Moving Away

I cried on a train today.

Travelling from Montreal to Toronto, I cried on and off for an hour as I tried desperately not to damage the book I was reading with my tears (I just bought it, for the love of all things holy. It’s in mint condition! Well, for now. You know, until I eat my dinner over it).

Nothing has really happened to me recently that I can blame this episode on. Sure, yesterday something in my lunch made me nauseous but other than that, things have been pretty okay. Apart from not yet fulfilling my dream of living with 5 dogs named “Who”, “Let”, “The”, “Dogs”, and “Out” respectively, it’s all good.

But here’s the thing. It’s been nearly two years in my new city, and despite a good job, wonderful friends, funny dating stories, and a cool roommate who’s usually able to withstand my sarcasm, I still miss home.

I’ve written about this before, and have undoubtedly discussed it at length with everyone I know. Moving away can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not easy. It’s not intuitive. Most of all, moving away is not what you think it will be. It’s hard as hell to turn your home into an occasional destination. It’s hard as hell to only see your family once a month, or every two months, because your life is now many miles away from where it began. Things you took for granted about your old city are now part of a story that breaks your heart every time you hear it.

Montreal is small. It’s a lovely little island filled with charming buildings and a whole lot of French. People are loved up. People are interested in the strangers they meet. People are happy. Things stand still more often than not, which is both lovely and frustrating all at once.

Toronto is big. It’s fast. It’s competitive and it costs too much. It’s very self-congratulatory. It’s having an identity crisis. It’s cold sometimes. It’s trying to court you, sure, but in a bit of a pushy, roundabout way. Moving to Toronto has been an endless adjustment period from relaxed to tense. That’s not to say Toronto isn’t an amazing city, because it is. I have had, and will have, many great experiences in Toronto. Toronto just isn’t Montreal. I’m still working on accepting this.

So, sitting here on this train after an amazing weekend with my family and friends, I cried. I thought about how much I miss seeing my parents as often as I like. I thought about how much I miss sparring lovingly with my siblings. I thought about how much I miss my best friend. I thought about the people I’ve known for years who are now quite a bit more than 20 minutes away from me at any given time. I thought about my dog, who can no longer stroll into my room unannounced. I thought about my beautiful city and the beautiful people in it, some who I know and some who I hope to someday know. I thought about other cities I’ve never lived in yet.

Moving to a new city feels a bit like twisting your head off and rewiring your brain, only to realize too late that you’ve never actually been trained to rewire a brain. You tried to adjust to a different reality by doing some work on the backend (and that was so valiant of you), but changing who you are is a lot tougher than you realized, and you may also be left with some residual damage from messing about with such a delicate part of yourself. We are all accustomed to the things, people, and routines we had as we were growing up, and that doesn’t just disappear when your context changes. Moving isn’t a bad thing.  It’s just not always as dreamy as it sounds.

That being said, I don’t regret moving to Toronto. It’s just an ongoing process. So when you move to a new city, remember this: You will be confused. You will be a bit lost. You will sleep a little less, especially in the beginning. You will be better some days, and worse other days. This may not be the last time you move and maybe the next move will be better but it will never be straightforward. The emotions associated with moving away don’t uncomplicate themselves after a set amount of time.

By tomorrow morning I’ll be just fine. But in this moment of uncomfortable clarity, I recognize that although change of this magnitude is thrilling, it’s also a sucker punch.

Try moving somewhere. There’s a lot about it you’ll love. But know that it may sometimes lead to weeping in public places. As long as you try to find the humour in that, you’ll be just fine.

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Taking pictures of dogs

So I’m sure everyone who has or has had a dog knows how important it is to share pictures of said dog with literally anyone who has ever crossed paths with you because guys did you know how cute my dog is? No? You didn’t know how cute my dog is? Here, take a quick lil’ look at how cute my dog is.

Here’s the thing about having dogs, or really any pets in general. We the dog owners are convinced we have the most well-rounded, good-looking, and promising little nutcases the world (nay, the universe) has ever seen. We want everyone to marvel at the level of intelligence and the depth of intuition our dogs possess. So we take lots and lots of pictures of our canine roommates. Because we’re proud of them. Because we’ve invested our love in them. Because we genuinely think they’re the most charming little muppets this side of town.

I mean, for the love of Vanilla Ice, the photo at the top of my blog is a picture I took of a dog I saw this one time. Yeah, sometimes I take pictures of other dogs too. They’re all a bunch of goofy goblins and I’ll be damned if anyone tells me I can’t be friends with every single one of them.

Generally, I’m as guilty of this practice as you are. My dog, a rescue pup, is a mutt who lives back home with the family. When I’m there you best believe I’m carving out time to sit my dog in front of a Beyonce-approved wind machine so I can Annie Liebovitz the day away. I regularly ask family members who still live with him to send me pictures when i can’t be there myself. Hey, by the way, did you guys know how cute my dog is? I’m available anytime to show you how cute my dog is.

All this to say you and I are spending a lot of time taking pictures of our dogs and we generally like pictures of our dogs. So what follows are my top 5 dog picture-themed business ideas. If you need me, I’ll be sitting on a goldmine. Disclaimer: These probably already exist in some way, shape or form. So in actuality I’ll be trying to sit on goldmines that don’t belong to me.

  1. Dog Photo-sharing App: Imagine Instagram but only for pictures of your gosh-darned dog, and your friends’ dogs. Think of all the filters. Think of all the “likes”. Think of all the time you’ll spend making sure Fido looks like he’s having a better time than he actually is on a daily basis.
  2. Professional Dog Portrait Artists: I don’t know about you but all I really want is for my dog to be immortalized in an oil painting. He might not like sitting still for long but whoever I hire to do this will just have to DEAL WITH THAT. I’M PAYING YOU SO MUCH MONEY.
  3. Dog Tinder: I know, you’d probably be the one swiping for your dog because dogs are dogs and they can’t really swipe much of anything. But who cares because nobody knows who your dog should mate with more than you do!
  4. Dog Selfie Stick: Again you might have to be the one to hold onto this because dogs are dogs and also you probably don’t need a separate selfie stick for dogs other than the one that already exists for people but what if this one had some sort of ok no just forget it. This one isn’t going to work (BUT THE OTHERS ARE BRILLIANT).
  5. Camera that attaches to the head of your dog: I mean this is self-explanatory. Attach a camera to your dog’s head that periodically takes pictures of him as he walks around doing dog stuff and just upload everything at the end of any given day. I don’t really know 100% how to pull this off but I have a good feeling about it.

Until these ideas are generating enough revenue, take this time to take a picture of your dog and try not to share it with your entire network. Just kidding, that’s not possible. SHARE IT. SHARE IT WITH ME. DO YOU NEED MY EMAIL ADDRESS?????

Bye 4 now.

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The little engine that could

A few days ago, I flew home for the holidays. I was excited, seeing as I usually take the train. Just to clarify, the train takes 5 hours to get me to my destination, while the plane takes 1. The sooner I arrive home, the more time I have for family bonding (read: the more time I have to pet the dog until he remembers who I am).

It was a fairly calm morning, as most Torontonians were celebrating Christmas. I, on the other hand, was about to celebrate boarding an aircraft. Hallelujah.

Waiting to take off, I solemnly nodded at the passenger next to me. We were both about to experience a flight so quick that it was nothing short of miraculous, and there’s nothing quite like a nod to communicate that feeling (…although I’m told a nod can mean many different things. For the purposes of this post, it only means that one sentiment).

What followed was a turbulent nightmare-coated-nightmare of a trip.

The winds were so rough we couldn’t even land the first time. I looked at my air-sickness bag in disbelief, in denial of what I knew was about to happen. Kids, these times of peril really change how you see things. The passenger to my left became my Mother Theresa by talking me through weather so bad that more than half the plane was being reminded of what they ate for breakfast. The father in front of me, attempting to soothe his infant daughter, became my primary candidate for the Nobel Prize For Being Super Cool (who won the last one? Was it Stephen Colbert? God that guy is super cool). The flight attendants became my confidantes. I’ll likely not run into these folks again, but man alive do I wish them well.

Long story short, I had a rough flight, and I did not care for the fact that it took us almost as much time to land as it took us to travel to our destination. My dear, slow train; can I have this dance?

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No place like home

*This is a post I first put up over at Shop Wanderlust

Back in September of 2013, I moved from Montreal to Toronto. I had been accepted into graduate school in the big bad city, and at the tender age of 22 I packed my bags and left a city I’d called home my entire life.

It was a terrifying experience.

Montreal is a relatively small city in the grand scheme of well-known Canadian cities. You can travel around pretty easily, and most of the action happens in the same area. If you live close to “downtown”, you’re golden, kid. You can walk around, bike around, or skateboard around if you’re so inclined. All this to say, you won’t have to go too far to see your friends, family, or that spot where you consistently run into someone famous. Beyond that, Montreal is the city I grew up in. It’s where I met my closest pals, it’s where my parents and siblings dwell, and it’s where I found myself.

Moving to Toronto meant a few things. It meant adapting to a much bigger city where it feels like everyone lives in their own smaller city. It meant being on my own in a place I didn’t recognize. It meant having to navigate areas I’d never been to. It meant having to start over.

I’m more settled in now than I was in those first couple of months. But here’s the thing about change; it’s as enlightening as it is debilitating. Change will change you; Moving in particular will force you to re-examine what kind of person you are and who you like to surround yourself with. You will romanticize everything about your hometown when you leave it, and going back here and there will be undeniably fulfilling. And yet, your new city will make you better. It will force you to mature in the right direction. The days or nights where you feel disoriented are the ones in which you will grow the most.

There’s no place like home, but there’s much to learn when you leave it.

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Bug

This past Sunday I was making my way to a friend’s apartment. We had plans to go out, as we always do, because we are very cool.

I was but 5 minutes away from her place when disaster struck in the form of a bug. Some neanderthal insect flew directly into my left eye, and in the middle of the sidewalk, I was forced to desperately pry it off my contact lens. Soon after that, my eye turned a shade of red I’d like to call “NOT CUTE”.

After about an hour of panicking over what I was CONVINCED was an exotic bug disease, my vigorous application of eye drops kicked in and I was better than ever.

 

Here, I list the ten possible reasons why this bug flew into my eye.

 

  1. He wanted to wear my shade of eyeball. He saw my eyeball and said to himself “I THINK THAT’S GOING TO REALLY BRING OUT MY ANTENNAE. I MUST DRAPE MYSELF IN THAT COLOUR.”
  2. He mistook my eye for his friend Brenda. Brenda usually looks like a human eyeball. He wanted to at least give her a friendly hug, because gosh darn it, it’s been awhile.
  3. He simply took a wrong turn. It was either go left or go eyeball, and he just really wasn’t sure which choice was the right choice.
  4. He’s a daredevil. He thought to himself “Hey, you know what I haven’t done yet? Bungee jumping. You know what else I haven’t done? Flying into an eyeball. YOLOOOOOOOOO”.
  5. He had never seen a contact lens before and figured this was his once-in-a-lifetime shot to get up and personal with one.
  6. He wasn’t himself that day. He was tired, frustrated, and generally out of it, and just didn’t care where he ended up. Happens to bugs too, y’all.
  7. He thought my eye was the door to Narnia. In his defence, if I thought I saw the door to Narnia I would also just go for it. IT’S NARNIA.
  8. He thought my eye was a mirror. He saw something in his teeth when he glanced at me, and was simply trying for a better look.
  9. He’s troubled. He loves to cause misery wherever he goes. Just last week he slapped a dog in the face.
  10. He’s a bug with a small bug brain and I’m probably over-thinking this.
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Summer

Here is a list of things I have done while waiting for summer:

  1. I left my winter boots in another city in order to protest the weather. It’s worked out great so far. Really feel like the gesture sent a message.
  2. On that note, I spend at least 5 minutes a day trying on my summer sandals. They look nice.
  3. I made a playlist called “Let’s just pretend it’s summer right now. Is everyone cool with that? Should we take a vote? Looks like everybody’s into it. Sweet. Here are some summer songs.”
  4. I have shut the blinds of my apartment whenever the weather looks like the opposite of summer. Out of sight, out of (seriously deluded) mind.
  5. I researched sangria recipes. I have not made my own sangria yet but I feel ready.
  6. I purchased sunblock.
  7. I have sketched out my dream patio. It’s got room for a barbeque (does anybody know how to operate a barbeque), a few comfortable chairs, and a decorative statue of George Clooney giving everyone a thumbs up.
  8. I have photographed grass.
  9. I’ve gone for long walks without a warm hat. Sometimes, when I feel ballsy, I leave the gloves at home, too.
  10. I’ve made a list of things I have done while waiting for summer.
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Ode to 7-dollar sweatpants

I knew when I saw you that I had to have you.

You were soft. You were tastefully understated. You were classy, without trying too hard.

When I approached you my heart was racing. Part of me thought we could never be together. The other part of me knew I would do whatever it took to make you mine.

As I grazed your price tag, I could feel the goosebumps forming. Would this be the kind of tale ending in tragedy, or triumph? My eyes were a well of the happiest tears when I saw it: “on sale”, for the low low price of seven dollars.

When I tried you on, the word “Hallelujah” formed on my lips. The perfect fit for the perfect price. What had I done to deserve you?

Now you are home with me, resting peacefully. I give you my word to love and cherish you for all of eternity. I’ll use a gentle detergent too I guess?

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