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Winnipeg’s Greatest Summer Job

Almost-stories and micro-morals

August 1, 2013

I would describe today as a very un-tweetworthy day. But a blogger am I, and blog must I, so I will share with yousome anecdotes from the past couple of days.

Yesterday, we were shooting a bit for Shaw, and a woman came into PGFI with a cat in her bag. Yes, that’s right. A cat in her bag, just hanging out. He looked quite content, and apparently he was purring. She disappeared before I could get a photo.

So, that happened.

Yesterday, Culinary Exchange was selling a variety of tempting side dishes and meals. The falafel was so delicious that I had to buy two. I also got some beets with goat cheese and caprese salad. And they were all so cheap!

Falafel from Cul Ex

So, that happened.

This afternoon, I moseyed on over to the Forks for a meeting. I got there early, so I decided to poke around the Forks Market.

Forks Market

I was very tempted by the comfortable-looking and gorgeous clothing: some local, some made abroad. There were knick-knacks galore, and there was even a glasswork studio. I caught a picture of an artist hard at work.

Glass work

So, that happened.

After the meeting (let’s skip the boring work stuff), I headed to my friend’s place on Simcoe. We were having a craft night, and our goal for the night was to rework old t-shirts. We’d gotten our hands on a book that had handy instructions for almost 100 projects that you could make with cotton t-shirts. I made this one out of a huge shirt that was originally like a sack on me.

My new old shirt

That happened, too.

I did learn a lesson today, despite the overall lack of excitement. There were a few setbacks, small ones, but for some reason they bothered me.

When I went by the kitchen downstairs for lunch, they were closed (I had just missed them). I was pretty grumpy about it, so I grumbled as I grabbed my fruit cup and coffee. But I had forgotten that I had food upstairs from yesterday – the beets and salad and falafel. That, plus a baked potato from Cul Ex, and I had a multitude of food options.

I ate my smorgasboard of food, and realized that I was so lucky to have these options available to me. Honestly, if I’d gotten a hot meal, I may have forgotten about these delicious items in my fridge.

It’s a good thing. I tend to forget things in my fridge.

But before I could eat, I knocked over my coffee mug – which spilled all over the kitchen floor. Thankfully, no electronics were in the vicinity (as they usually are), so the main concern was for the floor itself. Stomach growling, I soaked up the liquid with a heavy heart.

After 10 minutes of cleaning, I looked down at my floor and smiled. The surface was shining, like the day I’d first moved in.

So, I guess the lesson I learned was: when life gives you lemons, make it into lemonade, spill that lemonade on the floor, and see how much your floor will sparkle after you clean it up.

Tourist for a day

July 31, 2013

Today I became a tourist in my own hometown.

I was invited to join a group of Chinese exchange students staying in my building for their trolley tour, and my curiosity about the whole thing won me over. So, at 12:45 p.m., I made my way downstairs to the Annex to meet with the rest of the group.

Annex at Culinary Exchange

The tour took 90 minutes and took us to St. Boniface, the Exchange, Osborne Village, Wellington Crescent, Academy, Assiniboine Park, then back up Corydon to finish at the Museum of Human Rights. The path was elegantly planned.

Even as a local, I really enjoyed taking time to really look at these buildings, particularly down Wellington Crescent (a street I normally drive through with no intent to look around). The trolley tour allowed me to stop and smell the roses.

tour guide and interior

The Winnipeg Trolley Company’s tour guide

Our tour guide was able to share many tidbits of information along the way: some new, some old, and some I’d forgotten a long time ago. I got to see the house that Neil Young lived in as a teenager, learned that a Manitoba man was the basis for the character James Bond, and re-learned that the white building next to St. B’s Cathedral is the oldest in the city.

There were a few facts that were omitted for the sake of time (our tour guide was very careful to speak slowly enough for those having trouble with English), but still, our brains were filled with stories. The guide tried to communicate facts about Neil Young and The Guess Who, but any mention of local musicians inevitably prompted the Chinese students to ask questions about Justin Bieber.

Chinese tourists on trolley tour

The ride itself was joyful. Winnipeggers are still not used to seeing the trolley on the streets, so many waves from the bus were met with smiles and poses for our cameras. The touristic excitement was contagious – these are new people, strange, living a lifestyle so different from mine. And they see me and wave. I am welcome here.

The occasional distraction of others on the street was no deterrent to the tour guide. He embraced their attitude toward the trip gracefully and delivered us all a wonderful afternoon.

The girl who sat next to me quietly said that her favourite part of the tour were the houses down Wellington. She, like many others, had photos to take home on her iPad.

Another girl said that she thought that the life of a Canadian was very relaxing. I can’t help but wonder if they feel that way because they are here as a pseudo-vacation. I remember thinking the same thing in Victoria and Vancouver (“Everyone seems so laid back!”), but I imagine that if I lived in BC, my daily activities would end up just as hectic as they are here.

iPhone pictures on Trolley

The students are part of multiple programs, but the ones that I spoke to are in electrical engineering. They are all hoping to study and/or find work in Canada.

I am sure that their English is improving (many of them were very easy to communicate with), and I hope that they all get to experience life here. Maybe one day, one of these students will be living in my room at the residence. That’s a pretty neat thought.

Winnipeg Trolley Company

Thanks, Winnipeg Trolley Company.

A lovely pub: Fox and the Fiddle

July 30, 2013

My boyfriend (Rylaan) and I visited Fox and Fiddle on a Friday on the final weekend of Fringe. Alliteration aside, it was a lovely time.

It was about 2:00 pm, just after the lunch rush, and the few people who were lingering after their meal soon left us all alone in the restaurant. The extra space allowed us to fully enjoy the decor.

Fox and Fiddle decor

A typewritter and other funky items on a mantle.

The Fox and Fiddle is gorgeous. The walls are marble, shiny enough to reflect the televised sports programming they were playing. The TVs were a little at odds with the artsy antiques and historical photos that line the walls.

We received excellent service (being the only folks there), and we witnessed some other staff leaving for the day. I felt a little sad that there weren’t more folks enjoying the beautiful space.

To start, we ordered a Long Island Fox to split. The drink was so tasty that I had to stop myself from downing it all on an empty stomach, for fear that I might get tipsy before heading off to my next shoot.

Long Island Fox

Long Island Fox – yummy!

Our stomachs had shrunk from not eating all day, but we eagerly ordered an appetizer (lobster/shrimp dip) and two meals (a chicken stir-fry for him, and a veggie burger for me). Fox and Fiddle’s vegetarian burgers can be prepared in the fashion of any of their regular burgers, which I thought was a lovely way to handle the alternative (I am so tired of restaurants only offering one way to serve a veggie burger).

I opted for “Tex Mex” style – cheese, salsa, jalapeños, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions – with a side garden salad. The burger was delicious, juicy, slightly messy, with just enough kick to keep me biting down.

The dip (with pita) was fantastic. My concerns that it might be overly fishy were set aside when I tasted the cheese. I ate almost all of it… which is why I struggled to finish my burger.

Rylaan kept his attention on the stir-fry, which featured tender vegetables covered in teriyaki sauce. The noodles seemed dry at first, but once the stir-fry had been, well, stirred, it was more balanced.

Fox and Fiddle food

A lovely late lunch, Fox and Fiddle food. Alliteration abounds.

Interestingly enough, a discussion about the meal led us to questions of, “What is the perfect portion size?” These were large plates of food. If we hadn’t ordered an appetizer, we would have been perfectly fed with a bit of food to spare. And because we hadn’t eaten in a while, we walked out of Fox and Fiddle with boxes of extras – a late-night snack after much Fringing.

On the last night of Fringe, I wandered back to Fox and Fiddle, because the restaurant was the house of choice for local dance troupes involved in performances at the Festival. The place was so alive. Laughter filled the tall restaurant, and the drinks were flowing. There was even a live DJ!

We discovered that we preferred the spacious patio. One discussion with a friend revealed a collective attitude that the TV screens take away from the beauty of the place. But we, dancers, may not be the group that they are trying to attract at Fox and Fiddle. I imagine that their game nights bring in business that we can’t compete with, so they are a sports bar out of necessity.

I look forward to being there on game nights to really see experience the best of Fox and Fiddle. And I know I have to try their wings – people rave about them.

Some housekeeping advice

July 26, 2013

Future residents, please note…

3 1/2 weeks is an important point in time wherein you can no longer tolerate the layer of grit upon your floors. Tired of having to clean your feet BEFORE you put on your shoes, you will finally relegate yourself to the task of trekking to Giant Tiger (or Dollarama, if you’re wiser with your dollars) to buy a broom. Ah. A broom.

My broom

It is also the point at which your bags of laundry are full to bursting and you have been using that last icky bath towel for too darn long. You had forgotten that laundry requires detergent and softener and time. Too many things require the ingredient of “time”, these days.

You may also, at this interval, look into your cupboards with longing, wondering when you’ll remember to purchase a can opener so that you can finally eat those Spaghetti-Os you bought on an ill-conceived whim.

I permit you to also observe the pile of recycling that fills your heart with concern. Will you really have to sort through all that? Will it ever stop growing? Will it grow legs and walk downstairs to the bin itself? (A momentary glimpse of hope?)

While you’re at it, you may as well take a gander over at the sink area. Trust me, you don’t NEED to wash a dish unless fruit flies appear, and even then, you’ve still got a couple of days until it gets really bad. It may be a good idea to stock up on disposable dishware. Just in case.

My sink.

In conclusion, you may not know why certain items (a bottle cap, three pennies, a lanyard from a convention from five months ago, an 8mm projector) have wound up on your kitchen table, but trust me, they belong there. If you are to organize them or in any way alter their relation to the table itself, the universe would be thrown in flux, and we’d all be subjected to the worst torments of mankind’s collective imagination, and the chaos would only serve to put those items right back in their original places, thus negating any effort you had made at all.

Best leave it for another day.


July 24, 2013

Hi guys. I almost forgot that today is Wednesday, and that means I need to blog about music. Specifically, I need to post a link to some Manitoba music.

Yesterday, I caught this band at the Fringe outdoor stage. The video had made its way to me via Facebook when it came out, but I hadn’t taken the time to really explore what This Hisses was all about. Luckily, the Fringe brought us back together once more.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a thing for dramatic music. This Hisses has drama, all sultry and sullied and wonderful. But there is a lovely subtlety in the way they turn their tune. So, that’s why this band, This Hisses, is my pick of the week.


I, the food photo noob

July 24, 2013

When my meal plan was successfully put on my card, it changed how I eat here completely.

Suddenly, I have a chunk of money on a card that would be foolish NOT to use. I would head downstairs anytime between 7 am and 7 pm and find something affordable and delicious.

Since Culinary Exchange (“Cul Ex”) is essentially a cafeteria for students in the residence, one might expect sub-par fare. However, each meal I’ve eaten so far has been great.

Now, I have only been blogging full-time for three weeks or so. The food pictures that need to accompany any kind of food blog always slip my mind until AFTER I’ve eaten. That speaks to the deliciousness of the food, I think. So, please enjoy some post-food pics:

Pasta, eaten

Mushroom and artichoke pasta, shared with a friend.



Because there is only one cooking class going on right now, the food options have pretty much stayed the same. During the fall, their expanded menu will feature items including made-to-order pizza, stirfry, and specials (even sushi), and overall there will be daily and weekly changes.

For now, I don’t mind the stable menu. In fact, I find it kind of nice, because I don’t have to think too hard about what I want.

It reminds me of when I attended a school that had a uniform policy – not thinking about my clothing every day meant that I had an underdeveloped fashion sense, but it also allowed me to focus on my studies more single-mindedly. I’m a creature of habit, I suppose.

As for my vegetarian leanings… that’s been harder to figure out, simply because I want to try everything. It seems fairly straightforward to opt for no meat.

The upside of eating more veggies and less meat is that you save a lot of money. A regular salad is $5, while a burger/side combo is $10.

Not that the prices seem ginormously high, either. You get a healthy-size portion of food for your dollar.

For example, the plate of fries pictured above is $2. That’s a lot of fries. Take my word for it.

And this breakfast special is $4.50.

Cafe Breakfast

I was considerably more successful at remembering not to eat it all before taking a picture of it.

Plus, as a student, you don’t pay PST or GST on your meals. Bam. There, RRC just saved you an additional 13%. Beauty.

Another lovely aspect of Cul Ex is their new patio, which opened in the midst of a Fringe frenzy. There were a couple of days that the kitchen had limited offerings because they’d run out of items the night before or because the chefs hadn’t had time to prep anything for the next day. These minor inconveniences couldn’t stand up to the novelty. A patio. In the residence.

No longer did our drinking need to be confined to our rooms or lounges – we could go breathe the fresh air and sip our beverages. Alcohol purchases can’t be made through the meal plan, for obvious reasons.

Overall, the meal plan has changed my experience here for the better. I think I could tire of the food here after a couple of months (just as you’d tire of the same music after constant exposure to it), but the convenience of Cul Ex would only encourage me to focus on what’s important while in school – my studies.

I promise, I will try to work on my food photo timing.

Frenetic Fringing

July 23, 2013

I promise you, this will be my last post about the Winnipeg International Fringe Festival for the week. I know it’s not everyone’s bag, but…. actually, I don’t believe that. I think that everyone can find something for them at Fringe. It just takes a bit of digging, and a lot of word of mouth.

My favourite things about Fringe so far:

  • Being a part of it. Being a part of a Fringe show (see And Other Stories and Jurn.e, both at Venue 8!) is a wonderful experience. You develop into a little family, leaning on each other when times get rough and the sun gets hot. One year, I spent two weeks in a black costume (from head to toe, face covered and everything), handbilling and performing as a “Void” character in Naughty Sailboat’s Kafka in Love. We Voids bonded over the sweltering experience.
  • Discovering this fantastic blog by a technician from Venue 2. Technicians see a lot of interesting things that don’t always reach the eyes of the public. Here, you can read stories from shows gone wrong, conversations overheard at the beer tent, and chatter from the walkies that production folks are privy to.
  • The outdoor stage. Whether it’s music or buskers or theatre, there is always something new to find here.

    This Hisses

    I really enjoyed This Hisses, but no amount of photo editing will make my crummy iPhone picture any better. Sorry, This Hisses.

  • The people. I’ll admit, sometimes crowds stress me out, but not at Fringe. The performing arts spans a wide variety of genres, so here you get an eclectic and welcoming bunch of people. I spoke to a wonderful volunteer who has been at the festival since its beginning 26 years ago, and he said that, the first year, the area was rather “sketchy” (my word, not his). But the area has been transformed over the past three decades, and he considers the Fringe Festival to be a huge contributor to the change. The people who flock here every summer are a huge part of what makes the Exchange District so vibrant.
  • Seeing O(h) TWICE at Venue 8. Twice. I went to the show alone on a rainy Sunday night at 10:45 pm, but discovered the cast of The Collectors there and sat with them. Together, we had a raucous good time. This show is comedy gold for dancers – they break down and over-explain choreography, go “back to the basics” with some two-stepping, and create a silly dance piece to an impromptu song for a big finish. I was so totally impressed with these two fabulous L.A.-based performers… that I ended up back there again not even 20 hours later.
  • The friendly Fringe patrons and volunteers. Waiting for a show to let in is always a pleasure. You can stand in line alone and easily make a new friend. It’s a similar situation to lineups at SXSW, perhaps.

    (The lines at SXSW can be epic in their length)
  • Eating chickpea curry from the India Palace food truck. This is always a highlight of my summer. It is nice to have such a delicious, hot, vegetarian meal so accessible and so fast, and I have enjoyed three bowls so far this year.
  • The vendors. I particularly enjoy finding random books from the used book seller. It’s a lovely way to spend some time between shows.
  • Being able to stumble home late at night after the last venue has closed, inspired and satisfied.

Fringe: full disclosure

July 21, 2013

[NOTE: links coming soon]

Fringe is a highlight of every year for me, but usually the excitement it inspires is tinged with anxiety. That’s because I have been involved in productions for Fringe for a few years, and there is a fair amount of stress leading up to the shows.

In my time onstage and around the Square, I have developed some connections to other companies and performers, and it seems wrong not to acknowledge my own bias towards these folks before I start tweeting about my Fringe preferences.

So, full disclosure; these are some shows I am involved in myself (in some capacity):

  1. And Other Stories. Nova Dance Collective’s Fresh was their first foray in the dance world, and it was a solid collection of short works. I went to the School of Contemporary Dancers with these ladies, and when graduate Kelsey Todd and I started working on a dance film (“The Presider”) together, I had no idea that a version of it would end up at the Fringe Festival. You can catch my film and a variety of dance works in And Other Stories.
  2. Jurn.e. The Lime Project’s revamping of their 2012 show features some lovely choreography by Nina Patel and even lovelier dancers (some of whom are also in And Other Stories). I am the stage manager. Join me at our shows!
  3. Offices. Naughty Sailboat has chosen to once again mount a collection of shorts by Ethan Coen (yes, of the Coen brothers). Fast-paced and witty, this comedy show is golden. I saw their first run last night and was entertained from the first light cue till the moment they shuffled off the stage. Scheduling conflicts prevented me from being the show’s lighting designer, so the brilliant Megan Andres (the show’s director) stepped up to fill the role. Kudos to a very talented cast and crew.
  4. Fire Women. If Leigh-Anne Kehler is as good at storytelling on stage as she is over coffee, then this will be an amazing show. I “designed” her poster – the quotation marks are because my Photoshop skills are infantile, but I was given a fantastic background image to work with, so it looks pretty snazzy. I look forward to hearing her stories.

Now that that’s on the table (and those don’t include the shows I am shooting), let me tell you what I am eager to see:

  • ALL THE DANCE STUFF. I like dance, and there is a lot of it this year. O(h) sounds interesting, and Fracture and Rupture (two similarly named shows) also sound great. I saw Timeless yesterday – it’s great, with some highlights that are comedic and some tragic. So much dance.
  • Rope. All-star cast and Thomas Toles directing. ‘Nuff said.
  • Radio :30. Critically acclaimed, and the cast/crew is currently living on my floor. They’re really friendly.
  • Hamlet as Told on the Streets. Sounds cool to me!
  • The Broken Ballerina. These guys are skilled.
  • Here Lies Henry. Also, skilled.
  • Field and Flight. Katherine is also living in my building, and every time she talks about her show, it gets more and more interesting.
  • Melody Moore. The star is living in our building. I’m mostly excited to see him play the harp.
  • DnD Improv. Because Dungeons and Dragons makes improv even better.
  • I Hate Bill Pats Too. I would love to hear the continuation of his story.
  • So many more! Too many!! I can’t remember them all!

Day tripping

July 20, 2013

Today I took a break from the world of Fringe to soak up some sun at the beach with my fellow residence residents.

When planning our outing, I was asked if 11 am was too early to leave. I laughed then, but in the end, there was so much rushing around to get ready for the trip that morning that 11 am did approach too quickly (but only because I am more than a little disorganized these days).

Two RAs and three residents hopped in a Red River College van. We were ready with sunscreen and umbrellas, but when we arrived at Grand Beach an hour later, the chilly wind made us clutch our sweaters closer to us.

people at the beach

The gang at the beach, battling the cold.

It may not have been the perfect day to start with, but the sun came out from behind the clouds. I found myself simultaneously warm and cold – warm on my back, which faced the sun, but with that cold wind whipping at my face, it didn’t quite feel comfortable.

Echo, the RA on my floor, covered herself appropriately and took a nap.

Girl covered up at beach

We were pretty sure she was still alive under there.

An orange volleyball was unearthed, and we seized upon the idea that physical activity would warm us up. It sure did (mainly because every bump caused heat to sear across my forearms) – so much so that a couple of us decided to brave the water.

Grand Beach has lovely green-with-weeds water that warms well with the sun. The only bad part about going swimming there is getting out and experiencing the freezing wind. But we did it, and we survived.

After a few more walks along the beach, we had all had our share of the confusing weather and decided to head back home to sit on our brand new patio.

We got back just in time to beat the rush (thankfully – the patio lineup looked pretty long by 7:30 pm), so we settled ourselves into our chairs and watched passing Fringegoers and performers.

I’ll be blogging more about the expanded food options that have come with our patio, but let me just tell you that we all feasted and were filled with delicious food and, more importantly, alcohol. Culinary Exchange’s new liquor license is one of the most exciting aspects of the patio. I got to drink my Bulldog while I chowed on some veggie sliders, all in the cool summer breeze. The food was covered by my meal plan, but the alcohol was not.

It was really great that our RAs were able to organize this event for the few of us staying here for the summer. I can imagine new students from out of town, knowing no one, finding these folks to be comforting company. Trips like this allow for fun, but also create support systems for that new kid in residence (ie. me).

Res students and RAs

This new kid felt right at home with her new friends.

Car break-ins, revisited

July 18, 2013

A couple of people have asked me about the writing sample I used for my application. Please enjoy my story.

Anyone who has befriended a dancer knows that we don’t have much time for a social life. My Friday nights are usually cut short because of Saturday morning rehearsals. It was one such Saturday rehearsal that made me grumpy, but I didn’t know that there was greater drama hiding around the corner.

Sweaty and hungry from 3 hours of dance, at 1:00 pm I grumbled and walked to my car in Osborne Village. I was juggling a dance costume, stacks of DVDs (I work in video; this is totally normal), a coffee mug, and an awkward purse.

I dumped these items in my car, frustrated that my stack of DVDs wouldn’t stand up. My grumpiness turned to shock when I reached for the driver’s door handle. I could see through the window… What is that? Broken glass?!?

Though I had not noticed immediately, it became suddenly clear that my passenger front door window had been smashed. The CD slot and glove box were open, obviously rifled through. My car is like a giant purse: a collection of odd, useful-maybe-someday objects. Tupperware containers, the cutest rainbow umbrella ever, a spool of thread, a clamp… Miraculously, nothing was taken. The thief didn’t want my Sufjan Stevens CD?

When I called my dad to tell him the news, he asked about the trunk and my stomach dropped. I had a tripod in there, worth probably about $1500. I approached the trunk with dread, unlocked it, lifted the lid slowly… and sighed when I saw the tripod sitting there innocently.

The 2001 Honda Civic has an interesting feature. There is a trunk release near the driver’s seat, but it has a lock. As soon as I bought the car, I locked it and grew accustomed having to park and turn off the car every time I needed to get into the trunk. Not convenient for quick drop-offs, but all the eye-rolls my friends gave me were worth it in the end: that trunk is locked down, the best tool for a videographer on the go.

What a learning experience! Yeah, your day was bad, but you’re lucky the car wasn’t stolen, or anyone injured.

However, that strange feeling of accomplishment, like you’ve had a life experience that is minorly significant? It fades pretty fast. For me, it diminished as soon as I had to drive with shards of safety glass on the seat next to me. I had carefully plucked any remaining bits from the window, but the fear of glass flying in my eyes remained with me on the 20-minute ride home. The guy at the shop says I’ll be finding glass bits for years.

A busted window is more than an inconvenience. One week and one large deductible later, I can finally rejoin my friends at all the cool parties. I learned that being unable to securely lock your car makes me into even more of a shut-in (on the days I’m not at rehearsal).

So, tonight, I guess I’ll just have to sit at home and watch Twin Peaks. Shucks, so much for a social life.

Posting this reminds me…

Two weeks ago I was walking down Arthur Street. It was about 9 pm, not dark out, not deserted.

I passed a patch of broken safety glass near the curb. A few meters away, I could see a man standing by his SUV, standing in his own pile of broken glass, looking forlorn.

My heart went out to him – I had just experienced the same thing one month ago.

My mom taught me to be cautious here, but I regularly discover that this area is safer than it seems.

My building (RRC’s residence) is tucked kiddie corner to the cop shop (at least for a few months more). There are multiple SafeWalk programs around, and our security (full of really great people) works 24/7 to ensure our safety.

But still, violence and theft occur here. I have been very lucky so far (not to jinx it), with the warm weather and abundant events drawing crowds to the area. It seems to me that what makes streets unsafe is leaving them empty.

In my mind, by being here and being active outside of my building, I am preventing possible crimes. The more people who walk with me, the better.

Also, thanks, Mom, for looking out for me.