If you want to find Cherry Tree Lane,

just ask the policeman at the corner

I stared into my freezer for an hour this morning. I miss the olympics.
*on the quad*
Hi! *waves*

Yesterday about 8 people told me "So I read your journal. Your whole journal. You're fired." Most of these people were my roommates, which means I'm probably going to be teased for about three more weeks, but there may (or may not) be more awesome people lurking.

My profile
About Me: I normally refer to myself here as C - a vague attempt at keeping anonymity. Which is sort of pointless now that my mom reads this (HI MOM!), but I'm somewhat fond of it now. I'm in my third year at the University of Ottawa, where I take courses about Shakespeare, realist game theory as applied to arctic sovereignty, and Arabic short vowels. I enjoy all of those a lot more than you would think is socially acceptable. While at school I'm heavily involved with international development clubs like Engineers Without Borders (they only let me be in charge of things because they haven't figured out I'm not an engineer yet. Shhhhhh). I currently live in a house with three superheroines who enable my tea-drinking habits. I love learning and talking about world issues, politics, and feminism, and entertain many vague pipedreams of working in diplomacy/politicking/development/NGO sectors. Or just hanging out with monkeys, I'm still fairly flexible at this point. Whatever I do, though, I just want to be good enough at it that I will one day be interviewed by Jon Stewart.

And this is my journal, which means most of what I talk about is how the grocery store was out of kleenex or whether it's academically acceptable to use a Dr Seuss reference in an essay title or something slightly idiotic like that (USUALLY IN CAPS LOCK). Which is a lot less interesting than you'd think. So I just wanted to point out a few places to go if you were interested in my actual writing. Which you may actually find more idiotic than the kleenex thing, and that's fine. But since I've had this journal since 2005, there's a lot of projectile word vomit to sift through, so here's a list of Things I'm Not (Entirely) Ashamed To Have Written:

-'Wonderwall' (on balance in the world, and why I'm an optimist)
-'The larks still singing bravely fly' (Remembrance Day 2009)
-'Cinderella Didn't Catch That Coach' (on growing up)
-'Editing (or, Cinderella Didn't Catch This Coach Either)' (on changing my majors at school)
-'Two Wheels Down' (a typical Day in the Life)
-'I never knew Neda' (about privilege and learning things about the world you'd rather not, but need to nonetheless)
-'Boxsprings' (in which I get my own house)
-'earthquake' (in which I make a plea)
-'Rime of the Ancient Mariner 2.0' and ''Machiavelli' has Five Syllables' (sometimes I like to rewrite classic poetry, or write terrible poetry about the classics)
-'Glitter in the Air' (on taking a bow)
-'Waving Flag' (on the World Cup, Canada, and multiculturalism)
-'Them Kids' (on youth and changing the world)
-'Bare feet run a race just as joyous and fast' (I wrote a letter to my future self while I was in Kenya)
-'Map Reading' (more on growing up)
-'Ceilidh at the Kitchen Table' (my love for Celtic music)
-'Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species' (I used to want to be a zookeeper)

Now, if anyone IRL ('in real life') sees themselves or someone else mentioned (I use pseudonyms for most people in order to avoid that though) or disagrees with something I say, or wonders why I wrote something, you're more than welcome to engage and ask questions :) But this is first and foremost my journal, which I have because I discovered the hard way that having a paper journal means that your little sisters can find it and draw inappropriate things on it. I think xkcd says that fairly well. So welcome, and have a brilliant weekend!
much love,

And now, for a few useful charts:

that has such people in't
*ask the mountains*
I went into town to see some friends, and ended up crashing the play practice because, well, that's where most of them were. I was in a Shakespearean youth company for 3 years (which I wrote about here), and last year was the first summer I didn't spend learning lines and breathing iambs. Seahorse and I waited outside, not wanting to interrupt, but Rat opened the door so we could come in - we lingered near the front of the room as first one person, then a few, waved to me in varying measures of subtlety. Finally Robin (our magician of a director) turned around, did a humongous double-take, and then sprinted the length of the room towards me.
Rehearsal sufficiently interrupted, I hugged a few people and then settled down to watch them run the rest of the dance rehearsal. I don't actually know 'As You Like It' well enough to pass judgement on anything yet, even casting (except for Erica as Rosalind, because yes). Khris ecstatically told me "I'm NOT the fool this year!!" and I had a moment to consider just how much he'd grown up, that he was telling me how much more of his involvement this year was mentoring the young 'uns than simply acting (as the Senior Actress, you'd best believe I saw a lot of that), and I was introduced to the group. Since there were newbies there who had no idea why their rehearsal had been interrupted by Robin's screaming, I was introduced as "a true lover of Shakespeare, and I hope all of you are coming to love and live his work as she and I do," which is one of the most wonderful ways I've ever been introduced. 
I then went off to play 'Things in a Box' in Rat's mother's restaurant with my friends, and was reminded how different they are from the people I'm with now but how much I still love them. I'm going to try very hard to come back and see this year's play to usher the new guard in. Cor, do I miss it.

Girl Talk
*pillow fight*
(hark! a post! apologies in advance for an overabundance of commas)

Whenever one roommate asks “does anyone want some tea?” in my house, that’s usually code for “come waste an hour in the kitchen talking about life.” I just spent over an hour around the table in our kitchen with my roommates talking about all the places we’d love to travel, why we love to travel and why we would go to the places we would, and then about penguins (obvi) and animals and pets and how we grew up with them. Every time we all sit down for tea we spent hours talking about something different, and I always learn something new about them.

I was thinking about this the other day, when I was watching Bridesmaids - which I hadn’t seen yet, and which many people told me I would like, but which I didn’t actually find particularly funny, although I love Kristen Wiig (the terribly fake Irish accent topped it off). The parts of that movie that I really enjoyed were the Girl Talks. At the beginning, when Annie and Wossface (the bride) are talking about sex and self esteem at brunch, teasing each other and being easy with each other, that was a really neat scene to me, because it says a lot about how the close friends I have interact with each other. Later in the movie, the small clip of Annie seeking out her mother for the express purpose of a small hug, no words needed, was sweet, beautiful, and very true to my life.

bookshop made a post once (I can’t find it now) about how powerful Girl Talk is, but how often it’s derided in movies and pop culture and turned into “girls get together to put on nail polish and talk about boys,” and how terrible that is when it’s such an amazing space for so many people, and I really believe that.

The space I’ve created with my roommates - and other friends - over the years has turned into a really incredible one for me: the longer I spend in it the more aware I become of how acutely different we all are, but more and more I value it as a space for Girl Talk. And Girl Talk is sometimes about ~boys, yes; for some people more than others. But it’s not superficial and it’s not full of squealing and it’s not all about sex and even if it was that wouldn’t make it less valuable, because Girl Talk, to me, when it focuses on that, is about how we choose to share ourselves with people, and all of the things that that entails. And having Girl Talk to hash out that sharing - the things we want and the things we have and how we create spaces for other people in our lives and change as people because of it - is incredibly important.

I just spent an hour talking about whether I prefer to see nature or civilization when I travel, and sharing other peoples’ desires to see different parts of the world, and I've spent countless hours talking about food sovereignty and problems with the education system and where we want our careers to go, and none of that had anything to do with ~boys, but sometimes Girl Talk does, and I wish that society and other people would stop treating the conversations that women have with each other as Justin Bieber fan club meetings, because they’re so much more. Those talks around our student housing tables using mugs to keep our hands warm (and the times when we congregate in the hallway to, yes, commiserate over how much chocolate we've recently consumed) have been so incredibly full of support and laughter for me in my experience as a young person, as someone deciding how to share her life, and, explicitly, as a woman. We need that. And we need people to stop making fun of it.

Note: the ~ is there because not all girls like boys or talk about boys, or like sex or talk about sex, not even in my house, but that’s what Girl Talk is generally seen as being all about.

Wham bam, thank you ma'am
*world music*

Birthday present for laliandra! Because I know she likes FSTs and playlists, so I made her one based around a song that she gave me.

A playlist of City music! City music is: about cities; played in cities; evocative of cities; has 'City' in the title; is excellent commuting and street-strutting music all around, basically. (DL)

o1. City - Patrick Wolf: a song that Lal herself gave to me! 
"Don't let this city destroy our love"

o2. LDN - Lily Allen: Hidden lives and petty crime! Yay cities.
"Everything seems to look as it should but I wonder what goes on behind doors"

o3. ABCs - K'naan: Because Mogadishu is an entirely different kind of city.
"Superman is known by the locals, as this dude who's so fly it's global"

o4. Life in the City - Michael Franti & Spearhead: cities are places for uncertainty (you could be killed by a taxi AT ANY MINUTE), but thankfully also places for living loudly and colourfully.
"Ay yi yi put your hands up high, cause you never know how long you gonna live 'till you die, that's life in the city"

o5. Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone: featured in the opening scene of Definitely Maybe, a song that Ryan Reynolds (Perfect Person) narrates is "just one of those songs that absolutely fits a time and a place and an afternoon of walking through New York" (and almost getting run over).
"The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then makes no difference what group I'm in [...] we got to live together"

o6. We Used to Wait - Arcade Fire: it is a rule that all playlists (especially hipster playlists) must contain at least one (1) Arcade Fire Song. This one was used on that really cool app that would create a music video in whatever neighbourhood you wanted using images from Google StreetView, which is why in my head there are people running through city streets in it. (Plus it's from an album called The Suburbs, so. Layers!)
"I used to sleep at night before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain"

o7. Suffragette City - David Bowie: David Bowie is now inseparable in my mind from the Queen Bitchfest AI8 fic festival that produced the most HQ fic I've seen from anything similar, but here! Have this. (Also: "wham bam, thank you ma'am" AHEM)

o8. Ya Ya (Al Stone Remix) - The Empty Heads: from the Take the Lead soundtrack. Cities are crazy busy oh wow fast what just happened I have 8 things to go to tonight what's the bus schedule out of my way oh ew what is that taxi! oh hi Sharon yeah I'll call them tonight do you know a good taco place SO FAST and awesome. And so is this song.

o9. Hot Child in the City - Nick Glider: this song reminds me of a fake music video that Rick Mercer (the Canadian Jon Stewart) did for octagenarian Missassauga Mayor Hazel McCallion (mayor for 31 years of a debt-free city), who is an amazing lady who expressed regret that she'd "never been in a music video."

1o. Crabbukit - k-os: a song about reconciling your success with friends who are jealous, but also set in Toronto and very evocative of the city.
"Walking down Yonge Street on a Friday, can't follow them gotta do it my way"

11. The City - Darwin Deez: this isn't this group's best song, but it IS about cities (and how they sometimes suck), and therefore qualifies.
"the city is a stop sign"

12. Plastic Jungle - Miike Snow: this is a the-streets-are-dark song, a clubbing song, a prowling song. ROWR.
"It hurts too much to breathe all alone in this plastic jungle [...] sometimes I wanna get slain"

13. City of Blinding Lights - U2: I make a habit of putting this song on whenever I'm coming into an airport at night; it's a beautiful away to arrive in a city, either home or a new one, with everything all lit up and laid out underneath you."
"Neon heart day glow eyes, city lit by fireflies"

14. Good Life - OneRepublic: when I took the overnight bus to New York this summer, this came on as I woke up and the bus was pulling through Jersey. I kept it on repeat to go underneath the turnpike and surface by Port Authority. It's about London (and other cities too), but now my brain thinks it's for arriving in New York at 7am excited and breathless.
"I say oh got this feeling that you can't fight like this city is on fire tonight, this has gotta be a good life"

15. This Time - Jonathan Rhys-Myers: from the August Rush soundtrack, about once-in-a-lifetime city meetings that you remember.
"the neon lights and bars, the headlights from the cars started a symphony surrounding me"

16. New York Minute - Don Henley and the Eagles: this song was "just something my dad likes" to me until it was in a West Wing episode. I won't spoil the episode for you, but it's incredibly emotional and fits the situation beautifully. And so another switcheroo - a song about New York that makes me think of Washington and Sam Seaborne.
"Somebody's going to emergency - somebody's going to jail"

17. My City of Ruins - Bruce Springsteen: he wrote this for Ashbury Park in NJ, but rewrote it for New York post-9/11. This album (The Rising) was very anthemic and full of post-9/11 confusion, hurt, and rising back up from ashes, and this song is the mourning balance to a lot of the more defiant songs. And Bruce, in typical Bruce fashion, is incredibly poetic and beautiful in writing and singing it.
"The church door's blown open, I can hear the organ's song, but the congregation's gone"

18. We're All In The Dance - Feist: from Paris Je T'aime (and therefore written for Paris) - I like cities because they're full of little neighbourhoods and families and everyone's doing their own thing and living their own little lives and tragedies but they're all together LOOK I'M BEING PHILOSOPHICAL IN ALBUM NOTES.
"we all go 'round and 'round, partners are lots and found"

19. I and Love and You - The Avett Brothers
"Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in"

2o. Summer in the City - Regina Spektor: city summers are sweltering, hot, stifling, horrific, and slow. Ugh. 
"summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage"

21. Dance Me To The End of Love - Madeleine Peyroux: my boss put this album on in her Brooklyn apartment when I visited her there, so all of the songs remind me of New York, but this is a lovely sultry song for indoor city evenings in apartments with red carpets, n'est-ce pas?
"Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon"

22. Never a dull moment on the NYC subway: this is a Youtube rip of an impromptu subway performance between two people carrying instruments who had never met before. CITIES, my friend. Cities <3

23. Jane - Barenaked Ladies: they wrote this song because the intersection of Jane and St Clair sounds like it would the most beautiful block in a city, but the reality in Toronto? Not so much.
"The girl works at the door sweet Jane St Clair, still dazzled by her smile while I shoplift there"

24. Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba
"Pata Pata is the name of a dance we do down Johannesburg way"

25. Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z: yeah, I had to do it
"these streets will make you feel brand new, these lights will inspire you"

25. You Can't Always Get What You Want - the Rolling Stones
...but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. (Though really, if it's a city and you want crepes at 2am, you can probably always get those too.)

Happy birfday, Lal! Enjoy your many cities :)

Shaking my Confidence Daily
*never lost*, *sri lanka*
This is a post for the Scintilla Project. Today's prompt is  1.Talk about a memory triggered by a particular song.

TW: for murder, violence, kidnapping

I always got my music tastes from my best friend Seahorse, when we were younger (and she, in turn, got hers from her older brother). Linkin Park, Blink182, "teenage boy music." She also got her music from her British father, which meant that around about the same time, Queen and Simon & Garfunkle became our background of choice.

The song "Cecilia," though with a joyful and tinny tune that many - including my whole family - perceive as a happy (or at least jaunty) song, to me now holds negative associations.

Around the same time, towards the end of my stint in public school, a young Toronto girl named Cecilia Zhang was kidnapped. She just went missing. In the same way that my peers and I had, two years earlier, latched onto novels and books about the Holocaust with the kind of morbid fascination and enthralled horror that young children with a fixation have, I read every news article there was about Cecilia Zhang.

We were away from home in the Northern Ontario woods away from "civilization," but my parents still drove out to get the newspaper most days, and the Toronto media was following the story closely: who did her parents know, who did their landlord know, was this some kind of ransom thing, did he come through the window...

Cecilia, you're breaking my heart 
You're shaking my confidence daily 
Oh, Cecilia, I'm down on my knees 
I'm begging you please to come home 

They eventually found Cecilia Zhang's body - after a certain amount of time, neither my parents nor the newspapers seemed to believe they would find her alive.

Jubilation, she loves me again, 
I fall on the floor and I'm laughing, 
Jubilation, she loves me again, 
I fall on the floor and I'm laughing

I remember this case in particular - there have been other cases since, and surely it wasn't the first time I had heard of things like this happening. But this was one of my first introductions to human cruelty and horror on an individual basis: this wasn't Anne Frank's diary or a huge campaign that happened long before anyone I knew had even been born in countries I hadn't visited yet. This was in Toronto, where my father was from. This was to a little girl, like my little sister. This was something that I didn't know, that I couldn't comprehend, that even the newspapers (because of course I didn't ask my parents) were afraid to lay out in exact terms in the months she was gone (what was happening to her? Why was she kidnapped? Had she been - you know...?).
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/simon+and+garfunkel/cecilia_20124635.html ] 
Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia 
Up in my bedroom (making love) 
I got up to wash my face 
When I come back to bed 
Someone's taken my place

I was 13, already trying to consider myself a grown-up (or at least a teenager, which is basically the same thing, *god*) sitting there on a screened-in birch porch with the Globe and Mail, having absolutely no idea what to think about human beings. About her parents, so scared and confused, just wanting her back. (About a reporter I heard on CBC speculating about whether her parents had drug debts they couldn't pay.) About just who the abductor was - was he older, a monster, was this what he did, had he done it before? Or was he a petrified Chinese college student wanting to stay in Canada who involved a little girl in his own problems? I didn't know what to think, but when Seahorse welcomed me back home and slid Simon and Garfunkle's Greatest Hits into her father's car stereo, I asked for Blink 182 instead and thumped my legs against the seats.

Hello there, the angel from my nightmare
The shadow in the background of the morgue
The unsuspecting victim of darkness in the valley
We can live like Jack and Sally if we want
Where you can always find me
And we'll have Halloween on Christmas
And in the night we'll wish this never ends
We'll wish this never ends

(I miss you I miss you)
(I miss you I miss you)

Where are you and I'm so sorry
I cannot sleep I cannot dream tonight
I need somebody and always
This sick strange darkness
Comes creeping on so haunting every time
And as I stared I counted
The Webs from all the spiders
Catching things and eating their insides
Like indecision to call you
and hear your voice of treason
Will you come home and stop the pain tonight
Stop this pain tonight

Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)
Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)

Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)
Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)
Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)
Don't waste your time on me you're already
The voice inside my head (I miss you miss you)

I miss you (miss you miss you) 
(I miss you miss you)

How to talk about Attawapiskat
*believe vs think*
Some of you may have seen - on Facebook and Tumblr and the like - the HuffPo story going around called "What if there was an emergency and nobody came?" about the current housing crisis on the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario, where many people are living in shacks, makeshift tents, and overcrowded houses with no running water and using slop buckets as toilets. What is more, at the time of the writing of the article, "It [has] been three weeks since Attawapiskat First Nation took the extraordinary step of declaring a state of emergency. Since then, not a single federal or provincial official has even bothered to visit the community." This is a disgrace, a disgusting example of what is sadly the norm for a lot of First Nations communities in Canada and the lack of concern, knowledge, and priority the government (and the public) shows towards them. I am angry. I am very angry.

As an update, and since the story aired, the Canadian Red Cross will be providing aid to the community. As Andrew Potter, a columnist for Macleans, said on Twitter, "The fact that the CBC has sent foreign correspondents to Attawpiskat tells you almost everything you need to know about the problem."

If you want to know more about the complexity of the funding crisis, why federal money did or didn't go where it should or shouldn't, or want to have more in your arsenal when talking to people about the crisis or about similar issues on first nations reserves, I HIGHLY suggest this piece on 'Dealing with comments about Attawapiskat.' It includes links to a full breakdown of federal funding allocation, explanation of why the "$90 million" figure is misleading, and gives a clearer picture of where funding comes from and how it's allocated. It also includes such gems as: "There is a tendency to believe that our government officials do things in a way that makes sense." lol. True dat.

It also says this:

The Auditor General states: “It is not always evident whether the federal government is committed to providing services on reserves of the same range and quality as those provided to other communities across Canada.” Shockingly, the federal government does not always have clear program objectives, nor does it necessarily specify specific roles and responsibilities for program delivery, and has not established measures for evaluating performance in order to determine if outcome are actually met.
That’s right.  The federal government is not keeping track of what it does, how it does it, or whether what it is doing works. 
Jesus. And we wonder why our development assistance and foreign aid isn't achieving what it should or could? Let me say that again: "The government is not keeping track of what it does, how it does it, or whether what it is doing works." If you don't monitor and evaluate (buzzwords ahoy!) your programs, if you don't experiment with approaches and follow up with communities and alter your work if it proves not to work, then it's highly likely you aren't doing anyone any good at all.

(Oh, and the next person to whine to me about how "natives don't pay taxes"? Is getting verbally slapped. Grrrrrr.)

Raise the Level
*see far*
This is copied from my Perspective, written for Engineers Without Borders' Perspectives challenge. When I'm not faffing around on the internet or playing Quidditch, I work for EWB: I greatly respect their work, and it's incredibly important to me. Please visit my Perspective, ask me questions if you have them, and, if you agree, please support EWB's fantastic work. It doesn't have to be a lot, I know we're all poor - even small donations are awesome. (Who knows? If enough people support it, I might finally finish my DDG podfic :P)

Development isn't pithy. Aid isn't simple. Your $20 will not solve hunger.

You wouldn't know that any of the above things were true from most conventional charity marketing. Fundraising is designed to make giving convenient and make us feel good. We're busy people: we're writing essays, we're on hold with Rogers, there's fun to be had somewhere else that isn't here so make it quick, I've got places to be and the light's about to change.

There's nothing wrong with feeling good while giving: you've just helped another human being in a potentially life-changing way. That's an incredible thing to be able to do. But I think we have to be smarter not just about how we give aid and what we do with it (although we need that too), but about how we communicate aid - its challenges, successes, and realities. We need to raise the level.

I believe that donors can handle the complexity. Poverty is complex, development is complicated, and people are unpredictable. Continually having a conversation with the lowest common denominator does nothing to change peoples' habits or challenge their assumptions. The world is full of smart people - I'm continually surprised and amazed by the wit, knowledge, and questioning of Grade 7s when I visit their classrooms with EWB's Youth Engagement programs, and there are tons of other smart people I interact with every day.

One of those smart people said that "people don't invest in victims; they invest in survivors." Partners in development are too often and too easily portrayed as victims, as passive receptors of our charity, as living simple lives and having simple desires that can be met with simple solutions. EWB endeavours to communicate the true resilience and ingenuity present in developing communities and to share the difficulties they face. We work with entrepreneurs and farmers and businesspeople and parents and teachers, none of them victims, to create meaningful change in their communitites and institutions that will enable them to achieve more. More opportunity, more profit, more security - more of whatever they choose to seek in their lives.

I want more, too. I want more questions, I want more thought, I want more information. I want more failure and I want more learning. I want more giving: I want more thoughtful giving, I want more skeptical giving, I want more giving with every ounce of feeling in your blood. I want more partnership. I want more head and I want more heart.

And not only do I want more, but I expect more. And I know you can handle it, because you're smart. The world is a complex place: the only thing I do on a daily basis that isn't complex is put on my socks, and even that's debateable. We all work with complex issues every day - let our partners in development be one of them.

If you agree with me, please support the work of Engineers Without Borders. True, your $20 will not solve hunger. But by supporting the work we do, you will be contributing to sustainable structural change in Canada and overseas. Let's raise the level, together.

much, much love,



If you do want some Perspectives with more concrete explanations of EWB's work and why it's important, see here and here. Or shoot me an email or ask me questions, I love to talk about this stuff - it's incredibly important to me.

Operation Snow Angel: uOttawa Quidditch Goes to New York City
This post has been a long time in coming, but I'm still recovering from it (yeah, I'm that girl hacking and sniffing in the library, the one nobody likes) so I feel it is justified. I am returned from New York! I took my school's Quidditch team to compete in the Quidditch World Cup - our very first, and only our second competitive experience after the Canadian Cup two weeks previous. It was a rollicking bus ride down: we bussed with Carleton, so there were 48 riotous Quidditch players jammed together on a school bus. Among the stops for American junk food (did you know there are S'more Goldfish? That's a thing that exists in the world) and games of Who Am I?, we were treated to Coach Chris' rendition of "Love Story." (Yes, that "Love Story.")

We swooped in among the bright lights of New York City late at night and piled into hotel rooms to be ready for our early arrival at Randall's Island. We met Texas Christian University (TCU) and Virginia Tech over breakfast and immediately started a camaraderie (in our defense, they are very sexy teams) and broke out the obnoxious patriotism. We registered and swept into the Athletes' Village, where all the Canadian teams clumped together near the top at "The North Pole." After I left the team alone to figure out the tent ("Team-Building Exercise," anyone?), we found our spot for the opening ceremonies in front of Penn State, who we befriended over cheers - yay for alphabet bonding!
  (Quidditch with the New York City skyline in the background)  

Our first game wasn't until 11:50, so we swarmed all over to watch our competitors and comrades play, and I was greeted by Monsieur Commissioner with a courtly bow. (It's our hats. They add an extra dash class to everything.) Our first game was against Florida, the eventual runners-up of the tournament. We lost, although our (thoroughly excellent) Seeker had some BEAUTIFUL deflection tactics against Florida's Seeker and managed to delay the Snitch Snatch while we endeavoured to catch up. The Snitch was hilarious, he was bullfighting the Seekers with a pink fleece for most of the time. We came back for our game against the Delaware Valley Dragons (who had FABULOUS hair) and were winning handily until the Snitch Snatch, which still put us ahead 70-60. Our last game of the day was against ASU, for which we had prepared with "Operation Sexy Cactus" (CLASSIFIED). I could tell you what it entailed, but then Dumbledore would have to kill me with his beard. It was a rough, tough game - I didn't see the end of it because I had to take one of our players to the hospital, but there was some fast Quidditch happening ;)

So yeah, I got to ride in an ambulance with sirens on in NYC - which I shouldn't find cool or exciting at all, but which, after a beat, Steven and I whispered that we both kind of did. He was fine, just had to get patched up after taking a broom to the eye - I, as Team Mom and Chief Worrier, got a bit freaked out when we saw him go down with a hand on his eye and I was sent for the medic. I sprinted up the park only to find no-one in the EMT tent, and so snagged the commentators from Pitch 1 to make an announcement to send a medic to Pitch 8 - I must have looked a little wild 'round the eyes, since they jumped right to it. Clearly a "Not my player, you bitch!" moment for Mama Weasley. Steven and Kera had been playing with two ADORABLE children for about an hour beforehand (BE STILL MY OVARIES), and the look on the kid's face as they were patching Steven up on the sidelines was to die for.

OLIVER: ...Gods can fall?

(Oliver's mom found us on facebook afterwards and posted a picture, thanking us for being fun to play with, and said "Oliver hopes Steven's doing okay!" SO ADORABLE, YOU GUYS. While Steven was trying to assess the damage to his eye and get patched up, he was also trying to smile and wave to Oliver so the kid wouldn't worry. Eeeeep.)

(Kidditch. The cutest effing thing on the face of the planet.)

The commentators loved Oliver as well. Quidditch commentators are all improv comedians, so the results can be hilarious.

COMMENTATOR 1: The people in front of me have just asked if they're impeding my view. This leads me to believe that they think I'm going to be discussing what's actually going on in the game.
COMMENTATOR 2: Oliver, what are your feelings on the debt crisis?
OLIVER: ...I like chicken.
COMMENTATOR 1: Oliver, did you just call President Obama a chicken? Mr President, this four-year old says you need to confront Republicans and resolve the debt crisis! Oh wait, was that a foul? Foul for Arizona!
REFEREE: No, you're wrong, it wasn't.
COMMENTATOR 1: Apparently I've made the wrong call, but I don't care what you say, you're not my real dad!

(Surprisingly, this was not the moment that required a hospital visit.)

The hospital was uneventful - Steven's red face paint freaked the nurses out on several occasions (well, he *was* bleeding from the head, but not quite that much), and as a bystander able to indulge in a little shadenfreude now that the damage was patched, it was hilarious to try and watch someone in cleats walk on shiny hospital floors. There were a few other Quidditch players ("Can we go to Mt Sinai instead? I have a friend there with a busted ankle," said Steven to the paramedic) there, including the guy who wrote the rule book in the waiting room. Steven and I were talking to him about the referees, and only thought to ask his name at the end. "Oh," I replied, startled. "I recognize your name from the emails!" ~Suave, self. ~Suave.

After guzzling water from the waiting room washroom (Randall's Island doesn't have a water source, and the only food tent had an hour-long line. Holy dangerous-at-a-sporting-event, Batman), we trekked the many blocks up to Times Square, as it was Steven's first time in NYC. We swung by the UN building, and managed, out of HOW many millions of people, to run into the rest of our team by accident. It was a crisp, clear, beautiful night marked with Christmas fairly lights wound around trees and unmarred by the small injury. (Adam had a similar hospital trip at the Canadian Cup for the same injury in the exact same spot. Some people get friendship bracelets - uOttawa Quidditch gets friendship scars.)

We were back to the field at an unholily early hour the next day, so we grabbed Carleton and TCU and started a scrimmage - Team Maple Frogs (which is what you get when you mix Canada with TCU's 'Horned Frogs') vs Team Better Than You - that began as a legitimate game of Quidditch, but then got 3 extra bludgers and another quaffle thrown in, and then all rules flew out the window. Pretty sure I was swinging a broom like a baseball bat and yelling at Adam to "go long" when Benepe came up behind me. 

ME: Uh, whoops. :D :D
AUDIENCE (as we had an audience by this point): What is going on.
ME: We're playing Canadian Rules Quidditch.
COACH REBECCA: Pronounced "Le Keedeetch."
ME: Normally our fields are longer, too. You know - metric field measurements. We're managing.
AUDIENCE: ...Sounds legit.
ME: Okay, guys! The score is oogy to boogy for the Maple Frogs! Play on!

The game then morphed into a giant game of Ninja and then a giant game of Octopus as we pulled bystanders from UMich and a bright orange team into the game. Rebecca and I were wailing with laughter the entire time; it was completely ridiculous and just such an experience of sheer joy. My face nearly split from grinning as the rest of the teams poured off the shuttle and into the park.

This was also when we bonded with UMich - or rather, my co-President did. True Quidcest Love: later in the day, the Michigan Seeker found her to proclaim that he had caught a Snitch just for her! This reminded me of cats who hunt small animals to present them to their masters as tokens of their affection.

"They come bearing the white hand of Saruman..." We have Uruk-hai for Chasers.

I ran into Joe Moses and Britney Coleman (you know, like you do) before our last game of pool play against SUNY Geneseo. This gal thinks we could have won had we been a bit more aggressive, and I agree, but it was a terrific game nonetheless.

GENESEO: Good game!
US: You guys just kicked us out of the tournament, so by all rights we shouldn't be happy right now, but... that was really fun :D
GENESEO: Oh my god I know right.
US: We need to play you guys again. Have your people talk to our people!

We finished in high spirits, Colin trying - and failing, with his voice like that of an elephantine mammal dying an unhappy, wheezy death - to rile us by screaming "We leave the way we came! OttawaU is hot to go!" We became known (infamous? :P) for our snare drum and team spirit: before every game, we would line up in formation in the Athletes' Village and march chanting out to each of our games accompanied by the drum (and on one memorable occasion disrupting one of Benepe's interviews. WHOOPS :D :D). Once our games were over, we did the same for Carleton, as though we were marching our sons off to war. We also had our chant and war dance that we performed before every game:

Who needs the Haka when you have the AVPS dance? This one has a clearer chant:

(Someone forgot to tell Dan - #1 - that we cut the soprano bit.)

We then became a Freelance Cheering Squad for the remaining Canadian teams and other friends we made (SUNY, Penn State, Berkeley, etc.), which was piles of fun, especially when Carleton played Middlebury.
(Carleton's Seeker was protecting the Snitch while Carleton got points up, prompting the Snitch to - obviously - spend more time in Carleton's end to avoid being caught.)
MIDD FANS: The Snitch isn't allowed to do that, he has to stay in the middle!
COLIN: The Snitch is allowed to do whatever it wants! That's the point of a Snitch!
SNITCH: *thumps up*

Two of our own players also became Freelance Commentators for the day, since the IQA was short on commentators and referees.

JON: We're going to spend the majority of our time commenting on the shapeliness of these players' calves, just so you know in advance.
ADAM: Luckily, here at Pitch 6 we are a short stroll from the EMT tent should you find yourself in need of assistance. Or if you're too hurt or Draco Malfoy, you can just roll across the floor.
JON: Wait, snitch, can you do that move again for us please? Damn, you's a sexy snitch.

Some golden lines from the weekend:
COMMENTATOR: Canadians roll their cigarettes themselves.
COMMENTATOR: You, referee, your shirt's untucked! Where do you think you are, Buckingham Palace?
COMMENTATOR: It's like the Cold War... but with Pancakes and Dinosaurs.
COMMENTATOR: West is the best, East is the... weast?

We played a friendly scrimmage with McGill to help them warm up for playoffs (apparently their first game of the day is never as good as the second, so we were happy to oblige), and then joined in a giant Canada vs US dodgeball game (which, appropriately, ended in a stalemate). Two of our players had been adopted for the weekend by the Swarthmore College team, which didn't have enough people to play. I think that sums up a lot of what I loved about the WC, and about Quidditch in general: competition was fierce, and everyone played fast and hard, but at the end of the day we were all there together to be ridiculous, make friends, and squeeze the most fun out of every second. People are there because they love Quidditch and are completely willing to be thrown into a giant field and find their place in it, dancing the whole time.

After McGill lost to Florida, we had another big scrimmage with them and Carleton on the dark dusty pitch until Florida showed up to play another team. After that game we scarfed down more pizza, rounded up the other Canadian teams, formed one last giant formation, and marched across the almost-empty pitches to Icahn Stadium for the final. We launched into 'O Canada' as we came up behind the ticket line, creating quite the spectacle for those waiting outside. When you can't go for the championship, you might as well go for dramatic flair ;)

Apart from Benepe's skillful snitching, the most unexpectedly hilarious parts of the pre-championship game came from the crowd: upon seeing the Quaffle Waffle truck driving along the path behind the stadium, the whole crowd began chanting "WA-FFLE TRUCK, WA-FFLE, TRUCK" (IDK, I just found it hysterically funny. Oh, college students. Bless) and whenever a yellow card was handed out, the crowd began to chant "You can't do that" repeatedly.

(One Snitch to rule them all...)

We all got up and danced our faces off in the stands whenever songs came on (if the camera had panned 180 degrees during this song, you would have seen us dancing much more exuberantly in the stands. My goal was to become known as "The Dancing Canadians" over the weekend, and I'm proud to say it was accomplished). Unfortunately we had to leave to catch our bus before the final game was over (sad panda), which was a little like making delicious cookies and not getting to eat them, but we all craned our necks to see in as the bus drove over the stadium ("Did it go in??" "No, no goal!"), and the team made me read the scores live from twitter. It was a touching and exhausting scene, calling "40-30 for Middlebury, another yellow card!" out over the hotel lobby.

We all piled onto the bus sweaty, stinky, and exhaustilarated (oooh, new word!). I made the mistake of asking the team to raise their hands so I could count them.

ME: No, oh dear god no, put your hands back down! The stench!

We made a 3am stop for washrooms and American junk food. Did you know there exist MASSIVE REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS? Like, that thing weighs more than a shotput. Disgusting and glorious to behold.

COLIN: I think the only thing on this bus that isn't processed is our body odour.

Having had quite a humorous encounter with the border agent on the way over in our explanation of Quidditch, we were prepared for another, but I doubt this one even made it all the way to the back of the bus.

CUSTOMS OFFICER: ...Can someone please crack a window? It is rank in here.

(I love these crazy kids.)

We made it back at around 8 am - someone tried to start a chant in the back of the bus until I called out that I was too tired for violence, but there would be pushups involved for the instigator. I arrived home at 8:30 am after a long and sleepless overnight bus trip, let my bags explode all over my room, took a shower, sat down... and woke up at 3pm. I got sick 3 days ago, so I still have not recovered full use of my voice since pre-World Cup.

COLIN: Seals keep mistaking me for a suitable mate.

All in all, it was a glorious weekend - one of the best of my life. It's incredible to think that most of these people didn't know each other 3 months ago, and look at how close we are now (the numerous puppypiles at the North Pole being evidence enough). I'm so, so incredibly proud of all of them: both at how well we performed and how well we comported ourselves. Hell, at 3 months old it's a miracle we're even toilet-trained. Even McGill made note of how much we'd improved even in the 2 weeks since the Canadian Cup. Given that we're such a young team (seriously, they're all babies), I'm so excited for our growth and all the opportunities we're going to have. It's been so heartening to see all the teams we met - and even some we didn't - write to us, and we had just the absolute best time we could.

(Kera, our dear Seeker)

It was simultaneously one of the most intense sporting competitions I've attended, and the most gloriously nerdy spectacle I've seen. (The team did, at one point, see me stand at the North Pole, sweep my arms over the scene, and shout "My people! I have arrived!") The camaraderie and good spirit among all players was heartfelt, palpable, and incredibly warm. So much work went into making this the success that it was - there were hiccups and problems, but overall it was just an astronomical success, a beautiful piece of magic.

COMMENTATOR: Randall's Island was, as we all know, constructed by magicians late last night...

Mischief, Managed.

Roll Away Your Stone I'll Roll Away Mine
*friesian mare*
I wish I had more time to expound on this but I have to get to bed because the Canadian Cup is tomorrow and apparently Carleton's starting to set up around 5:30am, and since mah whole team basically said "fuck that noise, let's get breakfast," I'm going to go and do the President Face thing (eep). SO EXCITED, YAY CANADIAN CUP. Kind of (okay, very) disappointed that I don't get to play in one game of competitive Quidditch against another team this year, but I'll have plenty to do tomorrow regardless (we'll see how the livetweeting [@uo_quidditch] + bludger reffing at the same time works).

I hosted a pre-Canadian Cup potluck this evening chez moi, which was great fun:
JB: Did you guys invite a lot of people? I'm kind of nervous to play in front of all my friends.
COLIN: You guys, we have to win. My optometrist believes in us.

KERA: What kind of people keep a child locked under a staircase, anyway?
SUZ: It was the 90s!

The theme of the evening seemed to be Masturbation Jokes, as JB, who works at a sex store and so Knows These Things, advised the male members of the team not to masturbate this evening (to store up the tension which would presumably lead to aggression on the field). Tegan and I mutually decided that he could be the one to administer that particular piece of advice - "Don't Masturbate" seems kind of bizarre/inhumane as far as presidential edicts go.

JB: Girls, have at it.
COLIN: Whoa, hold up, why?
JB: The science is different!
ME: Yeah, I just have an endless fountain of aggression I can tap into at any time.

Tegan and I did contemplate putting it to the test and designing an experiment: telling 1/3 of players not to masturbate, 1/3 of players to masturbate, and telling 1/3 nothing (assuming then that a random/representative sample of them would or would not masturbate) and then judging their performances.

TEGAN: We need a control group!
ME: Let's RCT this!
COACH: There's probably some kind of ethical thing there we're not considering...
COLIN: Can I pre-emptively volunteer to be in the 2nd 3rd?

They're quite the group ;) 

I spent yesterday in Montreal! It's Fall Reading Week and Mumford and Sons are on their Canadian tour, so Chris and I went to their Montreal concert. I've never been to Montreal (shame, I know, considering I've lived 2.5 hours away from it for the past 3.5 years), so I caught an early bus and spent the day exploring the city.

I may or may not have listened to the Hunchback of Notre Dame soundtrack all the way there. Good life choices, I make them. (Also - it's been a while since I've actually seen the movie, so I don't remember the exact tensions between the bishop judge dude and Esmeralda, but there seemed to be quite a few similarities between the bishop dude and Antonio in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure with regards to religious authority figures and repressed sexuality. ...Oh god, I need a life.)

I really like Montreal! I mean, those who describe it as 'European' need to actually go to Europe (I think the cobblestones trip some people up in more ways than one), but it's very delightful. And freezing this time of year, but that proved useful when I was able to eat the egg I packed for lunch for dinner instead even after carrying it around all day. Montreal makes my pocket a refrigerator: good to know.

I also went into the McCord Museum to see Ed Burtynsky's 'Oil' exhibit - he's a Canadian photographer who does primarily industrial and manufactured landscapes - and god, it was just brilliant. I mean, you get the sense going through that it's a political exhibit, since the Oil Sands are a contentious issue in Canada, but there's nothing explicitly about the photos that drives you one way or the other. It was a really neat experiment for me to see what opinions and knowledge (or lack thereof) I bring to the photos and so how I interpret them, at least on the scale of my latent hippie environmentalism :P

The exhibit was a series of photos from the beginnings of oil (extraction) to transport, refinery, use, and where it goes at the end of its life cycle, a kind of holistic look at where our oil comes from, how we use it, and what happens to it once we can't use it anymore. The industrial extraction parts of the exhibit were incredibly stark - up until some of the 'use' parts, there were no human beings in the pictures at all, making them incredibly futuristic, kind of like what some of these huge sites would look like in A World Without Us scenario. This made some of them almost scary, and did some really interesting things with scale, since you couldn't tell if the pumps were huge monstrous things or if they were tiny toys on a train table. The detail in the photos is just incredible, and jewel-rich. And of course, where the scenes are set - in Cold Lake and Fort McMurray in the North, and in California as well. The tailings pond at Fort McMurray and some of the mining sites were just GORGEOUS, wow, I wasn't expecting to be so aesthetically fascinated with all the machinery and refuse of these massive industrial sites in contrast with the landscape.

The end-of-oil pictures were also gorgeous - abandoned early oil rigs in Azerbaijan, mammoth hulks of ship pieces on beaches in Chittagong like ancient statues or something, and the rusted ferrous bushling like some kind of close-up of skin cells. The oil-in-use pictures were likewise kind of awe-inspiring at all the intricately beautiful things we can create. Although obviously I have a lot of reservations about that, and it was superbly fascinating from an environmentalist perspective and profoundly worrying from an end-of-oil perspective (the end-of-oil sets looked very troubling and futuristic in a kind of dystopian way), I found it all quite beautiful in terms of human ingenuity and just what we can - terrifyingly - make the earth do for us. It was positively gorgeous, and very unsettling. So cool. Brava, Ed.




(Okay not really but it was INCREDIBLE, they are SO GOOD LIVE, MARCUS HOW IS YOUR VOICE EVEN MORE AMAZING AND RAW LIVE GUH. He played the drums on quite a few songs and was like a Darrenesque 5-year old boy while doing it, having WAY TOO MUCH FUN YOUNG MAN. They played quite a bit of new stuff, which was all EXCELLENT, I CANNOT WAIT.)

OH AND THE FRENCH PANDERING. OH MY GOD I LOVED IT. Like, they were just trying to throw around 'Merci' and 'Bonjour' wherever they could, and I'm pretty sure they asked everyone in the band first "okay so who speaks French? Put our banter into Google Translate and write it down on your arm or something."

MARCUS: I always get my masculine and feminine mixed up. Which one is 'chanson'?
MARCUS: Oh, "le"? Okay :D :D :D *shit-eating grin*

The crowd was so into it, too - Chris and I were sitting on opposite sides of the stadium but it was pretty empty up until the openers finished so I slunk over to his side and watched the concert with him, dancing and singing and clapping the whole time. It's the biggest hockey arena in North America, and hearing that many people just ROAR along to 'Dust Bowl Dance' is SO. GODDAMN. COOL. and powerful, hunuhguh. Everyone went nuts for 'Little Lion Man' and 'The Cave' (the encore), but I honestly think 'Roll Away Your Stone' and 'After the Storm'  (why so pretty, song?) were my favourites, so well done.

They started with a new song and then went right into 'Roll Away Your Stone,' and Jesus, the sound of clear trumpet notes into a big stadium like that is just breathtaking. MY CREYS, EVERYWHERE. And then, of course, we all got to stompin' XD And they played a Neil Young song! YAY.

TL; DR IT WAS AMAZING AND THE HARMONIES SLAYED ME AND THEY'RE ALL FUCKING ADORABLE WITH THEIR WIKIPEDIA KNOWLEDGE OF MONTREAL. And they just so clearly *love* what they're doing, putting every ounce of energy into filling up that stadium and playing the music as hard as they can. Marcus came out to sing the last song of one of the openers, and they pulled the other opening band up and M&S's horn section and they were all playing along (not jamming, since they'd obviously practiced it), but it was just so clear that this is what they love, that they just love playing music together so much, and it was so, so wonderful to be a part of that.

It is Canadian Thanksgiving, a lovely long weekend in October that I am very fond of - it's been gloriously warm and orange, and fully of family, adopted or otherwise. And wow, it's been a long time since I've made a public entry here. I apologise, I've been off frolicking on Tumblr (aka Not Actually Writing). 

Things Wot I am Thankful For This Weekend:
1) Orange juice. Nectar of the gods, the light through yonder window, O Citrus My Citrus, ad nauseum. Bless.

2) Democracy. This is on my mind because of last Thursday's provincial election and because we've had so many elections, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring. I'm very thankful that, uninspiring as my choices were, I was nonetheless able to attend an all-candidates' debate and ask questions, chose between a variety of parties (including ones that weren't part of the official 4), and cast my vote secretly, safely, and with a minimum of hassle. I also don't have the Nobel committee playing politics  a week beforehand, so thank goodness for that. (Not that Ma Ellen doesn't deserve recognition, just... wow, endorsement of the century much?)

3) My iPod. An amazingly diverse collection of music and moods at my fingertips to drive my feelings, and such a tiny, beautiful, complex piece of technology. Thanks, Steve.

4) My EWB team. I just sent off a spate of emails about upcoming campus and community events. Our Fair Trade Campus campaign was written up in The Fulcrum yesterday, we've made incredible progress, and are gaining quite a bit of traction. I have such a great group of dedicated and hard-working individuals on this team (and when I say 'I have,' I mean 'these people exist and I am fortunate enough to work with them') that have gone to so many meetings and have done such an amazing job. We're dropping a fair trade puck (made from Liberian rubber!) at the opening hockey game, the Fair Trade Ottawa team is hosting a great Halloween event, and we're collaborating with other campus groups. I'm feeling incredible pride in what these people have managed to do, incredible drive to keep moving forward, and a big warm fuzzy feeling. Yay *g*

5) Twitter. A daily source of constant entertainment, knowledge, awareness, and camraderie. I've got about 7 different communities there, and it's still so much edifying fun to reach out and make new connections. 

6) Quidditch. Mock if you must, but it's made my Sundays full of friends, sunshine, unabashed geekery, frolicking, and fun. It's made me a much healthier person. I sprinted all the way to campus and back (on a trip for cupcake icing, but that's irrelevant here...) the other day with plenty of breath in my lungs, something I used to struggle with. I'm so glad I started this, but not for the reasons I was expecting.

7) The dress I'm wearing. I look great today. Just thought you should know that. *flounces*

8) Home. God, I love this place. The lake is lit up with bright leaves and a burning last blaze of sun right now, and I'm so, so glad and at peace to be back in my big airy forest. Muskoka que je t'aime.

9) Sunroofs. Drove my dad's car into town this morning feeling like a giant golden retriever the whole time. Wheeeeeee!

10) Maman.  I've already lost track of how many times I've hugged her so far. Great start to the weekend.

Hope you all have amazing weekends, whether it's Thanksgiving your way or not! Go frolic in the leaves regardless. *puts on leaf-stomping boots*
much love,


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