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.
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?”
“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!!*
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.
Keep that hair short
And your eyes up
Off your phone
In vigilant zone
And your jacket zipped
And face, a calm ocean.
And devoid of all emotion
And do truly believe
For all intents and purposes
To be ordinary works fine
Works to slip in with the masses
So is this a military test?
A spy mission to disperse unrest
With the world at our behest?
Well, don’t raise an eyebrow
Don’t bat a lid;
That’s just our everyday
You’ve got to keep warm, leave early, brave the winds, activate X-Ray vision to see through the snow, perform the most elaborate rituals to ensure a snowstorm brings down that crucial midterm taking place tomorrow…
It’s definitely an elaborate season. And running around all the time, it’s easy to forget to breathe in, even when you can see your own breath in front of you, and Moreno importantly, to keep warm, in spite of the numerous white reminders tapping on your forehead.
So I decided, in the general spirit of doing good, to make people a little reminder.
I drew it up on a particularly snowy day in my residence dining hall while studying French from a library textbook, and I did, for two whole minutes, seriously consider returning the book with an added token of gratitude slipped inside.
In fact, I’m warming up to the fact again.
(See what I did there?)
So be a nice person today.
Pass this around and remind your friends to keep warm, and above all: snort soup, dress warm and snuggly in your velvet mystic robe, and practice them dark arts of snowing days in!
You don’t get paid for punishment. You get paid to do something useful. Help someone out. Put some skills to use.
And sure, there are a million people out there with the exact same skills as you. Why do we inherently bend ourselves backwards to believe that something Worth Doing must be something you’d consider a chore, something you have to slog for, something you don’t necessarily jump out of bed to do?
Why don’t we just do what we like then? Is it a bad thing to ask to be doing something in life that you like to do? Is it somehow ‘less worthy’?
It isn’t ‘lucky’ when I do something that I like. It shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be sighing and telling me I’m one lucky bugger to be doing something I like if I am, because it’s not normally how ‘the world works’.
The whole idea of working and earning was a completely human-made process. So as a human in the system, I’m just that. A human. Not a cog in the wheel. I should decide.
I shouldn’t be sitting around here taking moment long guilty pleasure breaks to do something I like. I should be able to do it when I like, with no shame. No guilt. No “it was fun while it lasted, but now I gotta burn this bridge, hide this away, out of sight, out of mind, and get back to work”.
In all honesty, it kind of sucks. I don’t get to be this age again. It shouldn’t be in your place to tell me to wait until I’m forty. Wait until it’s all over. Hide away from everything that calls me and shut my ears tight and yell ‘ladiladila, I can’t hear you!’ just like you did. Just because you did.
It tires me out. And I know I’d never ever wear of certain things. It’s not a phase. Half your life is not a phase. We can pretend it will wear away. Maybe it will someday. But not for the reasons you think it will.
It won’t ‘grow out’, it’ll die.
And with that, I should probably admit that this was more cathartic than substantial, and put my phone down and get back on with my physics. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I just wish I could stop pretending I didn’t love some other stuff too. I wish I could pretend it really isn’t for me.
But that probably will never happen.
Or maybe it will. But the effort it takes to make it is probably less than the effort it will take me to kill it.
If you were an amateur high aiming, well intentioned yet pain-in-the-ass photographer-wannabe cinematographer trying to score a movie deal with an indie project to show, you might sit up at 3 in the morning and think it’s a good idea to recreate Trainspotting.
I wholeheartedly support you and encourage you to try. In fact, I have a little something for you.
I’ve just realized that if someone of your caliber came to my room and tried to zoom in on my desk with a grainy zoom, out of focus, my desk would very closely resemble the scenes from the movie.
You’d see messy piles of grainy white among other piles of mess and an absolute disregard for a decent human state of living. From your view at the other end of the screen, I’d be living in shambles. Dilapidation is me. You’d forget where you were and wonder where you’ve been transported to, how you landed yourself in this mess, and whether you should be seriously considering this project, accounting for your own mental wellness.
Until you take the lens away from your eye. Welcome home, my failed Academy receipient. Welcome to my room. Welcome to my desk.
It’d take you a minute to get your bearings back before you come to realise that no, there was no powder and the books weren’t keeping a tab on customers (although, I do believe my roommate is into the finer arts of accounting, if you’re altogether keen,) but were just repeatedly scratched out half-assed math solutions, and those squiggly lines and symbols were not spells and ancient incantations, but were, again, failed math problem attempts (don’t think the original movie covered those) and in fact, all you can see (as far as the eye can see, for that matter) is just. And. Only. Tissue papers. Piles of them, mountains of them, it doesn’t end. I haven’t robbed a bank and got me some crack, I’ve literally robbed the dining hall for not food, but freaking paper napkins for when my nose cracks out another one and I still find the need to get more.
This flu is probably more annoying than your camera work.
And then follows a sneeze of such volumes that you take a step back in alarm. Maybe, you feel, you should be getting out of here soon for your physical health.
Oh no, honey, some of my “powder” must’ve gone in my nose. The volumes of it coming in these days… the orders just don’t stop, you see!
On second thoughts, you’re asking yourself, how soon is now? [Allow me to break character for just a second and ask if there are any Smiths fans reading this who suddenly perked up at that last line?]
You haven’t seen my bin yet! I protest. The stores in there are tremendous!
Except you probably heard ‘trebenduz’ instead. You take a step back.
You pick up your camera. You’ve had enough. You suddenly remember that big budget project you had lined up where you tape 15 hours’ worth of some rich old guy’s pet pig. “It’s for Swina’s birthday, you know. Plus, it pays.”
I want to protest. You don’t know what you’re missing. The potential in this room. There’s a fortress of tissues, a mountain of used tissues, there’s struggle, drama, frustration, torn homework assignments, my unmade bed, the anticipation, a three week old half eaten, uncovered piece of funnel cake–
But you’re already out of the room before I can complete that last line. You really have other places to be right now. You run out in terror and slam the door shut behind you; perhaps the book was a better idea after all.
I’m still behind the shut door. I can only shake my head. Strange fellow you must be, to waste such potential…
Oh well. I’ve still got the original set right here with me. Which reminds me. It’s about time I actually got around to watching Trainspotting.
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).
It 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.
A band in action
And an audience enjoying its day!
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!
A flamethrower! (video in the link)
No, it isn’t just coordinated clothing. They’re for real. The Navy band!
More music! (Not all Polish though)
And that was the whole stretch of the road.
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!
Not a bad view…
… and not a bad looking bridge either.
Cross this bridge to the other side to find the waves of Lake Ontario lapping at the sandy, gravelly shores. Welcome to Budapest Park!
Lake Ontario, and part of the Torontonian skyline
The bridge, from the other side
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.
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!
Up and onward!
To your embarrassed ex-design student, what do you suppose that there ‘CGI’ reads?
We also ran into some unintentional queer support, so yay for Toronto!
A magician at work. Don’t ask me the Polish angle; he’s Torontonian.
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.
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!
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?