O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

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

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!!!

Carleton University Flash Mob

Best students. Best campus community. Best school spirit. Best life.

I am an extremely proud Carleton University grad.

On February 15th about 400 Carleton students gathered on the Rideau Canal for a brilliant flash mob.

The flash mob was organized by Graeme Owens as part of the Blackberry Best Life contest. More info here. Donations are being accepted to the Ottawa Mission. To donate click here.

The story has been picked up by CTV news, the Globe and Mail, and even Premier Dalton McGuinty has been tweeting about it.

Good luck to Graeme! And a huge congrats to everyone who participated.