To the Window: A Love Letter to the Wall

To the first bar I ever thought of as “our bar.”

It’s a weird thing to go to a bar for the first time. How do you act? What do you do? What’s the etiquette here? It’s hard to understand and learn based just on movies or what your older siblings tell you, which can make for a difficult transition into the world of social drinking.

That transition was made infinitely easier at Nipissing because of a wonderful place known as the Wall.

The Wall is closed now, but during my five years there are a student was one of the most important intsitutions for a number of reasons. It’s gone and been replaced, but I felt the need to write about my appreciation for the first bar I ever called “our bar.”

As I mentioned, it can be hard to know what to do at a bar. How do I get a drink? What are bars even like? The Wall gave me and other students the opportunity to learn that etiquette and experience social drinking in a safe space that was predominantly students.

Instead of going out into the vast unknown (at the time) of North Bay, we could stay on campus. A quick walk down allowed students in for wet/dry or all ages nights to experience first hand what a bar and nightclub is. There were no (or at least very few) older strangers; it was just students like us out to have a good time.

Spinny Hat

My very first night at the Wall, I wore a hat with a propellor on it because of course I did. Proof of my stellar fashion sense can be seen left. It was stolen by another student in an act I consider unforgivable to this day. Yet I love that first night because after that, it was never considered for me a scary place.

They had theme nights, celebrating Hallowe’en and New Years. There were nights to go out with friends to celebrate or relax after a long week. There were pub nights on Tuesdays to celebrate or relax after a long half week.

They had the best concerts. My first year alone saw Down With Webster, Steve Aoki, Alexisonfire, Bedouin Soundclash, Lights (who seemed to come every year) & Mother Mother all come to rock a small stage in a little bar in the middle of Northern Ontario. I would have never seen these artists without the Wall.

It also hosted other events. Charitable groups could run coffee houses to support awesome causes like Relay for Life or Movember. We once had Verne Troyer come in and do a Q & A. Yes, Mini-Me from Austin Powers just hung out at our campus bar. How cool is that?!

The Wall was the first place my Nipissing friends ever saw me do stand-up. I asked how long I was allowed to go on for, as up until then I’d only done five minutes.

“You’ll get the same as all the musicians, so you get 20.”

I then proceeded to go home and write about ten minutes of new stuff. Gotta fill the time, right? After that night, I felt like I really had the ability to be a comedian.

The Wall was shut down for a time in my fourth & fifth years at school, but did open back up. This elated me and my friends, who had been going to the Wall for so long and felt a gap when it had shut down. The Wall had been a huge part of our socialization as students. When we lived nearby, we could pop by the bar for a 1 am walk around, grab a pita from Pita Pizza upstairs and head back home without ever having to pay for coat check, even in winter.

When it opened back up, it became the place for myself and my education classmates to unwind after all of our classes. It was the spot to celebrate getting our education, finishing a long road and looking back on what we accomplished.

The first day it was opened in fifth year, I clearly was going to attend. I got there and the line was already pretty large. I saw a bouncer I knew only as MoFo (I assume it was not his birth name) wave at me and tell me to get on up to the front. He said it was good to see me and asked how I was doing, when I was graduating, things like that. This proved me two things:

1. The Wall staff really did care and remember

2. I may have gone to the Wall too frequently.

It was run with faces we recognized. My friends were the bartenders, the bouncers, taking coats. It was an operation built on the backs of students to give students a place to unwind and socialize on campus, with alcohol or without.

The Wall, as I mentioned is now closed. It absolutely breaks my heart because I know I was not alone in loving that bar. I am not the only person whose friends thought of it as “our bar.” It was an integral part of growing up at Nipissing for me, and I’m sad that part is lost on future students.

I hope that another campus pub or bar can fill that void left in the student experience. It can, and it will. I’ll forever be partial to the brick walls, the dancing on the speakers, and the genuine atmosphere of fun that the Wall provided to me.

If you ever worked at the Wall, or also shared in it’s wonderful experience, thank you for making it such a great place and a big part of our campus. I’m glad we all got to see it together. Now, cue up Closing Time.

Three Weeks With Sampson

Carrying a plant around for three weeks, almost killing it, and attempting to be a good #PlantDaddy.

Normally my relationships with plants I own go the same way as all of my Snapchat streaks: they die, and it’s usually my fault. So when one of my best friends asked me to be a part of an experiment where I carry a plant everywhere with me for three weeks, I had one thought:

Oh crap, I’m gonna kill it.

The general idea was this: carry a plant everywhere on your person for three weeks. Plant goes to work with you, the grocery store with you, an *NSYNC concert with you (I wish) but you get the idea. The point is to see if you get more environmentally conscious and spoilers, I did.

On the first day, I picked up a succulent because they are apparently super hard to kill. I named him Sampson, and immediately became a plant dad. Fatherhood was in full swing.

At first I got really tired of explaining the same thing over and over again. “Yeah, it’s for an experiment.” “It lasts three weeks.” Eventually though, people came around to it.

I grew weirdly attached to Sampson. We would have conversations that were pretty ones-sided. He got a hallowe’en costume (a pineapple). He became my phone background (a photo of him in a pumpkin patch). I love being able to interact with people which makes living alone difficult sometimes, but Sampson filled that void.

Some of it was difficult, like going to a bar. Having to stuff Sampson in my fanny pack made me feel guilty. It also made me go to the bar with a fanny pack on, which is a plus in my books. Still, it was awkward to not have a hand to use while walking around.

It was not all amazing, as evidenced by the event. I was picking up some groceries with Sampson (who made zero dent on my food bill, the little angel) and I dropped him in the parking lot. It was in slow motion, and he cracked right in half. I proceeded to panic, drive him home as quick as possible and maybe bend some traffic laws to get him in a new pot.

I had to un-pot another plant to put Sampson in his new mug, but these are the tough decisions parents have to make I suppose. That plant didn’t have a name, so it was a relatively easy call. Sampson lived on to the rest of the three weeks and beyond.

I really did become more environmentally conscious, because I became aware of changes in how Sampson looked. He went from green (the right colour) to purple (not quite right) and I had to work to keep him alive. Now I have a real connection to a plant, as opposed to just having plants as decoration.

Sampson now lives on my end table, with two yet-to-be-named other succulents. It’s pretty obvious that I have a favourite kid, but that’s to be expected when you carry them around for so long.

In the future though, I’ll keep my plants at home. Sampson is my first favourite plant, which is an exciting thing. And frankly, I think I’m ready to upgrade. Bring on the goldfish!

Writing from Happy

Writing from a different place than normal.

Writing is something that I treat as a passion, but I’m starting to learn that it might be more of a coping mechanism for me than anything.

I haven’t written a lot on the site in the past few weeks. Hell, I haven’t written at all, on the site or otherwise, in weeks. At first, the reason was that I was swamped with work. Then I realized it wasn’t that; it was that I’d just been happy for a while.

Most of my writing would come out of the feelings we’ve deemed less than pleasant. A lot of posts have come from feeling isolated or alone, struggling with connecting to people. The poems I write come from feelings I don’t really get.

The jokes I write usually come from not understanding something. Something makes me confused, or I think is weird, so I try to dissect it. Why is it the way it is? Why does it happen like that? What if it happened another way? Try and think of it differently, so my brain makes it work. That’s where the jokes come from.

Yet the last while, I’ve felt genuinely happy. Not that I haven’t been happy, but I’m starting to realize that with feelings of happiness the urge to write is weaker. This bugs me a bit.

I treat writing as a passion, and as something that connects me to people. So now that I realize I’ve stopped, I feel less connected. That’s not the best recipe for keeping the happy going, now is it?

So now I’m trying to learn how to write from happy. I don’t really like the portrait of the tortured artist, where creativity only comes from places of being upset. I try not to take myself seriously, because I find serious me boring as hell. It’s just an important realization to know that writing happy is a bit of a different animal.

Just because I’m not sad doesn’t mean I can’t write authentically. Just because I’m not confused doesn’t mean I can’t question things and make jokes. The laughs I get aren’t the only thing that makes me happy; the happy can come first. It may take a little while to get used to, but it’ll be fun to write from happy.

Poems For Nobody II

He’s back, and this time: he’s going to leave you William Shook-speare.

Nailed it.

Somewhere between the moonlight touching your face
And the sunlight breaking up our party
Is the closest thing to heaven that I’ve known.

They say to never meet your heroes.
What if the people you already know become your heroes?
The friend who endures heartbreak and learns to love again unguarded.
That person becomes a hero.
The boy who becomes a man and learns that being a product of a man does not mean you are destined to end up like him, and changes his ways for the better.
That person becomes a hero.
The parent who works two jobs to give their kids a new bike, and splits their shifts to be able to ride it with them when they get home from school.
That person becomes a hero.
The elderly couple who show love is not found just in grand gestures but in the every day.
They become heroes.
The survivor, who carries on living every damn day.
That person. Hero.
Those who love and live and fall down and get up. Dust themselves off and try.
They become a hero that is better than one in a comic book or a tv screen.
They’re real, and they’re here.
No cape or mask just determination and belief that things will come around.
It’s impossible not to meet your heroes when your heroes keep revealing themselves slowly in front of your eyes.

I do not believe in love at first sight.
It’s never felt right.
But one night or one day
There will be something they do
or say
or a laugh
a look or a smile
that will make you pause for a small while and say
Oh shit. This really is it, isn’t it.

The river is the before.
Calm and still.
Moving forward, steady on.
The fall is the during.
Crashing and thrashing.
Waves engulfing, frantically down.
The river is the after.
Calm and still once more.
Moving forward, steady on.

One Year Anniversary: Things I Think I Think

30 things I think I think for one year of writing this site.

October 5th last year I started writing this blog. It’s become a part of who I am. So to celebrate, I’m just going to list some things that I think I think based on the last year. It’s been a hell of a year for me, and for everyone probably. These are just some things I think I think:

  1. I think it’s okay to pray, even if you don’t know exactly what or who you’re praying to. Even if you don’t know if you even believe in it, there’s nothing wrong with praying for change or strength.
  2. I think the road to loving yourself is lined with days that feel like hating yourself.
  3. I think the days of hating yourself sometimes are the days where you just question yourself for real. What do you stand for, who are you, and what do you want. Are you going that way? Keeping yourself from growing is a barrier to loving yourself.
  4. I think when people say drink more water, they might be on to something.
  5. I think Spotify premium might be the best investment I’ve made since my degree.
  6. I think you can’t really go home again, but you can always carry home with you.
  7. I think that even with that said, I haven’t felt a love for a place like I did when I drove in to North Bay for homecoming. I’ve never been happier to see the Canadore buildings.
  8. I think I really don’t know how much some people care about me. At the same time, I think some people don’t know how much I care about them. That’s something I can work to change.
  9. I think Sam Smith might literally be an angel.
  10. I think that I finally have a haircut I really like, even if it does look a lot like every other white guys haircut.
  11. I think sometimes goals can be too lofty, but you’ll get there by sticking through it.
  12. I think watching Please Like Me was an experience beyond it being a good show.
  13. I think an election that doesn’t govern me managed to hurt me and people around me in a way I didn’t expect.
  14. I think that it also lit a fire under so many young people that can’t be ignored.
  15. I think recognizing the importance of the family you define is a part of growing up.
  16. I think Coloring Book will be a part of my album rotation for the rest of my life. Hope my kids enjoy listening to Sunday Candy in my future minivan.
  17. I think that it’s a lot easier to be happier for someone than to hold a grudge.
  18. I think honestly showing poetry to people was the second most brave thing I did this past year.
  19. I think moving to Thunder Bay was the most.
  20. I think I’m getting better at sticking in moments when they happen.
  21. I think Autumn has really managed to sneak up on my rankings of favourite seasons.
  22. I think I’m learning the impact that writing and art can have. I’ve had people quote my writing on their sites, their Instagrams, and to my face. Hearing that something I wrote could relate to someone else makes us both a little less lonely, right?
  23. I think I should learn Portuguese
  24. I think I’m getting better at sticking in moments when they happen. I think I need to hire or borrow an editor so I don’t put the same thing on here twice.
  25. I think the world is full of interesting people I haven’t met yet, which excites me.
  26. I think I might never meet a lot of them, which bothers me.
  27. I think if I have half as good of a New Years this year as I did to ring in 2017, I’ll be a happy guy.
  28. I think now that I’ve started travelling (across the province, to the U.S) I’m afraid for my wallet that I won’t stop keep going further and further.
  29. I think some of the most important parts of being human are connection, art, laughter, humanity, and love. Bringing those into the world might be all we can really do to make this a better place.
  30. I think I frequently have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all part of the learning process, and laughing off things when something goes wrong. I mean, it IS all pretty funny.

I’m really happy with how a year of writing this site has gone. Interviewing some people (really fell off on that one.. whoops. Next year – more interviews) and writing some of the weird thoughts in my head. Bringing great stand-ups to people’s attention, and also sharing my own attempts.

If my writing has made you feel anything: laughter, thoughtfulness, sadness, anger, hope, joy, whatever. If it has, thank you. I’ll keep on writing if you keep on reading.

To more years in the future.


Ask The Jesters: Why Late Night TV is Balancing Education, Politics & Laughter Better Than Ever

How Colbert, Bee, Meyers & Noah continue to teach and call to arms while wrapping it all in humour.

On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel made an impassioned speech during his monologue regarding the latest attempt by Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. In it, Kimmel called out Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the writers of the bill, for lying to Kimmel’s face about it’s contents.

Kimmel’s son, Billy, was born with a heart condition back in April. Jimmy spoke of the wonderful hospital staff that helped Billy then. Now, some five months later, Jimmy was taking a stand against a health care bill that would only cover children like his son if they were lucky enough to have a wealthy father.

Kimmel’s monologues both blew up. The first one in May for it’s heartfelt sincerity, and this recent one for it’s scathing review of the new healthcare plan put into personal context by Kimmel. “I am politicizing my son’s health problems because I have to,” said Kimmel. Many people online asked why a comedian would even be a voice in the healthcare debate.

Turns out, Jimmy has a pretty good handle on the bill. The Washington Post looked into the claims that Kimmel made in his monologue. You can read them here. He and his writing staff did their homework before coming out that night with his monologue. It’s a pattern more and more late night hosts are following: educated, political commentary that is happening now. It’s not new, but it might be more important than ever.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, the realm of late night television has become increasingly politicized. Late night is typically thought of as a place for celebrities to just talk about being celebrities and whatever big project they have coming up next. Now though, it has become a place for political discussion.

Newer shows have taken the “funny news” style that was mainstreamed by The Daily Show and brought it to new heights. Last Week Tonight isn’t normally populated with guests, but instead focuses on educating the audience on a new topic. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has become a smash hit with an increasing following as Samantha brings a fresh perspective and scathing reviews of politics to the masses. The biggest winner with this shift to more political reviews has been Stephen Colbert.

Courtesy of Business Insider

Colbert, now free of his Colbert Report character who was a conservative pundit, has attacked the President and the current administration in almost every monologue. Viewers have turned to his CBS show in droves, leading to him beating Jimmy Fallon in the late night race for the 2016-2017 season. While it may not be the only reason, it has to be a factor.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is the archetype for late night. He laughs excessively at his guests jokes, goofs around in fun skits and games, and in general is out for a good time. With more people looking for political commentary and the strong takes from comedians, Fallon has fallen behind.

A big question is: what caused this shift?

While there has been a shift in political consciousness of the masses, especially young people, that isn’t the only option. Another is that the spread of information at this point is faster than ever before. Once a monologue is finalized, it becomes a clip and can go viral in an instant.

Monologues have been a staple of late night television hosts dating back to Johnny Carson. A mini-stand up set on the news of the day which is ever changing and a testament to the writing strength of each show’s team. Mostly these are full of cheeky one liners in the days of Dave Letterman & Jay Leno. While some are political, they didn’t discuss policy or position as much as comments on a politician’s superficial features.

Now, the monologues will be harsh indictments on policies and the political establishment not meant to embarrass the politicians exclusively but also to educate the viewer. These make for excellent YouTube clips. Clocking in at usually 5-8 minutes long, it makes for a relatively quick watch that keeps you up to date and current.

Every day Tuesday-Saturday, the previous night’s monologues will be in the top trending videos on YouTube. They’ll be the most retweeted tweets. They’ll be shared by friends and family on Facebook. It becomes the most acceptable way to frame your opinions on the government or world events: “Watch this video, because Seth Meyers/Stephen Colbert/Samantha Bee sum up what I also feel about this accurately and in an entertaining way.”

Comedians & comedy writers are analytical and sharp by nature. Comedians will be the first people to call bullshit on an argument they don’t like because poking holes in things is what can lead to the best comedy. They look at things normal people take for granted or walk by every day and ask “how can I make this funny.” When given large concepts like race, religion, war, or disaster, their minds go into overdrive. “How can I make this funny and make sure that people understand how important it is.”

We like our news to be packaged in a way that isn’t doom and gloom. It’s why local news shows tend to end on a fluff piece about a cat fashion show or someone baking the world’s largest calzone. These comedians (and they’re all comedians at heart) don’t just come out and say the world is ending. Instead, they wrap it in humour and make it easier to digest, like putting a pill inside some pudding. It’s easier to get down when it’s surrounded by something nice.

Finally, a large portion of the young people believe that some parts of politics are so ridiculous that you have no choice but to laugh at them. Millennials are often categorized as not being able to take a joke. This isn’t true. We’re a whole generation that survives the awful things in the world by bonding over cat photos and other memes. It’s that we need to take things that are so outlandish, ridiculous, or sad, and find a way to stomach the information while remaining interested. Hearing the bad news outright would make us numb to the bad things happening. Keeping the humour around it allows us to take in politics, world events, and keep us informed.

As I mentioned earlier, comedians giving us the news and commenting on politics isn’t new. It’s been happening for as long as funny people have been around.

When 9/11 happened, Jon Stewart still broadcast The Daily Show from New York. On the show, he appeared distraught and shaken. His presence captivated the audience because it was such a change from his regular demeanor. Stewart spoke to the nation, and in a time of great sadness still made the audience laugh. He spoke with sincerity, honesty, and as a representative of New York and it’s people. Stewart wasn’t above them; he was one of them.

The reason we listen when comedians are like this is because of the shift. This man is one of the funniest people on the planet, and he’s struggling to keep it together. It relays the gravity and the importance, yet somehow he still makes us feel like it’s going to be okay. Stewart always had a gift for this type of message.

Today’s hosts still do it as well. They wrap tragedy, heartbreak, and confusion in jokes to make the pain a little less. They educate and explain while still making you laugh. It’s an important role that has been taken by some in full stride. In order to understand the kingdom best, ask the jesters.

I have a pretty simple lunchtime routine. When I can, I come home, grab whatever grub I have, and put on The Daily Show. I watch Trevor Noah explain what’s going on in America & around the world in a 22 minute show. Throughout the day, I may check out what Seth Meyers’ monologue was, or maybe what new segment Samantha Bee made. And yes, I will watch James Corden do some carpool karaoke or watch Jimmy Fallon play slap bet with another celebrity. It’s about balance.

Now more than ever, the jesters who hold court on late night have the tools, a captive audience, and the ability to deliver news and education to the masses. So far, they’re doing a great job. At this point it’s up to news networks to catch up and find a way to get the same information out to people. The class clowns are stepping up as some of the most important voices to listen to.


Measuring Days

How do I judge days aside from what I got done off my to do list?

I really struggle in how I justify if I had a “good day” or not. That’s because for a very long time I just counted how good my day was by what I did or didn’t do.

I’m a list guy. Things to do, things to buy, what needs to get done goes on the list. Lists are kept of lists currently in progress. It makes me lapse into judging my days by what I did. What got done off the big list of lists?

Which is weird, right? There are lots of things I do in a day. I eat, drink, sleep, contemplate what the world will be like if this game of nuclear chicken America is having with North Korea goes south, brush my teeth. It’s a busy day.

No matter how much I “do” in the day, or manage to get off the list, it never feels like enough. The list usually has stuff on it still. That’s the part I focus on. I’m really starting to hate the list.

If I don’t use the list to measure the day, what can I do?

A small aside:

Part of me recognizes the weirdness of me posting so frequently about things I’m learning, especially if it comes off as me trying to tell the reader that I know anything. I’ll tell you two things right now:

1. I know nothing (Jon Snow, hardy har)

2. Part of me is hesitant to write these things for people to read when I regularly go to therapy and need help constantly. Who am I to tell anything to you?

When I told a friend this earlier this year, I talked about how I felt it was strange that at times when I feel like I’m falling apart, I keep talking about good things on my site. Who am I to create things, because sometimes I feel like I’m nothing special. She thought for a second and hit me with this:

“So you’re pretty much saying no one should create ever, because no one is worthy.”

Damn. Check and mate, I guess.

So I’ve taken that to heart, and just try to let people in to things I’m trying, learning, or things that make me laugh. Even though I need help and take steps to really take care of my own mental health, I’ll try and keep writing. If it helps you, groovy. If it doesn’t, then I’m sorry you wasted your time. I know that it’s definitely helping me though.

Sorry, back to what we were talking about.

I attended a conference earlier this year and heard Dr. Keith Edwards speak. You should hear him speak too. Here, watch one of his talks about the culture of sexual violence and come back to me.

Watch it? He’s great, right?

He talked about how we need to celebrate more every day. People think celebrating is meant for only special occasions, like birthdays or graduations. Those of us who are able to celebrate the little things feel more grateful and happier. Celebrate things like getting two pink starbursts in those mini packs, hitting every green light, getting to have coffee from your favourite place. It makes it the world a bit nicer to live in when you celebrate the small things.

Thinking back to the lists, I’ve stopped trying to focus on what I did every day. Instead, I’m working to look at what I made that day. Did I make anyone laugh? How about make anyone smile? Did I make time for the important people? Did I make time to reflect?

Did I make any art? Writing, jokes, and music aren’t my day job (and I freaking love my day job) but it’s another important aspect of my day. Did I make the people around me and the places I visit a little better? If yes, it’s a good day. Sometimes there are days where the answer is no, which means I should try and make time the next day to make something different.

I still get caught up in the lists and things that I did. Hopefully I’ll be able to celebrate more and focus on what I make every day soon enough.

I Just Want a Microphone: How I Gave Up and Refound What I Want To Be When I’m Older.

Some people talked me out of a career path that I now find myself getting back on. Don’t be that person.

When I was four, I wanted to be a fire truck. Not the firefighter, just the truck. I wanted to take the firefighters to the fire and then let them deal with it.

Honetly though, I wanted to be a sportscaster since I was 12 years old. I would listen to the calls of Maple Leaf games or watch TSN and know that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a sports journalist. I watched the networks endlessly. I idolized Cabbie, a personality on The Score (now with TSN) who was so effortless and fun in his interviews. I was going to be that guy, and I told everyone.

A few relatives heard what I wanted to be and told me this:

“Oh, no. Don’t do that. That’s not worthy of your skills and your brain power. It’s not worth it.”

Fun fact: If you tell a twelve-year-old that something isn’t worth it and is a bad idea, they’re likely to listen to you.

So I didn’t pursue it. Instead, I went into what was considered a more noble profession: teaching. I went off to university, and through my academics I really learned what my skills were. My best skills might be talking, writing, and researching. What skills do you need to be a journalist?

Yep, exactly.

They also help in standup (which I love) and public speaking (which I love) and this website (you get the idea, right?).

I eventually did follow my dream and did a post-grad in Sports Journalism and it was one of the most fulfilling academic experiences of my life. Calling basketball games on the radio was a thrill. Interviewing athletes and Olympians was a dream. It was hard, but it was worth it.

Eventually I got to intern at TSN. I met a wrestler I loved watching growing up. I met Cabbie. This was the life.

I’m now in another field I discovered and fell in love with (what up, student affairs) that fulfills me. It’s also great, because I can continue to do what I love on the side while working here. This year I’m going to be calling Lakehead basketball games on the radio and for OUA TV. It’s a Hannah Montana, best of both worlds situation.\

So what’s the point in me telling you this? It’s pretty simple: don’t be that relative.

Support what kids are interested in. If they discover an interest in makeup, science, woodworking, whatever. Support them, encourage them, and tell them to give it their best shot. In life, it is not up to you to decide if what makes people happy is worthy of their work. I know bosses who are miserable and bartenders who are peachy because they love their work. Encourage them to try new things and be open, but stoke that fire when you see it ignite in someone.

I had most of my family support me in wanting to be a sports journalist, but those few people managed to sway me enough to not pursue what is a dream career. Instead of being them, be the ones who support and nurture those dreams. Sometimes they will pan out, and sometimes they won’t, but they’ll never know unless you let them try.

*Authors note – I wrote this out all at once and tried to publish it and it deleted. That was slightly enraging. Always remember to save your work, people. Nothing else, this is just a PSA.*

Vacation Thoughts

Two trips, some thoughts, and a new itch to travel.

Hey everyone! Guess who is back from vacation?

I managed to schedule both of my biggest things this summer in the span of two and a half weeks, meaning my Instagram was great for 18 days and then will go back to attempted artsy photos.

I went to America for the first time since 2005 when I visited Minneapolis, Minnesota first. A few weekends later, it was off to Montreal for my first Osheaga. In the interim, I took some time off from writing because vacation is vacation, and also my mom came to visit Thunder Bay. It was nifty.

Anyways, I figured my first post back from vacation might as well be about the vacations themselves. This won’t be like one of those vacation slide shows where I show Let’s start with America.

Minnesota & Going Back to America

Like I said, it’s been 12 years since I was last in the U.S. of A. Lots can change in 12 years. For example, I learned how to not wear my hair like a sheepdog.

Also, the Fast and the Furious movies went from two movies about Vin Diesel stealing cars to eight movies about The Rock attempting to blow up the sun, I think. Lots of change, and lots of things to notice.

  • When people asked us why we had come to Minneapolis, they were very confused to hear us say vacation. They couldn’t really grasp that they were the best tourist destination in an 7 hour radius of Thunder Bay, but it’s the truth.
  • Generalization time, but wow people love putting bumper stickers on cars in America. No better way to show off that you’re still a Bernie Bro than keeping the sticker of him for 2016 on your ’99 Toyota Corolla for all to see. Strong opinions on the backs of cars too, which seems like a great way to get the family behind you to all turn on each other on their way to Walgreens.
  • The main part of the trip was to see a couple Minnesota Twins games. The last one fell on Military Appreciation Day and it was an experience. While Canada seems to have a much more subdued and quieter patriotism (World Junior Hockey Championships excluded), there was a ton of out loud patriotism in that ball park: people in American flag shirts, a military helicopter flying overhead, multiple USA chants, and one hell of a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. When I hear Americans chant that they are number one, I kind of get it. They’re told it every day.
  • For some reason, debit machines that come to your table are not a thing in the U.S. and it’s oddly stressful seeing someone just walk away with your credit card.
  • When an American learned we were Canadian, they would pop if we said “eh.” Made for an easy way to make friends.
  • I’m really excited to go to my 3rd state, Nebraska, in November now. Bring on corn!


Montreal a.k.a. When I Learned I Should’ve Taken French Through High School

Montreal is a beautiful city with vibrant art and culture and an affinity for bagels. If the Habs weren’t in the town, I’d probably like to live there. Kidding, kind of.

  • Osheaga music festival is a beautiful disaster. Beautiful in terms of location, music, aesthetic, everything. The disaster was getting in and out of the park, and trying to find friends. Sorry, friends I didn’t see.
  • Nothing is stranger than meeting someone from your far past and seeing how much you may have changed but things can still be similar. Case in point – seeing an old middle school friend who has been so successful in the arts made me happy for them, and hungry for me. It’s now a more focused goal, I think. So thanks for that if you’re reading. Catching up with you briefly was a highlight of the trip.
  • Always charge your phone before a music festival. Always.
  • I hadn’t been in a mosh pit since the eighth grade (trying to impress the girl from two points earlier, I’m pretty sure) but it was fun as hell. PUP is great.
  • There is so much music that I had no idea was out there and incredible. The three days were a crash course in genres I have no expertise in, and that made it so much fun.
  • Festival stand hot dogs are not enough to sustain a person for a full three days.
  • Montreal is another city to revisit on a non-festival weekend to take in the sights. The people are so nice and the street art was incredible.

Final Thoughts

I know lots of people get struck by the travelling bug, and these are some pretty tame forays into the world. My dad sarcastically called me worldly and Carmen Sandiego when I got back. Yet for me, this is a big expansion. Minneapolis is one of the farthest places I’ve gone from my hometown, and Montreal was my first real time in Quebec.*

*I refuse to count a one-time trip to Hull to go to a casino with my university roommates. No French was spoken, and we lost what seemed like a lot of money during roulette.

So, where to next? Aside from Nebraska, my calendar is open. If you have any suggestions, comment them or message them to me! I’m down to road trip, and my flight anxiety is slowly but surely leaving me. Til next time, friends!