Sunday, September 23, 2012

Biking in Montreal

I took many pictures while biking home from school tonight so that YOU can experience the scenic 3.5 mile journey through Montreal.

This is my bike at school.  Just chillin'.

This is Queen Victoria.  She watches over us while we practice.

The music buildings are in the cool big-building area of Montreal.


We get our own bike lights.  Cute, huh?

This is actually a really long incline.  It is really fun to whizz down while riding to school.  The ride up is not so fun.  But, it has toned my thighs in only a matter of a few weeks.

There is the incline sign.

This is Montreal's mountain.

This is a small part of Mt Royal Park.  It is gorgeous to bike through.

I bike past a football field and tennis courts.

This is a very common building style in Montreal.  The townhouses are three stories. The stairs to the second floor are always outside the building and the stairs to the third floor from the second floor are inside the building.

Front view of such a building.

I love passing this restaurant.

Our own traffic lanes :)

These bike kiosks are all over the city.  It costs $5 a day to rent a bike.  If you come and visit me, we can bike all over!

When I get home, I carry my bike up to the second floor balcony and lock it there.

I carry it up these steps.  Yeah, very steep.  I will have an awesome right bicep soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On being vegetarian

GASP!  I have been working on this endeavor for a month.  The strange thing was that it just happened and for the most part, has been easy!  Yes, some of my family members are thinking, "Has she gone crazy hippy liberal?!"  The answer is, "No.  I've become more thoughtful in my conservativeness."

I did give into one McDonalds chicken sandwich.  I blame that on drinking vermouth with Russians the night before.  I don't crave meat, honestly.  I have found so many great ways to eat vegetables.  Just the other night, I made a wrap.  I had hummus, mozzarella, huge chunks of tomato, and onion on a pesto tortilla.  It was so good!  I love the freshness of fruits and vegetables.  I've been trying to eat more whole grains and less sugar as well.  The sugar has been a difficult journey.  Sugar is as addicting as cocaine, hence why we have so much type two diabetes in first world countries, so not letting myself eat it everyday has caused some major mood swings.  I'm balancing out now.  Sugar isn't evil, but I think 10 grams a day is the recommended dosage, while American consumption is WAY more than that.  I made a small batch of cookies tonight using organic unbleached bread flour, so the texture is weird, but it has a cool nutty flavor.  I kind of like it!

This summer I read a variety of books on being vegan thanks to my awesome friend Colleen.  (Crazy, Sexy Diet, Skinny Bitch, In Defense of Food, Thrive)   I was just curious as to why she lives that lifestyle and the books broke my prejudices.

I linked the books so that you can check out the websites for yourself.  I learned that you can easily get the amount of protein and iron you need each day (and more!) in a vegan diet.  I learned that a healthy vegan eats a large variety of different plants, sending so many more nutrients to cells than the traditional western diet.  Brendan Brazier, the author of "Thrive" is a professional triathlete and is also a vegan.  Every book was well researched and cited.

I am not going to go vegan.  I do not have the intentions of forever being a vegetarian.  So why am I doing the "vegetarian thing"?

1.  When animals are factory farmed, they live in their own poop and pee, are only fed genetically engineered corn often mixed with the meal of other animals (or their own kind), are pumped full of hormones to grow quickly and antibiotics to ward of infection, and their natural fear hormones are filling their own bodies.  Whatever, they are soul-less creatures, I used to think.  What goes into them, goes into whoever eats them!  Why would I want to eat a high-calorie food that has little nutrition, makes my body antibiotic resistent, and adds extra hormones to my body?  Not me!

2.  Most meat is not local.  This puts a huge strain on the environment.  A giant percentage of the food grown in the US goes to feed these animals from #1.  This food needs to be shipped. The animals poop, expelling excess methane into the air, which hurts the ozone.  To clean up yards and grow the food, tons of water needs to be used per EACH POUND of meat.  Then, the meat is shipped thousands of miles, all over the US, wasting more gas and polluting the environment.  Brazier conducted studies on the environmental impact the meat industry has on gas and water supplies in the US.  A person can make a bigger difference in reducing their personal carbon imprint by stopping eating meat than by stopping driving a car.  Isn't that crazy?

3.  When you eat a diet of mostly vegetables, there is no limit to what you can eat.  When I eat food now, I feel no guilt at all.

4.  You can prevent diseases by eating organic, unprocessed, whole foods.  You can even turn off certain genes that are in your DNA.  This preventative measure (with exercise) saves a lot of money in the long run.

5.  I have had difficulty with digestion, especially when I am stressed.  I learned that my body has a difficult time digesting meats and dairy.  When I cut these out of my diet, I honestly feel so much better.  I haven't had any IBS symptoms since being here, and if I was eating meat for every meal, my body would not handle the stress of McGill.

6.  Vegetarians and Vegans respect hunters!  Hunters are killing animals who live in their natural habitats, eat the food they are meant to eat, exercise and do things when they want, and need to be weeded out before winter.  When you hunt, it is often local and many hunters use most of the meat from the body.  It has a much higher concentration of nutrients than factory farmed meat and is leaner.  Go hunters!

7.  If you know somebody locally who butchers free-range cattle and chickens, you will be spending more money on food, but the meat will be substantially better for you.

8.  As a Libertarian, I hate government subsidies.  The government subsidizes #s 1 and 2 hardcore.  How is this right?  Meat should be way more expensive than it is.  Why are fresh fruits and vegetables competing with rotting animal carcass?  They shouldn't be from a cost standpoint.  It's all political.

There is my long list.  I want to be able to hunt my own meat.  I came to this realization very recently.  I want to have my own vegetable garden.  By doing these things, I can rely more on myself for food, and help sustain my body and the environment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Long-distance relationships

As you all may know, I am in a long-distance relationship.  I thought it would be hard.  And so far, it has been a good thing.

I do not know how my relationship would be now if my professor would never have been offered her job at McGill.  Boy and I had been seeing each other since January and really liked each other.  We had dropped the "L" word a few weeks before I got the call that my life could be changing real quickly.

I was very nervous at first because Boy was not enthusiastic about me doing the AWSO because we would be apart for six weeks and he had had bad long-distance experiences in the past.  Well, I went to Rice Lake for four weeks before I did AWSO.  We agreed that we really liked each other and wanted to make it work.  Being away from each other, but still close enough to visit, caused us to open up way more than we would have otherwise.  We have had plenty of tears, some bitter words, and deep discussions.  Ultimately, this improved our communication and brought us closer together.

Boy moved me to Montreal.  This was a wonderful experience, but it was so, so, so hard to say good-bye.  Skype has made it much easier to communicate at a distance than we thought was possible.  We treat gmail like text messaging.  And he is going to visit me in two weeks!  Yay!

He's been my rock in the many ups and downs I have had in Montreal.  Many people my age have warned me that long-distance is difficult.  I have had a failed relationship of my own, partly due to long-distance.  The real difference is that I do not have doubts about Boy.  He is the real deal and I don't have any desire to replace him or be alone again.  Since being with him, I have been a better person.  He supports me for who I am, even during the ugly times.

Distance is annoying, but I am who I should and want to be with.  That makes it easy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My dream life...

The last few years, I have been formulating in my head how I want to live once school is done.  I have a major dilema; my desired career and desired lifestyle do not work together.

An oboe performance career generally revolves around living in a big city, getting a fancy orchestra job, freelancing, and teaching a bazillion rich kids.

My ideal lifestyle would to live in a little cabin in the middle of the Northwoods, away from most civilization.  I want to grow my own garden and learn how to hunt (need to get over this vegetarian thing I have been loving the last three weeks though) to provide most of my food.

I like the peacefulness of nature, providing for myself, and being out of the drama in a large community.  In the past year, I have been influenced by conservationist ideals and the extremities of libertarianism.  Wouldn't it be great to be able to be let alone and fend for myself?  The best place to do this would be in isolation.

Well, how could I use my oboe?  I could still teach, if students would want to study with me.  However, I definitely see a need for chamber music in the Northwoods.  If there are opportunities for people in small communities to see professional classical music very nearby, they tend to jump at the opportunity.  If I am not hell-bent on making my whole life my career, then, why not do something that people would enjoy, even if I made little to no money doing it?

In church this morning, I was reminded that someday I will be old and frail and on my deathbed.  Then, it won't matter what I have done with my life, it'll matter how I served the Lord.  I can keep life from getting in the way by enjoying God's creation, taking time to be quiet, working the earth, and making music with the talents he has given me.

Now, this may all be a dream, but it is a good dream.  A dream I hope to fulfill.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Burnout: A discussion

I spent all of May, June, July, and August obsessing about getting into McGill and making the move for my oboe career.  I am now doubting the whole thing and the feeling is coming from so many directions.

1)  List jobs for an oboist and keep in mind that an oboe teacher does not have nearly the amount of students that a piano teacher has.
2)  I love orchestra!  Wait:  orchestras are folding all over the world.  And politically and economically, they should because if an orchestra can't sustain itself, it shouldn't be in existence.
3)  I love orchestra!  I have to beat out five billion oboists, many of whom are better than me.  Case-in-point, here at McGill.  I auditioned at the level of a junior in college.
4)  Continuation:  at BGSU I was awesome, at Madison I was awesome, at a conservatory, I am not awesome.  Universities are self-sustaining, ego bloating, tax-sucking institutions that have screwed my mind (and many others's) to thinking that I can actually do what I want to do.
5)  I feel too old to still be in school.  If I would have done my undergrad in four years, I could be done with my masters degree last May.
6)  Joel has a house and a job and is productive to society.
7)  My career ambitions have no positive impact to our nation's economy.
8)  Canada (rather the nation of Quebec) is a socialist hell-hole.
8.5)  I miss my nice apartment in Bowling Green.
9)  I love playing oboe, but I think of all the money that was wasted on conferences, supplies, gadgets, travelling, auditioning, and what not.  It's depressing.  I could sell a lot of it, keep the basic oboe and reed-making stuff and only play for myself.
10)  I don't want to teach band.  I really don't.  I love playing oboe, but I feel that it is a waste of money to make a career out of it.
11)  I could just be over-reacting to the let-down of the stress and excitement of the past five months.
12)  AWSO did not paint a nice reality for performers needing to survive on an income.

I love studying with my professor.  She is amazing and will push me to be the best I can.  I don't know if I'm cut out for this.  I am almost 25 and am starting to think of this now.  I'm so frustrated with myself.  For sure, I will do this semester.  If I still feel this way by the end of the semester, I may just drop out of grad school and become a secretary or go back to retail.  At McGill, I am super motivated to practice.  It is amazing, but as the list above suggests, I don't know if I want to pursue that anymore.  I'm not anything special and I should stop pretending that I am.  It is just selfish.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Room

Now that I have lived in Montreal for two weeks, my room is still a mess, so I'll just post photos of how I actually live.  I have a small room that is connected to another bedroom, only separated by a curtain.  Another girl who lives at the house, Elizabeth, should be graduating in December, and she's going to leave, so I can probably take her room.  It would have a window and a bigger bed.  No desk, so I will think about it.

I really miss my apartment in BG.  It was nice living alone, having my huge bed and a separate space to do everything.  I miss the dishwasher, garbage disposal, stainless steel sink, a newer building, but if I would have that all here, I would be paying at least double than now.  It is nice to have roommates.  Last night, we all drank vermouth and sprite together.  I like that I have to bike everywhere.  Soon, I will have a post specifically about commuting via bicycle.

Lucy has taken to sleeping under my chair when I work at my desk.  I think my room is appealing because of all the random strings hanging from my chair.  I catch her playing with them all the time.

In sad news land, Max died on Wednesday.  I don't think it will hit me until I am back at home again and he won't be there to snuggle.  However, Smokey is now free to sleep next to whomever he wants!

In my next posts:  commuting and musicing.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I'm sorry that I haven't posted pictures yet!  I never remember to take them, even though my camera is alway with me.

Montreal has had its ups and downs.  This is the case with any new city.  A major up is that since last Sunday, I have logged about 56 miles on my bike.  That means my legs are going to be crazy awesome by the time the snow falls.  By awesome, I mean huge, but I like being firm and big rather than tiny and jiggly.