2013: A Year in Review

There are no walls but those we build ourselves.

2013 was a year of great personal growth and change. I feel that I have become a better person along the way, and I recognize that I have a long way to go.

Re: last year’s resolutions: I pushed my long run to 13 miles, just about the distance of a half marathon…; I did not get my driver’s licence…; I managed to make two trips to visit friends in other cities; I took many photos, read a decent number of books, and saw all the movies I wanted to see. I like to think of the resolutions as suggestions, and not rules.

Music

Freelance Whales, The Knocks, Passion Pit, Tame Impala, Alt-J,Whitebrow’s CD release party+ Church show, He’s my Brother, She’s my Sister, Vampire Weekend, the Arkells, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Phoenix, Beyonce, and Kanye West.

I didn’t see as many concerts as some past years, but, I consider myself lucky that I have seen just about every band that I could possibly imagine. I already have Jay-Z and Arcade Fire lined up for next year. Arcade Fire is really the last big band that I want to see, but have not yet had the chance to do so.

Passion Pit

I saw Passion Pit at Lollapalooza in 2012. Their show was in the early evening. It was their first show back since their brief hiatus. It was a lovely summer show. In February, I was lucky enough to see Passion Pit again in all their glory at the Kool Haus during the middle of a spectacular snow storm. Their show is made to be experienced indoors, with all of the lights and trappings.

Beyonce

All my dreams came true when I finally saw Beyonce live. We were the first show since the surprise release of her new album. Her voice was powerful, her dancing was sharp and energetic, and the girl power in the room was off the charts. I paid homage to her earlier in the year when I dressed as Beyonce in her single ladies video for Halloween. The costume did not go to waste, as I wore it again for the concert. We were the only people in the 300s to dress up. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Kanye WestKanye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am Kanye West’s biggest fan. After postponing our show just over a month due to unforeseen technical difficulties, my sister and I were able to catch the last show of the Yeezus tour on December 23rd. We had amazing seats in the 100s, and it will be hard to enjoy a concert from any other seat going forward. His latest album was experimental, and while there were a few good songs, I felt it was mostly wanting.

Kanye punctuated his energetic, oldie but goodie songs with show stopping new songs. I mean literally show stopping, as he would cut all the music and talk for minutes at either end. His performance seemed lackluster to me, but I probably just didn’t get what he was going for. He seemed in disbelief at our response at times, as if we weren’t giving him enough energy, or singing along to the level he wanted. I feel like you should expect to receive the energy you give out, and seeing how he sang 3+ songs lying on the floor and talked for longer than he sang (including a 20+ minute rant about the Grammy’s), I left the ACC feeling really let down. He did bring out Drake for a few songs, which was awesome, and I think the crowd loved that more than the rest of the show.

I was hoping for an energetic performance like Eminem at Lolla in 2011, or the last two times I’ve seen Macklemore. Maybe Kanye thinks that he is already at the top of his game, so he doesn’t have to work for it anymore. Macklemore on the other hand is hungry, and as I was sitting in the ACC, I was wishing I was back at Echo Beach with Macklemore and crew as they shocked all of our senses with their magnificent show. Things to consider for the future…

Theatre

I was able to take in one musical and three plays this year. Cats at the Panasonic Theatre, and three shows in Stratford: Romeo and Juliet, the 3 Musketeers, and Othello.

Romeo and Juliet was exactly what you’d expect. The 3 Musketeers was swashbuckling and funny. My favourite has got to be Othello. The set design was innovative and all the actors were on point. The tension during the last scene was so powerful it gave me chills. I am really looking forward to next year’s season.

Sports

4 Jays games, 2 Leafs games, and 1 Rock game.

Halifax

I spent four days in Halifax in March. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the Split Crow and I cooked my first Lobster.

Halifax

Ottawa

I celebrated the May24 weekend in Ottawa with a kayak and a hike.

Dow's Lake

Parliament

Tobermory

In June, we visited Georgian Bay and went cliff jumping in the Grotto. The water was freezing, but it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

Grotto

The O Course

My coworkers and I were crazy to sign up for the O Course. After a little training, we tackled a 45 minute boot camp work out, a ~7k run, and a ~2hr obstacle course. It was the most physically exhausting feats I’ve accomplished to date. In the first half of the course, during the run, I was in 5th place out of the women. By the time I reached the second half of the course with the major obstacles, I fell to 77th place! This race is no joke. I thought I was in decent shape but I was put in my place. I’d like everyone to experience this just once so that they can take themselves to their limit, and break through it.

Miscellaneous Adventures

Friday Night Live @ the Rom – The Mesopotamia Exhibit @ the ROM – The AGO – Parkinsons Super Walk – Canada Day at Turtle Castle and Burrits Rapids

Toronto Fashion Week

Fashion Week

Boat Cruisin (count the cranes!) + Winning a Limbo contest

Toronto

Birthday

Birthday Card

I am 25 years old. I am officially older than all of my favourite literary characters.

Ice Storm 2013

Ice Storm

On December 22, we woke up with no power and no heat. The whole city was covered in ice. I sent a tweet to Toronto Hydro late on the 23rd, and on the morning of Christmas Eve, we were shocked and surprised to hear the buzz of the power turning back on. I’ve never been so happy for a hot cup of tea before in my life.

That being said, it was nice to spend some unplugged time with my family. We played board games by candlelight for eight hours straight. We learned that our candlesticks burn for five hours.

Blackout

New Year’s Resolutions:

To continue in my transcendentalist spirit of self-reflection and self-improvement:

Read one book per month, plus whatever is on the docket for my book clubs.

See more movies and more live shows. I think I’d like to head to Osheaga this summer.

Visit one Toronto attraction/museum/exhibit per month.

Go to a Toronto FC game.

Run a Half Marathon!!! So ambitious, but it would be nice to say I’ve done it at least once.

G1? Maybe…

Delete Facebook. I have been trying to wean myself off Facebook for some time now. I think it is a waste of time and energy. I think now is the opportune time, before any more engagement rings or babies start showing up in my news feed.

And with that, I will give a fond farewell to 2013, and a hearty hello to 2014.

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The de Barra-Electric Eel Coalition for the Prevention of Electric Shocks

Electric Shock Safety and Prevention Week runs this year from November 18-22.

Shocks

Exactly one year ago today, I shocked the nerves in my right hand up to my elbow as I tried to pull my lamp plug out of the socket with wet hands. I spent six hours in the hospital.

Let this serve as a reminder to you to think consciously about your actions, to live in the moment, and to remember that no amount of corner-cutting or time-saving is worth risking your health, of the health and safety of those around you.

Most importantly, always dry your hands before you leave the washroom, and turn the lamp off using the switch as it was meant to be used.

 

2012: A Year in Review

Raptures in the rear view mirror. Twentythirteen on the horizon. 

When I think of all that has happened over the past twelve months, I see a film in fast-forward with clips of my beautiful family, my brilliant friends, endless concerts, good books, delicious food, new experiences, hearty laughs, real chats, and some much needed self-reflection.

Re: Last year’s resolutions: I can walk in high heels now; I saw as many, if not more, concerts as I did last year; I did go to Lollapalooza again; I read some good books; I took a lot of photos; I spent some quality time with the people who matter the most; I did get straight A’s; I did not win any trivia nights; but I still think I am a good person.

Milestones:

Shows

My goal for 2012 was to see as many or more shows as possible. Here is my list [lolla in brackets]:

Whitebrow, Yukon Blonde, the Lumineers, Carly Rae Jepsen’s sound check at Much (does that even count?), [Animal Kingdom, The White Panda, Dr. Dog, Zedd, SBTRKT, Passion Pit, M83, The Black Keys, FIDLAR, Jeff the Brotherhood, Givers, Neon Indian, FUN., The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avicii, Hey Rosetta!, Nadastrom, The Walkmen, Sigur Ros, Doctor P, Florence and the Machine, Zeds Dead, Kaskade, Jack White, and Justice!] Ellie Goulding, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Wolfgang, The Royal Concept, Grouplove, Plants and Animals, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Band of Horses, and Joel Plaskett.

Lolla

Not too shabby I’d say.

Blue Jays

Blue Jays!

Just one! But I would say it was the best one of the summer. The best summer day for sure because it featured lots of friends, and two magnificent concerts, and a sunny day with no sunburns, so that is a bonus.

Jays!

Graduation

Graduation

I graduated from the Paralegal program at Seneca College in June of 2012!

Canada Day

Canada Day

I spent the Canada Day weekend in Burritts Rapids, Ontario, a beautiful little island on the Rideau River outside of Ottawa. What followed was a spectacular weekend filled with lazy river tube floats, some fishing, a bunch of board games, and the most beautiful trail walk on the Tip-to-Tip trail.

BR island

We also got to spend some quality time with J. Douglas Struthers, the Mayor of Merrickville, where we congratulated him on his very entertaining Canada Day celebrations, and the beauty of his little town.

Mayor

Europe

This summer I spent two weeks with my family in Paris and Dublin. There is so much beauty, history, culture, and style everywhere you look. Everything at home seems entirely plain in comparison. It was a wonderful trip.

Paris

trio

there are a lot of people at versailles today

My sister, Caroline, and I went up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. It made me feel superhuman to be up so high, and also so cowardly at the same time because I had no idea how very scared of heights it turns out I am!

eiffel tower

view from the top

My little sister, Kathleen, and I spent a wonderful time quoting every line from Marie Antoinette while we spent the day at Versailles. The best part of that day was when decided to rent bicycles to travel to the Petit Trianon! Biking through the grounds of Versailles is really the only way to do it! As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a little wary of biking, but this time was entirely wonderful, and safe.

Versailles

bikes!

I spent one lovely afternoon wandering around Montmartre, near the Moulin Rouge and Sacre Coeur, and discovered, as many have before me, a packed artist’s market on top of a hill. There were rows upon rows of portrait artists and happy patrons with their likeness taken down in pencil, or chalk, or charcoal. Seeing as I had all the time in the world and a desire to indulge my vanity, I decided that now was as good a time as ever to have my portrait drawn.

portrait

I don’t actually look like that. It’s a beautiful, stylized version of myself. But one day I will hang it up when I’m old and be able to say to my grandchildren, “Look here, this is what Grandma looked like when she was 23 in Paris. How lucky I was and I didn’t even realize it at the time.”

dublin

Ireland was very green and very jolly. I will say that I expected to feel some kind of overwhelming feeling of patriotism, seeing as my family is so closely intertwined with our Irish heritage. But I did not feel that.

guinness

We went on the Guinness Brewery tour. It was very well done and highly recommended. I can now say that not only do I enjoy the taste of Guinness, which I never used to, I actually understand the craftsmanship it takes to produce and appreciate the history behind it.

Lollapalooza 2012

Lollapalooza 2012

I did it! I wanted to go again and sure enough I did! We saw a million great shows, [see above] and it was another fabulous weekend in Chicago.

Canada!

Carleton Legacy Lives On

 I happily got to move my little sister into residence at Carleton, and I got to see my other sister working away as a Frosh Head Facilitator on the same day. I haven’t felt so proud of them, possibly ever. They are a wonderful addition to the fabric of Carleton, and I am so happy to say they are my sisters. I am still waiting on my recruitment fee…

sisters

Birthdays

I am 24 now! What in the world…

Halloween

I paid homage to my two pets and masqueraded as a cat for six hours. Worth it.

Other Terribly Scary Things

I set my hair on fire in the bathroom. No permanent damage, just wonky bangs. And I got electrocuted! Sadly, no super powers.

New Year’s Eve

We rang in the new year in Huntsville, Ontario in a cottage surrounded by friends. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to 2012, and welcome 2013 with open arms and open hearts.

nye

We decided to write little notes to commemorate the day. I wrote “There are no walls but those we build ourselves. Cheers to 2013!” This statement is meant to inspire and challenge me over the next year. I really believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough, and the message stands to break down the barriers in my life because I am the only thing standing in my own way!

New Years Resolutions:

Push my run to 13 miles; Get my driver’s licence; Visit friends out West and down East; Take more photos, read more books, see more movies; See as many concerts as possible; Devote myself to being a better friend; Just keep trying to be a better person in every way!

Anything could happen! Girl Power! Cheers to 2013!

School’s Out

And now, for a brief interruption to our scheduled study session.

Just remembered that I am studying for my last exam. This could very well be my last exam EVER. Six years of post-secondary education comes to a close tomorrow afternoon and yes, I am freaking out.

When people ask about me I can only answer in a handful of ways: I’m a trivia nerd,  I’m a runner, I’m a part-time waitress etc. etc. But the main thing that I have identified with for the past twenty odd years or so is that I’m a student! And tomorrow I am a student no more.

And now comes the daunting task of finding out who I am when I can no longer offer up that easy answer. I’ve always considered this blog to be a student-life blog, and where do we go from here when that no longer applies?

But first thing’s first: my small claims court exam. Wish me luck.

Quarterly Review

So far, so good.

It’s strange to think that I have just one month of school left. It’s scary to think that I’ve been out of university for two years! That is frightening. Reminds me of the good old days blogging for Maclean’s. I think I summed up how I’m feeling right now here. One month of school, four weeks, four exams and that’s all folks. It is overwhelming and I sympathize with my fellow graduating students.

The first quarter of 2012 has been pretty great so far.

Re: New Years resolutions- I’m trying to take lots of photos, waiting with my fingers crossed for the Lollapalooza lineup, and happily managing the stress of my final semester through painting my nails, writing exercises, transcendental meditation and working out on a regular basis.

Here are a couple of things that have helped to make these last few weeks a bit brighter:

world peace crossword
inspirational fence signs  monday morning crosswords

valentines korean bbq
homemade doily valentines korean bbq at korean village restaurant on bloor

toronto map flowers
• 
craigslist antiques breakthroughs beautiful flowers on the walk to school

combo royalewords with friends
live music  73 point words

My name is Margaret Grace Larkin de Barra and I lost my wallet at Fairview Mall. If you found it, please get in touch. Reward. $$$

Ottawa: Unplugged

Getting back to basics in the Nation’s Capital.

I spent the weekend in Ottawa. It was great to visit my sister and a lot of friends who still live there. As the Duggars would say, I really enjoyed their fellowship.

The strangest thing about the weekend was how old-fashioned and low-tech it was! Lots of board games, some sweet tunes on the record player, cooking, baking and sharing food with each other, cat’s cradle (it’s coming back) and a whole lot of laughs and stories shared between us.

My favourite thing about Ottawa in the winter has got to be the Rideau Canal. We had perfect ice conditions on Sunday.

Rideau Canal

It really was a great weekend, and I’m still on cloud nine. I feel recharged and ready to get back to homework. It was just what I needed to help me get through school for another month until reading week.

 

Carleton Legacy Continues

de Barra hat trick.

I’m very proud to say that my little sister recently heard that she has been accepted to Carleton University. With her acceptance, that makes a grand total of three de Barra sisters at Carleton! Hat trick! I was Class of 2010, Caroline is Class of 2013 and Kathleen is Class of 2016.

Carleton University

I am so proud of my little sisters and the little legacy we have created there. I started university in the fall of 2006, and by the time Kathleen graduates we will have had at least one de Barra at Carleton University for an entire decade! Can you believe that?

Is there some type of finder’s fee I can collect? Really, they should put us in some kind of marketing campaign or something.

Just kidding. But not really.

Go Ravens Go Ravens Go!

2011: A Year in Review

Cities– Waterloo, Kingston, Ottawa, Arthur, Chicago

Books– Getting to Yes, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance With Dragons, World War Z, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

Discoveries– Trivia at the Drake on Wednesday night, 8tracks, cows, iPhones, instagram

Concerts– Whitebrow, Said the Whale, Broken Social Scene, Weezer, The Tragically Hip, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Lights, Wye Oak, Tennis, Young the Giant, The Naked and Famous, Foster the People, Two Door Cinema Club, The Bloody Beetroots Deathcrew 77, Skrillex, Ok Go, Coldplay, Grouplove, An Horse, Maps & Atlases, Super Mash Bros., Local Natives, Cee Lo, Eminem, The Joy Formidable, Fences, Little Hurricane, Noah & the Whale, City and Colour, Flogging Molly, Boy & Bear, Best Coast, Damian Marley & Nas, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Library Voices, Kanye West and Jay-Z, Born Ruffians, Tokyo Police Club

Fantastic Holiday Weekends– May24 + Canada Day + Thanksgiving

Raptures– None

Lollapalooza– One Amazing Weekend

Steamwhistle Tours– One

Birthdays– 23!!

Oktoberfest– Prosit

Wrapping Up– 2011 was magnificient!! I read some great books, visited a few new places, saw an outrageous number of concerts and spent a lot of quality time with friends and family.

New Years Resolutions– learn how to walk in high heels, see as many or more live shows as this past year, head to Lollapalooza again and maybe Osheaga as well, keep reading great books, take more pictures, win one of these trivia nights at least once, spend as much time with friends and family as possible, get straight A’s, and just try and be a better person.

Cheers to 2012!!!

Summer?

It’s about time.