Dot Com Boom

I finally caved and bought www.maggiedebarra.com!

Notes

For a long time on my About Me page, I had written “Maybe one day I’ll buy my own web domain and stop doing everything for free. But that day is not today.” Well, my friends, that day is today. Well this year really. I bit the bullet and bought www.maggiedebarra.com and www.maggiedebarra.ca! Using my fantastic computer skills, I even re-directed MaggiedeBarra.ca to MaggiedeBarra.com and I mapped my WordPress blog to MaggiedeBarra.com! Does this make sense to you? It does to me! I owe it all to my many hours spent back in high school hacking websites to copy and modify their code.

I really do enjoy the structure and style of WordPress and I am happy to continue using their publishing platform. I used GoDaddy as a host because Diggnation brainwashed me many years ago. In addition to these new matters, I even updated my Theme to give it a mini face lift!

What’s in a Name?

This blog has been Paper Clips for so long. Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra. It just makes sense to me. It sounds and feels so familiar! I couldn’t bear to change it. I did run through many other possible names (I wanted to call it In Medias Res back in third year, though I couldn’t seem to make it work…) but I kept coming back to this one. That or simply calling it MAGGIE DE BARRA, which sounds ever more pretentious and narcissistic than owning a website that is simply your first and last name dot com. And so, I will continue using Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra as my go-to until another name strikes me, or I get a cease and desist order!

To Blogue or Not to Blogue

I think one reason why I waited for so long is because, in addition to being extremely clumsy, I’m really shy! I am. With minor online exhibitionist tendencies in the form of public tweets and private instagram photos, but at the heart of it, I am shy.

I remember reading somewhere: It’s not personal branding, it’s just living your life online. And yes, my generation is doing just that. Your online presence is a mural, and every tweet, photo, and post is another brush stroke.

I thought for a long time that if I could hide behind maggiedebarra.wordpress.com it meant that I was projecting to the world that I was not really serious, that I could stop at any time, and that I’m simply indulging an odd, online hobby. But, attaching my name, and throwing a few dollars consideration at it, that means I am proclaiming, loudly: Hello, world! This is really me and I am serious. I am still shy, but I’m working on it.

Type-Casting

For a long time this website had been a “student life” blog, documenting my experiences as a college and university student between 2008-2012 (what a nice time capsule!). Since I am now a young, urban, working professional, it has really morphed into something totally unique. It is not a millennial blog, or a fashion+beauty blog, or a foodie blog, or a music blog. As much as I’d like it to be, it is not my dream Modern, Moderate Feminism Blog (#modfem). I write about my life and experiences and things that are interesting and important to me. I write a lot about Canada and Toronto because they are the centres of my universe.

One term that I have always loved is “hyper-local”. I came across this term when it was applied to a few Ottawa blogs back in university. They would cover all the local goings-on: restaurants, concerts, cafes, shops, and local politics. They weren’t exactly travel blogs, but they’d be worth checking out if you were going for a visit to learn all about the cool local spots.

And so, I think in 2015 I think I will try to write more about the people, places, and things I love, and to embrace the hyper-locality of it all!

2014: A Year in Review

A month-by-month play-by-play.

This year has seen a lot of ch-ch-changes: big and small, good and bad. I changed roommates, I changed jobs, my family structure has changed, and our country was changed forever.

Heads up: this is long! (Shout out to my friend Jen for taking most of these photos! She has curated a photo essay of my youth.)

January

Coming down from the Christmas season is always a blur. Trying to fit in all family, friends, and events you couldn’t squeeze into December. Somehow I managed to see The Nutcracker (twice in one year is always a plus), Les Miserables, Heartbeat of Home, and I saw Jay-Z again! He was great with Kanye during Watch the Throne, and he is just as good solo. I got some good ice time at Harbourfront, and at the little rink near my house, and even some twizzles on the Canal in Ottawa. There is nothing so soothing as a few solitary, silent laps on the ice.

JayZ

February

At one point in early February, I wrote the following in my agenda: “work panic attack / existential crisis / major anxiety“. Talk about dramatic. February was awfully stressful, at work and at home. I had coworkers coming and going and our team was in a flux. And at home, my roommate was set to move out any day, and I was constantly in limbo trying to plan for my sister to move in. I was a wreck every single day. I felt anxious all the time and I was barely sleeping. I had awful chest pains and heart palpitations. I needed to make a major life change, and in February, I started to do just that.

Olympics

In February, our Social Committee at work set out to raise $1,000 for the Red Door Family Shelter. We managed to loop in Valentine’s Day and the Olympics into our fundraising through dress down Jersey days and selling Candy Grams.

Candy Grams

It was a great success and we beat our goal! I loved taking charge of these events and it really brought the spirit in the office to new heights, and it felt so good to be doing something together as a team. And, we got to watch so many events on the TV in the boardroom! It was great. The men and women both won Gold in Hockey, and we hosted an awesome brunch to celebrate the gold medal game!

March

In March, we also threw a team together for the Escape the Winter Beach Volleyball Tournament. We lost every game, but we had a fun time.

Beach Volleyball

We went to Medieval Times one Saturday night and it was so fun! Our section was cheering so hard and we were so into it. But again, our Knight didn’t win. As a lifetime Leafs’ fan, I’m used to it now. And I caught a Raptors-Golden State game as well. I definitely want to check out some more games in 2015. The crowd at Raptors’ games is so loud and wild. The fans cheer for each basket and every play, unlike the suits at the Leafs’ games who are always on their phones.

April

April was crazy for both work and home. My team was up in the air and I had no idea where I fit in anymore, and I was working insane hours. I also had to juggle one roommate moving out and another moving in. It was tumultuous, and it really did a number on me. My stress was so bad I landed myself in the hospital. I also got three cavities (my first ever).

May

In May, I think I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having my sister move in with me was the best thing ever. We had such a fun summer. I’ve never watched so many movies in my life. The weather finally let up and we got some weak sunshine. The ice only went under the lake the week before May 2-4, so that weekend up north was really chilly!  It seems like it went right from winter to summer, no spring at all. But it was super relaxing – something I really reaaally needed.

Toronto

I had my best friend Lil come for a visit from Australia and we had some much needed girl time (pedicures and picnics etc.) and I also made it to two Jays’ games.

Jays

June

Watching the World Cup in the boardroom and after work this summer was so fun. I’ve been a Netherlands’ fan since grade ten when I had an exchange student named Nienke. I’ve had a soft spot for the Dutch ever since. My love for the Oranje threw off my office pool, but at least I got to see that magnificent victory over Spain. Payback for 2010!! In June I also got to meet one of my idols, Hillary Clinton. As of today, she has still not announced anything! Summer is for the Blue Jays, and I managed to fit in one more, against the Yankees. And Canada Day is incomplete without a jaunt in the woods, so we went up north again for the weekend. And, I tried a Weber’s burger for the first time!

Cottage

July

My girlfriends and I spent a beautiful summer Sunday on the Island riding bikes around and reenacting scenes from Now & Then.

Bikes

And I got to live the dream and see Beyonce and Jay-Z together at the On the Run Tour at the ACC. They are both amazing live! I’ve seen them both twice now so I’ll lay off for a bit. Wait for another album to come out. I am still holding out for another good Kanye album so he can redeem himself. We also had a girls weekend in Niagara with good food and wine, and great company.

Niagara

August

In August, I made some big moves at work. It was a relaxing month because I had over three weeks off between my old job and my new job. One of those weeks was spent up north at the cottage and it was the perfect way to wind down after a wild few months. I also got to cross my last must-see band off my list – Arcade Fire at the Molson Amphitheatre. I’ve now seen everyone I think! Every band on my list. What a triumph! It was the last weekend of the summer and it went out with a bang.

Arcade Fire

September

I went to my first wedding! It was a hoot. I also started doing yoga, which really did wonders for my stress levels. It’s just a nice way to chill out and relax. I also got to see a Leafs’ exhibition game, and it was my sister’s first Leafs’ game so that was nice to share with her.

October

I saw Joffrey Lupul buying records at Rotate This on Queen. I didn’t realize it was him until he was walking away so I didn’t even get to say hello. Nobody was bothering him, and he just looked like a regular guy. I saw him at a Vampire Weekend concert a few years ago, so I know he has good taste in music. I saw Tennis again at the Mod Club for their new album. And, we spent a day at Forsythe Farms to pick pumpkins and get lost in a corn maze. It was a perfect fall day.

I went to a Toronto Public Library Lecture series about Emma, my favourite Jane Austen novel. I was the youngest person there, but it was still fun. My family and I went to see Book of Mormon and it was so funny!! I just loved it and highly recommend it if you don’t mind extremely rude jokes about everything and everyone under the sun. I also went to see Bastille at the ACC. I thought Bastille was an indie band, I had no idea they had such a huge following, or that the entire following was under the age of sixteen. My sister and I were the oldest people in sight!

October 22 will stay with me forever, as long as I live. There was also the scandalous news about Jian Ghomeshi. I received an email from the Carleton School of Journalism which was much appreciated. They were reaching out to current and former students to make sure we were all okay. They had sent something like 70+ interns to CBC over the past few years, and one student (that they knew of) was placed with Q. I am keeping an eye on this, his trial will certainly be something else.

I did my civic duty and voted in Toronto’s municipal election. John Tory was elected but only by a small margin. I really think that if Rob Ford ran for Mayor, he would have won. This scares me.

My friend Dana brought me to see the former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, present a CBC Massey Lecture on the paradox of citizenship. It was timely and interesting based on our recent election, and the Ottawa Shooting.

For Halloween, I was a Mummy! I am continuing in my quest to be all the things I wanted to be as a child/teen but was too embarrassed/shy to be. Back then I just wanted to be something cute (but inevitably lame). Now I realize that I have to dress for only me! I have been a Mummy, Beyonce, a Cat, and a Robot. I’ll start brainstorming again in the summer.

Oh, and I turned 26!!!!!

Bday

November

November 1 I will always remember for my Grandpa Pat. November was a month filled with lots of family and friends. I definitely felt the love. We have always been close and tight-knit. We are so much stronger now.

I managed to snag some more Leafs tickets, but it was for that dreadful 9-2 loss against Nashville. We put our Christmas tree up on the same day as the Santa Claus parade. All this wait until Thanksgiving thing is an American idea. In our house, the Christmas season starts on the day of the parade. I like to get a full eight weeks of Christmas celebrations each year.

Parade

December

I got some professional head shots taken. I’ll be adding them to my LinkedIn profile in the New Year when our new website goes live. I saw Arcadia with my Uncle John. The play was really long, almost three hours! But it was very good, and I left wanting to know more which is, I think, a good sign. I got to stop by the Santa in the Junction Winter Christmas Market – more of a sidewalk sale than a market!

Christmas

We went to see the Donny & Marie Christmas Show at the Princess of Wales Theatre! It was so good, the perfect mix of Broadway, Christmas songs, Oldies, and Pop. The ladies in the audience were going crazy for Donny, but he was so sweet and hugged them all! And, Kate and I snagged some rush seats to The Nutcracker.

Sweaters

December is always a whirl with lots of family and friend dinners and parties. I do love a good Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Great news: my best friend Lil from university just got engaged (!!!) and she asked me to be a bridesmaid (!!!!!). I am beyond thrilled. Two things on my mind right now: 1) save up for my ticket to Australia! 2) save up for bridal party expenses!!

My sister and I also went to see Jersey Boys in December. It was amazing, as always. It was my fifth show, her tenth show. It gets better and better each time. We met the cast at the stage door and they are so nice! We joined them for a beer at a nearby pub after the show. They’re just like us! I cannot recommend this show enough, it’s always a good time.

Conclusion

And now here we are, the last day of the year and I will shortly be heading out of the city. I’ll be joining my best friends up north to ring in the new year in the wilderness.

How did I do on my goals from last year? Don’t care! What am I planning for next year? Nothing at all. Just be myself. It’s been working for me so far. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy New Year! Cheers to 2015!

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

I just wanted to show off my new flavors.me homepage. I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while. I wanted a splash page that was stylish, user friendly, and easy to navigate. Flavors.me is all of those things.

I like Flavors.me for three reasons:

  1. It looks great.
  2. It was easy to create.
  3. It is efficient.

It will take less than ten minutes to craft and design your Flavors homepage. The customization options are very simple and easy to use. And it collects a bunch of your most important links and puts  them all in one really good looking page.

I changed my homepage url on Twitter from this blog to the splash page. This blog shows off my work and what I’m doing, but not everybody who clicks through from Twitter is interested in that. Maybe they want to see my photos or foursquare. Using the Flavors page let’s the user make the decision, instead of forcing something on them.

It also presents a more varied display of what I do and what I’m intersted in. Right now I have collected my blog, flickr photos, twitter stream, my tumblr and posterous accounts and my foursquare feed in one spot. Mine is pretty basic, but you can look at what some other users have created for inspiration in their design gallery here.

Flavors.me seems to be catching on. I read about Flavors.me while reading Amandalyn Ferri’s blog a while ago, and today I noticed that Lifehacker did a little write up about it here.

I’ve started using a lot of new services in the last month or so: Flavors, Buzz, Foursquare and Posterous. More on those later.

New Maclean’s OnCampus Post

A text message that could save your life.

I just hit publish on a new Maclean’s OnCampus blog post about my school’s new Emergency Notificaiton System. Check it out here.

Big Thoughts Hurt My Brain

When Free Association meets Stream of Consciousness.

I was lying in bed last night and I had one of those moments when you start thinking something simple like “I wonder if there are any good movies playing this weekend.” and it mutates into “I wonder if I should buy my own website domain.” 

My mind just started to wander through all the things I have to do and things I want to do and two hours later I was still thinking. What kind of leaders will my generation be when we are all grown up? We live our lives on Facebook and YouTube and have no concept of privacy but a great understanding of popularity and the power of view counts. What will we do in 30 years when somebody pulls out a cached store of Facebook photos of the next Prime Minister? What is wrong with us? I could go on. Uhh the internet. It freaks me out sometimes.

Things I was thinking about last night that I still remembered when I woke up this morning:

  1. I sold a textbook at Haven!! I was cleaning my room earlier this spring and I was just transfering my big textbooks from my side table to my bookshelf to my desk to the floor. After a while you just have to be honest with yourself and admit that as much as you loved your Intro to Archaeology class there is no way that you will ever pick up that thousand-page book for a little light reading any time soon. So I put them all up for sale and now when I get back to Ottawa I will have a little surprise waiting for me in the form of a cheque. Money in the bank.
  2. I want to start a podcast. I get about this far into starting in and then I get distracted. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
  3. I want to try Tumblr. They say it’s “the easiest way to blog.” And they give you 21 reasons why you will love it. They make a convincing argument, but then again, I am easily impressed. What is up with Tumblr and Flickr and why don’t they want to buy a vowel? Ahh! Ok I just did it. I feel like I am spreading myself too thin. I would rather be really good at a few things than mediocre at a lot of things. I am going to justify this venture by saying that I want to try out a new blogging platform.  (I’m sorry WordPress. Don’t cast me out just yet. This is field research. Archaeology remember?)

Welcome to the World

Real World. Not WOW.

Just posted my intro to Maclean’s OnCampus. Check it out here. This is just a little note to say hi. Like dipping your toes in the water before you cannonball. (or bellyflop) 

I have many ideas floating around in my head and now all that’s left is to just do it. Like Nike.

Update 08/02/09:
Woah. I just came up on my own Google Reader. This is surreal.

Maclean’s and Me

Moving on up to the Eastside of the internet.

I’m very proud to announce that I have been picked as one of the new Maclean’s OnCampus bloggers!  I am thrilled about this and cannot wait to start.

If you are not familiar with Maclean’s OnCampus you ought to get with the program. Click here to check it out!

Canadian students should put OnCampus on their Google Reader. Grab the RSS feed. Digg it. Tweet it. Blog it. Re-Tweet it. (Ok I’m starting to sound like Daft Punk.)

Whatever method you use to stay on top of stories, if you have any interest about post-secondary education in Canada (#CDNPSE) this is where it all comes together.

The folks at Maclean’s OnCampus are tuned into Canadian students and their issues. The bloggers come from all across Canada, and yes, there are quite a few journalism students. That just means that all posts will be in perfect CP style.

I feel like we’re a little band of Avengers, ready to assemble and spread truth, justice and news.