Monday, May 18, 2015

Ottawa Travelogue: Wandering.

I've hit ten thousand steps on my fitbit before 3pm three days in a row now. Ottawa is a really great city to wander. We've obviously been wandering with purpose, but it's been in neighborhoods that I wouldn't have necessarily anticipated or gone to with intention.

Here is the photo evidence of that.

You should all plan to make a journey here. Totally worth it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ottawa Travelogue: Matthew House.

I slept in very deeply this morning. Like until eleven. To be fair, I'm two hours ahead of myself, so it was really only nine. Kailee and I agreed that I wouldn't go to work with her in the morning, so I just stayed in bed forever and didn't feel even a little bad about it.

I spent the day at Matthew House. Let me explain to you the glory of what takes place at Matthew House. Say you wake up, every day, in a country in which you are not safe, and can likely never become safe. Say you want to leave that country. How are you going leave? Do you have the money to leave? Where will you go when you leave? To whom will you go to when you leave? Now say you develop a plan that answers all or most of these questions. You get your papers, you get on the plane, you fly to the country you now understand to be safe, and you hope to God on high you don't get sent home. Now say you're lucky enough to speak the language in the country where you've landed. You ask around. Where do you go? You might know enough to know that there are people essentially waiting to help you wade through the process of immigration. But do you know that there is a non-govermental organization that will house and feed you as you go through that process? Well you do now. It's called Matthew House.

Today I met people from Somalia, Haitii, and the Congo. I watched as Kailee encouraged people through their first meetings with their lawyers. I listened to a man tell me how hard he is going to try to become a Canadian citizen and how much he would like to study psychology. I saw two women arrive at the house, seeking asylum, overwhelmed by their (incredibly) recent arrival in Canada, and their hope for what might come next.

In case you're wondering, or you just don't know, the legal definition of a refugee is someone who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group or dpolitical opinion, and having left the country of their nationality is unable and unwilling avail their self to the protection of their country. Entering into the process of becoming a refugee is not a light or easy decision. It is a committment.

Nothing affirms for me the ease of my political and governmental situation more than spending time with refugees, who despite the unsettled nature of their situation and the length of their legal process are hopeful beyond hope, and grateful beyond grate. . .

Stay tuned for day two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ottawa Travelogue.

I tell a lot of people that I’m not a traveller. I say that because I haven’t really done any travelling, and I don’t really care about doing any. There are places I would like to spend some time, but nothing I really want to see. There are cultures I would like to engage with, but considering I live in Canada, I can pretty much do that here. Feats of man, such as the Great Wall, or Easter Island, I can study in a satisfying manner through literature. The Internet is pretty legit these days. While I don’t really possess any sort of travel bug, if people that I love and care to keep in physical contact with, end up anywhere for an extended period of time, I will go there. It is for this reason that I find myself in the air, on the way to Ottawa for the second time in two years. It’s going to be a yearly thing. At the end of my last visit, when Kailee was still planning to return to Moose Jaw, I told her that if she stayed, I would come back to visit her. The next day she was offered a job, and here I am.

Ottawa is one of those cities that is epically ordinary, and like nothing you’ve ever seen, all at the same time. For Kailee, her original move resulted in the development of a small world centered on her school, work, and volunteer opportunities. My first visit included only small departures from that world. Our time was largely spent with her roommates and friends, watching the Olympics, and napping. It was perfect. The one day we spent downtown in and around the Parliament Building, and along the Rideau, was beautiful beyond my awareness or assumptions. The downtown is old and clean and beautiful, and you get a sense of its historical narrative by simply being there.

If the purpose of travelling is to see and live a different world from your own, then that’s what I’m going to do. Isn’t that a nice and ideal plan for our trip? But seriously. I’ve had this list of things I’ve planned to do since I was there last year.

-  Shopping in the Glebe
  • This is going down first thing! Our friends Adam and Kelly live in the Glebe and Adam works at this used bookstore that is also a bar. It’s a bar bookstore. A bookstore bar. Are you kidding me? It’s legitimately everything I have ever wanted.
-       Parliament Library Tour
  • So you have to go on the actual Parliament Building Tour to gain access to the library, but I’m okay with that. Kailee and I went to the Parliament last time and it was so outrageous in its beauty. So I’m okay to be led around the whole thing and hear what the guide has to say. I’m so excited to see the library because of its age, limited access, and the potential for materials that it will hold.
-       U of O/OPL Maker Space
  • A couple of years ago, my friend Amanda went to New York and it was a main point of her trip to visit the New York Public Library. It had never occurred to me to visit Public Libraries in the cities I am visiting. I don’t know how, but I had really never thought of it. So it’s a thing now. Furthermore, one of these libraries has a makerspace. So. I gotta see it.
-       Montreal for the day
  • Did you know that the great city of Montreal is just two hours away from Ottawa? Kailee and I aren’t sure if we’re going to follow through on this one, and if we do, I’m not sure what we’ll do once we arrive, but it doesn’t matter. When I visited Laura in New Brunswick, we travelled four hours to Halifax for four hours of downtown harbor wandering and then drove home, so I’m prepared to do everything and nothing in Montreal.

-       Sussex Drive
  •  I. Do. Not. Know. Why. I am so obsessed with seeing StephenHarper’s residence. Especially when there are cooler politics oriented buildings to see downtown. So this one might not happen, but if it does, expect to see a selfie.
-       Planet Coffee
  • This one is on Kailee. I don’t know anything about it, but I’ll let you know once it’s happened.
-       Hiking
  • Last fall, Kailee went hiking at what looked to be the most glorious mountain/waterfall/meadow. I doubt that’s what it actually was, but we are going to crush whatever is actually there.
  • Furthermore, Kailee and I plan to be fairly active on this trip. She regularly attends spin and yoga classes at a gym in her neighborhood, so I am going to join her. This will affirm the rest of our unhealthy behavior . . .

Imma keep you updated throughout the week. I’ll be posting images and videos on my Instagram using the #ottawatravelogue. Make sure to check it out, as well as videos and images from my last trip.

Travelling is fun. I’m learning this reality.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Today, in my teenage angst, I finished off The Carrie Diaries.

Image via
Janelle and I had just finished Don't Trust the B*** in Apartment 23, and life without The Bitch was not working for us. We started looking for a new show, and by looking I mean scanning the recommended shows on Netflix, and landed on The Carrie Diaries. If you're not aware, the show is a Prequel to Sex and The City, and follows Carrie Bradshaw - Sarah Jessica Parker's character - 's last two years in high school, before she moved to 'The City.'

I. Love. This. Show. I love everything about it. Twice this week in moments of fatigue and frustration, I've turned to this Carrie Bradshaw and let her innocence and excitment for life wash over me like a wave of . . . well something wave like. Sometimes the metaphors just will not come.

Annnyyyyway, I now present to you The Five Best Things About The Carrie Diaries!

1) AnnaSophia Robb
Stupid stupid AnnaSophia Robb. If you know me, you know that I regularly call the things I love very deeply, stupid, because of the emotional demand they require of me. AnnaSophia Robb is so amazing. She perfectly projects the optimism and naivete of Carrie Bradshaw. She navigates social situations at an enviable pace. She is protective and supportive of her friends, and despite her professional skills, is still a total eighteen year old idiot. It's so perfect. Everything is so perfect, and AnnaSophia is what makes it that way.
2) Candace Bushnell
For lovers of the book series, or those that are overly attached to the original series, that might be critical of a prequel type spin off, you'll be pleased to know that Candace was as invovled as ever. Writing credits on every episode, and an executive producer on eighteen episodes, Candace was. around. to keep her original vision of the characters and their adolescent existences alive. Even moments like Carrie's first iconic Cosmo, are lovingly included.
3) It's such a wonderful snapshot of the time.
So many social, political, and identity issues are discussed in this show; drugs, consent, LGBT rights, teen pregnancy and abortion, AIDS, and diffcult parent relationships. What's so amazing is that nothing is approached with any sort of PSA attitude. Ideas are approached, intelligently discussed, and the characters, therein, come to a more open appreciation of the issues. Their worldview is broadened. That's what you want, people. What. You. Want.
4) Dorrit.
Carrie's younger sister Dorrit has to be a highlight by anyone's standards. The Bradshaw family lost their wife and mother just previous to the show's narrative. Dorrit carries the anxiety of this loss, more than anyone else. She and her mother were more alike than Carrie and their dad, and thus becomes the black sheep. She shows this through her resistance to Carrie's optimism and efforts at big sisterhood. This resistance though, enables her to develop crazy agency, which makes her fiercely independnet and sets her up for a well developed adulthood. Which is like, all I could wish for her.
5) The varying presentation of family systems.
With Maggie from a working class family, Mouse as the daughter of immigrants, Carrie from a single parent home, and Walt the heir to a professional fortune, the show presents an appropriate varyance of family systems; especially considering the Connecticut setting. This makes the show economically diverse, which exposes the complications of the family unit's relationship to economic diversity. As a viewer, that's a total, and totally necessary win.

Check it out. It's on American Netflix, which I know a lot of you have. If you don't but
would like me to teach you how to stream TV and movies, I have a Google Doc just waiting to be sent.