After an incredibly hectic week, wherein I only slept 3 hours at night on multiple occasions, my first semester is over.  I don’t know if, disregarding first year of undergrad, I have ever been both extremely happy and extremely stressed to be doing something – but I suppose that’s what first experiences are all about. After my first year of undergrad, I got used to it, settled into the idea that I was there to stay but that I’d have to work hard, and this is no different. It’s a constant battle to prove yourself, but when its done, its one of the best feelings to be able to say that yeah, I did this, and I did it well (even if its not your best work because you working on three hours of sleep).

That being said, I am TOTALLY looking forward to next semester, because I will be taking classes that I chose. One of my classes is Resources and Sustainability – with the same professor and same students that were in my Metallogeny course, which I struggled through. I will finally be in my element around them all, and I’ll be able to show them that the way they saw me struggle in the last course is not the way I normally am, and that, you know, I actually do have some brains. My other course if aqueous geochemistry, which I’m excited for because my supervisor is teaching it. That and, you know, its pretty pertinent to my thesis. All in all, next semester is gonna be kick-ass.

A few weeks ago I got to experience the Kingston version of Whoville, at the Santa Claus Parade and the tree-lighting ceremony afterwards. The Parade was pretty cool, it went all the way down Princess Street (the main street), and the downtown was all decorated so nicely! There was even a dance studio that put three or four dancers in beautiful white costumes in the window of the studio, so people walking by on the street could watch this live Christmas display. They weren’t doing anything fancy, probably just going through the different feet positions embellished with fancy arm movements for all I know, but it’s just the kind of effort that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. After freezing our toes off for almost TWO HOURS and finally getting to see Santa, we marched en mass to the market square, where they had set up a ginormous Christmas tree. There was a group of singers singing Christmas carols into a bunch of microphones, and eventually most of the huge crowd that gathered was singing right along, under the massive tree – Whoville moment! Finally some speeches were carried out by the Town Crier, the mayor (who got booed!) and Santa, the countdown began, and the tree was lit! Such a cool tradition to be a part of!

Well folks, that’s all for now, and I’ll be the first to admit, there’s probably little to no chance I’ll be writing until the holidays are over, so I’m going to take this opportunity to wish you all some very happy holidays!!! See y’all in the New Year!!! xoxoxo

December 1st: Still able to bike to school, since there is no snow on the ground. There is no snow on the ground because it’s STILL raining.

One paper/presentation done. Left to do: One final (on Wednesday), one grant proposal (due Thursday), one stats assignment (due Friday), 32 first year assignments to mark (due Friday), one batch of baked goods to do (due Friday). And then, I am DONE DONE DONE my first semester!!! Looking forward to alcohol/Vampire Diaries/Harry Potter(/Ra Ra Riot?) this weekend!!!

And now, I must sleep, for one cannot study for a final on only three hours of sleep from the night before.

Back From the Dead

Guess who’s back from having fallen off the face of the earth? It’s been pretty crazy around here lately – November seems to be jam-packed with deadlines. It’s been like that for everyone around here, and I actually have it pretty easy compared to the other people I share an office with, since I only have two courses and mostly everyone else has 3 or 4 courses. I’ve been working at the university pretty late some nights so I can get things done. I suppose such is the life of a grad student, eh?

Anyway, I suppose an update is in order here. I’m still loving it here, despite the craziness. In the last blog entry, I mentioned I was about to go to Toronto with Marisa to go to IndieWeek and go see Jimmy Eat World. Well, it was an awesome trip to say the least. We stayed in a swanky hotel downtown, saw a kitchen party/ceilidh, visited the Horseshoe Tavern – a hot spot for indie bands (we discovered the band Hollerado here, and they are simply awesome, if only for the reason that they constantly throw confetti into the crowd during their concerts and sometimes the drummer plays in only his underwear), had a veggie breakfast (complete with veggie bacon!), and rocked out at the Jimmy Eat World concert (they played EVERY.SINGLE.SONG. I would have ever wanted to hear live. It was amazing).

Man it’s so hard to remember what has happened! I guess I really should try to write more often…the trick is to get a wireless router so that I can take a couple of minutes after I’ve climbed into bed to just do an entry. Well anyway… Marisa came to visit on Halloween weekend, and that was a pretty busy weekend! At school we had a Halloween party with a pumpkin carving contest, and I won Most Creative Pumpkin for the owl I carved…and appropriately named Hooters. Friday night Marisa and I went to see a Dan Mangan concert at Sydenham Church – quite the venue, and amazing acoustics. The show was really great, Dan Mangan is a really great performer, in every sense of the word. He is a great musician and has a knack for engaging his audiences. By the end he had us singing in two-part harmony, huddled around the stage – one of those extreme emotion-inducing moments that I’ve mentioned in previous posts, where there is just such unity within a crowd of people that it overwhelms me and I get really emotional. After that we headed over to the Mansion to check out the local Sudbury group that was on tour and in Kingston that night – Pistol George Warren.

The next morning (as in 7:45 in the morning) I had to be at school for my very first field trip with the class I TA! I was both excited and extremely nervous, since this field trip is taught by the TA’s, and we had to make sure everything went smoothly. This meant giving the bus driver directions if he got lost or didn’t know where to go…and of course lecturing at every stop (6 stops total). Luckily, I was able to partner up with Mackenzie, who’s done it before because she TA’d the course last year. She did most of the talking, and I tried to interject where I felt comfortable speaking. It went pretty well I think, and I did it all over again on Sunday afternoon (when it actually SNOWED and made me SO SO SO excited!).

Saturday (Halloween) I went to a Halloween party thrown by a fellow grad student (who’s also supervised by my supervisor). I went as an iPod commercial from back in the day when they had the silhouettes dancing against a neon coloured background. Marisa went as a sheriff wearing a ridiculous hat. It was a lot of fun, although there a lot of people there I recognized but didn’t know, and a lot more people there who I didn’t even recognize at all (and not just because they were wearing costumes). The party was also thrown by my friend’s sister, so a lot of people came because they knew her.

The next week must have gone by fast because I don’t even remember what happened…there’s a good chance I had a presentation that week on a geology subject that I am not quite comfortable with…anyway that Friday (I think we are up to the 5th of November now?) I ended up going to the Grad Club on campus after school with my friend Carlos, who is from Columbia, to meet up with a bunch of his other Spanish friends (some of them I know), and that was actually really fun. What was supposed to be one beer at the Grad Club turned into three beers, which then turned into eating sushi downtown at Arisu Restaurant (no webpage yet), which then turned into playing pool and dancing until 2 am at ‘the Grizz’. It was a good time though – I am not sure if it is just their type of culture, but they are all very very friendly and inclusive, quite unlike the culture here where there tends to always be an exclusive undertone to social outings. Plus, I got to learn a little bit of Spanish!

Well, mostly during the week it’s work work work…so nothing too exciting happens. Actually, that’s a lie, at least for that particular week. There was a gem and mineral sale going on in the geology building, which can be very dangerous since I literally only have to walk down the stairs to get to it. I didn’t go crazy buying things, but I did pick up some nice specimens of Labradorite (so beautiful), a selenite rose (very cool) and most awesome of all, I finally got a geode to get cracked open! I always thought that was a cheesy thing to do, especially for pseudo geologist, but I just couldn’t resist it this time. I took a good five minutes (at least) trying to choose one, even though external features don’t really much to do with internal appearance. Still, I just thought that if I could feel some sort of pull or cosmic force guiding me towards a certain geode, it would be the most awesome geode in the entire world. I finally chose one, and I was actually very pleased with the results when it was cracked open. A smokey quartz inside, with sparkly jet black crystals that look like the night sky (in Timmins). 

That week there was also the Great Climate Debate being hosted by Queen’s, which was really interesting to go to. The hall was so filled up with people that they had to turn people away – we were sitting in the aisles, on the stairs, in the doorway, even on the stage behind the debaters. It was really inspiring to see such support, but it was also eye-opening in the sense that, as a good debate should do, it made me think and really consider some things. In the end, I left siding partly with the one side, and partly with the other, because they both had good points to consider. Apparently this is the first such debate in Canada (as in, first scholarly debate hosted by a university on climate change and Canada’s role in climate change mitigation), and although I know it was attended by important people around Kingston, I should hope that the coverage extends beyond Kingston and to the rest of Canada, so that it might make an important statement about the priorities that Canadian citizens believe in.


To finish up the week, last weekend I learned to play squash, which was so much fun, but I am still a little sore from it! I met up with a friend for lunch on Sunday, at Sima Sushi, which I’ve written about before. I worked on homework for the rest of the day, which tied in nicely to Monday, since I’ve been working almost non-stop this week too. I went over to Martha’s for dinner last night and left completely stuffed – she always makes sure she makes something nutrient rich for my veggie diet, and this time she made (ok, and this might sound so simple that it’s not appetizing, but it TOTALLY was) cooked spinach, topped with eggs (cracked, and nested in the spinach) topped with a breadcrumb/parmesan cheese mixture, and baked in the oven. It was delicious, and very seriously loaded with good stuff like protein and iron that a veggie diet is usually lacking. Also got to play with the baby, which is always so much fun.

So…that brings me to today. The weather’s been miserable lately, and I feel like I have too many deadlines and other things to keep track of (thank GOD for those free Graduate    School planners they give us at the beginning of the year…), but I’m more than just surviving here. My one and only exam is on December 3rd, and I am just counting down the minutes until 4:30 that day, when I can just take a breath and relax again!

Later gators! xoxoxo

Dear Diary…

So I’m sitting here trying to write another blog entry, and I really don’t know what to write about this time. I’ve written an opening paragraph about four times and erased every single one. So instead of worrying about that, I’m just going to give a timeline of events that I experienced since I last wrote, and maybe it will turn into something amazingly philosophical about grad life. Probably not.

October 4th – 8th: I worked on an assignment that was due on Friday. I worked on my OGS application (for a grant for next  year). Nothing really exciting happened, except that I was stressed out of my mind the entire week.

October 8th: I handed in my assignment, and my OGS application, and all the papers I marked for the class I TA, after one very very late night.

I fell off my bike, ripped through my jeans and scraped my knee, because I clearly don’t know how to jump a curb properly. The bike rack where I was to park my bike was all of ten feet away – I almost made it. To top it off, this happened on my way to school to TA my lab, at approximately 8:00 AM, so I limped around lab for the morning with a bloody knee.

I was also elated after noon because that was when I handed in the assignment and could finally be excited about Thanksgiving weekend and seeing my family. I drove 5 hours to get to my Grampa’s place, finally arriving around 10:30 at night.

October 9th – 10th: THANKSGIVING!!!! FOOD!!! FAMILY!!! I was happy. Mom made sure the stuffing was vegetarian and she made mushroom gravy for me, so in my opinion, even as a vegetarian, I didn’t miss out on a single thing. I was never too too excited about turkey anyway, I usually only had one helping, but would go back for many helpings of potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. Spent some quality time with my family, which was really nice, especially now that I don’t have the option of just scooting home for the weekend whenever I want. Erik even came, which made me really happy. Didn’t really have an opportunity to get a beaver tail though, and this did not make me happy. Next time though.

I also met up with an old friend from Guelph who I used to catch rides to my Grampa’s with, since he lives in the same town. His parents are building a ginormous house, and I got to go see it and get a grand tour of the inside (which, at the moment, still mostly consists of studs and plywood flooring). It’s possibly the biggest house I’ve ever seen, with so many rooms, they don’t even know what to do with them all. It will definitely be impressive when its done. We went for coffee after, and it was nice to catch up – I haven’t seen him since I moved to Sudbury, and that was over 3 years ago.

October 11th: Caught a ride back to Kingston. This week is ‘field trip week’ in the geology department, where a lot of classes plan week-long field trips out of town (I know there’s a class going to Quebec City, and another class going to Elliot Lake-Sudbury-Timmins, for example, but there are many more), and so all regular classes are cancelled. Its like having a reading week for those of us who aren’t in any of the lucky classes, like me. The department is pretty dead because most people are gone.

October 12th: Decided to experience the transit system here for the first time. Since I don’t have a vehicle anymore (I gave the van back over Thanksgiving), I really had no choice. I needed to get to the Cataraqui Centre, which is the mall, and it is on the other side of town. So, a couple of good things I figured out:  1) There’s a bus stop a block from my apartment, which takes me right to the transfer point. 2) Said transfer point is actually at the grocery store I go to, which means I also managed to find out the bus that I can take to go grocery shopping.

All in all, it took me about half an hour to get from the bus stop near my apartment to the mall. Not bad. The mall is also a transfer point, so I can take any of the connecting buses from there. This will come in handy when I need to go to the Riocan centre with all the big box stores, which is quite a ways down the street from the mall if you don’t have a car. Anyway, seeing as I can probably bike or walk anywhere within the downtown core, I will likely only end up taking the bus when I either go grocery shopping in the rain or snow, or when I need to go to the other end of town. And seeing as it’s a pretty direct route, I think it’ll be ok and not a huge hassle.

October 13th: Practised for orchestra in the morning, because there was an actual rehearsal later in the afternoon. Managed to get myself to school for the weekly coffee time in the geology department, and then went to orchestra rehearsal. This was a dress rehearsal because our concert (or rather, the concert in which we are participating, because it’s not just the orchestra) is this Friday. The hall where the concerts are held is beautiful. Someone told me that it is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and I could probably believe that. It looks almost like it should have been a church, but at the front there is a rather large stage and no cross. Mind you, there is an organ on the second floor, so it’s very possible that it was a church at some point. It has a beautiful sound, except that it’s a little scary because it’s so echo-ey that you can hear every misplaced note. I’m looking forward to the concert on Friday – it makes me happy to be part of an orchestra.

Orchestra rehearsal

This is the beautiful hall where most of the concerts will be held for the orchestra.

October 14th: That would be today. So far I have managed to discover the real bus system between Kingston and Toronto, not the Greyhound one that does the milk run through Ottawa and takes 10 hours and costs $200 for a round trip. So this weekend I will be taking the MEGABUS! I hope it’s as epic as it sounds. And it only takes three hours, and only costs 70$ for a round trip (fyi, the train costs about that much for one way. Someday I will take the train, but not this time.). Also, I’m pretty excited that I don’t have to deal with a sketchy kijiji-posted rideshare ride, but that I’m still getting to Toronto and back for dirt cheap.  Aside from that awesome discovery, I still have to wash dishes and clean my apartment, because the carpet cleaning guys are coming tomorrow (yay!) and because I just need to do those things in general.

Anyway, you can expect a much more decent posting after this weekend, because its going to be absolutely EPIC. Jimmy Eat World with Marisa and Emily – so excited!!!

Later gators! xoxoxo

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!

A series of unfortunate events

Today is just one of those days, the ones where bad things happen in 102934803’s instead of 3’s. I woke up this morning and checked the clock, it was 8:23. WAIT. 8:23. I have to TA at 8:30. That’s in SEVEN minutes. Oh dear god. So I threw on some pants and a sweatshirt, grabbed my material, and rushed out the door. On the way out, I shut my door before my keys, which are attached to a lanyard, had swung out of the doorway. I was locked out. My lanyard was on the right side of the door, my keys were not. BUT I didn’t have time to worry about that now, because I now had only three minutes to get to school to TA. My bike is still at a friend’s from last night, so I can’t bike. Walking will take me 15 minutes. Fortunately (and this is just about the only fortune I have had thus far), I have the van for one more week – until Thanksgiving. So for the first time ever, I drove to school. I found a parking space, ran to class, got in a lot of trouble from the lab technician about being late, and tried to teach a lab about minerals that I haven’t dealt with since second year. I just could not wait to go home. I was so thankful that I don’t have any other classes on Fridays, so I had time to deal with the apartment situation. So the lab went ok, and I debated what my next move would be. My landlord works during the day, so there was a huge possibility that I might not get into my apartment until after 5. In which case, I would have nothing to do all day because everything I needed to do work was in my apartment. I decided that the first step would be just getting my van home, so I wouldn’t be parked on campus all day, and wouldn’t have to worry about putting money in the meter or getting a ticket. Once I was home, I would figure out the next step. So I drove home, and picked up my bike along the way so at least I would have that taken care of. I got in, tried unsuccessfully to get the keys around/under the door so I could unlock it, and had to resort to calling my landlord. I don’t have his work number so I called his home, and his wife picked up. She gave me his cell number so I could get a hold of him, and he laughed at my situation (which was good because it meant he wasn’t mad that I was calling him at work, but it was embarrassing nonetheless). I found out from him that the extra keys were still with the guy who does repairs around the building, so I would have to call him to get the keys. Luckily he has a cellphone and I was able to reach him right away. He came and unlocked my door for me (and laughed at the situation as well), and I finally got back into my apartment.

Anyway, that was just the morning, we’ll see how the afternoon goes. I have to take care of some things at school, do some work on an assignment, and then head to the Geolloquium later on. Hopefully nothing else goes horribly awry with my day…I’ve had enough excitement already to last for a while.

Later gators! xoxoxo


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