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2014: A Year in Review

This time last year, I could have never predicted where I’d be at this exact moment: sitting on the patio of my family’s rented casa in Nicaragua, a spiced rum and coke beside me, the sun dipping low in the sky before it sinks past the ocean’s horizon and out of sight. I thought that 2013 wasn’t a very big year for me, but it was; it was one of transition, of finally moving to London. 2014 started off slow, with almost no plans – soon it grew into a year of travel, a year of accomplishments, and a year of maturing (both in numbers and in mindset). Here’s a little review of the past year.

Be warned: there are lots of photos!

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

We found our seats – right behind home plate. A few beers and a few hot dogs later, we were settled right in, intently watching every pitch and predicting where all the fly balls would land. And for all that I’ve always thought myself an “arty” person, the kind who visits galleries and theatres when I travel, I love visiting live sporting events just as much. Whatever the sport, I find I get really into it, and really enjoy seeing the passion and zeal of the fans. I’ve even started going to sports pubs on my own to catch some games on TV; I barely know any of the players, but I enjoy watching games and think it’s a great insight into a country’s culture.

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The Best of Winnipeg: Festival du Voyageur

“What’s a Beaver Tail?”

All eyes looked to me for the answer. We stood beside a huge ice sculpture; it was one of many at the Festival du Voyageur, a ten-day celebration of Canada’s fur-trading past and of Winnipeg’s French community. I had gone almost every year as a child, but this was the first time I’d been in Winnipeg in February for a long time. The temperature registered a frigid -31 degrees Celsius, and that was without windchill. My hometown is infamous for being one of the coldest cities in the world, often challenging its residents with a solid few weeks of -40 and below every January and February. We are hearty folk, us Winnipeggers, and we’re damn proud of it. There’s something about the cold that invigorates us, that makes us push out our chests and breathe in deep, as if to prove that we can take it.

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The Last Time I Saw You (Part Two)

The last time I saw you, you were waving, grinning, the vision of you on a motorbike disappearing over one last hill. We had spent a week on a motorbike together, sharing the road with rusty trucks and elephants. I’d grip your waist, squeeze on one side or the other to direct you. We got lost, every day, and I had never had so much fun doing so.

I met you on one of my first days on the island, under the thatched roof of a bar that served alcohol in buckets. You were ten years older than me, your laugh lines defined, your smile the kind that lit up your face, lit up mine. My hair was so long I could almost sit on it, and you placed one flower behind my ear, my left ear.

“No, no,” I laughed, taking the flower from my left and placing it behind my right. “I’m single. Single women wear flowers behind their right ears.”

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To Be Thankful

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to post about Thanksgiving every year; I think it’s incredibly important to give thanks. I try to do it daily, but on a day where Canadians are actually given a day off to be thankful, I try to really evaluate all of the positives (and sometimes the negatives, I have been thankful for them, too) in my life.

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Street Art of Toronto

A beautiful mural depicting social change versus a random tag on a random brick wall – how do we approve one, but disregard the other? The line seems to be drawn somewhere between construction and destruction; the work must take on some form of cultural significance, or, well, at least just look good.

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A Change of Heart: A Tale of Burning Man

I went to Burning Man in 2011, and stayed the full eight days. I camped in the desert under the big clear sky, my days spent riding the playa on my bicycle, making friends, cooking grilled cheese sandwiches, my nights a hazy drug-fuelled blur of stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, mutant cars shaped like scorpions and jellyfish. I wore outfits I threw together from a garbage bag of costumes in the trunk; I wore saris and glitter, fake fur and angel wings, tutus and sometimes nothing at all. When I first reached the gates on that very first day, a girl wearing pink fishnets made me roll around in the playa, coating my hair in the greyish dust. “Welcome home,” she told me, and hugged me. I was instantly in love with this alternate universe, this utopian dream of creativity and art and acceptance.

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Songs To Listen To When You’re Homesick

I’ve written about how much I love Canada and about how much I miss Canada many times before – it’s my favourite country, and where I my mind wanders to whenever I think of the word “home”. Even though I’ve barely spent a collective year here in the past seven, I’m fiercely patriotic and proud to be from this beautiful and supportive nation. It’s no surprise, then, that occasionally I get homesick, either for Winnipeg or for Toronto. It’s usually on a bus, it’s usually raining, and I’m staring out the window, missing my family or reflecting on the past, present, and future. Oh, and I’m usually (more like always) listening to music.

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