So my Friday afternoon went a little better – I got all sorts of things crossed off on my to-do list and went to the Geo Colloquium (and while there weren’t many people there, and by not many I mean 6, is was a good chance to see how its run and what I was getting myself into by volunteering to organize it). A couple of the grad students had also decided to go out for sushi for dinner, and asked me if I wanted to join, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes, after all, it’s been a month since I’ve had sushi and was having some serious cravings. While waiting in the grad lounge for the one of the grad students to finish packing up their stuff, I had the opportunity to play foosball (or try to play foosball). We were in teams of two, and it was a good grad-bonding moment I think, since I didn’t really know the two guys who were teaching me. Obviously we’re tight now :P
So we went out for sushi at Sima Sushi, a super cute sushi place (well, one of many) downtown on Princess Street. Its colourful inside is an instant mood lifter, and everybody eating just seems so happy to be there that its contagious. There is a decent number of veggie options, although they don’t have the spicy crispy (crunchy?) sushi that I loved from Osaka in Sudbury. There are, however, a few new options which I am looking forward to trying, like the sushi pizza shiitake mushroom, the yam tempura roll, and then asparagus roll. I ended up trying the pink flower roll (yam, asparagus, avocado, and cucumber in pink soy paper) and it was delicious. The rolls were MASSIVE, it took three bites to eat one, but it was really filling. The pink soy paper also made me happy, although looking back it makes for a very ‘Hello Kitty’ style dinner. If you check out the gallery on the website, the pink flower roll is the second picture – I couldn’t post it here because it won’t let you right-click and save.
Friday night was relatively uneventful. I had thought, very seriously actually, about going to see a band that I like (Library Voices) play at the Mansion, but by the time I got home I was just so exhausted from the whole day that plunked myself down on the couch and did nothing. I did start reading papers for the assignment (go productive me!) but started nodding off so I went to bed.
Saturday was a fantastic day. I got up early to volunteer at the Sustainable Campuses Conference put on by the Sierra Youth Coalition, put on my favourite colour (volunteers were told to wear green as a way to be identified as a volunteer), and biked to school on a clear, crisp autumn morning. I spent the day helping out with the sessions and saw some awesome speakers, and was even able to participate in the workshops when I wasn’t scheduled for anything. It was so amazing and inspiring to be around people who all care about the same thing – the well-being of the planet – and who all want to do something NOW about it. Going about our daily lives, and I find specifically with me, being wrapped up in school and my studies, I lose the sense that other people care strongly about the environment, because it’s not ever really a topic of conversation among social circles or between friends. When we are living our lives, and doing what we do everyday, our conversations tend to revolve mainly around ourselves and our lives. I started to forget that people really cared. At this conference, however, the energy blew me away. It’s not so much that there were tons of people there, because there were only maybe 40 or so, but that there were so many more people in one room, all wanting and advocating for the same thing, than I have seen in a very, very long time. It was incredibly inspiring and motivating, and brought me out of the sense of defeat I’ve been feeling towards the issue. Hey, people care about the planet like I do, and I am not alone!
Everyone at the conference put their hand print on the banner (or footprint...I didn't go that far though...).
So aside from the conference renewing my faith in my fellow peers, I made some new friends (mostly undergrads, but who cares?) and ate some delicious food. The Tea Room on campus (which is, incidentally, right across from Miller Hall) played host to the breakfasts and the tea and coffee breaks, and I think it will become my new go-to place for warm comfort drinks (they do, in fact, have chai lattes). The Tea Room is run by students and strives to be as planet-friendly as they can possibly be. They use cutlery and dishes that are compostable (there is no garbage there, only recyclables and compost), they do vermi-composting, they have fair trade and organic beverages, they use all local foods, and the list goes on. The food that they carry is also all vegetarian, so if I forget a lunch, I know I have somewhere to go where I am guaranteed to find something to eat that doesn’t consist of cinnamon-raisin-bagels-toasted-with-plain-creamcheese. On Saturday night there was a mini social event at the Coffee Grounds, which is a coffee shop on the second floor of the new Queen’s Centre (they also have chai lattes). The people organizing the conference had hired two musical acts to play while we ate the muffin and cookie leftovers from the day. The first one was three guys, two of which played guitar and the third one sang – they were pretty good and really casual and funny. The second act turned out to be the band that my fellow research group member plays in, called Monuments and Statues, and they are AWESOME. Check out their myspace page here. So that was an exciting night, and even though people actually went out downtown after, I went home to sleep, because I was exhausted.
Today was the end of the conference, and the closing ceremonies with keynote speakers was really touching, and I probably spent a good half hour concentrating on not getting emotional (people who know me know how emotional I can get when there is a high amount of a unifying sentiment, like when Canada won gold last winter and I cried like a baby in front of the entire restaurant where I was working). At the end, a First Nations’ elder came and spoke to us about how we are the future and everything we do will have a consequence for future generations (also trying not to cry during this whole speech). We then all stood in a giant circle around the room and held hands (ok, I know this sounds a little hokie, but it was actually really cool), and the elder’s son went around the circle with a bowl containing a concoction of grass/pine needles/other stuff that he lit just enough to give off smoke, like incense. One by one we cleansed ourselves with the smoke as he went around the circle, and then the elder prayed in his native tongue while we all thought about what the whole conference experience had brought to us, what it had taught us, and how it had touched us. It was a truly symbolic closing ceremony.
When I finally got home, after helping disassemble the conference, it was time for another ‘first time experience’. I had two pairs of clean underwear left, and Thanksgiving is five days away. I could not avoid laundry any longer. The issue is that, unlike every other single place I’ve lived in my life, this apartment does not come with the luxury of laundry machines. The issue is further aggravated by the fact that the closest laundromat is one hypotenuse (through the park) and three blocks away (which is actually pretty far to walk with the amount of laundry I tend to generate before resorting to washing it). Now, I had bought a brand new MASSIVE laundry bag that goes over your shoulder, so I wouldn’t have to lug around my laundry bin which can get a little awkward. Well, I stuffed my laundry in, and stuffed more laundry in, and then threw in some towels and dish-rags, because there was still room, and finally I had it filled to the top. Standing up, it was probably three-quarters my height. I don’t know if you have ever tried to lift such a laundry bag, but its simple – you don’t. You can’t. Maybe to walk ten feet, yes, but not one hypotenuse and three blocks. So not only did this thwart my plan to ride my bike to the laundromat (because there was no way I could ever manoeuvre that bag AND a bike), it also threw me for a loop about my laundry intentions in general. Should I do just a tiny load to tie me over till Thanksgiving? Should I do the entire bag but take the van to a laundromat with a parking lot? Should I just suck it up and walk with that huge thing? In the end I decided to take out non-essential items, like the two towels and a couple of shirts I likely won’t wear before Thanksgiving, and walk to the laundromat with the rest. I managed to cut the bag down to just over half what it was initially, but it was still a pain to walk (that laundry bag is in fact not very well designed…or it is well designed for people who are ten feet tall). It will be even more of a pain come winter time. Anyway, the actual laundromat experience was quite pleasant – it is a relatively small laundromat so if you sit near the dryers you get a little bit of extra heat (which was critical because the front door kept being left open by stupid people), and the people who are (or at least who were) there seem genuinely nice. People came and went while their laundry was being washed or dried, so it seems like a very trusting laundry-community (not that that means I’m gonna start leaving my stuff unattended…). The walk home was just as annoying as the walk there, but at least I had the satisfaction this time of knowing that I had a clean pair of underwear to wear tomorrow.
Anywho, that just about sums up my adventures for the weekend.
Later gators! xoxoxo
PS. Stay posted for a link to my pictures from the field trip to Vermont that I went on, it will be coming soon!