem is that I’m going sort of close to my exams. I won’t concede a point there, it’s invalid and I’m perfectly capable of making up that time studying till 3. I do it every day.

Point is, Wolf Alice are in town , and I have to go.

What are the magic words?? Wish I knew what I could really say, it’s true I live far away, and the Catch-22 situation is that neither will they then let me off on my own (not from 7 to 9 in the night, anyway), nor can I convince mum to drag herself along.

I know it’s short notice, but who said life needed to be planned? (Amn’t I living walking proof of that? Even the fact that I blog wasn’t planned…)

But that’s besides the point right now. I’d love some of that leeway right now…

Wolf Alice come on at 7. I need to get to the gig before that. I need to leave by 6. It’s 4:45.

I need something convincing. I need magic words, heck, I may need some drama (thank you buddy).

Advice would be great, least ways, here comes theatre.

The stage is calling me. (In more than one way).

Worth It

Every once in a while, getting up at six isn’t just about tumbling out of bed, falling somewhere in the dark, cursing and running for the nearest bathroom because you’re late for school again, and most likely have a test.

Sometimes, you see stuff like this too. And then, though you’ve vowed that you will NOT look at a screen for at least five hours since your waking, you race across the house, an early morning dash to the cupboard, and grab a camera.

Then it’s worth it.

Winter skies can be really pretty. Saw this at 6:20 am.

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