Monthly Archives

January 2015

Personal Essays

Auf Wiedersehen 2014; Hello, 2015!

Taking no prisoners at The Colo(u)r Run. A cross between Holi, Waterworld, and The Boston Marathon, this colourful 5k separates the weak from the fast and fluorescent. Maybe those legs behind me are rolling on the ground in ecstasy, maybe they belong to someone I took down on my quest for colourful glory. You'll never know.

Taking no prisoners at The Colo(u)r Run. A cross between Holi, Waterworld, and The Boston Marathon, this colourful 5k separates the weak from the fast and fluorescent. Maybe those legs behind me are rolling on the ground in ecstasy, maybe they belong to someone I took down on my quest for colourful glory. You’ll never know.

2014 was interesting. At times weird and full of thai express; at times wonderful and full of buddhists breakfasts; at times frustrating as hell and full of mediocre leftovers.

It was a big year for growth. There was a lot of self-reflection and thinking about what I want my life to look like.  This meant a lot of thinking in the vein of Uncle Ben from Spiderman, “these are the years when a [wo]man changes into the [wo]man [s]he’s going to be for the rest of h[er] life”. Too bad Uncle Ben never took a gender studies class. It would’ve saved me a lot of square brackets. 

Highlights of 2014:

  • Visiting new cities (New York, Washington, Seoul, Suncheon, Mokpo, Jeju Island);
  • Attending Blogcademy and realizing that unicorns are real. That you can be a total boss entrepreneur thanks to the magical internet. 
  • Being promoted at my job (woo!), as well as becoming the in-house photographer;

  • Spending the night at a Buddhist temple dressed in monk’s clothes;
  • Travelling through South Korea with great friends (who kept their cool when I left my cell phone/wallet in a taxi);
  • Volunteering as a photographer for TEDx, Lawn Summer Nights, and Me to We;
  • Meeting Margaret Atwood *** (she’s real!);
  • Getting involved with Ladies Learning Code (I mentored at the Photoshop class, attended National Learn to Code Day, and taught the Girls Learning Code Holiday Image Editing and Animation workshop). Their WordPress workshop is coming up in January;
  • Doing The Colo(u)r Run in P.E.I.
  • No longer ripping my nails (miraculous).
  • Taking more photos and writing more words than the year before.

I’m not a fan of the New Year’s Resolution. I think we should always be trying to better ourselves, no matter what time of year. I did get drunk and make one on NYE out of cultural necessity.  This was one that I had been trying to do anyway, so I like to think it wasn’t just the cocktails and anthropological pressure that made me resolution-ize it: 

Give More Gifts.

Presents for all! Here are some other things I’m looking forward to doing in 2015:

  • Going to the Women in Travel Summit, (“WITS”) in Boston in March. There are going to be some really awesome travel bloggers there. I’m pretty nervous and excited.

  • More travel! Near and far. I got a tent for Christmas and it needs wearing out.

  • More blog posts! (Trying to get better with daily writing practice).

  • Making how-to-do-photo-stuff blog posts.  

  • Running my first half-marathon (Registration is paid so I can’t back out now).
  • Printing more photos for my own home (I always print them for other people).
  • Checking out every new day in my Poladarium calendar.
  • Practicing dem languages. (Duolingo recently added Dutch to their array of languages for native English speakers to learn.  Het is geweldig. Mijn Opa is from Holland and I’ve been trying for ages to find an easy way to pick up Dutch on the side with very little time to actually devote to it. Duolingo is absolutely perfect for that – I play it  in the morning on the ferry on the way to work and I’m noticing huge results).
  • Drinking lots of tea.
  • Taking more photos.  Trying new techniques. Trying to get better.
  • Maybe finally buying snow pants? 

What are you looking forward to for 2015?  

Lifestyle

Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down

Nolite_Mel_Had_Tea

I’d read, heard and seen this funny phrase posted across the internet for years (most commonly phrased as ‘Illegitimi non carborundum‘), attributed to both Margaret Atwood (in the Handmaid’s Tale) and historical figures alike, but it was only when I was putting together this post that I discovered the phrase itself is actually a fake!

The latin it’s supposedly made up of is non-sensical, and actually a pun. Carborundum is actually the industrial name for silicon carbide. And neither bastardes nor illegitimi is correct latin for bastards. This says something more along the lines of ‘the illegitimates are not silicon carbide’ or ‘the illegitimate do not have silicon carbide’, depending on which version of the phrase you see.

Somewhere along the way, this pseudo-latin became a pop culture joke and widely used, so much so that several legitimate organizations now use it as their official slogan (with ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ as the corresponding English), despite it not being the least bit correct. It’s a pretty hilarious twist of history and even if the latin is a bit murky, ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ is still a great personal slogan.

Let’s start the New Year off by kicking ass and not letting other people get the better of you.

To read more about the history of this fun quote, look here.

Download the wallpaper here!

Canada

New Year’s Eve at a Hidden Speakeasy—Noble Bar in Halifax

2014 was coming to an end when I received an invitation to celebrate the closing of this chapter at one of Halifax’s more mysterious venues.  I’d been meaning to check it out anyway, so I did a little fist-pump when I learned that our friends had rented it out for a New Year’s Eve party.

Noble is a hidden, underground bar styled like a 20s prohibition jazz club.  Their trademarks are a love of philosophical statements and high-quality cocktails. In order to gain entrance you need to know the password (often a long Dickensian or philosophical phrase), tell a bartender or waitstaff at the dessert bar above ground (The Middle Spoon) and then be led through the kitchen, downstairs and through some service corridors, until you come to an unassuming door.

Oh, here could this lead? Certainly not to a secluded speakeasy…

Behind which you’ll find this:

We had atmosphere galore. Can you spot the secret passage within the secret bar? As my boyfriend said, We had atmosphere galore. Can you spot the secret passage within the secret bar? As my boyfriend said, “One of those shelves is a sneaky door.”

Now, before it starts sounding too mysterious, I should tell you the password is not something only the who’s-who have access to. All you have to do is subscribe on this ‘hidden’ page on The Middle Spoon’s site, and you’ll be added to the mailing list.

The passwords can sometimes be pretty long and strange for modern vernacular. Make sure you’re actually talking to a Middle Spoon employee and not a patron by accident – they might think you’ve been drinking a bit too much while reading Sherlock Holmes.

Because it was pretty dimly lit inside, I was shooting with my ISO through the roof! Most shots are taken at around ISO 6400, thus the extra grain. On the bright side, it kind of adds to the atmosphere.

Noble is known for their luxury cocktails. With fantastic names like ‘Grounds for Divorce’ and ‘Safe Word Yellow’ you really wanted to try everything on the menu (Judging by our bill, I think I might have tried a few too many).  Our bartenders were fantastic, prepared, and speedy. Watching them work was a show in itself.

The drink of the night was ‘2015’ (rye whisky, apricot brandy, pineapple shrub, lemon juice, red grapes) designed in part by my friend who was hosting the event. It was ‘deadly,’ meaning awesome/great/potent as we say on the East Coast. Here our bartender puts the finishing touch blackberry in the ‘Sparkle in her Eye’ cocktail.

We arrived early to help our friends set up a projector with the midnight countdown on it, as well as decorate the place with some festive glittery stars and banners.  Altogether we had about fifty people in the space. It didn’t feel crowded, and surfers surfed the crowd with yummy appetizers throughout the night.

Master hosts with masterful style.

Master hosts with masterful style.

 We counted down the clock on the projector and finished the night with sparklers, bubbly, pork sliders, and a piano-led round of Auld Lang Syne to bid the old year goodbye.  There’s something about that song that always wells up emotions in me. Well done, Robbie Burns, well done.

A great time was had, friends were near, fancy drinks were drunk, resolutions were made, the past was reflected upon, there were sparkly things and there were pork sliders. What more could you ask for?  Probably something to help you with your hangover the next day.  Best to do your grocery shopping for that the day before you go out. Always think ahead; you know you’ll probably want french toast, or eggs and bacon, or one of those weird Prairie oyster things. Whatever your ideal respite from headaches, a weird stomach and dehydration is.

Before I finish, I want to give a quick shout out to BiOne on Quinpool; we ate there before heading over to Noble and it really added to our New Year’s celebration.  They may in fact be the only place in Halifax that does real Korean table barbecue;  I’ve tried Mongolie Grill but it’s really not the same thing.  Price is mid-range at about $45 for meat for two people (there is no one person table barbecue option… sorry single diners!) and is a great experience.  Ever since we came back from Korea we’ve been coming here to get out our KBBQ fix. Try it. It’s good.

The separate exit at Noble brings you back up to the street and leaves you with your back to a nondescript, unmarked door. You’d never know it was there.

I hope you all had a good New Year’s too, whether it was at home, at a party, alone or with thousand of people in Times Square.  Happy New Year’s to all, and to all a good night. 🌍