Hot Child in the City

down the rabbit hole ...

down the rabbit hole ...

It’s taken some time, but I think I’ve finally found a comfortable rhythm with which to live in this city and in this somewhat new life.

In the span of one week and many sleepless nights and many adventures in finding a comfortable sleeping space (it’s a long story, but all you need to know is this: air mattress=fail), and lots of walking, soul searching, yelling at God and wandering around the neighbourhood and missing and falling in love with things all at the same time … I think I’ve reached a space of contentment and inner peace.  Of trusting and letting go …

I’m learning so much about myself at this new internship.  At first, there was the tendency to feel overwhelmed and under-qualified, but I’m trying to counter natural negativity with remembering that I’m young, that everyone has to start somewhere, and that I have a lot to learn.  And this is the ideal place to do it.  The building I work in is gorgeous and in the morning, the street is kind of hushed and you can hear the church bells ringing.  One of my favourite sounds in the world. 

The people I work with are all extremely talented and successful and I get to spend my days doing what I love and acting as a sponge.  There are also book launches and readings and other events that I haven’t gone to yet, but will.  Because I can.  I also love being able to ride the streetcar to work and look out the window at Queen Street and the buzz and hum of activity.  I love how, no matter how crappy or tired I look on any given day, some random guy in the city is going to think I’m gorgeous.  And he’s going to tell me so.  I love the thrill of anonymity, the fact that if I want to do a little dance, no one is going to bat an eyelash and stare or judge (unless they’re visiting from the small town!) 

I love the office I work in and the sunlight that pours in every day, the brownstone and hardwood floors, the modern paintings, the cupboard stocked with every tea imaginable, the books everywhere (in our office at least), and walking by the fashion and wedding magazines’ offices and seeing mannequins swathed in fabric.  I love taking adventures and exploring the city on my own.  I love being so close to my boyfriend …

Toronto’s not as harsh and cold as people in the small town think it is.  I’ve met some lovely people and had conversations with strangers and enjoyed long, long walks … yes, in the dark and yes, by myself.  And I’m fine.  It is possible to lead a calm, reflective existence in the city despite all of the hustle and bustle.  I find myself to be less stressed out here — a change I find very, very odd.

This small town girl misses her views of the escarpment, her affectionate pooch, her parents and comfortable existence in a pretty little town.  But it was time to move on.  And the city is starting to steal my heart …

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Civic Holiday Photo Sesh

 

As per Fabiola’s request, here are some of the pictures I took this weekend on a mini trip to the lake.  Sorry they’re so small; it’s either this size or super-duper large.

I love how you can see Toronto from the other side!

I love how you can see Toronto from the other side!

The view of the lake from the Elizabeth Street Pumphouse

The view of the lake from the Elizabeth Street Pumphouse

the shoreline of Lake Ontario, from Nelles Beach

the shoreline of Lake Ontario, from Nelles Beach

I submitted this photo to The Hamilton Spectator's Eye on the Area section

I submitted this photo to The Hamilton Spectator's Eye on the Area section

The swan I named Marilyn Monroe.  Isn't she beautiful?

The swan I named Marilyn Monroe. Isn't she beautiful?

God made this flower with a little bit of passion and a big burst of excitement

God made this flower with a little bit of passion and a big burst of excitement

Summer’s Here …

… and I’m riding on a crest of The Sundays and Chad Van Gaalen.  

hello summer

hello summer

After a rainy, dreary July, it’s nice to finally enjoy the sunshine and hot weather.  Even though my working Saturday didn’t go as planned and I got snubbed by local politicans’ cronies, paid $75 for a cab to take me from assignment to assignment (who, as it turned out, showed up 1 hour late because this is a small town and everyone drives and consequently, pollutes the planet), biked around the town looking for “people doing fun summery things on the holiday weekend” feeling like a creep and getting rejected, and had a nearly perfect driving lesson on Sunday (with one minor mistake which I’m trying to forgive myself for), today has shaped up much better.  It will be a promising August, I think.

It seems as though the anxiety and self-criticism has temporarily dissipated with the glorious sunlight.  I hopped back again on my bike this morning, camera in tow, hoping for more “people doing fun summery things on the holiday weekend.”  I went to the beach, found a cute 15 month-old boy and snapped away (with his mother’s permission, of course.)  I waded barefoot in the cool, clear water and felt my soul quieted and satisfied as I watched sailboats glide in the distance and my new home come August 28, Toronto, shimmer like a mirage across the lake.  I sat on a rock with the sand between my toes and watched an elderly golden retriever frolic like a young pup in the water, children skipping stones and a young couple stroll barefoot on the shore. 

When I was satisfied with the pictures I had taken, I biked down to the Pumphouse.  I attached my zoom lens to the camera and got some great shots of sailboats, fishing boats, motor boats and yachts that were all taking advantage of the beautiful day.  My zoom lens is so good that I could make out the figures in the boats themselves, rather than simply a speck of the boat on the horizon.  I spotted an assortment of Canadian geese, ducks and seagulls chillin’ near the shore and was pleasantly surprised to see a gorgeous white swan among them.  As I balanced carefully on the shoreline rocks and got out my camera, the swan seemed to follow the direction I was walking in and floated closer to me.  As I went snap-happy, loving the effect of water droplets glistening on her white feathers against the dark blue-green of the lake, she started to preen, stretching her graceful long neck, looking coyly over her shoulder and resting her head on her wings.  It was almost like she was posing for me and loving the camera!  Apparently it’s unusual for swans to be so friendly and approachable, but this one was workin’ it!

After hundreds of photos were taken, I came home, jumped in the pool, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading Away by Jane Urquhart, sipping a homemade iced chai latte and cuddling Sammy on my lap.  It was a much-needed one-day vacation and now I feel mostly rested and serene.

I’d love more summer days like this one, but I also can’t wait for fall (and my new life) to begin.  I just found out last week that I got the editorial internship at Quill and Quire: Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews.  Just a few months ago I was considering the area of journalism I’d most like to get into, and I decided that my perfect job would be to write about books and the publishing industry.  This is a dream come true, and to make matters even better, I’ll be living in Parkdale with my sister and taking a short streetcar to Queen Street East, where the office is located.  I’ve already started buying some new office-y clothes for the internship and am trying to figure out which books I’ll be able to take with me (not a lot … sad face). 

I’m really, really excited about the privilege of being at Q&Q, being near my sister, my boyfriend and the Big Beautiful City that awaits me.

Like Mary Tyler Moore, I’m going to make it after all!

Tomorrow is Another Day

Take it from Scarlett O’Hara.  Tomorrow is another day.  It may still be raining, but it will be another day nonetheless.

a rainy day like this ...

a rainy day like this ...

I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again…

Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come cuz I can’t stay long …

The only song I want to hear right now is “Last Dance with Mary Jane” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  It is the song that is speaking to my soul right now, from the soulful harmonica to the “oh my my / oh hell yes” …

Not that I have marijuana issues, obviously (if that is indeed what this song “means”), but I am definitely tired of this town again.  Maybe this province.  Perhaps the country.

I had the opportunity to travel to Israel this fall and suddenly, after weeks of hanging by the thread, I found out today that the criteria for this certain program has changed.  Now they’re not allowing the media to travel with their program, particularly a “faith-based Christian media.”  I had a freelance gig with a Christian teen magazine based out of Vancouver (of all places; more on this later) and would have been visiting the Holy Land from Sept.10-14.  Not anymore.

To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.  In retrospect, it did seem a little too good to be true.  To visit the Holy Land (for free, I might add) and then get paid to write about my experiences and have it published?  Um …  hello?  Not only would I have been visiting the birthplace of Judaism (my boyfriend’s faith background) and Christianity (mine), but I would have been walking where Jesus walked, where all the stories from the Bible actually took place.   It was exactly what my volatile, questioning, cynical faith needed.  In fact, that was my pitch to the editor in Vancouver: the journey of a disenchanted twentysomething visiting the country where her faith background began and the discoveries about life, love and religion she’d have along the way …

But let’s not forget my selfish secret hidden motive for wanting to go to Israel.  To pack up my bags and go somewhere.  Anywhere but here.  I have not traveled nearly as much as I’d like to.  Definitely not as much as other people my age whose passports boast of Ireland, China, Egypt, France and the Netherlands.  The small amount of traveling I have done has changed me in small yet significant ways, especially the month-long excursion to Scotland.  I believe I have a wandering soul and it longs to see, taste, touch and experience more beyond this one-horse town.  

London.  Paris.  Stockholm.  Amsterdam.  Boston.  Seattle.  Montreal.  Vancouver.  Just the sound of their names gives me sharp pangs of longing.  Particularly when I saw the garbage dump that has become Toronto last weekend and became just a little turned off.  I’m sorry, Toronto, but you kind of smell.  Being around people 24/7 and not being able to go anywhere for a moment’s peace and quiet also makes me feel a little less human after awhile.  I admittedly breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the leafy green Escarpment upon coming home from Toronto.  I then devised my perfect city in my head:  it would be a bustling city, yet a beautiful city that has working initiatives to be more green and energy-efficient.  There’d be lots of cute cafes and bookstores and job opportunities and creative, inspiring people.  There’d be mountains and trails to hike, places of refuge in the middle of the busy city, beauty to drink in, and a body of water nearby, preferably an ocean.

Sounds a lot like Vancouver, doesn’t it?

I’ve never been to British Columbia; the closest I got to the West was Saskatoon.  But it seems as though everyone that has ever gone to BC to plant trees, work at a winery, ski or find themselves has never come back to Ontari-ari-Scary-o.  I don’t know if I could ever move so far away from my family, but sometimes, the travel bug bites me so deep that I swell with longing and itch with dissatisfaction.

While these thoughts and disappointments drop on me like the rain that’s been pouring down all month, I’ve been trying to keep my heart open and soft.  The following quotes really spoke to me today:

I really just want to be a warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love — Conor Oberst

… into each life some rain must fall — Longfellow

… And when it rains it pours.

“I’m Here, I’m Queer, Get Used to it!”

Yesterday marked the 29th annual Pride Parade in Toronto and I feel sick to my stomach.

Not by the GBLTQ community and their supporters celebrating their lives and stories by parading down the city streets, but by what some of my fellow Christians had to say about it.

In between such colourful words as abomination, promiscuitydisgusting and sad, the following statements were uttered by a few different people while discussing Pride Week in Toronto.  These are actual, candid, direct quotes (as close as I can remember them) from hetero Christians that came up in conversation.  No word of a lie:

–“The garbage on the streets (because of the Toronto civic strike) is a fitting metaphor for the gay people parading on the streets”

–“Sure, they celebrate that, but what about marriage and family?  There’s no way they’d let that happen.”

–“The Pride Parade … is Sodom and Gomorrah.”

These were all uttered by respectable, lovely people whom I admire who do wonderful things.  Even the less “fundamentalist” Christians think there is something wrong with homosexuals and they need to be saved from their gayness.   

There is something drastically different in their views with mine.  Since blogs are a platform for your own personal beliefs and ideas, you’re going to get my perspective.  I’m a Christian who has issues withmany (if not most) other Christians (especially those who fall under the “Evangelical” category), particularly when it comes to the church’s relationship with the gay community.  I don’t doubt there are many gay people who have been brought up in the church who now want nothing to do with it because of how it has treated them.  This is tragic, because the followers of Christ could use varying perspectives in terms of race, gender, age and sexuality.  For some reason, they’ve been excluded, while prison inmates and other “sinners” (homosexuality is commonly regarded as a sin, while I do not necessarily agree) are embraced and ministered to.  Former rapists and murderers are shown God’s love, compassion and mercy while gay people, most of whom have never killed a fly, are told there is something wrong with them and that Jesus wants to un-gay them. 

Actually, Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality, and if you’ll recall, he was often in the company of those whom modern society frowned upon: tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, etc.  I’m not sure what the status of homosexuality was in those times, but if Jesus was alive today and happened to be in Toronto yesterday, I have a feeling he wouldn’t have been holding a sign saying that he hates “fags.”  That’s not the Jesus I know.

The Jesus whose life I clumsily try to follow came to save and form a relationship with everyone: gay, straight or otherwise.  We’re all flawed, imperfect creatures who are loved unconditionally by a perfect being.  Every sin was forgiven and corrected on the cross.

Of course, every homosexual person is sinful.  So is every heterosexual person.  To say someone is sinful because they are gay is, I believe, as absurd as calling someone sinful because they’re heterosexual.  When it comes down to the battle between nature vs. nurture, I would say I’m on the nature side.  I can’t explain it, but I also can’t understand why anyone would choose to be gay given the hardships and prejudice they’ll have to face in their life.  Even in today’s “tolerant” society.  Even when one week is given to celebrate their orientation.

As always, Dr. Tony Campolo has influenced what I have already believed my whole life, that gay does not equal wrong.  In his book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, he has some insightful and radical things to say about the “gay marriage situation” that I’d love to share with you, if only because they better articulate this line of thinking than I ever could:

[…] It is important for you to recognize that there is no record in the New Testament of Jesus saying anything about homosexuality, but he is quite specific about condemning divorce and the remarriage of divorced persons. [Campolo’s wife] Peggy would ask, “Don’t you think it’s hypocritical for Evangelicals like you to accept into the church, and even ordain into ministry, persons who have been divorced and remarried, but to turn around and forbid gay marriage?”  She goes on to ask, “How can you accept marriages that Jesus specifically condemned, and then turn around and oppose marriages Jesus never mentioned?”

Conservative Evangelicals would have you believe that gay and lesbian civil unions would weaken the institution of marriage.  I think that’s absurd!  It’s true that the institution of marriage is in serious jeopardy these days, but that’s not because there are gays and lesbians who want their unions recognized.  The reality is that divorce is destroying the American family.  It’s heterosexuals who are getting divorced; gays want to be married!  (pg.163)

I fail to see how such lifelong commitments by gays hurt the rest of us.  Instead, they send a message that commitments for life can provide one of life’s most humanizing relationships (pg.164).

When asked whether I believe that state governments should legalize gay and lesbian marriages, I respond in a way that might provide some satisfaction to people on both sides of the debate.  I propose that the government should get out of the marrying business completely.  Instead, the state should legally recognize and grant the same legal benefits to both heterosexual and homosexual unions […] Marriage, I believe, has been instituted by God and the government should have nothing to do with it (pg. 169). 

Amen!  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

… As to the common argument about the Pride Parade being a celebration of promiscuity and sexual deviance I shall respond with this: have you ever watched MTV?  Ever been to a Frat House?  Ever been to Cancun during Spring Break? 

There’s two sides to every coin, my friend.

Urban Poverty

Today on Listen Up: Urban Poverty. More then half the world’s population lives in cites or towns. Many live in poverty. What is being done?

The full episode is available here:

http://listenuptv.com/listenup/homepage

You might also want to check out this music video featured in the episode: “Born and Raised in the Ghetto” by rap artists Point Blank from Regent Park in T.O. 

Problem Protests

Tamil demonstrators occupy the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, successfully blocking the expressway in both directions, on Sunday, May 10, 2009. They were holding a sit-down protest on the highway with many linking arms and chanting "No More Genocide,'' a reference to the civil war in their native Sri Lanka. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Tamil demonstrators occupy the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, successfully blocking the expressway in both directions, on Sunday, May 10, 2009. They were holding a sit-down protest on the highway with many linking arms and chanting "No More Genocide,'' a reference to the civil war in their native Sri Lanka. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

If you thought the Tamil and Pro-life protests were over, think again. 

Watch the full episode at Listen Up TV:

http://listenuptv.com/listenup/homepage

PS:  I wrote the first segment on the Tamil protests in Toronto!