An ode to Toronto

September 22, 2007 at 10:53 am | Posted in places | 3 Comments
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We all know that Toronto is hugely diverse (most multicultural city in the world) and reminiscent of NYC (“New York run by the Swiss,” “Canada’s version of New York”). But what is it like to live here? I don’t think I’ve written a whole lot about Toronto on this blog. I know that I’ve written about doing various things here, and you can probably get the sense that I like the city, but I’ve never dedicated an entire post to it. So, Toronto baby, it’s your time to shine!

(Ok, for those not in the know, the picture up there is of the CN Tower. It’s like the Space Needle in Seattle. I’ve never been up it and I probably never will, but it is a landmark, so I snapped a shot of it while Aundra was visiting, mainly because she kept calling it the Space Needle. They do look remarkably similar.   This picture is one of the few that I have of Toronto, and I swear, it’s a LOT prettier than it looks.)

Anyway, I’ve lived here for two years now, following a 9-month stint in Miami and before that, 5 years in Portland, Oregon. While Portland remains the city love of my life, and Miami is both home and the stinking cesspool of my unhappy adolescence, Toronto is a pretty freakin’ awesome place to spend one’s mid-twenties. This is by far the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and I have the added bonus of living in a residential neighborhood downtown (or in midtown, if you want to be particular), and I just love it.

For starters, the food here is hard to beat. There’s the whole multicultural/diversity thing, which leads to an insane variety of ethnic restaurants and cuisines (basically everything is represented here, although anyone from the West Coast of the States will complain about the quality of the Mexican food. Dudes. It costs like a buck fiddy for a meal in Mexico. Yes, I know that it’s delicious, but I just don’t see how a Canadian burrito really tastes that different from a Californian burrito, when it’s just rice and beans and maybe some meat and some veggies, and either way you’re out, like, 5 bucks. So suck it up. Go eat roti or something).

Toronto is a big city, but it’s composed of lots of smaller neighborhoods.  Again, the diversity — there’s Chinatown and Greektown, Little Italy and Little India.  My neighborhood is called the Annex and it’s full of big, old rambling houses.  And approximately 3 million sushi restaurants.  I walk out onto my deck and it’s like being in the treetops of a park, but if I walk down the street I have a billion bars and restaurants at my disposal.  It’s not the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the world, but I don’t really care.  There are bars and shops and it’s close to work and it’s pretty, and those are the things I care about.

If you can’t find something to do in Toronto, you might as well be dead.  There are a bunch of pro sports teams.  There’s theater(re) and film and lots of museums, including a shoe museum (love).  There’s classical music and world music and rock ‘n’ roll.  There are dance clubs and dive bars and lounges and hoity-toity rooftop bars.  There’s shopping, from Prada to indie designers.  There are farmers markets.  Summer in TO is synonymous with festivals, celebrating damn near everything and anything.  Most of the neighborhoods have their own little street festivals.  Every art and craft under the sun is available for viewing and participation.  There are islands and parks and patios.  There’s outdoor skating in the winter.  Seriously, if you can’t find something to do, you might as well just give up.

The people… let’s see…Toronto and Torontonians, loathed and reviled by the rest of Canada.  I guess there is the sense that if you live here you don’t really need to go anywhere else, but I also get the impression that Toronto and its denizens know that it’ll never be New York.  And it’s not as if other Canadian cities don’t have their perks.  I’ve only been to Montreal and Ottawa, but those are fine places, too, and if I lived there I’m sure I’d be writing about their charms.  I don’t know — to me, it doesn’t seem like people here are any better or any worse than people in other large North American cities.

Of course, there are drawbacks.  It’s full of hipsters and it can be hard to meet cool people if you’re not in school.  Summer can be humid and smoggy, but oh my God, it pales in comparison to anything the southern US has to offer.  It is expensive.  But certainly it’s cheaper than New York or San Francisco, and I don’t mind spending more on rent than I would in other places if it gets me the extras that it does here.

You know you’re old when…

September 19, 2007 at 1:40 pm | Posted in random | 3 Comments
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…you leave a rock concert early because your back hurts, your feet hurt, and it’s too late for you to be out on a work night.

My friends and I went to the Rilo Kiley concert last night at the Phoenix. Ok, it sounds cool when I say it like that, but the reality of it was more like, Ugh, dude, we’ve been standing here for, like, THREE HOURS. How long does it take to do a friggin’ sound check? I’m pretty sure the guitar was in tune the first 30 times you picked it up. Man, I can’t wait to go home and crawl into bed…

Rilo Kiley was super awesome, real tight, and Jenny Lewis is just gorgeous. She is beautiful and sexy and she rocks. Every single male in the room was drooling. But the standing. And the other people. And the waiting. And the dickhead bouncers. I am just too old for that shit. At midnight on a work night, I want to be in bed watching TV.

Can we note that all three of the bands that played last night (Grand Ole Party, Jonathan Rice, and RK) are from California? Can we also note that a song about coyotes taking over the Governor’s Mansion from Ahnold doesn’t really resonate with a Canadian audience? Jonathan Rice explained the song, and the audience’s reaction was something like this:

“…”

Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure no one outside of California or maybe the West Coast — maybe — gives a shit about the Governator. It’s just that nobody remembered to inform Californians of that fact. It kind of reminded me of this one time in my freshman year of undergrad when this sophomore girl announced that nobody had dare fuck with her ’cause “I’m from San Francisco.” Uh, really? The mean streets of Frisco? Bitch, please. St. Louis? Absolutely. South Central? You betcha. I’ll give you Atlanta and Brooklyn and Detroit and pretty much any city on the entire North American continent including, fuck, I don’t know, Halifax, Nova Scotia, before I’ll give you San Francisco. Anyway, sometimes the whole California complex gets to me. I’m trying really hard not to like Rilo Kiley any less just ’cause they’re based in LA, but man, it’s hard.

Quilting: step 1 done!

September 12, 2007 at 11:56 pm | Posted in sewing | 1 Comment
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quiltsquaresfinished1.jpg quiltsquaresfinished2.jpg

Can it be? Have I actually made some progress on a project?

Last night, I finished sewing and pressing the last squares of the first step of my quilt. I sewed all of them by hand, something that I’ve never really done before, save for a few buttons and some pot leaf patches in high school (I was so fucking cool). Carolanne met me at work/school today and we started laying out the squares to form the larger squares that’ll make up the quilt top. I finished the rest at home tonight and started sewing them together. I did a couple by hand and then used the machine. I enjoyed doing the little squares by hand but I might do the rest by machine, since it’s not like I’m learning any new stitches at this point anyway.

The color scheme is brown and blue, and within that scheme, there’s light brown and light blue, medium brown and medium blue, and dark brown and dark blue. There’re also “tight” (busy) patterns and “loose” (um…un-busy? sorry. it’s past 11 pm, the time at which I hit a wall and my brain turns off, so I can’t think of a word to describe the opposite of busy in the context of fabric) patterns. I’m arranging the squares, which look like this,
singlesquare1.jpg
in a sort of diamond formation. I’m trying to balance brown and blue, busy and un-busy. It’s really fun. It’s the intellectual side of crafting, where you have to figure out how things fit together. These fabric squares were a set, so most of the work was done for me, but I still had to arrange each diamond to the fabrics’ best advantage. I didn’t want two busy fabrics together, or two calm fabrics together, or two darks or two lights…it’s all about balance (I think. Did I mention I have no idea what I’m talking about?) and I did what I could.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it is way past my bedtime.

Things I have done lately

September 10, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in knitting, life | 2 Comments
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1. Finished the first sock of a pair of Red Herring socks for Heather.
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Socks were started in, oh, April. I got mad at this one and had to put it down for several months, but I finished the bugger and started on sock 2.

2. Had my first ceramics class. It was possibly the most fun and liberatingly, unrestrictedly (word?) creative time I’ve had in a while.

3. Saw Across the Universe late last night as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. I am a sucker for twisted, vibrantly melancholy and/or macabre films, and if they are musicals I am sent into paroxysms of delight. It’s like Moulin Rouge, except happier. It’ll be interesting to hear other people’s impressions of how the Beatles’ songs were interpreted. I especially liked ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Strawberry Fields.’

4. Work. Lots of work.

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