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!

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If You Aren’t Outraged, Then You Just Aren’t Paying Attention

Ignorance is Bliss.

Not Afraid

I understand, I think, for the first time why most people prefer those sugar-coated, mind-numbing movies and TV shows packed with celebrities and other pleasant things.

Watching the National last night, I realized that Peter Mansbridge and his guests were not discussing the possibility that this is our “new normal” – they were confirming the obvious. An over-used term, but still applicable. These recent attacks, homegrown and ruthless, in Ottawa, in Sydney, and now in Paris are horrific and terrifying, to me anyway. I feel like we are all at risk now. This is our normal, we of the post 9-11 generation. Which city will be next and when? London, Washington, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo? Toronto has been spared for now, but for how long?

I remember learning in journalism school that therapists and journalists have higher levels of something like secondary PTSD. While they may not be experiencing these events first-hand, their exposure to first-hand accounts on a regular basis can generate a wave of similar symptoms.

Watching all these news programs, reading these articles (some fantastically well-written, answering the questions I didn’t think to ask), following the chaos of Twitter – it can be exhausting. I found relief last night during the commercial breaks of the National, with previews for silly shows about space, animals, and consumer trends. It was like a dose of comfort before getting back in the ring when the program started again. I felt like a character in Brave New World, but it wasn’t taking hits of Soma that made me feel better, it was television. And with it, the promise of a familiar-but-novel distraction, spread to the masses to keep us somewhat entertained, but mostly chained to our couches, away from the news, newspapers, books, and somewhere out there, the truth.

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!

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!

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!

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.

Verif.

The closest thing to a sacred trust we’ll get.

“Accuracy, as you can see, can be a stretch, well beyond getting the quote right, which is also essential. As for truth, I think of it as an ideal, toward which we strive, toward which all of our work should be an important part. If we are lucky, we may even touch a piece of it.”

-William F. Woo

He was the first person who was not a member of the Pulitzer family to work as editor of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the first Asian-American to be the editor of a major American daily newspaper. He later worked as a journalism professor at Stanford University.

Studying for my J4000 exam. This was part of my presentation about the role of an editor. This quote stuck with me.

Update 04/19/10:
Hahaha William F. Woo was a question on the exam. Sorry to everybody who didn’t pay attention during my presentation.
Woo was a small part of my presentation and I’m sorry that you were tested on a few passing inspirational quotations!

Play for the Kids 2.0

UNICEF Carleton’s annual coffeehouse/open mic night.

Last night UNICEF Carleton presented their second annual open mic night, featuring a lot of local talent. This is a video of my roommate Jamye Troy singing a song she wrote about a little girl in Africa.

Flash in the Pan

We’re #1! Right above #rolluptherim.

Last Monday, our journalism lecture live-tweeted during a presentation and our hashtag, #j4k (short for our course code, JOUR4000) became the number one trending topic in Canada for a short time. I took a screen shot.

This probably means very little to people who don’t use Twitter. But for the active 12 or so people in our class who do use it, this was pretty cool. I have a feeling that our class, and the creation of a course hashtag, will be used in a case-study somewhere. When journalism students use Twitter during class, something monumental is just bound to happen. We’ll see if there is a repeat tomorrow morning.

Update 03/23/10:
So much press. I love it! We’re kind of famous. Article on J-Source and on Carleton’s website.

Looking for The Iron Heel

Searching, in vain, for Jack London in Ottawa.

I spent a good three hours walking around tonight looking for a copy of The Iron Heel by Jack London. It is the first of five novels on the reading list for my english class. Every other student must have been proactive about getting books for this class, because all these stores (all nine of them!) were out of stock.

Octopus Books – Bank Street and Third Avenue
Patrick McGahern Books – Bank Street and Third Avenue
Dragon Tail Bookshop – Bank Street and Fourth Avenue
Book Bazaar – Bank Street and Frank Street
The Book Company – Bank Street and Slater Street
Chapters – Rideau Street and Sussex Drive
Sunnyside Bookshop – Dalhousie Street and Murray Street
Argosy Books –  Dalhousie Street and Guigues Avenue
The Book Market – Dalhousie Street and Rideau Street

Can’t believe I walked this far in the cold only to come home empty handed. On the bright side, the War Memorial looked so pretty tonight:

Update 01/26/10:
I took out the map pictures. Nine photos of Google map screenshots is excessive. I did end up getting The Iron Heel from Octopus Books. My review: don’t even bother reading this one. It is socialist propaganda parading around as a novel. It’s less than 300 pages and it took forever to get through. I didn’t enjoy it at all! Our next book, Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov is even more tough to read. I thought I was good at this kind of thing: reading, thinking, reflecting. Guess not.